What's New in February 2023
LARGE Panoramas - Suitable for enormous prints metres wide.
MEDIUM Format - Latest technology. Easily suitable for prints 60 inches and beyond.
In the January of 2023 the lure of New South Wales, with its diverse coastlines and impressive mountains drew us back for yet another dedicated photo trip. We had a little less than two weeks, which is not much for the time consuming art of landscape photography, but we managed to squeeze in quite a few places by reacting to the weather conditions at hand and relocating accordingly.
Our lad (now starting junior high school) was accompanying me on this trip, and given he had never been to the Blue Mountains we ended up spending a good portion of our time there. The most exciting moment came from spending most of a day at Boars Head Rock. This is a rugged lookout near the famous Three Sisters in Katoomba that is accessible via a semi-hidden walking track, which offers vast views over a distant valley.
Positioned on the cliff edge (safely), our boy and I waited patiently hoping for some interesting light. We were not to be disappointed. A massive rain storm which had been building up all day decided to overshadow our scene right on sunset. The velvety blues in the sky were pierced by violent golden light and even lightning strikes across the far ranges.
It was incredibly exciting to witness as the thunderous tempest roiled and raged. However, try as I might I was unable to capture a strike despite hundreds of frames, but at least that gave me lots from which to choose. The image included here contained the most mood and drama.
Before long the rain caught us and we were hammered as nature unleashed a drenching along with driving winds. I don not think we have ever packed up so quickly! We tried huddling under umbrellas for a few minutes, peering out like tortoises, then gave up and ran for the car.
Whilst in the Blue Mountains we also had success at the aptly named Sunset Rock Lookout near Mount Victoria. With our lenses pointed straight at the setting sun, the sky really kicked off with vivid reds and warm hues. Landscape photography trips in the summer can be a little disappointing in terms of lack of clouds, so this was a real treat. If you want to escape the crowds this lookout is a good choice, just be aware that parking is very limited.
In the Katoomba region we had a day of cloudlessness and figured why not try a waterfall for evening instead of a big vista. This ended up being a great choice. I found Minnehaha Falls on the map and having never been there before, we hiked in without any expectations. There was a little drizzling rain that came out of nowhere, despite the lack of cloud, and that had two amazing impacts. Firstly it thinned out the volume of young people on the track heading home from a swim, and more importantly it caused the golden light to catch this fine misty spray and make the whole scene sparkle and come to life, particularly the backlit trees.
We spent a good number of days north of Sydney hunting for compositions, most of which did not end with a gallery worthy image. We got as far as Rawson Falls near Port Macquarie before turning back and heading south again. The falls needed more water flow, but the walk in through a jungle-like rain forest was amazing and our boy had some good luck with his wildlife photography, capturing some little yellow robins that had him very animated.
On the way back the weather turned in our favour and fortune provided my favourite image of this series being that of Shoal Bay from Tomaree Head. Having shot this scene successfully before I was quite relaxed, but when it became clear that the light was going to play ball I was grinning from ear to ear. With both of us shooting side by side, our tripods crammed onto the iron walk-way, it became a question of people management. Tourists would, quite understandably, wish to walk passed our position every few minutes, but that caused micro vibrations sufficient to ruin a shot. Being a perfectionist and knowing I need sharp images in the hundreds of megapixels, I had to find a solution quickly.
With some experimentation we determined the danger zone was limited to the section of metal on which we stood, roughly three metres wide. Allowing for subsidence that gave us a window between passers-by, and a means of capturing tack sharp frames. The light was spectacular making the already impressive scene look wildly beautiful, and dare I say it, out doing my previous version. I really wanted to spend more time photographing the area, but the forecast was against us again, so we moved on, heading south once more.
I cannot recall exactly but we did at least one dawn in Newcastle which resulted in the image of Merewether Ocean Baths in this series. In this photograph I really love the deep blue tones combined with that spike of pink and magenta. I was really pleased with how this image came out, given the complexities of capturing it. The place becomes crazy popular very quickly of a morning. Fortunately, I was shooting pre-dawn at the peak of the colour, and got the shot just before the baths were inundated with swimmers. I tend to be quite slow and methodical with camera field work, and knowing this will arrive well ahead of dawn by at least an hour. So my hot tip for this location is to get there early.
The next day found us at Bouddi National Park near Killcare. My trips to this area have been mainly focused on capturing a good image of the tessellated pavement. These colourful rock formations make for a fantastic foreground element if you can find a good patch under the right light. Eventually I was rewarded an exquisitely soft twilight which caught the last of the reflected sunset colour. Using the medium format GFX 100s, I had to focus stack, but that gave me incredible detail from front to back. You can see individual grains of rock in the immediate foreground but still see the leaves on the trees in the background.
Back down near Sydney we explored places like Avalon and Palm Beach, but the light was once again giving us empty blue skies. Treating it as scouting time we logged several compositions to return to, before eventually finding our way to Upper Gledhill Falls in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, which I was pleasantly surprised to find in good form. There were too many people initially, but as evening wore on, they vanished leaving us to work in peace. I was quite taken by the green hue to the water and the reflections of the rocks. If you are coming to this location, just be aware that parking is extremely limited and there is a rock scramble involved that would require supervision of any young children.
Nearly out of time, we headed south, though Kosciusko and along the east coast, revisiting some of the places like Bermagui that we have been working on for some time. Alas the light was not with us, and we came back into Victoria through Melbourne a day or so later with no further images other than test shots. Never-the-less the experiences we had had together, and memories gained were still with us, and buoyed our spirits greatly for weeks afterwards. Even now, writing this blog, I can recall little moments, like myself freaking out over a leach on my arm at Rawson Falls, or huddled under umbrellas whilst a storm hammered us in the Blue Mountains laughing all the while. Good times.
I love the adventure of being out in the field thinking maybe there is a great photograph just around the corner. The vast majority of my life is spent sitting in front of computer working just to keep ahead of the bills. Time in the field with my camera, exploring nature, no matter how brief, makes me feel alive and washes away all the stress. I can highly recommend even just a few minutes of walking under some trees in a local park to lift your mental state.
So that is it for this blog. I have a several images coming that were captured locally, mostly on the Great Ocean Road here in Victoria, so tha