Alice Springs Photographer Blog

Photography of Environment - Not Just Landscape

Photography of environment not just landscape is a relatively new idea that I've been developing within my practice landscape photography.

Ormiston Gorge in full Flood - A photo of an Environmental EpisodeI visit the most spectacular natural locations that Central Australia has to offer at least once a week and after two and a half years of photographing these locations you really do have to think.

"Why should I get my camera out of the bag"

I have so many thousands of photos of Uluru why do I need more well its a bit of a challenge sometimes to find a reason and usually on these days its nothing but blue sky and red rock. For me a classic Uluru sunset with its iconic reds and blues is hardly a reason to make a photograph and to tell you the truth its a little dull, remembering I've seen 100 something sunset there.

As I keep progressing with my photographic eye and learning to see light interacting with my subject and not just the subject itself it becomes apparent that subject be it a landscape or person is nothing without light. And I mean real light, soft low gentle colourful light that lasts just a moment but resonates so much more than the other 12 hours of light we are about to or have just seen.

Mt. Sonder - Alive with colour and lightOn this afternoon at Mt. Sonder it really was possible to make a good shot looking in any direction.

Plenty of clouds to break up that ever dull blue sky a clear horizon to let all that beautiful light through and me with my camera... and 13 passengers.

So why choose this camera position?

For a few good reasons. The first and biggest being that fact that I knew that the camera would be able to record the whole dynamic range, it could see all the light values from the dark shadows of the spinifex to the bright clouds. This is not possible on a clear days sunset.

Secondly while there was easy shots looking back towards Mt. Giles and over towards the setting sun with the full saturated colours of sunset clouds this position for me was the most descriptive of the environment. This is the west MacDonnell Ranges with the rock, spinifex, distant acacias and of course Mt. Sonder. Don't take this the wrong way but she is the icon of the west Macs for me simple landscape beauty, culturally rich, great textures. Make no mistake this is not a photo of Mt. Sonder but she is a great presence in the photo.

Thirdly this hill top had been burnt a few months previous leaving it free of all but the few clumps of spinifex that lay in the foreground leaving a large swatch of the midground a rich texture of sun drench rocks. This is a benifit of having been there so many times, this simple difference in the environment allowed me to make a photograph of a classic subject from a classic location but make it something unique.

I could go on about it but I hope that you get the point.

As we make hundreds of photographs of the same location what is it that makes that one single frame stand out. For me its not the subject on that day its how the environment is interacting with that subject on that day, how the clouds have formed, how the humidity and dust have really softened that rich sunset light making it into a once in a lifetime photograph of a place I'll be at again next week.