The Best of 2013

Well, its time to put together the best from 2013. I've managed to keep it down to 13, though I may do a follow up  set of other images as its gets very hard to whittle things down.
Whilst I spent the majority of the year locally in the Ballarat district, I also managed a second trip down to Flinders Island early in the year, and a visit to the Grampians that gave me some great opportunities in such a short time. And of course the major trip this year over to Hawaii, and then on to the USA west coast - I could have easily put together  a best 13 from just that trip!
Make sure you click on these for a larger look, its well worth it!
1. Purple Paradise
I made many, many trips out to Lake Burrumbeet, and nothing was more colourful than this sunset from the north east corner. Lake Burrumbeet always gives me something special, even in the most drab conditions, and being only 20 minutes from home its my go-to location when I'm a bit unsure of my plans.


2. Mt Warrenheip Wonder
On February 14 this year, there was a big fire at one of my favourite locations - Mt Warrenheip. I was down in Melbourne that day giving a presentation at the Rosanna Camera Club, and was a bit disappointed to miss out on all the action. In fact, I even scouted the location on the way home around midnight, but most of the access roads had barriers across them. The next day the fire continued to smoulder so I thought I'd venture out, and it wasn't till I drove around to the east side of the mount that I was presented with this magnificent view. And I'm happy to report the re-growth since has been exceptional, and I know of at least one koala that was looking fit and healthy when I found him a few months later.


3. Gong Gong Reservoir
The plans on this visit out to the Gong Gong Reservoir in April were centred around the rising full moon and the autumn colours - though I wasn't complaining when this magnificent rainbow appeared!
4. Flinders Island Icon
Castle Rock on Flinders Island is one of the most iconic images from an amazing location in Bass Stait, and I was thrilled when my friend Charlie got me here just as the light was reaching its peak late one afternoon in January.

5. Grampians Glory
I hadn't been to the Grampians National Park in a very long time, certainly well before I was into photography (I do remember running the Halls Gap Marathon many years ago!). And its less than 2 hours from Ballarat. First stop on the first evening was MacKenzie Falls and this image of the rock face was something a little bit different from the usual view you see of this iconic location.

6. Lava!
In late February Debbie I headed off to Hawaii, and probably the biggest item on my list was too see some flowing lava! We went a bit over budget on our last morning on the Big Island, and did the lava boat tour, and it was worth every cent. I can't recommend this trip highly enough, and the resulting images were something completely new for me.

7. Another World
Another great location we visited in Maui, Hawaii, was Haleakala National Park. A hike down the Sliding Sands trail was a highlight in this other-worldy spot.

8. Let It Snow - Bryce Canyon
After 9 days in Hawaii, we headed over to the west coast of the USA to spend another 2 weeks touring around some areas we had visited in the past. Still as awesome as ever, we were extremely fortunate to find Bryce Canyon in Utah capped with a new fall of pristine snow, and the late evening light really lit up those hoodoos! I gotta say it was pretty cold, especially for sunrise the next morning!!

9. Zion National Park
The view of the Watchman off the bridge at Zion is one of the busiest viewpoints in all of the 59 USA National Parks and I was determined to find something a bit different. So I worked my way along the Virgin River till I found this viewpoint from down at water level, and was very happy with the final result.

10. The Waterfall Way
Granite Falls - Not many  people realise the abundance of great photographic opportunities in the Ballarat district, and of course my favourite location is centred around the waterfalls we have here. I like to call this  3km section the Waterfall Way, and it wasn't till I made my first visit here for the year in about July that I was pleasantly surprised to see just how well the three falls were flowing. I made a number of visits through the year, and these are my favourites.
Granite Falls - the least well known and certainly the hardest to find, and probably my favourite as it is quite different from the other 2.

11. Lal Lal Falls. 
A big effort was required to get this image and I was thrilled with the final result. I've had a similar image in my portfolio for a couple of years, but felt this one came together really well, and was well worth the effort in getting right down to the water level of these 110 feet falls.

12. Moorabool Falls Magic
My favourite image of the year! This was on one of those days when you head off in drab, dreary conditions and you are rewarded with something very special. I was finished for the day, and was headed back to the car when I sensed a lightening on the horizon, and the annoying rain that had plagued me this afternoon came int to play to reward me with this magnificent sight.

13. There were many other contenders for this list but I felt this magnificent rainbow above the canola fields north of Ballarat, in October,  was a worthy addition. I had some great rainbows this year and this wins that category!
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The End -

.... of the Year! I wanted to finish off the year with something special but was feeling a bit frustrated by the lack of interesting skies lately. I'm not complaining, the weather has been great, so it just means I have to think and plan a bit more carefully to take into account the conditions and how best to utilise them. As you all know, running water in any form is my favourite subject, though with the lack of any rain for quite a while here in the Ballarat district its a bit limiting as to where you can go. So I thought a trip up to Smeaton to see how Birch's Creek is going (if in fact it is still flowing at all!) seemed like my best chance. And it paid off handsomely. You gotta admit.....these are a nice end to a great year! Really looking forward to 2014 and all the opportunities ahead!

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Another Reflection

After the previous post, I thought another reflection was worth sharing. This is from Zion National Park  in Utah back in March, along the Virgin River. The amazing colour is the sunlight reflected off the canyon walls.
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A Time For Reflections

Out to St Georges Lake in Creswick on Monday evening. Always a good place when there are no clouds around, as the reflections always offer something of interest. I didn't really notice it until I had these 3 images ready to upload...they all show the same patch of lake where the same group of trees on the banks of the lake offer up some great reflections. Usually there are quite a few birds around, especially one particular pair of ducks, though this time it was pretty sparse.
And this post makes it 4 different lakes in the last 4 days...I wonder what will be next for New Years Eve?!


A Quiet End to the Day

A quiet end to Sunday at Lake Wendouree. Luckily a few clouds floated by to add some interest to the sky. Earlier in the day, on the way to the family Xmas get together, I caught this brave guy in the middle of the road (its a very rough, rocky road!) in the Brisbane Ranges National Park, south of Ballan. He wasn't there a few hours later on the way home, so I'm sure he made it back into the bushes.

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Fighting the Fierce Wind

I had a suggestion from a blog viewer to visit the west side of Lake Learmonth. There are some great views from that side and it seemed like a good idea on Saturday evening. I didn't quite make it to that side of the lake as I realised from the north east corner I was looking at some good conditions with fast moving clouds creating constantly changing opportunities. After a 34 degree day, it was surprising cold, around 12 degrees, and the wind was fierce! The water level has dropped a bit, and this allowed some nice rock formations to be revealed that really added to these images. After the previous nights pelican parade at Lake Burrumbeet, I was surprised to have a few fly into view right on sunset. I will get to the other side of the Lake ....soon!



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The Pelican Parade

After my visit out to the west side of Lake Burrumbeet a couple of nights ago, I was keen to re-visit as the pelican population out that side of the lake is the largest I've seen. So with no clouds in sight, Friday evening seemed like a good time to head out that way. At first when I got there there were only a few random birds, then they started to appear and before long they were all over. They really are a magnificent sight when they come in groups, and there ability to glide inches above the surface always amazes. Quite a challenge to capture them in flight...this is a selection from the many images I took.




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Lighting Up The Sky

Some pretty nice colour at the end of Boxing Day here in Ballarat up at Lake Wendouree. I've seen this view many, many times and I'm always thrilled when the sky lights up like this.


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Christmas Out West

A really nice, warm, still day in Ballarat for Christmas (a far cry from Minnesota, where our friends from last years trip advised us that overnight they had minus 30 - fahrenheit!!). As a lot of you know I visit Lake Burrumbeet on a regular basis, and just for a change I made it over to the west side of the lake. I had the whole place to myself (really, who goes out on Xmas night to take photos?!) and some great conditions developed to send me home happy and content. This series is for Norma.......



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A Christmas Eve Stroll

On a warm, pleasant Tuesday evening I strolled through Fairyland. This is a part of the Lake Wendouree foreshore on the west side of the lake that can often give me something nice, especially when the prospect of spectacular skies are not part of the days shooting.

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Playing With Rocks

The rocky shoreline of Lake Burrumbeet offers unlimited opportunities, and on Monday evening I made the most of the last few rays of sunshine before it all turned grey. If you did a search of all my Lake Burrumbeet images from this year I think you'd be amazed at the variety of images I've captured....will any of them make it into the Top 13 of 2013 ?

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Caught Off Guard

Last nights epic sunset at Lake Wendouree really caught me off guard. As I had taken a few images earlier in the day of the sudden burst of water lillies appearing around the lake, I wasn't planning on heading out later as it was very grey and flat. One of the joys of living so close to the lake is that when a sudden burst of sunset colour appears, you have time to grab the camera and get there very quickly. Quiet an amazing light show that actually lasted quite a while...always a pleasure to experience!


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A Foggy 'Heip

After 3 very hot days here in Ballarat, it was great to get out to Mount Warrenheip on Saturday morning. With much cooler conditions, there was a nice blanket of fog over the top of the mountain, always great for photography, and a welcome relief from the hot conditions.



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Seasons Greetings!

With just a few days to go til Xmas, I thought this made a nice card - Managed to catch the attached image on our trip to Hawaii in February! (And everyone thinks he hangs out at the North Pole!!).
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Beneath the Surface

Something very different today. It may look like I have gone back into the archives for this series, from our visit to Florida and the Carribean early in 2012. These are, in fact, much closer to home....yes, Lake Wendouree here in Ballarat! I've been waiting for some clear conditions to give my small underwater camera a bit of a swim, and Friday was just right. And I didn't get wet at all...the camera was mounted on the end of a long pole! Its all a bit hit and miss, so I was happy to come home with a few interesting images.


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Nine Minutes

On Monday morning I was out east of Ballarat before sunrise and once I got myself to a high vantage point I could see the only spot with a b...