New South Wales has some lush and stunning national parks just about one hour from Sydney. I have visited the Colo Valley & went around the Blue Mountains national park - so called because the mist from the eucalyptus trees creates a typical blue-ish tint when seen from a distance.
There are some pretty and quaint little towns such as Blackheath, filled with nice cafes & victorian houses. The drive sometimes can be pretty hazardous when off the roads, but it surely looks great.
While mountain biking trekking I saw lots of spiders, a giant lizard and some kangaroos. I have also seen a beautiful river with sand banks in the Colo Valley. You can also do canyoning - which means going through the bottom of a canyon walking & swimming with the occasional jump into a dark pool.. It’s like an extreme bush walk, wet & cold but a lot of fun. I had no idea about the jumps and as I have a fear of deep waters I was freaking out but then did it anyway. It felt great :)
Confest was wild.
“The ultimate in festivals - volunteer based, self organising, full of lush people and lush vibes, been going for over 30 years.”
In a similar way to Burner events, an alternative society is created where you are free to express yourself, not wear any clothes, forget about time and be always welcome at any workshop or event you may stumble upon.
If I may call Peter a Wizard I would say he cast a spell on hundreds of us, and made us experience ecstatic states of mind brought along by singing, chanting and group dynamics.
There is no amplified music at Confest, but you can always hear the drums and have a good wild dance around the fire to the hypnotic rhythm. There is a mud pool, a steam room, a poisonous river. A massage tent, an open stage with performers and music, a daily throw of coloured powders in a Holi festival style, and so much more..
It is real hard to describe, and hard to photograph because of strict photography restrictions in place. I tried my best to capture only willing subjects, crowds and a few things that should be of no concern. I would like to gift those to all attendees - feel free to grab them and use them as you will. And I would be very happy for you to find a great shot of yourself having the time of your life, maybe in the mudtribe or during the Spontaneous Choir.
I would like to share a few words from Peter Gleeson, the white bearded man who ran the Mud Tribe and the Spontaneous Choir:
”The Love Procession always followed Spontaneous Choir. Their sizes from Friday were 300 followed by 300 others. Saturday 400 followed by 300 others, Sunday 300 with 100 through the procession before the fire circle wedding commenced. Monday 300 followed by another 200 and all who wanted went through twice. I finished the festival with a chord cuddle puddle then had them improvising through the ‘thank you song’. Two men picked me up by the thighs so I could survey the kind of bliss 200 people could generate.
I managed to try out some new ideas. One was converting 4 concentric circles of 400 people, into 2 double spirals in procession position. The love procession could start from the inside so everyone got to go through before outsiders could begin forming a massive queue of an almost never ending 10 to 20. A long wait sometimes, though the reward was a longer procession.
I had to monitor the progression of each procession. Often people with eyes closed would lose connection with the people in front and begin walking at half the speed adding an enormous amount of time to the event and awkward gaps. Some people had to be told not to stop and hug and kiss people along the route. Some people had to be told to just say, ‘I love you’. The mantra is important for the person going through and important for each person who has to say it to each person going through. Some people couldn’t keep their eyes closed which degrades the sensation and creates a risk of psychological harm through a random bonding.
There were at least 1600 different people through the love processions. It is a very powerful form of therapy. It has true transformative powers and ways of healing lots of ills. I encourage people to tell the story everyone will want to hear and relive the adventure that changed your life in a very positive way.
Though the love procession works for everyone, the most affected are the mid to late teens and young adults. It is a kind of initiation, recognition and acceptance into the adult world. ”
And his comments on this year’s Mud Tribe:
“MUD TRIBE involved 200 people - the most ever by 60. I was able to run it because it was warm enough and the blue-green algae wasn’t a problem with washing it all off.
It began with 60 people in the mud bath where I was able to explain the simple rules and attributes for participants. Others waited for their turn in the mud.
Drying took about 3/4 hour on a 24C day around a fire. Some painting occurred.
We left the preparation area in a massive procession. At the end of that, I started a chord singing walk then led people in a dance at the junction of 2 roads. Some people stampeded toward the market and the rest followed which meant the tribe had little interaction with the rest of the ConFesters. I took my time and arrived to find them dancing to drummers so I met my daughter in the chai tent and we chatted for 10 minutes before returning to the tribe.
We formed a circle and did some grand ritual singing and mexican waves before I collected the 2 massive watermelons I had hidden earlier and we feasted.
I sent them off to disperse and interact with the market people but many of them thought it was the end of the performance and vanished. 40 of us performed for the chai tent. 20 of us performed for the medical crew. 6 of us returned to the preparation area.
It was extremely funny and everyone had an amazing time. Gibberish makes it difficult to control but gives the freedom to improvise. Many people had life changing experiences. All have a story they will tell for the rest of their lives.”
You can follow Peter Gleeson on Facebook . For more information on Confest: http://confest.org.au/
Here are some photos I took at Wilderness Festival 2015 with Sunday Assembly.
Their tent was offering everything from inspiring talks on the history of “ecstasy” to yoga raves. See the Mexican mariachi band rocking the crowd out of their minds, and the final Bon Jovi mass karaoke from the Wilderness stage.
Is this new-category “mirrorless” camera comparable to the good old Canon & Nikon SLRs? Could it be used for weddings and other professional work? Or is it just an expensive travel toy? Here’s what I think..
I was on a train to Scotland when I first tried the Fujifilm X-t1, when my friend David handed me one.. How could such a small camera shoot so fast, with beautiful depth of field? How can it shoot images comparable to those of professional high-end bulky dSLRs such as the Canon 5d mark III, at a third of combined size and weight?
After reading many reviews, I bought my first Fuji and shot travel photos with it. (you can see some here)
I have then used it along my Canon 6D at a wedding, and I was so impressed I decided to switch.
In almost every respect, the Fuji is just as good or better than a Canon 6D, with a few exceptions.
If you are considering switching from conventional full-frame dSLRs, this review is for you. You will find out why I now love taking photographs more than ever.
I love the X-T1. All exposure controls are mechanical, on its body & lenses. This means you don’t have to look into the screen to change simple settings. It feels like shooting an old film camera. I think this is why it is a better choice than its main rival, the Sony A7.
How is the image quality? A lot more like film than any combination of presets and softwares I ever tried. (I no longer need VSCO & ASE to get the look I want). Especially with the Classic Chrome preset, the tones and colours look a lot like film.
It is not full-frame (more on this later) but the lenses are so good it does not show. Many of them start at ƒ1.4 and their sharpness and blur is superb.
The Fuji excels in day light: colours, depth of field, focusing & sharpness are all outstanding.
I take fewer photos now but they are better.
The difference between shooting with a Fuji instead of a Canon or Nikon is like the difference between primes and zoom lenses. I would call those ways shooting slow and shooting fast.
When you are shooting slow you are thinking more about composition .. You adapt yourself to the photo you imagine. It takes more effort. You walk to get the right framing instead of zooming in and out. The photos you get are usually better.
If you love to take 3000+ pictures a day or shoot in burst mode I am afraid this camera is not for you. This is one for quality over quantity. For taking as few photographs as possible while conveying as much as possible.
When I import my photos (after waiting ages for Lightroom to render), I still feel like going WOW every time! That Fuji Classic Chrome camera profile is so good I do not use any VSCO filter anymore. That’s right - just one raw camera profile does everything I ever wanted a preset to do. A few tweaks and I came up with just the look I want.
Here is a comparison between an image shot with a Canon 5d III + VSCO and ASE (what used to be my normal processing workflow), and a Fuji picture on the right (with the 56mm ƒ1.2).
Wait a second! The Fuji does not have a full-frame sensor. How can it look so good? If you compare the light bokeh behind Rich’s back you’ll notice the Canon one is twice as big. That’s cool but not necessary. I think the Fuji gives plenty enough.
I honestly don’t think more lens blur would make those photos any better:
Finally I can shoot all day without feeling any pain.
Another great feature of this camera comes with being so light & small: I actually take it with me on a daily basis. Whereas before I would barely ever shoot any personal work with a bulky Canon Slr. It was just too heavy, too noticeable.
A few things could be improved..
The battery life sucks. It’s crap, and the level indicator goes from full to dead way too fast. I now carry 8 batteries with me and a charger just in case. I also have to turn off the camera when not in use as there is no clever battery saving mode.
The controls can be easy to knock about, and the buttons in the back don’t “pop out” as nicely as they do in any dSLR. Ergonomics could definitely improve.
And finally we come to the Electronic Shutter.. It can be amazing because it offers a completely silent mode, but that comes at a price.. Weird distortions, or “banding” effects when shooting with artificial light can ruin a picture. Here are a couple of messed-up photos to give you an idea.
(settings allow using Mechanical Shutter, only the Electronic, or a combination of both)
Is it good enough for weddings?
Absolutely. Have a look at some sample photographs.
Only when it’s almost pitch-black at receptions it can sometimes struggle with autofocus, but in those cases I just use manual focus and keep mindful of my distance with the subjects. ISO to me becomes barely usable at 3200, even though it can go way higher, but when it’s dark I can play with the available light or just use flash anyway.
My biggest disappointment was finding out my Canon Speedlite 530 EX II is not compatible with the Fuji unless used in Manual Mode, so no ETTL or multiple flashes are possible. I have since bought a Nissin flash which is pretty good really but not as strong and fast as the good old Canon.
So when it comes to almost pitch-black situations I would have a much easier time shooting with the Canon, though what the Fuji can capture is not bad at all.
One little tip if you’re getting one: do only use very fast SD cards otherwise the camera could occasionally slow down. It took me a while to realise why one of my cameras was slower than the other. It was the SD card.
It took a while to get used to it but now I am very happy to have made the move. I feel like there’s nothing this little camera can’t do. I now think the weight and bulk of normal dSLRs would be just a hindrance to how I shoot. The little Fuij can shot spot-on sharp shots with beautiful creamy blur. It focuses real fast. It is quite responsive and it feels good to shoot with it.
I definitely recommend it.
In future versions, I look forward to better ergonomics, longer battery life, and faster startup. Here are a few more photos I took with it over 2015..
On the Road
In November 2014 I have travelled for a month around Europe with a backpack, my guitar and a Golden Leg named Lucia.
I have visited Berlin and experienced its amazing clubs and the vastness of the abandoned airport, saw the beauty of Prague, had a day out in Vienna, walked all around Budapest and tried its open air SPAs, joined the street party for the carnival in Köln, then headed to Spain where I decided to move for the cheap and relaxed lifestyle with beautiful weather. You can see photos from the trip here.