Recent Travel Adventures

Hiker admires the view in You Yangs Regional Park

Hiking the You Yangs Regional Park

The You Yangs Regional Park rises starkly out of flat farmland. It’s a massive rock formation, Flinders Peak appearing in the distance on the way from Melbourne to Geelong. The You Yangs offers some of the best peak views in Melbourne, and the hike to the top is not difficult for people with a good […]

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Statue at 1000 Steps Kokoda Track Memorial Walk

1000 Steps Uphill - Hiking the Kokoda Track Memorial Walk

1000 steps and I’m at the bottom of them, along with women clad in fluorescent active wear, hikers hauling weighted training packs and dads carrying kids. The Kokoda Track Memorial Walk, popularly called the 1000 Steps, is a short but steep walk in the Dandenong Ranges, Melbourne.

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Writing Advice

Continuum 13 Convention Program book

Continuum 13 Wrap-up

After every convention I go to, I try to put some meandering brain thoughts into words, so that everyone can partake of the wonder that is a speculative fiction convention. This year Continuum 13 was the Australian National Science Fiction Convention. Last year I’d been on the committee for Continuum, so this year was an entirely […]

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A black cat lazes on concrete

Upcoming appearances: Continuum 13

Heading into the Queen’s Birthday long weekend is always an exciting time in Melbourne, because it means it’s Continuum time! *Waves arms in excitement*

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Photography Tips

hiking the Overland Track with a heavy backpack

What camera should I take on a multi-day hike?

When you have to carry all your own gear, it can be really hard to figure out what camera to take on a multi-day hike. That 70-300mm lens sounded like a great idea at the time, but after four days of trekking the extra weight really adds up. I’ve just got back from a six […]

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man taking phone photo

Free e-book giveaway! 10 Tips to Take Better Phone Photos

Ever got photo envy? Why are their photos so much better than mine? Chances are, a few little tweaks could take your photos from average to amazing.

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Recent Posts

footscray new years eve fireworks

How to take photos of fireworks

Over the new year I always love to take photos of fireworks. Nothing says celebration like a giant fireworks explosion! It was my first new year in Melbourne, so I sought out a great spot to take pictures in Footscray, watching both the 9:30pm fireworks in Footscray and the midnight fireworks over the city.

My friends have often asked me how to take photos of fireworks – often they turn out blurry or don’t catch the moment. The great thing is, you can take a good fireworks shot as long as you have a camera with manual controls and a stable base. Here are my best tips.

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books

A Year of Good Reading

Each year I choose a classic author to read the entire works of, which I have dubbed my “Year of Good Reading” challenge. In the last year I read my way through the complete works of Jane Austen, although I still have Persuasion to read. But I enjoy being able to say that I’ve read most of her work, and most of all I got a lot of joy from reading her stories. (If you’re wondering, my favourite will always be Pride and Prejudice, followed closely by Emma).

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Before you go travelling checklist

My husband and I travelled for almost two years across the world, and when we prepared to leave Australia we had to do a million things before we left. To help you out here is my travelling checklist for things to do before you go. If you still live with your parents then you won’t need to do as much before you go overseas than a renter or someone with a mortgage. Just cross the things off this list that don’t apply. And if you think of anything I’ve missed, why not post a comment below?

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12 Apostles Great Ocean Road

Great Ocean Road Day Trip

While I’ve been living in Melbourne for over a year now, I still hadn’t gone on a Great Ocean Road day trip. When the opportunity to go to the 12 Apostles and surrounding national parks came up last weekend, I jumped at the chance. While the day started out looking quite overcast, it turned into some spectacular and dramatic weather for photography.

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night noodle markets

Night Noodle Markets Melbourne

If you’re like me and love Asian food in all its forms, make sure you get down to the Night Noodle Markets this November.

The Night Noodle Markets is a deliciously hard to miss festival near Federation Square. Smoke drifts over Birrarung Marr as hundreds of stalls serve crispy pork belly, pho, grilled squid and, you guessed it, noodles. There’s also less traditional cuisine, with Asian style sliders at Kong and Asian themed gelato by Gelato Messina.

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NaNoWriMo

How to do NaNoWriMo (badly)

This November I am attempting the marathon of novelization, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo. For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is where you try to write 50,000 words in the month of November. It’s short for National Novel Writing Month. Founded in 1999, it is now an international happening forcing writers across the globe to get their letters in order and write the damn thing. It’s a great way to get those creative juices going (or to force them out of your body with a literary dagger).

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Graduated neutral density filter

What are camera filters and how to use them?

This week’s camera question comes from Haviwah of the Barefoot on Backroads blog. He asks:

“What’s your take on Neutral Density and/or Polarizing camera filters? I’m pretty sure I’ve seen somewhere on your blog before that you have a few and I’m wondering if you rate them/think they’re worth while.”

I do rate camera filters as a worthwhile investment for most travel and landscape photographers. They allow a lot of flexibility for taking well exposed images without having to rejig them later in Lightroom.

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kat clay presents at conflux with richard harland

Conflux 10 Special Edition

Two weeks ago I went up to Canberra for the Conflux speculative fiction convention. Having only moved back to Australia last year, this was my second convention after Continuum in Melbourne. When my friend Tracy Joyce suggested I come, I thought “Why not?” It would be a great chance to meet writers and publishers. Tracy is the author of Altaica, published by Odyssey Books. She’s also a wonderful travelling companion who spent the whole trip boosting my ego and saying nice things about my writing. 

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sulphur crested cockatoo

Mayor’s Urban Ecology Photo Competition

I’m delighted to announce that I am the runner up in the Mayor’s Urban Ecology Photo Competition in the Streetscapes category. The photo I received the award for is a picture I took while out cycling of a cockatoo enjoying a breakfast of nuts and seeds. It was a case of right place, right time, with the birds just sitting by the cycle trail.

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making your perfect creative space

Making Your Perfect Creative Space

Making your perfect creative space is essential for anyone who works from home or spends lots of time doing creative projects. You don’t have to be an artist to have a creative space – it could simply be a place for you to stretch your mind and think differently about your work. As a freelancer, it’s essential that I have a place to work well and be creative because it’s what I’m paid to do, and while I try to be creative anywhere I go, it’s the office where I do most of my work.

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Graffiti on a wall which says Another Day at Work

How long term travel can help your career

One of the most common questions I faced when I quit my job to go travelling was “won’t that affect your career?” While the gap year has almost become a rite of passage in Australia, long-term travel is often relegated to the young, the slack and those who won’t grow up and “get a job”. Indeed, some people I met along the way told me they would love to travel long-term, but their career would suffer from a year or longer lapse in the resume.

I’d like to rebuff any of the myths that travelling will wreck your career.

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typing cat

Top 5 Mistakes of Beginner Writers

I love mentoring new writers and encouraging people to embark on their creative journey. This post is for people who are just starting out writing stories, which applies equally to fiction and non-fiction. Throughout the years I’ve noticed several commonalities that divide first-time writers with more established writers. Apart from trying to type with a cat on your lap, here are my top 5 mistakes of beginner writers. And don’t worry that you’re the only one doing them, because I’ve been guilty of all of them at one point in my career!

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The art of waiting in airports

In the past weeks I’ve found myself waiting in airports twice. Despite my obsessive nature to arrive at the airport early, on each occasion the flights to and from my home have been delayed.


These waits have caused me to reflect on all the time I’ve spend waiting during travel.

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How to keep your camera gear safe when travelling

I have unfortunately been the victim of theft from my own home. While in the bathroom, someone came into my house and helped themselves to my two week old Macbook Pro. Since then, I’ve been extra cautious about security and insurance. Thankfully I’ve never had anything stolen while travelling. But I know the horrible, sinking feeling of loss, when your laptop or camera gear goes walkabout. Camera gear safety is one of the most important factors in travel for a photographer. Here’s how to keep your camera gear safe when travelling.

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Gabriel Garcia Marquez novels

In Memory of Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I first read Gabriel Garcia Marquez in high school; I was sixteen or seventeen, I’m not quite sure. We focussed on South American literature in the studies leading up to my final year. Between Pablo Neruda’s love poems and Isabelle Allende, was a man named Marquez. The book, One HundredYears of Solitude, with its mountainous cover and silver spine. Or maybe it had an orange spine? Memories get lost and mixed up about the cover but not the content. I wrote notes upon notes on that book, lost in the town of Macondo and the incessant cycles that doomed the generations of the Buendia family.

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Kidnapped shadows: the cinematography of 12 Years A Slave

Last week I caught up with Oscar nominated film, 12 Years A Slave. The intense narrative of Solomon Northup, freeman kidnapped and taken to the South, is an exceptional story accompanied by exceptional cinematography. Sean Bobbitt shot the film, and is notable for his professional relationship with Steve McQueen, having filmed the director’s previous works Shame and Hunger. Strangely enough, I haven’t seen a single one of his other works, but having seen 12 Years A Slave, I would certainly be interested in seeking them out.

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australian open

Beating the heat at the Australian Open

So the last week was one of the hottest of my life. In case you were in Antarctica, Melbourne’s been suffering over 40C temperatures every day. Up to 111F for my American friends! And coincidentally it’s also been the week of the Australian Open, one of Melbourne’s premier sporting events. The Australian Open is one of the four grand slam competitions, along with the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.

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New Year in Tokyo, Japan

I’ve been to many celebrations of the New Year around the world, including Paris and my home town, Sydney. Last year I celebrated New Year in Tokyo, Japan. Considered one of the great cities (or at least one that always makes the world clocks list in vintage newspaper offices), New Year takes on a different flavour in Tokyo to other places I’ve visited. As always, it’s a time for reflection and renewal.

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10 Best Travel Apps for Windows 8

Having switched from a Mac to a PC this year, I’ve been trying to find good travel apps for my computer. Unfortunately in the travel category, there are few apps which are really top notch. I’ve compiled a list of the 10 best travel apps for Windows 8.

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An Ode to Joy

I recently attended Riverstone arts gathering in Upper Plenty, where I got in touch with my inner poet. I haven’t written poetry in a long time, and after feeling slightly stumped on a Sunday morning, I felt called to write about joy. What came back to me was the verse: “Rejoice in the Lord Always, and again I say, Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4

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Golden Idols: Raiders of the Lost Ark Cinematography

I recently had the good fortune to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark on the big screen. Not only that, in an IMAX!

As a child of the mid-80s, I never got the chance to see the original Indiana Jones in a cinema. And as a photographer and a lover of film, I know how different movies can be when you see them projected versus on the television. Although I’ve seen Raiders too many times to count, I smiled with delight watching it again. Seeing it in a cinema is like watching it for the first time. The details come out, the colours are beautiful and it is truly a radiant experience.

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bird in the hand

On Gratitude

No house, no money, no clothes, no job, no phone, no computer.

 

That was my situation two weeks ago flying into Sydney from Cambodia. My husband and I had used every last cent on a world trip that lasted 2 years and spanned three continents.

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Publications update: Lonely Planet Asia

Just a short note to let you all know that I’ve been published in the May/June edition of Lonely Planet Asia magazine in the Postcards section. It was great to see it in the airport on my way home to Australia. The photo is of a guard at Gyeongbokgung Palace in Seoul, taken during my time in Korea. On a lovely double page spread too! Make sure you check it out if you’re in Asia.

Why You Should Always Ask Permission for a Travel Portrait

On a recent trek to Mount Everest Base Camp, I met a couple of budding photographers. While walking with one such photographer he pulled out his camera and started snapping surreptitiously at a local woman. I told him immediately to stop spy camming her. “You should always ask someone’s permission for their photograph,” I said. He shrugged and walked off. It annoyed me that he didn’t care about her, and it annoyed me more that he seemed nonplussed about my advice.

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