Sunlit Lesmurdie Brook Mundy Regional Park

What is considered to be visual order is as much a product of culture as it is experience.

Photographing along the Lesmurdie Brook Walk trail on a bright sunny day is all about the quality of our West Australian light. Copious amounts of bright sunlight that completely wash the scene in front of you into a shimmering whiteness. The glare so strong, your eyes hurt even as you squint.

It wasn’t until I lived in Tasmania for 12 months that I really appreciated how much brighter and harder the light appears here in the West. Returning to Perth from those southern latitudes I remember how much I had to protect my eyes against the glare. The sunlight almost presses down upon you here in the summer.

So on this day while I was foraging around Lesmurdie Brook walk, I decided that I wanted to acknowledge this vast wash of light as it splashed across the woodlands.

Symmetry and uniformity are not what the West Australian bushland is about. Each bush does its own thing, some with lines others with curves. Likewise with the trees. They are gnarled, angled and frequently non-symetrical.

The challenge for the photographer is to make some visual sense of all of this. From their viewpoint, they must select a small rectangle or square out of that scene that brings some sense of visual order.

Of course, what is considered to be visual order is as much a product of culture as it is experience. You only have to view some of the early landscapes by the Australian Colonial painters to realise how their experience and culture influenced their paintings. Grass trees and eucalypts had almost lollipop foilage and sensuous curves. Nothing sharp, jagged or random!

So here is my attempt to portray the random and the chaotic. The bushland around Lesmurdie Falls walk, soaked in brilliant, white sunlight. This is as close as I can get to putting onto photographic paper what I felt and experienced on that day.

I have successfully made a very pleasing workprint of this image on fibre based paper. I am hoping to get into the darkroom soon to make a 16×20-inch silver gelatin print.

Ilford FP4 4×5 film, ID-11 developer, Wista 4×5 camera with 150mm Nikkor lens.

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Since 1989, Alex Bond has published cards, calendars, books, and posters under his imprint Stormlight Publishing. His images showcase the West Australian environment. Bond's handcrafted, silver-gelatin, fibre-based prints are personally made by the author in his darkroom.

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