The Boomer Legacy

Selection

Project Highlights

The following are a “best of” sample of images from this project.

They are not necessarily the most popular, but rather those which best represent what this project all is about.

Topic Images

There are currently 82 photographs in this section.

The customer was king

Everything you could possibly ever want, at your fingertips

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Supermarket checkout, Nepean Village Penrith [Apr-2003 385KB]

Remarks

Taking candid photographs inside supermarkets was not easy. You were constantly monitored by employees, who were worried about their pricing and product display designs being stolen. Consequently, a special candid rig had to be developed which, although it had my camera clearly visible, appeared to be merely carrying the camera instead of actually using it to take photographs

Race Day chic

Ladies in the public enclosure would enjoy themselves during the Cup aftermath

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Rosehill Racecourse, Melbourne Cup hairdresser's picnic [Nov-2005 307KB]

Remarks

Another Hasselblad film image, using my “portable” 3kg set-up of 501CM, Distagon 50 FLE, PME45 viewfinder, Metz flash, cable release and monopod. Taking candid photos with such a rig could at times be challenging…

Stakeholder

One could either use General Relativity field-equations to derive the Schwarzschild metric in n–dimensions, or else go shopping

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Supermarket freezer aisle, Katoomba [Dec-2003 400KB]

Remarks

Again a custom Leica candid rig had to be used, with the added complication of having a supermarket employee discreetly following me around to ensure I wasn't photographing trade-secrets

Braving the abyss

Despite challenging market conditions, and a negative return for your superannuation this year, we continue to deliver strong long-term returns. […] Significant market falls can be worrying, but staying invested remains vitally important. […] When we invest your super, our approach is focussed on the long term, to help maximise your retirement savings. But it also manages short-term risks in times like these. I want to reassure you, our members, that we remain committed to investing to help you achieve your best retirement outcomes. Bulk email from the CEO of Aware Super, 2022-07-08

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Waterrun cliff-side, RNP [Aug-2020 569KB]

Remarks

Waterrun is a dramatic rock-shelf in the Royal National Park. The narrow river valley is surrounded by 50m cliffs, the tops of which provide an overhead view. Unfortunately you have to climb out to the very edge of these things to get the best shots. Have done it twice, won't risk a third time…

The carnival is over

The market faithfully rewarded those who took a long-term view

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Luna Park Hair Raiser ride, in the rain [Jan-2019 171KB]

Remarks

Night photography is difficult, especially in the rain. Here it was persistent enough for water to seep into my 35mm LUX (11337) lens, necessitating a round-the-world trip to have it disassembled, cleaned and recalibrated

Forging a new deal

The transition from manufacturing to a financialised economy was completely seamless

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Derelict Ford truck at The Grounds of Alexandria. Revisited in July 2023 and by then the Ford was mostly overgrown [Apr-2018 553KB]

Remarks

How do you depict the systematic dismantling of industries, with their associated high-quality jobs for working-class people, without being tediously didactic?

What this little black rock could do

We have to make sure this economy works. We have to export dollars. We have to realise we have a moral responsibility to other people in other nations to keep their lights on (Joyce, 2017)

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The Steelworks and Coal Loader at Port Kembla harbour [Sep-2014 77KB]

Remarks

Port Kembla featured some of the largest coal handling facilities in the world. Unfortunately these generally ugly industrial locations provided few opportunities to capture interesting images. Sunsets helped, as did telephoto lenses, silhouettes and a photomontage

The memories we created

We knew exactly how the future would remember us

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Tree growing in the old Fosters brewery wall (since demolished), at Chippendale in Sydney [Apr-2014 525KB]

Remarks

Had photographed the small tree a few times earlier, but got lucky here when a couple of pigeons inserted themselves into the shot. A few months later the wall (and tree) was demolished when the Central Park development neared completion

Temporary respite

Spend all morning crawling over room-sized boulders, before having a break and doing it all over again on the way back

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Glenbrook Gorge, Lapstone [Aug-2021 611KB]

Remarks

A few days earlier at Darks Common lookout, noticed a family with small children wandering around in Glenbrook Gorge far below. Thought that if they could take their toddlers in there, then it shouldn't be too difficult for me to walk in. Yeah right. Clambering over boulders for almost an hour and then slipping into the river with $Ks camera gear was not anyone's idea of “easy”. N.B. the small beach in the image no longer exists, washed away by extensive flooding in 2022

Bubble watch

Rising property prices were carefully manipulated to create more economic winners than losers

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Spectators on the steps of the former CBC Bank, Martin Place [Apr-2006 257KB]

Remarks

This image was taken during the 2006 Anzac Day march, at the moment when everyone looked up to watch planes fly over. What made the shot difficult was getting the timing right when using a film-based Hasselblad, mounted on a monopod and triggered by a mechanical cable release

Eloi wonderland

We gathered by the harbourside to sip infused agave nectar and nibble on sweet fuyu persimmons, and were astonished by the vast contraptions built by our distant ancestors

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Sydney Harbour sunrise kayaks [Jan-2019 245KB]

Remarks

The 135mm TEM (11861) can be an amazing lens under the right conditions. Particularly when shooting into a low sun, it makes everything go an intense orange while still retaining sharpness and resisting flare. Unfortunately it is also 100g heavier than the more recent 135mm APO (11889), but it does have a greater focus-throw angle to make fine-tuning easier, and is (ahem) thousands of dollars cheaper

On track for Soylent Green

2019 → months of raging bushfires
2020-1 → pandemic lockdowns
2020-3 → torrential rain & flooding from three consecutive La Niñas
2023 → stagflation, interest rate hikes and heatwaves from a super El Niño

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SOH Tour group during the 2019 summer bushfires [Jan-2020 321KB]

Remarks

It was amazing how similar the sunshine was to that in the 1973 sci-fi movie. If that wasn't enough, what was an offhand remark about Sydney in Jan 2020 turned out to be an eerie foretaste of what happened three years later in Greece and NYC

Ghosts of the CBD

The C-Suite resorted to upbeat-slogans, pleading, threats, mandates and compulsion to get WFH employees to return to their city offices

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Commuters at the new Central station northern concourse [Jul-2023 280KB]

Remarks

Candid people photography became a much riskier proposition than it was last century. Luckily people became so accustomed to mobile phones being used for photographs that when they saw an actual camera, they assumed it must only be for mundane things like birds or flowers or stand-up-straight grandchildren

Defenestrate your livelihood

We mortgaged the future and bet it all on there not being one

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Waverton Coal Loader wharf [Feb-2022 587KB]

Remarks

Although ruin-porn is a photography cliché, there are times when you cannot ignore it. For this picture, had to climb a barbed-wire topped security fence to obtain the overhead shot. The 19mm ELMARIT (11329) lens appears to suffer from pincushion distortion, but the foreground planks and trusses show that everything is as straight as it should be

PETM reloaded

Nine-month summers, super El Niños, category-six hurricanes, continental bushfires, methane fumaroles, acidified oceans, cubic-kilometres of eutrophication and rivers awash with millions of dead fish. Years of drought followed by months of flooding rain. Millennium events every five years. Every month since May 2023 the hottest on record. The sixth mass extinction… Aim low for +1.5°C and congratulate ourselves for overshooting by only 80%

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Truck exhaust pipes at Woolloomooloo, in Sydney's east [Oct-2012 132KB]

Remarks

We lived in a world where roads were filled with 2-3 tonne petrol-guzzling behemoths and their dickhead drivers, racing each other to their demise

Community standards

Our suburbs were strewn with eye-popping enticements from agile entrepreneurs

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Dulwich Hill skate park [Sep-2015 87KB]

Remarks

The “sneakers thrown over power-lines” meme has been comprehensively addressed by TikTok™ contributors: Some people do it just to be annoying. Some people do it as a memorial to a dead friend. Some people do it to advertise a drug dealer territory. Some people do it because they've seen it done and just think it's funny (Daily Mail UK, 2020)

Meaningful social interactions

Facebook, Twitter “X”, WhatsApp, TikTok, WeChat, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, LinkedIn, LLM-based generative AI, 4/8Chan: elaborate frameworks were created to ensure you could never be alone

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Stargazer lawn at Barangaroo Reserve, Sydney [Aug-2016 497KB]

Remarks

Another scene discovered by accident. Had revisited Millers Point to re-shoot the clothesline crucifix image. Went for a walk afterwards and ended up on the “Stargazer Lawn” to find this installation, with people walking around and through the wooden ties

Subterranean homesick blues

You didn't need a Snellen chart to see what was coming

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Optometrist window display, Wilson Street Newtown [Jun-2023 287KB]

Remarks

The sun only shone onto the window-display in the late afternoon in winter; The customer was only there for a minute; The poster, the customer and the spectacles all aligned as if by design

Teachable moments

With their laser–like focus on identity and representation, gallerists & curators taught us the necessity of complete blackness

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Adrián Villar Rojas' “The End of Imagination”, AGNSW [Dec-2022 80KB]

Remarks

For decades we were given ample opportunity to celebrate the Reductio ad absurdum of Art Practitioners. BTW this was almost the project's final image due to my heart attack in January 2023

North to Avoska

Before mobile phones, perhaps-bags accompanied us everywhere

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Totes diptych at Hornsby and Town Hall, Sydney [Apr-2005 247KB]

Remarks

Behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War, people always carried shopping bags in case goods become available. In the west there were rarely shortages, but similar bags were carried around nevertheless

Some semblance of community

Democracy continued to best serve the interests of those who were most invested

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NSW election voting centre at Town Hall [Mar-2019 552KB]

Remarks

One of the great themes of the last forty years has been the gradual unravelling of western democracy. One could say it began with Watergate in June 1972, but you could also argue it started much earlier with the assassination of JFK in November 1963

How green was my valley

The greatest accomplishment of my generation was the systematic destruction everyone's childhood

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Winter valley below Mürren CH [Feb-2024 525KB]

Remarks

Taken on 16 Feb 2024 at an altitude of 1630m. It was the middle of a Swiss alpine winter, yet down in the Lauterbrunnen valley it was +15°C. It should have typically been −6°C, with everything from the mountain peaks to the valley floor covered in deep snow. To everyone's relief there was a huge dump of snow a fortnight later, and everything looked normal again…

A two-speed world

The landscape was restructured to more accurately reflect our social order

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The remains of Lawrence Hargrave Drive beside the Sea Cliff bridge, near Coalcliff [Dec-2016 615KB]

Remarks

Most people who drive over the Sea Cliff Bridge don't notice the abandoned Lawrence Hargrave Drive below. Before the bridge was built, the drive was decommissioned in Aug 2003 due to numerous rockfalls from the escarpment on its western edge. It still remains open to intrepid walkers though, and the truck-sized boulder which finally closed it still sits in the middle of the road

Ponzimonium

Jeffrey Keith Skilling (Enron Corp); Walter Forbes (Cendant Corp); Richard Fuld (Lehman Brothers); Bernard Lawrence Madoff (Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC); Satoshi Nakamoto (Bitcoin); Ruja Ignatova (OneCoin); Markus Braun (Wirecard); Sam Bankman-Fried (FTX); Kwon Do-Hyung (Terraform Labs); Changpeng Zhao (Binance); Sergei Panteleevich Mavrodi (MMM Global); Elizabeth Anne Holmes (Theranos Inc.); Hui Ka Yan (Evergrande Group); Thomas Joseph Petters (Petters Group Worldwide); Truong My Lan (Sai Gon Joint Stock Commercial Bank); Marc Stuart Dreier (Dreier, LLP); Michael I. “Mickey” Monus (Phar Mor); Ramón Báez Figueroa (Banco Intercontinental); Scott W. Rothstein (Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler)

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Wedding Cake Rock, RNP [Jul-2019 211KB]

Remarks

Wedding Cake Rock was a social-media hotspot at the northern end of the Royal National Park. A fence had been erected to not only prevent people from plunging to their deaths (there had been a few), but also to preserve the fragile geological structure. The irony was that despite the fence, many selfie-lovers still clambered over to get their snaps at the rock's edge (as shown in the photo). A few months later a taller, reinforced, cliff-edge to cliff-edge impenetrable mesh barrier was finally installed

Epistemic insouciance

Full speed ahead for transient high-rollers from the sky (ABC News, 2020)

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Crown casino construction, Barangaroo [Jan-2020 193KB]

Remarks

Taken during the erection of Packer's Pecker. It's difficult to exaggerate the thrall in which gambling wagering was held by politicians, the advertising-revenue-hungry media and most of the general public

Everything was done to preserve social harmony

Our commitment to specific kinds of inclusion was unwavering

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The waterfall entrance to the NGV, Melbourne [Apr-2019 525KB]

Remarks

Shots through the “water wall” at the National Gallery of Victoria are, unfortunately, a photographic cliché. Usually great care is taken to avoid these things, but this time the juxtaposition between the mother and outside family was too strong to ignore

Situation normal

Everything was fine, until it wasn't

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Lawsons Auctions car-park, Moore Street Annandale [Sep-2015 312KB]

Remarks

The cars that ate Sydney… Walk the suburbs for hours and sometimes you will be rewarded with the most surreal experience

Forget your past

Architectural awards counted for little when it came to prime development sites

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Darling Harbour Conference Centre demolition, Sydney [Apr-2014 216KB]

Remarks

It was ironic that these Darling Harbour buildings, which were lauded in the 1980s for their innovative design, should thirty years later become yet more fodder for redevelopment

What mean these stones?

We were at the beginning of a mass extinction, and all we could talk about was money and fairytales of eternal economic growth (Thundberg, 2019)

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Iron slag at the Blast Furnace Park in Lithgow [Aug-2012 389KB]

Remarks

Another early Hasselblad 120 image, but one which became the main inspiration for this project. Had always wanted to buy a V-System 6×6 camera, but could only afford to do so in 2004 when they were being dumped onto the second-hand market. Around that time my project was in its preliminary stages and somewhat aimless. Then a trip to Lithgow in 2012 yielded this image, and everything changed

Memories of what's to come

The last thing we wanted to do was extirpate all the large vertebrates (WWF, 2018)

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Deceased sulfur-crested cockatoo, Warrimoo [Dec-2017 180KB]

Remarks

The cockatoo — which had died overnight — was lying on a neighbour's front lawn, with ants starting to explore the corpse. Used the 100mm APO (11352) to get in close and bring out the details, and yes the Dali references [1] & [2] were deliberate

Channelling Sierra Leone

Follow PolAir through Chippendale, run the lights on Enmore road, swerve left at the servo and pull–up across the road from the burned–out BMW

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Enmore smash repairs [May-2023 377KB]

Remarks

Purchased a Sony SEL-1655G lens in Dec 2019 to use for school functions. Was reluctant to use it for personal work due to its substantial barrel distortion at wider angles. It took until May 2023 to figure out how to fully correct it when shooting RAW, mainly due to Capture One Pro's defective support for non-native DNGs

It just works

Release now, patch later

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Jensen Avenue at Dover Heights [Nov-2016 291KB]

Remarks

As a web-developer in the early 2000s, it was incredibly frustrating to ship feature-bloated software while still incomplete. Go-go management would often make optimistic promises, which then fell upon us coders to deliver in an unrealistic time-frame. The resulting apps would always end up “imperfect”, although this often turned out to be fair, as many dot-com clients had a similarly dysfunctional attitude toward paying invoices

Stack trace

International trade agreements led to enormous economic benefits

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The concrete base of the demolished Port Kembla copper stack [Sep-2014 371KB]

Remarks

The Copper Stack became an Illawarra landmark following its construction in 1965. After its closure in 2003, it stood derelict for a decade before being demolished in Feb 2014. This image was taken a few months later by scaling a security fence, along with risking arrest by waiting around for ages for the sun to peek out between clouds

Consumer karoshi

A culture had to be created in which self-sacrifice was essential

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Market Street escalators at Centrepoint, Sydney [Jan-2016 278KB]

Remarks

A side-benefit of being treated for amblyopia as a child was learning to look at things critically. For example, these escalators bore an uncanny resemblance to a Japanese Samurai Kabuto

Nothing's gonna change my world

Imagine no Holden Morrisey Caulfield

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Strawberry Fields Imagine mosaic, Central Park NYC [Oct-2017 515KB]

Remarks

Some of the weekend circus attracted to Lennon's memorial in Central Park. Peace had little chance when it came to epic jostling for the best selfie positions, while buskers played variations of St John's simplest tunes in the background

Look back in covfefe

Part of being a winner is knowing when enough is enough. Sometimes you have to give up the fight and walk away, and move on to something that's more productive (Trump, 1987)

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Trump impersonator on Broadway, NYC [Oct-2017 307KB]

Remarks

The 2016 election of the 45th US President unleashed a torrent of invective from horrified activists, academics and news-workers. It was almost as if all the op-eds and impeachment attempts and special counsels and house select committees and pussyhats and politically-timed indictments could somehow reverse everything

Segregation now, tomorrow & forever

Only the most privileged could afford to live in their own city (SMH, 2023)

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Distillery Drive cutting at Jacksons Landing, in Pyrmont [Jan-2013 349KB]

Remarks

Had to dodge at least a dozen cars while taking this shot. The final car contained a private security guard, who told me there had been complaints I was infringing people's privacy. See that big triangular thing at the end of the street? I asked, Care to explain how privacy legislation applies to a cable-stayed concrete bridge?… At least he had the good grace to smile before driving off

Fête Moderne

It took a long time to shrug off the Superwoman myth

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W-H portfolio session, Hurstville [Jun-1991 337KB]

Remarks

The hair, the lips, the hands, the curves, the décolletage… it's all very sensual until you notice the ferociously spiked belt

Bo-ho chic

Mainstream/ Indie/ Alternative/ Bohemian/ Underground… a celebration of quirky dressers who spent a little more time than most on carefully curating their own look and style

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Nightcluber on the Cronulla-Bundeena ferry, in Sydney's south [Jan-2005 197KB]

Remarks

Another Hasselblad candid shot. Working discreetly with a shoebox sized camera on a small pitching small ferry was not easy. But that was nothing compared to the hours required to balance the colours, tone down the grain and retouch the dozens of spots & tiny hairs on the scanned nineteen-year-old C41 120-film

Precipitous descent

Decades of wandering through a hostile terrain, only to flounder in the sea

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Ocean cliffs south of Little Marley, Royal National Park NSW [Aug-2020 458KB]

Remarks

This is a hand-held multi-image sequence, which had to be taken by carefully rotating the camera around the lens entrance-pupil. With a calibrated pano-mount it's easy, but had to eyeball it here as the mount was left at home to keep the hiking weight down

Outwardness within

To be alone was regarded as being the worst possible thing

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Sightseeing at The Balconies, Royal National Park NSW [Aug-2019 572KB]

Remarks

The northern part of the Royal National Park tended to be overrun by day-trippers on weekends. Most came to pose for selfies, but occasionally you would also find people who reflected on what they saw

Follow your geodesic

Take another selfie and move on, criss-cross the planet to only find yourself

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Posing tourists at Sydney Cove [Aug-2014 242KB]

Remarks

Like most western economies, there was an enthusiastic shift in the 1980s to rely on tourism as a foreign-exchange earning and local-jobs boosting “export”. Until the pandemic…

The one sure bet

One of the interesting things about the years 1982—2024 was that markets always boomed

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Financial reporter at the Sydney ASX [Oct-2018 192KB]

Remarks

Had originally planned to get shots of the predicted stock-market collapse on that day — presumably the same reason the financial reporter was there. Unsurprisingly the crash didn't happen and the market surged to new heights, again

Lambos to the moon

It was an era of unending optimism, where vast fortunes were made without any effort. When cashed-up families prospered, inflation was beaten (until 2022) and credit was easy at near-zero rates (until 2022). When average mums & dads became CEOs, collected NFTs (until 2023) and bet hard on cryptocurrencies and leasing out short-term rentals. When stock markets always kept rising, while house values appreciated to what looked like a permanently high plateau

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Living statue performer at Circular Quay [Jul-2017 348KB]

Remarks

A simple, almost throw-away candid snap acquires sinister meaning when you notice the children were prodding a stuffed crocodile

Through an augmented sky

A superabundance of atmospheric particulates ensured a golden hour for everyone

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Sunrise over Bourke Street, Melbourne [Apr-2019 71KB]

Remarks

The 135mm TEM (11861) in action again. While on holidays in Melbourne, glanced out the balcony at dawn and noticed hot-air balloons being launched. A few 40mm shots looked okay, but the 135mm pointed into the sun did the trick

Cut-through messaging

Make your mark, repeat, move on

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Vandalised rail-car at the Zigzag railway, subsequently destroyed by the 2019 summer bushfires, Clarence [Jul-2019 372KB]

Remarks

Photography as a time capsule. Found this abandoned rail-car while walking along the decommissioned Zig Zag rail line at Clarence in the Blue Mountains. Apparently the carriage was scheduled for restoration, despite being extensively vandalised. A few months later another bushfire swept through the area, and this time the carriage was completely destroyed

Magic sponge

During mass at our spiritual home in St. Bernardino, the archreferee would hold aloft the Sacred Sphere and bestow upon us His most holy blessing: Kind friends, VVIPs, WAGs and Ultras, we are gathered here on St. Totteringham's Day to drink beers and throw flares upon this, our most hallowed turf. To soar heavenward upon Mexican Waves. To give 110% when sports-washing the unsaved. To throw sardines into the sea from the back of the trawler. To find the back of the net, a little with the head of Maradona and a little with the hand of God. For winners forever win big, and losers must fall hard. So please take a knee and raise your Vuvuzelas for the national benediction: Our Footy, who art in heaven, hallowed by Thy game. Thy Kingdom score, thy bets be more, on phones as it is in Qatar. In nomine Blatter, et FIFA, et Spiritus Alea… You may now invade the pitch

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Sports promotion at Olympic Park [Aug-2017 244KB]

Remarks

St. Bernardino
Patron saint of behaviour modification advertising, communications & compulsive gambling wagering
Sacred Sphere
A hollow spherical object made of suitable material, with an external circumference between 680—700mm and mass of 0.41—0.45kg, and inflated to an interior pressure of 60.795—101.325 kPa at sea level
VVIPs
Very — very — important people
WAGs
Highly accomplished Wives & Girlfriends of players
Ultras
Highly accomplished association football fans noted for their black hoodies, self-restraint and civilised behaviour during pitch invasions
St Totteringham's Day
The day celebrated by Arsenal fans when Tottenham can no longer outrank them in the League table
Mexican Waves
A mechanical transverse wave comprised of oscillating sports-fans
110%
Spectator sport is the only known exemption to the 1st Law of Thermodynamics
Sports-washing
The role of talented, hard-working and well-sourced writers when reporting physical recreation events
Throw sardines […] trawler
King Eric's 1995 epigram
Hand of God […]
The 1986 FIFA World Cup miraculous goal
Vuvuzelas
The national wind instrument of South Africa
Qatar
A Gulf petro-state which has denied any wrongdoing, ever
Blatter
Highly accomplished 8th President of FIFA from 1998 to 2015
FIFA
Federation Internationale de Football Association
Alea
Latin: “game of chance”

Lifelong entanglement

We would have followed you anywhere

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Bethesda Terrace, Central Park NYC [Oct-2017 559KB]

Remarks

Noticed a family having their portraits taken among weekend Central Park crowds. Most of the poses were rigidly formal, but one set-up produced this arrangement while mother and child waited for the photographer to adjust his gear

In the thrall of Schedule 8

A considerable number of people spent their lives up the Cross

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Fitzroy Gardens in Kings Cross [May-2003 438KB]

Remarks

Taken when using a Leica rangefinder was one of the few unobtrusive ways to do candid photography. Have subsequently used cameras triple the size, sometimes even mounted on a tripod. So it's really just a question of confidence, timing and discretion, and not the brand of camera or whether the logo has been properly covered with black tape

A crown of ashes

Every Christmas we would gaze upon the pyrocumulus sky, exchange Bushfire Survival Plans and kiss anxiously beneath the epicormic shoots

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Woodford bushfire aftermath, Blue Mountains [Dec-2019 705KB]

Remarks

Panoramic sequences have become commonplace ever since phones and cameras included built-in “panorama mode” options. Nevertheless, shooting high-resolution panos still require lens entrance-pupil aligned mounts and supports. Used to do this stuff professionally 1996—2006, so occasionally it's fun to get the gear out to shoot some scenes, for instance the aftermath of yet another Blue Mountains bushfire

Laps around the sun

We left the concert ages ago but her bomb of a car wouldn't start; A bloke eventually gave us a jump-start, but he glanced so often at her light-grey sleeveless turtleneck that she had to fold her arms (and whisper to me I feel like a groupie in this thing!); Finally we were moving through the winter night, but she insisted on driving with all the windows down; Pull in to a service station to refuel and buy a large bottle of engine oil: Plan on having a big night?… Arrive at her student-share terrace and climb the narrow stairs inside; Our quiet voices in her 3×3¾m room; Posters, cigarettes, milk-crate furniture, photocopied course-materials and a hot water bottle on her unmade bed; Shove aside a fortnight of clothes to sit together on the wooden floor; A cone of smoky light radiates from the ceiling; Her mechanical alarm-clock ticks on a nightstand; She quietly explains why I'm here: Because my current boyfriend likes to spend his time swinging on a tyre rope. Fingers through asymmetrically cropped hair; She beams with delight after I clean her red-framed glasses; Her round face and large brown eyes; Gentle teasing about her bourgeois diamond ear-studs; The faintest wisp of a moustache and axillary hair-stubble; Unzip her jeans and peel off the sleeveless leotard; The fine black hairs on her lower back and abdomen; The perfume in surprising places; Her laugh; Her voice; Her curves; Her smell, and mouth, and warmth; Her surprisingly small cot

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Turning circle (since repainted) outside Central Station, Sydney [Mar-2019 763KB]

Remarks

Every image in this project has at least one subtext. Part of the fun was finding them in the most unlikely places

Better balance the value exchange

With rates at five-thousand-year lows (until 2022), cheap debt could not be blamed

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Used-car yard at Parramatta Road Granville [Apr-2017 247KB]

Remarks

Global interest rates were kept artificially low for decades to encourage economic growth. Finding metaphors for the corresponding deterioration in lending standards + mountain of consumer-debt turned out to be surprisingly easy

Delivery apps were so convenient

HungryPanda, Foodora, Uber Eats, DoorDash, EASI, Menulog, Deliveroo, Hey You, GrubHub, goPuff, EatNow, Yelp… We imported an underclass of temporary-visa holding self-employed contractors to zip around and deliver perfect Laksa, authentic Pad Thai, Tiger Milk Bubble-tea, Gluten-free Dumplings and Vegan Banh Mi

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Food delivery rider at Broadway, Sydney [Apr-2020 178KB]

Remarks

In 2020 food delivery riders were suddenly everywhere. Most were foreign “students”, who would zip along footpaths and through plazas at breakneck speeds. During peak-lockdown these riders multiplied to such an extent that there were more of them hurtling through CBD streets than there were pedestrians trying not to get hit (ABC News, 2020)

Staging server

What was once esoteric technology confined to a research lab, was now routinely used for entertainment

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Stage technician, Campbells Cove Sydney [Jan-2019 234KB]

Remarks

For years had wanted to capture an scene which not only celebrated the amazing capabilities of modern technology, but also hinted at some of its issues

Tourism added value

Macro-economic growth models prove that tourism contributes towards complete growth and development of a country: one, by bringing numerous economic value & benefits; and, second, helping in build country's brand value, image & identity (Market Width Blog, 2018)

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Christmas Day tourists at the Sydney Opera House [Dec-2001 449KB]

Remarks

The “2001 Black Christmas Fires” had flared again in the Blue Mountains, turning the western sky dark red. Most people at the SOH forecourt were staring at or photographing the smoke-obscured sun, except for this couple who were far more interested in themselves

Gone a million

The rich were always with us

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Abandoned Rolls-Royce at Hiles Street in Alexandria [Jun-2015 320KB]

Remarks

The Rolls Royce was parked in Alexandria for a long time. In Nov 2019, four years after the photo was taken, Leica Australia held a launch event for their SL-2 camera in a converted warehouse in the same street. After the presentation I went outside to see if the Rolls was still there… it was

The efficiency dividend playbook

Exceptional merit deserved exceptional rewards

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Darling Point ferry wharf, Sydney [Jan-2017 250KB]

Remarks

A pleasant summer afternoon was transformed into an object lesson in social stratification, at the ferry wharf of one of Sydney's wealthiest suburbs

Known unknowns

It was almost as if there wasn't an anthropogenic climate change crisis

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Hornby Lighthouse gun emplacement, South Head Sydney [Dec-2014 216KB]

Remarks

South Head turned out to symbolise the end of the line in more ways than expected

A fit country for heroes to live in

With a place for everyone and everyone in their place

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Unhoused on Pitt Street Mall, Sydney [May-2016 478KB]

Remarks

The Sydney CBD was overrun with panhandlers who tended to position themselves in major thoroughfares to maximise their earning potential. I noticed this particular set-up at a busy outdoor mall and came back a couple of days later to photograph it. Was amazed that neither the police nor council rangers had asked them to move on

One-way journey

On a sailing ship to nowhere, leaving any place (Yes, 1971)

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Ovation of the Seas cruise-ship at the Sydney Overseas Passenger Terminal [Dec-2017 158KB]

Remarks

A couple of years after this photo, 22 passengers from this ship died during a shore excursion due to the 2019 White Island volcanic eruption in New Zealand

Taming animal spirits

There is something more systematic about the way people behave irrationally, especially during periods of economic stress (Greenspan, 2013)

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Lunchtime in a George Street amusement arcade, demolished a few years later [Sep-2003 323KB]

Remarks

Having worked in high-pressure corporate environments in the 1990s, it proved difficult to find suitable metaphors outside. But then sometimes you got lucky

Brett's armchair

The same music in completely different hands

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Room 82 on the sixteenth floor, Harbourside Apartments [Jan-2019 295KB]

Remarks

Lavender Bay (visible through the windows) was one of Brett Whiteley's favourite subjects. The book on the table is Whiteley on Trial (2017), about the forgery of a handful of Whiteley's paintings and how the Victorian legal system couldn't find any problem with it

Golden sunlit uplands

Import alien species to remind you of home, then watch helplessly as they overrun the countryside

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The invasive plant species Common Gorse spreads along the Taieri Gorge, NZ [Dec-2017 689KB]

Remarks

This shot was taken while hanging out the door of the Taieri Gorge tourist train. Had originally wanted shots of the train taking a curve, but looked around and saw the weed-covered gully and photographed it instead — next time it might be an idea to stay safely inside inside the carriage and just point the camera out the window. There may not be a “next time” however, as the line was closed in 2020 due to COVID related financial pressures, and the reopened line now only runs a limited service to Hindon, well short of where this photo was taken

Life under the occupation

The Fragmented was turned into the Harmonised by encouraging our staff to compile their own dossiers

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Revolving doors at the ANZ bank building, in Castlereagh Street [Aug-2014 182KB]

Remarks

When capturing this image I assumed it would probably end up a discard. When back home however, an hour spent in image editing programs changed things considerably

No map and a broken compass

Cheap goods and MTV proved more effective than détente and ICBMs

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Bric-a-brac stall on Tverskaya St, Moscow, beneath a memorial plaque to the soviet artist Pyotr Vasilyev [Dec-1991 502KB]

Remarks

Moscow December 1991, a few days before the end of the Soviet Union. The command-economy had collapsed, while early attempts at market capitalism stalled because there wasn't enough investment capital or disposable consumer income

Peak oil

Rapid obsolescence was just around the corner

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Motorcycle parking at the top of Hill Street, North Sydney [Oct-2020 378KB]

Remarks

A disadvantage of panoramic cylindrical projection is that horizontal lines will always appear curved. You can partially compensate by using a Mercator projection, but often you just have to live with it. If the budget allows, you could print the image and mount it inside a concave backing, and then stand inside the arc to see the horizontals straight again, a truly mind-bending experience! (Here the master image is 15340×7670 pixels, which if printed at 150 dpi would end up being 1.3×2.6 metres)

Here we were

Passing paths that climb halfway into the void (Yes, 1972)

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Royal Coastal Track, near Wattamolla [Aug-2020 731KB]

Remarks

Roger Dean everywhere, although without the tarns or waterfalls. Instead we have a vista of torched scrub, courtesy of yet another deliberately-lit bushfire

Driven by unceasing mobility

Remember the physical-distancing rule and only travel when essential

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Waiting for the Cronulla Ferry at Bundeena Wharf [Aug-2020 302KB]

Remarks

During the 2020 lockdowns we were subjected to frequent messaging about social isolation and avoiding “unnecessary” travel. This image was taken at the end of a 28km Royal Coast Track walk, and the commuters' weariness mirrored the photographer's fatigue

Malpractice with impunity

The very first document, among more than a hundred in this folder, is a signed declaration by our client that he mixed up his patients and accidentally performed a full hysterectomy on the 36-year-old plaintiff. Correction — our client is [redacted], not the surgeon, who is merely a policy holder of our client. Thanks. The surgeon admits, in writing, that he sterilised the plaintiff by doing an unauthorised procedure. This is undisputed — so why is this matter dragging for years with boilerplate requests for interrogatories, updated medical reports and dozens of discovery hearings? Well, it is our firm's policy to comprehensively test all claims to discourage frivolous ones. The plaintiff was harmed, the surgeon has admitted negligence, so it cannot be “frivolous” and, frankly, our deliberate stalling borders upon unconscionable. I'll say it again: it is our firm's policy to test all claims to discourage frivolous ones…

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The ghosts of lawyering among the tombstones at Camperdown cemetery, Newtown [Jun-2015 413KB]

Remarks

It took a long time to find a scene which symbolised our dysfunctional health system. The accompanying blurb is a paraphrased version of a law-firm conversation in April 1992 between myself and a medical-litigation partner (represented in italics)

The tallest tombstones in the world

Arithmétique Macabre: 9 / 11 = 2977 + 18 462

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Church spire beneath a flight path, at Rockdale in Sydney [Dec-2013 111KB]

Remarks

The impact of the September 2001 Islamist attacks was profound. It seeped into our culture and haunted us for decades

Keep us from harm

Every potential hazard was fastidiously identified and ameliorated

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Drink bubbler at Erskineville Public School, Sydney [Aug-2019 314KB]

Remarks

Having taught in a high school since 2009, it was always fascinating to witness the extreme lengths that some risk-averse adults would go to. This primary school drinking fountain illustrates it beautifully. Here the irony is that (1) most small children cannot now reach the water and (2) the hazard-area has been greatly increased, negating the reason for safety rails in the first place

Think small

A charismatic and perfectionist architect; Engineers hamstrung by 1960s tech; A meddling public broadcaster; Timorous bureaucrats & spiteful politicians… The Sydney Opera House looked magnificent from afar, but up close it was riddled with defects caused by years of controversy, indecision, compromise and bickering

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Domestic fountain at Church Street, Croydon [Sep-2016 447KB]

Remarks

After seven years Jørn Utzon was forced out of the country in 1966 due to “ineptitude” during the design and construction of Stages I & II (the SOH podium and shells). It then took the Minister for Public Works and his hand-picked team another seven years to complete Stage III (the performance halls and windows), resulting in a 300% cost blow-out and some of the worst acoustics and sightlines in the world. These were only rectified in 2022 by the 50th anniversary renovations

Late for the sky

The air was eaten, promise crammed

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The final blast-furnace at BlueScope Steel, in Port Kembla [Sep-2014 123KB]

Remarks

“Scheduled Trackwork” meant having to catch replacement buses between Wollongong and Port Kembla. Unfortunately they were infrequent and unpredictable, so caught a suburban service instead, which went along every side-street before grudgingly arriving at the final destination. Meanwhile, during the ludicrously indirect journey, the weather clouded over and completely trashed the light. Yet after such a l-o-n-g trip you may as well walk out to the location anyway. And then, as if on cue, the clouds parted and steam started billowing from the blast furnace chimney…

The shadow workforce

Chronic mass unemployment was easily solved by redefining the meaning of “employed”

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Red flags at the Circular Quay promenade [Jul-1992 546KB]

Remarks

Taken from the Cahill Expressway, looking down onto the paving at Circular Quay. The huge “knife” was actually the shadow of a banner flapping in the wind

Cargo Culte

We lounged about in ill-fitting uniforms, languidly pressing buttons on small screens… waiting for the day He would return, bearing great gifts

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Palm tree outside the abandoned St Mary & St Mina's Coptic Orthodox Church at Sydenham. Five years later it was damaged by fire in May 2017 and subsequently demolished [Sep-2012 387KB]

Remarks

It took more than an hour to capture this image, mainly due to the timing and positioning of the aeroplane(s), which would often approach from different angles to spoil the composition. Otherwise you would get a small turboprop when what you really wanted was a thundering 747, or else there would be long periods when there weren't any planes at all. Either way, it isn't an issue with digital cameras with high FPS shutters, but with Hasselblad A12 film backs you only had a dozen shots to get it right

Accidental monuments

Civil Engineering 101: slap something together as cheap as you can and then later completely rebuild it for 5× the cost, to solve issues you should have addressed the first time

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Zigzag Railway upper viaduct, Clarence [Jul-2019 561KB]

Remarks

Landscapes are hard. You not only have to be in the right place, at the right time with the right gear, but you also have to work with the prevailing light AND come up with an something more substantial than “eye-candy”

Potemkin Prosperity

The central irony of the financial crisis was that while it was caused by too much confidence, too much borrowing & lending and too much spending — it could only be resolved with more confidence, more borrowing & lending, and more spending (Summers, 2011)

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Fields of green shoots at the Westpac plaza in Sydney [Jan-2014 529KB]

Remarks

Although always fascinated by the glibness of the economic expression green shoots, it took a lot of searching to find a corporate environment which actually had them

Day-tripping

The greater our impact on nature, the more we wanted to see what was left of it

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The Waterrun, Royal National Park NSW [Aug-2019 411KB]

Remarks

Many people liked to travel for hours to take photographs of themselves. In the background you can see one of the cliffs mentioned earlier

Defence renaissance

After decades of cutbacks and drawdowns, governments renewed spending on armaments and personnel when a new crop of proxy wars erupted

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Anzac Day Air Force personnel, Hyde Park Sydney [Apr-2023 233KB]

Remarks

After a long break following my heart-attack in Jan 2023, it was good to be doing candid shots again. For a change used the SEL1655G, an outstanding lens despite its excessive barrel distortion at wider angles

Crucify your mind

I really thought that love would save us all (Lennon, 1980)

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The exterior of the Greek Orthodox church of Saint Peter & Paul (since repainted), at Petersham [Sep-2012 404KB]

Remarks

As mentioned elsewhere, one of the enjoyable aspects of this project was randomly finding unusual scenes in unexpected places. You could walk for hours and then suddenly there it was, almost as if had been waiting for you all along

Back in the CCCP

The centralised command economy disintegrated almost immediately

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Street vendors at Tverskaya St in Moscow, on the day Russia ratified Belavezha Accords and formally withdrew from the USSR [Dec-1991 353KB]

Remarks

Dozens of people were milling around in front of the vendors, checking out the items being offered. Had to wait a long time (45 minutes in the freezing cold) for the crowd to part just enough to reveal the sellers behind. Found out later that most vendors like these had become unemployed in the post-communist dislocation, and were attempting to hawk their valuables to get some money to live on

In the days of the citizen journalist

Broadcast-quality equipment was no longer required to craft good stories

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Media-workers at the Sydney Opera House [Jul-2014 259KB]

Remarks

Media-workers had to adapt to a new environment for which they were greatly unprepared. How were they going to survive in an increasingly interconnected world, where they had to not only be proficient in delivering content, but also in understanding and using the increasingly complex tech which made it possible?

 

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