It has been overcast and raining on and off in Melbourne for the last couple of days. We had a good storm yesterday afternoon whilst I was out mountain biking at Lysterfield with hail the size of golf balls. For a short period I was forced to seek shelter under a tree with my pack over my head with some other riders to avoid the painful strikes (I have a few bruises today!). There were reports of smashed windows and damaged cars. Anyway, an interesting phenomenon happened after the hail and rain died down which I have only ever seen a few times before. Because the morning had been sunny and warm the ground had retained a lot of heat under the tree canopy; which meant that much of the rain and hail evaporated quickly. As a result an eerie fog rose up from the ground and hung low amongst the lichen covered gum trees and granite boulders. The combination of saturated lichen from the rain with hail on the ground and low fog was extremely unusual and photogenic. Unfortunately I was a long way from my car and camera and was unable to capture the scene (I did enjoy riding through it). I did make an attempt with the camera in my iphone but this was most definitely the fish that got away. I will make sure my small Canon S90 pocket camera is in my backpack on all future rides – lesson learned. More isolated rainstorms and thunderstorms are forecast for late this afternoon so I am heading down to Cape Shank in the hopes of some good light.
This photograph was taken only a few metres from the one below just after the sun had dipped below the horizon. Reflected light off the clouds and atmosphere illuminated the flax in the foreground with just enough soft diffuse light to capture this image with full detail in the foreground. I used a three stop soft graduated neutral density filter to hold back and darken the sky. This whole coastline is subject to quite a bit of weather and it is not uncommon to get really huge storm swells crashing into the rocks. Philip (my Guide) wrote to me after I returned to Melbourne to let me know that he had been back to photograph five metre waves crashing into the rocks only a week after my visit. It was however extremely calm during my trip; so much so that the usual spouts from the blowholes at Pancake Rocks were still. Punakaiki is great location for landscape photography with many varied opportunities for composition and light and is a location I hope to return to sooner rather than later (late 2010).
Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki in the South Island of New Zealand is an iconic spot for both tourists and photographers. Located only a few minutes easy walk from the main highway the unusual layered nature of the rock formations makes for an outstanding subject for landscape photography. The Pancake Rocks are columns of limestone resembling stacks of pancakes – hence the name. This photograph was taken at sunset on a clear evening. I was lucky that the horizon was clear so that the last rays of sunlight would illuminate the rock in a wonderful warm orange glow. This glow lasts only a few seconds before the rocks take on more chalky white appearance. I used a three stop soft neutral density filter to hold back the sky and keep detail in the foreground rocks. The combination of the unusual rocks with the warm orange glow of last light, the crashing wave and the native New Zealand bird (can only be seen in a large print – See Crop Below) make for a composition and photograph that I like very much.
I was going through my image library having a sort of semi yearly clean out of shots that I no longer wanted and re-discovered this photograph, which was taken back in May 2008 near Marysville in Victoria – Near the Beech Forest on Lady Talbot Drive. It immediately jumped out at me as this area was completely devastated in the 2009 Black Saturday Bush Fires that ravaged Victoria. As a result of those fires (in which more than 150 people lost their lives) this area no longer exists in this pristine, natural state. After the fires this area was nothing more than a blackened and charred moon scape, devoid of vegetation and animals. Now just over a year on there are signs of vegetation regrowth across the landscape, but it will be many many years before the area fully recovers. The boulders that bear the blackened scars of the fires will serve as a reminder of how badly this area was damaged in the fires for decades to come.