Road Trip with NiSi Filters

When NiSi Filters gave us the go ahead for an epic East coast road trip; Luke Tscharke, Daniel Tran and myself tossed around a few ideas before we finally decided on a bunch of awesome locations North of Sydney.

We had planned this road trip weeks, if not months, in advance. Our main purpose was to promote the awesome filters from NiSi through social media and also various meet ups along the way.

Crescent Head

Our first, and probably most epic location, was Crescent Head - a few hours North of Sydney. I hadn't shot at Crescent Head before, but from the shots I had seen of Dans in THAT cave, I knew I had to put my own spin on it. We arrived in complete darkness and pouring rain, so we were already off to a pretty average start.

When our alarms finally forced us out of the car in the early hours of the morning, we could already see that there was some potential with cloud cover and colour in the sky. A quick scramble down to the beach and slippery scurry into the cave and we were set, ready to capture the shots in our heads.

As there wasn't much wave action that morning, filter choice for me was simple. Normally, I would shoot at something like 1/3 or 1/5 of a second, to capture a little detail in the movement of the crashing waves. This time however, because of the lack of swell, I decided to smooth out the water almost completely by using the NiSi 6 stop ND filter. This allowed me to slow my shutter down to roughly 10 seconds, resulting in the image below.

As you can see from the cave image, there was quite a lot of colour in the sky. After we'd both captured a shot from inside the cave, Dan and I made the risky decision to make our way out of the cave and further up the beach. When the sky is going off, you don't want to be stuck in a cave shooting 5% of amazing colour. Unfortunately, by the time we'd found another spot to shoot, a lot of the colour had already gone.

Chrystal Shower Falls - Dorrigo National Park

Arguably the best time to use a CPL (polariser), for a landscape photographer, is whilst shooting waterfalls and rainforests. The reason for this is because it helps your camera see through a lot of the glare on wet/reflective surfaces, resulting in far more vibrant colours and a massive reduction in ugly white reflections.

One of the few locations we visited on this trip that I'd actually been to before was Chrystal Shower Falls in the Dorrigo National Park. Unfortunately, this time around, the flow was a considerable amount less. For this shot I used the NiSi CPL only. I could have thrown on a 3 or 6 stop ND too, but I decided I wanted to keep a little of the detail in the falling water.

Killen Falls (Byron Bay-ish)

Just a short drive South of Byron Bay you'll find the beautiful yet modest waterfall, Killen Falls. Again, shot with the NiSi CPL. This time around I added the 6 Stop ND filter, just to blur the surface of the water to remove some unnecessary detail from the final images. It also helped blur out one of the people swimming around in the waterhole! Yes, filters make people disappear...

Byron Bay Lighthouse

It was looking like a pretty grey and dreary morning during our only sunrise in Byron Bay, and it was, but I took that as an opportunity to shoot some long exposures to try and accentuate that grey and dreary mood.

This shot was captured with a 6 stop ND filter which allowed me to shoot with a much slower shutter speed and smooth out the water and clouds. I also used a CPL to help pierce the reflections on the water.

In addition to that, I also captured a seperate frame of me on the rocks and blended that shot into the final image. I found that helped give the scene some scale. Ideally, I would have captured it all in one image, but it was quite windy and I was having trouble standing still for the 30 second exposure!

Lighthouse Beach (Port Macquarie)

Our last official stop for the NiSi Road Trip was to Port Macquarie - a place I hadn't visited since I was a little fella. Just like most of the trip, we arrived in Port Macquarie with the rain and grey skies. Not ideal for the images we wanted. Surprisingly, it cleared up just in time for our meet up and the sky put on a great show for all our participants. I didn't capture any images from that sunset, as I was quite content chatting to everyone and sharing gear/travel stories - so you'll have to trust me that the light was epic ;)

The next morning our luck was over and the light went back to being terrible, so some moody and dramatic black & whites were in order! Both images were captured using a 3 stop ND filter to slow the motion in the water down just a tad. The image on the left however, was created by stacking all the frames I took trying to get the right water movement in the foreground and blended to achieve a 'long exposure' look in the sky.

Zenith Beach (Port Stephens)

As we'd been pretty let down by the weather we'd experienced on this trip, Dan and I decided to add an extra day and stop by Port Stephens on our way home, in hopes that we would finally get some decent light. And sure enough, on our very last sunrise shoot for the trip, we were farewelled with some beautiful warm soft light and amazing tidal flow. Perfect way to end an awesome trip with NiSi Filters!

This first image was shot using the 3 stop ND filter, probably my new 'go to' filter!


Or in this case, B-Side (singular) Queens Lake, near Port Macquarie.

And there you have it, guys! Straight off the back of my South Africa trip, this road trip really took it out of me, but it was so worth it. I don't always shoot with filters, they're kind of a 'right place right time' thing, but forcing myself to use the NiSi filters in every shot really helped me get creative and try some new things.

If you're interested in getting yourself some filters, feel free to check out the NiSi Filters Australia page. And as usual, if you have any questions about the filters, or the trip - please leave them in the comments below!