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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.