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Pemberton Western Australia

Pemberton mill town workers' cottages Pemberton, Western Australia

Visiting Pemberton Western Australia is like stepping back in time. It was the ideal location for the filming of Jasper Jones with Toni Collette and Hugo Weaving. Pemberton is one of the few remaining country towns that still have surviving buildings from earlier times. Timber mill houses, main street halls and back alleyways all speak of yesteryear. The town is also in close proximity to several national parks, with towering karri forest, rivers, massive sand dunes and rugged coastline.

Indigenous Australians hunted, gathered and traveled extensively throughout the region for thousands of years. More recent European settlement was historically based upon grazing then the hardwood timber industry supplied by the local karri forests. Hops and tobacco were grown within the region for a short time with a later expansion of beef cattle farming and agriculture.

Surrounded by towering karri forests Pemberton is adjacent to several spectacular national parks including the Warren, Beedelup, Gloucester, and the D’Entrecasteaux National Parks. Rugged coastline, extensive inland sand dunes, heavily forested regions,  rivers and dams, characterise Pemberton’s unique landscape. These parks and Pemberton’s proximity to the Southern Ocean contribute to a clean environment for food, wine and tourism.

Pemberton Wine Region is the first premium quality landscape photography book to focus on this region, exploring its outstanding natural beauty.  Images of majestic forests, rivers, massive sand dunes and rugged coastline capture the landscape that shapes the region’s character and beauty. It also documents the rise of the local wine industry and was the Australian finalist for two Gourmand Book Awards, Paris.


Emus from adjoining Warren National Park Old Vasse Road Pemberton Western Australia
Emus from adjoining Warren National Park Old Vasse Road

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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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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.