Towards the end of 2023 an opportunity arose to spend ten days on a landscape photography trip. Keen as ever, our boy joined me, and we set off in high spirits, the open road ahead of us and that awesome feeling of freedom and endless photographic possibilities.
Unfortunately we were plagued by the landscape photographer's nemesis, empty blue skies. The whole journey was one bright sunny day after another. I understand most would actually enjoy such fortunes, but for me clouds are like icing on a cake when it comes to landscape photographs, particularly big vistas.
We headed down to Mornington Peninsula south of Melbourne, and did a pre-dawn hike into Bush Rangers bay to have another go at a composition I had been working on atop a rocky outcrop. The light, as I said, did not play ball, but at least we did not get cut off by the tide and have to wade through an icy ocean to affect our escape. Memories of that outcome from last time had me triple checking the tide chart. On this occasion our feet stayed dry, but the image was a bust without clouds. (If anyone else is attempting this scene, please be mindful of the delicate plants).
From here we drove into Wilsons Promontory and spent a day hiking about. The day started with a dawn shoot at Tidal River footbridge, but it was so windy that nothing could be shot, and the sunset on the beach of Norman Bay, whilst pretty with Mt Oberon behind it, did not excite me without clouds. That said, we had a great time trying. Wilsons Prom really is the jewel in the crown and popular for a reason.
We captured what we could and then drove on, all the way to Bemm River in the far east of Victoria. A sleepy little fishing town, remote and tiny, sounded just the ticket, but a dawn spent milling around a little pier covered in bird poo, in the hopes of nice light, came to nothing. At least nothing photographically. In terms the experience it was quite enjoyable with a wealth of bird life all around us and the morning to ourselves. Pelicans, cormorants, magpies and more, sang, swooped and surrounded us as the sun rose casting golden light and warming our souls.
Needing a win, I decided to head north to Bermagui, a place that has never failed to deliver the goods. This time was no exception. We turned up in the afternoon, too tired to do much but wander down to the beach. Amazingly that decision proved to be a fortunate one as the light, finally, gave us something special. The image of Bermagui Main Beach under soft pastel hues resulted.
In the morning we walked through the dark and got into position in front of Camel Rock. Spying clouds in the sky was a rare treat on this trip and had me excited to see what sunrise might bring. The tide was low, offering a variety of foreground options, but it was a gorgeous vibrant blue rock pool that caught my eye. Incredibly rich warm colours in the sky reflected in this little pool creating the most wonderful blue/orange contrast, just as direct golden light spot lit Camel Rock. What a cracker of a scene!
Over the next few days we drove all the way south-west back through coastal Victoria, hunting for new locations to photograph. Whilst we turned up for every sunrise and sunset, nothing came of it but more empty cloudless skies. Finally, towards the end of the journey we found ourselves in the seaside city of Warrnambool, staring at a promising forecast for the following morning. The area has quite a few coastal scenes worth photographing, but most require a specific tide level, so instead we decided to opt for Hopkins Falls.
At 90 metres, Hopkins Falls is one of the widest waterfalls in Victoria, thus presenting something of a challenge to compose. We stalked around in the dark of pre-dawn using torches to try and find a good spot. For once the forecast was accurate and the sky ignited with an amazingly colourful display, though only for short span of five minutes. Ample time, however, to capture the magenta-yellow image in this series. I love the way a slightly long exposure depicts the water movement, swirling around in circles before heading downstream.
On our last day we decided to spend the morning at Beauchamp Falls. Having photographed these falls so many times I have long since lost count, my expectations during this visit where quite low. The sky was blue and cloudless yet again, which generally speaking are the worst conditions for waterfalls as it can cause overly bright dappled light with harsh shadows. Most photographers wait until overcast days, but on this trip clouds had been non-existent for many days, so we hiked in anyway.
Incredibly that direct sunlight I had been trying to avoid, decided to offer something quite special. Caught by the water spray from the falls, it beamed into the scene, dancing across the misty air and creating the most fantastic streaming light rays. I started on one side of the river, and as the sun rose, moved into the centre and then eventually onto the opposite bank, doing everything I could to maximise the amazing conditions. What a morning!
I should also mention an earlier trip, being a late winter hike I made up to Mt Bogong under a heavy snow cover. From Mountain Creek Campground I took the steep Staircase Spur trail, a challenging route and a serious undertaking particularly in winter when whiteout conditions are common. Originally I had hope to make it all the way to Cleve Cole Hut, but unfortunately the summit area proved way too windy and dangerous, so I aborted and hiked back down. On the decent I was able to capture an image of Bivouac Hut, as a consolation prize. I will be back up to try again another year, though carrying less camera gear and watching that wind forecast more carefully.
Right so, that is it for now. If you made it this far, thanks for reading and I hope you also find a little adventure in nature, or at least a quiet moment of peace under some trees to de-stress.