So this is an occasional series where give a full account of a particular image… in this case it’s all about real Australian Landscape Photography and capturing the essence of the area you see. In this case not as easy as it sounds…
My original photo story went something like …
Ah, the lure of the Road Trip. This was a mini road trip if you think about it, Mudgee to our home in Sydney. One of our friends we were away with gave us an idea of driving a slight detour through the Capertee Valley.
The drive is, as usual for NSW, made up of many ‘Wow!!!’ moments interspersed with a good few kilometres of trees and bush by the side of the road, which obscure the vistas. I have to say this was amazing though. Deep in a wide canyon, the road unwound before us. The road was part sealed, part dirt, part straight, mostly full of driving bends. Taking photos was a bit more problematical. Farmers own (private!) the land on the canyon floor and grazing abounds. So, many roadside fences means no access and also no foreground even if you are able to lean over a barbed wire fence.
I finally found a field with a more natural look, and here you go… Remember the ingredients to a good image recipe… It should have a front, a middle and a back… Try to leave none out 🙂
A few more details:-
What you don’t see.
As noted in the short story above, as you drive through Capertee Valley you are essentially on a Road Trip. True Australian Landscape Photography territory. The actual canyon when you are inside it was vast, it was really vast and really open. Many kilometres wide. And then there were massive walls rising from the valley floor. The canyon sides were all around us, some near the roadside, some far in the distance. Rock faces reached almost to the sky when you were close to them, and subsided into the trees when viewed from afar.
We stopped frequently – and bless her my Good Lady Wife was most patient – and we left billowing clouds of dust whenever we did so. Here comes the apocalypse! On par with outback roads, it was so dry. We coughed and spluttered like a couple of old farts (ah hem) when we got out of the car. So we very quickly learned to stop, wait, then wait a bit longer and then slowly open the doors and check if we could see anything.
And mostly there was … No Foreground. There would be less foreground than if I was ,say, hanging way over the railing on the QE2 in the Mid-Atlantic – zero, zip zilch. Less foreground than if I was looking out the window from an Apollo spacecraft. It was Difficult. Really Difficult. And ‘pon my word, the Capertee Valley Barbed Wire Fencing Supplies company had a bumper year for sales last year, didn’t they?
How I felt – and what I saw when I was there
As noted above it was vast, it was really vast and really open. And then there were massive walls rising from the valley floor. The canyon sides were all around, some near the roadside, some far in the distance. What I really wanted to do was to instil the idea for the viewer that there was such space on the ground, and yet such majestic cliffs standing over us. I tried so many angles, and so many options, but knew I hadn’t nailed it until the very end. (As an aside, this does take a few years of experience – I rarely get a surprise ‘great shot’ upon review when I didn’t think I had at time of shooting).
We came across a grassy field – all the rest had been mostly dust or barren dust by the roadside – and I literally was hanging my camera way over a barbed wire fence to take this shot. It could have been quite nasty if I had over-balanced even just a fraction. I took a few variations until I got the grasses to ‘sit’ in the foreground of the frame. Yes I could have climbed into a field, but I try not to trespass. I also didn’t see the bull, but then they normally manage to see you first, don’t they?
And I didn’t use a tripod! – I couldn’t, I was over-hanging the wire too much.
What I saw Afterwards
Back home, it was more of an image deletion exercise than anything else to start with. I discarded many frames straight after import (which I don’t normally do especially on a harder-to-reach location) purely due to lack of impact. I was very happy with the foreground, and happy with the overall lines in the image. However, I needed to draw out contrast in the solitary tree, as there were all sorts of green shades which did not reveal enough and turned the mid-ground into mush. A fair bit of green tone massaging, much tweaking to find the correct local contrast adjustment, and I finally got the tree to sit properly, tone-wise.
Am I Happy?
Yes I am. I got the clean lines I was after and the composition is good. Importantly (read here) it has a front, a middle, and a back as all good images should have). I couldn’t quite get the colours in the sky to do what I wanted them to, and may try a mono variation at some point, but all good. Points off for no tripod tho(!) Most importantly it screams ‘Australian Landscape Photography’.
Canon EOS5D Mk III ~ Canon 16-35 F4 @ 16mm (of course) ~ 1/125s ~ F8 ~ ISO 100
The Berowra Photographer.
PS – If you liked reading this and would like to understand some of the techniques that helped, firstly read this – all about using your feet.