Making hay while the sun shines.

I’ve spent the last week up in the beautiful Barossa Valley. Before driving up there , I had notions that there would be plenty of vineyards but that was the extent of my prior knowledge. I had not been up there since I was a child so there were no preconceptions of what type of shots I would like to take. The “excuse” for the trip was a work conference whose focus was clinical practice improvement. I thought that I would have plenty of time and daylight on either end of the day to take some pictures and explore but as luck would have it, two things intervened. First of all, the conference was intense ; 8 hours a day intense with dinner presentations as well. Secondly, the weather was the type that made farmers smile rather than photographers. By that, I mean constant rain and haze for 3 of the days. Nonetheless, I did venture out a little and skipped some of the provided free meals to stay out  and about! The following represent some of the contrasting conditions .

Tanunda Lutheran Church in the rain

Tanunda Lutheran Church in the rain

Jacobs Creek

Jacob's Creek vintage

The conference was located at the Novotel Barossa, a great resort facility near the town of Rowland Flat (10 minutes from Tanunda). The nearest winery whose name I could recognise was Jacob’s Creek – sponsor of the Tour Down Under cycling extravanganza. There were periods of breakthrough light that allowed images of the sprawling vineyards.

Sculpture Park , Mengler's Hill

Sculpture Park , Mengler's Hill

At dawn on Tuesday , I thought I would find a vantage point and try to take an image of the beauty light over the vines. After scouting the maps, I picked Mengler’s Hill with its sculptures as a potential site and waited out the predawn. Signs were not good – drizzle while driving, not a star in sight. Instead of panoramic views with the sky as a feature, I opted to take some pictures of the rather strange statues in the area such as the one above. Shortly after 7am, it was time to head back to get ready for 10- hours of quality improvement lectures ……ouch.

There’s something about hotels that prevents me from sleeping well. Whether it be the unfamiliarity or the lack of blackout blinds that I am now so accustomed to, I’ll never know. It means that I am awake well before dawn and so, taking advantage of that, I decided to try shooting star trails. I quickly learned that when taking 15 minute exposures, you should really bring something along to help occupy the time – a hammock? a book and a torch? Composition in pitch black is also an interesting experience. The following image was the immediate result and a platform from which I will try again and again in the future!

Starfall Rowland Flats

Starfall Rowland Flats

Wednesday was a chance to refresh back in Adelaide as I needed to be back in town for work commitments on Thursday morning.  Ironically, the weather improved the further I drove in to the city! Along the way, I dropped by the whipering wall in the southern Barossa and appreciated the views along the scenic Gorge road route.  Thursday at the conference was really the last day for serious lectures as such. The weather had fined up significantly and so in the late afternoon, I picked some random back roads to see if there were any unoccupied fields. After scouting some fenceless fields while avoiding some rather suspicious looking sheep, I settled down in one particular field and waited for the dusk light to show its hand. Hay bales, fallow, dirt and the cool clean air were my friends for the evening and I certainly appreciated it over the drunken revel that was taking place back in the hotel to finish off procedings for the conference.

Hay Bales at dusk near Tanunda

Hay Bales at dusk near Tanunda

That sums up a week in the Barossa ; a great place for agricultural photography and definitely worth a revisit as I did not enter a single winery or chateau.


Posted on March 12, 2009, in M&D Corner, Photography, South Australia. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Hey, How do you compose the star trail shoots? put the camera to bulb mode and hold the shutter ? is there a remote that does this?

  2. Absolutely right! Buy a remote switch/cable release (same thing) – it lets you ‘lock’ down the shutter button, essentially. Then you can leave it for however long you need, come back, unlock it and Voila! You have a pretty picture. =)


  3. Any remote switch you would recommend ? the canon ones? ( there is the basic and advanced (time laps)one both seem very highly priced).

    I saw some of your photos on flikr that uses GND Filters, I have been trying to understand them, but not getting alot of luck, where would you normally use them.

    I’m having really hard time trying to find a 82mm GND Filter that would fit my 16-35mm F2.8L II.


    PS: Sorry for all the questions, just abit of a n00b in landscape photography

  4. we don’t have any experience outside of the canon remotes but make sure that if you do get one, it has a lock. Ours are the Rs80N3 ones.
    We don’t have a 16-35 ( yet ) but looking into it, I’m told that the only GND filters with holders and sizes that fit are the Lee system ones.
    Good luck! let us know if you find anything that works well – we’re still imagining what shots at 16 look like 😛


  5. Hi,

    Thanks for you advice, if you are planning to buy a canon wide zoom you should get the 17-40mm F4L. I use to have that and I regret selling it. its sharper at both ends wide and stopped down. alot cheaper also. and its 77mm Filter 😛 but its not weather sealed but who cares 😛

    or go for the 14mm F2.8L II but that kinder exp. never tried wouldn’t know.

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