With Wade and Bengie away on Take It Easy’s delivery to Queensland, I have had to get organised so my weekends are occupied and not too lonely. For the first of these, I invited photographer Leanne Cole down the coast and we indulged in a few days of discovery of Surf Coast treasures. On the program was astrophotography, ND filter practice at waterfalls and macro photography of fungi, mosses and anything small and intriguing. We had an active few days, with lots of walking, climbing, accompanied by grunting, old people noises and complaints from you know who, who blames me for her sore legs!
One of the best known beaches on the Victorian Surf Coast is Bells Beach. It is a surfing mecca but few people would come to it well after dark in the middle of winter. And yet the magic of astrophotography gives this iconic site a totally different feel. Lit up by a half moon and the Milky Way, the cloudy sky takes on a beautiful blue hue, studded with hundreds of stars, and the long exposure of 30 seconds slows the movement of the waves on the beach. These are the rewards for braving the cold and darkness. We missed the Aurora Australis, but it is an excuse to try again soon!
Further along the coast, at the back of Lorne, the Otways rainforest has secrets to reveal. With a tripod attached to our camera bag and an assortment of lenses and Neutral Density filters, we were armed and dangerous. We walked down to the bottom of the Cora Lynn, Won Wondah and Henderson falls, for some long exposure shots. There was plenty of water, and I enjoyed playing with the filters to slow the water down just enough to get a little bit of the milky, silky look without overdoing it.
Then it was time for a change from the wide angle lens to the macro, and a slow climb back up and take images of colourful fungi, bright ferns and mosses along the track. Although we were clever, leaving the macro shots for the way back up, to give us plenty of opportunities to catch our breath, it was surprising how tiring it was to spend a few hours crouching right down to the ground to capture images of beautiful fungi. It was very muddy in places, and I think a useful addition to my kit will be a lightweight ground sheet, to put the gear on and to be able to kneel or be belly down on the ground without getting totally filthy!
All in all, a varied and satisfying few days. As usual I learnt a lot. It’s great to practise and get more and more comfortable with my camera. It is also really pleasing to understand more about how to use the neutral density filters to give a slightly milky effect to the water without obliterating all detail, and to learn how to get more depth of field in the macro shots so more of the subject is in focus. And doing all this in company is so much better than going it alone!