Those close to me may have noticed my barely concealed pathological desire for order. I am fully aware that this is one of those genuine weaknesses one could declare at a job interview, and not sound smug, unlike “Oh, a weakness? Hmm, let’s see. I’m a perfectionist?”. I say pathological because I actually feel anxious when things are disorderly, to the point of preventing forward motion. I write spreadsheets of packing lists for roadtrips, bike trips, work trips, lists for things that live permanently inside the camper, lists for stuff that gets added on the day of departure with the camper. I spend hours arranging the lists. I print the lists. W ignores the lists. Last weekend we took a quick trip to Margaret River. It is our 20th trip, and 150km down the road we realise we have no coffee. In terms of functional necessity, one may as well have forgotten to bring clothes.
I deal with my Disorder Disorder by making myself take abstract photos, and not rearranging my tees that call to me daily to be placed in order of hue and saturation. The Fleeting Glimpses technique (named during a road trip from Melbourne to Perth with photographer C, who introduced me to the idea) of shooting out the window of a car travelling at 110km is one way I practise achieving the unpredictable. I took these photos in the wonderfully verdant and be-sheeped hills of New South Wales, between Wagga and Canberra a couple of weeks ago. I love that the Auto-Focus and Vibration Reduction mechanism on my 70-200mm lens go crazy trying to lock onto something, which results in blurred lines going in lots of different directions, or a single plane of sharpness and all the rest a blur. Which is exactly what my brain feels like more than some of the time.
I welcome feedback on any of the pics I post. What do you like? What don’t you like? What do you want more of? Don’t be shy! It is great to hear what strikes people.
Reaching the Barkly highway, we were out of opal and gems and into copper/zinc-lead-silver mining country, headed for Mt Isa where Rotary invented the Southern Hemispheres largest rodeo. Offering a side of Mardi Gras and ute muster with your bull riders, I was disappointed we would miss such heady goings-on. Fighting the urge to pick up a couple of R.M. Williams longhorn seat covers, I sought out coffee at a gorgeous restored building. Packed to the ceiling with horse, outback, and mining paraphernalia, warm scones on offer to the refrains of ‘A pub with no beer’ performed live out the back, a genuine Cobb & Co mail-coach, and stabled horses drew me out. The barista had stepped out for lunch, taking with her all knowledge of coffee production. Itineraries and spreadsheets wait for no barista to return, so W set his jaw, and we rolled on.
It was 5pm. Marvelling at the diminishing light falling on Gregory National Park, my driver had the crazed stare one gets after 900km of white lines, and around eight hours of talking-book about time travel and Highlanders in the 1700s. The Widower’s words came back to us as we flew by a sign mentioning a dam. Constructed in 1959, Corella Dam supplied water to the Mary Kathleen Uranium mine. Now decommissioned, it allegedly has a hole in the wall which means it never fills. A largely unoccupied park, free campers spaced themselves 500m from each other, and we felt most when we snagged a spot near the water with a ready-made rock fireplace. “I cannot believe this spot is free!”, I exclaimed excitedly. As the arctic gale blew down the small valley through our campsite toward the water, my chicken dance against flying ember ignition in the parched grass surrounding us, kept me warm. From the house bus perched on the Ridge, Johnny Cash warned of a burning Ring of Fire, and two hardy souls hunkered down in sleeping bags, next to their fishing rods, leaned into the blast that threatened to transform their protective tarp into a magic carpet. I imagined fish caught here would prompt a geiger counter to play Verdi’s Requiem, Dies Irae, but presumably that was the least of their worries.
5am could not arrive sooner. The flappity flap of unsecured tent bits deprived all but the permanently rested of slumber. Alessi came through with a single origin colombian heart starter, and we got the hell out of Dodge.
Renner Springs presented itself in the manner of all roadhouses, at about the time when you have truly reached the limit of your ability to sit contained in a sardine tin, no music in your 1200 strong playlist hits the right note, and crumbed potato and cheese mash with gravy sounds like a well-rounded end to the day. Warmly welcomed at the Roadhouse, we threw up the Taj on the banks of an ornamental pond, eschewing pesky pegs, and paused briefly to admire the craftily silent flotilla of geese. We longed for someone to cook us a meal, and the pub, lined with caps and other clothing items fresh from years of unwashed love, looked like it would make an honest fist of a steak. When the meals arrived, they looked frightened. The seven chips on my plate attempted to conceal themselves under the small grey wedge of barramundi impersonating a jandel*. The slice of tomato, carrot shred, and tablespoon of lettuce spelt a story of eviction from their happy place at the back of the freezer. While these kitchen antics ensued, it was clear W’s steak had been stewing itself silly incorrectly sensing reprieve. It was another beautiful clear night in the Outback.
* also known as thong or flip flop
Clapping eyes on our camper trailer for the first time since W bought it over the phone a couple of months earlier from ebay, we were thrilled! A briefing, a hook up, and we were off, Perth bound, via Kakadu. Four or so weeks of camping ahead, and around 14000km.
Navigating Brisbane to find an outdoor shop, organic store, grass-fed ruminant butcher, and supermarket where you can actually park a car and trailer provided greater challenge than what lay beyond the city bounds. Exhausted by it all, we decided a rest in Noosa would be good use of our first day. A trip to the outdoor store two more times had the trailer fitted out with the first of many improvements to come.
Turns out Noosa camp grounds are in high demand, and wedging ourselves into the last spot at a caravan park some km’s down the road, plugged in the trailer to fire up the fridge and freezer Engels, and headed to the happening end of Noosa town. The quaint little cafes and bars I recall from a trip a few years ago were gone, a row of chain stores in their place. Ending up at the potentially fabulous sounding tapas bar down the road, surrounded by 20 year olds, we gave thought to our itinerary. A jug of sangria meant we got as far as deciding to stay one more night in outer Noosa. We were off to a flying start.
The caravan park palm trees alone were worth staying for.
There is a lot to love about a summer evening and a chilled beverage at sunset, on the Ceduna foreshore. Suffering from an embarrassment of riches in seafood, Ceduna is one of those magical places that owes its contained size to its relative remoteness. The people who live and work here are passionate about fishing, the region, and fishing.
Seated on the balcony and blowing the inherited smoke of other diners away, we were joined at our unfeasibly large dining table by a lovely farmer and his date. Generous with information on the region, garnered by generations of family, he pointed us in the direction of Penong and Cactus Beach. We were not disappointed.
In the fresh morning light we came upon salt lakes of coconut ice, and a surf beach that boasted allegedly one of Australia’s best left handers. Chrissie handed me her polarising filter. Oh.My.Goodness. As one who loves a watery vista, I really should have got one long ago, but I always thought it would be another filter hiding in those otherwise un-useable crevices of my camera bag, clocking up frequent flyer miles but never getting out of their little plastic cases.
Speeding away, Nullabor bound, Chrissie let me in on what I like to refer to as her Fleeting Glimpse technique which involves hanging your camera out the window of a vehicle travelling at 114km per hour, and defying the Vibration Reduction system of your lens. What I was going for here was the idea that you only catch glimpses of things as you speed by the world, you only focus on bits and pieces. It also greatly challenges my (some would argue) pathological need for order and precision. Rookie attempts, more to come.
It’s 2am, zero degrees and I am out in my back yard, with too much caffeine on board, but taking advantage of the crystal clear night and almost no wind. I’ve changed the scale and distance from my subject and have discovered my puny torch is impotent. Ransacking the house and garage for all available light sources, it was me, a koala looking for a date, a lead-footed wallaby, a wombat crashing around, a headlight, and two torches. My first challenge: avoid my visible breath drifting across the camera lens mid-capture.
The second biggest challenge was actually getting enough light to focus on the subject matter. After an hour, I had a blast of inspiration. My studio lights. 600w of joy in each one, not exactly fit for purpose, but all sorts of things seem reasonable in the wee hours. Standing with one on my shoulder pointing at the trees, and risking electrocution (my lecturers warnings ringing in my ears!) it still wasn’t enough. I stuck it out, blindly focussing until my fingers ceased operating, and nose would not stop streaming. Tomorrow, you will find me shopping in the industrial floodlight department.
Two views of the same scene; the first with the puny torch collection, the second with the studio light, giving a lot more filled-in detail.
If I fixed the colour balance, to compensate for the light temperature, these would be bluer in appearance. I prefer the warm result out of the camera.
Hayman Island seems to favour the wind powered sports. A roaring gale from sun-up mixed with the low tide estuary-style beach has me re-experiencing my Canterbury University days windsurfing on the Estuary near Sumner in Christchurch. The wind makes for a lot of movement in the foliage over my long night exposures, and it is lovely to be taking photos of a very different kind of vegetation to my usual. I am amazed at how green the results are – no freaky colours like other times.
Another sawn-off branch – like the one in Daylesford! Love the mix of soft movement in the light foliage, and sharpness in the more rigid trunks.
Thanks to my fab husband I got to spend my birthday at The Lake House in Daylesford. A biting wind at 5pm told me it would be a clear night which usually translates to me wearing all the clothes from my wardrobe at once, and jumping from foot to foot to keep the circulation going in the arctic night, whilst W waves from warmth behind glass. These were my favourite photos from that night. The first one almost looks painted to me, in that classical style. The tiny pinecones and sawn-off log are what grabbed me to begin with, and the pretty, delicate, branches flanking an ominously disappearing path, like Hansel and Gretel would skip off down it never to be seen again. W’s favourite part is the tiny house in the middle.
I love the colours in this, achieved by the use of a couple of light sources. I also have a special affection for gum trees as you may have gathered, so it wins on that count.
Sucker for a starry sky. Is that Orion’s belt? Can anyone recommend a good star identification site?
These remind me of skeletons. Hmm…recurring gothic interpretation.