On our way back to Adelaide from Melbourne we stayed a couple of days near Johanna Beach, which is close to the Great Otway National Park. This stay had been planned by Suzanne a couple of months ago.
I had tentatively planned to add onto this stay some photography of the effects of the bush fire at Separation Creek and Wye River along the Great Ocean Road. However, the length of time it took to travel the distance to these localities and coastal towns was too great to photograph in the early morning light or at twilight.
So I took the opportunity of the stay to go photographing in the rainforest of the Otway Ranges. This is a scoping image made with my digital camera--the Sony NEX-7 whilst taking a walk along the Old Ocean Road:
I was exploring the rainforest outside the national park--the Otway Forest along the Old Ocean Road from memory. I used my baby Linhof---the Linhof Technika 70---with its 2 6x9 Linhof film backs: one was loaded with colour film (Kodak Portra 160) the other was loaded with black and white film (Ilford PanF Plus). Alas, I had inadvertently loaded the colour film the wrong way. So I've only got the black and white film negatives.
There were pockets of farming and human habitation within the forest along the Old Ocean Road that I walked along so the forest was the product of an interaction between nature and various phases of human habitation. To understand it as a place is to acknowledge and recognise the intimate relationship between the human and the non-human, between the social and the ecological. It is a cultural landscape.
Landscape photography has a bad press these days. It is seen as conservative and predictable, as being the complacent expression of an identification with the status quo and one where people think they are seeing landscape, but are only seeing themselves. The image of nature, as it were, is a vehicle for expressing human subjectivity. It is generally seen as sentimental and antiquated. An inferior art form as it were.
Developing a poetics of place has to deal with the impact of colonialism and its values of reducing ecosystems to a value of human possession and profit. The colonial project was a violent dispossession/possession one, based on the massacre of First Nations people in the act of dispossession and theca of possession being one of power control and exploitation of the land.
A place-based photography, therefore, needs to be a post-colonial poetics that would inform, provoke and inspire as well as paying close attention to the details and beauty of a native eucalyptus forest, which, for some reason, that been saved from being stripped and cleared so that land could be used for agriculture.