• Sam Wilson

How My First Photography Tour Got Me Hooked

Let’s Visit Tasmania

So I booked my first photography tour which happened to be to Tasmania at the end of 2017. I decided that I needed to treat myself with an early 50th birthday present, and what better way than a photo tour of Tasmania.

I chose to go with Brett Wood Photo Tours after being recommended to him by a fellow photographer and reading all the positive reviews. This was a decision I've never regretted and I've since done another 4 tours with him, and sure I'll be booking more in the future.

I know that without Brett I'd never have gotten this shot. He not only spotted the composition but helped me with the climb over the rocks to get here

I truly had no idea what I was in for - all I knew was that I was getting picked up from the hotel I was staying at on the Sunday afternoon, had the itinerary printed ready to go, and that we would arrive back in Hobart on Friday.

A rough outline of where we covered, then headed back to Hobart from St Helens on the last day

I hadn’t met the guide or any of the other photographers, and had absolutely no idea how long the days were at that time of year in Tasmania. Let’s just say I do a lot more research beforehand these days.

As one of the last one’s picked up that day I ended up right up the back and spent the rest of the week sitting above the wheel arch - most uncomfortable let me tell you. When asked about suggestions to improve the tour at the end, mine was to rotate seats!

A 5 day tour in an 8-seater van with 8 adults with luggage and camera gear - not so squeezy! I remember one morning it took 3 attempts to fit everything in the back of the van so that we could shut the door - I so wish I still had the photo I took of that.

Note to self - don’t delete phone photos until you have triple checked you have backed them up!

Yacht completing the Sydney to Hobart race

Our first stop was Mortimer Bay to photograph a fence in water at sunset

We arrived a couple of hours before sunset and we spent the first part of the afternoon introducing ourselves and enjoying a complimentary beverage courtesy of our tour guide.

This was great, except that there were no amenities to be found and we were to spend around four hours here - mmm, drinks and no toilet is not a girl’s best friend. Luckily I’m not precious and there was plenty of bush around lol.

One of the participants had a drone - this was the first time I'd seen one!

Anyhoo, this was really my first learning experience with long exposure photography. This is when you have your camera on a tripod and have your shutter open for a long period to achieve numerous different effects - it is way more complicated than that, but in this instance it was to slow the water down and try and capture some movement in the clouds. Before any professionals get upset by this explanation, I’m not aiming to provide tuition or education here, just hopefully a basic understanding of what we were trying to achieve.

These 2 photos below show the difference with the first taken at ⅙ of a second and the second one a 30 second exposure.

Raw photo with a shutter speed of 1/6 second
Final version of image with shutter speed of 30 seconds


I lost my original copy of this trip so it was lucky I had taken a photo of it to send to one of the other participants. This is a print of that photo. I refer back to them numerous times not only for the locations because my memory constantly lets me down, but also for accommodation ideas or recommendations.

You will notice that there is a lot of scribbling on this as locations tended to change as the tour went on. This to me is a positive thing as it meant we were going to where the conditions would give us the best photos at the time. This is not always positive

The next few days were a bit of a blur to be honest - mostly up before 4am and not getting back to our accommodation until after 9pm each night. If we were lucky we had a couple of hours in the middle of the day for a nap, or try and snooze in the bus if there was a lot of driving that day.

Near Swansea, this shack has since been rebuilt
Moody (ish) sunset at Cosy Corner North

Sunrise at St Helens Jetty

Huge kudos to those that run the tours that not only keep the same hours, but do all the driving as well as the constant monitoring and staying on top of the organising in between. Brett never missed a beat, and ensured we went to the cafe’s with the best coffee in the morning and knew all the good places to go for dinner each night.

"Decaf coffee only works if you throw it at people"

Even though we were mostly chasing sunrise and sunsets for the light we had a number of stop off’s and mini locations during the day to also keep us entertained (and caffeinated).

One that springs to mind was at Bicheno, which has a fabulous blow hole. We only had a quick stop here but I still remember that with a bus full of all this fancy camera gear, we were all taking photos like children with our phones - I still have a laugh when I remember this.

Splash at Bicheno

Another place that we stopped at during the day was called “The Nuggets” This was another lesson in taking long exposures. To do this we also used filters which are dark pieces of glass that go on the front of your lens. This darkens down the camera’s view which allows for the shutter to be open longer to smooth the water and capture strong colours.

"The Nuggets", Cape Tourville

Most Anticipated Location

While I enjoyed every location we went to I have to admit that Binalong Bay was the one I was most keen to visit. I had seen so many photos of this area, and in particular a lone tree that was very popular with photographers.

I was certainly not disappointed and I do have to thank one of the other participants for showing me the composition in the first photo with the reflection. Composition is something that I still struggle with and find it can take me a few visits to the same place to improve on this.

'That Tree' - Bay of Fires

Sad to report that this little tree succumbed to storms earlier in 2021 which is what makes the photos and memories I have of this location even more special.

A different angle - New Years Day 2020

This second photo of the ‘Binalong Tree’ was taken on a second trip to Tasmania at the end of 2019, where I also got to visit Cradle Mountain and the truly stunning Bridestow Lavender Farm. I will save that trip for another post in the future.

Tasmania may only be a relatively ‘small’ state for Australia, but it certainly has so much to offer - I think you could easily spend a month there and not touch the surface. So far I’ve mainly stayed on the east coast with has it’s stunning coastline, beautiful historic towns and gorgeous waterfalls. There is also a stunning wilderness area on the east that I’m hoping to visit in 2022, so watch this space ...

You know you’ve found the right tour guide when he stops so you can get wine before going to the supermarket to get much needed toilet paper! Oh wait, that was in New Zealand so I best save that story for another post...

That’s it for now

That's all for today.

Next up is Part 1 of "Love Your Local" where I showcase some of the stunning locations I live near, join here to travel with me to Tasmania if you haven't already subscribed.

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