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 .
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.
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!
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.
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.