Temperatures have dropped with winters cold snap since I have returned to Encounter Bay from the brief Murray Mallee photo trip to Claypans and beyond. It is now quite chilly in the morning and in the early evening. Though the days are still, there is little warmth in the sun due to the cloud cover.
I have started to walk the back country roads through the various agricultural landscapes on the early morning poodlewalks with Kayla:
Surprisingly, I am encountering people who are running and walking along these back roads before sunrise. They, like me, are out walking and running around 6.30 am, which is roughly an hour before sunrise.
It has been a wild start to winter in South Australia. We have been experiencing a week of wet, stormy weather on the southern coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula. The coast has been battered by cold and blustery south westerly and southerly winds, rain and surging seas. The sand on the small, local beaches (Petrel Cove and Deps Beach) is starting to disappear.
The balmy days of late autumn with the early morning macro photography in the gentle early morning light are a memory. The two photos in this post were the last macro photos I made before the cold winter weather set in.
I have avoided walking along the littoral zone and have started walking along the back country roads seeking protection from the wind. That means photographing trees and back country roads. The weather is easing, but we still have sporadic showers and strong, cold winds.
As mentioned in an earlier post it is very quiet along the southern coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula these days, even after the rains. Despite the atmospheric conditions it’s only the locals who are out and about in the early morning before sunrise.
When I parked the Forester at the Petrel Cove carpark before dawn this morning (May 20th) it looked as if the ‘after the rains’ scenario was a misreading of the weather. The cloud cover was heavy, the clouds were dark, and there was rain out at sea. So I put a rain coat on, left the tripod and Rolleiflex SL66 in the boot of the Forester and went walking.
As we walked along the Heritage Trail to Deps Beach and the rocks beyond the beach Kayla and I encountered an echinda making its way along the Trail. I saw a couple of seals and a pod of dolphins hunting in the sea along the edge of the coastal rocks. There was the odd speckled Pacific Gull sitting on the rocks and some seagulls. Apart from that we had the coast to ourselves as we made to the rocks past Deps Beach.
It is now much quieter in the early mornings in late autumn at Petrel Cove on the southern Fleurieu Peninsula, than it was in the early autumn. People disappear from the coast on the autumn/winter cusp. . The southern coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula is associated with summer not winter. Winter is very quiet. People leave for the sunshine of Queensland.
During early autumn –ie., March–Petrel Cove, despite the loss of most of the sand, was regularly populated by fishermen, surfers and photographers in the early morning. The car park had usually had about 6-10 cars parked there, and a dozen or so people would be either milling around the car park watching the waves, on the beach, or in the water.
These days the sand has returned, but our 2011 Forester is the solitary car in the car park during the week. This does change on the weekend, as there a lots of people out walking along the Heritage Trail from 8am onwards.
I came across this rope whilst on an afternoon poodlewalk with Maleko. It was lying amongst the coastal rocks just east of Kings Beach Rd. This is a more popular afternoon walk for us than the western one to, and over, Kings Head. Neither of these locations are accessible at high tide.
For both walks I park the Forester at Kings Beach Rd. For the former walk I walk east along the Heritage Trail, climb down the cliffs to the coastal rocks, and then slowly make my way east along the coastal rocks in the direction of Petrel Cove. Maleko is usually searching for golf balls hidden amongst the rocks. More often than not he finds one.
We usually walk to Deps Beach, which is approximately halfway between Kings Beach Rd and Petrel Cove. We then either retrace our steps amongst the rocks, or walk back along the Heritage Trail if there were no other walkers.
I took advantage of a heavily overcast morning on Wednesday (18/4/2019) to walk with Kayla along the Heysen Trail to the rocky outcrop on the western edge of Kings Head. This outcrop is down from the Kings Beach Retreats that are on top of Kings Head, and is at the foot of the Waitpinga Cliffs.
I had visited the outcrop earlier –on the 9/4/2019. This was in the late afternoon when Suzanne was in China, but combination of a south -westerly wind, wild seas and the high tide that afternoon meant that we could not gain access to the outcrop. I had to stay on the edge of the hill side of the littoral zone.
For the return visit in the morning we left just after dawn, so that we had time to reach the rocky outcrop just after sunrise. This, I hoped, would gave me some time to photograph around the rocky outcrop before the cloud cover broke up and the light became too contrasty.
During the last days of summer I would walk along the Esplanade Beach just before dawn. I would drive along Franklin Parade past the runners and walkers and park the Subaru Forester at Kent Reserve. Kayla and I would then start walking north along the beach amongst the seagrass towards the Granite Island Causeway in the predawn light.
My hope was that I would come across some seaweed on the beach around sunrise so that I could make a macro photo. More often than not this didn’t happen–there was either no suitable seaweed, or the sunrise happened before I reached the piles seaweed on the beach.
Now and again the sunrise and a seaweed form would coincide. An example :
It’s just a moment. Then it is gone. I would quickly look around for more suitable seaweed forms before the sun became too bright and so blowing out the highlights on the seaweed. That is more or less the end of the macro photography along the beach.
Adelaide is in the middle of a week long heatwave. Its been clear blue skies, an intense heat from the sun and, a hot northwesterly wind, which means that it doesn’t cool down at night. The temperatures are in the low 40 degrees centigrade. A code red alert has been issued by the SA state government, which unlocks extra support for vulnerable people, such as the homeless, during a heatwave.
5-10 minutes latter the light is too contrasty for this kind of photography.
This is the second heatwave this year–the first one was in mid -January — with January being on the hottest January on record. The cause of this February heatwave is a “blocking high” on the Tasman Sea. With winds going anticlockwise around the highs this is helping funnel desert heat down to the southern states. Thankfully there have been no bushfires in South Australia this time, but this is not the case for Victoria.
In the last week or so I have returned to walking along the Waitpinga section of the Heysen Trail in the morning with Kayla and in the afternoon with Maleko. This section of the Heysen Trail is a narrow strip of scrub or bush that runs between two roads, and it is bounded by two grazing paddocks (cattle and sheep). The narrow strip is a corridor that is quite dense in parts.
The mornings and afternoons have been overcast with minimal wind, and this has allowed me to do some black and white film photography of tree subjects that I had photographed in colour a couple of years ago. I started the scoping here.
Whilst walking to and from the photo sites on both the morning and the afternoon poodlewalks I made some exploratory/scoping studies of different subject matter in the scrub/bush for some future film photography. This is an example:
I would have walked past this branch on the edge of the path of the Heysen Trail many times without ever having seen it. I only saw it this time because Kayla went exploring in the undergrowth behind the branch. I quickly made a snap and moved on.
The Xmas break is over for this summer-time. The holiday crowds have left vacationing along the coast of the southern Fleurieu Peninsula during the extended school holidays, and returned to work in Adelaide. The schools are back and the photographers have gone.
Over the Xmas break I continued to photograph in the early morning whilst walking with Kayla. I focused on low key macro photography before the light became too bright and contrasty. The photography is hand held and quick. The conditions are not suitable for slow large format photography.
Currently, the mornings start cool, the days heat up and reach their zenith around 5 pm but, unlike drought damaged inland regions, the temperature usually drops at night. With the crowds gone, the beaches along the coast are quiet during the week, and we often have them to ourselves in the early morning around dawn and sunrise. We now have the space to be in the moment and see the transient and ephemeral nature of life on the coast. Continue reading “summer-time + impermanence”