The roadside vegetation that I see whilst walking the back country roads is limited in terms of photographic subject matter. So I have been wandering and exploring this bushland on both the early morning with Kayla and at the late afternoon poodlewalks with Maleko.
We arrived back from a 2-3 week holiday in the lower part of the South Island in New Zealand on Monday night (the 23rd March), and immediately began our mandatory 2 weeks of self-isolation. We just made it back to Australia before New Zealand locked down–a nationwide shutdown– on Wednesday, and Virgin had cancelled all its international flights in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
I walked Kayla along the coastal rocks the morning after our return before sunrise in order to avoid other people. There was one runner on the Heritage Trail, and the Green Car man was walking amongst on the rocks with his aggressive Australian Blue Heeler on a lead. I was able to keep a large distance from both of them. Other than that there was no one around and I entered no buildings.
It was a mild and overcast morning. The landscape looked so very dry compared to Fiordland or to Dunedin. Though it started to rain as we made our way back to the car at Petrel Cove, the rain didn’t last long and it was very light. It wasn’t enough to green a browned landscape.
Suzanne is currently walking on Lord Howe Island and I’m minding the poodles until I leave to join the Friends of Photography Group (FOPG) at Mt Arapiles in the Wimmera plains. I leave on Friday 6th September, Suzanne returns to Adelaide on Sunday, 8th September, and I return to Encounter Bay several days latter.
FOPG have a weekend photo session at the Mount Arapiles-Tooan State Park, which is south of Nhill and the Little Desert National Park. Camping at this site will be the first time that I have linked up to this Melbourne-based large format photography group in the field. After this photo camp I will move on to stay at Lake Marma at Murtoa to photograph in the Wimmera Mallee.
Looking after the two poodles on my own means that the areas where they can walk off lead are restricted, as I need to avoid the kangaroos in the morning and other walkers in the afternoon. So it is back to the old standbys, such as meandering amongst the coastal granite rocks around the foot of Kings Head.
After my return from the Overland Corner Reserve trip I felt a bit deflated when I was walking along the coastal beaches in both the early morning and the late afternoon. Photographing whilst walking in the littoral zone along the these beaches seemed a bit ho-hum, low key and rather mundane. I even started to toss up taking a camera with me.
Mundane and ho hum because I am back to photographing seaweed again whilst I am walking along the Esplanade town beach with Kayla early in the morning before sunrise. I arrange this walk so that I am making my way through the clusters of seaweed after sunrise whilst consciously trying to avoid the way the tourist’s gaze aestheticizes this seaside resort.
There is a sense of dull repetition in that I keep doing the same thing over and over again, without really knowing what I am going to do with all these coastal images. It is becoming a bit routine if not automatic.
During the autumn of 2018 I made a number of afternoon poodlewalks with Maleko and Kayla along a couple of the walking trails by the Inman River. One of these trails was a walk around the small redgum loop trail by the river near Armstrong ( Ring Route ) Rd. I did this several times, including a few in the morning, before the trail became flooded. On the odd occasion on the redgum woodland loop walk I photographed with a film camera.
Another walk we sometimes did was the linear one along the floodplain on the eastern side of the river amongst that is populated by kangaroos. We would start from the old SA Water waste treatment plant on Canton Place and then make our way along the redgums on the floodplain to where the river passed the Victor Harbor cemetery. We would then slowly make our way back to the Forester in Canton Place as dusk started to fall:
I meant to return to the floodplain area during the winter of 2018 when the river was flowing with a film camera and tripod, but I never did. I only ever scoped the floodplain as I found the floodplain difficult to photograph: just trees, a dry river bed, and leaves on the ground.
As mentioned in this post on my Encounter Studio blog I have started to explore the back country roads and the agricultural landscape in and around Waitpinga whilst on our afternoon poodlewalks. The Fleurieuscapes project needs to include the rural landscape in order to have some balance to the coastal images in the littoral zone. Most of the space of the Fleurieu Peninsula is an agricultural landscape consisting of dairy farms, grazing land for sheep and cattle, and the rapidly expanding vineyards.
I do struggle with photographing this subject matter, and most of what I see and then scope with a digital camera on our poodlewalks is boring and uninteresting, especially when I look at the digital files on the iMac’s computer screen. I am finding it to be a depressing and disheartening process.
One exception is this picture of pink gum, with a farm shed, silo and water tank along Pitkin Rd in Waitpinga that I came across on an exploratory afternoon poodlewalk with Kayla and Maleko:
This scoping picture was made in the autumn, when I first started to consciously explore the back country roads in Waitpinga. This picture of a dry, agricultural landscape works much better for me in black and white. The initial colour image looks too pretty and touristy–the photos would be what you would see in a feature in the glossy Fleurieu Living Magazine.
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.
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.
Occasionally, I try and make a still photograph of a particular moment of the rapid movement of the waves surging amongst the rocks:
The reason that I don’t bother to photograph the water, is that it is usually difficult to make the composition, and to get the lighting right. The sea water moves so very quickly through and over the granite rocks–too quickly for me to compose the picture whilst ensuring that my feet don’t become wet from a rogue wave. Continue reading “water flows”