Australia Day weekend photoshoot

This behind the camera picture  was taken whilst  I was on  an early morning photoshoot along the Heysen Trail,  with my Linhof Technika 5x4 during the Australia Day weekend. The Heysen Trail photoshoot  was combined with a poodle walk.

I have avoided the beaches this weekend due to  the families  having summer fun on, and taking over,   the beaches The summer fun  also includes  playing on the rocks around Petrel Cove or climbing  Rosetta Head in thongs.  As expected there were more casualties  at Petrel Cove. It is obvious that people do not read the warning signs by the steps  to the beach or on the rocks; or if they do read them, then they ignore them.    

On the morning of the photoshoot the light was dull and flat.   I would have preferred  the soft, early morning light, which was there  when I had previously  scoped the  site,  but it was not to be.  I waited for a while to see what was happening with the cloud cover,   but I realised that  there was little point in hanging around waiting for better light to eventuate. The  cloud cover was  far too heavy.   

landscape and history #1

Whilst on the recent early morning poodle walks I started work on the second part of the Fleurieuscapes project.  

The history  of the region after the dispossession of the  Ramindjeri people (who lived at Encounter Bay and around Cape Jervis)  is one of clearing the land  for cattle and sheep farming.  This clearing  of the bush represented development and progress for the white settlers. 

I  wanted to show  this history  of the landscape photographically.  After a lot of scooping with the digital camera (Sony NEX-7) I decided to photograph a stark tree in front of a cleared field along Baum Rd in Waitpinga.  This is the photoshoot with the 5x4 Linhof (Technika IV) from early this morning before the hot, dry north-westerly wind started in force and the temperature became unpleasantly hot. 

I did two interpretations.  The first  one took advantage of the  flat light whilst  it was still overcast,  and the second one was  made when the light cloud cover had started  txobreak up and there was some early morning sunlight on the subject.  I couldn't make up my mind which interpretation would work  best. I won't know until the sheet film has been  developed, scanned, and uploaded into Lightroom. 

Fleurieuscapes: the exhibition

The  Fleurieuscapes exhibition at Magpie Springs in South Australia's Fleurieu Peninsula has been hung,  and everything is ready for the 2pm opening on Sunday afternoon, the 17th of January.  The theme is people, space and place and this is the first part of the project. Rage second part is more historical in  orientation and the palette is darker.  

The exhibition  has been expanded from the Red Room, the main gallery  room,  to two rooms;  and it now consists of 22 images instead of the initial 16. The  images were made with medium and  large format  cameras,  and there is  a mixture of colour images and black and white ones, with the colours one predominant.  

Petrel Cove: am

This seascape is Petrel Cove in the early morning. It is part of the Fleurieuscapes  project that I have been working on  since we shifted to living at Victor Harbor. 

The picture  was made when I  had returned to  the car after a  poodle walk  along Deps Beach with Ari and Kayla. I was taken by the softness and the quality of the light. 

The sea is a big part of the southern Fleurieu Peninsula ---playing on the beach, fishing, surfing etc-- and I struggle to find  a way to photograph  it. How do you do it? It's a slow working it out and hoping that an opening will eventuate. The opening would be  a photograph that's a doorway that is photographically interesting.

The classic seaside/beach photography project is  Joel Meyerowitz's  1979 book Cape Light: a book of  colour photographs of the seaside resort of Provincetown, Cape Cod and its soft natural light  made in the summer of 1976 with an 8x10. It is  considered a classic work of colour photography and the  8 x 10  camera meant  that his  stance  towards  summer cottages and ice cream shops  was both one of patience and meditative.  The images are  in and around his house in Cape Cod and  the mood is one of languid, forever-long summer days. These are not really colorised or pumped up. 

rockpool photoshoot

A digital version (using the Sony NEX-7)  from  the  photoshoot with  the Rolleiflex SL66 (both colour and black and white) this morning. I had come across the rockpool  yesterday when I was  on a poodlewalk with Ari and Kayla. I needed cloud cover and a low tide to be able to do  it.

I had to wait for the low tide so that I could access the site. I  needed the cloud cover to soften the early morning sun whilst I waited for the tide to go out. Even then,  I was photographing with the sea swirling  around my shoes and tripod  legs.  

Mosquito Hill fire

There was a fire yesterday  on the Fleurieu Peninsula at Mosquito Hill  near the Scott Conservation Park, which is north east of the river town of Goolwa on the River Murray.  The fire burnt around 130 hectares of scrub and farmland around Mosquito Hill during  a day of high temperatures and strong winds. Sheds and a greenhouse were destroyed, but no houses and, thankfully,  no people died. The roadside ignition point was  a site on the Goolwa Rd. 

I went and scoped the  fire area this morning. It took me an hour or so of driving around after going to  Mt Compass to find the burnt area, which is mostly farmland.  I didn't really know the bush fire area that well--it was bounded by Goolwa Road, Kokoda Road, Deep Creek Road, Trig Point Road, Olsen Road and Cleland Gully Road--- 

I wanted to see whether the area  was accessible  and what the various objects  (trees and farmland) looked like. Would it be suitable for dark landscapes?  

Fleurieuscapes 2: Granite Island whaling site

My online research has indicated that the Ngarrindjeri bore the brunt of frontier European violence before and after the formal occupation of South Australia in 1836,  which  was premised on dispossession of its Aboriginal population of their land.  Women were kidnapped by bands of sealers operating from Kangaroo Island and the coastal camps in South Australia; the Ngarrindjeri people were attacked by men overlanding sheep and cattle to Adelaide; and when settlers  occupied the land to pasture their sheep, many used poison and guns to protect their assets.

I've been searching and scoping for Fleurieuscapes 2, which is  the  significant  historical sites of the Fleurieu Peninsula from the vantage point  of the traditional owners (both the Ramindjeri and the Ngarrindjeri) It is an exercise in historical remembrance in  post-colonial Australia. What I scoped was the site of the whaling station run by Captain Blenkinsop at the  scruffy and run down tourist precinct of Granite Island:

The whaling site  was hard to find,  as there were no  obvious historical signs marking the location.  The  tourist signs were all about the wild life and  the walks.   So I had to figure out where the best  protected site for whaling  would be approximately, then hunt around for any historical markers in the vicinity. 

aboriginal presence at Encounter Bay

I've started  to research what happened to the Ramindjeri people, the traditional owners of the land,  after the conquest of their lands and British settlement of  the Fleurieu Peninsula. The settler history is a narrative of  from pioneer port to seaside resort' and this narrative is premised on the the ‘great Australian silence’ in regard to Indigenous people and their history. 

The research is  for the second historical  part of Fleurieuscapes project.  The art historical context of the project is that Australian arts practice abandoned the landscape in the 1960’s at the end of Modernism, the last major figures being Williams, Nolan and Olsen as arts practice entered post modernity and deconstruction. Whilst there are notable exceptions (Storrier, Robinson etc.), landscape representation was left to Aboriginal peoples as Aboriginal painting emerged from the deserts of Central Australia. 

The second  part of the Fleuriescapes project looks at the  significant  historical sites of the Fleurieu Peninsula from the vantage point  of the traditional owners (both the Ramindjeri and the Ngarrindjeri) in  a post-colonial Australia. This history is one where many of the traditional people living on the Fleurieu Peninsula and along the Corrong  were massacred. Those who survived had the power to govern their lives removed, as well as their connections to the land and the space, and as well as their language to articulate their view of what had happened to them. 

The picture below is of the site of an old sealing/whaling station at Encounter Bay, Victor Harbor  that preceded British settlement. The contact  is circa 1830's,  and one of the prime reason  for the Europeans to make contact with aboriginal people was to seek women. Eventually,  some of the Ramindjeri men and women  worked as harpooners and whale spotters. 

 There was another  sealing/whaling station at  Granite Island in Victor Harbor  Many of the Ramindjeri people succumbed to the small pox epidemic which swept the area in the 1830s and then to general disease.  In 1872 the whaling industry, which had started on Kangaroo Island around 1806,  and which produced whale oil  and bones for export,  closed down due to a lack of Southern Right whales.

reflections on photography in Wellington

I've been continuing to search the web looking for more Wellington-based art photographers,  other than  those I mentioned in an earlier post on this blog and on a post here. I was interested in those art  photographers who had an online presence,  and  in my search I came across Mark Marriott, Hans Weston, Tracey Kearns. These are photographers with a body of work and who exhibit regularly. 

By all accounts Wellington has a number of  good active art photographers, non-profit galleries,  some small artist-run spaces and a photographic dealer gallery.  The  art photographic scene appears  to be lively, the work interesting, with much of it is  project based.  There are more reflections on the Wellington photographic scene  here.

An example  of a project based  body of work  is the  recent book by the poet /photographer Mary Macpherson.  Old New World, consists  of  her photographs made over seven years  about the changes in New Zealand society as seen in the small regional/rural towns throughout the country.   The narrative is one of a shift from a traditional New Zealand, to places of prosperity and development that look very different to the 1960s and 70s. Peter Ireland interpreted the work "as a melancholy lament for the steady disappearance of the New Zealand of her childhood and youth, especially since the economic “reforms” of the 1980s." 

Maybe not.  There  is a section that deals with places that have been changed or transformed through development. Ireland says that:

The road trip is a bit of a guy thing, and, formally, her imagery then tended to echo the style pioneered here by Robin Morrison and furthered by other male photographers such as John McDermott and Derek Henderson [ie., The Terrible Boredom of Paradise]

However, the  photographic  works that Macpherson says that she thought about before making her Old New World photographs  were Stephen Shore’s Uncommon Places (for his photographing of everyday streets and buildings with tremendous formal sophistication)  Joel Sternfeld’s American Prospects (his restrained, yet socially charged images) and Walker Evan’s photographs of buildings.

Fleurieuscapes exhibition

My forthcoming exhibition  at Magpie Springs  in January 2016. It is the first step in the Fleurieuscape project and is a sampler,  as there are many more images in the project. Some of the images in the exhibition can  be seen on my website.

The project is premised on  photographs having an almost innate seriality: their sense is more easily accessed in the company of others; not just other photographs in a  show, but also  by other photographs by the same photographer.   In our contemporary digital world, with its networked technologies,   seriality is reworked as re-blog with the  image being re-configured and modified as they proliferate across the web.  

The Fleurieuscapes exhibition starts to  explore the regional land/urbanscape of the Fleurieu Peninsula in the contemporary world of a borderless global capitalism,  with its society of the spectacle. The regional is where we live amidst the commodity structure of a capitalism that transforms things into ghostlike appearances of themselves.

The project is a representation of the sensuous particulars of the Fleurieu Peninsula as a place to be in, rather than as a tourist destination or a wilderness. It is a landscape that has been largely shaped by human beings who cleared the land for sheep and dairy farming. The aboriginal presence prior to the white settlement has been more or less obliterated. Their presence is marked by absence and memory.