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Canning River woodlands mist Perth Australia

Morning mist woodlands Canning River Perth

Canning River woodlands mist Perth  hand printed 16×20 inch baryta based silver gelatin print -sold.

Canning River woodlands mist Perth Western Australia. The open woodland track near the Greenfield Street bridge follows the banks of the Canning River. In the cooler months the mist gathers in the open fields and becomes dense around the river. On this morning there was a slight breeze and you could see the mist gathering. Standing beneath some flooded gums I pointed my camera back towards Greenfield Bridge, framing an old tree in the foreground. If I remember correctly I used a 300mm lens on my 4×5 field camera. Film was HP5 and the exposure was 10 seconds. I had forgotten to bring my watch so I had to count to 10 to time the exposure. Just to make sure I made a second back up exposure at 1 second using a wider aperture. The first exposure was the better as it had greater depth of field and was a good density.  About hand made silver prints.


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Canning River oxygenation trail Perth Western Australia

Canning River oxygenation trail

Canning River oxygenation trail, hand printed 11×11 inch baryta based silver gelatin print- sold

Canning River oxygenation trail, Perth, Australia. Bubbles from nearby oxygen tanks pumped into the river to alleviate anaerobic conditions exacerbated by low water volumes and algal blooms. There are oxygenation tanks on the banks of the Canning River between Nicholson Road bridge Kent Street Weir. Large black polythene tubes run from the tanks into the river, snaking there way down stream just below the water’s surface. Oxygen is released from the pipes and percolates up through the water, leaving a trail on the surface. The Department of Water released a report in 2013 stating that  anaerobic conditions existed in the river most times of the year, meaning that the water is deprived of oxygen to support aquatic life. A third oxygenation tank was completed in 2014. The Department’s report also highlighted elevated levels of toxins and reduced rainfall due to the drying of the climate. It was reported that desalinated water had also been pumped into the river to maintain it. About hand made silver prints.

Oxygenation trail Canning River Perth 11×11 inch hand printed silver gelatin fibre based print. First published in Lost in Suburbia in 2013, then Circuit Magazine and Heathcote Museum & Gallery exhibition catalogue “Dissociation” 2015.

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Traditional Silver Gelatin Fibre Based Prints

traditional silver gelatin

Traditional Silver Gelatin Fibre Based Prints are made by hand and involves the use of traditional darkroom, light sensitive materials and chemistry.

In a darkroom you project an image onto photographic paper, much like you would project an image onto a wall with a slide projector. When making black and white prints the photographer can work under a red or amber safelight which the paper has reduced sensitivity to, hence the red in the darkroom images. A more detailed explanation follows.

Traditional Silver Gelatin fibre based prints

Making Traditional Silver Gelatin fibre based prints

Silver gelatin prints I make are made on Czechoslovakian silver gelatin fibre based photographic paper. There are only a few remaining manufacturers of this silver rich paper remain worldwide. The technical benefits of fibre based baryta paper is greater detail and definition, extended tonal range and excellent archival properties. It is the standard for fine art photographers worldwide.

All prints begin with a black and white film negative. The negative image is projected via a light source and focused with a lens onto the photographic paper under darkroom conditions. Controlling of image detail and contrast within the print employs tradition techniques of holding back exposure in some parts of the print while giving additional exposure to other parts. This is all done by hand placing objects into the light path of the projected image to affect a change.

After exposure and still under darkroom safelight the paper is placed in a developing tray where the silver image develops. The paper is then transferred to another tray of stop bath, to arrest development, then a third tray to fix the print by dissolving away the remaining light sensitive parts of the print. It is then washed in water where it can be inspected under normal room light.

After the initial wash the print is treated in a solution to help remove any residual fixer within the paper fibre, then washed for a further 2 hours. When the wash is completed the print is air dried face down on plastic screen mesh.

The final stage improves archival permanence. The print is toned in selenium, then rewashed and dried again before dry mounting onto 100% cotton rag museum boards. The photograph’s title and signature is penciled under the print on the front, the rear of the board is stamped, signed and includes the negative number and the date the print was made. The museum board and print is then placed behind a window mount and glass within an aluminium frame.

The entire process to complete one print can take several days.

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.


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Photography Exhibition Canning River Eco Education Centre

Canning River Wetlands Perth Australia

Photography Exhibition Canning River is a personal photographic project I began taking my camera with me on my daily walks to record the wetland landscape between Greenfield Bridge and Kent St Weir and some of the uses people made of it.

Photographing the Canning River Regional Park was a natural extension of the landscape photography I have been making for publications since the late 80s. Most of that work has drawn me to remote locations, often national parks and reserves, where I would hike, camp and photograph.

The concept of national parks is sometimes a curious one. Parks and reserves are defined on maps with explicit boundaries indicated by blocks of colour or dotted lines. Of course in the natural world no such clear cut boundaries really exist, just regions of transition. However, those dotted lines hold power, shaping how we identify with the land and our perception of its value.  Images made within a national park boundary are more readily published than a similar landscape outside of that boundary.

Consequently, one landscape’s value can be held above another. This is not surprising as visiting national parks invokes positive associations of beauty, the exotic, freedom, relaxation and ‘getting back to nature’.

The landscape I am choosing to interpret does not involve the romance of travel, it is familiar not exotic, it is in my own back yard, within the city.

But choosing to value one landscape over another, and by implication the welfare of one above another, may be just as curious a notion as the neat lines drawn on a map. All land forms are interconnected and communicate through zones of transition with each other. The welfare and healthy state of one region affects its neighbouring regions, and so on. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

No where is this concept more apparent than the example of the Canning River flowing from a plateau down to an urbanised sand plain, meeting the Swan River, then out to sea. A river does not observe discrete boundaries or rights granted on a map, nor do birds or animals. Likewise a fence does not prevent weeds from spreading from one side to another, or define a clear ecological demarcation of species habitat, nor does it prevent water or air borne contaminants from one side entering another.

Much work in research, monitoring and rehabilitation has been conducted within the park by agencies and volunteers.  The resulting images started in 2011 have now emerged into a pictorial collection of the park land in its current state and use. I have chosen to embrace all of the park’s character, including both native species and the new invading species which have arrived since European settlement.  To this day I continue to make images of the parkland and river, as part of an ongoing project in documenting its state of change. 44 images have been published in the book: Lost in Suburbia, published by Stormlight Publishing, which was launched and exhibited at Riverton Library in 2013.

If you are in the Wilson – Kent Street area then please come to Photography Exhibition Canning River and have a look, afterwards you can enjoy a coffee next door at the cafe.

Canning River Eco Education Centre     Opening times and map

May 12 to June 5th, 2014


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Soft contemplative light with plus development

Soft contemplative light

Soft contemplative light is perfect for contemplating subject shapes, textures and forms. I pass this tree nearly every day, observing its slow process of decay. It first shed its outer bark layer, its fibrous texture littering the ground around the base of the tree. Slowly the silver like glow of the tree’s internal wood structure was revealed. At various times of the day the wood glowed with different intensities. So often the harsh direct sunlight hides textural details as our eyes struggle to adjust to the wide contrast range between bright sunlit areas and deep shadow details. Although the light was rather flat I gave the negative reduced exposure and additional development to increase the contrast between the tree and background. This image was made within the city bushland of Canning River Regional Park, Perth, where I will be this weekend, running a photography workshop.

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Canning River photo Lost in Suburbia Exhibition Book

Canning River Photo
Oxygenation trail Canning River Perth

Exhibition & Book

18th November to 6th December 2013

Riverton Library

Canning River photo exhibition and book. To coincide with the release of my book “Lost in Suburbia” a selection of black and white images will be exhibited at Riverton Library, corner High and Riley Roads, Riverton.

The Canning River Regional Park is located 9 kilometres south east of central Perth, and is the largest regional park in the metropolitan area. This book is a visual record of the parkland’s recreational use and beauty. An ecologically and socially important parkland in a secluded little pocket off to one side of major urbanisation, a parkland hidden from general view, almost lost in suburbia.

The book can be ordered from Blurb.

The exhibition runs for 3 weeks. Anyone who lives near the Canning River or who has an interest in the urban environment or photography is invited to come along.

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Bannister Creek Perth Restoration Western Australia

Bannister Creek Canning River Perth

Bannister Creek Perth

Bannister Creek Perth is close to where I live. Lately I have been spending more time photographing around the Perth region, focusing on what is happening within my own “backyard”. Bannister Creek flows through metropolitan suburbia into the Canning River. Looking at this you could be mistaken for thinking you are somewhere in the south west, but this is in the middle of suburbia, with houses either side of its banks. It is intriguing to observe that the rear of the suburban  blocks uniformly face the creek, makes you wonder what the planners were thinking in turning their backs on this rare urban feature. Bannister Creek has had significant wetland restoration work done to it recently. The health of this creek and others like it all have an impact on the health of the Canning and Swan Rivers.

A hand printed 16×20 inch fibre based print of Bannister Creek was exhibited in my 2015 exhibition “Dissociation” at Heathcote Museum & Gallery.

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polaroid type 55 positive negative film

Polaroid Type 55 Pos Neg Deep River walpole

Polaroid type 55 positive negative film. Some of my final images made during a hiking trip in November made on this beautiful 4×5 film which was well past its expiry date by a few years and needed using. The image was processed after I returned from my trip, I seldom developed out the polaroid in the field, rather I used it as a conventional film. I will miss it.

Last weekend I ran a 2 day workshop covering an introduction to 4×5 on the first day, then developing and printing those images in a darkroom on the second day. For some it was the first time they had been inside a darkroom, seen their films developed and enlarged their own photographs and watched them develop in the tray.  I suspect that the second day, the darkroom day, is possibly the highlight for most who attend. The first day we are out in the field, learning how to operate the camera in the morning and photographing for the remainder of the day. But the second day brings the whole experience of working with a new format and film,  full circle.  Yesterday’s photographic ideas and compositions are brought into existence as real silver gelatin prints through the application of standard darkroom procedures. And with that experience comes a new found knowledge about the simple, tangible, controls possible over the film and paper mediums. That experience is something that can be taken with them and applied throughout their photography.

Photography has always been on the cutting edge of technology, and I still marvel at beautiful tonal range of these negatives and the sophisticated technology that underlies its apparent simplicity. Technology is a topic that generally surfaces in one form or another at workshops as comparisons are made between film and digital approaches. One common theme that seems to emerge, is that whilst there will always be new photographic products and technologies enabling faster outcomes and greater volumes, it is not always the speed at which you arrive at a photographic point, but the journey in getting there, because it is in undertaking that journey that you begin to understand. Once you understand this you have the skills to make your own interpretation.

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Zamia Palm Canning River Reserve

Zamia Palm

Zamia Palm Canning River Reserve Perth. With all those spikes, palms are generally are not my favourite plants. These are the seed pods (for want of a better description?) of our local zamia palm. Apparently they belong to a pretty old and relatively unchanged species, dating back to when dinosaurs roamed around, but I did hear that maybe they are not as ancient as some thought. They certainly look like they belong in a lush rain forest, and, to me at least, always seem a bit out of place visually amongst our dry open forests of irregularly shaped trees and bushes. This photograph was made in the Canning River reserve.

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Introductory Darkroom View Camera

Introductory Darkroom View Camera Seashell details Cape Leeuwin Augusta Western Australia

Last weekend a workshop student got to use my 4×5 field camera. Earlier we had spent some time outside by the Canning River discussing the controls and movements of the camera, how to set it up and how to load it with film. We tried out several lenses and practised using tilts and swings of the lens standard and back, as well as the rise and fall of the lens board. Being outside in the real world made it easier to observe and directly practise a new technique rather than sitting down in a classroom only to discuss  theory. Some people learn faster practising,  and with good guidance you can always come back to theory later to refine your technique.

After lunch at the local cafe we spent the remainder of the afternoon photographing in the park. The bushland and river setting is an ideal location providing a range of subject matter. Without any previous experience with a 4×5,  my student selected compositions, set up the camera, metered the contrast range of a scene (another new technique they were introduced to) and exposed their film. By the end of day 1 they had made 6,  4×5 film exposures and completed their introduction to the 4×5 camera. They now knew a lot more about how the camera works, its advantages in both format and controls over other cameras and what features to look for in their own future 4×5.

The following morning we processed the previous day’s images, going through the procedure of black and white film processing, discussing the minimal equipment involved. As the films dried we took a morning break and I showed completed prints which had been framed for exhibiting. This opened up the whole topic of presentation and conservation of your photographic work. Back into the darkroom before lunch and we completed making contact sheet proofs of all yesterday’s negatives. The importance of this stage was demonstrated later when we came to select and enlarge negatives to make a print.

After lunch, the remainder of day 2 was spent in the darkroom understanding the the steps involved in making a print. All of this was completely new for my student as they selected a negative of interest and with guidance produced their first prints. As their confidence grew they chose a more difficult negative which they had initially thought may have not worked out. Some intermediate printing techniques were introduced and their initial vision of the scene emerged into a print.

At the end of day 2 they left with their processed negatives and prints of the work they had completed over the weekend. In the darkroom as they saw the prints emerge for the first time they easily recalled what it was in the scene they were responding to and trying to capture on film, the challenges they met in achieving this, and to their surprise, how the materials and techniques could be employed to direct the print towards achieving that vision. The result was professional, clean,  first  prints that received more individual care and attention than what they would have received at some pro labs.  Now they know what is possible and their next steps towards achieving a personal photographic vision.