Edgelands 1

I have just realised that I have been quietly picking up an old project----namely,  Edgelands--whilst I have been haphazardly photographing for the Fleurieuscapes project. I hadn't realised that I had been making photographs of drosscapes, as I just did  the photos in passing, and then forgot about them. They sat in the archives until I revisited the site on a  recent poodlewalk.  Then I remembered making the photos. 

'Edgelands' refers to  those non-descript spaces that lie  between the urban and the rural. They are  an ill-defined, constantly changing boundary that separates the city from the countryside. These transitional zones and disregarded spaces can be found anywhere that urban development meets open land. 

The environmentalist Marion Shoard called these spaces “edgelands”  and adding a description of these kind of spaces:

The edgelands are the debatable space where city and countryside fray into one another. They comprise jittery, jumbled, broken ground: brownfield sites and utilities infrastructure, crackling substations and pallet depots, transit hubs and sewage farms, scrub forests and sluggish canals, allotments and retail parks, slackened regulatory frameworks and guerilla ecologies. 

 Shoard usefully  defined these edgeland spaces as “the interfacial interzone between urban and rural”. 

walking along back country roads

This year during  the early winter  (ie ., June)  I  shifted from photographing in  the littoral zone   to photographing along  the back country roads in the local Waitpinga region. This scoping image of two trees on Pitkin Rd, which was  made whilst I was on an afternoon  poodlewalk, is an example of what I have been tentatively exploring: 

During June I scoped,  then sifted, the images  around Waitpinga into several    photographic possibilities.  Some actually  looked okay and worth  re-photographing with my film cameras.  I   slowly started to re-photograph with my medium format film cameras (a Rolleiflex SL66 and a Linhof Technika 70 with 6x7 and 6x9 film backs) --in both colour and black and white. One step at a time. 

processing 8x10 b+ w

With autumn arriving in South Australia  I have  started  to pick up my large format black and white view camera photography, especially the 8x10 Cambo monorail.  

The conditions are right: overcast skies, little wind and softer  light. Well, these conditions  lasted for a few days before  a cold, gusty  south westerly wind swept across  the southern coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula.  

This kind of  large format view camera photography  has been in the background as I do not have a darkroom at the studio;  nor do I have access to one in Adelaide now that the Analogue Lab has closed.  My last session of processing sheet film was done in Melbourne in 2018,  using Stuart Murdoch's darkroom! 

black and white

I have struggled post-processing  this tree or scrub  on the Heysen Trail in Waitpinga. It had lots of promise  for a black and white image when I came across it whilst walking the poodles   late one  afternoon.  That was over a year ago now,  and it was when Suzanne was walking the last stages of the Heysen Trail. 

I recall  that  it was on  this occasion  when I was crouched amongst the pink gums  setting up the camera that I began to realise that what is called  the scrub or bush in Australia is actually a number of  very different bioregions;  and that we really do need to move beyond an undifferentiated, colonial sense of “the bush” as an amorphous sameness.

macro revisited

In the light of the considerations in  this  previous post   about the limitations of the Sony a7 R111 and the point and shoot Olympus XZ-1  I went ahead and ordered the  Voigtlander VM/E Close Focus Adapter. As mentioned in the earlier post, this adaptor enables me  to use  my Leica M lenses on the  old Sony NEX 7, thereby giving me with the capability to do macro photography  whilst I am on  the  poodlewalks.  

 I  used a Summicron 35m f.2 lens that was on my old Leica M4, and so I was able to put together a macro camera without outlaying too much money.   I had purchased the M4 in Melbourne in  the 1970s, but it  is badly damaged and not functional.  

road locations found

After walking down a number of back country roads and scoping them over the past week in Waitpinga in the southern Fleurieu Peninsula, I have found a couple of locations  for a large format photo black and white session. 

One  is the junction of Tugwell and Wilson Hills Rd in Waitpinga with its little bridge across a little bit of a creek. This is the  location that I have in mind:  

This  is a late afternoon photoshoot since  the sun is directly behind us. I now have to wait for a calm day; or a late afternoon  with  minimal wind. 

photographing country roads

My frustration from the rushed Talem Bend photo session has mounted,  due to  the very gusty  northerly and south-westerly winds and continual rain  over the last 4 days. The frustration comes from these weather condition  making it impractical to make a  return trip to Talem Bend at the base of the Mallee Highway. It's 90 minutes drive time each way. 

Suzanne  suggested that  I make things a bit easier  for myself in using the 8x10 Cambo by starting to photograph around my local area.  I took her advice and I was lucky to squeeze a photo session of roadside vegetation in Waitpinga in one morning after a   poodlewalk with Kayla. This  just before  it started to rain. 

I realized afterwards that concentrating on  pictures of roadside vegetation was far  too limited,  and that  really  I needed to broaden my local  image making  to include the roads I travelled along by making them  more central to the photography.   Here was a good model.    

I decided to start this exploration off  by beginning with the roads that I usually  walk down whilst on the  poodlewalks. I needed to start with what I was familiar with.  The connection between walking and still photography  is crucial,  as it is on these walks that  I  see the possible subject matter. 

photography + abstraction: a note

One of the strands  in  my style  of photography in and around poodlewalks  is to shift away from the literal and transparent.  My name for this shift is abstraction--ie.,  finding ways to underscore  the photograph as surface,  as flat; even though there is an optical space within the photograph. This is often filed by photographic educators under  'ways of seeing'  that depend on, and are shaped by  habit and convention.   

An example of the photograph as surface: 


On the traditional understanding of photography--representation based on linear perspective that is clear and literal-- the grasses or foliage appear as obstructions to a clear view of the scene. From the perspective of abstraction  the shift is away from  a concern with illusionistic representational space the image  has an equal intensity of pictorial incident across its  whole surface. The emphasis is on the two dimensionality of the photograph.   

Adobe's Lightroom: changes

 Adobe serves an enormous part of the image-editing market, whether photographers like it or not. They are  an industry leader in graphic design, photo editing and photo management software---the standard in the industry for many people. 

Lightroom,  the photo processing software, has professional-grade editing and organizing tools,  but still maintains its usability. The Creative Cloud of Lightroom version is part of Adobe’s annual subscription-based Photography Plan, which includes  Photoshop CC, so you’re getting two photo-editing applications designed to work alongside each other. 

Adobe's recent upgrade to Lightroom  has seen the emergence of two Lightrooms--Lightroom Classic CC (an updated version of the desktop Lightroom that we know--its Lightroom 7)  and Lightroom CC (an entirely redesigned app designed to work alongside Adobe’s equally new cloud-based storage system)--a cut down version (Lightroom Mobile?),  that is a shift to a more mobile-first workflow which  allows you to manage your photos wherever you are and whatever the device. 

The current subscription model  for Lightroom CC  means that we rent Adobe’s apps rather than buying a licence--permanently renting the tools we  use to create. The shift is from software to rental ware.  I have been using the stand alone Lightroom 5  (desktop) up to now,  but I recently purchased Lightroom 6 (desktop) as part of my film order from B+H.  I realize that I am  essentially getting a two-year-old version, feature wise, as compared to the subscription version.  I appreciate that the differences between the subscription version Lightroom Classic  and and the standalone version of  Lightroom 6 are becoming significant, but I don't really need all the updates or the extraneous options.