return to the sea

Winter on the southern Fleurieu Peninsula was wet and stormy with high tides on the coast, making it difficult to access the coastal rocks and to photograph along the littoral zone and continue making abstractions. During July walking the poodles was limited to walking along the paths on top of the coastal cliffs between Petrel Cove and Kings Beach.

This image of seaweed lying on the rocks was made in early June when the tide was low enough to walk in the littoral zone in June. It was during July that we experienced the very high tides.

seaweed + rocks

The photo was made just after we’d returned from the camel trek from Blinman to Lake Frome. I recall it being a joy to walk by the sea after 14 days in the arid Northern Flinders Ranges. Water there was scarce: the creeks were dry and there was just the odd water hole.

winter in July

Sony A7 R111

It has been cold, wet and very windy along the coast of the southern Fleurieu Peninsula during July. As these are not good conditions for doing large format photography, I have been inside the studio working on the Lake Frome camel trek photos; a review of Christopher Houghton’s recent Grounded exhibition for Light Paths; and doing some online research.

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.

Sony A7 R111
Sunrise, Encounter Bay

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.

Salt

It is not often that I come across dried pools of salt along the littoral zone of the southern Fleurrieu Peninsula on the poodlewalks. High day temperatures, low tides and minimal coastal wind are required for the pools seawater to evaporate leaving the pools of dried salt:

salt + granite

I usually photograph these salt pools as abstractions.

The spaces in the littoral zone between Petrel Cove to King’s Beach in Waitpinga where this consistently happens are few and far between. Usually the moving sand or the tide covers them up.

walking art

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.

salt+ seaweed, Waitpinga

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.

coastal waterfall

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.

waterfall, Waitpinga

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.

a welcome break

Suzanne has been away in Brisbane this past week and so Kayla, Maleko and myself have been hanging out at Kings Beach and Kings Head. There is no one around here apart from the Heysen Trail walkers making their way back to their cars parked at the Kings Beach Rd lookout. That lockout has become a bit of a destination.

granite, Kings Head, Waitpinga

These afternoon poodlewalks are a welcome break from sitting in front of a computer during the day, working on the Abstraction: Different Interpretations exhibition at Encounters Gallery, building the Light Paths website, and writing the third Thoughtfactory newsletter and well as the introductory newsletter for Light Paths.

bush + coast

The afternoon walks through the local bush will soon be coming to an end as we came across a brown snake the other afternoon whilst we were walking along Depledge Rd in Waitpinga. I was surprised to see it on the side of the road because it was still late winter, and the day temperatures up to that date had not been that warm.

From now on the poodlewalks in the bush or scrub will need to be in early morning as its too cold for snakes. Kayla and I usually start walking around sunrise and I am looking out for the early morning light. It is changing.

Baum Rd, Waitpinga

The late afternoon walks with Maleko will, by and large, be along the coastal rocks between Petrel Cove and Kings Beach. We have to walk part of the way along the Heritage Trail to reach the rocks. As we have seen the odd brown snake along this path in the past, I keep an eye out.

Covid-19

If Australians adhere to social distancing, if testing can be rolled out, and if enough masks and personal protection equipment can be produced, then there is a good chance that the country will be able to avert the worst predictions about COVID-19, and at least temporarily bring the pandemic under control. No one knows how long that will take, and though the curve of new cases is flattening, it won’t be quick.

Meanwhile the economy tanks. The global economic machine is built for growth, and it has been brought to a screeching halt.  The economic shock has seen unemployment rise, businesses close down, and a grim economic global and national outlook for the rest of 2020.  Civil liberties have been significantly curtailed, parliament adjourned, and the normal operations of the media are greatly restricted, meaning that it is more difficult for the public to access reliable information. Realistically, is simply not possible to thoroughly insulate an economy from the impact of a pandemic of this kind.

seaweed strands

The most realistic scenario is that the world plays a protracted game of whack-a-mole with the SARS-CoV-2  virus, stamping out outbreaks here and there until a vaccine can be produced. There are no existing vaccines for coronaviruses—until now, these viruses seemed to cause diseases that were mild or rare—so researchers must start from scratch. The estimate is that it will take 12 to 18 months to develop a proven vaccine, and then longer still to make it, ship it, and inject it into people’s arms.

sitting quietly

On a recent late afternoon walk with Maleko I sat quietly amongst these rocks in the littoral zone just east of Kings Beach Rd in Waitpinga. It was a warm evening, Maleko was looking for golf balls, and I was looking at the light on the rock before the sun disappeared behind the hill.

rocks + light

It was a quiet moment and, whilst I sat there , I had a sense of belonging to this landscape–being a part of it as it were; rather than just walking through it, being separate from it, and taking photos of what caught my eye. I felt the spray on my face, the wind on my arms, and the sun on my back, whilst the waves of the incoming tide gently rolled around my feet. It was a space where I could immerse myself in the moment.

revisiting Kings Head

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.

2 cuttlefish shells, Kings Head

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.