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Photographer's Blog - Sunday, March 3, 2019: Glass House Mtns & More
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It's been a couple of months since my last blog because it's taken that long to find enough time to work on the images in this series. Being detail oriented, and probably obsessive, I can easily spend two days solid processing a single photograph to bring it up to a standard that is ready for huge prints.
Knowing that I tend to be very selective, avoiding pulling the camera out unless the scene really speaks to me and returning again and again until the light is perfect. Even then I'm ruthless with the delete button, often discarding work that took days and dollars to capture. So to come back from a ten day photography trip with this many keepers is quite satisfying.
The inspiration for this 5000km drive came from the realisation that I hadn't really explored the Glass House Mountains near Brisbane yet, despite their popularity. I'd climbed there long ago as a young man, and returned for the odd hike, but what I wanted was a photograph that showed off their grandeur.
When I finally arrived, after driving across three states, I knew in my mind that I wanted to shoot long and include the full mountain range. I spent the first day scouting lookouts and walking up a couple of the more accessible peaks, before narrowing my choices down to two compositions; One Tree Hill and Wild House Mountain lookout.
With limited time, I allowed myself one day on each, staying from dawn to dusk each time to maximise potential. I'm a sucker for a good "lone tree" image and I can see why this scene is popular with local wedding parties; however I was totally blown away by the majesty that presented itself on the next day atop Wild House Mountain. The view towards the Glass House range is spectacular under normal conditions, but adding a dramatic storm and the setting sun right on cue - well it's a recipe for landscape photography heaven. What a glorious sight, worth all the effort and expense.
Above: For anyone wanting to really fill a wall I've an alternative version of this scene covering a wider aspect ratio.
Before leaving the Brisbane area and heading south again, I had a chance to try to a mangrove tree image. I'd explored the Moreton Bay area on the way up and had already invested some precious dawns into it, but figured I had one last one to spare. As luck would have it, the effort paid off and I came away with great light, but it's probably the fun dodging the tide that I'll remember the most. Living inland, the idea of wading out into the ocean with a camera is something of a novelty.
Obviously the trip there and back took days, so I tried to plan each sunrise and sunset along the way. Driving at night and scouting in the dark was a useful approach, and it was on one such adventure that I came away with the picture of Dunns Swamp overlooking the Cudgegong River in Wollemi National Park, not far from Sydney.
Scrambling up Pagoda rock formations in the dark might seem a strange thing to do, but the moon was quite bright so that made it easier to pick out potential compositions. The cicadas echoed loudly as I searched, exploring the river from low and high vantage points. There are several phone apps (Photo Pills, TPE, etc.) that will tell you exactly where the sun will be at any location and point in time. Using these tools, I was setup ready and waiting when the first light of a new day filled the valley with colour. Superb!
I should also mention my Mount Kaputar photo because the summit view is remarkable taking in the Grattai Wilderness and Moree to the north, Liverpool Ranges and Boomi Creek to the east and the vast plains of Ningadhun to the west. What's more, you get all of this from a lookout you can drive right up to. Be aware, however, the said drive, whilst sealed, isn't for the faint of heart. At least at the time of writing this there's a few places where two cars cannot pass each other and something of a death plunge one side. Take it slow and turn your lights on.
On the final leg home I stopped, as many do, in Gundagai to refuel and break up the journey. The hour was late already, so I did what I've done many times before, and tried to make something out of their railway trestle bridge for sunset. It's one of those places that just says "photograph me", and yet despite probably a dozen attempts I'd nothing really to show for it. This time, however, I believe my luck changed, giving me one last keeper for the trip.
So that about wraps it up. I hope, as always, that you find time in your own lives to steal some peace and maybe explore the outdoors. The experience, however brief, is sure to provide contentment.
Good night, dear readers.