Monday, January 01, 2007

Photographing Landscapes

Patience and per-severance are the two words that are paramount in capturing the image that you see in your mind's eye. How many times have you been shown "vacation" pictures and the person that took the picture takes five minutes to "explain" what the picture is and what it should look like? With a little patience and perseverance anyone serious about photography will never have to explain anything. The shot should jump out at the viewer. When I was in Australia a few years back, I was staying in Melbourne. I had heard about a sandstone formation called "The Twelve Apostles" on the sea coast of the Providence of Victoria in southeast Australia. It was about a three and one half hour drive (sitting on the wrong side of the car, and driving on the wrong side of the road-you've got to stay focused!) from Melbourne on two lane roads that travel through flat and rolling country scenes with 20-30 foot hedgerows dividing pasture lands and cultivated fields. As I neared the coast, the road traveled through a rain forest that would make you believe that you had driven into a tropical jungle somewhere in the South Pacific! The rain forest went on for miles and as the road broke out of the forest you could see the ocean in the far distance. Following my map I hooked up with the coast road that would take me to the "The Twelve Apostles". Eons ago, there were finger peninsulas jutting out into the ocean from the coast made up of sandstone. Sandstone is so soft, that the wave action at the base of each one of the peninsulas erroded the base so that all was left was a sandstone sentry standing in a line up the coast in the shallow waters of the ocean. I arrived at about 8 a.m. and as I parked the rental (with the steering wheel on the wrong side of the car) and started putting my equipment together, the sky was heavily overcast and the windshield started to blur with a misty rain. I grabbed my medium format camera, (Pentax 67-which I have now upgraded to a Pentax 67 ll) my rain gear, and explored the coast line for a position to shoot one of the most incredible scenes I had ever seen along any coast, anywhere. The rock formation stretches for a mile or more, so after a couple of hours I found a shoot position, based on a composition that had formed in my mind's eye that was clear of the other visitors, so I wouldn't be in the way, and they wouldn't be either.. The sky hadn't cleared and the misty rain continued on and off, so I spread out a small plastic tarp to protect my delicate booty, set up the camera and tripod for the composition I wanted, and settled in. This is where patience comes in. I sat there all day. While this may sound boring to some, for me, it's a time to absorb the life spirit of the area. The smell of the ocean traveling on the gentle breeze of that day, the sounds from the coastal birds, the waves thumping on the bases of the Apostles and the changing overcast light on my subject in front of me. I knew the shot I wanted was here, but the weather was not being kind and the light was beginning to fade, so at about 9:30 p.m. I packed up my gear and drove the 3 1/2 hours back to Melbourne. Perseverance. I could see the shot in my mind's eye so as I was heading back to Melbourne I was already committed to coming back the next day. I arrived in Melbourne around 1:00 a.m.-took a quick shower, jumped into bed, and got up around 4:30 a.m. and started the drive back to the southern coast. As the sun began to rise on the drive back to "The Twelve Apostles" I could sense that the weather may be in my favor-if only it would be clear down at the coast, I prayed while I drove! When I arrived at around 7:00 a.m. I was one of the first humans there, so I set up in the spot I had found the day before and settled in again. I studied the shot through the day looking for the right angle of lighting from the sun. It wasn't until late in the day, about an hour or two before sunset that the shot in front of me matched the shot in my mind's eye. The shutter made that familiar sound and I knew I had the shot. With an exhilaration of knowing that I had hit the "sweet spot" on the shot, I packed up my equipment, pulled out of my parking spot, and headed out on the two lane road up a long sloping hill that would take me away from the coast and back to Melbourne. As I was driving up the hill, I was mentally engrossed with the landscape I had just shot when I noticed that a car had come over the hill and was heading straight for me! Luckily neither car was going very fast and I was able to snap out of my exhilaration for the "shot" and realized I WAS IN THE WRONG LANE!!! I jerked my car to the "correct" lane, and I can tell you that it wasn't very hard to lip read at all! As our cars passed each other, every person in the other car was looking straight at me say something derogatory about my ancestry! Ah..., patience and perseverance. It works well in America. But when you are in a foreign country, sitting on the wrong side of the car and driving on the wrong side of the road - add FOCUS(!) to patience and perseverance!
EQUIPMENT USED - PENTAX 67
LENS - 105MM F-2.4
FILM - VELVIA 120 - 50ASA
TRIPOD - BOGEN 3221 - W/MANFROTTO PROBALL 468RC HEAD

1 Comments:

Blogger joeydee said...

John-

Love the photographs. Can't wait to read more of your stuff.

joeydee (www.joeydee.squarespace.com)

2:01 PM  

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