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Shrines fishing gods

Shrines fishing gods Blackwood River Augusta Western Australia

Shrines fishing gods Blackwood River Augusta Western AustraliaShrines fishing gods: we were walking around Augusta just on dusk, down by the banks of the Blackwood River. A beautiful windless evening with barely a ripple on the water. The clouds’ reflections were creating abstract patterns with soft pastel hues. Fishing is obviously a popular activity and every 20 to 50 metres dotted along the banks you will find these little fish scaling tables in various shapes sizes and design. As they floated in their own reflections they reminded me of little shrines or temples. The oil rich yellow lipped mullet caught fresh from the Blackwood are among my favourite fish. May the fishing deities be pleased.

Shrines fishing gods Augusta Western Australia

Fishing Augusta Australia

Fishing Augusta Western Australia

Blackwood River Augusta

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Bracken Ferns Augusta

Augusta Western Australia

During summertime I have to vary my darkroom routine to account for the heat. This means that I usually like to get to work early before the heat of the day sets in. With tasks like film processing it is important to be consistent, and that means keeping the temperature of the developer constant with the use of tempered water baths. It’s simple to do really, just add refrigerated water (during summer) to the room temperature tap water.  You may also like to use a pre-rinse which can help adjust the temperature of developing tanks, film and reels prior to the actual development process. These days I just stick to a water bath and choosing a time of the day when you don’t have to fight too great a temperature differential between the room temperature and developer. Anyway, my point is that the window period for film development for me during summer is shortened, so it can take a while to catch up with a back log of film. So I was delighted when I viewed this morning’s processed black and white sheet films and rediscovered what I was photographing exactly one month ago during a trip to Augusta; in this case, bracken ferns. Developing films can be a bit of an adventure, you can never be absolutely sure what you have on film is what you see, and in this case I think I see more in the image than what I remember at the time on the ground glass.

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Cape to Cape Spring time ramble

Cape to Cape Spring time ramble

Cape to Cape Spring time ramble. Spent the last week in the south west and Spring is definitely out. I was doing a few coastal walks, the weather was wonderfully changeable, rainy and blustery one day, then calm, fine mornings with light wisps of high cloud the next. Just the sort of conditions I like most as it offers a wide range of photographic opportunities, from different light qualities to varying subject matter. On my way back one fine morning I sheltered for a while under these peppermint trees which were laden with white trails of bloom. There was the added bonus of a small brook and the sound of running water. So nice to see some water flowing in the brooks and streams this year compared to the dryness of last year. It’s a great time of the year to get out and do a bush walk, ramble, hike or what ever you choose to call it.

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Be tenacious.

Be tenacious Cape Naturaliste, Western Australia.

Be tenacious. These wind swept branches are an example of how tenacious life really is, even in adverse situations. With its roots wedged between massive granite boulders, the sheer force exerted by millions of minuscule living cells is sufficient, over a long period of time, to lift and displace these rocks just enough to allow this tree to grow. And given its size it has successfully adapted and overcome environmental extremes such as no soil, prevailing winds (sometimes at gale force), salt spray, diminishing rainfall and intense sun exposure.

I can only guess how old it is, but this is one of a few larger specimens that sprawl out for several metres over the boulders at Cape Naturaliste.

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Studio Gallery Yallingup

Studio Gallery Yallingup

The Studio Gallery Yallingup, has just opened this week with its official launch on Saturday  October 2nd, 2010, 6 to 8pm. If you would like to attend, RSVP to Lizzy – download the invite for details.

Amongst the artworks on display I was invited to exhibit several of my large format black and white prints as part of the gallery’s opening. The Studio Gallery is one of the region’s most modern purpose built galleries with a studio and an adjoining bistro. Located towards the Yallingup end of the Capes, it is well worth a visit if you are in the region.

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IRIS AWARDS Semi Finalists Carlo Margaret River

IRIS Awards Carlo Margaret River Bronica 645 Kodak Tri-X. Back in 1987, I started a personal photographic project: photographing some of my family members and relatives around Margaret River. I didn’t set out with any particular plan such as a start and finish date, or a wish list of images, as perhaps you would for a commercial project. It simply took shape as I visited the region, usually several times per year. It depended solely on what opportunities presented themselves, at the time of those visits, for photography. Naturally, at some point during my visit I would ask if they would mind if I made some photographs whilst we talked. In some instances, there was only ever one photographic session, the confluence of opportunities and circumstances never re-emerging. Luckily in those situations I got what I thought was a pleasing image, so mission accomplished.

When I first photographed Carlo, above, he was already 83 years of age. I would often find him out in the paddocks, fossicking around for wood burls or looking for field mushrooms when in season.  Before his passing, at nearly 90 years of age, I had the pleasure of making several memorable images.

Most times I used my 4×5 field camera for the portraits, even leaving 4×5 Polaroid prints with my subjects after my visit, which was always a nice way to say thank you. Other times I used my 645 medium format camera, such as in the image above, which was easier to handle in rapidly changing circumstances. I used Kodak Tri X for both roll and sheet film, metering was all hand held, both film and prints hand processed by me.

I entered this image in the recent Perth Centre of Photography 2010 IRIS Awards, a national photographic portrait prize, some months back, and then actually forgot all about it. Unfortunately it didn’t make the judges’ selection for the final exhibition, but it did apparently make it through as one of about 30 semi-finalist images, according to a PCP flicker posting. How many of these made the final show I don’t know.

I only became aware of the above posting quite by accident, I certainly wasn’t contacted by PCP. Whilst on the subject of the Perth Centre of Photography, isn’t it time some of the digital savvy members amongst the PCP brought the website up to a professional standard? These days it’s not hard, difficult or expensive. The current PCP website has been under construction for far too long, which is farcical if they are a “centre of photography” running “national” awards.  Given that Perth Centre of Photography receives funding from WA’s Department  of Arts & Culture to run two national awards (IRIS and CLIP Awards), it would be nice to see an up to date and informative web site about the awards’ results, both past and present. It certainly would be a more inclusive way, for people outside of Perth of staying informed of the results, after all it’s meant to be a national award.

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Cape Clairault region

Cape Clairault region, Margaret River, Western Australia.

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.

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Margaret River in winter flood flowing through tea tree forest Australia

Margaret River Western Australia

The real Margaret River in detail. On the day I made this negative it had been drizzling consistently with rain, a typical winter’s day with an overcast sky, and then a late afternoon burst of sunlight. The river was flooded with fresh rain and the noise of rushing water could be heard several hundred metres away from within the marri -jarrah forest from where I had emerged. The forest (now a proposed national park) formed a natural buffer between my grandparents’ farm and the river valley. I have fond childhood memories of the river in various moods, with its secret rock pools, forested banks, jumble of dark rocks and fallen trees. But it is during the midst of a winter flow, with the rush of water over submerged rocks, swirling around partly submerged peppermint trees, that the rhythm of the river is most mesmerising. Kodak Tri X 4×5 film, exposure was probably f22 at 1/2 second, Rodinal developer.

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Dune Cabbage Polaroid PN Type 55 Cape Leeuwin Augusta 4×5 Sheet Film

Dune Cabbage (Arctotheca populifolia)

Even in this age of digital cameras, there is still something truly amazing about  Polaroid Type 55 positive/negative film. Rated at about 32ISO (rather than the recommended 50ISO), this film is capable of recording superb detail and tonalities. With Polaroid Type 55 4×5 film, each exposure yielded a positive 4×5 polaroid print and a 4×5 negative that could be used in an enlarger for printing. My approach to using this film has always been to treat it like regular film, compose the image and expose carefully, then process the film when I get home. Using the Polaroid back I would do this processing in my darkroom, keeping any light exposure of the negative to a minimum until the negative had safely cleared in a sulphite solution. Then I would complete the processing with a wash period, photoflo immersion then dry just like a regular film. You now have a 4×5 contact print in one hand and a perfectly usable 4×5 negative in the other, what a bargain! This image of the Dune Cabbage is an enlargement from Polaroid PN 55 made on Forte graded paper. This Dune Cabbage (Arctotheca populifolia) was photographed near Cape Leeuwin, Augusta in Australia’s south west, although this successful dune coloniser is widespread around coastal regions, it originated from South Africa. Apparently the leaves can be peeled and eaten as salad or lightly steamed. Here’s one I prepared earlier.

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Coastal heath Rock Thryptomene Margaret River Region

Rock Thryptomene Margaret River Western Australia

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).