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Photographer's Blog - Wednesday, March 11, 2020: Lighthouses & More
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Summer in Australia was, as most will undoubtedly be aware, a desperate time with unprecedented bushfires raging uncontrolled across the country. There were many lives lost, both human and wildlife, and widespread damage to both properties and natural environments. National Parks that have never burnt before, with eons old forests, succumbed to the flames, leaving ashes were once there was beauty incarnate.
Under such dire circumstances, my motivation for travel and finding new images was tempered greatly by safety concerns and, of course, simply not wanting to be under foot anywhere valiant firefighting efforts were ongoing. I'd promised our boy some time away during his school holidays and a chance to develop his photographic interests, so we eye balled the weather apps and emergency maps and eventually chose to head south-west where temperatures were in the low twenties.
We ended up spending a couple of weeks, hunting along the coast for new landscape scenes for me to shoot and exploring any nature reserves so our boy could capture birds and animals with a long lens. We particularly enjoyed Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve out of Warrnambool. Such a wonderfully peaceful place to wander amidst the trees and ponds.
I must admit he's getting quite good at it. He has the patience to advance incrementally slowly, take a shot and sneak back, often without alerting the subject to his presence. His main issue is the weight of the lens and holding it steady. Mounting it on a light tripod has helped greatly.
Split Point Lighthouse was the first image I made in this series. It's one of those places you tend to drive past, with the lure of the Great Ocean Road ahead of you but staying here a couple of nights is well recommended. There's the beach, sea stacks, a nice restaurant or two. It's like an Ocean Road taster experience without all the crowds of somewhere like Lorne or Apollo Bay.
With that image in the bag we headed west into South Australia and spent several days based in the Mt Gambier region, scouting along the coast, finding locations and reshooting them until I was happy with the results.
Cape Banks Lighthouse was one of the most fun locations, with a vast beach mostly devoid of people, but still a shop or two to keep us fed. He particularly liked exploring the rocks. It was atop one such outcrop, looking back towards the lighthouse at sunset, where I was able come away with a keeper that hopefully shows off the largess of the place.
Nearby we also discovered Beachport Jetty, into which I sank several dawns until some cloud finally completed the scene nicely. (It can be quite hard to find cloud in South Australia). I love a good, old timber pier. There is just something about the feel of the aged wood underfoot that creates a connection, and visually the appeal is obvious, at least to me.
We spent a few days around Victor Harbor, and found some cracking good scenes, but the light just did not want to play ball, at least not to my standards. I tend to be quite self critical. A good composition and a compelling subject can be left short without quality light. I would rather keep trying and trying, even if some considerable distance is involved. Maybe it's madness, but there is something very satisfying about putting in the extra effort.
That approach is how I eventually made the lead image in this series, being the photograph of Robe Obelisk. Having visited it a decade or so ago, I've been back many times over the years, but thus far had been met with bland clear skies or excessive wind and rain. Finally, on this trip, after a few more attempts, I was given perfect kaleidoscopic colour combined with calm conditions.
The cliffs under the Obelisk are steadily eroding and the local council has decided not to save it. Given this, and the fact that it is a 12 hour return drive, I was very happy to finally come away with this lovely sunset image.
So that wraps it up for this blog. I've just returned from a trip into the mountains looking for some more high-country huts so check back in over the next month or two and hopefully some of those images will make it into the collection.
As always, thanks for reading, and I hope you're all doing okay. What with the bush fires over summer and now virus threats casting a shadow over the world, there is a lot to be worried about. May you find happiness, peace and above all, good health over the coming months.