Category Archives: Darwin

Travel Photography

In the words of Monty Python ‘and now for something completely different’ – Travel Photography and Ethno Photography.

Borneo bicycle man. Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Bicycle Man, Pangkalan Bun, Borneo
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

While I wait for inspiration to write the CAKE crew in Marble Bar story, and my web host to come back online (major database crash at Pbase.com) I will talk about my new project. Travel Photography and Ethno Photography (roughly translates to photographing people in the world), especially of minorities, is something I want to explore and hopefully learn to do well. Having always been a fan of Travel Photography, my recent work in Malaysia and Borneo opened my eyes to the fact that I should stop just being a fan and dive into it myself. It involves pointing my camera at humans and in that way basically pointing the camera at myself as well. Something I struggle with, but where’s the fun without a new personal challenge! My upcoming Asian Adventure and Photographic Nomadic Journey around the world is the perfect opportunity for this. Would be a crime to not capture people and scenes along the way and improve my travel photography – while still capturing my beloved landscapes as well of course!

A few feeble examples of my travel photography so far. Much more to come.

Kenya masai women blog

Masai Women, Kenya 
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

pangkalan bun blog

Saving the Kitten, Pangkalan Bun, Borneo
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Mindil Beach market

Master Chef, Mindil Beach Market, Darwin, Australia
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Resources: I read The Travel Photographer’s blog, an outstanding blog. The writer, Tewfic El-Sawy, is a brilliant travel photographer, his galleries are here.

Crocs in the main street of Darwin! Sun drops into Timor Sea!

Food! At Mindil Beach MarketThe Mindil Beach Market is in every Darwin tourist brochure so you might think it’s overrated and over packed with tourists. But it really is good fun and in a way it’s what Darwin is all about in one little (not so little; about 190 stalls) market. It’s a big multi cultural melting pot of tourists and laid-back locals enjoying the atmosphere, checking out the many food and craft stalls, grooving to the bands, artists and well downright crazy performers performing – and everyone worshipping the sun drop straight into the Timor sea while eating $8 meals cooked by chefs like my mate on the right (yeah that’s right! I shot a photo of a non-landscape subject!). Everyone is friendly and determined to have a great time and the people are super entertaining. Tropical lifestyle at it’s best!

Mindil Beach Market I still felt tired and lazy and couldn’t be bothered walking the 4 kilometres to the beach in the tropical heat…so I hailed a taxi. Taxi driver was a character all right; sees my big camera backpack with tripod and asks “Off to shoot the sunset? You’re a photographer mate? Professional?”. “Yeah. Well semi-pro” I say. He asks “I got a digital camera too, how big is your memory card? I think mine can shoot like a thousand photos!”. “Hehehe, well mate” I say “I have about 40 gigs of CF cards, 320 gigs of external HDs, 1 laptop and blank DVDs. I don’t really plan on running out of memory!”. He shifts conversation to food and says “So much good food at the market, you like Indian food?”. “Yes I do” I say. “It’s SPIIIIICYYYYY” he then shouts like Jim Carrey in The Mask. Like I said, wildly entertaining people at the market and also driving you to the market!

Mindil Beach Market It’s hard to capture the atmosphere of the market in a photo. I’ve included a few quick and dirty edits from Lightroom with blown highlights, halos and everything! But they do sort of show you the blur of people walking back and forth between the stalls surrounded by palm trees and tropical sunset light. To see the sunset itself – read on.

Crocs on Main Street of Darwin!

Just had to throw in that headline. Since Crocosaurus Cove opened in the middle of Darwin a few months ago this headline has been featured everywhere! Crocosaurus Cove is a huge new croc zoo right on Mitchell Street. It is worth a visit, it’s really well made with some beautiful crocs in huge pools that feature super design. Like in some fish aquariums you can walk underneath the pools and see the crocs from all angles. Impressive, haven’t seen that before. Mitchell street is also backpacker hell with all the big backpacker hostels and therefore also all the big pubs. I reckon they should let the crocs out at night, cull the drunken backpacker population a bit!

Sun drops into Timor Sea! – and Australia and GND filters

Sunset at Mindil Beach in DarwinI don’t really use a lot of filters. I sometimes use a neutral density filter in Copenhagen to cut light for longer exposures. The ND filter you can just stick on and forget so it’s easy to use. Doesn’t get in my way. I rarely use a graduated neutral density (GND) filter in Copenhagen as the soft pastel light means I can manage without it and I find GND filters annoying to use. I’m not really that keen on tripods either. Or cameras for that matter. That’s why I loved the 617 viewfinder so much. I want as transparent a creative process as possible concentrating on composition and shooting many angles and hate anything that gets in the way. I would love to just swap one eye for a 50 megapixel 14-bit sensor with 2:1 aspect ratio and shoot by blinking!

In Australia the light and colours can be so intense even after sunset that a GND filter really is needed. A GND filter has a gradual cutoff meaning half the filter cuts exposure by for instance 2 stops while the rest of it is transparent. Means you can even out the light between the sky and the beach or sea for example. I still find GND filters a right bloody pain in the behind to use. Can’t see what’s going on, have to keep adjusting every time I change composition. But it means you can capture Mindil Beach dusk shots like the one above and this one (again, just quick exports from Lightroom) 

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Aboriginal art

I am very fascinated by aboriginal culture and have by now seen a lot of rock art and paintings all over Australia. Darwin has what I consider the best artists and the best art galleries. The traditional old x-ray style of Arnhem Land in Kakadu National Park here in the Northern Territory, the Oenpelli region, is my favourite style; the style most people know are probably the new dot-painting style. There are several large and gorgeous aboriginal art galleries in Darwin, the Aboriginal Fine Arts Gallery is outstanding and features some of the best Arnhem Land artists. Djawida Nadjongorle is one of the famous Arnhem artist and his outstanding work can be seen here. If I had $6500 to spare the huge Mimi Spirits Hunting painting was coming home with me!

I’ve gone bush!

Finally; now the real work can begin; the real photography! I am fully normalised, sleep fine again and Wednesday sees me on a 14 day outback trip through the magnificient Kimberleys. I have very high expectations; hope to get some fantastic outback landscapes to add to my portfolio. I won’t be online for a while so see ya on the other side! I’ve gone bush!

Darwin and MyLife 2.0

Darwin, Centennial Park, Park trees against the light “G’day mate and welcome home!” says the Aussie stewardess to me with a big smile. All I said was “hello” with that “hallooww” Aussie twist to it. I should have been an actor. But thanks! Good to be home. I live at least 3 different simultaneous lives and it means I am usually home somewhere in the world. Good thing I do multi-tasking.

It is very good to be “home” again. I have spent almost a full year of my life in Australia so it qualifies as life no. 2 I should say. I touched down in Darwin 4am Friday morning; looked at my watch and counted 30 hours since I left my other life. Has to be hard to be worth it.

Darwin is a bit of a love or hate it affair but like Cairns – the more I’m here the more I love it. A cosmopolitan multi-cultural energetic tropical town with emphasis on town. It still is very much an outback town with some weird and crazy territorians even if there are now big flashy hotels and lots of new construction as Darwin is undergoing a rapid expansion. Weird and crazy. I fit in completely. I forget how much I love the tropics. It’s life reduced to a pair of thongs; shorts and t-shirts and 4wd trucks. It’s about 33-34 degrees tropical melting heat during the day and probably 25 degrees at night. It’s even hotter here than last year, the build to the buildup to the wet season must have started early as we do have some clouds and higher humidity. The heat, the sunrays are pure energy for a cold-blooded reptile like myself who depend on the sun to heat us and energize us. Why do we even attempt to live elsewhere but the tropics?

Darwin, Harbour cloudscape Darwin is I reckon the most multi-cultural city in Australia and you meet some raw but very friendly and charming characters. Darwin was completely erased twice, first by 350 Japanese bombs in World War II then by Cyclone Tracy. Erased from existence but rebuilt and I think this pioneering self-reliant strong spirit carries on in Darwin. As nice as the tropics and Darwin is; it helps of course that Darwin is the gateway to nature at it’s very best as there is not that much to do or photograph in Darwin itself. Kakadu National Park is to the East; Kimberleys to the South-West and my exploring starts Wednesdays!

There’s only a 7½ hour time difference at the moment from MyLife 1.0 to 2.0 but add 30 hours of getting here and land at 4am and it adds up to serious jetlag. This time it’s been at it’s paranoid best and especially bad, causing 2 sleepless nights so far. Seems to get worse with age; like stuff getting stuck in your teeth. I calculate I am still about 10 hours behind on sleep since Wednesday. It has to be hard to be worth it. Sleepless nights are hard. Paranoid twilight-zone experiences like The Machinist with Christian Bale. The things that get written in my notebook during paranoid sleepless nights read awfully strange in the morning. Fortunately I’ve learned a lesson from the last 2 trips and have nothing booked for the first days here; need some days to normalise.

Darwin, Centennial Park, Palms at Dusk So I’ve basically been tired all day for two days and just relaxed under palm trees in Centennial Park. Yes my friends I admit it’s not all work (I try and convince friends that photography is work). Work starts Wednesday! Which is why the only thing I’ve photographed so far is sunsets in the park; as seen in my 3 fairly ordinary photos to the right of extraordinary tropical colours.

I want to get up and run to Kakadu (all 300 kilometers) to get some landscapes but all good things to those who wait. Need energy back first; then we create art!

I know you’re itching to get the last part of the metal detector saga but nothing happened in Singapore. Not a single beep. Disappointing. Means that alien abduction implants can easily be smuggled through Singapore airport!

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen PhotographyHawk Dreaming brochure PS. Visiting the brilliant Tourism Top End information center it was cool to find the Aussie Adventure Hawk Dreaming brochure – with my photo (see left) the front cover (see right). I knew it was used in the brochure but still cool to see it live. I think it’s the best brochure in the territory; I’m not even biased! Making my mark in the territory one brochure at a time!

Mindil Beach at Dusk Panorama

Even if you haven’t been to Darwin, you may have heard of the beach in Darwin called Mindil Beach and the market where everyone goes Thursdays and Sundays – Mindil Beach Market.

I’ve blogged about Mindil Beach before when I was there in August 2007, it is a great and fun melting pot of so many cultures, market stalls and buskers and thousands of people. Then there’s the sunset. It is not just watched it is almost worshipped by the Territorians and the tourists. It is out of this world, only in the tropics will you get these colours. Dusk is even better, the colours are so intense and saturated that Scandinavian eyes used to our somewhat paler version of the world find it hard to believe these colours exist!

I recently finished stitching a panorama of Mindil Beach at Dusk that I feel succeeds fairly well in showing the magical dusk light at Mindil Beach. Click this to see the large size version on my website:

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Mindil Beach at Dusk Panorama
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

About the photo

I love this shot, looking at the full size version it totally brings me back to Mindil Beach – all that’s missing is the many sounds and smells of the market and the tropical heat! The colours are spot on as I remember them from Mindil in dusk light and this particular night (I was at the market 3 different nights) had the best light and one other important thing – the tide is out and went out timed perfectly with the sunset! There’s a 9 meter tide at Darwin so it’s a huge difference, either there’s no beach or a huuuuge beach! Having the tide go out timed with the sunsets leaves these tiny rivers of reflected light in the wet sand picking up all the colours of dusk! Only happened on this night! I underexposed by more than a stop to keep the red channel from blowing out.

It’s not a perfect panorama shot technically though, I did quite a few things wrong and I have spent hours and hours in PTgui and Photoshop trying to correct my mistakes, “salvaging” this pano. I didn’t have a tripod for this so I shot it handheld, but that can still work fine. It won’t work when you’re not paying attention though, I must have still been jetlagged because the horizon is all over the place from shot to shot. You would think I bloody shot it one handed looking at the files! This + the fact that it’s a very wide ‘n wide angle pano shot vertically is why the horizon is not totally straight in this shot and I had to do a lot of cleaning up in Photoshop of the stitches. It was worth all the work though, I love the shot but wish it was a bit better technically, certainly would have saved me many hours of work at the computer if I’d done my work properly in the field to begin with. I guarantee it’ll still look great on your wall though 🙂

The Market

Gotta love Mindil Beach Market, half of Darwin is there not just the tourists and it’s great fun. I’ll end this with one of my shots from the market itself, click to see large:

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Busy night at Mindil Beach Market
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

…and finally, a video of the market courtesy of Northern Territory Tourism at Youtube:

Kakadu National Park

Click to see large size on my gallery!

South Alligator River panorama

On the road I posted quite a few photos and wrote quite a bit about Kakadu National Park, especially in the posts from Hawk Dreaming – but I also did a scenic flight over Kakadu that I never had time to write about before now. This week I went through some of the photos from the flight and was surprised to find some that I really liked, I remember initially being very disappointed because the shooting conditions were incredibly difficult – more about that later. Here’s the tale of Kakadu from above.

You can do scenic flights over Kakadu from either the township of Jabiru in the park – or from Darwin. I took off from Darwin airport in a small plane with four fellow passengers and one pilot on a very early Monday morning. From Darwin it’s about an hour of flying time to get to our pitstop in Cooinda in the park.

It is just after sunrise and the light is brilliant. It is  a very hazy morning though making photography hard with very little light to work with. At least the air is still cool from the night so no turbulence – yet! We fly over the amazing South Alligator river where we spot crocodiles on the banks heating their bodies in the morning sun. We see the wetlands of Kakadu (the bit that’s still wet in the dry season) and the Yellow Waters Billabong and the little tour boats. It’s a beautiful flight and the only way to experience the scale of Kakadu national park – you really get a sense of the nearly 20,000 square kilometers of Kakadu from the air. The photo above and the following two are from the morning flight.

Click to see large size on my gallery! Wetlands of Kakadu

Click to see large size on my gallery! Kakadu and Adelaide River

We touch down at Cooinda for an hour and a half, allowing people who wish to do so to join the Yellow Waters cruise. I’ve actually done that yesterday so I re-visit the amazing Warradjan Cultural Centre (the best cultural centre in Kakadu).

At about 11am we jump in our plane again and take off for the Escarpment and then back to Darwin. Now by this time it’s about 35c degrees, the sun has burned away all the haze and heated the air – a lot! Because of the hot air and the cyclone strength winds coming off the tall Escarpment plateau we have turbulence like I have never experienced before. The plane is jumping up and down like some huge hand of a weather god is shaking it and it quickly gets extremely hot and uncomfortable in our little cabin. Two of my fellow passengers use their complimentary plastic bags and say hello to their breakfast again! I try to shoot photos but looking through the viewfinder is impossible so I just point the camera and shoot blindly out the window and concentrate on keeping my own breakfast down (I succeeded fortunately!). Here’s the spectacular Escarpment that’s causing the spectacular turbulence!

Click to see large size on my gallery!Looks majestic, quiet and peaceful doesn’t it! Well in our plane it felt like the perfect storm! I love flying but when we touch down in Darwin again I am actually a bit happy to be on terra firma again. Even for me that turbulence was a bit too much and the rest of the day my balance is off. With the turbulence and the haze in the morning, photography was difficult and looking through the photos in the evening I was initially very disappointed with what I got. But revisiting the shots now with some work on the RAW files in Rawshooter there are actually a few that are fine and I’m pleased to have shots of Kakadu from above. Looking at them now is almost giving my stomach some not so pleasant flashbacks! See more Kakadu aerial shots in my Kakadu gallery.

I would definitely recommend a scenic flight over Kakadu – if you have the stomach for it! If you wish to experience the Kakadu turbulence please shake your head or your monitor violently as you browse my photos 😀

It has been an exciting and eventful and beautiful Kakadu flight certainly and thank you for flying Flemming Bo Airlines!

Mindil Beach at dusk

Mindil Beach at dusk
No words will suffice. Mindil Beach sunsets are food for the soul and I try not to miss one while I’m here. The tropical colours at dusk are something we never see in Denmark. No saturation added to this, and the red channel could surely use a lot more levels than the 12 bits provided in the raw file! Click the shot to see larger size on my gallery.
Now I promise to shoot something which is not a sunset – off to Kakadu National Park tomorrow!

Planes, Trains, Litchfield and Tracy

The first night is never a problem. I am always so incredibly tired from the trip (can’t sleep on planes) that I sleep great. A little too great, slept till 10am Friday morning. Wasn’t supposed to and that didn’t help with the feared night 2 where jetlag kicks in for me. Had to get up at 6am to make a 7am pickup for the trip to Litchfield and my body thought it was on CET+1 so of course…I feel asleep around 4am and got about 2 hours of sleep. I hate night 2!

Litchfield National Park

That made me a bit tired for todays very hot very dry trip to Litchfield with about 34c degrees today and no sea breeze like in Darwin it was far too hot to be in the tropical sun and hats are your best friend (imagine me wearing a hat? Well you gotta. Sun will bake ya if you don’t). The park is a fine day trip, only 115km from Darwin and with some nice water falls and sweeping views. At the moment it really is the dry season, even though it’s the tropics Darwin gets no rain for months in the dry season and presently it feels more like Western Australia. The leaves are still green but everything is so dry and brittle you fear the whole thing is gonna catch on fire from the burning sun. That made Litchfield a bit on the dry side, but a polariser filter on the lens helps cut down the glare and here’s 2 views from Tomber Falls in Litchfield. Click to see fullsize and I hope it shows how dry and very warm it was today:

Litchfield National Park

Litchfield National Park

Darwin and Tracy

Friday I visited the brilliant MAGNT – Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. I get bored in museums generally but there are exceptions. Stunning displays of aboriginal art, natural history of Australia and a special section on Cyclone Tracy make this museums a must-see. Darwin has had a tough life. Darwin was bombed by the japanese in WWII and almost destroyed. And not once but twice has cyclones practically erased Darwin from the face of the earth. The worst natural disaster in Australia is Cyclone Tracy in Darwin in 1974 and at the museum you can learn all about it. Best bit is this pitch black room that plays the sound of Tracy (someone recorded parts of it when it hit Darwin) at very high volume. Standing there in the darkness listening to Tracy she comes alive and it is chilling and scary! Imagine winds at 217+ km/hour (that was the speed recorded before Tracy broke the equipment) mixed with flying debris like tonnes of corrugated iron scraping across concrete and hitting other buildings etc. Must have been hell on earth when she hit Darwin and very few of the house were built to withstand anything so the city practically disappeared.

Speaking of WWII – Darwin had the distinction of being the only city in the world with an airstrip that crossed a railroad line! The army needed to extend this particular airstrip and only option was across a railroad line. So in typical Aussie “have a go” engineering fashion, it got extended across the railroad and the tower had to coordinate landings and takeoffs with the train schedule. The airforce pilots must have loved this!

Sunsets and sandflies

Monday I’m off camping in Kakadu National Park so tomorrow I am doing oh so exciting laundry – and relaxing. I tend to forget that sometimes. I’ll leave you with a sunset shot from Bicentennial Park in the city, sunsets are never ordinary here (and can include lots of biting sandflies as I found out sitting here in the park at dusk). Miss you all, hope you’re going great!
Darwin Sunset