A week on the road with NiSi Filters

In December 2016, Matt DonovanLuke Tscharke and I went on a NiSi Roadtrip along the east coast of Australia from Sydney to Byron Bay and back. We planned to make various stops along the way to capture images using NiSi Filters showing the benefits and possibilities of using filters for landscape photography. We also hosted three sunset meetups at Coffs Harbour, Byron Bay and Port Macquarie where local photographers came along to try out the NiSi Filters for themselves. I really looked forward to this trip as I had just finished my degree at uni so I thought it would be a great way to end the year and I got to spend a few days road tripping with extremely talented photographers/ videographer, doing what we all enjoy doing.

Queens Lake

Heading north from Sydney, our first stop was originally going to be Crescent Head for sunset, however, we were running a bit late so we decided to stop at Queens Lake for sunset before making our way to Crescent Head. This ended up working out perfectly as we got great conditions and it was a great way to begin the road trip. I used the NiSi 6 Stop ND filter to even further smoothen the surface of the water by increasing my shutter speed to 30 seconds giving the image a dreamy effect and glassy water.

Crescent Head

The next morning we got up super early and made our way down to the cave at Crescent Head. As the sun began to rise and the clouds started to light up we could see the possibility of getting epic light. Out of all the locations that we planned to visit, this was the one I was most excited about. I had already shot the cave before but I didn’t get any nice light, so this time I was hoping for some nice clouds to improve on the shots that I already had. We ended up getting a beautiful sunrise and I was very happy to finally capture the image I had envisioned. While shooting from inside the cave I used the NiSi 3 Stop ND and the CPL Filter to help eliminate some of the unwanted reflections from the wet rocks in the foreground.

After shooting some of the colour from the cave, Matt and I decided to head around to the rock shelf at Pebbly Beach hoping that the light would stick around for a little while longer so that we could get some different compositions from the morning. Although most of the colour had already faded by the time we set up, there was still some nice soft light. I was able to capture the image below using the NiSi 4 Stop Soft Grad ND Filter to help bring back some detail in the sky and I also had on the 3 Stop ND Filter, lengthening my shutter speed to capture the movement of the receding water.

Coffs Harbour

Our next stop, my hometown of Coffs Harbour and along the way we made a little detour out to Dorrigo National Park. The waterfalls weren’t flowing as much due to little rainfall in the past, but luckily we had overcast conditions, which is perfect for shooting waterfalls as the light is more diffused. One of my favourite filters to use when shooting waterfalls is the Polariser or CPL filter. In fact, I practically never shoot waterfalls without a polariser filter. The polariser filter works by cutting the amount of reflections on wet surfaces and increasing saturation. When photographing waterfalls, polarising filters help reduce the reflections and glare on the wet rocks and foliage.

After a couple of well spent hours shooting Crystal Shower Falls, we headed to Coffs Harbour to host our first meetup at the Jetty. The conditions weren’t the best as a storm had just passed through Coffs Harbour and the light was quite flat at the time, but there were some nice textures in the sand that we all took advantage of adding some interest to the foreground. I used the NiSi 3 Stop ND to increase my shutter speed to capture the movement of the clouds in a long exposure.

Byron Bay

The next day we planned to shoot sunrise at Emerald Beach before heading up to Byron Bay, but like the previous day, the weather made it difficult for us to capture any images. On the way up to Byron Bay, we stopped at Killen Falls, which is only about 20 minutes south of Byron Bay. I hadn’t visited Killen Falls before, but it was a place that I have wanted to shoot for a while. As it was summer there were quite a few people swimming in the waterhole, so I used the NiSi 6 Stop ND and of course the trusty NiSi CPL. I used the ND filter to lengthen the exposure, which helped remove the people in the shot. It was grey and raining when we arrived in Byron Bay for the sunset meetup, again making it difficult for us to capture images and sunrise the next morning was no different. We just didn’t have any luck on our side!


Port Macquarie

Our final sunset meetup was held at Tacking Point Lighthouse where we had a great turnout and it was awesome meeting everyone who came along. The grey skies and rain seemed to follow us every where we went on the trip but luckily the rain cleared just in time for sunset and we all got to witness a beautiful sunset. Finally some good light! I used the NiSi 3 Stop Soft Grad ND to darken the sky, balancing the exposure of the foreground and sky. Sure enough, the grey skies returned for sunrise the next morning.

Zenith Beach

After not having a good run with the weather the past few days, Matt and I decided to spend another night at Port Stephens before heading back to Sydney. I was excited to visit Zenith Beach again, which is one of my favourite seascape locations in NSW. We got a beautiful sunrise and I also used the NiSi 4 Stop Reverse Grad ND for my first time, which suited the scene below perfectly as its ideal for photographing flat horizons. I really liked the results using the reverse grad and it’s a filter that I plan on using more often! The image with Mt Tomaree in the distant was shot using the 3 Stop Soft Grad ND instead as the horizon isn’t as defined which doesn’t suit the reverse grad.

I had a great time on the NiSi Roadtrip with Matt, Luke and Rob. I hope you have enjoyed the images from the trip and reading about how I use filters to capture some of my images. Thanks so much to NiSi Filters Australia for the great week on the road! If you have any questions regarding the filters, please leave them in the comments below or feel free to send me an email.

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