Suzanne’s broken fibula is healing and she is now walking to strengthen the muscles in her left leg. So we are back to normal with our poodlewalks. We have just started our training weather permitting for the upcoming walks in Japan in mid-October.
It’s been quite stormy, wet and windy during the first few weeks of spring. I’ve have been caught a number of times in the early morning by the rain sweeping in from the south west. There is little in the way of shelter along the coast and so we often got soaked.
Whilst walking I have been thinking about how the broad drift in photographic culture has been to problematize or reject photography as a realistic and documentary form, even though the actual condition of photography as a networked image is multifaceted and diverse.
My twice-a-day poodlewalks during the six weeks that Suzanne needed to wear her moonboot to help heal her broken fibula were hobbled ones. I was walking both standard poodles, but as I’d badly damaged my back early in that six weeks period I wasn’t able to walk very far. I could only shuffle along in those areas where the two poodles could run free and more or less look after themselves.
The photography was limited during this period. I just carried a digital camera and on many of the walks I wouldn’t even make a photo. Walking 2 poodles with a damaged back wasn’t conducive to photography.
This is one of the photos I did make whilst on a hobbled walk in part of the Rosetta Head Reserve. I would drive to Petrel Cove and then hobble my way around the reserve and through its scrubland in the early morning.
I would usually start this walk 30 minutes or so before sunrise when there was no one around. The walk would be in its final stages as the early morning sunlight flickered across the grasses in the reserve.
Another of the early morning walks involved driving to the carpark on the western side of Rosetta Head, then I’d slowly shuffling my way along its northern side until I reached the eastern end where I could look over Encounter Bay:
I would do this walk on those occasions when there was early morning cloud over the sea before sunrise. I would hope that there was nobody on the top of the Bluff viewing the sunrise, flying a drone or taking photos. I was able to hobble my way back to the car park on the western side of Rosetta Head, The clouds usually dissipated after sunrise, except when the rains swept in from the wast.
This update on making photos whilst walking with Maya along the coast starts to explore ways of augumenting the still photography. Large format art photography has been my way of creating an art work from these poodlewalks, which are embedded in a particular place.
Maya is now between 5-6 months old and she is quite comfortable walking for an hour or so with me along the coastal rocks on the southern Fleurieu Peninsula. As we are on the cusp of winter in South Australia there is early morning cloud cover, the showers sweeping in from the south west are more frequent, and the coastal winds are much stronger.
Whilst I’ve been on these early morning walks I thought that it would be interesting to find a way to show what Maya is hearing, smelling and seeing whilst she is with me. I have no idea how to do this, but I started wondering how Augmented Reality (AR) could add to these kind of walks; or alternatively what could be added using generative AI for texts written by ChatGPT, or an image using Midjourney.
I quickly realized that generative AI is step too far for me as is that that version of AR with its overlay of digital data on top of the real world that is consumed through a camera-and-sensor-laden headset. There is little point in the latter as few people would have the required equipment that mediates the entire world through screens placed centimeters from users’ corneas that makes the whole world a screen.
However, there is a space for something along the lines of supplementing, augmenting, adjusting, or overlaying reality; such as supplementing the still photography is a video. A video offers sound and movement that would augment the frozen moment of the still photography. I need to do more video as I am not sure about podcasts or films, as is done with MAP‘s. Nor do I have the connections to collaborate with a writer like the SALT project which was commissioned by Art Walk Projects.
My early morning, off-lead walks with Maya, our new standard poodle pup, have slowly become longer whilst she reached 16 weeks and had her final round of injections. The walks have included beaches, coastal trails, fairgrounds, hills and bushland.
What photos I have been able to make were just those on the walk around sunrise. She is too young to wait for me whilst I set up a large format camera on a tripod on Rosetta Head and make a photo:
Many of the early walks were around the Granite Island causeway as there were piles of seaweed along the beach which Maya played in and loved. It also tired her out so she would then walk along the beach with me.
I have started to do a few early morning walks along the coast with Maya. As she is still just 11 weeks old we need to continue to avoid other dogs until she has her second round of injections at 12 weeks. So we start our morning walks before sunrise and are back at the Forester by around 7.30. We have been lucky as it is very quiet and there are few, if any, people walking along the coast around sunrise.
The early autumn mornings have been overcast with the cloud cover with the occasional light showers. It clears during the day and the late afternoons are characterised by blue skies, sunshine and light to medium coastal winds.
We don’t walk that far from our starting point at the Kings Beach Whale lookout — not even to Dep’s Beach. Dep’s Beach like Petrel Cove, is still layered with dead baby carp from the River Murray, and as this is snack food for Maya we avoid the beaches, we stay on the clifftop path and find areas amongst the coastal vegetation for Maya to play around in.
When we were in Melbourne, Victoria for several days to check out a new standard silver poodle to replaceKayla we stayed at Mornington close to the local racecourse. We didn’t have time on this trip to walk the Balcombe Estuary Nature Trail from the Nepean Highway to Mt Martha Beach. That walk, which was photographed by Joyce Evans around 2003, is planned for our next trip to Melbourne in early February, when we pick up the standard poodle puppy from Cranbourne.
Whilst in Mornington we were able to go for several early morning poodlewalks with Maleko to, and around, a local wetland at Narambi Station Reserve. We avoided the adjacent Narambi sportsfield even though it was popular with the local dogwalkers.
On a couple of those mornings we started to explore the nearby Tanti Creek and the heritage Mornington Railway line down to the Mornington Station. We eventually found a way to walk though this raw and rough area to the station at the end of the line.
In the last month or so I have avoided most of the poodlewalks that Kayla and I regularly did together in the early morning. I have avoided the local Waitpinga bushland completely as the memories are too painful. Currently, on my morning walks, I am only walking in places that Kayla and I would rarely explore.
I did walk along the Victor Harbor beach towards Bridge Point and the mouth of the Hindmarsh River with Suzanne and Maleko last Friday morning (2nd December). Surprisingly, the mouth of the Hindmarsh River was open and there was still a strong flow out to the sea.
Suzanne would regularly do this walk with Kayla and her friend from Goolwa — Jane and Scally, her standard poodle. Jane was sick that Friday so I filled in. The Friday walk concludes with coffee and banana bread at Qahwa at 8am.
We put Kayla down last Tuesday (22nd November). She was 8 years old and the ultra sound revealed that she had advanced cancer of the lymph nodes which was diffused through her body. She had stopped eating when we were in Robe several weeks ago and she hadn’t eaten for two weeks. She was losing weight and her liver had shrunken to such a degree that the vet found it was difficult to locate it on the ultrasound. Kayla was wasting away.
She was much loved and is deeply missed. This was one of the last photos that I made. It was made on our last Sunday morning Rosetta Head walk together.
It was before we realized that she had cancer. We working on the assumption that she had an ongoing viral infection. Looking back we can see that she did did have a viral infection but the cancer had so weakened her immune system that her body couldn’t overcome it.
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.
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.