Last night I received the sad news that an old friend had passed away. I have previously posted about the Ellis Brothers here. Alec Ellis passed away earlier this year and Mort suddenly died a couple of days ago at the ripe old age of 98!
Like their brother Ossie, they were still active at the time of their passing so thankfully they all died ‘with their boots on’, Mort had been down to the nearest town, Sheffield, to get some groceries earlier in the week and looked fine according to a friend.
Thankfully, I had called in to see him back in August when I was last in Tasmania and he was still in fine form, living simply in his shack at Cradle Mountain, expounding passionately on the evils of man’s greed and it’s effect on the natural world, still tinkering with his perpetual motion machine.
Axeman, trapper, cheesemaker, fisherman, miner, sawmiller, ferry-captain, these were just some of the occupations that Mort found himself in during a knock-about life that had it’s fair share of hard times. Tough men during tough times, but for all that, Mort,Alec & Ossie were incredibly generous, with a twinkle in their eye and a humour that was uniquely Tasmanian.
When I last saw him, Mort was a little bemused to find himself on the cover of a book, “Through Their Eyes- Glimpses of a Changing Australia” by Lucy Taylor, Published by Brigalow Press in which the author had travelled Australia recording the stories of people such as Mort. Well worth reading to hear the perspective of a generation that has seen more change than any other!
This time I didn’t make any photographs of Mort, in the past he has been very patient & generous with me and I was able to capture some nice shots of him and I have some great memories of a good friend to me & my late father.
Although he was not particularly sentimental and he always maintained that there was no ‘afterlife’ as many people would like to believe, I hope that if there is, he catches up with my father and his two brothers over a cold Boag’s or two and have some of those spirited debates that they were all so fond of having!
A nice peaceful image from one of my favourite short walks in the Cradle Mt area. The Dove Canyon track starts from near Cradle Mt Lodge and follows Pencil Pine Ck through beautiful Myrle Forest for the first kilometre or so before heading along the top of the Dove Canyon.
The full walk is quite a hike in places but takes you through some magnificent highland country but everytime I am in the area I always go for a short walk along this track because it is such a peaceful place and I am hoping to one day catch a glimpse of a faerie because I am sure they inhabit the area, or maybe a troll!
This will be my last post for a little while as I am off to visit Europe and hopefully Scotland for a month and hopefully return with some good images!
See you all soon!
If you have had a look through my blog you may have noticed that I have a fondness for mountains with clouds around them. When I notice stormy clouds settling around high ground I start looking for some sort of interesting foreground and hopefully some sunlight filtering through the advancing (or retreating) clouds, not always as easy as it sounds!
While driving around the Western Creek area in Tasmania I noticed clouds advancing across the Great Western Tiers, so after heading down a couple of side roads with no success I finally found this scene. It was just a matter of waiting for sunlight to hopefully illuminate the foreground to contrast with the threatening cloud over the mountains.
I was reading an article by Ken Duncan the other day and he was extolling the virtues of “wildlight” or “chíaroscuro”as it was termed by Renaissance landscape painters. “Wildlight” refers to the conditions where sunlight is broken up by passing cloud and is often associated with the back end of stormy weather. Great to find but it can be difficult light to work with!
Waiting for the light to fall just where you want it can be an exercise in patience and frustration interspersed with mild panic as a rain shower descends upon you! If you have the time to wait you can be rewarded with some great images.
This image was taken at Lake Mackintosh near Tullah in Western Tasmania, an area of rugged mountains covered in thick temperate rainforest and is subject to wild & highly changeable weather conditions. This really was an exercise in patience as I waited for the sun to illuminate the foreground & the cliff face simultaneously and get stormy cloud in the background! After attempting to tone down the bright foreground in the colour version with little success, monochrome was the answer!
Canon 5D II, 24 TS-E lens,1/60@f11, Iso 100
First of all, it appears this blog has picked up a small following, which kind of surprises me as I don’t consider my images to be anything really special. There are far better images out there than mine! But to those people who follow my blog and those who stumble across it and leave a ‘Like’ thanks very much! I will endeavour to keep it as interesting as I possibly can. Please feel free to leave a comment about the images I post,good, bad or whatever!
It occurred to me that most images of Cradle Mt. are shot with wide-angle lenses which show a lot of foreground which is hopefully interesting but also push the mountain into the background. Luckily, with that distinctive shape, it will still get the attention it deserves. As I was driving up to Lake Dove one day I noticed that at one spot the mountain seems to loom over the surrounding buttongrass plains with little else to compete with it. On the way back I decided to investigate that view a little more closely and this is the result.
It is a slightly different perspective of the mountain helped by the use of a 105mm focal length.
‘Confession’- I have replaced a rather dull, featureless blue sky with something a little more interesting! Canon 5DII, 105mm, 1/5s @f16, iso 100, polariser
On my last night in Cradle Mt, I thought I would have a little go at lightpainting. This is Alec Ellis’s hut and as a bonus a visiting pademelon stayed long enough to be included in the shot!
This is a combination of 4 different images stacked as layers in Photoshop and all blended with with the Lighten blend mode. Exposure for each image was 30s @ f8, iso200.
Today is Australia Day! One thing that Australia is known for is our beaches. We just happen to be blessed with miles & miles of some of the best beaches in the world, many of which,see very little human activity apart from fishermen, surfers and the odd beachcomber.
The East coast of Tasmania has some stunningly beautiful beaches that for the most part are deserted. This is one I found near Swansea and I spent a good two hours here without seeing another person, heaven!
This rocky outcrop was an obvious subject, combined with the colours of sea & sky, a couple of nice images was the result. I think you’ll agree!
Another image from Coles Bay, this time it is of The Hazards. Even though the light is not the best, I like the contrast between the bright, lichen covered granite in the foreground and the stormy sky.
Guess I will just have to go back one day and wait for the good light!
This is an image from Coles Bay which is the gateway to Freycinet National Park. It is a very different place from my last visit around 25yrs ago! Back then, it was a sleepy little place with minimal accomodation options and the nearest Nat. Parks office was an hour up the road at Bicheno. Now it is a tourist mecca during the summer months and there are people all over the place!
After seeing some beautiful images of The Hazards reflecting the evening sunlight I was hoping to get some nice images but the weather beat me again as frontal cloud moved in from the west and killed any chance if good light. As they say, if the eggs are broken, you may as well make an omelette, so I got some nice images taking advantage of the pretty cool cloud layer that moved in!
There will be a couple more from this area coming soon!
Boomer Bay is a small waterfront settlement to the east of Dunalley in SE Tasmania. It is off the main road and is probably missed by most people driving through to more popular places, in fact I turned around to investigate after glimpsing it through the trees.
The vivid yellow, dry landscape contrasted with the dramatic sky above and I thought the jetty made for an interesting foreground so I took a couple of images. Little was I to know that soon, the jetty would be a place of refuge for people with no place to escape as fire raced down the hillside and took out 15 houses in short order. Dunalley was at the time burning to the ground!
Here’s hoping that the fires are extinguished soon and people can get back on their feet and resume their lives!
This image is from earlier in the morning and was a brief show of colour around Cradle Mt. Back over my left shoulder the sky was aflame but I wanted that distinctive shape, so I had to hope that the slowly moving cloud in the mountain’s direction would ‘light up’!
A little tip for those of you contemplating a trip to Tassie for photography, at the height of summer the sun rises at about 5:30am and sets about 9:00pm. Add to that about an hour of twighlight at each end of the day and your photographic day is pretty long! Especially if you are travelling around as well.
Somewhere in that 24hrs you need to eat, download images, scout around, and do th0se other things that life demands AND get a good night’s sleep! Not to mention the amount of people that visit iconic sights like Cradle Mt & Freycinet Peninsula. Next time I go down it will be in March-April or August- Sept when the days are a bit shorter and Autumn colour or Spring flowers are showing.
Anyway, hope you like it! Canon 5D Mk II, 24mm TS-E Lens, 2 stop ND Grad Filter
If you have been following this blog you probably know that Cradle Mt. and I have a complicated history,photographically speaking! The weather Gods just seem to give me the thumbs down whenever I go there. During my little sojourn around Tasmania in a campervan recently I spent 3 days there with Mort Ellis to make sure I gave myself a fighting chance of getting some good images of the mountain.
This particular morning I got up there early and had the place to myself for a while before the holiday crowds started swarming and came away with some nice images of which this is one.
Funnily enough, the weather was actually a little too nice with minimal cloud around the mountain during the morning twilight but I managed to get a couple of nice ones which I will post soon. What made this morning pretty special though for me was the absolute stillness of the water which made for some great reflections.
Hope you like it! Canon 5D Mk II, 24mm TS-E Lens
Sorry i haven’t posted for a while but I have spent the last 2 weeks travelling around Tasmania in a campervan, I haven’t seen half of the places I wanted to get to!
Anyway, I have lots of new images to sort & play with so stay tuned in the New Year for posts on the Blog.
In the meantime, I hope you all had a great Xmas and have a Safe & Happy New Year! See you all in 2013!
I have always been a fan of the Tasmanian wilderness photographer Peter Dombrovskis, he would hike off into the Tasmanian Wilderness with a large format camera and return with beautiful images which he would publish in the renowned Wilderness Calendar.
Apart from his discerning eye for light, the images would nearly always have a very strong foreground leading the eye through the image and they were sharp! I have tried with varying success to emulate that look at times but wide -angle lenses always introduced distortion as soon as they were tilted from a vertical axis. After thinking about it for a while I recently purchased a Canon 24mm Tilt Shift Lens (TS-E f/3.5L II) to see what they do.
Expensive,yes, but they are a very versatile lens indeed and sharp! They are a large lens because if the tilt/shift mechanism and manual focus only, they are also a little bit fiddly so a tripod is pretty much a given. No firing of a quick sequence with this lens.
What can you do with this lens? Panoramas both vertical & horizontal are a breeze using the shift function and because there is no rotation of the camera the stitching software loves it. With a crop sensor camera 3:1 ratio panoramas are normal.
As the shift function operates in 8 directions,large resolution square images are also possible but probably best used with static objects due to the time factor.
Combine the shift function with focus stacking and a low viewpoint camera and you have a wonderful combination!
They are not easy to use by any means and they are not for everyone, but if you are willing to spend time with one of these lenses it is well worth it! To get an idea of what is possible with these lenses there is a great e-book written by Darwin Wiggett available fom his website.
I have only used the tilt function of the lens a couple of times so far but I intend to get to grips with it soon, Stay tuned!
I am not a particularly religious person but there is something about old churches,cathedrals and other places of religious worship that attracts me. It’s as if the designers & builders excel themselves when it comes to these buildings and they often build them in some magnificent locations!
This country church in Tasmania is no exception. Unusually, it is quite a way from the nearest town, set on a hill at the end of a narrow lane and surrounded by farmland. The only thing you see is the spire rising above the trees and I would guess that most people drive past oblivious to it’s presence.
The church yard is probably one of the most peaceful places I have ever been in my life, all you hear is the birds and the wind sighing softly in the trees, very tranquil indeed.
With the recent passing of my uncle,I was going through some old photos last night and also watched a video shot by a family friend. The video was of my father recounting his memories about the early days of Cradle Mountain following the death of Gustav Weindorfer.
He mentioned that Waldheim Chalet and surrounding land was eventually purchased by the Connell family and run as a guesthouse for a period and it was this family who put in many of the tracks in the area that are still in use today. In those days it would have been hard physical labour indeed as it was all done by hand including the cutting of the timber “cordoruy” used in lowlying areas to make walking easier.
I have posted before about the Ellis brothers who originally built what is now known as Cradle Mountain Lodge back in the ’70s. Ossie Ellis, over the years surveyed,marked and cut many of the day walking tracks around the lodge that I have been fortunate enough to walk over the years. One of my favourites is the Canyon track which can be quite challenging in places!
On one of my recent visits to the area I went for a walk along the track to some hidden falls and was delighted to see that some of the original cordorouy & original marker posts that Ossie put in were still there albeit in sad disrepair in places.
Even though helicopters were used to drop materials closer to the more remote parts of the track, the labour involved in putting it all in would have been huge as all the boards were split by hand, tied together by wire and nailed where needed. Not to mention the digging of drains and levelling where needed! Ossie was in his ’60s at the time.
Eventually the miles of cordorouy that Ossie and some friends put in will rot away or be replaced by timber walkways which will conform to safety standards and constructed by teams of builders & volounteers
This image is my homage to a breed of men & their skills that are slowly disappearing into the mist of time.
This one is from an old mining settlement near Cradle Mt. by the name of Moina. Not much exists of the old township but in it’s heyday it was quite a large settlement.
These days it is a quiet rural area with a couple of classic old corrugated iron shacks and this neat little shed next to a quaint little pond.
Mostly boring blue sky so I thought I would turn it into a monochrome and quite like the result!
This is one from Tasmania again, and I am sure you have seen quite a few images from this place posted by me previously! I nearly always drive up to this place each sunset when I am in the area because it offers a magnificent view of Mt Roland and the old barn is great foreground.
This time I decided to let the barn and the mountain become the background and focus on a different element in the scene. The light cooperated nicely as well!
This is an image I shot last time I was in Tasmania. A classic case of conditions coming together while I was packing my gear away! As the sun entered a narrow window between a cloud layer and the horizon, the face of Mt. Roland was lit by pale yellow light which changed rapidly to a vibrant red-orange just before the sun disappeared.
This made up for all the times when the conditions didn’t happen!
I have tried to photograph this old building in Tasmania a few times but to date I have not come away with anything I was happy with. I have also tried to do something with the images I have on file but with pretty much the same result until I noticed a pretty cool cloudy sky image that I had tucked away on my harddrive!
So, I put the two together and I finally began to see the bleak, desolate image I was looking for, which kind of suits this forsaken old building don’t you think?
Due to other commitments, it seems like ages since I have picked up my camera gear & headed out the door! In fact my trusty Canon is sitting on the table looking at me with what could be called disgust blazing out of that single eye!
Today, I have the time and the urge to go but looking out the window and the light is about as flat,dull & uninspiring as it gets. Maybe tomorrow! So I have had a bit of a look through the archive looking for an image to brighten up the day.
I shot this in Tasmania ages ago while investigating the delightful old stone fence in the scene which is not something you see very often these days. Primary colours, gotta love ém!
If you have been following this blog for a while, you would know that I spend a lot of time driving aimlessly along back roads in Northern Tasmania. Well, not aimlessly so much, but just looking around and hoping that I will be in a good location when the constantly changing light offers up little gems like this!
I have driven past this scene many times and the light has been blah to say the least! This particular day, the Gods smiled & it all came together for about 15 mins.
Poppies are a lucrative crop for some Tasmanian farmers, they are grown for pharmaceutical companies and are very tightly controlled. If you get caught on the wrong side of the fence here you are in big trouble! One fence I didn’t want to jump, cropping some ugly foreground was the only solution on this one!
While I was staying with the Ellis Brothers, I thought I would take the opportunity to visit one of my favourite places. Many people walk past these falls without knowing it as the track is not marked and is fairly overgrown in places.
First time I had been here in about 10 years and I had always wanted to get some newer images of the place.Situated on the Pencil Pine Ck which is the Northern boundary of the National Park, it is a special little spot that has always filled me with a sense of what wilderness is all about!
Apologies for the long absence from the blogosphere although I have been checking you all out occasionally!
The reason for my absence is that my father of 92 years of age passed away about a month ago down in Tasmania. Luckily, I did get to see him before he went although he was not concious at the time.
It was while we were putting together some photos for his service that I realised that I didn’t have any images of him that I had taken and there were only a couple of images of us together that thankfully another family member had taken. There was also a long period of his life where there were very few photos of him at all which effectively meant that most photos were happy snaps taken in his early years or his later years!
After his service, I thought about this and came to the conclusion that peoples memories of him were his best legacy and it also made me realise that although I have been a photographer on & off for many years, I had always put people in the ‘too hard basket’ for various reasons.
So, I have resolved to try and become a better people photographer because most of us are guilty of taking our family & friends for granted and they won’t be there forever!
A couple of good friends of my father’s invited me to stay with them up at Cradle Mt. while I was there, so just to put things in perspective, I took them up on their offer. The Ellis brothers who I have posted about previously, are men from a different age. Tough as nails and with a body of knowledge in their heads that is slowly disappearing as one by one they pass on. While I was there, I had an opportunity to capture them in their environment and hopefully try to bring out there personalities on “film”.
Mort & Alec live in a couple of spartan cabins right on the edge of the Cradle Mt Nat. Park. Along with their late brother Ossie they had extensive land holdings in the area which they have subsequently sold for tourism development. Surrounded by tourism accomodation, most visitors to the area don’t even know they exist.
Mort is the oldest brother, 95 yrs young and still keeps himself occupied with making his own cheese and ínventing’ perpetual motion machines! He has a great singing voice and is convinced that all the woes of the world are caused by man’s greed for money. To listen to he & my father passionately debate this issue was an education in itself!
In spite of his advanced years he is still as sharp as a tack with a healthy sense of humour and a twinkle in his eye. Still drives his car down to the nearest town, which is an hour drive for most people, along steep winding roads at a very healthy pace!
Alec, his younger brother lives semi-permanently in a cabin separated from Mort’s by a large machinery shed. Alec is the ‘entrepeneur’ of the family, he , along with Ossie saw the opportunities in the Cradle Mt. region many years ago and together they built the first commercial accomodation, built in the area, Pencil Pine Lodge.
At heart, Alec is most happy when he is at the controls of an earth-moving machine of some sort and is always tinkering with something along those lines. His cabin is a single room shack that was an old Hydro shack he saw on the back of a semi-trailer one day and later bought for around $100.
One of the worlds great talkers, (heaven help you if he calls you on the phone!) he knows everyone, has a great fund of stories and is always seeing new opportunities and has a heart of gold as well!
One day these two great old men will be gone, I am proud to have met them through my father and the world will be less for their passing. In the meantime, I hope I have captured them in a way that shows the essence of these two ‘old timers’!