Look­ing For A Sign

Camera - - ON TRIAL -

The Pic­ture The Strz­elecki Track in the out­back of South Aus­tralia pho­tographed in a rag­ing sand storm with the vis­i­bil­ity down to about 50 me­tres and the tem­per­a­ture a very un­com­fort­able 45 de­grees Cel­sius. These are hardly the con­di­tions for en­joy­ing the jour­ney, but some­times ad­verse weather can lead to photo op­por­tu­ni­ties, pro­vided a suit­able sub­ject can be found… and the pho­tog­ra­pher is will­ing to brave the el­e­ments. The Pho­tog­ra­pher Writer and pho­tog­ra­pher Trevern Dawes has the rare dis­tinc­tion of be­ing a con­trib­u­tor to the very first is­sue of this mag­a­zine when it was launched back in June 1979. Over 35 years later,

he is still as pas­sion­ate about pho­tog­ra­phy now as he was back then, and con­tin­ues to reg­u­larly write for both books and mag­a­zines. The Equip­ment Canon EOS 5D Mark II D-SLR fit­ted with the EF 24-105mm f4.0 ‘gen­eral-pur­pose’ zoom lens. A 77 mm UV pro­tec­tive fil­ter in place. Ex­po­sure con­trol via aper­ture-pri­or­ity auto set to f10 to pro­vide a shut­ter speed of 1/1600 se­cond. Sen­si­tiv­ity set to ISO 200. Man­ual fo­cus. The Tech­nique The key to the shot was the lone road sign and it was composed to be dead in the cen­tre of the pic­ture frame, em­pha­sis­ing the empti­ness of the scene. Auto ex­po­sure and man­ual fo­cus were es­tab­lished be­fore leav­ing the ve­hi­cle be­cause fid­dling about in the swirling dust and sand wasn’t a good idea. This is a case of se­cur­ing a shot or two as quickly as pos­si­ble and then re­treat­ing as quickly as pos­si­ble back to the 4WD. How It Was Done Ba­si­cally… very quickly. Strong wind with fly­ing sand is not a sit­u­a­tion to be en­dured any longer than need be, not just for the com­fort of the pho­tog­ra­pher, but also for the safety of cam­era gear. Find­ing a close or mid-range sub­ject was never go­ing to be easy. No trees, no hori­zon, no old ru­ins – just a road sign that by it­self in good weather prob­a­bly wouldn’t rate a se­cond look. Tricks Of The Trade We’d all like to go about land­scape pho­tog­ra­phy in favourable light­ing, but when cir­cum­stances are awk­ward it pays to be will­ing to look for all kinds of pos­si­bil­i­ties and be pre­pared to pro­tect your­self and gear to the point of de­cid­ing if mak­ing the ef­fort is worth­while. Once the po­ten­tial for a shot is en­vis­aged, you de­cide from the com­fort zone what set­tings to use on the cam­era and how the fram­ing will be done. Then you act as quickly as pos­si­ble. Dither too long in the el­e­ments and you and the cam­era gear could suf­fer. Back in the ve­hi­cle, the re­sults were checked on the back of the cam­era. Ev­ery­thing looked good and there was no need for a se­cond at­tempt. Mak­ing this check is crit­i­cal as there is never likely to be a re­peat per­for­mance. De­gree Of Dif­fi­culty (Out of 10) In such wild con­di­tions, the de­gree of dif­fi­culty was ex­treme while mak­ing some­thing out of al­most noth­ing all leads to a max­i­mum score. Re­turn­ing to the same lo­ca­tion in sim­i­lar con­di­tions would be most dif­fi­cult and any im­prove­ments un­likely. Can You Try This At Home? Only the hardy folk who live in the Strz­elecki Desert – like the work­ers at the Moomba Gas Field – would be on hand to take ad­van­tage of de­plorable con­di­tions to chase wild land­scapes in their im­me­di­ate area. Nev­er­the­less when it’s windy, wet and mis­er­able on the home front (re­mem­ber Syd­ney’s big red dust storm a few years ago) be on the look­out for pho­to­graphs that might stand out. Pro­vided you take care of your­self and pro­tect the cam­era, you might just come up with some­thing spe­cial.

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