Carina photoshoot

Prior to going to meet Gilbert and Eric at Hopetoun in the Wimmera-Mallee  to make some more  images for the Mallee Routes project  I camped at Murrayville to photo some of the  nearby  silos.  There were a couple of days of overcast conditions in the Mallee and I wanted to take advantage of these conditions  to make some 8x10 black and white photos.

This is the silo at Carina, which is just south of Murrayville:

This is going to be a slow project.  As it is turning out it requires several hours travelling time,  overcast conditions, camping  and a few pictures in the morning and the evening at the most.  Then the weather changes back to the usual  blue sky and bright sunshine and I pack up  the photoshoot  until the next time. 

a day trip to the Mallee

On Thursday the wild, stormy winter weather eased and we had a day of overcast skies, little rain and no wind. So I loaded the large format cameras into the Subaru Outback  and took off for  a day trip the Mallee along the Mallee Highway. 

I needed to continue to  photograph the silos with the 8x10 Cambo  for the forthcoming Weltraum  exhibition  in the Shimmer Photographic Biennnale. I photographed  at Peake and Lameroo.  The silo at Geranium was  difficult and I left it for another occasion. I didn't make it to the Victorian Mallee as 220 kilometres one way was  far enough for a  day trip.  

Maleko accompanied me on the day  trip.  It was his first time on a photo trip. 

After I finished the  silo photoshoot in  Lameroo   I briefly  photographed around the town.   I struck up a conversation with a wool buyer  who had seen me photographing the silos about the history of the Murray Mallee.  He informed  me that the  last train on the Mallee Highway  railway line had been around October 2015,  and  that the silos along the Mallee Highway now stand empty. The wheat is now picked at the farm gate up by trucks  and then taken by road to either Pinnaroo or Tailem Bend.  

That is  is the end of an era that began with the vegetation clearance,  agricultural development,  small farms and  the railway infrastructure in the early 20th century.  

a disappointing Lamaroo photoshoot

The general consensus is that film-based, large format photography will endure in the digital age due to its simplicity  i.e.,    relying on minimal technology to render a high-quality image. It is true that there is very little that can go wrong with a view camera from the standpoint of technology failure. 

The picture below  is the result of my first steps in the 8x10 Mallee Highway  silo project. This  is a silo at Lamaroo that I photographed whilst returning from Canberra in 2015.  I had scoped the silos  on my way to Canberra  a week earlier,  and I thought that they would be a suitable place  for me to start.   There was easy access  to the silos,  no security and the silos  suited  the afternoon light. 

As it was raining when I arrived in Lameroo, I waited in the Subaru for the squall to pass,  then  I carried  the Cambo monorail out to the location  to make a couple of photos. It started raining just as I finished the shoot, and it rained all the way on the drive back to Victor Harbor.  

The 19th century  photographic look of the  sculptural form of the silo imposed on  the landscape is what I am after. Though there  is  an emerging  climate of photographic nostalgia  for traditional photography and the craft of handmade images,  traditional photography for me  is  just large format + film;   rather than alternative photographic processes,  such as the wet plate  process,  tintypes or ambrotypes.  

Unfortunately,  my  old 240mm Schneider Symmar f5.6 lens could not cover the movements of the Cambo's raised front standard; the trees in the shade on the right of the silo have no detail;  the negative has streak marks from the tank development of Ilford FP4 Plus at the Analogue Lab in Adelaide;  and scanning  the negative  with the Epson V700 flatbed scanner  has caused  Newton Rings  to appear on the digital file.   

All in all this is a  disappointing,  and somewhat disheartening result. Sure  the project and equipment are a low budget, but I had  been hoping for better results than this.  

at Wallaroo

I spent several days camping at Wallaroo on the Yorke Peninsula with Gilbert Roe, a fellow photographer based in Adelaide. We spent the time  exploring the region with our cameras:  Gilbert was using his pinhole camera and I was working with  my  large format cameras. I concentrated on the silos.

 This is one image that I made in the late afternoon with both the  Cambo 8x10 (using black and white film) and the  Cambo 5x7 (using colour film):  

It  was a trial run for me in terms of  camping whilst  being on the road with  the large format equipment. Renting a house,  staying in a cheap motel, or a cabin in a caravan park,  is too expensive these days. Camping was a  trial run because our camping gear is very old and basic,  and I haven't been camping for 20 years or more. So I needed  to see whether this mode of accommodation would work for me as a way of doing the photography road trips. 

silos + coffee with photo friends

I started  on the  large format silo project yesterday evening with a  black and white   shoot of the silos at Talem Bend using the 8x10 Cambo in late afternoon.  However,  the conditions were not ideal  for this kind of photoshoot.  

The sun is now quite intense even before it disappears below the horizon, and the clouds that I wanted  for cloud cover did not eventuate.   There were  clouds  in the sky when we were in Adelaide,  and it looked promising as we drove along the south-eastern freeway to Talem Bend.   But the clouds  hugged the coastline of the Fleurieu Peninsula coast,  rather than moving inland across the Murraylands.   So, to my dismay,  it was clear blue sky at the silo location.  

The next stage of the silo project was  organized today whilst  I was in Adelaide having  a coffee with Peter Barnes and Gilbert Roe at Cafe Troppo in Whitmore Square.   This stage  consists of   a photo trip with Gilbert  in mid-October 2015  along the Malle Highway ---probably the section between Pinaroo in South Australia and Toolebuc in Victoria. We have agreed to  camp at Ouyen and  to make trips  out from that base.  Gilbert will be using his pinhole camera.