So, long weekend. Cameras. Roadtrip.
A three day jaunt to the south coast of Western Australia, a group of photographers including yours truly went to an isolated 'homestead' in the Fitzgerald River National Park. The origin of the trip was to get photos of the various flowers in bloom at this time of the year. As events would have it, we ended up with far more in our photographic collection.
We set off on early Saturday. Different groups were going at different times. I myself went with fellow photographers Michaela, Jay, and Lee. We had rented a larger people carrier anticipating more travellers, but a number of people bizarrely (to my mind after having paid up front) pulled out at the last minute.
The trip down to the homestead was largely uneventful, and we made light work of photographic opportunities. I guess if you are new to Australian outback you would see a lot that would draw you in, but we were all a little more seasoned and the only main perspective to photograph on the way was a distant set of shots of the Stirling Range.
Arriving later in the afternoon, we had to navigate through about 50km or so of unsealed road (aka red dirt track). A glance about highlighted some of the flora on offer, and we dodged some of the local fauna on the way (in the guise of Roos). On arrival we dropped off our stuff and then scooted back up the track to get some sunset imagery. We had been blessed with some nice weather that Saturday, but our luck was about to change the next day.
The homestead was very pleasant and quite well furnished for an outback retreat. We had booked ahead for an evening meal, which was a sensible option as the food was both very nice and filling, and saved some effort with making a meal after an eight hour journey.
There was a bit of an effort at astrophotography by a couple of us, but we had considerable difficulty getting a decent focus on the stars and it looked like some higher cloud was obscuring the view somewhat.
On the Sunday we were treated to grey, and rain. It was quite annoying rain as well - the type that just seems to hang in the air, like a kind of osmosis. Not really heavy, but you just felt like you were walking through moisture. This was a little problematic for photographs, as the lens were prone to get water droplets very quickly, and even without apparent rainfall.
I know some photographers berate the rain, as though it expunges all kind of chances for decent photos. Personally, I just see it as an added challenge. The lack of shadow and more general light coverage means you have to think more carefully about your shots, but it still provides opportunity.
We chose in the end to travel up to Bremner Bay, a little coastal town about 100km east of Albany. It was once the main the port for boats in the area, but that was some time ago. Some of the coastal shots I liked a great deal, as the mixture of wind, rain and surf produced a misty like effect. The sand seemed almost white and some images looked black and white despite being in colour. We spent most of the morning and the early afternoon there, picking up some food (and I some locally produced wine - it has a winery).
In the afternoon we largely relaxed, getting local photos of the homestead. Rain precluded any landscape photography, and the same at night for long exposures of buildings. I had gambled the weather would clear that night, hence not taking photos the night before, but the gamble didn't pay off. Oh well, next time.
We had something of Jacob's Join for lunch and later dinner. I found the local wine produce to be very tasty (a local Shiraz). A few of us were witness to a bit of localised flooding in our bedroom, leading to some room changing due to very wet beds.
The next morning I tried to get something of a sunrise, but despite generally clearer weather, I was thwarted by low lying cloud at the horizon. Even so I managed to get some pictures of plants and landscape. We got our things packed to check-out and headed to Point Ann for a final set of photos before heading back.
Point Ann is a secluded and isolated bay, some 35km from the homestead, and a good deal further from everywhere else. Some people were camping there. ON our way along the dirt track, we found that someone (presumably a park ranger) had closed the main gate barring access. The reason was that in high rainfalls the road was prone to flooding. We were debating whether or not to chance it, but luckily at that moment two 4 wheels drives came the other way. The drivers said that the road was quite clear (although occasional showers could alter that) and it was worth giving it a shot. We ventured on.
Opting to forgo photos on the way to the bay, we headed straight on and true enough found the road more than reasonable. As we approached the bay from high up, we were subject to gloriously clear blue sky and only distant cloud. The bay was bright blue, and the sea water translucent. In the water we could see the large, unmistakable masses of whales.
Whales are seen throughout much of Western Australia ocean during this time of year, in a yearly migration. In Point Ann they often came with their young. They were generally content it seemed to simply roll in the water, and so we were not witness to the spectacle of whales jumping out of the water. What we did get was a lot of tail thrashing, which was a remarkable sight to witness. A couple of whales came close to one another and seemed to embark on a kind tail hitting with each other. It was quite impressive to watch. The surrounding landscape was stunning and we took the opportunity for all kinds of shots.
In the end though we had to set off. Just as we were walking back to the car, we got caught by a sudden shower that drenched us in just a few seconds. And so we began the long drive back. Occasionally we grabbed some roadside shots, but generally we were pressed by the need to get back at a reasonable hour (or at least I was - I was due in work early the next day).
I definitely intend to go back. The landscape was amazing, and it was just isolated enough to give a sense of disconnect. Sparse and intermittent mobile phone signal helped as well. I took my DSLR, as well as a couple of film cameras. I'm still waiting for the film prints, but the images below are some of the better digital ones I took. When I get a moment I will probably put a few on the portfolio, but I'll wait to see what I get from the film cameras first.