How to ‘do’ Australian Landscape Photography.
This is something I have been thinking about for a while. Let’s consider what people think about when they hear that term ‘Australian Landscape Photography’ – Uluru, Koalas, Kangaroos and not much else I suspect. Oh, and they have heard of the Barrier Reef. And they sure do know about the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.
Wait a minute! And let me get my teachers pen out Uluru, Koalas, Kangaroos, Barrier Reef, Opera House, Harbour Bridge. So that leaves Uluru – a very long way from anywhere, like a really long way. Also the Barrier Reef, not too easy to photograph as it’s underwater. The rest aren’t exactly Australian Landscape Photography, are they? Cityscapes, wildlife, yes, Australian Landscape Photography no…
I remember when I first stepped off the plane all those years ago and went bush-walking among the gum-filled landscapes around Sydney. The skies were so blue, the trees so green, the rocky escarpments so magnificent. And my landscape photographs were so boring! It took me a while to start to understand the subtleties of the terrain. Likewise out on a boat, the waters are so blue, and the bush terrain around Sydney so green, but again, take landscape photographs and it’s Dull with a Capital D.
So let’s approach from a different angle.
It’s mostly flat (even the ‘mountains’ are generally plateaus), generally dry, can be dusty, and it’s largely barren. As such, panoramic photography is probably the way to go in many cases. With a subtle overall aspect (i.e. it’s hard to find something like the Matterhorn to dominate) you really need to be able to use a kit-bag of techniques to get great images. In addition, that sun which we all love, tends to really increase image contrast – unless you are down in Tasmania. There’s also a lot of it. Sun, that is, which means a whole lot of blue skies which can look very empty on an image. I call it Blue Sky Madness!
Let’s also consider the Outback – it’s true Australian Landscape Photography, but in all honesty I doubt you will be doing much of it – when was the last time you were in the outback?
So I think the key for Australian photography (or landscape photography / nature photography if you are not reading this in Australia) is the Golden Hour, ideally with a few high wispy clouds. In all honesty, I have wasted so much film and processing time over the years trying to get what might be termed ‘good’ images but I have been shooting in the middle of the day.
Go strong on the foreground interest as well, there may not be as much going on in the background. Consider panoramic photography as your real friend.
Other areas of the planet have softer light, more mountainous terrain, faster flowing water and bigger rivers, so for them slightly different rules apply. I actually adopted a different approach to my landscape photography when I was in Tasmania due to the softer light. Tasmania has a less intense Golden Hour, (Go on, there’s a link to click if you didn’t before) and higher terrain.
And there is The Outback
OK – for the once every ten years that you do get into The Outback, you will indeed get Great Aussie Photos, sometimes without even trying.
I hope this helps you think about your approach take great Australian Landscape Photographs!
Thanks for reading.
The Australian Landscape Photographer