Category Archives: government

50 in 50: the wrapup

When I got the idea for the 50 in 50 project, I thought it would be interesting to challenge myself to take a photo every day with the same lens, and to restrict myself to using only that lens for a whole month to see what new perspectives I could get by limiting my choices. I had initially thought I’d use my 24mm prime lens because, well, because I love it and I could see myself using just that lens forever and never using anything else.

Day 50: 50

But loving that lens so much, I didn’t think that it would be a huge challenge to not use it. The 50mm, on the other hand, well, that was something different. I wasn’t exactly sure why I’d bought it and I’d rarely used it. I think I’d heard it was a good lens for portraits but, as portraits aren’t a genre I’m very interested in at all, I’m not sure what I thought getting a portrait lens would achieve.

Nonetheless, I had it and it was sitting there in my lens bag unused. Everytime I went to use it, everything would be SO CLOSE and I’d hastily swap it for my 10-22 where I was a lot more comfortable.

I’d set myself the goal of completing a 30-day project with one lens in 2020 as part of my 20 in 2020 list that I write about on my other blog. I realised at the end of October that time was running out if I wanted to get this done. I was on a short break in the middle of a very frantic time at work when I decided, in that way you make crazy decisions when you’re relaxed and on holidays, that I was going to start the project the very next day with the 50mm lens and it was going to be a 50-day project, not a 30-day one. Because 50/50/50 was just so much tidier than 30/50/30.

The challenge was set and the rules were made. I locked all my other lenses away in my camera bag and began. The main rule was that I needed to make at least one photo every day and post it. I didn’t actually have to edit or post it the day I took the photo, as long as I’d actually captured a photo every day. I was a little bit flexible with the challenge and I did allow myself to continue to use my phone for thing I’d normally have used my phone for anyway like casual daily photos and Hobart Street Corners.

So what did I learn?

Not allowing myself to crop the images, other than what was needed to straighten them, meant that I had to be a lot more careful in my framing in-camera. In some photos that were very tight, I found it difficult to make the adjustments I needed to compensate for the viewfinder showing me a slightly different view than what appeared in the image. More than once, an image that I thought I’d framed perfectly ended up with something I thought I had excluded sneaking in on the right hand side, or the image wasn’t framed exactly the way I had thought it was.

Day 2: It’s not centred!

It was also difficult to step back as far as I needed to get what I wanted into the frame, so in a lot of photos I ended up getting closer and including less in the image than I had intended. This is why there are a lot of photos from the challenge of the tops of buildings or details, because the 50mm perspective just didn’t allow everything to be included. There are limits to how far you can step back sometimes, because there are things like brick walls or roads with heavy traffic that stop you. Getting run over in the pursuit of my art is not really the way I want to end my life!

Day 5: Just one more step back would have helped this one

Doing this challenge forced me to look at things in a different way to how I would have if I was using the 10-22 lens and trying to get everything in. It helped me to isolate details that I found interesting and to really think about what was interesting about a scene. It often felt like it was a lot more of a personal way to make photos, to find the element that spoke to me within what was usually quite a cluttered space, and to focus on that and to show it from my perspective.

I’d go out with one idea in mind and then, after being in the space for a while and taking the photos I thought I’d wanted, I’d look around some more and see something completely different. I’d then go and explore the things that had caught my eye and end up with a totally different image to what I’d imagined. Light playing on a surface, a creeping shadow, a small feature that I’d never have noticed if I’d been looking at the big picture. Something on the ground. Something sitting on a fence. I’d capture these things as I saw them, and I’m glad I did because, more often than not, I’d come back the next day and they’d be gone.

Day 29: Specs in time. I came back the next day to rephotograph this scene because I wasn’t happy with any of the images, and the dandelion had gone.

Of course, not everything worked out as I’d wanted it to, and some days I ended up just taking a photo of something, anything, just to complete the challenge for that day. These were not some of my best moments.

Day 35: Hmmmmmmm……

I found I really enjoyed getting up close to a feature and making it the focal point of the image, with a very shallow depth of field to blur the background.

Day 31: Some sandstone at some old building

Some of these types of photos worked well; others not so much. I had a couple of days where I’d get a photo I really liked only to find I hadn’t quite nailed the focus, whereas similar shots with less pleasing composition were tack sharp. What to do there?! My choice was to go with composition over sharpness and to remind myself it’s okay to take more than one photo of exactly the same thing if I think it’s going to be a good one. Maybe one day I’ll remember this.

Day 42: Composition trumps focus

16 December was the last day of the challenge and I’d already picked out my subject a couple of days earlier on my morning walk, when there was great light. I’d taken a few test shots and thought I could make it work on the last day. All I needed was the same light and the same lack of traffic on the highway. Sadly, the light didn’t come and I woke up feeling very unwell. Not unwell enough to not go for a walk but not exactly raring to go either. So I didn’t get the photo I wanted to round the project off. I took a couple of photos while I was out but nothing really worked and all I wanted to do was go back to bed. Which I did.

It was a disappointing end to what had been a fantastic project that, for the most part, I enjoyed doing. Overall, I’m pleased with the photos I made for the project, and there are a couple that are up there with my favourite images of the year.

Day 10: A re-edit of one of my favourite photos from the whole of 2020

I’m not in any great rush to stop using the lens and, now I know some of its possibilities, I’m keen to use it more often.

Day 38: I love this one and several of the others I made at the same location

It’s been a great experience for me. I would say if you feel like your photography is getting stuck or same-y or you want to mix it up a bit, set yourself a challenge like this where you restrict yourself to one element. Go out for a couple of weeks, a month, however long feels right to you, and make photographs every day within that restriction. Maybe you could restrict the lens, or the aperture you use (or even both!). You could restrict yourself to making a photo at a particular time of day or within a particular location. One challenge I have always been interested in is the “one block” challenge, where you can only make photographs of things that are within one block of your town for whatever period you choose. Maybe a back and white challenge is more your thing (I did that for a year in 2018), or you photograph only yellow things every day for a month. Or birds. Or cups of coffee. Or sandstone (nah, just kidding, don’t do that). Anything where you limit your options, I think, will help you to focus on one thing and to get more creative as you can’t get distracted by the many other variables that could distract you.

Now I have to plan myself a new challenge for 2021.

Have you thought about undertaking a photo challenge like this? Or done one? Let me know in the comments.

Farewell, Orange Roughy

On Saturday, the Aurora Australis left Hobart for the last time.

August 2018

If you’ve been in Hobart for long, you’ll probably have seen this boat anchored at the wharf. It was, until this year, the Australian Antarctic research vessel, and has been in service for the last 30 years.

April 2019

She made her final voyage to Antarctica earlier this year, and many people were concerned about what would happen to her after that. There were reports that she was going to be sold or even scuttled, and there were calls for the government to buy her and convert her into an Antarctic museum in Hobart.

April 2019

That didn’t happen. The latest reports are saying she is sailing to Dubai and after that, a possible future in Argentina.

April 2019

I’ve enjoyed photographing her over the past few years.

August 2020

The last couple of months leading up to her departure, I’ve made a few trips to the waterfront to capture her for the last time.

October 2020
November 2020

On Friday, I went to the waterfront to see her for the last time (with only my 50mm lens). I wasn’t the only person there.

11 December 2020

There was a group of workers from the dock, or maybe from the ship itself, having their photo taken in front of it, and several other people stopping to take photos and say goodbye. One lady said she’d heard the ship might be going to be used for cruises to Antarctica, and if that happened, we might well see her again in Hobart.

11 December 2020
11 December 2020
11 December 2020

I hear that there was a huge turnout on Saturday morning to see the Aurora Australis off as she sailed out of Hobart for the last time. A flotilla accompanied her as she departed, and there was a lot of emotion in farewelling her. I wasn’t able to be there, but I was able to catch a final glimpse of her as she sailed down the river.

A dodgy phone photo through the trees

I saw her for the last time as just a spec on the horizon and wondered what her future would hold. Perhaps she would have been a wonderful museum, but perhaps it’s better for her to continue her life on the sea. It brought to mind that quote “A ship in harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for”. I have no idea who said that but I like it. (And it’s not really about ships, is it?)

A final farewell

In the words of my friend, who had found a spot on the river bank to say her goodbyes as the “Orange Roughy” sailed past, “Go well, little ship”.

50 in 50: week 4

I’m past the half-way point of my 50mm challenge and I have no real wish to go back to any of my other lenses. I’m struggling a bit with taking a photo every single day, but I’m loving the days when I have the time to go out and spend some time wandering round with the lens.

Day 22: Cull the corrupt
Day 23: Morning yellow
Day 24: Diagonal light
Day 25: Mount Stuart Hall
Day 26: Tiny house
Day 27: A duet of daisies
Day 28: Morning solitude

open house hobart 2020: part 5: the bank arcade

The Bank Arcade was our first tour of the second day of Open House Hobart.

What can I tell you about that? This was an absolute eye opener of a tour, which was conducted by the building owner, John Short. John is clearly passionate about the building and in getting to the bottom of its history (literally), so much so he has just written a book about it.

Layers of history unravelled

The Open House program describes it as a “curious building”, which was built in 1805, 1812, 1835, 1860 and 1958. It is a building on top of a building on top of a building on top of a building on top of Hobart’s oldest stone building and was the site of Hobart’s first shop.

During the tour, John shared some very early pictures of the site and described the process he had used to discover who had built it and when, which sounded very much like the way in which a crime would be solved. Motive, opportunity and money.

Proof of John’s theory of who built the Bank Arcade

I don’t remember a lot of it because it had so much going on and there were so many additions and alterations over the years since it was first built. It was an absolutely fascinating story and I can imagine how much work John must have put in to researching the building’s history for the book. His story of his research was just as interesting as the history of the building and his devotion to the work was just wonderful.

John explaining how he had excavated this section to get to the bottom of the history of the site

I think my favourite part of the story was the time the owner decided to remodel part of the building to create four shops at street level, to replace the large showroom it had been. The builders pulled out some bricks, which is probably never a good idea at the best of times, but especially not with a building that was really a collection of buildings smashed together, put up some supports and went to the football for the afternoon. The result: the vibration of a passing tram bringing down the 1860s facade. Who would have thought?

Some dodgy character investigating the understorey (photo by Lil Sis)

I had absolutely no idea this building had such a complicated past and am so thankful to John for taking the time to tell its story. Yet another building I will never look at the same way again.

Small features that stick out

Our final tour was supposed to be Anglesea Barracks but it was raining and they didn’t want to do the tour in the wet, so we spent an hour in the military museum, which included a tour of the site via a model that had been constructed in the 1940s.

Worn stairs in the military museum

The museum is located in the former military goal, which was also once home to the Hobart Reform School for girls. In a story almost parallel to the Bank Arcade story, Steve, our guide, told us that one of the buildings had always been accepted as having been built in the 1840s but the way it was designed, in particular the size of the windows, suggested that it was actually much earlier than that and it was, most likely one of the earliest buildings on the site, dating back to 1814. The official records, however date it at the later date, so that’s what it is officially.

Hobart Girls’ Reformatory, now the site of the military museum

And that was it for the weekend!

Military museum

A huge thanks to the staff at Open House Hobart for organising the weekend and to the people who gave up their weekends to conduct the tours. And enormous thanks to the volunteers at all the buildings, who had to read out the Covid checklist and make sure everyone used hand sanitiser on every tour. They did a great job and the event wouldn’t have been possible without them. So thank you so much to them too.

open house hobart 2020: part 4

When we last saw Robyn, our entertaining and informative guide of the “What Style is That?” walking tour that was part of our Open House Hobart experience, we were in the car park of the Treasury building in Franklin Square, looking at the Reserve Bank building across the road. You can read about how we got there in part 3.

Some sandstone things on one of the Treasury staircases

Lil Sis and I visited the Treasury complex last year as part of Open House. It wasn’t open this year so we were glad to have been able to look through it then. Today’s visit looked at the outside of the buildings and the many different features and eras of the structures that make up the complex.

Robyn told the story we heard last year about the four columns out the front of the main entrance, which were originally going to be eight because John Franklin was obsessed with columns, but this was never done because of public outcry about the cost of eight columns. (Also, you have to ask yourself, where would the all fit?) Robyn mentioned that the Jane Franklin building in Lenah Valley had similar columns and that there had been suggestions that perhaps this is where the missing Treasury columns had ended up. She also said that she was 100 per cent confident that they weren’t, and you’ll have to ask her yourself how she knows this.

Another sandstone thing at Treasury. Note the vermiculated sandstone quoins in the background. Quoin is a fancy architectural term for corner.

Across the road from Treasury in Murray Street is the former Hobart Savings Bank, which is notoriously known as the red awnings building.

Former Hobart Savings Bank, 24A Murray Street

This bank was founded by the Quakers as a bank that former convicts and other people who had been rejected by the big banks could access. Robyn said that in a big financial crash in the 1890s, this was the only bank that was unscathed because all of the others had made huge risky investments and lost most of their depositors’ funds. This benefited the people who had been scorned by society as they now had all the money and could go out and buy property and start to set their families up.

Up close & personal with the red awnings

We were lucky enough to have a brief tour of this building after the walking tour. It’s now a private residence and is quite amazing inside but I can’t show you any photos as the owner has requested that we don’t publish any photos from the inside.

Looking up

As we walked down Murray Street, Robyn showed as another example of how front walls are designed for the upper class, with their perfect sandstone blocks but when it comes to the sides, anything goes because that’s what the less well-regarded members of society see as they go around to the side entrance.

The well-to-do front

So the walls are uneven with odd shaped bits of stone shoved in to fit whatever space there was. I never knew this and had never paid any attention before. But now I’ve seen it, I can’t unsee it.

And the side of the same building

We ended our tour at Parliament House, which I rightly identified as Georgian. (There, see, I learned something.) It was built in 1835 as the customs house. I mentioned that I understood that it wasn’t big enough for its purpose as Parliament House. Robyn said that this was indeed the case, and that the original plans had larger wings on either side, which had been crossed off (in red pen, no less) the design, leaving us with a building that isn’t fit for purpose. Perhaps one day I will elaborate on my plans for fixing this but I don’t think Hobart is ready for that yet.

It was a fabulous tour and I am so grateful to Open House Hobart and to Robyn for giving us this opportunity. It has opened my eyes to a lot of things I didn’t know about our older buildings and I am interested to find out more. I’m still not going to convert to the cult of sandstone and I can’t tell my Corinthian column from my Doric or my Tuscan ones (sorry, Robyn, my brain just isn’t equipped for this). But I will certainly look at some of these places in a different light as I walk past, especially ones with inappropriate porches! (You can go on Robyn’s tour next year and ask her about those.)

open house hobart 2020: part 3

I had to split this post into two because it’s way too long!

After our Open House Hobart tour of Blue Magnolia, Lil Sis and I made our way briskly to the waterfront, where we were due to meet Robyn Everist, our guide for the “What Style is That?” walking tour. I’d never met Robyn before but I went on one of the walking tours that run out of the company she used to own, Hobart Walking Tours, a few years ago. Robyn now spends her time researching the history of Hobart’s architecture, a subject very close to my heart, so I was looking forward to this tour immensely.

I know bugger all about architectural styles, unless it’s modernism (and even then I’m never really sure), and even less about the features of buildings. If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll probably know I’m not a huge fan of fancy, ornate bits stuck on buildings (there is a reason I’m called straightlinesgirl and it has nothing to do with my technical drawing skills, or lack thereof). If you point out a Colonial Classical Federation Georgian Revival building to me, I’ll probably nod politely and start photographing the 60s glass curtain wall across the road. Sorry not sorry.

However, I am here to learn, and I was very interested to find out more about the buildings that I normally dismiss as colonial sandstone relics that would look better with a bit of concrete and steel over the front.

I was not disappointed. Robyn is a fantastic guide; very well informed and extremely entertaining about a subject that could be as dull as River Yarra water. I mean who really cares about whether a column is Tuscan, Ionic or Doric? It’s a column, right? What even is the point of them? It holds up a building. Or a porch. Or nothing at all.

We only had hour for the tour, which, as with any great guide, extended to at least 90 minutes. Robyn explained so many features of the buildings we looked at that my head was spinning by the end. Actually, my head was spinning by the time we got to Dutch Anglo something at City Hall. I don’t think I’m an aural learner. I need to read stuff to take it in after I’ve heard it and, fortuitously Robyn had that covered with a summary we could download from her website.

The round cut out bits here are an example of the Dutch-Anglo something that is also found on City Hall. This one is in Murray Street.

We started out at the IXL buildings at 25 Hunter Street, where I learned what a pediment is. This is a word I forgot as soon as Robyn said it and I couldn’t for the life of me remember it for this post. I knew it started with P and that if you put im- in front of it, it meant something else. But could I think of the word? Absolutely not. I ended up having to go and look it up in my trusty* Rice’s Language of Buildings.

Pediment. Not pelmet. Not pedant.

Robyn explained that this building was in the Colonial Georgian style, which covers the period 1788 to 1840 in Australia. She describes the style as being like a Volvo: Boxy but good. As far as sandstone goes, it’s not a bad style. It’s symmetrical, and very plain, with none of that fancy nonsense that some of the later sandstone buildings have. My straight-lines brain approves.

We then made our way to the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, which is a fascinating complex of buildings. The 1902 building on Davey Street, I hadn’t realised was built for Australia’s Federation in 1901 and the deal was that if the building was constructed before 1901 the Tasmanian Government would have to pay for it; after that it would be a Federation building and the Commonwealth would pay. Well played, Tasmania, by the looks of it. Robyn explained how this building and others in Hobart, because they were built by people with very British outlooks on life, were designed in very British styles that had exactly zero reference to life in Australia. I wondered if that was a reason why I don’t feel any particular attachment to any of those older buildings.

TMAG

As we walked, Robyn observed how there are buildings where the architects have tossed the rule books out the window when they designed them. For example, the style was for buildings to reflect the people who used them. So the ground floors would be highly decorated with grand entrances to be used by the upper classes; the middle floors, accessed by middle classes, were less ornate and the top floors, which were where the servant class had to go, were plain and unadorned, with the entrances for those people round the back. All designed, she said, so that people knew their place. So when thinking about the building, it helps to know what its purpose was as that will explain a lot of the design features.

Town Hall steps

One story that I particularly loved, among the many, was the story of the CML building on the corner of Macquarie and Elizabeth Street. CML wanted all its buildings to look the same, as you do, and its buildings were made of granite, which no one in Tasmania could afford. So they developed this solution where they would get some crushed up pink stone material from Brisbane, mix it up with concrete, make it onto tilers to stick to the building, which would be made much more cheaply from Besser blocks and no one would know the difference. The ultimate in keeping up appearances.

Here’s one I prepared earlier: the view up Macquarie Street showing the GPO, CML and Reserve Bank buildings

One building I have always liked is the Reserve Bank building a bit further up Macquarie Street. It was built in the 1970s by the Government, and at the time there was no money around to construct a building that would look like the elaborate buildings of other financial institutions that stood on this street. Think Treasury for starters (we’ll get there in the next post). So, said, Robyn, the people of Hobart would not have appreciated big bucks going towards a replica Treasury building on the site and accepted the need for a cheap, quick building instead. Steel and concrete. Bang, done.

I do love these buildings, at least from the outside. The less said about the money-saving open plan designs inside the better.

The beautiful Reserve Bank building on Macquarie Street

However, I have, for a long time, wondered how a building like this has been tolerated in a streetscape of ornate sandstone when other brutalist structures standing close to sandstone landscapes were detested and deemed not to fit and ultimately demolished. Why is this one okay? I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say they hate it and it doesn’t fit and should be demolished. I did also read somewhere that it wasn’t actually concrete, it had a sandstone finish but I can’t remember where I found that.

A magnificent feature of this building is the “Antarctic Tableau” sculpture by Stephen Walker. I wasn’t aware that Stephen had had a keen interest in Antarctica and had actually travelled there as part of the Antarctic Division’s art program.

Stephen Walker sculpture at the Reserve Bank building

We continued our tour along Macquarie Street with the Treasury complex, which will be in the next post.

* “Trusty” in that I bought this book 18 months ago and until today, hadn’t actually looked at anything in it that pre-dated 1930.

open house hobart 2020: hobart magistrates court

I wasn’t sure if this year’s Open House Hobart was going to go ahead as normal because of the covid pandemic, but the organisers did a great job in putting together a program that included a mix of in-person tours, virtual tours and livestreamed presentations. We had to book everything we wanted to do this year, which mean no more rocking up to buildings that were on the way to other buildings, and making sure we left enough time between things not to be late for the tours.

It all worked out well and our first tour of the weekend was the Hobart Magistrates Court in Liverpool Street.

After being read the covid statement and being asked to confirm that we didn’t have any symptoms, the first of many such checks over the weekend, we were able to go into the court to go through the security. The tour was run by the Court Administrator (whose name I have forgotten) with the building’s architect, Andrew Shurman and the Chief Magistrate, Catherine Geason. I believe this was the first year the court has been open in the Open House Program so it was exciting to be able to tour the building with the architect.

Hobart Magistrates Court entrance

It spans a site on Campbell and Liverpool Streets that includes the former Blundstone Boot Factory, which was built in 1909 on Campbell Street. Over the years from the 1940s the state government acquired the buildings surrounding the factory and incorporated them into the Magistrates Court. In 1971, the government acquired other buildings on Campbell Street, which were mostly demolished, except the the cafe on the corner of Liverpool Street, and the remaining factory buildings, other than the main building which is heritage listed, were demolished in the 1990s.

The new section in Liverpool Street that was completed in 1995. This section connects to the Hobart Reception Prison in the building next door.

The brief for the 1990s building was that it needed to have the most advanced facilities available, including the capacity for people to give remote video evidence, which is now a protected witness room that people can give their evidence in sensitive matters from rather than have to go into the court room. It has a separate entrance so people using the room don’t have to go through the main entrance.

Another feature of the complex is the incorporation of artworks throughout the design, including some beautiful timber and copper works and the magnificent vertical sculpture that sits alongside the staircase in the main entry.

Part of the sculpture

Andrew told us that the entrance and the waiting area on the first floor were designed to provide views out onto the street and allow natural light into the spaces to try and make it less uncomfortable for people coming into the court. Another feature is the tiled floor that represents the Hobart rivulet, as well as the carpet, which was especially designed for the court. None of the government standard red circles for this place (though I do love that carpet).

The waiting area on level 1
Magistrates Court carpet

We were able to go into some of the court rooms as well as some of the areas that aren’t open to the public like the magistrates’ chambers, the staff amenities room, which is actually the original factory floor from the Blundstone factory, and the Administrator’s office, which has the original hoist from the factory tucked away in the corner.

Who wouldn’t want a factory hoist in their office?

Andrew explained that they had wanted to retain as much of the factory as they could when they fitted it out as a court house, so there are lots of exposed wooden ceiling beams, joists, and timber framework in the Campbell Street part of the building too.

Original timber

I asked what determines whether a matter goes to the Magistrates Court or the Supreme Court. For offences where there is a value attached, if it’s above $20,000 it will go to the Supreme Court, and certain serious crimes, like murder also go there. For some matters, the person can choose which court they wish the matter to be heard in.

Love these doors

The court actually sits on a Saturday so as we were leaving out the side door, there were people coming in for hearings through the main door, which was interesting.

On the way out, we stopped outside to take some photos from the street.

This is my favourite photo from they tour

Of particular interest was the “crown” on the Liverpool street side, which represents the headpiece wreath of the statues of the blindfolded Lady of Justice in Greek Mythology. I had walked past this feature many times without even making that connection. It sits atop a large window that is the conference room we’d just been.

Coronet from Liverpool Street

Finally, on the way to our next tour, we walked along Campbell Street to have a look at the Blundstone factory side of the complex.

The former Blundstone factory