The Threats to The Kimberley
For all of you out there who have been to the Kimberley and love it,this is a link to a news article on ABC Lateline that is worth looking at!
Steep Island Moonrise
I am just about to see if I can put together a good image of the moon rising over Cedar Ck Falls. As i was sitting there thinking about how to go about it, I was reminded of an image I have of the full moon over Steep Is. in the Kimberley.
This was just an experiment to see how to put together a composite image but it came out so well that I thought I would share it with you all!
The beauty about this image is if you were in the right spot and the moon was in the right spot, this could be real (ish)!
David Bettini and Mark Stothard have been posting some great shots of storm clouds they have encountered during their recent trip along the Kimberley Coast. Once again I have been inspired to have another look at a stitch of an awesome looking storm that swept across Prince Frederick Harbour. Decided to do a monochrome version as i was having trouble getting the colour version to look just right.
This place seems to be a storm magnet and as Master of the vessel I was on, I was watching this pretty closely as we were in the middle of passenger tranfers by Helicopter!
As it turned out, it passed by with little effect but I got some great images while it was around. Hope you like this one!
Three posts in one week!? I’ll be taking over from Mark soon if I am not careful!
St George Basin, Kimberley Coast
David Bettini and Mark Stothard have been posting some great images of their recent trip to the Kimberley and a couple of their images of St George Basin inspired me to have a look at some similar images i have on file.
St George Basin is a large flooded plain into which the Prince Regent R. flows and is home to one of the largest concentrations of Mangroves in Australia. The islands in the Basin create some interesting landscapes and photographic opportunities,especially in the early morning and late afternoon.
The Kimberley, an ancient, timeless land where man’s influence is so far, fairly minimal. That could change in the future if the gas,mining companies and government have their way! Like the Tasmanian SW this is an area that should be left as a wilderness, free of ugly gas plants, disfiguring mining operations and the like.
Traveling through the Kimberley by sea you get a good sense of how insignificant you really are and you get a feeling that the land is watching you,impassively,waiting for you to make a mistake.
On most days during the dry the landscape is a magnificent palette of colour, dominated by the ochre colours of the sandstone of which the area is comprised. Contrasting with the blues of the sea and endless sky as well as the greens of the post-wet season greenery it’s easy to fill a memory card pretty quickly.
But on the rare occasion when a thunderstorm rolls across the landscape, it seems to take on a more primitive & malevolent feeling. You almost expect a dinosaur to make an appearance somewhere and indeed there are dinosaurs around in the form of crocodiles.
This is my attempt to communicate that feeling you get.
If You Don’t Fight, You Lose!
After watching a 60 Minutes Report on the looming battle over the exploitation of The Kimberley for resources, a couple of thoughts went through my head. Colin Barnett, the W.A. Premier and Wayne Bergmann from the Kimberley Land Council, both cited how the proposed Gas Plant at James Price Point would bring enormous opportunities for the for the local indigenous people such as employment, wealth through mining royalties, etc. Would this really be the case though?
I am sure Wayne Bergmann is trying his best on behalf of his people, in Colin Barnett’s case, I seriously doubt it!
Exactly how many jobs would aboriginal people get out of this project considering that the amount of trained personnel amongst the local indigenous community would be fairly small?
Would Woodside be willing to spend all that time and money on training, when they could import trained people from elsewhere to build and operate the plant?
Would all this money that they say will be a boon to the local indigenous community actually help lift them out of the squalor that some of them live in?
I think the more likely scenario will be that many of those jobs will go to outsiders who will descend on the area attracted by the big wages that are common in the resource sector. That in turn will lead to inflated prices for rent, goods and services that will further marginalise a lot of people who live on the edges already. Broome will likely suffer the same sorts of problems that are seen in places like Dampier, Karratha and Port Headland!
The Kimberley Land Council have already been blindsided when Colin Barnett announced the compulsory acquisition of the land for the plant. A couple of days ago Mr Bergmann and other members of the Land Council were in Canberra lobbying against this blatant land grab by the W.A. Government.
This Gas Plant is probably the tip of the iceberg for the Kimberley and is wrong on so many levels, the aboriginal people and the wider community must start thinking of the wider and longer term implications if it is given green light.
In the 60 minutes Report, I think Albert Wiggan came out with the most intelligent rationale against any exploitation of the Kimberley and everybody who loves the Kimberley should keep it in mind!
Leave the Kimberley Alone!
Haven’t posted for a while as I am recovering from a hip operation that has made it painful to sit at a computer for too long! Good news is that I appear to be mending quickly,thank God!
I was reading a post by Christian Fletcher about the proposed Gas Plant at James Price Point near Broome and in the comments section I came across a scary piece of information found by David Bettini about a proposed copper mine near the Horizontal Falls!
I have spent quite a bit of time at the Horizontal Falls in my day job as a charter vessel skipper, and have driven tourists through the falls many times in all conditions. This image does not show the Falls in full flight as they are very dependant on the range and state of the tide. At maximum flow on the biggest tides of the year (11.5m range) they are an awesome sight with a 3m difference in level in the outer gap and a 5m wall of water in the inner gap. Water speeds reach up to 20 knots with huge whirlpools and turbulence, driving a powerboat through these is to be on the edge of control and very much an adrenalin surge to put it mildly!
The surrounding area in Talbot Bay is an ancient,rugged and unforgiving landscape that will punish any lapse in concentration on land or sea. Huge tides, crocodiles, sharks and a rugged rocky landscape with little fresh water makes it a place to keep your wits about you!
It also has a beauty and grandeur about it that is awe inspiring at times,especially when you look at how the sandstone strata has been pushed, pulled and twisted by unimaginable forces over millions of years.
To really get the best perspective of these forces and how this landscape has been formed flying over it is the best way, a truly unique experience!
The ancient rythms of life hold sway out here and make it a very unique area but unfortunately a mining company can’t see them. What they see is potential profit by changing and perhaps ruining an ancient landscape forever! And the politicians will be all for it if it looks viable.
I seriously hope people fight this and the Gas Plant near Broome tooth and nail and tell those in power that there are some places that are out of bounds!
If you want to see some more of what there is to lose, check out this brilliant video by Michael Fletcher!
Who believes in the Tooth Fairy?
Christian Fletcher has just posted on his blog about his outrage about the proposed gas plant at James Price Point near Broome and got quite a few responses.
The article on Four Corners was quite illuminating on the lengths that some politicians, mining companies and even members of the aboriginal community will go to to get these projects running, citing the benefit to the community
While there will undoubtedly be economic benefits flow on to the wider community from these projects, if you believe that these projects are started on that principal, then you believe in the tooth fairy!
These projects come about because a bunch of people see an economic benefit for them and their shareholders, in other words, they have access to a resource which can only be used once and they will sell that resource for as much as they can.
The fact that it will employ a lot of people and contractors is probably a necessary evil that is part of the cost of doing business.
After the resource is finished or is no longer economical, what is left is a huge hole in the ground and a landscape that is dramatically altered from it’s original state.
The images below are of two islands, Cockatoo and Koolan, which are situated in Yampi Sd. on the Kimberley Coast.
Not very pretty are they?
These two islands have been mined sporadically for iron-ore for many years and have both been shut down when prices made it unviable to work. In Koolan Is. case they bulldozed much of the equipment into a pit and flooded it.
My question is what will happen to what’s left of these islands at the end of the mine’s life? Theoretically they are supposed to be rehabilitated, but how do you rehabilitate that?
This image is what it would have looked like originally.
These are relatively small mines compared to mines in the Pilbara but if you extrapolate this to include all the infrastructure like towns, camps, railways & port facilities such as Port Headland, Karratha etc, what will happen to all this when the iron/oil/gas runs out?
What will happen to the Plant proposed at James Price Point in the future, will the multinational company that owns it take it ALL away???
Is it worth the price??
I’m hoping someone can help me out here, I am trialing a couple of Photoshop plugins at the moment, Genuine Fractals & Alien Skin Blowup.
Both these plugins are for resizing files and apparently do a better job than Photoshop itself. So far it is hard to tell them apart, Genuine Fractals looks slightly sharper but is slightly more noisy than Alien Skin. Both seem to do an outstanding job so it may come down to price and ease of use.
Has anybody out there used either of these plug-ins and what were your impressions?
While you are mulling that over, here is an image taken during my recent trip to Tasmania. There is an image of a European castle in Peter Eastway and David Oliver’s excellent book ‘Away’.
I thought i would see if I could do something similar to this image, unfortunately I failed miserably but I will give it another crack at a later date.
For all that I don’t mind the result that I ended up with!
5 image stitch, Lr2 & PSE7, dash of red wine!
Well, this is the end of our tour along the Kimberley Coast. These three images are of a fuel truck driver I met on the Derby Jetty. Can’t remember his name but he was a really nice bloke!
Derby is a town situated on the mud flats at the mouth of the Fitzroy River and will probably be the first town to be affected by rising sea levels.
First impressions of the town are not much but what makes Derby unique is it’s history and the friendliness of the people who live there.
I would rather spend time there than Broome.
Anyway the next few posts will be of one of my favourite places in Tasmania just for something different.
The three images here are of a place called Talbot Bay, home of the famous Horizontal Waterfalls.
Geologically, this area is pretty interesting. Flying over and cruising around here, one can see evidence of the tremendous forces that were exerted upon this landscape millions of years ago that stagger belief.
The strata is tilted,bent and twisted on a scale that makes you feel pretty small in the scheme of things!
Add to this some of the largest tidal movements in the country and you have a landscape that really grabs your attention!
These are a couple of shots of a unique little spot in the wilderness. Comprised of nearly pure silica, it’s like the Whitehaven of the Kimberley but smaller!
As the water is reasonably clear it is one of very few places that it is relatively safe to swim in saltwater and the rock formations surrounding it are amazing.
Even the wildlife likes it, we pulled up one day to find a small croc getting a suntan. He disappeared mumbling “Bloody tourists….!”
I’m going to back track a little here. If you have been following the blogs of Christian Fletcher and True North Mark you will have seen some great images of the Kimberley Coast.
I was very surprised to see that neither posted an image of what I consider to be one of the most spectacular sights along this coastline, the entrance to the Hunter River.
It’s a little difficult to get a sense of the size of these two peaks but believe me they dominate the landscape! No official names that I know of, but variously known as the Ninepins or Indian Hd. If you look at the right hand one you can see the face in it.
The next image is another rockscape taken on a beach near here.
You could spend a lifetime photographing the rock formations along this coast!
These are a couple of images of a place called Myridi Bay in Yampi Sd. The first one is some amazing cliffs that change colour as the sun sets on them. If you look closely you will see some bending in the rock strata. There are even more extreme examples around this area that make your jaw drop when you think about the forces involved!
The second image is what you see next morning on the other side of the inlet. Polarising filters come in handy up this way.
As I mentioned in my last post, this landscape looks like it could all falll down with a good sneeze! This is in an image taken at Steep Island that shows how it is all being slowwly whittled away. Some of the rocks that have fallen off the cliff are big! I saw even bigger falls in places, would not want to be underneath them……….
On another note, I have just checked out some images posted by Christian Fletcher and Mark Stothard. Nice! That is the beauty of photography, we all see things differently!
A Dynamic Landscape.
Even though the Kimberley is an ancient landscape, if you look closely, it resembles a stack of loosely piled dominoes at times. Huge rock slides and falls are commonplace and you get to thinking that a decent earth tremor would bring the whole show tumbling down!
Around the tidal level, the sea has carved some amazing sculptures into the sandstone that makes up this land/seascape.
This was one I found early one morning in a place called Yorke Sound. I only had a short time ashore and was surrounded by some surreal rockscapes. I can well understand how the aboriginal people revered this land!
A stitch in time…
I was just looking through the images I took in the hope of stitching at a later date and came up with this. I know you’ve alll seen this storm before but not quite like this.
Courtesy of LR2 and a neat little plug-in called the SIAS filter.
Still playing with the stitching program. Until I have something worthwhile to post it is back to single frames for a while.
This is one I shot in the Kimberley when another mean looking storm poked it’s head over the hills. just as i thought we were going to cop it, it parted and went around us. Managed to get a couple of decent frames and took this one for a ride through Lightroom.
I like the patchy lighting which is something I look for all the time. “Chiriasco” I think is the term for it, nice when it appears!
Well I decided to bite the bullet and purchased a version of PTgui stiching software, can’t believe I didn’t do it earlier!
Very user friendly and does a great job, no more weird skies or ghosting.
I can see why every body stiches images, now i need to start looking at things a bit differently but that’s not such a bad thing.
The viewpoint of this image could have been more to the left but I didn’t have any choice unfortunately.
This landscape really is a land that time forgot!
The Kimberley coast is such a huge area that it is sometimes difficult to convey the scene in front of you in one frame. I can well understand why a lot of photographers use panoramic cameras or these days stitching to capture what the see in front of them!
As this seems to be the thing at the moment I thought I may as well have a crack at it as well.
Bear in mind that the only stitching software i have at the moment is a Canon bundled software called Photostitch which is barely adequate for the job.
With trepidation i fed some files that I had shot specifically into the application just to try it out. My laptop groaned and mumbled at all the work i had thrown at it and finally threw out an image. I was surprised at how well it had done and with a little tidying up in Lightroom and Elements this is the result.
Waddya reckon Christian, good enough to go in your gallery?
Stop laughing and answer me!
Ok, so I have a way to go and PtGui looks like a good investment, but you gotta start somewhere.
5 image stitch, handheld from a boat.
More bloody red rocks!!
Another one from St.George Basin at sunrise.
As beautiful as the Kimberley coast is, it becomes a challenge to shoot something different. Especially if you are shooting mostly from the water.
As the landscape is dominated by the reddish hues of the sandstone bluffs the only contrast is provided by the sky or if you are lucky enough to be there early in the dry, there is still a lot of greenery present.
As the season progresses, all the green grass dries out and becomes yellow. Harsh country!
Sometimes at sunrise or sunset the red light hits the cliffs and makes them positively glow, if you are lucky enough to get dark cloud in the background, the contrast can be spectacular!
This is a shot of St. Patrick Is. taken just after sunrise. St,George Basin is a large basin that the Prince Regent R. flows into.
The tidal flows in the entrance to this basin have to be seen to be believed, places like Whirpool Reach can have currents of up to 10 knots and will throw large vessels around like toys. In the middle of the mayhem, dolphins are calmly fishing!
This particular morning we were anchored off a place called Python Cliffs, I had a feeling that there could be a photo op which worked out very nicely!
Sometimes, you get lucky!
This is another one of the storm that didn’t immediately jump out at me until I started playing with it in Lightroom. I remember thinking at the time, “wouldn’t it be cool if the sun illuminated the headland against the dark sky!”
As they say, “F8 and BE THERE!”
Boab and the Bluff
Pictured are two icons of the Kimberley, a Boab tree and The Bluff at Raft Point.
One of the images I wanted to capture during this trip was a Boab tree while it still had leaves, pretty difficult to do from a boat! Luckily there was one on the beach where I spent a short time. Had to do a bit of scrub bashing to get this angle though!