photographing in the Coorong

We stayed a couple of days at Salt Creek in the Coorong on our way back from Adelaide from Melbourne so that I could pick up the second part of the edgelands project after a hiatus. I had been working on the Australian abstraction and Fleurieuscapes projects and I wanted to concentrate on  the edge lands associated with  the River Murray. I wanted to check out whether the  Coorong offered  any possibilities. 

My starting point was  a  familiar spot that I knew from when I briefly photographed  here several years ago,  and I was quite happy to return there and  begin to photograph in terms of South Australia landscapes. We arrived  at Salt Creek in the late afternoon and  I checked  out the location  for a 5x4 shoot  whilst we were on a poodle walk in the late afternoon light.

I was thinking  of constructing this low lying lying landscape into  horizontal strips of land, sea and sky. The lush afternoon light made  the image  too picturesque, and  it placed too much emphasis on  natural beauty for the edge lands project. When  I photographed the next day with the 5x4 Linhof it was in  flat morning light so that  this landscape  would look more stark and weird.  

photographing in the Otways

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.  

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. 

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 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.  

at Magpie Springs

This outtake from a photoshoot at Magpie Springs  in early autumn 2015  highlights how the little details  on the land that are usually overlooked can make a subject for a photograph. It is a photo of natural decay that is outside  the 18th and 19th century tradition of English rustic landscape painting, which in Australia, would become paintings of rural Australia featuring farmland, country lanes and river scenes. 

Rustic landscapes do not depict a famous spot, view or monument; rather their intention  is to represent the countryside and rural life. They do so in an idealising manner. It's an ideal landscape  exempted in the pictures of wineries, food and colonial architecture designed in a picturesque setting for  the tourist with taste who  is able to view, and describe  the land in terms of pictures.  

These would be pastoral landscapes as they both celebrate the dominion of mankind over nature and the scenes depicted  are peaceful, often depicting ripe harvests, lovely gardens, manicured lawns with broad vistas, and fattened livestock. The settlers  has developed and tamed the landscape – it yields the necessities we need to live, as well as beauty and safety. 

photographing at Venus Bay, Eyre Peninsula

This picture of  porous limestone rocks was made at Venus Bay on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia in 2013. It is just south of Streaky Bay.  We were on a weeks holiday there with Heather Petty. Whilst there I  avoided  photographjng the panoramic  landscape views of the  cliffs and the Great Australian Bight and focused on the details which fascinated me.   

It had been many years since we had last been there,  and I'd never forgotten this part of the Eyre Peninsula.   Yanerbie, with its massive white  sand dunes that extend up to 4.5 km inland from the coast, was firmly planted in my memory, and  it is a favourite  photographic location of mine for photographing  landscapes in South Australia.  Landscape, currently has an inferior status in the  contemporary visual arts. It's not a fashionable subject in the art  institution. 

The picture was made on the headland of Venus Bay in the late afternoon along the western part of the South Head Walking Trail which offers views of the eastern end of the  Great  Australian Bight. The small settlement of  mostly fisherman  style shacks that hug the coastline of the bay,  borders the headline,  and  the trail  around it offered an interesting early morning walk for the poodles.  

at Hayborough, Victor Harbor

This photo is from an  early morning photo shoot at Hayborough, Victor Harbor in  South Australia. It is looking west to Granite Island. Rosetta Head, or The Bluff,  is in the background. 


This was made  in  autumn  in 2015. Autumn is a good time to photograph  along the southern coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula, since the weather is more stable and predictable. The weather during spring is all over the place. 

We had just shifted from living in the CBD  of Adelaide to the coast  at Victor Harbor,   and I was looking  to start work on  the Fleurieu Peninsula  region as a place in which we belonged.