So this is an occasional series about Australian Landscape Photography where give a full account of a particular image… in this case it’s all about getting caught completely unawares…
My original story went something like…The Great North Walk is a not widely known jewel in Sydney’s crown. It runs from Sydney to Newcastle and passes through a lot of the Hornsby Shire. A Steep Climb on the Great North Walk that starts near the Berowra Waters Ferry leads to a great outlook over Berowra Waters Marina in Berowra Valley Regional Park. I took this one very hot summer’s day, when maybe I should have gone to the beach instead(!)
A few more details:-
What you don’t see.
Sometimes days don’t quite go as planned. As regular readers may know, Yours Truly does tend to spend most of his leisure away from the masses. It’s not that I don’t enjoy being around people. It’s just not being around too many of them, when I want to take landscapes! So, during the Christmas Break, I thought I would need to find somewhere quite quiet to take photos. The morning in question was warm early, but not hot. So when I saw some nice high cloud, I had a quick breakfast and drove down to Berowra Waters. It really is a case of when a photographer sees high patterned cloud, you just have to go!
I parked my car in the last spot(well, well, well, what a surprise!) and walked beside the waters along the Great North Walk. Ah, bliss… A gentle breeze blew beside the water, the cicadas gently hummed, the water gently lapped. I knew a rocky platform existed, as I had seen various images from walker’s blogs, and I knew it was ‘only’ a twenty minute walk or so from the ferry.
I continued on the flat path beside the waters with a spring in my step. Annnnnd – then the path veered away from the Waters.. and veered Up. It didn’t stop going up, and then it didn’t stop going up some more. Up and up it went. I am talking elevation and temperature, with a nice inversely proportional rise in air stillness. Not a breath of air. With a full camera backpack on my back and carrying a definitely-not-hiking weight tripod, it was heavy going. I climbed over a hundred vertical metres in all, I suspect, two-thirds to three-quarters of waters-to-ridge-top elevation before I finally arrived at the platform. I reckon I weighed many kilos less at the top than at the bottom. Sweat covered me, and it didn’t stop dripping for a while…
How I felt, and what I saw when I was there
Hah!!!! What great heading for me to write against… I saw a misty blur through my sunglasses, I saw sweat in my eyes, I saw my t-shirt at close quarters wiping my eyes, I saw heat haze, and to cap it all off, I saw bugger-all through the viewfinder! I didn’t see any shade, either. Let’s talk images, shall we? I felt that I was sitting high like an eagle perched above a scene, and wanted to ensure the water was dominant, but that it was indeed a vista. I saw fantastic cloud formations, which actually moved quite quickly, and wonderfully broad rock ledges. The ‘Hero’ of the image being the water, which I carefully positioned within the frame.
An important point to note is that your brain will actually see the ‘hero’ elements of your image in landscape photographs as much more dominant than your camera sensor will. The camera never lies! This explains the frequent disappointment with beach-side/waterside scenes. Your eye is drawn to that which glistens and moves, even if it eventually only occupies a small part of the frame.
I actually took a long time to take even the first frame, as I wanted to take in all the area had to offer before pressing the proverbial button. Very slowly I took many panoramas (I always take multiples just in case of stitching dramas) with varying focal lengths, and many single frames. I took everything on a tripod. I set up the image through the viewfinder, walked away, and then came back to check all lines. As I slowly finally departed I noticed there were extra ledges, which also would make good foregrounds. That will be next time – cough, cough, splutter.
What I saw Afterwards
One of the first things I heard (OK the heading says ‘saw’ but I am writing this, aren’t I?) was ‘oh so you did the Kokoda trail?’ – local folks know the walk is difficult. The main thing I then saw was the shower nozzle on cold for a while.
Back in front of the PC, it was clear that the effort was worth it just to capture the patterned clouds and sky. It makes the shot. Despite taking many panoramas, I personally prefer the standard ratio single shots, due to the strong leading lines with the clouds. Processing was only a shadows/highlights layer, a curves adjustment at medium contrast, a little overall saturation. Then a little dodging and burning to lift the last shadows and that was it.
Am I Happy?
I am now, yes 🙂 I had a vision of the image of what I wanted to get, and I over-achieved on that with the sky. It’s a great ‘Australian landscape photography’ stock image of the Hornsby Council and Berowra areas.
Thanks for reading this far
The very hot Berowra Photographer
Another image as a panoramic I took on the day – it still has great depth with the foreground – more on that here…