I decided to start photographing seascapes when the early morning poodle walks in Victor Harbor incorporated walking up and over Rosetta Head to Petrel Cove. Seascapes as distinct from photos of clouds or of light itself in that the sea becomes more central.
I started photographing with colour film (both medium and large format cameras), but the seascapes looked too picturesque, and rather touristy. Cliched, even when there was heavy cloud cover:
I was after something more ordinary and abstract, rather than beautiful, picturesque or iconic. So I started to use b+w film.
Whilst walking along the coast of the southern Fleurieu Peninsula in South Australia this year I have been exploring how to photograph the fleeting character or the ephemerality of light in the early morning. These are photos of light, as distinct from photos of clouds or of seascapes, are a modest walking art project.
Unlike many of the photographers in the book I didn’t see light as a metaphor. What I was seeing on my poodlewalks were the fleeting moments of light at Encounter Bay. Fleeting in the sense that the interplay of light and dark just before and after sunrise was brief: it would often last less than 5 minutes as the clouds evaporated and the darkness disappeared with the rays of the early morning sun.
The weather since our return to Encounter Bay from our 12 day trip to the Vulkathunha-Gammon Ranges in South Australia has been continually stormy. There has been strong to gale force north westerly winds and regular rain, with a few fine periods within, and between, the series of cold fronts. The winds have often been chilling with rain falling each day. The earth is saturated.
It has been very atmospheric as we attempt to walk avoiding the wind and the showers. More often than not we are caught in the rain as it is fine one minute then rain the next.
Whilst on the poodlewalks we often have to sit the rain out — either in the car or seeking shelter whilst on the walk. The showers ease and we walk on. Sometimes this happens several times on a single poodlewalk. More often than not we get caught by the rain.
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.
Prior to a close contact requring the household have to go into 14 days quarantine/self-isolation during the Omicron wave Kayla and I walked up and over Rosetta Head (Kongkengguwar) one Saturday morning in early January.
The Rosetta Head walk happened after we’d already been walking in the local bushland in Waitpinga between 6-7 am. As it had been raining during the night and that morning the bushland was soggy and wet, but the colours were vibrant.
Whilst we were passing the all weather boat launching ramp when returning to the studio from the bushland I saw the rain clouds hanging over Encounter Bay. The morning clouds normally start breaking up an hour or after sunrise so I decided that these were hanging around and that they warranted photographing. I parked the Forester in the car park overlooking Petrel Cove and we quickly walked along the northern side of Rosetta Head then up to the top from the eastern side.
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.
On Sunday mornings Suzanne changes her walking route. Instead of walking to and over Rosetta Head, she and Maleko do a loop walk: from Solway Crescent to Kings Beach Rd, along the coastal path or Heritage Trail to Petrel Cove, then back to Solway Crescent.
If the weather is cloudy or overcast on Sunday morning I take a break from my early morning walk with Kayla in the local bushland, or along Esplanade Beach, to walk up and over Rosetta Head.
On these occasions I often use the Sunday morning walk to Rosetta Head to make cloud studies and seascapes, though this is scoping is in a very exploratory sense. Rosetta Head provides a good vantage point for this kind of photography, but the actual scene that l do photograph depends on the type of light as well as the clouds.
June 1 dawned with cold, blustery south westerly winds, dark clouds, driving rain and big seas. Winter had arrived on cue.
This cloud formation is what greeted Kayla and myself on the early morning poodlewalk on June 1. We hugged the northern edge of Rosetta Head to escape the 50 km south-westerly wind. I was looking across Encounter Bay to Goolwa and to the Coorong.
The weather was too wild to continue to the top of Rosetta Head and down the southern side, so we turned away from the coast, which is where we normally walk and photograph, jumped in the car and drove inland to seek some protection from the gusty, driving wind. We walked up and down Depledge Rd for about 30-40 minutes before I decided to return to exploring the bush “reserve” that ran adjacent to the western side of Depledge Rd in Waitpinga. We had had walked within this “reserve” a few days before.
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.