A few weeks ago I was visiting the Cape Clairault region, below Yallingup. It was one of those rare days on the coast, barely a whisper of a breeze. The clouds moved slowly across the sky and the sun shone sporadically through the small gaps. Up on the cliff tops there was the sound of crickets amongst the coastal heath and a wonderful sense of peace. Beautifully formed lines of waves broke upon the shore.
The view up and down the coast was expansive, in front of me was a tumbled down line of old wooden fence posts ending abruptly at the cliff’s edge. They once marked the extent of the property boundaries which have since retreated inland from the ocean, leaving behind this very narrow coastal strip, in parts only several hundred meters wide, as part of the Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park.
At the start of my walk I had no real objective, other than to visit a small waterfall, something I have done many times in the past. A school bus parked at the walk’s commencement announced that there was going to be company on the track. I couldn’t help but reminisce about the first times I had walked this area, over 20 years ago, before there were walk tracks and wooden bridges. You could spend hours here and meet no one. This area is now part of the Cape to Cape track, although the route to the waterfall is a slight detour. Not far along I met a party of young primary school kids returning from their walk. How lucky these local kids are, to enjoy a school outing in such a location.
I had a relatively easy walk, along the cliff tops and then down into the sand dunes as I followed the passage of the small brook snaking inland. Reaching the waterfall, I had the place all to myself and I was delighted to see it was flowing, given the dry winter.
On my way back, I picked my way through the dunes towards the ocean, pausing frequently to absorb the view and perfect conditions. When I came to the mouth of the brook I made this image.
Near the Perth metropolitan region there is a transition zone between the coastal sand plain and the higher inland plateau, referred to as the Darling Scarp. Here the land falls several hundred metres creating hills and valleys and there exists just a handful of brooks with small waterfalls. In summer these brooks are reduced to a trickle, only revealing their true extent during the winter months after heavy rainfall. Near the metro region these brooks eventually feed into the Swan and Canning Rivers, connecting the inland plateau to the ocean. Lesmurdie Falls is one such waterfall, which joins the Canning River a little way upstream from the Nicholson Road bridge.
In winter, after heavy rain, it can be quite spectacular as far as local waterfalls go. Several years back I made a series of images, but amongst my favorites are those which were made just prior to heavy rain, where only small streams ran down the rock face. I decided it was time for me to revisit the falls, and perhaps discover something I had not previously seen. When I arrived at the falls there was a small trickle of water down the slippery rock face which was promising, but something was not quite right, something had changed. Someone recently said to me that you can always go out and photograph the landscape, its always there, unlike people. But change is often perceived over a period of time in all things, even the landscape.
I realized what had changed at the waterfall since my last visit about 5 years ago. There was some obvious graffiti painted on one of the main boulders. But more importantly, one of the tops of the boulders had been broken or levered off, I doubt it would have fallen by itself. Finding the best camera position for the composition raised a number of considerations. Camera positioning is limited by the slope of the rocks on which I was standing. I chose a position at an angle to the graffiti to avoid showing it. The gross white lettering was for me out of context and served no aesthetic purpose, but I did want to record the fallen boulder as it represented a lasting change. Returning home I pondered the interconnectedness of the plateau, its water catchments, the rivers and the ocean, and ultimately the impact of our actions with their often unforeseen consequences.
Detail of Rock Thryptomene, Margaret River region. The relationships and spaces formed between the living and the inanimate often create a fascinating visual harmony. These wind pruned, stunted coastal Rock Thryptomene sit high on granite sea cliffs just north of Margaret River. Their tendril like branches of rough, fibrous bark and miniature hard spiky leaves are further testament to this harsh environment. The cliff tops are exposed to the height of winter gales which sweep up from deep within the Southern Ocean, sometimes with hurricane force. Grasping a root hold in shallow soil depressions between boulders, their branches spread outwards, caressing the very surface of their rocky domain, twisting and curving back upon themselves in a graceful, almost calligraphy like gesture.
The exposure information is as follows: Film was Tmax 400, 4×5 format, 90mm lens, f32, 1 second exposure, developed N+1. I was interested in experimenting with the contrast of a duplicate negative by toning it in Kodak Rapid Selenium toner diluted 1+3. I toned initially for 3 minutes, but could not detect any change in density, so continued up to 10 minutes. There was still no change so I tried straight toner for two minutes without dilution, still no affect. When I contact print both negs side by side there is no difference. I have only recently started using TMax 400 4×5 film, and this is the first time I have ever tried toning it. Previous toning has worked with Tri X 4×5. Maybe it is something to do with the chemical state or silver content of processed TMax films? (This is the New TMax film).