Thoughtfactory: pictures experiments journeys

brief working notes on various photographic projects

at Claypans in the Murray Mallee

I recently made a small roadtrip  in the early winter to the Murray Mallee of South Australia to make some photos for the Mallee Routes project.  The blurry  plan was to follow up on  what I had briefly scoped with a digital camera on a previous trip.  

In the late afternoon on  the first day I  used the 5x4  Sinar f1 (with a  Schneider-Kreuznach 75mm Super Angulon)  to photograph an old, run down   caravan standing  amidst the  ruins  of a limestone  cottage in  Copeville. After the  photosession   I set up an overnight  camp in a nearby limestone quarry, as my plan was  to photograph a church at Claypans the following  morning.  

I  then discovered that I'd forgotten to pack my sleeping bag  to put inside my  swag. How in the hell could I forget to pack my sleeping bag? It was winter and the temperatures drop in the Mallee at night-- down to 2 degrees centigrade.  Despite the red wine  it was a dam cold night sleeping in  my clothes inside the swag.  Never again. Suzanne, my  better half, who is an experienced  bushwalker, says that I need to make a list of what I need to pack,  rather than throwing things together at the last minute,  as is my custom.    

As can be seen from this  early am photo  of the landscape at Copeville  from the top of the limestone quarry, the next morning  dawned with some extensive  cloud cover, so things were looking promising for the Claypan photo session.   I wandered around the quarry photographing (6x6 film and digital),  had breakfast in the sun, packed up the camp,  then set off for Claypans in the Subaru Outback.  

I wanted to photograph the church at Claypans in  b+w in the open shadow and  in flat light for  the absent history section of the upcoming 2019 Mallee Routes exhibition in December  at the Murray Bridge Regional Gallery. My plan was  to use the 8x10 Cambo   to make  the image  look like a late 19th/early 20th century views photos,  and to use  the Sinar f1 to situate the church  firmly within the Mallee's agricultural  landscape.    

Unfortunately for me,   the cloud cover  disappeared around  10am as I was onroute to the Claypans site.  It was bright and sunny when I arrived at the location with near a cloud in the sky.  Just my luck.  I had no choice but to keep moving. 

So  I spent the day exploring  around  the  Galga and Copeville area of  the Murray Mallee whilst  I was waited to see if  the cloud cover would  return. Clouds  started to  form  in the west around 1pm.   I decided that the conditions could be suitable  for me to  use both the Cambo 8x10 (it's a really heavy 1950s SuperCambo) and Sinar f1  to  photograph the church at Claypans in the late afternoon in black and white. It was overcast whilst  I was setting  the cameras up to photograph the church at 3.30am.

 It was  looking promising and I was feeling lucky.  I had made the right choice.  Then the cloud cover broke up before I could make a photo.   I waited for 40 minutes  for the  cloud cover to come in from the west, then made the photos.  Just after I made the photographs and I was packing up the gear, the late afternoon sun burst out from the below the cloud cover and lit up the landscape. 

I reckoned that I was rather lucky. I had just managed  to complete the photo session without having to spend another night freezing  in the Murray Mallee during  winter in a swag without a sleeping bag. That was an unattractive option.