What's New in October 2014
LARGE Panoramas - Suitable for enormous prints metres wide.
I really enjoyed this trip. Coming out of winter into spring everything seemed so full of hope and wonder. The grass was lush through farmland, the crisp air in the mountains so invigorating and coastal areas oh so quiet and peaceful. Or was that just my imagination? Released from home, work and more to the point parenting for a while, possibly everyone would stop, breath in and out and consider themselves lucky to be alive and living in such a beautiful country.
My main target was Kosciuszko, so I headed straight there, driving through the dark. As I have many times before I camped at Geehi Hut and shot the dawn. Persistence paid off and I finally got the shot I'd been planning for years. Just the right amount of fog to let the sun filter down onto the hut. Too much and the sun can't get through, too little and the ambience is ruined. The trip was off to a grand start.
I geared up at Thredbo and was just about to step onto the ski lifts when I believe I spotted Australia's fitness guru Michelle Bridges. Unbidden, my mind did a quick checklist of everything I'd eaten in the last few hours. Nocturnal road food mostly, so not good. How can simply looking at that woman make one want to punch out a set of star jumps? Anyway, I told myself, I'm about to knacker myself hiking so a little carb load is acceptable.
Sunscreen on, up the lifts, don't drop that tripod, right now where? I had a vague idea of the shot I wanted, something looking towards the summit. I set off, spending the day searching. By late afternoon I'd covered most of the surrounding hills and settled on the North Rams Head, ticking the sunset shot with good light.
As darkness descended I broke out the GPS and had the absolute pleasure of knowing exactly where I was despite the pitch black and a dead head torch. (Having only recently succumbed to the whole smart-phone thing I'm still smitten).
The air was so crisp each crunch of my snow shoes sounded like a thunder crack. I had the whole vast plateau to myself, the top of the country as it were. Crunch, crunch, down I went. There was no mistaking Thredbo, just follow the loud music, however as the hours ticked by and I descended the black ski runs my left knee started to play up and a blister on my right foot announced it's presence most sternly.
By the time I reached the bottom I was in a trace state, hobbling left (ouch), right (ouch), like a mantra. I must be getting old. The relief I felt after extricating myself from the myriad straps and hauling off those unnatural shoes was rapturous, surpassed only by the joy of donning my dry cloths and just lying still in the car, while everything ached. Further pleasure ensured when I discovered the lack of a parking ticket despite my after-hours return.
A calorie laden "dirty street pie" later and I was back in business, headed for Merimbula only a few hours away. Catching the fish pen at its best takes an investment in time. I've returned to this scene many times. Even if the weather plays the game, perfect calm is required for reflections, which are quickly disturbed by the local fishing boats heading out of a morning. Incredibly my luck held and I got a good shot.
Heading south I visited Croajingolong. I'd been here a couple of times before but wanted to explore the Thurra Sand Dunes. In the end I wandered around for most of the afternoon looking for a suitable vantage point, progressively becoming more tired and thirsty. At one point I got it into my head that I needed to gain height and tried scale a particularly steep section only to come tumbling down, spitting sand. After retracing my footprints a few times, I finally settled on a scene and awaited twilight. It came as both a welcome relief from the heat of the sun and splendidly colourful light in which to shoot.
Turning for home I realised I had a dawn spare. Bringing up my favourites on the GPS I calculated I could reach a magic spot in Gippsland ahead of the light if I was prepared to drive all night. Several coffees later I was standing there awaiting the morning which did not disappoint.
Shooting straight into direct sunlight is never easy. In fact it can be downright impossible at times. However there are some tricks you can employee to overcome the likes of flare, unwanted colour casting and overexposure. If all else fails obscuring a small portion of the lens with your hand can work. If you're very lucky, as I was on this glorious morn, a stray wisp of cloud may happen past to diffuse the light momentarily, allowing for the capture of all that backlit sparkle without the nasty side effects.
How wide is too wide? Recently Sydney airport put up one of my images at 8 metres wide which got me thinking about capturing really wide, 180 degree panoramas. The above two shots represent a start of this project. I'm not entirely convinced I'll continue down this path, after all, not many people have that kind of wall space.
So where to next? I'm planning to head north before the summer heat gets too bad, probably Kosciuszko again, then up into northern NSW. Thanks for your support, hope you liked the shots.