On Saturday it was overcast with passing rain squalls so we went for a drive to Zeehan in the afternoon. I wanted to to photograph the ruins of the old smelter using the 5×4 Linhof. I’d scoped this on my last visit to Queenstown a year ago.
I stuck closely to what I’d scoped last year as time was short—the squalls returned just as I was finishing the planned pictures of ‘ruins as history’. After looking at the digital images I took whilst on location this time, I can see that I need to return to the site to take more. There was more here than I’d realized.
I went photographing yesterday afternoon with Stuart Murdoch. The rain and heavy cloud cover cleared whilst I was travelling on the Frankston train into the CBD, and the bright sunshine put paid to the 5×4 car park rooftops scenario I had planned.
So we decided to explore around North Melbourne and Sunshine. We initially explored the areas along Railway Canal or the Moonee Ponds Creek in North Melbourne that I’d started to explore on an earlier trip.
Luckily for me Stuart knew the area quite well as he had photographed in and around there about a decade ago. There is a bike path under the City Link overpass that provides walking access to the area under the Bolt Bridge over pass. The area has everything—nature, concrete architecture, industry, rubbish–and it is fertile ground for an Australian topographics style of photography.
I continued my search for suitable high locations to use the 5×7 Cambo in the Adelaide CBD today. This was mostly spent checking out the highest floor of the car parks in my neighbourhood for their perspective on the city.
I also wanted to see whether I could get a lens through the grilled barriers around the car parks that have been erected to prevent people from jumping off the roof.
Most of the perspectives that I came across were far too scenic—the snaps looked like picture post cards. I have no interest in pretty or pleasant representations of this provincial city as I am not doing a portrait of Adelaide; a tourist image; or a celebration of Adelaide as a liveable place.
I couldn’t resist taking a photo. The street art appeared on the wall in Wright Street over the weekend. When I saw it I thought of the well-known phrase attributed to Antonio Gramsci: “The old world is dying away, and the new world struggles to come forth: now is the time of monsters.”
I have little idea why I thought that, then and there. It popped into my head.
Maybe it is because so much street art depicts the monsters. They seem to come from the unconscious. Anyhow, I went back home, grabbed the camera and took a snap, as it was getting dark.
I’m back in Adelaide. I wandered through the parklands with the poodles late yesterday afternoon wondering where my photography would go next. I played around with some low light light with the (film) Leica –poetic moments and all that—having a look without taking anything but I wasn’t really enthused.
I was at a loss. Where do I go from here? I felt hesitant. All the large format gear had been left down at Victor Harbor. How was I going to use the 8×10 in the city? You cannot wander the streets looking for the moment with that kind of gear.
I thought that I would start by picking up on the waste project that had been pushed into the background.
One of the places in Victor Harbor that we often visit on our poodle walks is the local rubbish dump. It is situated within a ravine that cuts it way to the sea and borders the beginning of the Heysen Trail in the southern Fleurieu Peninsula. It offers some photographic possibilities.
I’ve spent the last couple of days doing a scoping study of the work that I want to do with the Linhof 5×4 over the next few days, as well as photographing bits and pieces with the Rolleiflex SL66. I’m annoyed.
The backup body of the latter has now gone and I’m down to the Rolleiflex TLR. The 5×4 Linhof becomes my main camera and the Rolleiflex TLR becomes the ancillary camera. I’m out of my comfort zone.
I have found three sites to work at with the Linhof. One is an area around the old Iron Blow Mine. The second is the burnt landscape around the Queenstown airport; burnt because it has had fire through it recently. The third is the ruins of the Tasmanian Smelters site at Zeehan.
I know very little about the history of the Zeehan site. I know that in late 1882, silver-lead ore was discovered near the present day site of Zeehan and that this led to the largest mining boom on Tasmania’s west coast with Zeehan being dubbed the ‘Silver City of the West’.
Wirranender Park in the Adelaide parklands is a favourite spot for transients to construct makeshift campsites. This is especially so for those aboriginal people who come down to Adelaide from their homeland in outback northern South Australia, and are unable to find temporary accommodation.
As I mentioned in an earlier post Aboriginal people camped—ie., sleeping rough–- in the Parklands is a controversial issue in Adelaide.
One of the oft visited weekend locations for our poodles walks when we are in Adelaide is the Young Street Car Park. There are more and more car parks being built in the CBD at a time when the state government’s public policy is aimed at allowing for greater use of public transport, more walking and cycling in the CBD.
However, they are not prepared to roll back the car. The car rules our cities. It chokes them–it’s what town planners called congestion. Inside the spaces designed to park cars in the CBD we find waste:
We visit the Young Street Car Park less now because it is being extended, and the upper story has been closed off by the builders. My reason for exploring the car park is because it opens a little door on the underside of the city that sees itself as the Athens of the South–an enlightened city.
What becomes very noticeable walking with the poodles is the amount of rubbish lying on the streets and in the parklands. Whereas I would have just walked by without a second look–rubbish is just part of the urban background for me—Ari and Agtet check it out very thoroughly. So I am forced to stop and look:
In the parklands it is mostly the junk food scraps that people leave lying on the ground where they have been sitting. In the city it is mostly packaging and objects that are no longer deemed useful, or have broken down. They have been put on the footpath to be collected.
It was on these walks that I started to realize just how much Australian society throws away as waste. Often the waste is the leftovers from excess consumption. Or the object—including digital cameras— is so badly made that it falls apart and is tossed away. It is not cost effective to repair.