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Photographer's Blog - Thursday, June 6, 2019: Autumn Adventures
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This series of images is the result of two trips. The first was a dip into South Australia. Our boy (aged eight) had become interested in caves, so we hatched a plan to find some that boasted stalactites and stalagmites. Only a few hours drive away we came across Princess Margret Rose Cave right on the Victorian border, but photographically speaking had considerably more luck at Tantanoola Cave in South Australia. He loved the place and didn't want to leave.
On way back we spent some time at Mount Gambier and after some exploration managed to come away with a good image of their Blue Lake with its vibrant hues reflecting the setting sunlight.
Some weeks later autumn was upon us and I was able to get away on an extended photographic trip for several days. It began disastrously. Each scene I tried to capture was met with failure. A trestle bridge in Gippsland gave me boring flat light, so I moved on stopping along the coast to scout for ideas.
When I finally arrived at Mallacoota in the far east the state, the destination around which the whole journey had been planned, I had yet to take the camera out of the bag but was determined to gain access to the coast to the north of the little seaside town. On paper it seemed quite logical. A bunch of dirt roads and a well-defined hiking track, but the reality was far from it.
After hours of off-road driving, where the path got crazier by the kilometre, I eventually found the start of the "track". Stepping out of the car two things became instantly apparent. The first was that I was now covered in hundreds of mosquitos. They were all over my face, my arms, in my hair, even down my throat. It was almost unbearable.
Gearing up for the trek I fought them off constantly. Waving my arms about like madman possessed, I headed off at a brisk pace but had gone only a few metres when I hit the next obstacle. The track was a swamp! As in totally submerged. I didn't have gumboots, but I doubt they would have helped. In frustration I climbed back into the car, and spent ages swatting at bugs before driving out again empty handed except for some lovely new scratches on my paintwork.
So, lesson learned. Will I be back? Maybe. Yes, landscape photography requires a certain kind of insanity. Next time I'd approach from the water. I know nothing about boats, however, so that could be even more questionable. Never-the-less, one day I'll manage it.
What happened next? I drove on to Canberra thinking surely, I'd find a cityscape image. I milled around the government buildings in the wee small hours of the morning looking for photographic inspiration, but the light was dull and everything just looked grey.
Quite disheartened, I headed to Jindabyne with a vague plan of capturing the lake. I spent ages walking into places that look tempting, scrambling up crests, and descending to the shore multiple times. Maybe it was my state of mind, but I just couldn't make it work. I was like I'd lost my photographic mojo. What I needed was an injection of creativity. Something guaranteed to spark my interest.
In the dark I drove into Kosciuszko, and made Charlotte Pass well before dawn. It greeted me like an old friend. Here was familiarly born of countless hikes from years gone by. Was it really more than 40 years ago that I'd stood here, holding my father's hand, whilst we had so admired the trees?
It was extremely cold, but completely still. It's never still at this location. A perfect chance to photograph foliage. I hunted about in torchlight looking for something beautiful and it didn't take long. When the sun rose my twisty snow gums were backlit and full of colour. Amazing! As my father would have said, "now we're cooking with gas".
Deeper into the park, near Thredbo, I did a 20km hike into Teddies Hut, ultimately capturing a lovely image and really enjoying the experience. If you're of a mind to try it, the main thing to be aware of is the condition of the "track" which at about the two thirds mark disappears at a river crossing, leaving you to pick your own way through the increasingly soggy terrain.
I managed to keep my feet dry, despite sinking knee level a couple of times, though some others I spoke to had not fared so well. One had taken a dunking trying to jump a section of the stream and another had slipped on a wet rock and incurred a head injury. So, whilst it's a moderately easy walk in terms of gradient and feels considerably less exposed compared to the nearby Kosciuszko summit region, it's not exactly tame either.
On the drive home I came down through Khancoban looking for autumn colours and was not disappointed. I stopped at the lakeside picnic area as I had done many times before, except now it was full of splendid, vibrant yellow. My luck had well and truly turned. I spent the afternoon perfecting a composition and basically soaking in the peace. Even the occasional engine noise from motorboats didn't hinder my good mood.
I spent my last dawn at Bright in Victoria concentrating my efforts on a picnic shed I'd already attempted over a few autumns in the past. This time I had the advantage of a heavy rain, so that the leaves were wet and glistening, as well back lit by the warm low angle sun. A light fog also helped to diffuse the background a little and add a sense of mystery. After a cold night sleeping in the car it was a real treat to capture this scene, and enjoy such a special moment filled with calm and peace.
So that wraps it up for this series. If you've read this far, thanks for listening and as always, I hope you find some moments of serenity in your own lives. Until next time, I wish you all the best.