At a bit of a loose end we decided to go out on the Goldfields Road to Tammin. The town’s sole raison d’être is the transportation of the surrounding areas grain crops. The grain bins and railway siding around which the town is built are the key features of the town. With the increasing industrialisation of modern agriculture farms have got bigger and bigger and employ less and less people so like many rural areas although generating a lot of wealth the town is in decline.
When I first got interested in photography I was living in the South East of England which is a very verdant and prosperous region. Naturally the first photographers who caught my eye were British ones like David Bailey, Snowdon, Patrick Litchfield and Terrance Donovan.As I went on I discovered more socially aware photographers such as Chris Killip, Graham Smith and Don McCullin. I remember going to see Killip and Smith’s exhibition “Another Country” in 1985 and being absolutely blown away by the subject matter and the quality of the work – it was one of transcendent experiences and it altered my perception of what photography could be dramatically. It was quite a while before I turned my attention to non British photographers. When I first saw the work of Walker Evans, Robert Frank, Joel Sternfeld, Stephen Shore, and Robert Adams I couldn’t really relate to the subject matter. Their vision and representation of the USA was one that was completely foreign to me and outside that which the mainstream media presented. It wasn’t until I migrated to Australia and started to explore the rural areas seldom visited by tourists that the penny finally dropped. I started to see similar scenes and over time I have attempted to capture them. I’m never quite sure whether it should be in black and white or colour so I find myself fluctuating between the two mediums and never quite happy with the results.
Which brings us to the photos in this post. They are just a small sample of the photos that I took on our road trip to Tammin. At first I processed them as colour and felt that the colour detracted from the starkness that I saw and felt. I then tried monochrome. When I worked in the darkroom I liked to use Ilford Multigrade FB warm tone glossy paper and that is a look I try to replicate with my digital images albeit without much success. When Ilford’s digital media arm Harman Technology introduced their warm tone gloss baryta inkjet paper I thought that my prayers had been answered and I used it for a couple of exhibitions I did. It was a sad day when it was discontinued – I still have 5 sheets of A3+, not enough to do any proper work. So now I try to replicate the look in AlienSkin Exposure 4 which is what I have done with these photos. The problem is that while it looks OK on screen when you translate it to printed media it does work as it is not subtle enough. Perhaps the photos should have stayed in colour after all.
I got a few enquiries about corellas after my post Tales From The Riverbank part 2. Yes the Shire has previously culled the birds in the run up to Australia Day, but this year they didn’t. The reasons given are that they are noisy – I mean really noisy. To show how noisy I made a short film about them.
The Great Divide in Tasmania on the Lyell Highway marks the point where the geology of the Tasmania changes from the quartzite in the west to the dolerite of the east. It also marks where the weather systems of Tasmania change from the Roaring 40’s of the west to the moisture laden winds from the Southern Ocean. Sounds a bit boring when you describe it like that, but when you see the King William Ranges rising out of the button grass moorlands and bogs it all takes on a majestic splendour. As you drive along the Lyell Highway there is a lay-by which is quite popular, next to it is an information sign explain what the Great Divide is. Hardly anyone reads the sign, they are all too busy looking at and photographing the scenery.
There’s no doubt about it Australians love a dam. Build one and the accompanying recreation area will be full of happy Aussies burning sausages while commenting sagely on rainfall and water levels. On our recent jaunt around the Tasmanian North West we stopped at Tarraleah to admire the hydro and the Art Deco cottages that were built to house the workers when being constructed. They are now part of a swank resort where you can admire massive pipes and electricity pylons as they cross the valley.
The building of the dams polarised the community and gave birth to Australian green politics and the conservation of the Tasmanian Wilderness. Sounds odd doesn’t it? Renewable energy is supposed to be good for the environment, but not when you destroy the wilderness and make entire species extinct in the process. The Hydro Electric Commission (HEC) was set up in 1914 to capitalise on Tasmania’s topography and high rainfall which made it eminently suitable for the generation of hydro-electricity. The whole thing progressed smoothly until the HEC wanted to build three dams on the Upper Gordon River with the aim of attracting industry to the State with the incentive of cheap energy. In December 1982, the Franklin River dam site was occupied by protesters, leading to widespread arrests and world-wide dismay and condemnation. The Hydro and the Tassie government were dismissive of any criticism and saw it as outsiders meddling in Tasmanian affairs. As happened in 1930’s America where the photographs of the High Sierras by Ansel Adams were paramount in changing public opinion and convincing politicians to do more to conserve the natural environment, the photographs of Peter Dombrovskis brought the spectacular Tassie wilderness to the attention of the wider public and they were used in a media campaign that helped bring down the government of Malcolm Fraser at the 1983 election. The new government, under Bob Hawke, had promised to stop the dam from being built. The resulting stoush between the Tasmanian State government and the Australian Federal government ended up going all the way to the High Court which ended up as landmark decision in favour of the federal government. The building of the dams gave birth to Australian green politics and the conservation of the the Tasmanian Wilderness.
Cradle Mountain is without doubt the most iconic wilderness areas in Tasmania. Situated in the Cradle Mountain – Lake St. Clair National Park, which is in the Tasmanian World Heritage Area, which covers approximately 1,584,000 hectares and represents about 1/5 of the area of the island state of Tasmania. Cradle Mountain is located in the Central Highlands and is 165 Km north-west of Hobart the state’s capital city. The park is world-famous for the Overland Track which runs for 65 km from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair and attracts some 6000 walkers per year. That figure pails into insignificance when you consider that 170,000 people visit the park annually and the majority of them just to see one thing – the rugged majesty of crescent-shaped peaks of Cradle Mountain and its neighbour Little Horn reflected perfectly in the waters of Dove Lake which lies at their feet. There is a slight snag to this, the weather conditions at Cradle Mountain are fickle – this is Tasmania after all – and the conditions that provide such imagery only happen on average about fifty days per year. Season doesn’t guarantee and success as snow and low-lying cloud can occur in summer so basically you have an approximately one in seven chance. At the southern end of the park is Lake St Clair (which Tasmania’s indigenous people called Leeawuleena which translates as “sleeping water”) and the southern terminus of the Overland Track. The lake was formed in the last ice age and is the deepest in Australia. Despite the rugged beauty this part of the park does not receive as many visitors as Cradle Mountain, probably because it takes a little more effort to see things and also because it just doesn’t have that certain je ne sais quoi its northern neighbour does.
On our arrival at Cradle Mountain there was low-lying cloud and constant drizzle – what the Irish would call a soft day. Wet enough to soak you through to the skin despite a Gore-tex within 2 or 3 hours, but not enough to stop you having an enjoyable hours walk, so we did two of the short walks – Enchanted Forest and the King Billy Pine walk. The Enchanted forest walk was as you expect from the name enchanting, walking along side a small stream through the rain forest. The King Billy Pine walk takes you to look at an amazing tree, it is over 40 metres tall and the gnarly buttressed roots and shaggy moss covering made it look like one of the Ents from Lord of The Rings and is estimated to be 1500 years old. It was mind-boggling to think that when the cathedral in my home town of Chichester was founded in 1075 AD that this tree was already 600 years old.. The park is a veritable biosphere, the list of native species is truly spectacular, both flora and fauna wise. In fact most visitors to the park don’t realise that it is a fabulous wildlife watching destination. Most of Tasmania’s large marsupials can be found here including wombats, Bennett’s Wallabies, pademelons, Tasmanian Devils and platypuses. Despite the ground being thick with wombat droppings there was no other sign of them, but we did see a Bennett’s Wallaby and her joey on our way back to the car.
On our second day we decided just to walk around Dove Lake which is supposed to be just 6km long, flat and only take two hours. This would hopefully give me chance to get a photo of the iconic view and experience some more of the alpine environment. The classic view is the one from the boat shed, which is quite near the car park, which means most visitors don’t do the walk but just head straight to it. As it turned out the track was not flat, this is Tasmania after all, and as well as the broad walk over sensitive areas there was a lot of climbing up and down scree covered slopes which was hard on the hips and knees. Although listed as easy we were both quite pooped when we got to the boat shed and me phaffing about taking photos gave us a welcome rest before the last leg back to the car. So did I get the perfect shot? No. The peaks were shrouded in cloud and the wind was creating waves on the lake so there were no reflections. But having said that with the equipment I had, the conditions and the time available I’m happy with the shots I got. For me they represent something of the day-to-day experience of Cradle Mountain.
The other day we were staying at Cradle Mountain National Park and we decided to walk around Dove Lake which is one of the iconic short walking trails in Tasmania. So we drove into the park proper and up to Rommy Creek in the hope of seeing a wombat or two. We walked around the creek and I fell fulcrum over apex and landed on a big clump of button grass. I didn’t hurt myself and I was remarkably unscathed, not even dirty, but my camera wouldn’t work. Blimey! Here am I in one of the most photogenic places in the world and my camera packs up. This was the first time I’ve gone on a trip with only one camera body. All sorts of thoughts run through my head like drive back home to get another camera (a seven hour round trip), or drive to Launceston to buy a new one. I frantically mashed a few buttons in the hope it would respond – nothing. I took the battery out and replaced it with a fresh one, still nothing. Oh bugger! I took the battery out and unmounted the lens and we drove the rest of the way up to Dove Lake with Helen trying to console me and saying not to fret. While she visited the loo I signed us in for the walk track. On getting back to the car I tried one last time to get the camera to work, I put a genuine Olympus battery in and immediately heard the IBIS whir into action, I looked through the viewfinder, took a couple of frames of the car park and everything seemed to be working. What a relief! The pictures were not anything great but I have never been so relieved to see a photo.
I’m going to preface this entry with the statement that most post processing is a matter of personal taste and that there are a hundred and one different ways of editing an image in Photoshop to get the same result. If this doesn’t appeal to you, or I do things differently to you it doesn’t mean I’m right and you’re wrong, nor does it mean you’re right and I’m wrong.
I have posted this because I got a lot enquiries about how I make my images and whether the colours captured are real or not. So the image below is a straight jpg conversion of the RAW file that came off my memory card. All I’ve done is reduce the size and convert to sRGB. The original exposure was made on an Olympus Pen EP-5 with OLYMPUS M.12-50mm F3.5-6.3 lens. A Cokin 2 stop soft graduated neutral density filter was used to hold back the sky. Exposure: 3.2 s at f/11.0 ISO 200 in manual exposure mode.
The video below shows how I work on the file in Adobe Lightroom 5.7 , Adobe Photoshop CS5.04, Alien Skin Exposure 3, Nik Soft’s Dfine 2 and Color Efex Pro 4. I use these products because I like them and have paid for them with my own money.
The finished image.
Clicking on the image will take you through to my gallery. I hope that you found this helpful.
There was no post last weekend as I was wagging web duties and out on the Tasman Peninsular. The peninsular is the sticky out bit on the bottom of the eastern coast of Tasmania. It is an area of outstanding beauty, it has a wild and dramatic coastline, incredible wildlife and an emotionally charged colonial history. It is a photographers paradise with seemingly unlimited possibilities. If you are visiting this part of the world please don’t do the usual tourist itinerary – visit Port Arthur, the Tasmanian Devil Park at Taranna and then head back that afternoon to Hobart. Certainly visit the afore-mentioned attractions, and also treat yourself to the Pennicott Tasman Island Cruise (which is just brilliant), but take a few days to explore the region and you will be rewarded with a memorable experience.
As always clicking on an image will take to my online gallery.
After my post on familiarity and Chichester Cathedral I got a few comments about the use of Cokin Filters and after answering them I thought it would be fun to dig them out again and shoot some landscapes. There’s no HDR or tone mapping each photo is the result of a single exposure. Processed in Adobe Lightroom 5 and Alien Skin Exposure 3 to simulate Fuji Velvia 50.