What's New in March 2021
LARGE Panoramas - Suitable for enormous prints metres wide.
With no pandemic restrictions on inter-state travel we could have spread our wings a bit these last few months. Whether it was a health thing or a fear of last-minute rule changes requiring expensive quarantining, it just did not happen. In any case, staying local within Victoria yet again, produced some great photographic opportunities.
The headline act of this little ensemble of images, would have to that of Cape Liptrap Lighthouse. I first visited this location two or three years ago and was immediately enamoured with the photographic potential of the tiny lighthouse against the huge, bleak cliffs and remote coastline. In my mind the scene promised to be epic, but every attempt I made was met with frustration, primarily from near constant and ridiculously fierce winds in combination with a lack of suitable clouds.
I lost count of the number of times that I waited in position, hunkered down against the rocks careful to avoid delicate vegetation, whilst the wind howled and raged. I recall sometimes doing the walk from the carpark to the lighthouse in high hopes, barely a light breeze blowing, only to discover the cliffs and the ocean had whipped up their own weather system. On one occasion the gale was so strong crawling was required to make any progress.
However, whilst travelling through the region with our boy to work on new images, we found ourselves with a day spare and nothing planned. My expectations were so low by now, I was treating it as just an adventure, and packed the gear for the exercise. As we walked down, I kept thinking, the wind will kick in any minute. But no, it was eerily still.
The sky was heavily covered with storm clouds, but a thin gap existed so I knew there was a chance of getting the light and cloud combination I wanted. We waited, and as luck would have it, there was a moment, lasting only a minute or two in which the scene was illuminated in gold. Yes! I had to work fast, but I got it, right down to the details in the grass and the motion of the waves.
Also, in the south Gippsland region we spent a fair number of days trying to make something out of Welshpool's historic long jetty. Again, the challenging factor proved to be fierce and seemingly ever-present coastal winds. During some attempts, the gale was so wild that not only was it impossible to steady a tripod, but we would be lucky to stand at all.
Finally, one evening we were lined up at what was becoming a very familiar setting. The jetty angled away from our lenses leading the viewer's eye towards the setting sun, which just needed some colour. Incredibly, this time there was little to no wind. People were taking advantage of the weather, strolling up and down the long deck. Fishermen were busy, couples walked arm in arm, children played, and one brave soul even went for a dip.
We waited, then lo and behold the sun found a gap in the clouds and right on cue the scene transformed into a spectacular display. We both shot right into twilight, but I preferred the cloud shapes that sunset provided. Lovely!
Still in the east of the state we finally got an image of Kilcunda Trestle Bridge after so many dawns there that it was getting embarrassing. You guessed it, weather issues. The residents must be made of stern stuff, that is all I can say. Fortunately, the location is just about perfect in terms of distance from home and proximity to the highway, that stopping there at the start or end of a trip had become simple enough. The problem now is that knowing the scene so well, I also know there are at least two other great compositions, so we will probably be back one day.
Okay, so over to our side of the city, by which I mean western Victoria, we focused our efforts mainly on the coast. Most of that work will require return trips, but the London Arch on the Great Ocean Road did yield something special. Having spent most of a rainy afternoon in the carpark playing "Battleships" with our lad, we were starting to think the storm would never abate. Finally, with only a few minutes before sunset the downpour that was hammering the vehicle and rocking it side to side, suddenly eased.
We leapt out of the car and scrambled to don layers, including thermals, ski-pants, and insulated jackets. Thus, protected against the gale, we fought our way to the overlook and proceeded to lash tripods to the heavy metal handrails. With a solid base beneath us and my whole body braced against a big umbrella, the camera was stable, yielding tack sharp detail, even for the 8 second exposure needed for this image.
At one point I yelled, partly to gain the strength needed to hold on and partly out of sheer joy at the raw experience. The last of the sunlight forced its way through a gap in the storm clouds, which moved from right to left at such a pace I had to reshoot continuously. This gave me the flexibility to pick the most balanced composition afterwards, since my entire concentration was focused on blocking the wind. With the light fading the rain came back. We packed gear frantically and ran for the car, soaking wet after only a minute or two, but with big grins on our faces. An evening to remember.
On another trip we headed into the Howqua Hills region near Mansfield like we had done many times before, with a view towards capturing an image of Upper Jamieson Hut. This time, however, I was determined to not chicken out over the little river crossing after hours of dirt track driving. The Forester only has a certain amount of clearance and I had seen videos of vehicles almost swept downstream.
Arriving in the dark I walked down and checked it out. The water was low. So low I could almost walk across in gumboots. We forged it with ease and were greeted with some lovely golden light of dawn that highlighted the trees surrounding the hut. Nice!
The last image in this series that I will mention is that of the storm poised over Mt Abrupt in the Grampians. It was a particularly hot and humid day at the end of a long photography trip. The idea of a hike was floated, but the weather was so draining that neither our boy nor I could summon the energy. A quick check of the forecast revealed significant thunderstorms, so we decided to write it off as a rest day.
We stopped at Dunkeld for supplies and chose a viewpoint to relax and wait. As the afternoon wore on, we napped or read, a welcome break from the previous few day's activity. When the thunderstorm arrived, we sat on the tailgate with our tripods set up and shot through the rain.
It was quite an exciting experience. Lightning struck in the distance (though unfortunately not over my composition). At times, the mountains were all but invisible behind the downpour, but as the storm eased and the sun began to set, the hills were revealed once more, and the scene took on a dramatic glow. With the heavy clouds departing, and the light fading we packed up and headed for home very happy with the trip and the last rest day.
So that is it for this report. As always, thanks for reading and I hope the rest of the year finds you healthy and safe. In the next post I might (emphasis on might), have some work to show you from a newly acquired Fujifilm medium format camera. This will mean something of a departure from the panoramic format and a return to the square look. With a massive resolution the camera should provide an ability for me to deliver wall sized prints to my customers, with a more traditional aspect ratio. I am particularly looking forward to adding more vertical images to the gallery.
All the best until next time!