Inside this issue
My Home Landscape
Light, colour, movement and location
My first real camera was a soviet Zenit E SLR, the one before that was a Kodak Instamatic 133. I used to love walking around making pictures with those cameras, everything was a possible picture for me. Waiting for the film to come back from the chemist seemed to take ages. I have been hooked ever since.
I live in one of the most popular tourist and recreational locations in eastern New South Wales, Australia, just one hour drive north of Sydney, close to hand with over seventeen sandy beaches that stretch up this coastline, I'm spoiled for choice. But this is not where I grew up, in fact, it couldn't be far more removed. Born and raised in the South Wales industrial valley of Merthyr Tydfil, where a trip to the beach was an annual holiday event only, a fortnight at Tenby or Oxwich. That was pretty much my experience of the coast. So when I arrived here in 1982 I felt as though I were on a continual holiday.
I have always made pictures, can't remember when I started, but mum used to let me pinch dad's camera when he was at work so I could go out over the fields and point it at anything that took my fancy; I still have a couple of those shots.
When I started to take pictures here in Australia, I had difficulty in getting to grips with the vibrancy of light and colour, I didn't know how to deal with it. So photography become a now and then pastime, but there was always this niggling little thing going on in me that photography is what I wanted to do.
Now I'm not going to bore you with life's adventure, other than to say, it happened. Since then I have made pictures of Prime Ministers, Fighter pilots, world-renowned musicians and Olympic champions. Made pictures on million-dollar ocean yachts, hung out of helicopters, I was even one of the first photographers to take pictures in the newly appointed Purnululu National Park situated in the Kimberly region of Western Australia. The area was gazetted as a National Park in 1987, I went in in 1989. But this article is not about the past, but the now.
In all the years I have been shooting digital, a long time now, I have never fallen in love with it, digital that is, not like I used to when shooting film on my very much loved Pentax 67. Digital from a creative point just never gave me the satisfaction of making pictures, from a commercial point, it works amazingly well. But I'm a realist and times move on. So in an attempt to fall back in love with taking pictures on a personal basis, not just as a commercial venture. I purchased a new camera the Fuji GFX 50s, in all its medium format loveliness.
Now here's my dilemma. With so many people owning a camera and the vast majority of them being landscape photographers; then, for me living in a very popular over photographed area, I will have to push myself to come up with an image that will offer more to the viewer. Creative challenge accepted.
I set myself some parameters. Light being the obvious, low light, vibrant light the list can go on. Colour, I will think and shoot in colour, why not there's plenty of it. Movement, that's a good one, the last, life. This one I decided to make about myself. The images are made along the coast that has shaped who I am in this new country I now call home. There is quite a list to this. A couple of bonus point's in this one. Not only will this keep my costs down it will also reduce my carbon footprint in the endeavour of making pictures. I figured I owe it that much, with three trips around this very big country, work-related, and five trips back and for to the UK before COVID restrictions kicked in. So, I thought this is going to be a doddle.
This is where my problems started, thinking it was going to be easy, boy did I get that wrong. I had no idea how many people now make landscape pictures. One particular place I frequent, Norah Head, mainly because it has great a coastline with a lighthouse to boot. Well, this particular morning I get there quite early, well before sunup. First off there were a couple already set up with cameras attached to tripods and pointing at the horizon line on the hilltop.
One of those locations I came up with is a beautiful bay called Frazer beach, situated in Munmorah State Recreation Park. It's a bit more of a drive, 35-45 minutes in the car, but enough remoteness to put off many a landscape shooter who doesn't like to walk far. This place will, no matter what time of day offers something that will take a picture. But you do have to watch the swell, I have been caught a couple of times, luckily enough only getting my trousers wet and not the gear. I go back quite a bit, even to make portraits.
One of the techniques I like to employ every now and then when shooting a moving subject like water or trees in the wind is multiple layering. This technique offers up, depending on how many exposures you want, many still or moving images on top of each other. I first tried this out when I used to use a panoramic camera called a Noblex. It didn't have a very slow shutter, the slowest I think from memory was around a 1/15th, obviously not enough for landscape work; so I used to calculate the exposure needed to layer still's on top of each other without winding on. Now, these days you let the camera work the math out, so much easier. But you still need a good tripod. I quite like this method. This is one of the lovely joys of making landscape images, it affords you the time to use the technology to create, as you are usually on your own and there's nobody you need to think about other than getting what you want.
Now due to the fact I'm Welsh, I do like a bit of weather, so I tend to keep an eye on the sky and if I feel it's going to offer something then that's when my wife will let me know I need to get out, but I think that's got to do more with the fact she wants to get rid of me for a while. When the sky is empty, I call it; nobodies home sky, it just doesn't move me very much, give me a cloud any day, or Welsh mist. Ah! Welsh mist, my eyes just glazed over then.
I'm not making any artistic statement with these images, they are about my home, where I live, there's no motive in them other than this is the landscape I live with every day and I chose to photograph it this way, I could have chosen a different approach and hidden the marks of man, but what would be the point, we live in the landscape, it's unfortunate that many people don't realise it.
I have three or four, hold on I'll just count, four filters, but I usually end up using around one the Soft Grad 0.9. Mind you the GFX can handle a lot on its own.
All my work is shot in RAW, although I'm told the Fuji jpgs are pretty good. edited in Capture One Pro, dodged, burnt and spotted, if I missed any in Photoshop, I do add a slight grain, call me old fashioned. Simple.