Category Archives: Photo effects

That moment when …

… your photograph inexplicably comes out of the camera looking like a watercolour painting.

Peach-coloured Dahlia, Yea, New South Wales Australia

Peach Dahlia


I took this photo back in 1999 with my (then) brand new Sony Mavica FD-91. It wrote to 3 1/2″ floppy disks.  I still have that disk – along with the other thousand or so!



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A photographer’s ‘fish story,’ literally

When the full moon is set to rise into a clear sky over a calm ocean at dusk, you know it is going to be a great photo opportunity.

Bring on the golden-red colours, the presaging glow, the first glimpse of the sliver of disk peeping above the watery horizon, the silver path of light on the rippling waves!

This was the moment on Tuross Head Beach last weekend, with the moon at its fullest and rising into the fading light of an early mid-winter evening.

Sedate but swift, the moon rises

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On this magic night the moonrise is a slowly moving visual feast, clinging to the ocean with a spectacular light-drop effect, then drifting upwards between the layered clouds. As I take photo after photo, the sky darkens, and the moon begins to lighten.   While it still beams with a deep russet glow, I frame up the cloud-bespeckled moon yet again, trying to keep the barely visible sea horizon level. I take the photo.

Suddenly, an eagle

A split-second later, with the sound of my camera shutter still ringing in my years,  an Australian sea eagle dives directly in front of the full moon, head down and wings spread, magnificently limned in the moon’s ruddy glow.

The eagle plunges into the sea like an arrow, to snatch one last fishy meal from the water as darkness closes in.  And I missed the perfect photo by milliseconds!

Later, reviewing my images, I did find at least photographic evidence of my story of the ‘one that got away’ – this lovely photo of the eagle making its approach from just above the moon.



The moons sails the night sky

Soon the moon fades to silver-white, lighting the waves and heading off on its journey to illuminate the night for other entranced viewers.




Photographs: All photos by Sabrina Caldwell. Other than resizing for web-use, no alterations have been made except that ‘Sea eagle over moon’ photo was cropped.

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Of fish and fledglings

IMG_2852_smallThis month I had the pleasure of visiting with family at their lofty and spacious aerie overlooking the vine covered foothills of the Temecula wine country in Southern California. Their home is an expression of their love of nature and space where I always feel my spirit renewing in the glow of their love and the beautiful environment they have built in harmony with with nature.

Nishikigoi of Temecula

A recent addition to this beautiful landscape is a Columbia Water Gardens designed pond in which a healthy community of nishikigoi – beautifully patterned koi fish – patrol crystal clear waters. They are a happy and casual lot, in a riot of colours as you can see from the gallery below – bright whites, oranges, reds, blues, blacks, creams, yellows and so many variations thereof. They co-exist harmoniously and are happy when feeding time comes.

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Star of the pond is the charismatic ‘Patch’ with her pretty blue eyes and bossy ways, and she seems to have had some success with reproducing if the markings on some of the younger fish are anything to go by.



I love Patch, but there are two others who are a bit more elusive that catch my eye too. One I’ve named Tiger because of the large black strip on its back.


The other  (yet more elusive) favourite is the one I have named ‘Garnet’ for the way its colours flash orange and black like a spessartine garnet as it swims.


Young Garnet (mid-top left) with Tiger (far right) and a few other mates

I could have photographed them for hours.  Come to think of it, I may have done.

Western Bluebird family

As I rounded the pond photographing the fascinating fish,  I noticed that above the purr of rushing water was a ceaseless cheeping sound, and discovered to my delight a young fledgling bird poking its head out of a nearby birdbox.  It was, I later discovered, a baby Western Bluebird, and it had two siblings, and two harried parents working full time to feed the growing chicks.


Western Bluebird nestlings

The family of bluebirds was unafraid of us, and soon I was in the enviable position of being unable to decide which direction to turn my camera lens: towards the chicks and the adults tending to them, or the fluid colourful motions of the koi. I did my best to photograph both of these special scenes.


Decisions, decisions

Photo Effects

Later, as I flicked through the results, I was drawn to the interesting photo effects that occurred in several of the photographs.

The light illuminating the  wings of the bluebirds made them seem like angels’ wings.




In a different way, the light effects in the photos of the fish in the water also caught my attention.  I particularly like this photograph of Patch, in which the light bending in the water makes her look otherworldly.


Watercolour photographs

A few of the photographs were so affected by colour reflections and water swirls that they were little more than a cacophany of colour, with just enough structure to suggest flowers, foliage and fish.  The light in these photos was bouncing off of flowers and fish, following lines in the water’s surface cut by the koi as they slipped and swirled in the pond.


These photographs  were for me an epiphany. They were the first images (photo or painting) that truly allowed me to understand Monet’s watercolour paintings.


I always thought Claude Monet simply showed us his impressions of the world around us, but I can see now that he could truly see moments of liquid light in our real world that I had never consciously seen myself. And he didn’t have the benefit of freeze-frame photography.  He truly was a master of his craft and vision.  And now I will be better able to see the watercolour moments around me.

And this is where I leave the happy band of fish and fledglings. Until next time!



All photographs by Sabrina Caldwell, May 2016. Other than the 3 crops noted below, and overall resizing for web use, no alterations have been done to any of the photographs.

Watercolour photographs were cropped to focus on the watercolour effect and Western Bluebird nestlings photograph was cropped to allow greater visibility of the chicks in the photo.








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