An icy cold snap with lots of rain and bitterly south westerly winds hit the southern Fleurieu Peninsula of South Australia in late May/early June. It has been extremely cold when the sun has gone missing, with the cold snap lasting a fortnight or more. Though there have been the occasional days with sunshine, the rain and cold winds usually return the next morning. Consequently, walking with poodles is walking in the bracing wind and the rain:–rain walks.
The daily poodlewalks in early June included walking Rosetta Head ( Kongkengguwar ) in Victor Harbor so that I could photograph the sky, rain, sea and light. These photographs have usually been seascapes (as distinct from coastal), though I sometimes I have been photographing the clouds themselves.
We have been walking Rosetta Head in the early morning before sunrise, as the weather has usually cleared by the late afternoon, with this occasion on the last day of May being a notable exception. The walking and photography in low pre-sunrise light works well with a hand held digital camera.
It is much more difficult with the large format camera and tripod, especially when it is a 5×7 monorail. Much more organization and planning is required, as I need to check out both the cloud cover and the direction of the wind to see if it is worthwhile carrying the camera equipment up Rosetta Head. If it is, then it is a slow walk and climb.
We have only experienced a couple of warm to hot days this summer so far in South Australia. It is early days, but the weather has mostly been cool with strong cold south westerly and south easterly winds on the southern Fleurieu Peninsula. Though Xmas is approaching it has not been warm enough for swimming or sun baking on a beach. This is La Niña, which is a weather event that often brings overcast conditions, above-average rainfall and cooler temperatures. But a heat dome is coming in a week or so.
It is good weather for walking. This particular scene of people swimming, lying and playing on the beach at Petrel Cove in the late afternoon was unusual for 2021. It was during the spring/summer cusp in late November and it was the first time a summer’s day had happened in 2021.
On the afternoon of the above photo I’d parked the Forester at the Petrel Cove carpark and Maleko and I were setting out to walk along the local Heritage Trail to the Kings Beach Rd lookout. Usually we would start our walk by going down the Petrel Cove steps, walk across the beach and then scramble around the rocks on the western side of the Cove. It was too busy on the beach that afternoon to start our poodlewalk from the beach.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It is mid-spring. Daylight saving has started and the new concrete causeway to Granite Island is nearing completion. The Sculpture by the Sea park on the island has been dismantled by the Victor Harbor Council on the grounds that it was unpopular in the local community. The rains have stopped, the days are becoming warmer, there is less cloud around in the late afternoon, the light now is stronger and more contrasty. There have been no really hot days so far.
Whilst I have been wandering around the coast and the bush I have been watching this seal carcass slowly decay:
The poodles are fascinated by it–especially Maleko. They go charging ahead of me on the rocks as we head in the direction of the carcass from Kings Beach lookout. Thankfully, they do not try and eat the carcass. They just dance around it.
Does this start me on a pathway of becoming an (independent) artist researcher?
We try and walk in the morning and the afternoon in-between the showers and the squalls if we can. Sometimes we get caught. Other times the rain by passes us.
The photograph above is from Rosetta Head:— I have been walking to, over and from the Rosetta Head, in order to build up my cardio for walking in the Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges National Park in late July/earlyAugust.
The weather has changed in the last week. Though the gusty, coastal winds have continued, the day temperatures are lower, and the mornings and the evenings are cooler. There is now a briskness in the air in the early morning prior to sunrise, which is after 7am.
The picture below was made on an early morning walk along the Victor Harbor beach near Bridge Point and the mouth of the ephemeral Hindmarsh River. It is a popular spot for walkers.
Bridge Terrace is an older part of Victor Harbor. We were there on an early morning poodlewalk so that I could photograph the seaside architecture. Once that was done –there’s not that much to photograph — Kayla and I then wandered along the beach.
It has been a very cool summer so far. The days have been overcast and windy with occasional rain. We have only had the occasional hot summer day. Maybe a more normal summer will come during the months of February and March.
The picture below was snapped at 7am on a Sunday morning at Petrel Cove in January 24th). It is not a typical morning: it was humid, the temperature was in the high twenties, and there was no wind. It rained latter in the day.
An added dimension to the poodlewalks is that I am starting to train for the 14 day camel trek in late in May 2021 from Blinman to Lake Frome. This forthcoming camel trek is part of this project.
So I have started to walk to and over Rosetta Head, run up the steps twice at Petrel Cove, and increase the poodlewalks to 90 minutes. I’ve started doing the Rosetta Head route with Kayla on Sunday mornings when Suzanne is walking on her loop route. I really need to increase my cardio and to toughen up my feet.
Building up my strength and cardio is going to be long and slow as, unlike Suzanne, I am currently not going to the gym. My exercise levels and muscle strength have dropped unfortunately. These need to be substantially increased.
I realise that I have been walking with the standard poodles and making photos on these walks for several years now (both in the city of Adelaide and the foreshore of the southern Fleurieu Peninsula), without ever understanding that what I was doing was working within the tradition of walking art.
When I came across the walklistencreate website recently, I realized that what I was doing was a part of this artistic tradition — without being aware of it. I just walked and photographed naively, set up a blog, and occasionally thought about making a photobook from what had been produced. But I got no further.
I did understand that the poodlewalks were a means of generating photographic work, and that this shaped my minimal approach to the post processing of the picture — ie., avoiding the glossing, toning and filtering to visual enhance the digital image.
What I wasn’t doing was consciously making an art piece or work — photos, sound, writing — for others to view, read, or listen to. I hadn’t gone beyond various blog posts, such as the ones on poodlewalks, or those on the Littoral Zone , to consciously view walking as a catalyst for my photographic practice. What I was naively inching towards was a marriage of writing and imagery in a photographic culture where most photographic bodies of work contain either no text or if there is text then its role is very severely limited.
I have moved away from walking in the local bushland or the back country roads. It is dry and dusty with brown snakes and the ground is full of grass seeds. I now walk along the coastline and the various beaches. This limits the possibilities that I have for film photograph.
Film photography has come to the fore now that Light Paths is up and running, and Thoughtfactory’s Newsletter #3 has finally gone out. I want to do some large format photography–using the 5×7 Cambo monorail–as I am tired of sitting in front of a computer screen all day.
The above coastal waterfall is one possibility that I have in mind. I checked the location out yesterday afternoon when I was walking with Maleko to Kings Beach. The water flow has eased now that the rains have stopped and the hot, dry weather is returning. That means it is now possible to stand on the rocks with a tripod—just.