photographic abstraction: a note

Suzanne’s broken fibula is healing and she is now walking to strengthen the muscles in her left leg. We are back to normal with our poodlewalks and have started our training (weather permitting) for the upcoming walks (Basho and Kumono Kodo) in Japan in mid-October.

It’s been quite stormy, wet and windy during the first few weeks of spring. I’ve have been caught a number of times in the early morning by the rain sweeping in from the south west. There is little in the way of shelter along the coast and so I was often soaked.

Whilst walking I have been thinking about how the broad drift in photographic culture has been to problematize or reject photography as a realistic and documentary form, even though the actual condition of photography as a networked image is multifaceted and diverse.

Remembering Kangaroo Island

I have been going through my 2013 digital archives as we are planning a trip to Kangaroo Island in the autumn of 2022. I wanted to have a look at the photographs from the 2013 visit to the island. I I haven’t looked at these digital photos for nigh on seven years. I am in archival mode the moment, due to working on The Bowden Archives and Industrial Modernity book through 2021.

American River

We –Suzanne , myself and Ari– stayed at American River in both January and November of that year. I recall that the easterlies in November blew non-stop and that some of the roads were still un-passable from the winter and spring rains. We spent a lot of time walking along the walking trail on the lagoon’s foreshore.

Ari, American River

2013 was just after I’d made the switch to digital technology in a serious way. I’d acquired a compact digital Sony NEX-7 with its APS-C sensor, which I was using with an old 35mm Leica M lens. I was attracted by the promise of good image quality in a small, highly portable camera, with the ability to adapt almost any lens to fit.

My thinking was that this kind of camera would be the digital equivalent of 35mm rangefinder film photography, even though I knew that it was only a full-frame is sensor size that would be the same as old 35mm film. The technological simplicity of the Sony was equivalent to that of a Leica rangefinder, and so the emphasis was on the purity of the vision: the camera was the extension of the eye.

water abstract #1

The shift to full frame digital came about 5 years latter. Embracing Sony’s digital technology was a no brainer, as I had the Leica lens from a film Leica M4. The latter’s body had gone missing whilst the range finder mechanism was being repaired, so the lens was sitting unused in a cupboard. Sony’s E-mount technology meant that I could use the lens with a Novoflex adaptor.

The Sony NEX-7 replaced the Leica M4-P film camera as my walk around, everyday camera. Digital was more versatile and it was cheaper to use. I continued to use film for medium and large format photography. Digital was definitely the future. The Leica M4-P and 35m colour film became a niche.

the Xmas break 2018

The weather along the coast of the southern Fleurieu Peninsula over the Xmas break was surprisingly cool; surprisingly so,  given the record breaking heatwave across central and south-eastern  Australia.

Despite having several  friends  stay with us in and around the  Xmas break, it was  a quiet holiday  for me.  I’d  sprained my right shoulder one morning just before  Xmas day  whilst helping Suzanne  to make the bed.

bark abstract, Encounter Bay

The shoulder  became  inflamed and,  as it involved shoulder bursitis pain,    I was obliged to rest the right arm in a sling  for a couple of days over Xmas  before  seeing a physiotherapist late in the Xmas/New Year Day week.  I was given a set of exercises to do  for a week to strengthen the strained shoulder muscle.

Then the injury  would be reassessed. The prognosis was that it could take 2-8 weeks to heal, depending on  how I responded to the various exercises. I’ve  had good days and bad days so far.   Continue reading “the Xmas break 2018”

sand patterns

As mentioned on the Encounter Studio blog   when  I am on the recent  morning or afternoon poodlewalks I have started  looking for suitable subjects that would work as an image when  the  colour file made  with a digital camera is then  converted  to black and white.

The subjects have usually been  granite rocks  but of late, I am turning to  sand  patterns.   This is a recent  example:

sand, Deps Beach

The above  image   looked very ordinary in colour when I viewed it on the computer screen,  in the sense that it was  not deserving of a second  more considered look. It  look more interesting when I converted it to black and white as an experiment.   Continue reading “sand patterns”

seaweed, quartz + granite

Prior to my solo  Balranald photo trip  for the Mallee Routes project the morning  poodlewalks with Kayla  had started to shift from exclusively walking amongst the seaweed and granite  rocks the foreshore  below  the Heritage Trail  to walking along the back country roads.

One   reason for the change in emphasis  is that sun is  too bright  early in the morning  for photography,  so the coastal walks with now  take  place with Maleko in the later afternoon. This is when the coastal rocks are in open shadow and the contrast is softer:

quartz + seaweed

However, it is hit and miss with   finding the  seaweed, bird wings, dead birds or fish for the  open air studio.   For a while it   has only been  the odd bit of ephemeral seaweed lying amongst the granite rocks that I can  use to construct  a still life.  Continue reading “seaweed, quartz + granite”


One of my memories of the  early morning walks that I used to do  in the last months of  Ari’s life in 2017 was one where I ‘d walk with him along Jetty Rd. On these occasions Suzanne  would  take   Kayla and Maleko up and over Rosetta Head,  and I would walk with Ari down to the beach, then along Jetty Rd, which runs around the foot of Rosetta Head.

Jetty Rd  runs from Whalers Convention Centre to the little jetty at the northern side of Rosetta Head,  and as it is easy walking, it was suitable for Ari.    The jetty is a favourite of the recreational fishermen and we’d alway meet someone fishing from the jetty early in the morning.

cactus leaves, Jetty Rd,

It was a slow walk to and from the jetty, and Ari and I  would often hang around an  old palm tree and cactus on our  way back. I would take a few photos with the little Olympus XZ-1 that  we had purchased for Suzanne to use on her various  walks.  Continue reading “memories”

returning to normal

The high summer season is over, people have returned to work, and we are back from our holiday in Tasmania. Life on the coast, with its early morning and late afternoon poodlewalks, is starting to return to normal.

rock, feather, seaweed
rock, feather, seaweed

I had been busy working on The Bowden Archives and Other Marginalia project throughout January and I didn’t really have the time to update poodlewalks, even though I’d been doing the daily walks.
Continue reading “returning to normal”

Xmas/New Year holidays

It’s Xmas/New Year summer holiday time.

Apart from the odd couple of days when we had a cool change, the weather has been hot, with clear blue skies, full sun and glaring light. The land is drying out and there have been bush fires along the Victorian coast of the Great Ocean Rd—–at Wye River on Xmas Day. We had planned to stay near there in February on our way back from Melbourne.

Our poodlewalks are earlier in the morning now and further afield in the afternoon. We are trying to avoid all the runners, walkers, bikers, dog walkers, families, surfers from Adelaide who have just come down to the southern Fleurieu Peninsula coast for their summer break.

quartz + seaweed
quartz + seaweed

I am continuing to use my APSC digital camera (a Sony NEX-7) as my everyday walkabout camera, thereby continuing my slow walk from film photography to digital imaging. My everyday walkabout camera used to be a film Leica. No more.I am not a dyed-in-the-wool Leicaphile. Sony’s NEX-7, which was Sony’s flagship camera only three years ago, is a handy, friendly, high-performance compact camera. It’s very functional for the diary-style photos on poodle walks as opposed to the art photography ones on the galleries of my website.
Continue reading “Xmas/New Year holidays”

an open air studio

Suzanne is currently away walking in the Mt Remarkable National Park around the Alligator Gorge area. It’s a short walking holiday based at Alligator Lodge with some friends from the Larapinta walk that they did earlier in 2015. She will explore the Mt Remarkable area again next year when walking section 43 of the Heysen Trail. Hopefully, Suzanne will scout for some good photographic sites.

I’m at Encounter Bay minding the 3 standard poodles and looking for areas to walk in the morning and evening, which are away from people and grass seeds. In the morning that requires me to be walking on the beach at Encounter Bay before everyone else comes out, take a quick photo of objects near the sand dunes, then move on. We are generally back home by 7am.

iron + wood, Hayborough
iron + wood, Hayborough

In the evening  the best option  is  to walk to Kings Beach in Waitpinga, then hang out around Kings Head because nobody goes there other than the odd surfer when the waves are rolling right. People prefer the beach to the rocky outcrops and so they miss the dolphins cruising by around the headland. The Heysen Trail walkers go over the top of Kings Head on their way to the Newland cliffs.
Continue reading “an open air studio”

Australian abstractions exhibition

The Australian Abstractions exhibition at the Light Gallery in Adelaide opens at 3pm Sunday 25th July, and all are welcome to attend. Avril Thomas, the portrait painter and owner of the Magpie Springs gallery, will open the exhibition.

Most of the work in the exhibition has emerged out of poodle walk in that these are the representation of the forms and textures that I’m seeing on the walks and in the different lighting conditions.

bark + leaves
bark + leaves

The abstractions are linked to the 2012 photographic abstractions exhibition that was curated by the Monash Gallery of Art in Melbourne. Many of the images in this exhibition can be seen here.

All of my black and white images in Australian Abstractions are abstractions from nature. Unlike the abstractions of landscape from the air by Richard Woldendorp, my abstractions of both the bark of gum trees and the coastal granite cliffs are done with my feet firmly on the ground.It offers another way of thinking about ‘landscape’.
Continue reading “Australian abstractions exhibition”