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Contos spring Contos Beach Margaret River region

Contos spring contos beach

Contos Spring flows when the local limestone caves have received enough underground water. The spring seeps up out of the beach sand at the southern end of Contos Beach. Overhanging limestone cliffs dominate the beach and create a colourful and dramatic back drop especially towards evening.

On this particular evening there were several parties spread out on the beach enjoying the late sun and solitude. You can just make out a small dot on the far beach of one individual.

The foot prints in the foreground are testament to the beach’s popularity that day. Nearby is the Contos Beach camping ground and the Cape to Cape trail.

During this visit I made this image on 4×5 velvia film at 50iso using my wooden field camera. No filters required, image is as it appears on the transparency.

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Back beach south coast Western Australia

coral vine beach Denmark Western Australia

 

Nearly every coastal town has a back beach, the one that is less popular with the visitors, but well known to the locals. It is usually accessed via a dirt track off the bitumen leading somewhere over the dunes.

Unlike the local surfers and fishers, I don’t use a 4WD, so I hike along the coast with my camera and tripod in my backpack. It takes a bit longer to get to my destination (OK, sometimes several hours longer), but in that time I get to see and appreciate a lot of things on the way.

Like the subtle changes in the landscape, the way the foliage and bush changes as I slowly advance towards the coast. Or perhaps which wild flowers are out and what bushes, trees and shrubs are flowering. The direction of the wind, the sun on you skin, the quality of the light, the softness of the sand beneath your boots, and the general quietening of your mind. These are all factors in influencing your mood, your perception for photography.

As you walk, you build up to a moment where a photograph presents itself to you, like a bubble that has risen to the surface. On a beautifully calm morning, how could I resist the intense red of the sprawling coral vine, with distant surfers riding the waves? Back beach Denmark region, south coast WA.

wooden folding wista  field camera 4×5, with 6x9cm roll film back, velvia 50ISO.

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Early morning photography Pemberton Western Australia

Lefroy Brook Pemberton

Early morning photography

Early morning photography provides the photographer with many opportunities. One such opportunity is this image of Lefroy Brook near Pemberton. It was the pay off for leaving my warm sleeping bag early, hiking along a dark track through karri forest with only my head lamp, until I came to my river location.

Scouting

When I headed out I new exactly where I was heading. My location was predetermined from the previous day’s walking and scouting for images. When I passed by this location the previous day the light came from behind me illuminating the scene. The direct sunlight made the shape and composition look too harsh in contrast.  To retain as many visual elements successfully in this composition I new I needed a quieter light. I was anticipating a sudden drop in the overnight temperature and combined with the body of water was expecting the possibility of mist rising from the river through the forest.

6×12 Roll Film Back

The evening before I selected equipment for the next day’s early hike. In my back pack I carried my 4×5 wooden field camera, two lenses and a 6x12cm Horseman Roll Film back loaded with Velvia 50 ISO. If the conditions were right I was planning on a double page spread image for my book, and the 6x12cm frame was the ideal format for this. This format allowed me to avoid the sky, the reason for which I’ll explain a little later. Other basic photo gear included my light meter, focus cloth, tripod.

The first dull blue-grey hues of morning light were barely perceptible when I arrived at my location. No real mist here, but there was a cool, calm stillness of the forest as it enveloped the steady sound of the brook. It was cold in the valley, and there would be no direct sunlight streaming through the forest canopy for several hours.

Leaning against my tripod surveying the scene before me, I could see some boulders near the river’s edge that could provide a good vantage point. In the dull glow of daybreak I picked my way carefully through undergrowth towards the rocks. Jamming my tripod legs at various angles onto the rocks, I confirmed my composition I had in mind. There would be no mist in this picture. Expectations had not matched what I was being presented with, time to let go of preconceptions and reconsider what is in front of me. I now wanted an image preserving the cool hues of this winter’s early morning photography.

Setting Up

I unfolded my wooden camera from my backpack and attached it to my tripod. The 90mm lens was chosen as it would give me a sufficient angle of view and afford me reasonable depth of field stopped down to f32. In this light with 50 ISO Velvia this was going to be a long exposure. With my head under the focus cloth I tried to focus the barely discernible image that projected upside down and back to front onto the ground glass. Under the focus cloth the ground glass fogged from my breath, obscuring my view.

Satisfied with my set up, I closed the lens shutter and set it to “B”. I read the scene in front of me with my one degree spot meter, allowing for adequate exposure in the low to mid tones. The 6x12cm format allowed me to compose an image avoiding expanses of sky which would have exceeded the film’s exposure latitude. Sometimes the best way to control excessive exposure latitudes is to exclude either the brightest or darkest elements from the composition. In this case I wanted to retain the darker, shadow details.

I don’t recall the exact exposure, but it would have been at least 60 seconds. Velvia, during exposures longer than one second displays a distinct colour shift towards blue-purplish hues. This film characteristic would enhance the coolness of the image.

The Final Spread

The image was published as a double page spread, with good shadow detail whilst retaining its “low light” atmosphere. With very little movement in the foliage and the lens stopped down, focus was maintained from the foreground rushes into the distance. The large film image holds plenty of detail and would work well in a larger image. If you are one who spends your mornings sleeping in you must try some early morning photography once in a while.

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Tracks Donnelly River south coast Pemberton Australia

Animal tracks Donnelly River
Animal tracks late evening

D’Entreacasteaux National Park

Tracks Donnelly River south coast Pemberton Australia was made at sunset. When you head south from Manjimup on the South Western Highway you cross the  Donnelly River.  It’s a short bridge barely wider than the highway.  Blink and you’d miss it. But downstream the Donnelly River is majestic. It passes quietly through dense tea tree before snaking around limestone cliffs to meet the Southern Ocean.

If possible I like to spend a bit of time in a location so that I can observe it at different times of the day and under different weather conditions. Several days and nights spent at this remote spot on the south coast near Pemberton gave me a chance to explore a section of coastline.

Sections of the coast are lined by limestone cliffs. Just behind these are sand dunes, wetlands, sedges and paperbarks. Beyond the paperbarks the landscape becomes drier. Here ancient marri forest extend inland towards the rich loams that support towering karri forest.

These landscape transitions between beach, fresh water, sedges, wetlands and forests provide a rich ecosystem through which a variety of animals move. Early morning and late evening are good times to observe that movement as the animal tracks become visible.

The almost pure white sand takes on the pink sunset colours reflected off clouds above. The sun’s low rays accentuating the sand’s wind swept pattern cutting diagonally across the animal tracks. Tracks Donnelly River represents on one hand the emptyness of the coast. Yet on the other hand there is clear evidence of life, even if it’s not always observed.

Velvia 120 roll film in a 6x12cm back and my wooden 4×5 field camera.

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Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse Australia

Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse

Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse is perched at the very tip of a rocky peninsula that pokes out like a little finger off Cape Leeuwin near Augusta. It is the most south-westerly point of the Australian mainland and as such is the first landfall to obstruct the wind, rain and storms generated deep within the southern ocean.

Made with my digital Canon 5D2 in 2012, it was published later that year to replace an earlier lighthouse image of 1997-98. That image had been published in 1998 and was a popular postcard, with tens of thousands being sold. It had also appeared in several publications and a book. However, I felt it was time for a new image. The early photograph had been made on velvia 50 iso film using an Olympus OM4Ti and a 300mm lens. Made in the evening, so I could photograph the lighthouse with its light on, the exposure was over several minutes. By comparison, the more recent image made at sunrise took only a second.

Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse was one of the last in the world to be manually operated until 1982, using a clockwork mechanism and kerosene burner. Its height is 39 metres and elevation 56 metres above sea level.

Both cards have since sold out.

Cape Leeuwin  Lighthouse Augusta

 

 

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Skink Bluff Knoll Stirling Range Western Australia

Skink Bluff Knoll Stirling Range. Beautifully camouflaged against the orange lichen flecked rocks, a skink warms itself on the summit of Bluff Knoll. The morning had started off with relatively clear skies, with the rocks receiving plenty of sunshine right up until mid afternoon. With diminished direct sunlight from the approaching cloud cover this skink was making the most of the latent heat stored within the summit rocks.

Bluff Knoll is the highest peak located within the Stirling Range National Park, about 90km north of Albany and the Southern Ocean. Bluff Knoll, at just over 1000m above sea level occasionally gets a very light dusting of snow. The Stirling Range National Park is a botanical island of worldwide significance.

On the day I made Skink Bluff Knoll Stirling Range I had with me a 35mm film Olympus OM4Ti with 24mm Zuiko lens and Velvia 50 ISO transparency film. I published this popular image, first in my Stirling Range postcard series and then later as a poster in 1995. Like my cards, the poster was printed here in Perth at a time when I was trying to make use of recycled paper stock. It was an exciting time to be making such a large drum scan and film separations from the relatively new 35mm Velvia.

For most publications and publishers, colour slide or transparency film was the standard as it was easier to compare the original with the colour image off a printing press. Velvia, with its fine grain, high resolution, colour saturation and convenient E-6 processing turn around time made it a hugely popular alternative to Kodachrome, which had to be sent to Melbourne for processing. I didn’t think I had any posters left, but during a recent rearrangement of my studio I found just a handful of 70x48cm posters in a folio case all in excellent condition.

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Reflections Walpole Nornalup Australia

Walpole Nornalup Australia

Reflections Walpole Nornalup Australia. I am sometimes asked how I set out to make a particular landscape photograph. The impression is that I control the conditions under which I photograph. This is of course far from the case. I have no control over the conditions I will find on location. That does not mean I don’t plan for a successful image. I will look at maps prior to visiting an area, even if I have been there before. I will consider the time of year, what time and direction the landscape will be receiving light. It is my opinion that it is an error to enter a landscape with a preconceived idea of an intended photograph. Weather conditions on the day may thwart your plans. Your preoccupation with a preconceived idea may make you oblivious the other opportunities that are present. On this morning I had walked to a location to prepare for a sunrise image. The clouds obscured the rising sun and I did not make the intended image. Upon returning to my camp the clouds had advanced swiftly across the sky allowing breaks for the sun to shine through. At ground level the air was still and the inlet’s surface a mirror in which the clouds were reflected. In this instance those same clouds which obscured my preconceived photograph  became the subject of this unexpected composition instead.  Reflections Walpole Nornalup Inlet, within the Walpole Nornalup National Park Western Australia and is available as a limited edition 16×20 inch photograph and larger.

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Lefroy Brook Pemberton Wattie tree karri forest understorey

Wattie tree Lefroy Brook Pemberton

Lefroy Brook near Pemberton meanders through spectacular karri forest following parts of the Bibbulmun Track. A Wattie tree forming part of the karri forest understorey arches gracefully above the brook’s winter rapids. There are trout and marron farms along the brook and it serves as Pemberton’s water supply.

This image was made within the Gloucester National Park, using a 90mm lens using Zone VI wooden field camera and velvia 4×5 film. It has been published in my Pemberton Wine Region Western Australia book and in my Southern Forests postcard series.

Wattie tree Lefroy Brook is available as a 16×20 inch photograph and larger.

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Pemberton photos karri forest trees in mist Western Australia

Forest Pemberton Australia

Pemberton photos karri forests and wine region

Pemberton photos nearly always have karri trees somewhere in them. These Australian hardwood giants dominate the region and lend themselves to much of Pemberton's visual character and timber town history.

In 2008 I had only recently acquired my first digital camera. It was a Pentax K10D, with a 10 megapixel APS-C  CCD sensor. This is about 2/3 area of  a full frame 35mm film SLR. What was exciting about this camera was two fold: 1) it could take my existing Pentax K-mount lenses which I already owned and 2) I was in the throws of publishing a coffee table book about the beauty of the Pemberton region.

As a result, karri trees in mist Pemberton was one of my first digital camera landscapes during the photographing of my book Pemberton Wine Region. This relatively small file image has been successfully printed for a client requiring a customised image over 1.7 metre long and slightly over 1.1 metres high. The softness of the misty image does not lend itself to high degrees of sharpness and there the small file is adequate.

Pemberton's surrounding karri forest, valleys, and open farmland with large bodies of surface water create ideal conditions for mist to form in the coolest part of the evening. The mists settles in the low lying valleys and usually burns off quickly after sunrise, but for those who bother to get up early you will be rewarded from time to time with some truly ephemeral landscapes.

Karri trees in mist Pemberton was one of a few landscapes I included in the book made from digital media. Many of the landscapes were made on 6x12cm and 4x5 inch format films.

The digital camera was ideal for many of the working winery and vineyard images which I wanted to capture in a candid fashion rather than posed. Since publication I have received comments from the wine industry that my book contains some of the very few images of actual work being carried out in wineries and vineyards.  Most vineyards and wineries are represented with highly stylised images.

 

pemberton photos Cleaning wine fermentation tanks.

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Echidna Chasm Kimberleys Western Australia

Echidna Chasm Kimberleys Western Australia

Echidna Chasm Kimberleys

Echidna Chasm Kimberleys starts as a wide flat creek bed entrance into the East Kimberley Bungle Bungles. A short 10 minute walk down a rocky creek bed and soon narrows into chasm walls on either side. As you walk further into the massif the walls become deeper. High above the sun hits the top of the walls, bouncing reflected light further down into the chasm’s depths. Eventually the Echidna Chasm terminates at a narrow point only a few feet wide, the walls become so narrow that only a faint crack of overhead light is admitted deep inside.

First published in my Horizon 1998 large format colour calendar and later in my greeting card set,  Echidna Chasm Kimberley is an example of how reflected sunlight in chasms can look like an object directly lit by the sun.