Pomonal & The Stawell Show

I have recently returned from working in sunny Italy to an equally sunny Australia. And after spending quite a long time away it was great to have an excuse to travel down to Victoria.  It was fortunate that one of my clients was shooting his annual jewellery catalogue in Melbourne and rural Victoria, so that gave me a perfect pretext to make the journey.

 

One of the locations was conveniently close to Pomonal where my sister lives.  I have blogged several times before in reference to Pomonal…so here is an up-date of rural life at the foot of the Grampian mountain range.

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View of the Grampians from the point of view of Moysten

I arrived on the Saturday afternoon after a non-stop drive from Melbourne, where I had been working the previous 3 days.  I found Helen sitting on the verandah of her little country hide-away (see picture).

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You can see Helen…she’s got the grey hair!
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Here’s a view a bit closer….I think Helen is on the phone.

 


I then headed straight for the Stawell Show Grounds from Melbourne.  It was a push since the show was starting to wind up and I had to get there before 4pm, if I wanted to see Denise and her winning entries.  Thanks goodness I had a reliable GPS and I could head off the highway, onto the dirt road leading to Stawell.

 

I arrived in the car park, and Denise eagerly awaiting.  I was quickly whisked away to the grand pavilion, on the edge of the main arena, where there was some exciting news……  

 

Surprise, surprise!  Denise had several prize-winning entries.  She is so proud of her baking efforts and was over the moon at the fact that the local agricultural establishment had chosen to acknowledge this by awarding her several first and second prizes.

 

Denise pointing to where her first prize winning nut loaf was located.
Denise pointing to where her first prize winning nut loaf was located.
The label speaks for itself...how wonderful for Denise
The label speaks for itself…how wonderful for Denise
Denise pointing to her first prize cappuccino cake....top shelf!
Denise pointing to her first prize cappuccino cake….top shelf!
This was a truly unexpected win....Denise had no idea what a cappuccino cake was until the Stawell Show...and look!
This was a truly unexpected win….Denise had no idea what a cappuccino cake was until the Stawell Show…and look!

 

The real surprise was the Cappuccino cake…a relatively complicated layered construction which she managed beautifully, to win her a first ticket.  I found out from Helen that the 2nd prize for the Anzac biscuits was also hard won.   Apparently, they had some difficulty with the first batch, which lost shape and pured out all over the baking tray.  With an insightful variation of the recipe (don’t try this at home, only a skilled technician, which Denise is,  can play around with changing recipes) she managed a second prize.

 

Here are the Anzac biscuits........Denise did mention that they were a bit tricky at first. This was apparently the product of a second attempt on getting the recipe right.
Here are the Anzac biscuits……..Denise did mention that they were a bit tricky at first. This was apparently the product of a second attempt to get the recipe right.

 

Another victory in the Anzac Biscuit section (Biscuit is French for Biscuit)
Another victory in the Anzac Biscuit section (Biscuit is French for Biscuit)

 

Full length shot of Denise...too bad they didn't have a fashion on the field
Full length shot of Denise…too bad they didn’t have an event for fashion on the field

 

A slight disappointment….(well, I suppose you can’t really say disappointment when you have already won 2 sections and 2nd in another)…was the tea tray section.  Denise, unfortunately didn’t cut the mustard in this years effort.  It’s always good to have something to strive for and next year, I am sure, Denise will be hoping for a better result.

 

Denise points to her disappointing failure in the tea service section
Denise points to her disappointing failure in the tea service section
The loosing tea service........
The loosing tea service……..

 

We still had half an hour left before the show ended, so we decided to exit the baking pavilion, to visit side show alley and see what else was on offer………. 

Denise admires a lump of wool, as she leaves the cake baking pavillion
Denise admires a lump of wool, as she leaves the cake baking pavilion

So I thought……..but no!  We were off to another pavilion for more of “Denise on show”!  To my surprise Denise had extended her kit bag of talents to the photographic awards and had entered her work in 2 sections.  There was quite an impressive selection of photographs on display.  Some of the contestants were obviously professional or semi professional photographers.  Denise wasn’t…but that didn’t deter her from entering because they had a section for amateurs.

Denise points to her prize winning photograph
Denise points to her 3rd prize winning photograph of a car.  Vintage cars are another hobby of this multi-talented woman of mystery, which I will discuss further on in this blog…stay tuned!

 

A spectacular self portrait...beautifully positioned in a truly inspired installation
A spectacular self portrait…although it didn’t muster a prize, definitely a favourite of mine. Denise pictured herself, softly lit, reclining in a bath, full of bubbles…reminiscent of the iconic images by some great past photographers of languishing Hollywood beauties.

 

Here's a closer look at Denise's self portrait in the bath. How glamorous! I'm loving the inspired "hang" by the trustees. Well positioned, I'd say!
Here’s a closer look at Denise’s self portrait in the bath. How glamorous! I’m loving the inspired “hang” by the trustees. Well positioned, I’d say!

 


How wonderful…..the side shows were still in progress after we left the photography.  Although the guy on the Cha Cha had started to pack up, it didn’t deter Denise from having a go on the darts and the clowns.  Denise was full of confidence after her wins and this was reflected in her deft delivery of both the darts and the balls.  She started first on the darts and quickly made a number of successful throws to land herself a soft toy bear (see image).  She was also successful on the clowns but the prizes on offer were less impressive.

The Cha Cha was being packed up...otherwise I would have liked a go. I would always have a go on the Cha Cha whenever the show came to Horsham...my favorite (except for the one where the girl turns into a gorilla...that's another story)
The Cha Cha was being packed up…otherwise I would have liked to have a ride. I would always have a go on the Cha Cha, whenever the show came to Horsham…my favourite (except for the one where the girl turns into a gorilla…that’s another story)

 

Denise gives it her best on the darts....
Denise gives it her best on the darts….
Note the action.....
Note the action…..
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She landed a lovely soft toy, brown bear. Her boyfriend Greg will be delighted when she gets home.

 

Denise did not leave empty handed
Denise did not leave empty handed…..

 

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Getting ready to try her luck on the clowns

 

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Denise, poised for another victory on the clowns

 

Denise proudly displaying the 2 prizes she won at side show alley
Denise proudly displaying the 2 prizes she won at side show alley

 

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Denise takes a break, next to the shetland ponies, to re-apply make-up. A girl has to look her best.
Denise takes a break, next to the shetland ponies, to re-apply make-up. A girl has to look her best.
I was very disappointed with the commercialisation of the iconic show bag, as seen in this shot. Now days, you choose to buy what you want inside the bags....in my time, the bags were sponsored and you never knew what crap was going to be inside. It was always a nice surprise!
I was very disappointed with what I saw, regarding the commercialisation of the iconic show bag, as seen in this shot. Nowdays, you choose to buy what you want inside the bags….in my time, the bags were sponsored and you never knew what crap was going to be inside.  No more surprises!

 


Another fascinating feature was the Sheaf Tossing Competition.  I have never seen this type of sport before…but here it was at the Stawell Show.  The idea is to stick a pitch fork into a small bag of hay and throw it as high as you can, over a horizontal suspended beam.  Have a look at the shots for a better explanation.  The 2014 World Sheaf Tossing champion was defending his title…..he was unsuccessful.  He lost to a rather shy young man who was on a “come-back” after retiring from the sport a few years ago.

That's the pitch fork they use to spike the hay bail.....
That’s the pitch fork they use to spike the hay bale…..

 

So the hay bail is thrown up and over a suspended bar, above.
So the hay bale is thrown up and over a suspended bar, above.

 

The idea is you get the bag over the bar at the highest possible height...and if your's is the highest...you win!
The idea is you get the bag over the bar at the highest possible height…and if yours is the highest…you win!

 

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This is the guy who won…but he wasn’t comfortable with me shooting him until he had won. I managed to get this shot before he indicated that he didn’t like photos…put him off!

 

I got him from behind as well....on his way to the launching pad.
I got him from behind as well….on his way to the launching pad.

 

His opponent was looking on in anticipation....
His opponent was looking on in anticipation….

 

I shot Denise with the winners...first and second. They did a marvelous job and Denise was very excited to be photographed amongst them. The commentator on the microphone mistakingly thought I was from the local newspaper. Oh well....perhaps I do shoot from time to time for the "Callan Park News"!
I shot Denise with the winners…first and second. They did a marvelous job and Denise was very excited to be photographed between them. The commentator on the microphone mistaked me for a reporter from the local newspaper. Oh well….perhaps I do shoot from time to time for the “Callan Park News”! (Look up Callan Park)

 


Well after all that excitement it was time to pack up and collect the prize money.  Yes….the prize money!  How exciting!  Those hard won tickets translate into cold hard cash!  We quickly retrieved the cakes and photos and proceeded to the admin office for the loot!  Rob and Elle helped carry the goods to the car.

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Denise points out which ones are hers.
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Denise telling the show lady where the nut loaf was
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The show lady carefully carries the tea tray out of the cabinet for Denise
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Love this shot of Denise with the tea tray….shame she didn’t win!
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Rob is Elle’s boyfriend and works as a young doctor in the rural area of Orange, NSW….so he understands the value of keeping country culture alive. He was more than happy to help carry the tea tray to the car
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This is Elle, my niece. She took the opportunity to try the Anzac biscuits. I think she liked them very much.
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Collecting the photos…..
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Rob, Elle and Denise head to the admin office for funds!

 

Now it was time to collect the money…..finally!  Guess how much 2 firsts, 2 second and a third got you ahead at the Stawell Show?  I’ll tell you…….$8 (AUD).  I mean it’s better than a slap in the face….but I hasten to say that the $8 wouldn’t even pay for the matt board on the photos, let alone the ingredients of all those prize winning cakes….but better not look a gift horse in the mouth (as they say in the country).

 

Denise waits for the money....
Denise waits for the money….
Denise shows her bounty for the camera
Denise shows her bounty for the camera
Denise, Rob and Elle leave the office. Denise feeling rewarded and just that little bit richer from the experience.
Denise, Rob and Elle leave the office. Denise feeling rewarded and just that little bit richer from the experience.

 

Here's Denise at the car, displaying her trophies...oh, there you go...she also got a trophey...not bad!
Here’s Denise at the car, displaying her trophies…oh, there you go…she also got a trophey…not bad!

 


Well that was the Stawell Show.  I decided that I would make an effort to go again next year, but arrive earlier so it won’t be a rushed….get to go on the Cha Cha.  In fact, I think I will make a weekend of it.

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Got this lovely shot of Denise on her car, just in front of the CB McMurtrie Poultry Pavilion

 

And this shot of Denise on the side of an old fashioned car. I like the way the owner haven't bothered to renovate...you see the remnants of the original finish.
And this shot of Denise on the side of an old fashioned car. I like the way the owner has’t bothered to renovate…you see the remnants of the original finish.

 

It was obvious that Rob and Denise shared a common interest in cars….before our departure they took time out to have a look under the bonnet and Rob got into the driver’s seat (See picture)

 

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So that ended day 1 of my trip to Pomonal and Stawell.  There’s a day 2 coming up!  I think I hit the jack pot.  Not only was it the weekend of the Stawell Show but it was also the weekend of the Show and Shine car rally, organised by the local Holden Car Club, of which Denise is the secretary. 

 

Sunday morning, after a hearty breakfast with my sister at the Halls Gap coffee shop I headed off to the nearby oval.  Denise was just pulling up in her non-renovated Holden Kingswood.  Her pride and joy.  She commandeered that lump of metal in true style as she slowly moved onto the oval to take her position in the field of motoring enthusiasts.

 

Denise drives onto the oval to take her place
Denise drives onto the oval to take her place

 

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Narrowly misses a young girl in a wheelchair (out of frame)
Denise pictured with her Holden Kingswood
Denise pictured with her Holden Kingswood

 

Signage had to be put onto the car windows.  Elle and Rob were there to lend a hand.  Denise opened the bonnet for an inspection proudly admitting that nothing had been done to the car since it was bought.

 

 

Elle and Denise adhering a flyer to the car window
Elle and Denise adhering a flyer to the car window

 

Denise displays the inner workings of the motor
Denise displays the inner workings of the motor

 

 


When Denise felt that the preparations were complete, we all went for a little wander through the fair.  It was a great turn out.  Many of the cars were renovated versions of their former selves….great testaments of the love and devotion of their owners.

 

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A line up of renovated utes. The owners not far away.

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Rob and Elle like this one particularly

 

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…..and this one!

 

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Close up of the renovated motor in this red painted vehicle

 

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This lady found the perfect place to take a rest…quiet, relaxing and I imagine, judging from the lilac sheepskin covers, very comfortable

 

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This couple took a very practical approach and brought their own chairs

 

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I was fascinated by this family…obviously car enthusiasts.
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More cars……
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and even more cars…….

 


Wow….looking at all the different coloured cars really builds up an appetite.  We headed for the sausage sizzle, a fund-raiser for sure!  

Waiting while the staff sort out logistics....
Waiting while the staff sort out logistics….

 

Nothing like an Aussie BBQ
Nothing like an Aussie BBQ and plenty of tomato sauce to follow

 

A flashback from the day before….clowns and fairy floss.

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Bring in the clowns…..

 

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Denise looking on, fixated on how the fairy floss is made

 

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Time to enjoy this sugar hit and there to help out is the well known Melbourne jeweller, Adrian from Circa AD Jewels

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I had to leave to go to and work at a nearby homestead.  We were about to shoot the last model for the 2017 Circa AD jewellery catalogue…..hence why Adrian was in one of the above shots.  But before we all left Denise and finish the day at the “Show and Shine”, Adrian kindly lent a couple of his pieces that we were going to shoot later on that afternoon for Denise to model.  I think she enjoyed the experience…she is certainly a lot more relaxed in front of the camera than when I first started shooting her, so long ago.

How classic is Denise looking her, showing off her South Sea Pearls
How classic is Denise looking her, showing off her South Sea Pearls

 

Here's another lovely shot of Denise, modelling a coral and turquoise beaded necklace from CircaAD Jewels
Here’s another lovely shot of Denise, modelling a coral and turquoise beaded necklace from CircaAD Jewels

 

And to finish up....Denise with a pair of turquoise drop ear rings
And to finish up….Denise with a pair of turquoise drop ear rings

 

 


That brings me to the end of all the fun and games of the “Show and Shine”…and for that matter, a fond good bye to Halls Gap and Pomonal.  It was now onto Lexington, a property near Moysten, for the continuation and last shoot for CircaAD Jewels.  But more about that on another blog post.  Later that evening I started my long road trip back to Sydney…..14hrs of listening to ABBA on a very boring stretch of road.

 

View of the Grampians from the verandah of the Lexington property, near Moysten
View of the Grampians from the verandah of the Lexington property, near Moysten

 


The End


 

And………don’t forget to get that particular shot you wanted in, before Xmas!

John McRae

mb 0419619161

email: john@johnmcrae.com

Daniel, on a recent visit to my studio
Daniel, on a recent visit to my studio

Heather says good bye to the “BACHELOR”

I just want to say a big “congratulations” to the adorable Heather Maltman for her stellar time on the Bachelor.

Not an easy thing….to be dumped by a man on National television after making yourself quite vulnerable….but you did it beautifully and with so much class.  You made us proud!

I wish Heather all the best.

(If you’re wondering why I’m wishing a girl who appeared on the “Bachelor” congratulations…..it’s because I have worked professionally with Heather.  She a really good sport and she has been very supportive to my efforts in photography and over the years we have become friends.)

 

A very natural shot of Heather Maltman
A very natural shot of Heather Maltman

TAN SWIMWEAR

We had a great shoot on Saturday at the studio for “Tan Swimwear”

The team was built from some very creative souls:

Producer:           Mimi Puc

HMU:                  Kerrie Jane Bailey

Model:                 Kelly McCracken

Photographer:   John McRae

Guest Model:     Tete (You’ll see Tete below, such wonderful lines)

 

Here are some production shots of the proceedings………..

 

Kelly being styled by Michelle for Tan Swimwear
Kelly being styled by Michelle for Tan Swimwear
Profile of model with hair rollers
Profile of model with hair rollers
Kerrie Bailey (HMU) applying the finishing touches of make-up
Kerrie Bailey (HMU) applying the finishing touches of make-up
Kerrie & Kelly
Kerrie & Kelly
Kelly and Tete looking sharp
Kelly and Tete looking sharp
Tete gets right into the part!
Tete gets right into the part!