Karri forest Margaret River
Karri forest Margaret River with coral vine and purple hovea wildflowers at Boranup just south of Margaret River. This unique stand of karri forest is the most western edge of the karri forest belt. These karri grow in limestone based soils as opposed to dark rich karri loam which is found around Pemberton and Walpole. Just above the purple hovea and red coral vine in this image you can see a limetone cliff edge. Its the presence of limestone which is responsible for the numerous caves within the Cape Leeuwin to Cape Naturaliste region. This image was made with a 6×4.5cm format Bronica ETRS camera using velvia film and a 40mm Bronica lens. It has been published in magazines and calendars and in my Leeuwin Naturaliste postcard series where it has remained popular for over 20 years.
Karri forest Margaret River is available as a limited edition 16×20 inch photograph and larger.
Native Pigface Wilson Head Denmark Australia. This small headland just out of town is popular with the locals for fishing, surfing and is a controversial site for a new wind farm. I have always been struck by the relative density and diversity of plant communities growing within the small sheltered coves around Wilson Head. The area would appear every bit as dense and diverse as coast found further east in national parks. Native pigface originally from South Africa is distributed around the west and south west coasts.
Native Pigface Wilson Head Ocean Beach Denmark Australia is available as a limited edition photograph. It was first published in the large format 1998 Horizon Calendar and as a greeting card. It remains one of my personal favourites.
The thrombolites Lake Clifton in Yalgorup National Park are about 100km south of Perth. These rock like structures, a form of microbialite, occur in rocky clumps which look similar to the famous strombolites found within Shark Bay’s Hamelin Pool, some 800km north of Perth.
Strombolites are examples of one of the earliest forms of bacterial life presently known to man and reside in salty water. Thrombolites on the other hand grow best in fresh water. The bacteria within them are photosynthetic and create calcium carbonate which is basically what limestone is made of. Apparently the largest known population of living marine microbialites in the southern hemisphere are found at Lake Clifton in Yalgorup National Park. They require fresh water and monitoring of Lake Clifton’s fresh water is highlighting a decline in fresh water run off to the lake. There are other populations in nearby Lake Preston and further south in Augusta and Esperance.
Thrombolites are at risk by increasing water salinity, which stops them growing. Water salinity at Lake Clifton is affected by reduced fresh water run off from climate change and groundwater changes from urban and agricultural uses.
The day I made these photographs of Lake Clifton Thrombolites Yalgorup Mandurah I took my metal wista 4×5 field camera with 4×5 sheet film and a 6×12 film back. (The Horseman 6×12 back is quite thick and puts pressure on the ground glass springs of my wooden field camera). The film stock I was using for both was 50ISO Velvia. I timed my arrival for the mid to late afternoon, giving myself time to scout for potential compositions, although on an earlier visit I had already decided on a dusk composition (pictured above).
With the setting sun, the trees and reeds fringing Lake Clifton were lit with a warm orange light and the shapes of the thrombolites stood out in high contrast against the water. Using the reach of a longer focal length lens the 6x12cm back allowed me to fill the frame with thrombolites and the lake’s edge. It also allowed me to create several exposures in close succession, each one being a potential in camera duplicate should one be damaged by the handling of a publisher.
The image above was a timed exposure of several seconds made on 4×5 film after the sun had set. One of Velvia’s characteristics with long exposures is to develop a purplish magenta colour cast. For comparison I have included an image made on Velvia just before sunset (below). You can see how different the colour temperature is recorded by the same film type.
Lake Clifton Thrombolites Yalgorup National Park has been published in the 2015 Australian Conservation Foundation Diary. By purchasing it directly from Rob Blakers’ web site you can support the Australian Conservation Foundation and enjoy a yearly supply of wonderful photographs of Australia’s national parks.
North Point Cowaramup Bay is where I had been exploring the coast for new images over the past few days. As the sun was setting I was reflecting on how I had started the day, near this spot, before dawn. About 12 hours ago, the blue pre-dawn gloom of the night sky was giving way to the soft magenta projected skywards by the earth’s shadow. The sea had been relatively calm that morning, but the swell had been building steadily all day, something I had noticed further up the coast where I had spent the day hiking and exploring. Now I was back at Gracetown at sunset, my movements had gone full circle.
The coastline around North Point Cowaramup Bay offers elevated views over the surf breaks. North Point is a granite cliff face and rock outcrop, strewn with boulders the size of cars. As the sun set, a few people with cameras materialised at certain vantage points around the cliff tops, looking towards the sunset. But my camera was aimed squarely at the last surfer of the day, bobbing gently in the swell off North Point, waiting to catch that final wave of the day before the fading light. A set appeared, he took off, cutting clean lines across the back lit wave, riding it all the way past the point.
I included this image in my latest update and printing of my Leeuwin Naturaliste postcard series, which will be available shortly. It has come as a bit of a shock, but next year, 2013, will be the 25th year I have been producing this series of cards that have showcased the coastline between Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin and the Leeuwin Naturaliste National Park.
Cape Naturaliste at sunrise with the shadow of the Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse projecting across the Cape’s heathland. Spring is a wonderful time of year to be out photographing. Of course there are the Spring wildflowers, but even more exciting is the constantly changing weather and the drama it plays out on the landscape. I had left Perth about 3am on a cold clear morning. By the time I had reached Bunbury, pockets of mist were collecting in the open fields and flowing westwards towards the warmer coast. When I reached Busselton, visibility was reduced by what was now a congealed bank of mist, the beam of oncoming car headlights barely penetrating it. The dense mist remained all the way to Dunsborough, but just 5km out of town on the way to Cape Naturaliste the mist suddenly disappeared.
I was on my way to Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse having arranged in advance with one of the guides to accompany me so that I could get some sunrise images from the lighthouse as part of an update to my Leeuwin Naturaliste postcard series, now in their 23rd year. Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse sits high above the limestone cliffs of the Cape, and is shorter than its more southerly cousin, Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse, which sits on a low, granite finger that protrudes into the ocean. While Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse may not be the tallest it certainly has commanding views of the Cape, Geographe Bay and the Indian Ocean. From the lighthouse I could see the morning mist which I had driven through flowing offshore into Geographe Bay. For a brief moment the sun broke through on the horizon, flooding the Cape with intense yellow light, creating dramatic, colourful scenes both east and west. I sighted several whales offshore making their annual migration. All too soon some rain laden cloud from the south had rapidly swept over the Cape, throwing the landscape into a deep shadow, the first spatter of rain drops hitting me. My work finished, I left the Cape, the rain was passing and the clouds were giving way to vast expanses of blue sky with bright sunlight hitting the distant landscape. Mist, cloud, light rain, a colourful sunrise, and the promise of a warm sunny day, Spring offers four seasons in one day.
I was weighing up whether I should go or not, stay put and relax as the day draws to a close or get my backpack and tripod ready and head out? The cloud had been building steadily all day with an increasing south westerly wind and now, in the late afternoon it was completely overcast. This was my last night at the mouth of the Donnelly River, in the D’Entrecasteaux National Park of WA. I could either stay put and get myself warm and settled for the night or I could use this last evening of this trip and see if there was an opportunity to make a final sunset photograph. The wispy high level clouds had all but disappeared behind darker, lower clouds marching over the horizon. I stared upwards trying to read the sky, watching the two layers of high and low cloud travel in opposite directions, as if to collide with each other. Definitely a cold front on the way. With the fast moving cloud thickening, and the western horizon becoming steadily darker I didn’t have high hopes of making an image before the end of the day, if anything it looked like I was going to get wet. But one thing is for sure, if you don’t go out and try then the result is definitely no photograph. But it is in exactly these unpredictable weather conditions that you can witness some of the most spectacular changes in light.
I grabbed my camera bag and tripod, put them in the dinghy and travelled down river to the wide sandbar that partially blocks the flow of the Donnelly River into the Southern Ocean. I anchored in the crystalline white sand and studied the limestone cliffs hoping to find a reflection in the tannin stained river if the sun should re-appear. The wind was picking up making it difficult to keep the camera gear clear of fine sand particles. Looking back towards the dinghy, I set up my Wista 4×5 field camera and a Calumet 6×12 roll film back loaded with 50 ISO Velvia. The roll film 6x12cm format suited the composition best and would possibly allow me 2 quick exposures in relatively short succession. Setting a pre determined aperture and shutter I then covered the camera in a plastic bag to protect it from the wind borne sand, and waited.
It was getting late with the sun setting and it looked like my chance of capturing some dramatic light was fading with every second that passed. Then the unexpected happened, for a brief moment a break in the cloud let a small sweeping sliver of light trace a path down along the coast. Removing the bag I cocked the shutter and waited for the sweep of light to hit the sand dune mound in the middle of the bar. I released the shutter, exposed the film for one second, replaced the double dark and wound on the next frame. By then the light had gone completely, there would be no second image and sheets of rain were coming.
That night back at camp I cleaned my camera gear by candle light. In the relative quiet between the showers of rain I could hear various frogs calling in the dark and the lone call of a mopoke owl. Tired, I settled into my sleeping bag with the satisfaction of knowing that I had not foregone an opportunity to make a final image during my stay, by making the effort of being ready and just being out there.
Are you creating similar opportunities for your photography? Twelve months later I published this image as a double page spread.
Gourmand Book Awards 2010 Finalist: just 12 months ago that I completed publishing my book Pemberton Wine Region, Western Australia, so I was surprised to be informed that it has won two finalist categories in the Gourmand Awards. Judged by an international jury, Pemberton Wine Region has been awarded Best Wine Photography Book in Australia and Best New World Wine Book in Australia as part of the international, 2009 Gourmand Awards. The book now qualifies to represent Australia in the Best in the World Awards to be announced in Paris, February, 2010.
For the fifteenth year, the Gourmand Book Awards attracts over 6000 entries worldwide. As my first book and as a “one man show”, it is gratifying to have my book recognised by an international jury as equal to some of the best books from the biggest publishing houses in the world. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for the Paris results in February 2010. There are not too many Australian wine books that explore on a single region.