Saturday, 15 September 2012

Pinnacles - Western Australia

by Dale Neill

The great landscape photographer Ansel Adams said'
'A great photograph is knowing where to stand'

I think Ansel was right.
My corollary to his thesis is surely
'An even greater photograph is standing there at the right time of the day'

The Pinnacles in WA's Nambung National Park is one of Australia's most recognised natural features, surpassed only by the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House and Ayers Rock (Uluru). Every week thousands of Japanese tourists arrive by bus and Germans by 4WD to fire off a dozen or so shots before speeding away under a blazing midday sun.

Right place         Wrong time!

Belly dancer Janet Hof at first light in the Pinnacles, Western Australia
Shoot between sunset and last light and the results are magical. Do a three hour time exposure at midnight with a 20 minute moonrise at the end and you have sheer magic. Shoot in the middle of the day - woeful!

But set your alarm for 3am and avoid the three thousand kangaroos on your drive to the Pinnacles and shoot between first light and sunrise and get the most amazing images.

Wildheart partners: Dale Neill and Sam Oliver
Sam Oliver, my Wildheart partner, organised one of my workshops to the Pinnacles and invited a dozen belly dancers along for the weekend. Eva Cass ran a workshop in the local hall then all the exotically dressed dancers joined us for a  shoot at sunset. That evening they continued shimmying and strutting their stuff for patrons at the Cervantes Motel. This put a whole new slant on 'Deckie's Delight' on the menu!

If you've ever known  belly dancers you may have discovered they work on a different time zone to we mere mortals. An early morning wake-up is usually 11am, first coffee at noon and they start to wake up about 2 or 3pm. By 10 or 11 at night things are staring to really become poetry in motion. So I was a bit gob smacked to see carloads of belly dancers draped in motel blankets like bedouins arrive for our early morning shoot in the Pinnacles.
Not only was it still dark but there were still icicles on their false eyelashes and a ground temperature of zero and a chill factor of minus four.

English rose and belly dancer extraordinaire Janet Hof was there to catch the very first hint of light. Even before the rays of light touched the earth, they lit Janet's body and costume. I loved the way the light lit the landscape. No photoshop needed here. Simply, Janet and I were there at the right time of day!

Join Dale Neill in his Beginner's Digital Photography classes to learn what buttons to press on your camera and how to recognise the 'sweet spot' in timing.

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