Light Tree Media: Blog https://www.lighttreemedia.com.au/blog en-us Light Tree Media (Light Tree Media) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:15:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:15:00 GMT https://www.lighttreemedia.com.au/img/s/v-12/u854322678-o110389876-50.jpg Light Tree Media: Blog https://www.lighttreemedia.com.au/blog 120 80 Watching the Turtles https://www.lighttreemedia.com.au/blog/2017/3/watching-the-turtles Sunset over the Great Barrier Reef Nesting in Paradise

After spending a few weeks on a secluded island in the Capricornia Cays National Park, I feel refreshed by the uninterrupted close contact with nature. Nesting birds and turtles who were mostly undisturbed by our presence, the crystal clear water of the ocean, the abundant sea life and the beautifully unique coral rubble sand.

The Capricornia Cays are located towards the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef, which is the worlds largest coral reef and the only living thing on earth that can be seen from space!

The reef in this area was so healthy and alive, so far seemingly unaffected by the ample industry nearby, with brilliant fish snacking on the coral and darting amongst our fingers.

It was not by coincidence that I found myself on an island integral to sea turtle survival - right in the middle of egg-laying/hatching season!

From November through to January, the Green and Loggerhead sea turtles are nesting by the hundreds every night.

Come January through to late March, there are thousands of baby turtles hatching each night and making a frantic dash for the ocean, evolution choosing the path of sacrificing the many for the few.

Baby turtle dash for the sea!

Laying the eggs

Watching the egg-laying process is fascinating, every step of the way. As you can probably gather, for an animal that spends most of its time in the water, they are not well equipped for land travel. With flippers instead of legs, their egg-laying expedition is beautifully clumsy and is certainly admirable.

Sea turtles need to lay their eggs on land and it is the adult female who is responsible for this task, which is certainly no walk in the park (or swim in the ocean, I should say)!

As the female makes her painfully slow ascent from the ocean up the beach and into the closest tree-cover, she is very sensitive and aware.

As she spends the first twenty or so minutes arduously digging her potential nest, if she is disturbed in any way she will immediately (in turtle time) abandon her nest and return to the ocean to try again somewhere else. This heralds a warning for those lucky enough to be camping nearby, not to shine any bright light, talk loudly or approach the nesting turtle.

If disturbed, the 150+kg turtle will have to make a frustrated retreat back down the beach. As you can probably imagine, this is a very long process.

The thwarted female will then continue to tirelessly search for a tranquil patch of sand in an attempt to lay her eggs. However if she remains unsuccessful in finding a suitable, peaceful place to lay, she will be forced to return to the ocean and drop her eggs, hopefully to try again in a few weeks.

Usually the female will produce enough eggs to lay four to five times a season. The years between each breeding season vary from turtle to turtle with most females only breeding every two to eight years.

 

Digging the Nest

Supposing, however, that she does find a suitable place, she will dig her nest. She will emphatically toss sand all over the place, digging and digging until she reaches what she deems to be a suitable depth. This depth often seems to be about the average height of one adult turtle.

Then, she will delicately dig an egg chamber, a sandy cylinder dug down as far as her flippers can reach. She sculpts this chamber with her back flippers and is totally blind to what she is doing. Despite this, she manages to dig a worthy hole, the perfect depth and shape. She is pretty committed by this stage and will only abandon the process if highly disrupted or blocked by a stubborn tree root or rock in her digging path. Even then, she might choose to continue to frustratingly paw at that recalcitrant root for hours.

Once the chamber is dug, she will then begin to lay, entering into a trance-like state, laying anywhere from 50 to over 150 eggs in total. For the next 15 minutes or so, while she is laying, she makes no sound. Her body will slowly rock back and forth as she moves the fertile ovum though her system, before depositing the slick, porous eggs. At this point she would seem totally oblivious to anything going on around her.

Once she has finished laying, she begins the laborious process of covering the egg chamber and filling in the hole she has dug. She will do this by gradually edging herself forward, essentially digging a new hole in front, throwing the sand behind her to fill in the original nesting site.

Sometimes these turtles can get totally carried away and end up metres ahead of the actual nest, still throwing sand behind them to fill in the already totally covered hole, before they decide they have done their job!

Keep in mind they still cannot see the nest, so try not to judge them while you giggle at their seeming ineptitude. Some even speculate that she does this intentionally, in order to conceal the location of the eggs.

(That's my tent to the left that she is attempting to dug under!)


Finally having completed her mission, the exhausted female will then begin her slow descent back to the ocean. All this can mean two or more hours out of the water. Sometimes on her journey back to the water the turtle may be unfortunate enough to find herself trapped by logs or even flipped onto her back after trying to scale a log with a too-steep incline.

Turtle researchers will often patrol the beaches during nesting season looking for trapped or upended turtles and make an effort to rescue them from a potentially long and painful demise.

Let the Hatching Begin!

Long after their mother has disappeared back into the ocean, the eggs lay protected in the warm sand. The average incubation period for Green and Loggerhead sea turtle eggs is approximately 2 months.

Curiously, the temperature of the sand itself will be the ultimate determining factor in the sex of each sea-turtle hatchling. Warmer sand temperatures tend to produce more or all female hatchlings, and cooler sand temperatures can produce more or all males. According to one researcher (James R. Spotila), the eggs themselves can sometimes impact this temperature, with eggs in the warmer centre of the batch often forming as females and eggs on the periphery developing with more males.

Another possible obstacle for these hatchlings is that sometimes, the sheer volume of turtles nesting in an area can lead to very condensed nesting sites. This presents a potential risk for a previous nest to be dug up unwittingly by another female, and the eggs haphazardly tossed aside.

Provided that this is not the case, when the embryos have successfully developed, the hatchlings will break free from their eggy enclosures and begin their 2-3 day journey to the surface. They will slowly push up through the sand together, totally blind, relying solely on their instincts.

 

The Dash For the Sea!

Watching them 'hatch' from the sand is a very curious process, as again they rely on their instincts which tell them that they should travel to the ocean as a group. The hatchlings will slowly push each other up to the surface, remaining totally still once exposed, eyes closed as they wait for the signal.

Turtles before the dash

What the signal is that cues the baby turtles to make a run for it (as a group) is an unknown mystery.

Occasionally one hatchling will break free, perhaps feeling too exposed while waiting for the rest, and makes a premature dash for the ocean, completely ignored by the other baby turtles. baby turtle

The final chapter in the saga of the sea turtles first steps (flippers?) into the world is perhaps the most confronting and intense.

Unfortunately everything, it seems, loves the taste of baby turtles! It was very uncomfortable to watch the harsh brutality of nature when some turtles decided to crawl from their sandy hideaway for the ocean in broad daylight. On this particular day it was close to dark – but not close enough. The usual distance the hatchlings have to race is often no more than 20 metres, but when you are so incredibly delicious, this is 20 metres too many while in plain sight.
The seagulls are the first on the scene, swooping down to snatch up a turtle each, followed closely by hungry crabs and dingoes. Then, if any of the young turtles are lucky enough to make it to the water, the sharks await.

Often, only about one out of every thousand actually survives long enough for their chance to mate or lay, 10 to 30 or so years later. These sea turtles imprint on the beach where they hatch and it is not uncommon for them to travel thousands of kilometres to return to the very same beach to lay their own clutch of eggs. For some of these turtles, it will be the first time they have returned to that particular beach since they were hatchlings.

Because of this imprinting, for anyone lucky enough to be visiting an area where the turtles are laying, it is strongly advised not to interfere with the hatching process. Even if it means watching 99 out of 100 hatchlings be devoured by the beaks of hungry seagulls.

Baby turtle heading for the ocean

A Journey's end...Or Just the Beginning...?

So you might be reading this thinking something like “So, how do any of these poor animals ever survive any stage in this entire process??” That, my friend, is a great question. But somehow, they do. Sea turtles certainly do remind us of just how lucky we are to have all the support that we do to survive. They might also provoke us to think of how unique we all are, in our journeys and adventures.

Another thing I personally find myself pondering when watching those gigantic females propel themselves up the beach with heavy determination, is the significance of our birthplaces and what kind of connection we forge with the land where we were born.

This experience was such a magical and unforgettable moment in time. After witnessing such feats of nature I couldn't help but feel connected to these great animals and the land we inhabit. I was inspired to think about my own individual responsibility as a human living on this planet. I found myself pondering ways in which I can make a positive change in my lifestyle to positively impact the environment, and peacefully coexist with the other animals that live here too.

I hope by reading this blog that you are also feeling inspired and motivated to learn more about these beautiful creatures and what we can do to support them!

 

Love sea turtles? Here is a bit more information about their plight and what we can do to help:

 

One of the greatest threats to hatchlings is light pollution near nesting sites.

As most baby turtles are birthed from the sand at night, the light from nearby campsites, houses and buildings can be very confusing for the young turtles and as a result they may crawl towards the light instead of the ocean. Please be aware if you are camping or living in an area where sea turtles are nesting, and investigate the best way to look after our beloved sea-faring friends!

Green sea turtles are dwindling in numbers every year and are now listed as an endangered species worldwide. These majestic animals use the warm beaches of over 80 countries worldwide for their nesting ground!

Some things that we can all do to help save our valuable sea turtles:

  1. Find out when nesting season is for your local area and minimize beachfront lighting (including campfires) during that time.

  2. Use environmentally friendly soaps.

  3. Celebrate events without releasing balloons and properly dispose of your garbage. Turtles may mistake the remains of balloons, plastic bags or other forms of trash as food, and as a result they may suffer from a slow painful death when such items inhibit their digestion.

  4. Leave the tracks of turtles undisturbed, researchers use them to identify the species and number of turtles nesting. They may also use these tracks to mark nesting sites for protection.

  5. Don't interrupt nesting or hatching turtles.

  6. If you live in an area where turtles nest, keep an eye out for distressed turtles on your morning walk. If you see a trapped turtle call the nearest animal caretaker or national park ranger (if applicable).

  7. Be conscious of trash (especially plastic) around beachfront areas, perhaps get a few people together and go collecting!

  8. Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Recycle!

 

Here are some links to the resource material used when researching this article:

http://www.gbrmpa.gov.au/about-the-reef/animals/marine-turtles/green-turtle

https://www.npsr.qld.gov.au/parks/capricornia-cays/about.html

http://www.environment.gov.au/cgi-bin/sprat/public/publicspecies.pl?taxon_id=1765

http://www.environment.gov.au/marine/marine-species/marine-turtles

http://queenslandnationalparks.com.au/southern-great-barrier-reef/

http://dharumbal.com.au/our-heritage/

http://www.seaturtle.org/faq/answers/59.shtml

http://nmlc.org/2011/09/temperature-effects-on-sea-turtle-sex-ratios-and-the-potential-impact-of-climate-change/

http://www.greatbarrierreef.org/

Turtle watching with care

 

 

 

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(Light Tree Media) Barrier Capricorn Cays Great Reef animals australian baby beautiful hardship inspiring marin national nature our park photography planet reef sealife turtles wildlife https://www.lighttreemedia.com.au/blog/2017/3/watching-the-turtles Fri, 24 Mar 2017 05:19:49 GMT
Mr Legbas - The Mad Hatter From Fortitude Valley! https://www.lighttreemedia.com.au/blog/2017/2/mr-legbas Mr Legbas Chris Morris Portrait

Introducing: Australia's very own Mad Hatter, Mr Legbas! This enigmatic fabricator of felt fancies is nothing short of inspiring! His creativity, ingenuity and left of field approach, form the perfect recipe for uninhibited headpieces to provoke the imagination. Currently creating in the heart of Fortitude Valley, Mr Legbas is an important member of the small, yet quietly developing, community of Australian hat makers.

From the 27th of December to the 2nd of January 2016/2017, Mr. Legbas set up a stall at the Woodford Folk Festival in Queensland. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to photograph him - whilst listening to the story of how it all came to be...

It may surprise you to know that Mr. Legbas was not always a creator of charismatic wearable art. Before his career as a mad hatter, he was a fabricator of food. He worked as a chef until 2008 when he sustained an injury that forced him to take a break from work. Whilst in recovery, he began toying with felt and discovered that he had accidentally unearthed a dedicated passion. He first began by felting scarves and shawls before ultimately taking an interest in hat making.

Following his newfound passion for felt, he embarked on a 2 year course to study fashion. He painfully recalls spending many weeks perfecting A-line skirts and other elements of women's clothing. This eventually led to him leaving the course after 6 months, to avoid having to spend any more time crafting the perfect brassier for himself.

He didn't lose hope however, and he continued to pursue his love of felted possibilities. Hungry for knowledge, he began studying antique literature written for the hatter of the 1800's and prior. This helped to form his evolving repertoire based on the original techniques of hat creation.

Once he learned the basics, he threw it all out the window! Now, at age 34 he finds himself as a full-time hatter, crafting quirky and thought-provoking headpieces for all walks of life, perhaps giving us all the lesson that you never know when and where you might find your passion in life!

Throughout the photo shoot, we spoke at length about all things hats. I also took the opportunity to learn about his intriguing family history. He beguiled me with fascinating stories such as that of his great grandad who eventually landed himself with two hooks instead of two hands after a miscalculated incident while dynamite fishing. I realized that this hatter had no shortage of wild and wonderful tales to share!

Raised on Great Keppel Island with two brothers and two sisters, Mr. Legbas finds himself as the first hatter in the family from a long line of Greek fisherman and goat farmers.

We then got to talking about Keppel, or, as he referred to it as, “my island in the sun.” (A reference to his uncle Alan J. Morirs' book "My Island In the Sun: An Early History of Great Keppel Island".)

Mr. Legbas spoke fondly of the liberties afforded to him while growing up on the island, such as a lack of curfews and living with a sense of total freedom. It was everything a young boy could wish for.

When he was not on the island, he attended a school in Biloela about 147 km away. Although his time was split between Biloela and the island, to him the tropical paradise of Keppel Island is “the only place that's home.” This is not surprising as Mr. Legbas also has a unique family connection to the island. His grandfather, Constantine “Connie” Morris, was one of the pioneers of the original Silver Sands Resort on Great Keppel Island.

These days, while crafting his felty creations, he often draws inspiration from his childhood memories of the island. He does this in a variety of delightful and peculiar ways, such as adding in the process of burning in order to replicate the dark, rugged texture of the rock-faces that surrounded his island home.

Mr. Legbas takes great pride in incorporating the workmanship of his family into his own pieces. He enjoys collaborating with family and letting himself be inspired by their individual talents. His sister, Kerry Morris, works as a silver smith under the name 'Little Fish Jewellery' (@_littlefishjewellery), an example of her work with stone jewellery is featured in the image below. His dad also dabbles as a lapidary fashioning cabochons in his free time, and another of his sisters is also creative, preferring to spend her creative free time working with wood although not yet professionally.

When asked what his work means to him, his response was to quote Captain Jack Sparrow, remarking with a content sigh, “Ah, it's freedom, love.”

“I answer to myself,” he went on, “I never really learnt the correct rules, so it's a bit like road runner, when he runs off a cliff but he doesn't fall because he doesn't know the rules of gravity...he just keeps running.”


(Above images supplied by Mr Legbas)

Mr Legbas has ran with his natural talent for the hat making process.
Everything he creates is crafted with care and he has gone to great lengths to fully understand each stage of the hat making process.

Working the felt Working the felt


(Above images supplied by Mr Legbas)

Some of his pieces are constructed with wool, although he mostly prefers the use of rabbit fur. He says it tends to deliver a better finish for the overall product.

Often misidentified as a 'milliner' (n. A person who is involved in the manufacture, design, or sale of hats for women), Mr. Legbas will tell you, once pressed, that he much prefers the title of 'hatter' (n. A person who makes, sells, or repairs hats). He doesn't seem to mind the 'mad-' preface.

His name is based on the age-old tale of Papa Legba. The legend finds its origins in Africa, the characters and details of which are referred to by different names in different cultures. Our hatter, Mr. Legbas, takes his inspiration from the Haitian Voodou and New Orleans Voodoo version of the tale.

According to this legend, Papa Legba stands at the spiritual crossroads and his permission is required in order for mortals to speak with the spirits. Papa Legba is known for his excellent linguistics as well as for his role as a trickster, warrior, and the personal messenger of destiny.

The logo that our hatter emblazons onto each of his creations reflects this mythology.

(Above images supplied by Mr Legbas)

Initially, Mr. Legbas strongly related to this image in a literal sense. He finds a strong connection to the idea of being at a crossroads and to a life on the road, as he found himself constantly traveling from market to market. He laughs as he says “I wasn't sure where I was going.”


(Above image supplied by Mr Legbas)

Being a lover of blues music, he was captivated by the legend surrounding American blues musician Robert Johnson. Rumour has it that one day Johnson simply disappeared. According to one version of the legend, while he was gone he sold his soul to the devil who then granted him the gift to came back as a brilliant musician (which he certainly was), seemingly overnight. However, Mr Legbas believes in another version of the tale which speculates that it was Papa Legba with whom Johnson made a deal. One thing is for sure: at some point in our lives we will each find ourselves at a theoretical (and sometimes literal) crossroads and we must make a decision that will affect the rest of our life journey.

Mr Legbas chose to embrace the decision he made at his own crossroads to become a hatter and was enthralled by the idea of Papa Legba. “I would have liked to drive off into the sunset and come back as a brilliant hat maker.” Mr. Legbas laughs. “I love his attributes. I would love to take on more of his traits, he is an excellent linguist.”

“You can change someone with a hat, I like to bring out something in them.” Mr Legbas reveals, sharing an affinity with Papa Legba who enjoys embellishing the talents of those who seek him.

As for Papa Legba's 'trickster' attitude, our hatter sees this as a positive, stating, “I think he chooses if you need to be tricked, to keep people honest.”


(Above images supplied by Mr Legbas)

So, who inspires the man that inspires?

Without skipping a beat, when asked this question Mr. Legbas will declare his love for American musician Tom Waits, "Tom Waits is a god, he is my hero.” Once described as "America’s favorite lacquered vaudeville rock beatnik carnival barking balladeer", the unique musical stylings of Tom Waits have undoubtedly been the soundtrack and inspiration of many a bizarre journey. “I admire his approach" Mr Legbas continued, "If the workshop day is not going well, he comes on.”

Here is a sneak peak at Mr Legbas' festival store / workshop where he could be found chatting with interested customers about the history of Australian felt or hats, or otherwise sitting on his stool, working on his next piece of wearable art.

knome hats at woodford on THAT chair...

Crafting hats at Woodford Folk FestivalThe intricacies Mr Legbas' festival workshop.

So what's it like to be a hatter?

A typical day in the life of this hatter consists of ample coffee, excessive amounts of time spent alone, and countless hours poring over the many elements involved with hats. From formulating bands and accessories to the actual "blocking", shaping and stitching of the wool or felt. So how does said hatter stave off impending insanity from so many laborious hours spent alone in his weird and wonderful workshop? Well, he invites other artists in, of course!

After opening up his Fortitude Valley workshop in January, he has put out an open invitation for anyone to stop by 176 Knapp St, say hello, and find the hat of their dreams.

The workshop is not only a place to come to and be inspired this unique individual, Mr. Legbas has created an open space where people can come and collaborate, or even work on their own art in the shared space. “I have this utopian idea that everyone will be happy in this workshop and get along,” and a space where people can come and work on their own projects as well, to “stave off insanity and to keep from licking the walls.” He laughs, and then adds, “Actually, a whole pack of 'wall-lickers' would be fucking awesome.”

   (Above image supplied by Mr Legbas)

Mr. Legbas wants people to question things. He wants them to ask “Why?” in every situation.

“The general idea of a perfect design isn't really perfect, it's what society deems to be perfect- question everything. There is nothing straight in nature, generally a straight line is out of place.” He wants people to look at the world “without all these human imposed lines.”

Through his work, Mr. Legbas finds himself urging people to seek and understand 'unconventional' beauty in objects and the world around us.

Mr Legbas' workshopInside the imaginings of the creator Mr Legbas' workshopInside the imaginings of the creator Mr Legbas' workshopInside the imaginings of the creator

So what can we learn from Mr. Legbas? Well, if you are anything like me, after spending time in his company and taking in the unique workmanship of his craft, you won't be able to help being inspired by his passion for his trade. You will admire the modesty in his nature and you might just be intrigued by the mischievous twinkle in his eye...

To find out more about Mr. Legbas and to be inspired by his latest creations, follow him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mrlegbas or instagram: @mrlegbas

Workshop address:
Mr Legbas' Crossroads Boutique
176 Knapp St, Fortitude Valley, QLD, 4006.

Thank you to Elaine Catherine for article editing and support!

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(Light Tree Media) art artisan australian craft felt festival fur handyman hatmaker hatter humans inspiring milner photoshoot portrait rabbit shaping sheep wearable wool https://www.lighttreemedia.com.au/blog/2017/2/mr-legbas Tue, 21 Feb 2017 22:41:08 GMT
Light Tree Media business cards https://www.lighttreemedia.com.au/blog/2017/2/light-tree-media-business-cards I strongly believe in individual responsibility and try hard to incorporate this belief into every facet of my life. One of the things I am personally very passionate about is our planet.

Everything we do as humans impacts the world around us, for better or for worse, and our choices as individuals decide what kind of world we are to live in.

As with any industry, networking is key, and as a freelance photographer I hand out a LOT of business cards. The paper for my business cards comes from an Australian source who provides pre-cut eco-friendly recycled cardboard. The well-crafted stamps I use were also made here in Australia by Penrith Rubber Stamps, with wooden mounts crafted from Western Australian Jarrah. Penrith Rubber Stamps also offers "eco-friendly" rubber upon request to reflect their belief that "we all need to do our bit", a value I respect and connect with on a personal level.

Each of my business cards are hand-stamped by myself in order to bring all of these elements together and to demonstrate that I take pride in incorporating soul into everything that I produce.

What about you? What do you take pride in? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!

Light Tree Media business cardsEverything by Light Tree Media is produced with Meraki

 

 

 

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(Light Tree Media) Australia Australian Penrith artist business cards craft marketing rubber stamps values wooden woodwork https://www.lighttreemedia.com.au/blog/2017/2/light-tree-media-business-cards Tue, 14 Feb 2017 09:10:38 GMT
Che Burns https://www.lighttreemedia.com.au/blog/2017/1/che-burns Introducing: Che Burns, 16 year old folk singer / songwriter from Maleny, whose laid back tunes and rich vocals will leave you lost in your deepest memories.
Having the opportunity to photograph Che as he serenaded the trees, with his voice echoing through the forest, was such a gift. I felt energized by his raw talent and the honesty that emanated from his music. “I aspire to connect with people through my music,” He says, “If someone listened to my music and felt they connected or related to the songs that I'm playing...that gives me a real sense of fulfillment.”
If you find yourself on the east coast in QLD, keep an eye out for Che's next gig!

Find him on Instagram: @che__burns
Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/cheburnsmusic
Facebook: Che Burns Music

Che BurnsJamming in the forest Che BurnsJamming in the forest

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(Light Tree Media) Australia Australian Auzzie Humans Inspiring Photoshoot Queensland accoustic artist folk guitar musician musos original photographer photography portrait singer songwriter talent vocals young https://www.lighttreemedia.com.au/blog/2017/1/che-burns Sat, 28 Jan 2017 05:22:26 GMT
Jai Campion completes first ever wingsuit skydive over Uluru, N.T.! https://www.lighttreemedia.com.au/blog/2016/11/record-wing-suit-jump-uluru On Saturday the 12th of November 2016, Jai Campion officially became the first ever wingsuit pilot to do the jump near Uluru, Central Australia, and we were lucky enough to capture it on film!

(From 12,000 ft Jai jumped out of the plane - you can see the reflection of Voyages Ayers Rock Resort in his visor!)

For those of you that have no idea what all this means, let me explain. First of all, wingsuit flying is possibly the most badass extreme sport in existence. Essentially it requires donning a specialized jumpsuit that is reminiscent of a sugar glider, called a wingsuit. Wingsuits are sometimes referred to as 'flying squirrel suits' , 'bird man suits' or ''bat suits". The pilot then climbs to the top or the side of something (perhaps a magnificent cliff face, a soaring skyscraper or even a tall bridge, for example) or gets into an aeroplane - and then jumps, hurling themselves into the air, speeding towards the ground. Wearing the wingsuit allows for the closest human experience to flying like a bird - soaring above tree tops, gliding through clouds and performing impressive stunts. Using the wings of the suit, the pilot is able to control lift, enabling controlled glide manoeuvres. A normal flight ends with the deployment of a parachute for landing as there is not yet a technique for effectively slowing down the pilot enough for a safe landing.

The experienced pilot may be able to reduce their speed to as slow as 48km/h or as fast as 250km/h (if the wind is in their favour) !! There is even a particular wingsuit discipline referred to as 'proximity flying' which has to be one of the most incredible airborne feats in human history. My heart races just hearing about it. These pilots are constantly pushing the boundaries of their own abilities and the capabilities of the suits, regularly traveling at speeds of around 200km/h just meters or even centimeters from jagged cliff faces, rock formations, trees or buildings.

If that doesn't make you sweat, add in the fact that any kind of wingsuit flying is literally over 100 times more dangerous than regular skydiving and you have a recipe for the ultimate adrenaline rush. 

So, back to the story...Adelaide born Jai Campion completed his ever first skydive in December 2009 in Nagambie, just north of Melbourne. Only 3 months later he was jumping out a plane wearing a wingsuit for the first time. Always seeking new challenges, he then took an interest in the daredevil sport of BASE (Building, Antenna, Span, and Earth) jumping soon after.

At 34 years of age, Jai has completed almost 6,000 jumps, over 800 of them (and counting) have been while wearing a wingsuit. He is currently working as a tandem master (or "TM") skydive instructor for Skydive Uluru until his next big adventure. Jai has traveled all over the world following his passion and spends most of his time switching between working as a skydive instructor, and working as a wingsuit instructor, sometimes schooling as many as 16 flyers at a time!

When I met with Jai the morning of the jump he was almost shaking he was so nervous. One might have assumed it was because he was about to jump out of an plane at 12,000ft but it didn't take long to realize it was his on camera interview that had him all shook up. However as soon as he began talking about his passion for skydiving his eyes lit up and he totally relaxed. "It's pure, pure freedom," he said "You're not thinking about any problems you might have, you're just totally stuck in the moment of flying."

The plan was for Jai to jump out of the plane at midday from 3.5km above the township of Yulara, which is located just outside the boundary of the Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park in the Northern Territory, Central Australia. No-one before had piloted a wingsuit at this location and the team at Skydive Uluru were pumped to see Jai and the suit in action.

What really surprised me, although it shouldn't have, was Jai's total calm the entire time. "I think that [skydiving] teaches you a lot about yourself and the people around you...What's important and what's not." He says.

Watching his GoPro footage just before he jumps, he is seen practicing deep breathing techniques as he moves his mind into a zen-like "reactive" state. He says this helps him to respond in an emergency with the training he has drilled into his mind, without letting other thoughts get in the way, so that nothing can impede on his crucial response time. "[You are] purely at one with yourself and the elements of nature" Jai recalls. There is a moment in the video when he closes his eyes, completely embracing the feeling of free falling, before he rolls on to his stomach and begins gliding through the air using his temporary wings. You can feel the sense of freedom that encompasses him.

Skydiving above this landscape certainly provides a spectacular view, you can see the vast expanse of spinefex grass, red earth and not to mention the unique perspective of the majestic Uluru.

As Jai came in to land, his gleaming smile was obvious and he couldn't stop himself from letting out a few animated "F*** yeahs!" as soon as his feet touched the ground. The change in him was incredible to witness, from a state of total focus and calm before the jump, to a state of total ecstasy! High fives were shared and we loaded ourselves in the van to head back to Yulara. Although the trip home was short, we had time to experience a moment of silence as we all shared in Jai's joy. His gleaming eyes and wide smile reminding us to find and then follow our happiness, just as he has.

Often inspiring others in his travels, when asked about his own inspirations he reveals Australian BASE jumper Nate Jones as one of his idols. Jones, amongst many other pursuits, is the co-founder of Project BASE which aims to "implement support, care and health through charity inspired by the exploration of human flight". In 2015 Project BASE raised $11,000 to benefit local communities in Ethiopia. The money went towards improving and providing many life essentials such as restoring and building water wells that now provide locals with clean, fresh and useable drinking water. (http://watercharity.com/project-base-water-charity-partnership)

Jai also lists Robert Pecnik (founder of Pheonix-Fly and co-founder of BirdMan International, Inc) and Jarno Cordia (test-pilot for Pheonix-fly, BASE jumper and aerial cinematographer) as people he admires.

Some of the things that really stood out to me while meeting Jai are his passion for this sport, his love of the present moment and his appreciation for the things he has accomplished in life. He focuses on the positive and urges everyone he meets to follow their happiness. "Don't doubt yourself," He Says "Anybody can do anything. You've just gotta have the guts to get out there and enjoy it."

After meeting Jai and being inspired by his attitude towards life, I knew I had to help share his story.

Scroll down for some behind the scenes photos of Jai's big day!

Pre-jump interviews:

The landing site: Tha landing siteTha landing site The jump: Uluru to the left, Kata Tjuta to the right, what a view!: Look at that smile!: "Now you know why the birds are all singing" (Quoted from Neil Fergie, apf.asn.au):

To keep up to date with Jai, to sign up for his latest workshop or to simply be inspired by his adventurous lifestyle, head to his Facebook page: www.facebook.com/jai.campion

Stay tuned for the video!

(Photos on the ground taken by Casey Lynne LeStrange, skydiving still photos provided by Jai Campion and Sam McKay, edited by Amy-Lee Shields) Thanks to Skydive Uluru and Ayers Rock Scenic Flights

Neither my team nor myself have received any money or any form of sponsorship to publish this story or film this event, it was captured purely in this spirit of sharing our stories as humans in order to inspire each other to live our lives to the fullest.

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(Light Tree Media) Australia Birdman Squirrel suit Wingsuit extreme sports northern Territory record skyding skydive uluru https://www.lighttreemedia.com.au/blog/2016/11/record-wing-suit-jump-uluru Thu, 17 Nov 2016 07:00:07 GMT
Sam & Tim's Uluru Elopement https://www.lighttreemedia.com.au/blog/2016/11/sam-tim-elopement This past October, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to photograph two of the most genuine and kindhearted people, Sam and Tim, for their wedding. It was such a special day and the area in and around the Uluru Kata-Tjuta National Park is so mystical and spiritual, celebrating love in such a place really opens up the heart.

Dancing with the spirits of Uluru

Sam and Tim really embraced their moment in time together. It was so easy to get lost in their story and I feel so lucky to have met them and for the opportunity to be a part of their special day.

Thank you to the wonderful ladies at the Yulara Hair and Beauty Salon.

 

    A kiss at sunset

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(Light Tree Media) ayers rock couples photography elopement engagement getting married october wedding professional photos sunset wedding uluru wedding photographer https://www.lighttreemedia.com.au/blog/2016/11/sam-tim-elopement Mon, 14 Nov 2016 10:46:10 GMT