Vintage Botanica



While editing photos from a wedding I attended yesterday, I wondered how to make the flower images – shot in very low light conditions under a marquee – more interesting.

The image of roses in a blown-glass vase against a dark background, above, had some vignetting applied in Picasa, then a colour effect and border applied in Pixlr-o-matic.

The image above was quite unremarkable, until I tried applying the infrared effect in Picasa; suddenly, it reminded me of early photographic processing styles I had seen in books. I scaled back the filter, so that some colour remained, then applied an effect in Pixlr-o-matic to warm the colours slightly.

Another unremarkable image in colour, the bokeh behind the rosebud, above, was what caused me to keep this image despite there being no single point of clear focus.

Finally, the grainy black and white shot – also unfocussed – is straight out of the camera. I kept it because I like how the grain works in low-light photos where there is good contrast between the light subject and the dark background.

Serviceton Railway Station Revisited: the tour

This week

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I accompanied a friend on a tour of the Serviceton Railway Station, which I visited for the first time only recently. On that first visit, I hadn’t known that tours were available; truth be told, I wouldn’t have been interested, had the opportunity not arisen again so soon. Since I had only taken a very few photos of the station exterior in the space of ten minutes, I jumped at the chance to take photos in a more leisurely fashion.

Making the trip up to Serviceton, via Kaniva, we were greeted at the entrance by our guide, Ron, who has been the station’s volunteer caretaker for the past six years. He showed us through the ticket office first, moving then into the main hall with 20 foot ceilings; through the kitchen, which once saw 18 workers preparing food; then past the bar into the former ladies’ parlour.  Beyond the parlour were small private rooms, and the “bucket” room.

My favourite part of the station was the graceful staircase, with its original carpet – now heavily worn. At the top of the stair was the cook’s attic room, with a bathroom off the landing.

Back down the staircase, we were joined by a small group who had called in to explore, and Ron showed us to the cellar and “dungeon”, slightly below ground level. In the dungeon were very small cells, which he told us were used for up to 30 prisoners at a time, who were shackled to the walls for a period of three hours – presumably while the trains were changed for the next leg of the journey. To be honest, I was paying more attention to what I was seeing than what he was saying.

At the opposite end of the building, Ron took us into another sub-level room which he referred to as the morgue, where dead bodies being transferred between the states were stored during train changes. There was an amusing caricature on the wall of a former Station Master, who was supposed to have been in service during the war at the time the picture was drawn.

Ron is usually about the place, so if you’re passing that way on the highway between Melbourne and Adelaide, take the short detour and see this amazing piece of history.

Night-time: interior with cat (who has 8 lives left)

There is something about sleeping cats that make for a comforting home. One night some years ago, a friend’s dog was acting strangely and making her feel nervous. When I suggested she see how her male cat was reacting, she relaxed: he was sleeping peacefully, aware with a cat’s sixth sense that there was nothing to be worried about.

This is Pugsley: a warm, fluffy, puddle of a cat. When I first met him in a pet shop, he launched himself at me and make it perfectly clear that I was his human. He has always been my favourite of our two cats, but I never knew how much I loved him until he was bitten by a snake, two summers ago. Certain he would die, and uncertain what kind of snake had bitten him, we put his bed in the bath and nursed him while he was catatonic for two days, eyes like saucers and able only to mew feebly. At dawn of the third day, he began mewing quite loudly and in great distress; I wept with heartache as I told My Good Man that this was it. When I went to him, I discovered that he could move slightly, and was outraged at having to lie in a vast puddle of his own pee – the first to pass since the bite. I knew then that he was going to be ok.

That experienced strengthened our bond more than I thought possible, and now I am completely besotted with the handsomest member of the household.

My Good Man: just your everyday hero

My Good Man has many wonderful qualities, including being thoughtful, a good provider, a much faster and better dishwasher and general cleaner than I, and an all-round handy and pleasant fellow to have about the place. It’s also his job to make me laugh every day, and he takes it quite seriously.

Despite not appreciating my photography, he supports me doing whatever makes me happy, and sometimes even pretends to listen when I start raving about why I think a particular photo does, or doesn’t, work. I, in turn, do not appreciate his favourite sport: Aussie Rules Football; nevertheless, I support his right to play it – despite the groaning I do about having to get used to being a “football widow” every season, my increasing reluctance to attend his games, and the annoyance I feel at having to give up watching something on TV because the footy’s (always)on.

I will be delighted when he decides to stop playing for good, even though I know I will then lose him immediately to fishing. But it was with pride that I sent him off last night to the presentation night for the league his team plays in, and he returned having been awarded Third Best and Fairest for the 2012 season. Congratulations, my hero!