Stormlight Publishing landscape postcards, greeting cards, books, gift tags and posters of Western Australia. Shop online. Alex Bond has been publishing and promoting Western Australia’s unique landscape since 1989. Working with a large format wooden field camera he has produced cards, calendars, books and posters receiving State and National Print Awards for excellence in print. His landscape photography book about the Australian wine region of Pemberton received two international award nominations. For over 25 years he has published postcards of national parks from Australia’s south west, with the Leeuwin Naturaliste Series from the Margaret River region being one of the most popular. Shop online for selected cards and books.
1989 marked the publication of my West Australian Postcards series. Starting out with just one lens and one 35mm film camera I set about the self inspired project to make a postcard series of a region that I have been associated with all my life.
The common theme for the series was the coastal ribbon of national park located between Cape Leeuwin in the south and Cape Naturaliste in the north. The region is broadly referred to as the Margaret river Region. Scattered between the two capes are the coastal hamlets of Augusta, Hamelin Bay, Margaret River, Prevelly Park, Gracetown, Cowaramup, Smiths Beach, Yallingup and Dunsborough. Named after the Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park, this was the first postcard series in Western Australia to focus on a national park and reserves theme.
Over 25 years and 1.5 million postcards later, I tell the story behind creating this award winning West Australian Postcard Series. Stormlight Publishing 25 years of south west postcards is a fascinating look at how I came to photograph, produce, publish and distribute postcards in a time prior to digital technology and mobile phones.
Southern Forests and Southern Coast Porongurup and Stirling Range Series
With the success of the Leeuwin Naturaliste Series I was able to expand the national park postcard range to include the Southern Forests Series, South Coast and Porongurup and Stirling Range Series. The card range eventually extended east to Esperance with Cape Le Grand National Park, and west to Albany near Torndirrup National Park. Neighboring Denmark and William Bay National Park followed. Postcards were added from the south west's mountainous regions: Porongurup Range near Mount Barker with the rugged Stirling Range National Parks. In the south west more postcards were made of D' Entrecasteaux National Park and Walpole Nornalup National Park near Walpole. The postcards also reached the forested regions of Northcliffe, Shannon National Park, Windy Harbour and Pemberton.
This makes it the most extensive West Australian postcards series of national parks to date.
Leeuwin Naturaliste - Southern Forests - South Coast Postcard Series
I finally got around to completing Stormlight Publishing 25 years of South West Postcards.
For those of you familiar with my work you would know that I have been publishing and distributing images of Western Australian national parks since 1989 under my imprint Stormlight Publishing. Many of these images have been as postcards, as well as greeting cards, posters, calendars and books.
When I started publishing my postcards series in 1989 I had no idea where or how far it would go. Postcards series specific to national parks did not exist in WA at that time. Some retailers were sceptical about selling images that were not of something. They wanted identifiable subjects such as a recognisable memorial or a building. It was said to me that they were just pretty images of nothing. Others asked me where these places were as they could not be local places.
Starting out with a 35mm film camera and one lens I set about creating a postcard series that endured for a quarter of a century. 1.5 million postcards later, I reflect on the processes behind creating this award winning national park postcard series in a time prior to the prevalence of digital technology and the social phenomenon of mobile phone “selfies”.
Luckily for me I found plenty of south west retailers willing to give the postcards a go. Even more lucky for me is that they sold. This allowed me to eventually produce images covering regions along the south west and southern coastline of Western Australia. These included Esperance, Albany, Denmark, Walpole, Pemberton, Northcliffe, Augusta, Margaret River, Yallingup, Dunsborough, the Stirling and Porongurup Ranges.
If you are interested in landscape photography or just appreciate the unique beauty of the national parks in south west Western Australia then you will enjoy this collection of 70 postcard images. I have a limited number of copies on hand which I can post within Australia, otherwise copies are available directly from Blurb.
Hard cover | dust jacket | 82 pages | 70 images full colour | 10 x 8 inches landscape
When I commenced publishing the Leeuwin Naturaliste Series of postcards back in 1989 I started with just 11 cards. By the following year I was needing more new images. In particular, I needed images made in the 35mm film format I had designed my postcards around. As I explained in “25 years of south west postcards” cropping images from other camera formats that did not fit the 2:3 ratio posed a bit of a problem. I had been using 645 medium format and 4×5 inch large format well before 1989. Both have a similar aspect ratio and when I composed an image for that format it did not necessarily crop well into a 2:3 image for postcards.
So in 1990 I set about hiking about the south west with the only 35mm camera I had and a 28mm wide angle. The majority of the postcards I made over 25 years were produced with this single combination. Although I did own a 100mm short telephoto for my 35mm Pentax LX, I can’t recall taking it on a hiking trip with me. This may sound contradictory it was just a little too short for landscapes.
I arrived at Yallingup to a cool crisp winter morning, well before sunrise. There was a faint yellow glow in the east and a deep violet earth shadow descending across the western horizon. A light offshore breeze felt cold on my back as I set my camera up on a tripod and pointed it towards the west. In the distance far offshore the breaking surf was lit up by the first of the sun’s rays.
In the foreground slanting rocks facing the sun stretched out in small parallel lines into the ocean, drawing the eyes towards the breaking surf. The sun was slightly diffused through some cloud as it first lit the scene. I managed a few frames with the distant break working, before the sunlight broke through the cloud completely and the contrast became too high turning the shadow details to black.
Placing my camera inside my backpack and shouldering my tripod I continued my coastal walk to see what else might be around the corner. The light at this stage was fast losing its morning warmth and the movement of cloud predicted an overcast day was soon to follow. As I walked below Rabbit Hill at Yallingup beach the steeply angled light hit the plumes of spray blown off the tops of the waves.
I attached a zoom lens which I had borrowed from a friend. It was an odd 3rd party lens -I can’t remember its make- of around 140mm maximum focal length. At its maximum I managed to compose a small section of water below the cliffs in which the waves were breaking. Timing is everything in photographing breaking waves. The shutter speed has to be fast enough to “freeze” the image while the success of the composition is totally dependent on the placing of the waveform. Each sequence of waves offers a different image potential, no two sequences are the same. So I made a series of exposures from the same tripod position until the sun faded under the clouds and the lighting effect lost.
Both images were made on the same morning within an hour, yet show vastly different views. The Surf Rabbit Hill Yallingup, postcard was published in 1992, two years after I had published Yallingup Sunrise. Although it was made with a short telephoto lens it still required some cropping in the final drum scan. It became a hugely successful postcard card. Both images were made on Fujichrome 50 Professional RFP 35mm ISO 50, which I used up until the introduction of Velvia 50 ISO film not long after 1990.
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.
Looking Glass Magazine – Tales from the lens -Batteries Not Included. I am delighted to have several images and a short essay published in this month’s Looking Glass Magazine. That two of those images were made literally down the street from where I live in suburban Perth is even more satisfying!
Looking Glass Magazine is published in the US by Laura Campbell and is available for a small subscription. It has featured works by international photographers Paul Caponigro, Alan Ross, Ansel Adams, to name a few. If you are serious about the possibilities of new ways of seeing, then you need to view the images of serious workers. You can get further details off the Looking Glass website or facebook links.
Magazine front cover of Seal by David Roberts. Issue #8, Aug/Sept, 2015: George Tice, Kimberly Anderson, David Roberts, Gary Nylander, Chris Faust, Alex Bond, Gordon Undy, Scott Stillman
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.
I have just reposted a collection of about 40 contemporary Canning River photographs in a 50 page publication. The photographs were made around the Kent Street Weir within Perth’s Canning River Regional Park.
During 2011, I used my old Yashica 124G twin lens film camera to make daily images of the parkland. Sometimes I went back to a location with my large format film camera. My medium of choice was black and white film, preferring to avoid colour. This allowed me greater freedom without the distraction that colour introduces with its potential for idealising or embellishing. The area photographed spanned about 2 km of river. To this day I continue to make images of the parkland and river, as part of an ongoing project in recording its environment.
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.
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.
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.
"I go for long walks in the bush or along the coast with my wooden field camera, a few sheets of film, a tripod and sometimes a tent and food. I like to take my time to absorb the environment, to rediscover and to reconnect.My direct involvement with the materials and technique for making an expressive photographic print is of importance to me, so I continue to develop my own films and hand print all my black and white silver gelatin prints in my darkroom."more...