For the last six months or so I have been going on a monthly walk with other photographers at various locations around Canberra. The Be Curious Photo Walks are the brainchild of Cristy Frohlich Photography, and if that name sounds familiar it is because Cristy got a mention in a previous blog post here. The idea is for people interested in taking photographs to get together and do a walk together where we can learn from others or just enjoy being in the company of other photographers who won’t judge us when we have to stand in just the right spot or get down on the ground to get the right angle. There are no requirements that you be in any way “serious” about your photography, with people of all skill levels, interests and investment welcome. We have had a number of less-experienced photographers along at the various walks and they appear to enjoy the experience. Cristy has a set of clip-on lenses for mobile phones she can lend out to give those without the specialist photographic equipment greater scope.
Cristy’s particular interest (and she’s very good at it) is macro bug photography, and as a result she does tend to be very good at pointing out random insects that normal people just don’t notice. However that is not to say that other interests are not supported or encouraged. We did a walk in the Jerrabombera Wetlands a few months ago where the main focus for many people was actually on the birds. I pretty quickly discovered that “birding” wasn’t really my thing (and the failure of my teleconverter was an additional limitation on that day that did spoil it for me a bit).
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
This month’s walk was at the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, just a little way south-west of Canberra. It’s a little bit of a drive to get there because the road is a great big loop – there’s a mountain range between the Tuggeranong Town Centre and the Nature Reserve that prevents a direct road. I’ve been there before, and in fact that was where I went to visit Cristy’s exhibition that was the subject of my previous post where she got a mention.
The reserve has a number of walks of varying difficulties and going through a variety of terrain. For this walk, we went on the Sanctuary Walk – which is a walk through an enclosed wetlands area and surrounding environment. Because it is enclosed, it is protected from many of the introduced predator species and a number of the cuter small Australian mammals can be found there. We saw several potaroos, but I understand there are quoll in there as well.
During the early part of our walk it was nicely still, and there were lots of opportunites for great cross-water landscape shots picking up the reflections in the water. This theme certainly featured highly in the shots I considered usable from the day.
The next image reminds me of an impressionist painting. The slightly wavy look of the image probably gives it away, but this image has been rotated 180o and is actually entirely reflection. I liked it – I felt it gave the image the feel of a painting – but was something within my skill set (painting most definitely is not!).
A cluster of trees and a shrub on a little promitory provided an interesting reflection – the mix of the very bushy shrub, the slightly gangly young tree in front, and the older, grey (and partially dead) tree in the background. Add to that the rocky shoreline for some contrast – and all of this reflected in the water of the lake, accompanied only by the very slightest of surface ripples. They would be largely lost against the background of trees, but in the reflection in the water they stand out as the little group of individuals they are, separated from the rest.
To wrap up the reflections theme, the old grey-white tree stump presumably pre-dates the creation of this bit of wetland area. You see such ghosts quite regularly in the shallows and around the edges of man-made lakes and dams. The rising water has saturated the soil and perhaps counter-intuitively this leads to the eventual suffocation of the tree. While plants do utilise the air around their leaves, most plants still require oxygen in the soil in order for various processes in the roots to function. The rising water table cuts off the ability for the air reserves in the soil to be replenished, and eventually the plant dies.
Something that fascinates me with photography is the capturing of textures. I mean this in more than the literal sense – for me, a photographic “texture” is more than just the literal feel: We cannot actually “feel” a texture through a photograph, so it is obviously all visual, and it usually involves contrasts. This image is a classic example of that – there is the obvious differences in actual texture that you can see in the image – from the very rough bark at the bottom, the smoother ring of bark in the middle, and the almost completely smooth bark-less bit at the top. However, I like this image because it has another layer of contrast associated with those three layers – the dark reds and greys associated with the rough bark at the bottom; the lighter greys, with just hints of red, in the middle layer, and the creamy white at the top.
This image also captures (as you’d expect from a tree trunk, I guess) a very linear set of lines from bottom to almost-top. Even the white bit at the top has slight colour contrasts in vertical lines to carry on the effect.
At one point along the walk, the path goes very close to one of the walls that make the ponds. This was a several metre long wall, with the water flowing over it along the length. I tried to get some photos capturing the water flow, as it was quite pretty, especially in the little rill that ran along the foot of the wall to join the stream that carried the outflow away. Unfortunately I do not, at this point, possess a neutral density filter, which is the thing you use to reduce the amount of light going into the lens when you want to take longer exposures than you can achieve with the amount of light available. Even with the lens dropped to the narrowest f-stop, I could not get a long enough exposure to show the water movement without over-exposing the image to levels I could not recover it in post-processing.
So I went the other way instead. Up fairly close to a shadowed part of the wall, I was able to get this image of the water at the very top of the wall. With the smaller photo area, and it all being in shadow, I was able to slow the exposure time down enough to capture the cords that the water forms as it comes over the wall. At a guess, these cords form where there are algae strands or something along which the water flows. You can see the algae more clearly in the two more brightly lit patches of the wall. About 2 or 3 cm down the wall, the cords have broken up, and from there down the water is evenly spread across the surface.
A photo walk with Cristy wouldn’t be complete without at least one photo of a bug. To be fair, this caterpillar was located and patiently held for us to photograph by Doug Hall, who normally specialises in people photos but seems to be becoming very adept at finding bugs too. I suppose that happens when you hang around Cristy. Thanks Doug!
I attempted several goes at photographing bugs during the walk, but for whatever reason I really struggled to get any of them to be any good. I took this shot using the 24 – 70mm zoom lens, whereas the later shots (and most of the shots in this post) were taken with my 105mm macro prime lens. Apparently when using a proper macro lens I struggle to get things to focus, but I could achieve much better with the 24-70mm. Admittedly, I have made good use of the obscenely large number of pixels my camera captures to crop this image right down, making it appear far closer. Anyway – this is the only bug photo from my walk that was really worth showing.
And that will do for this post, I think. Please feel free to send me any suggestions you have for things I can photograph and write blog posts about, and remember that I am interested in hearing from anyone interested in doing a guest post here, or a more regular slot. Please message me through the Contact Us link below (which opens a message form for you to complete which will be visible only to me). You can comment on this post (comments are public), and, like any content creator on the internet, I would be extremely happy if you’d share links to my blogs to your friends if you find it interesting. I’m always grateful if people would take a look at my shop as well, but it is very much an experimental thing at the moment and the product range has not been updated with any images I have taken in the last 6 months. I am working on things in that department though, so keep your eyes out!