Ridge Dairy, Freeman’s Reach NSW

By Stuart Borthwick

It was a hot and smokey day in the Western suburbs of Sydney when I headed out on a trip up the Hawkesbury. Recent bush fires were still not fully under control and this blanketed the West in a hazy smog.

My destination was a little disused dairy located in Freeman’s Reach on the outskirts of Sydney close to Windsor and about a 50 minute drive from Parramatta.

So up Richmond Road I go and through Windsor, out on the other side and head towards the Putty Road, very nice scenic drive.

This location tip had come via a fellow photographer and local artist on Google + , so thanks Amanda (+AmandaMoore)

Even finding the actual position on Google maps was a bit of an educated guess, however was pretty easy in hindsight. This was not an easy property to get information on and so i have added as much as I know below. Ridge Dairy 1

Location Background:

Still owned by the Ridge family, dates back to the early 1900’s and was a working dairy up until the early 90’s when the farm property was established as a new business. Glenridge Turf Farm was started shortly thereafter & in 1994 Natural Kikuyu was the first grass established.

Then followed many trials to achieve the top quality grasses now being grown on the farm. Although the original barns have now been replaced, the house still stands on the property, however its fair to say its seen better days.

On arrival

Having located the old dairy homestead it is clearly marked as private property, so please if you are going to visit either do the following:

1. Contact Glenridge Turf Farm ahead of time a gain permission to enter the property.

2. Alternatively go visit the office next door on arrival and speak to the lovely ladies. This was my approach & found everyone very friendly, i was directed to a lady called Margaret who was more than happy to give me permission to enter the property. Gaining permission also takes some of the pressure off shooting and allows you as much time as you need. A couple of things to note at this stage:

1) Previously photographers have visited and entered this property without gaining permission. Something that was not viewed well and was expressed how annoying it was by the owners. I got the impression that these photographers had been chased away.

2) One of the conditions I was given to enter the property was I could not actually physically enter the old house and walk around. It was not deemed as being safe & once I got on site I realised why, as the structure has fallen into a significant state of dis-repair. It important to point out that this will not inhibit your ability to take photos in anyway though. Some walls on the side of the building are no longer in tack and so give clear access into some rooms.

First things first

Generally my first approach is just to have a quick walk around and have a look at what I have to work with. Personally, I find this helps me get my head in the right space & quickly finding a starting point or general approach. As I had not previously visited this location its a good thing to do anyway. So I found many pleasant compositions i could capture so lets start on one side of the building and work an arc of 360 degrees.

This approach is definitely going to be bracketing as it is a bright day and also the building has several lighting scenarios to work on. Makes sense to use bracketing to ensure I can get the full tonal range and be able to work quickly.

My intentions are to write a separate blog post on bracketing & how I personally utilise this camera function, so I wont go into detail here. Very simple set up then, my Manfrotto tripod, DSLR, 17-70 mm lens and a cable release. Personally I usually take a couple of test shots using Aperture Priority mode to see what the lighting is doing and then flick to manual mode.

Camera Settings:

So generally a test with each composition in Aperture Priority mode and then flick to manual. Generally I work with the lowest possible ISO native in the camera, which in this case is ISO 100. A word to the wise though, if you are shooting indoor or as in this case partial indoor scenes you may need to bump your ISO up a fair bit to capture the range of tones. To illustrate this better I have included two test shots:ISO Example

With the newer DSLR’s noise is pretty minimal at high ISO settings, so I was not worried about this. You will notice my f-stop is set at f11 here and was for most of the shoot as I wanted to get as much detail in my captures as possible. This is partly a security step of mine to ensure i capture all the details & tonal values which personally gives me more flexibility in post.

Of course image quality is set at RAW and please, please check your camera’s exposure compensation is set to zero. This is one i miss all the time & usually find about half way through a shoot and although you can fix this later better to have the correct starting point.

Now the good stuff 

Everything is set as far as the camera, so now to just get on and shoot as many compositions as takes my eye. Generally here I set my tripod after finding the composition with the viewfinder of the camera. Once I have set the spot I use a couple of things to capture the shot. Bracketing switched on with a plus/minus 2 stops and 3 shot capture.(limitation of my camera) Cable release plugged in & camera set to timer mode at 2 secs, lastly Live View switched on.

TIP: The timer function is important & one I found by accident to some degree, as it fires all 3 bracketed shot in sequence without touching the camera or holding down the shutter button. This of course reduces the chance of camera shake when firing.

LV: I also find Live view is an invaluable tool when working in the field, i tend to work back & forward between this and the eye viewfinder. There are a couple of reasons i love Live View(LV) mode, firstly with the Nikon system i use means any adjustment I make, such as exposure compensation, can be seen automatically changing in real time. Remember what your eye can see & how the computer in the camera sees things can differ, LV helps you have a visual reference. Secondly it helps to minimise camera shake whilst showing you if your horizons are straight, giving an automatic preview after the shot is taken.

So now just move from composition to composition and click away. This actually took 1-2 hours to complete such was the number of shooting opportunities.

Overall This location was for me exciting and offered plenty of content. Finding the property and gaining permission to enter where straight forward. Although there were some restrictions on access it was not totally inhibitive. Ensure you take water with you to stay hydrated, plus bug spray as the flies make friends very quickly.

My personal rating would be 8/10.

Feel free to check out the images in the project gallery Ridge Dairy Collage https://stuartborthwickphotography.wordpress.com/projects/urban-discovery-gallery/



Urban Discovery Project

By Stuart Borthwick

Project Introduction

As photographers we get excited about many things around us that others may find unimpressive or even downright ugly. We are certainly a funny breed and see beauty in  many abstract things.

Urban Project Collage

With this in mind I would like to formally launching my new project called “Urban Discovery”  which endeavours to show little gems hidden within our suburban landscape. I have already been very active in tracking down several places of interest, which has surprised even me, as many where sitting right under my nose, but more about that later.

As this project is a work in progress the timeframe is not clear, however I already have a long list of venues that i intend to visit, photograph and then write updates via my blog.

A selection of photographs, from each locations will be uploaded to the “projects” section of website.

Hopefully i can pass on some great venues for you to explore, give inspiration and also share tips along the way. Please feel free to share comments, experiences or alternative locations as we go via the comments section. I intend to post this to a broad photography community through various social media outlets.


I tried to find locations that you may not necessarily know about and which offer multiple shooting opportunities at each place. I will go through in detail the positives & negatives i personally find at each location. Key thing you need to keep in mind is you may need to visit the same location multiple times and at different times of day to get the best results.


Many of the locations I have chosen don’t have a huge amount of information in web searches and I had to dig deep to get the right information beforehand. Not all the locations i chose were successful or offered enough content to shoot exactly what I personally was looking for.

I would also like to stress that i endeavour to gain permission, wherever possible, to access the properties when i visit these location or beforehand if possible. Unfortunately in some locations other photographers have not gained permission and have trespassed, even being arrested in the process.

So its best to check, although this can also be a difficult process in tracking down the owners.

The gear used

I wanted to keep the gear I used on this project to a minimum, so that if you gain inspiration from this project you can go out and shoot. Absolutely essential is a tripod, i must confess i was never one for using tripods outside a monopod for sport shooting. Over the last 12 months though i have used tripods more & more, which has benefited my photography greatly.

You will certainly need a DSLR or a digital camera that offers exposure compensation, i am being non specific here on brands of camera intentionally. The important thing is to get out & shoot, I am happy to list my specific gear if this helps.

I intend to use only two to three lenses during the project, specifically only travelling with two at any shoot.The focal length of these as follows:

17-70 mm

24-85 mm

70-300 mm

The thinking is to have the options of really wide angle and the ability to compress landscape elements using zoom.

Cable release is an essential to have in your bag as it helps gain sharper images by minimising the amount of camera shake whilst shooting.

And thats pretty much it……..a couple of optionals though

Polariser filter

ND Filter

Hoodman Loupe



I add these as they can give you another dimension to your work and help you use your creativity in a positive way.

The Hoodman Loupe is invaluable if your in bright sunlight conditions to see the back LCD screen on the camera, i highly recommend this.

Polariser/ND Filters – of course a polarising filter help to cut out glare and also control the saturation of colours. as well as cut reflections. It can also help you to take longer exposures, which is mostly how i will use it during this project. For the same reason I have added the ND filter to my list.

Post Processing

Post Processing is another important step in this overall process to ensure your images look their best. Although I have the philosophy to get as much right in the camera, as you will see some locations have limitations of access and therefore what times of day you shoot in.

Therefore some compensation is needed in how you shoot and therefore the methods you use in post to get the images looking the way you want.

Personally I use a number of tools in post depending on the subject matter and the particular look i want to achieve. Software as follows:

Nik Software Suite

Colour Efex Pro 4

HDR Efex Pro 2

Silver Efex Pro 2

Photoshop CS6

Lightroom 5

Photomatrix Pro

So welcome along, enjoy the ride and I hope you gain inspiration

– Stuart