A Snowy Mountains Photo Guide
It doesn’t happen often… a chance, work-wise, to take a couple of extra weeks off to basically have to myself. I doubt I have done this in decades. I decided I would decamp for five nights to the Snowies, and see what images I could create.
Why did I choose the Snowies? Well, there is a lack of seascapes, which some might say are all-too-easy wins. Off season there are accommodation bargains to be had. The landscape is ‘different’, so therein lies a challenge…. it gets me out of my ‘easy ways’. Who said landscape photographs were easy? I thought at the outset that it would both be possible to shoot in good weather ( i.e. Blue Sky Madness), but also when the weather was not so good. The coast can be a unforgiving party venue if grey is the way.
After I had booked my well-priced accommodation, I then set about doing some research. Hmmm… maybe I should have done that the other way round. If you google ‘Ken Duncan Snowies’, there is not a lot! There are few archetypal images to be found of the Snowies outside of Macho Snowboarders and Snow Bunnies. Those are all taken in winter. Outside of winter it all becomes much more intangible. So what should I take photographs of?
The short answer is I didn’t really know. I had previously loved the area around Charlotte Pass ( note no ‘s’ as in Charlotte’s) and wanted to go back and recapture some of my old film images of the snow gums. Likewise I had great memories of the river cascading over rocks in the wilds above the village at Thredbo. So they were ‘musts’. I also recalled lovely babbling streams dotting the landscape, which I thought would be oh-so photogenic captures as miniatures.
The Essential Snowies
However, within a short time of being there I was amazed by what I now see (with landscape photographers eyes ) that are the essential Snowies:-
- The area is Flat. I mean it’s Really Flat. It might be called ‘mountains’ but there really aren’t any distinct jagged or even slightly pointy peaks. None.
- The babbling brooks or streams, whilst they do babble indeed, are truly in miniature, and doth not make great waterfall-type nature photography images.
- There are vast expanses of area to cover. Hours of driving before sunrise from my central location in Jindabyne led to many locations being a write-off before I even thought about them. The huts, in particular, are nowhere near the towns, and would demand serious effort (driving and then walking) for a dawn or dusk shoot.
- Dams, as opposed to lakes, really do not have picturesque shorelines. Lapping water doesn’t have the same impact as crashing waves, either.
- Much of the land outside the National Parks is fenced. Oh, if only I had shares in barbed wire fencing companies. So a lot of the lovely boulders that dot the area are not accessible unless you trespass.
However! My approach paid off despite my first learnings above…
Lake Jindabyne is wonderful, and Lake Eucumbene is a winner a well. Water and reflections are on the money for any Landscape Photographer.
Inside the Kosciusko National Park, and the terrain suddenly becomes Wild with a capital W.
All year round you can guarantee the Brooks will Babble.
The Great Outdoors
Vast expanses of openness, interspersed with gorgeous gums, both Snow and Other, make for endless subject material. If you get some nice light, well, that’s wonderful bonus as well. Astro and Astrophotography? – did I say clear skies and the Milky Way shining bright?
A Typical Day
I also thought it would be interesting to note how a sample day whilst on ‘holiday’ goes:-
- 3am alarm for Milky Way photos by the lake followed by a sunrise photo shoot. Make that a 5am alarm if just sunrise.
- Back to hotel by 8am – breakfast, back to bed for an hour or so.
- Wake 10am, relax, read, ‘luxury’ of lunch in a cafe around 12
- 2pm, drive one hour plus to Charlotte Pass for afternoon landscape photography shoot.
- 3pm – walk 10kms on the Roof of Australia
- Snack in car, not-quite Fine Dining for ‘dinner’ because the sky looks promising
- Return to hotel after 8pm after sunset photography shoot
However, despite all of the above challenges I noted in my intro, I did have great weather. Enough clouds to give interest. Clear skies at night to get up at 3am to try the Milky Way one night. I also got some great images. Wide vistas at sunset, lovely rivers flowing, rocky boulders, dead trees scattered. Add to that some magnificent walking, where I just carried a camera body and one lens and I was set.
It’s also great, and I thoroughly recommend you do this as a Real Landscape Photographer, that if you just go, slow down, sit a lot, take it all in, and the photos will come to you. Don’t even think about rushing.
Some other points to note:-
- The terrain is flat, but the plants are everywhere in the National Parks. It is not always possible to get beside a river due to steep sloping banks or impenetrable ground cover.
- Shorts even in summer are a no-no, the plants are too prickly and you will shred your skin
- It costs $17 per day at time of writing to enter the National Park for twenty-four hours, but the annual pass is nearly $200
- Parking by the side of the road in the National Park is tricky. You can read that as dangerous if you do not use common sense.
When I returned, I had a lot of images, around 1000+ of not-to-delete files. That’s a whole heap of time in front of a PC. I am still processing some, and that’s months and months later. Read my blog entry here for ideas on when to process your images.
Next time? Can’t wait…
Thanks for reading this far
The Snowy Mountains Photographer