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Photographer's Blog: Friday, August 6, 2021
Trees, Falls and Views
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As Victoria enters lockdown number six, I find myself with enough time to write up the last couple of photography trips, which were embraced with enthusiasm in the days prior to lockdown five, when local travel was permitted. Vaccinated with a double jab of Pfizer, I had a cautious sense of optimism, though every opportunity to avoid people was made – something quite easy to do when the purpose of the trip is to explore remote natural environments.
The first destination to fall under my photographic eye was a return to Little River Gorge up in the Snowy River National Park somewhat near the little country town of Buchan. Victoria's deepest gorge is a wonderous sight to behold, more so because it is so hidden away. This all but forgotten marvel resides down a lonely backcountry road, miles from anywhere, in a part of East Gippsland that most would not even know exists.
Not quite happy with the official lookout platform, I decided I needed to face the setting sun to catch some colour and drama. One afternoon looked very promising, so I set up an anchor system, put on my climbing harness and safely positioned myself right on the very lip of the cliff. With the camera set up and the tripod and I both tied off, it was easy enough to sit and wait for the conditions, which as luck would have it, arrived right on cue.
Shooting straight into the sun can be tricky. In this case the whole gorge was pitch-black if I exposed for the sky, and lens flare threatened to overwhelm the scene. Fortunately, there are tried and true ways to overcome both these hurdles, and I'm very pleased with the final image which has subtle details like the textures in the river below.
Whilst in the area Little River Falls was also granted some attention. Having failed to obtain a good image during previous visits I was determined, and again harnessed up so I could reach the very lip of a precipitous drop. Peering over the cliff edge, with the rocks damp from water spray, the slightest bump would have sent my precious new medium format camera spinning to the depths below, so I tied it off as well. The image required exposure bracketing, focus stacking and blending different shutter speeds to blur the water whilst holding the foliage still. The result, with lovely fine detail and gentle shades, hopefully does the scene justice.
Whilst in the east of the state, I couldn't resist and a return to Tarra-Bulga National Park. The mossy tangle of rainforest is so picturesque, and one tree in particular was on my reshoot list. It was a few decades ago that I first caught sight of this lovely myrtle beech, bending its branches towards the light. I'm pleased to say this remarkable specimen is still standing, despite many storms, looking much the same as it did in my youth. Reshooting it today with the latest equipment yielded an image rich with detail and colour, even in the bright highlights and deep shadows. Photography equipment may have progressed, but happily the experience of standing under this old friend remained the same.
Down at the coast a quick dip into Wilsons Promontory yielded one rather enormous panoramic image. I was keen to try something different and decided to shoot exceedingly wide, taking in a field of view greater than 180 degrees. The resulting image contains a staggeringly large resolution and shows us more of the scene than we would normally see even with our peripheral vision.
Finally, I should mention the headline act of this series being the photograph of Lake Elizabeth which sits nestled on the East Barwon River in the Great Otway National Park, along Victoria's Great Ocean Road. Surrounding the lake is a clear, well maintained walking path that takes a couple of hours to complete but is a real treat.
Although this location is only a few short hours from home, it had been decades since my last visit. Reacquainting myself with the scene I found many of the partially submerged trees had gone, but there were still enough to make a cracking good image under the right conditions. On this trip our boy and I found ourselves poised on the lake shore witnessing glorious mist over a super still reflection. I was so enchanted I failed to notice water creeping over the top of my boots, but even wet socks and a sloshy walk out could not dampen my spirits.
So that's it for this report. Where we'll head next, I'm not sure. I was very keen for a snow hike this year (well away from ski resorts and people) but given the current restrictions it may not happen. Fingers crossed there will be more adventures in the future and more images to show you.
Until then, I wish you all the best, dear readers, and hope you and your family stay safe, employed, and manage to navigate the highs and lows of homeschooling once more.