August & Amanda

I was fortunate enough to see August and Amanda get married this past weekend.  These are a few shots I took while I attended their awesome wedding at Alpine Park north of Columbia, Mo.  (With half of the photo-J program in attendance, I am sure it was a very well documented wedding…)

Congrats guys!

I must say… Yoshi was looking pretty spiffy himself at the wedding…

Back in the US of A

And a photo of my plane as it touched down at LAX…

A380 Tail Camera on Landing

Why You Should Visit Western Australia

Sadly, Western Australia is not the first place that comes to mind when people think about traveling to Australia.  Instead, Sydney, Melbourne, and the Great Barrier Reef seem to be the go-to destinations.  Lonely little Western Australia–all the way on the west coast–just seems too far to travel for most.  When we told people on the east coast we were going to be living in Western Australia, their first response was almost always “I’m sorry…. Why?”  In fact, when Oprah did her big Australia visit (which, by the way, was covered on the news here for about 2 months straight), she didn’t come anywhere near the west coast.  Instead, she just sent one of her annoying screaming guests to do the job.

I have to say that after spending almost 10 months here, I have seen some of the most beautiful landscapes I have seen anywhere in the world and I have sat on some of the whitest sand beaches next to the most turquoise waters you could imagine.  And, it was usually just me, Chelsea, and nobody else on the beach.

Nowhere was this beauty and seclusion more apparent than our trip down to Esperance, Western Australia along the state’s southern coast.  We camped right next to the beach (Lucky Bay) and were put to sleep each night by the sound of the waves.  In the morning, we would wake up, drive a few hundred feet down the beach, and have almost the entire thing to ourselves.

I would skip Sydney, the Great Barrier Reef, the Opera House, and every other touristy landmark in Australia if it meant I got to spend more time in Australia’s southwest (Mouse over pictures to scroll through the panoramas):

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Lucky Bay | Cape Le Grand National Park | Near Esperance, Western Australia. We camped next to this beach for two nights.  Campgrounds are only $9 a person and there were even hot (solar powered) showers and a camp kitchen.

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Little Hellfire Bay | Cape Le Grand National Park | Near Esperance, Western Australia. This secluded beach requires a 20-minute hike from a nearby parking lot next to another beach.  Translation: Everyone is too lazy to hike here so you can have it to yourself…

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Twilight Bay | Esperance, Western Australia. The most crowded of all the beaches we went to.  Probably because it was named Australia’s best beach a few years ago.  You can swim out to the big rock with the hole in it and jump off it.

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A view from said rock in Twilight Bay

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Observatory Point | Great Ocean Drive | Esperance, Western Australia.

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10 Mile Lagoon | Great Ocean Drive | Esperance, Western Australia

Oh, and kangaroos hang out on the beach, so something must be right…

Just Keep Writing… Just Keep Writing… Just Keep Writing…

Yes, the blog has been a bit quiet in recent weeks. Many apologies to the millions of people who visit this blog each day. But, I have been busy working on the written portion of my master’s project which, needless to say, is much less fun than working on the photographic portion of the project. But, I guess I have to appease the academic gods and do this who “graduating” thing in May so it needs to get done.

In the meantime, here is one of the photos from my project on Aboriginal diabetes in rural Western Australia.  Some of you may have seen it already, but I have intentionally kept from  posting many photos from my project to my public blog yet:



Laverton Flooding

As I have said before, wherever I travel, I usually see the worst weather that particular area has had in years.  Everywhere I go, I am used to hearing locals say, “Yep, this is the worst _____ (Fill in bad weather here) we have had in over _____ years!”  In today’s case, Laverton had its worst flooding in over 50 years.

Massive flooding in the middle of the world’s 8th largest desert you say?  Yep.  Probably because I am here.

In less than 12 hours, Laverton got about 5 inches of rain and flash flooding ensued.  They had to evacuated the caravan park, the school, and one of the big mining camps on the edge of town.  Every road into or out of Laverton is flooded at the moment and that means supplies will not get here.  Apparently they have a helicopter that is going to fly in food and also has 17 seats on it to evacuate if needed.  But, it looks like the waters are receding for the moment (although there is another 4 inches of rain expected in the coming hours).

I was hired by the West Australian newspaper to cover the flooding for the day.  Definitely a right place/right time sort of deal.  Here are a few of the photos I submitted to them:

Flooding in Laverton, Western AustraliaA convoy of 4×4 vehicles makes its way through floodwater rushing over the main road into Laverton, Western Australia, Thursday, Feb. 17, 2011.  Over 4 inches of rain fell in the area causing flash flooding and the evacuation of the town’s school, caravan park, and the nearby Crescent Gold mining camp.

Flooding in laverton Western AustraliaLaverton Resident Jayden Laidlaw wades through floodwater along Euro Street in Laverton, Western Australia.  Over 4 inches of rain caused Skull Creek to overflow its banks.

Jack Long grabs a cigarette while inspecting flood damage inside his home in Laverton.  A swollen Skull Creek sent almost 3 feet of water through Long’s house.  “There isn’t much in here worth saving,” said Long.

Sue Long surveys the damage inside her living room after flash flooding in Laverton sent almost of 3 feet of water through her home.  Sue and her husband have lived in the house since 1984 but said they have never seen flooding this bad.


Luckily, the flood waters have receded but they still predict more rain this weekend.  A FESA helicopter (Fire & Emergency Services Authority) landed today with volunteers from SES (State Emergency Service), and, among other things, newspapers.  It looks like they ran one of my photos in both the Kalgoorlie Miner (town about 4 hours from here) and the West Australian (Perth/the West Coast’s daily).  Oh, and kudos to Australian newspapers for actually paying a decent rate for freelance photography– even when all sorts of people are sending in their camera phone shots.  Maybe I should stay in Australia where I can actually make a living off newspaper photography…

It’s was nice to get back into spot news photography for a day after working on a long-term story for so long.  Spot news is how us photojournalists get our jollies.  Don’t deny it…  Any photojournalist who says otherwise is probably lying.  Unfortunately though, this spot news is hampering my long term story this week… A week when I should be wrapping the project up.  Hopefully things will return to normal before I leave on Monday.

Here are some of the articles written about the floods:

Laverton Floods FESA helicopterLaverton Shire workers help unload supplies off a FESA helicopter that was sent to Laverton Friday morning following heavy flooding the previous day.

And the newspapers (click image to view larger):

The Kalgoorlie Miner:

The West Australian:

Laverton Lightning

I love shooting lightning.  I love thunderstorms.  In fact, there has been quite a lack of thunderstorms in Australia since I have been here and I have started to miss them.

So, when I looked out my window this evening and saw the crazy light show going on outside, I ran up to the top of the highest point in town– Billy Goat Hill.  From that vantage point, you can see for probably 60-70 miles.  When I got up there, it was nothing but lightning anywhere I looked.  Thankfully, although the lightning was visible, I couldn’t hear any thunder which meant that it was a safe distance away for me to photograph.

This one was my favorite although I couldn’t quite get the right angle on the water tower and lightning.  I wish the big storm cloud have moved a little more into the frame, but unfortunately it was moving the other direction.  I shall try again during the next lightning storm…