Kalamina Gorge is probably the least spectacular of the gorges in Karijini but it is still well worth a visit. It is located 15 minutes drive east of the Eco Retreat along some well maintained dirt road. The best time to visit seems to be in the early hours of the morning. If you arrive before dawn, there are some opportunities to shoot the gorge from above with dawn light however we ventured into the gorge as the day was looking crystal clear. Since most shooting is done by early morning , you can very likely make it back to the eco retreat for breakfast rather than bring it along with you!
As you make the short descent into this shallow gorge, a right turn will take you to Kalamina Waterfall. As this location looked very secluded, we ended up photographing this later in the morning once the light was reflecting from above.
The gorge descends gently to the left of the entry point and takes you past some quite densely foliage lined areas which we struggled to find compositions for. Thereafter , there are some flat areas of shallow water which are good to photograph once the light is starting to hit the tops of the gorges.
The gorge takes a natural right turn which leads to a series of small cascades that are interesting to photograph with a more abstract composition in mind. After this section of cascades, the waterway opens into a flatter area of still water with fallen rocks. We didn’t photograph this section as we were busy finding compositions of gorge detail. Beyond this section is a natural arch on the right of the canyon which could potentially be photographed with dawn but once again on our one visit we did not attempt to shoot this.
On a clear day, we found that the best way to utilise the light was to find bends where the light would be filtering in sideways after dawn. Alternatively, even once the sun is quite high (but not to the base of the gorge) , there are many opportunities to shoot reflections in the shallow waters.
To finish off with I thought I would share a few experiences I have had with regard to lightroom’s new HDR tool. With the latest update to lightroom CC, multiple RAW images can be combined within the lightroom interface to create an HDR RAW equivalent. This file can be pushed to +/- 10EV as compared to +/- 5EV on normal RAW files. During the HDR process one can choose an autotone option (lightroom does the exposure thinking for you) and various degrees of deghosting. Here’s what I’ve found :
- The deghosting has worked for me quite well in terms of moving clouds though not so well on moving water. I have yet to attempt this on a file with subjects such as moving people or wildlife.
- The autotone tends to push the HDR file to near +100 shadows and -100 highlights while keeping the exposure close to 0EV.
- Even if you have clean files exposed for shadows, I have found that on many attempts, pushing the shadows inexplicably seems to use the file information from an underexposed RAW? I am not sure why this is the case but no matter pushing exposure to +3 and above or pushing shadows close +100 , I am still seeing severe noise in shadow areas which are absent in the over-exposed individual RAWs. Strangely this does not always occur and I wonder what the reason for the inconsistency is?
Overall, it has been a little hit and miss but since you can continue to do other tasks in lightroom while compiling the HDR image, I usually give it a go to see the result is satisfactory. On most of occasions though, I have reverted to doing the manual blend with full control in photoshop. Since its deghosting works reasonably well , I have occasionally used the HDR RAW file to blend double or triple processed images from that same file. This makes the blend easier since you no longer have to contend with moving objects in the blending process.
That was our brief morning in Kalamina before an extended morning break , nap, and then more gorges in the afternoon. Stay tuned for the next section!
Our visit in Karijini in April this year gave us 5 days to explore the gorges in the area. If you are keen to revisit locations , then this is a good period of time to spend exploring. If you are the type to visit the gorges sequentially for the experience alone, then you’d probably only need 3 days to visit the main gorges. We hope to write these guides to assist you with where you might want to place the emphasis on each particular gorge and how feasible it is for you depending on your activity level. We based our visits from the Eco retreat which is adjacent to Joffre Gorge.
Hancock Gorge is a short 10 minute drive away from the retreat. A visit to Hancock gorge is best done in the early morning such that the highlights of the gorge (Kermit’s pool and the chute) can be photographed in golden light but before the sun starts to infiltrate the gorge directly. A good way to start the day is to photograph dawn at Oxers lookout before heading into the gorge.