Wilderness Landscape Photography

Opportunity for Wilderness Landscape Photography

Well, the desert is fairly flat and quite bland at first glance but that’s not the full story.

With dry salt lakes, myall trees, stone strewn clay pans, and red sand dunes, wilderness landscape photography images clamour for my attention from Roxby Downs to Andamooka and beyond to Lake Torrens.

Getting Around the Desert

But how can I get around? Distance is so vast and the country so inhospitable. It will kill you just for being there if you don’t look out. The family station wagon won’t go far off the bitumen. The tracks are so rough, and when it rains in this six-inch rainfall country, even a 4×4 will bog down or slip in the clay soil. There’s no way I could afford a 4×4 good enough for the trip from the coast to the centre and reliable enough to go out alone into that country. Furthermore, you wouldn’t take a good-looking vehicle on those rocky, desert tracks.

So I decided on an ATV. That’s an “All Terrain Vehicle,” “Quad Bike,” “four wheel motorbike.” I can transport it in a trailer behind the car and go to the end of the road, then jump on the bike.

Setting Up The ATV

The bike, set up with boxes on the back and front racks, pulls a small trailer. With this configuration I not only get myself way out beyond where a 4×4 will go without too much walking, but also my camera gear, tools, emergency supplies, water, fuel and my camp as well. In a nutshell, that’s about it.

Navigating the Wilderness Landscape

Navigation is with a topographic map, compass and GPS. Using the coordinates from the GPS, I know where I am on the map which is so much simpler than trying to identify distant features on a flat landscape.

For months, in my spare time, I studied the maps, getting the feel of the geography and topography and comparing this to the satellite images on Google Earth. This way I identified areas of likely interest. It’s amazing how the salt build up in Lake Torrens shows up on the satellite images confirming what I suspected from the elevation contours on the topographic map.

Wilderness Landscape Photography Trip

It’s 82 km from the bitumen to Bosworth Homestead, travelling right across Arcoona Station on the way. Parking the car beside a shearers hut, and after some good geographic and topographic advice from the pastoralist, I jumped on the bike and headed out along the track that follows the western side of Station Creek to Andamooka Island and made camp as the sun was setting.

Now, I’ve always wanted to camp on an island since I read “The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe”, as a boy. Andamooka Island, about 40 km long and up to 10 km wide is in Lake Torrens and separated from the mainland by a channel varying in width from a couple of hundred meters to a couple of kilometres.

The shallower parts of the channel were dry, so crossing was no trouble. Extensive salt water holes in the channel, super saturated and with the salt crystallizing out, provided micro and full view landscape images over coming days. With the sky subtly reflected in the base of salt crystals covered with shallow water, the stark vista was a wilderness landscape photography opportunity to be seized. Sights to blow your mind!

Camping Out

Camping, as you would imagine, was pretty basic. You can’t carry much on an ATV. No esky means no fresh meat, but tinned tuna on top of tinned beans and spaghetti goes down well when you’re hungry.

Priorities in Wilderness Landscape Photography

Photography took precedence over eating. Each day: out of bed, on the bike and off photographing before sunrise. Back to camp for brunch about noon. Off photographing again till late and then try to get back to camp before the diminishing glow of the setting sun left me in the dark. Although I have good lights on the bike, the country is just too rough to cover in the dark.

Hidden Dangers in the Desert

Although rare, this country is known to host the world’s most venomous snake, the inland taipan, as well as the king brown and several other dangerous species. There are also said to be scorpions about. I’m told that the dingoes have been eradicated from this area, south of the dog fence, but the nights were still pretty scary. Every time the breeze rustled the tent I’d wake, laying tense and listening for the sound of pads on the rocks. Needles to say, I gave my sleeping bag a good shake out before getting in each night.

Make Breathtaking Photos

Pick Your Spots Carefully

If you take your time to review the stunning photos captured by your colleagues, you will start to discover certain patterns. There is a particular one that emerges from the pile of the miscellaneous others – unique perspective.

You can easily notice that some of the photos of world-famous architectural masterpieces are simply more stunning than others. Why? Because a photographer picked an interesting spot to take photographs from.

Practice Composition

Every great photo follows the rules of great composition. If you are completely unfamiliar with composition in photography, the first thing you should learn is the rule of thirds. You should look at your photo as if were a tic-tac-toe (3×3) board. If you check the work of your colleagues, you will soon discover that they place interesting objects on the intersection of these lines.

This bit takes a lot of practice. Start by using the grid system most DSLRs and smartphones already have. After some time, you will develop an instinct to place the objects of your photography spontaneously in these spots.

Play with Lighting

Lighting is also one of the factors that plays a crucial role in the making of a stunning photo. If you are a beginner photographer, you should start by learning a few tricks, such as when to position the object behind and in front of the light source, how to leverage lighting to emphasize something on the photo, etc.

If you like to take photos of landscapes and city scenes, try focusing your photography efforts on taking pictures during the golden hours. During the early morning and evening, the light is perfect for photography, and there are many pro photographers who swear by this rule. If you take photos indoors, you will have to invest into some lighting equipment to play with.

Photo Editing is a Must

All of the stunning photos that have been captured in the modern history of photography were tampered with. Lightroom and Photoshop can make a stunning image out of the ordinary and “meh” photographs. You should definitely start post processing your photos if you want to end up with diamonds in your hands.

On the other hand, many photographers don’t have time or simply don’t want to get involved in image editing. If you belong to this group of people, you can outsource your image editing to professionals with years of experience in image post processing software.

Photo Booth

1. They can turn any boring event into a fun:

It can be any kind of party viz weddings, birthdays, New Year bashes, photo booth turn every occasion into fun. Almost everyone in this technology savvy generation is keen on clicking pictures and updating on social medias and what do we do? Give them a chance to showcase themselves. It also makes a social gathering less boring.

2. It requires zero efforts:

It doesn’t require some extra, huge efforts from your side. You can easily let someone attend the booth for roughly three to four hours. Any staff member would be eager for the job as it doesn’t require any effort.

3. Choose some classy props:

You can render these photo booths more interesting by adding some funky props like smiley’s, glasses, a decorated frame and let people revel and click. These props will make it a fun task and the party will eventually be a huge hit.

4. DJ addition:

What can one do more with props? Props and DJ will be a huge merriment for the guests. You can pose as well dance with the props. Some live performances will also render them and you an amazing host.

5. Photo booth customization:

You can choose and customize a booth which matches the theme of your party. Choose a palette which matches with your theme.

6. These are not expensive:

Gone are the days when photo booths were just a part of mega budget parties. Now, these do not cost much. Depending on the length of time, they are affordable. There are a lot of discounts and offers available for the same.

Pinhole Photography

At its simplest, a pinhole camera is just a light tight cardboard box with a piece of aluminium pie dish containing a pinhole to expose the film or photographic paper.

Of course you need to design a shutter, (your thumb will do), some way to hold the film in place and a system to seal up the opening where you put the film in the pinhole camera.

There is no viewfinder; you just point the pinhole camera in the right direction. You can draw some lines on top of the camera to indicate the field of view.

Exposure times for pinhole photography are usually measured in minutes.

Work out your exposure by the hit and miss method, also known as exposure determination by experimentation. This is where you say “Ooooh. I reckon about two minutes.” Then if it turns out ok, well and good. But if it’s not right, you either double it or halve it for the next exposure, depending on your assessment. Nothing wrong with that method for pinhole photography.

Let’s say you’re using 4″x5″ photographic paper. The diagonal of your paper is about 160mm. If you make the distance from the pinhole to the paper about 50mm to 80mm this will be ok. Length of about half the diagonal of the film. You could make the length 20mm to 50mm giving quite a wide angle. There’s nothing to stop you building your pinhole camera around a four foot length of drainpipe giving you a 1200mm telephoto pinhole camera, except that the exposure time might be in the order of several hours or all day.

My best pinhole cameras have used 8″x10″ film and have a length of 50mm to 70mm. Everything is in focus from 250mm to infinity. Angle of view is around 135 degrees.The light runs off at the edges of the image.

Note: 100mm = about 4″

There is much more technical stuff that can be studied but that’s all you really need to know to get started. So empty the breakfast cerial packet and build a pinhole camera.

You can use pretty much anything light tight to make a pinhole camera: biscuit tin, breakfast cerial packet, 20 litre oil drum, golden syrup tin, jam tin, match box, black ice cream container etc. etc. Would you believe you can even use your mouth?

Yes, in the darkroom put a short piece of 35mm film in your mouth and close it. Go outside and press the aluminium with the pinhole firmly against your lips, then open your lips for about 10 seconds keeping your head still. Reverse the procedure. You can work out the rest for yourself.

Consider whether it will be better/easier to use the end or side of your tin/box.

If you use a jam tin you can use alfoil and a rubber band for a lid.

Use black paint inside a shiny tin if you have some handy.

Invent a shutter. Black plastic and masking tape will do.

If you decide on a jam tin or golden syrup tin with the pinhole in the side, consider using a baffle that springs tight against the sides of the tin to fasten your film too. A piece of plastic milk bottle will do.

Handy items to have around are: breakfast cerial packet, masking tape, blue tack, plastic milk bottles, rubber bands, alfoil, scissors, knife, glue.

Your pinhole camera will give a negative image on your photographic paper. In this modern, computer age it will be possible to scan, change to a positive and computer print.

An SLR camera can be used for a pinhole camera simply by removing the lens and attaching a pinhole with black sticky tape.

If you are making a pinhole, look for the smallest needle in the set.

It’s important to have a smooth, burr free pinhole for the sharpest possible image. Ideally, push the tapered section of the needle through in several stages, gently removing the burr with fine wet and dry paper between actions. Rest the foil on cardboard as you push the needle through so you don’t stretch the foil.