Blinded by the beauty of Karijini!

Recently, Marianne and I returned from our first trip away without the kids to Karijini National Park. We figured that there would be safety issues as well as logistic issues if we had attempted to accommodate a 1 and 3 year old on this trip. Fortunately our grandparents (to whom we are exceedingly grateful) offered to look after Charlie and Jaime. Marianne went into this trip blind largely by intention. We figured that if one of us had a self imposed social media ban, it may help with unbiased creative decisions. I went into this trip blinded white by the sheer volume of information that many kind photographers had offered regarding the planning of this trip. Special mention goes to Sheldon Pettit who gave us a very detailed rundown of what to expect at each location and to Tom Putt who we met while he was running a workshop during the same week! Even as we began our descent into Paraburdoo airport and caught a glimpse of the incredible landscapes from above, we realised that no guide or single image can really match the experience of being in the Pilbara region for the first time.  We had several agendas for this trip. First, we had planned as it as a photographic trip primarily though in the end we had ample down time to relax even while on location! Secondly, there was a possibility that we might be writing a magazine article as a result of this trip hence the need for some travel oriented shots rather than fine-art. Lastly, Marianne and I had separate personal agendas for shooting. Marianne was essentially calling it as it was ; seeing shots and taking them no matter where we were. I had seen many of the ‘money’ shots from the area and wanted to give a fresh perspective on them. These are some of the tips that we hope will help you technically in Karijini.

Marianne standing in awe as we entered the park for the first time at dusk.

Marianne standing in awe as we entered the park for the first time at dusk.

Glare reduction: Within a canyon with slick walls and floor, reflected light can really steal the show in a good way if colourful, or in a bad way if hiding the underlying geological patterns. Because light could reflect from practically any position, a circular polariser can only reduce glare in parts of an image while potentially even removing desired reflections. I went into this trip with an idea to shoot multiple versions of each scene with the polariser in different positions and then blend them afterward depending on which parts of the scene benefited from reflections or polarisation.

Hancock Gorge : The Chute. I blended images for the walls to have no glare while retaining the golden reflections alongside the water.

Focus stacking : Since we both tend to like images as sharp as possible, shooting in closed areas with canyon walls close to the lens was always going to be a challenge in terms of our usual shooting patterns. In addition to the polariser shots, we therefore took additional images for focus of foreground, midground and background.

Kalamina Gorge : This image was shot at a long focal length and required frames to cover dynamic range and focus stacking for foreground and background.

Smooth water: As a personal preference, I like water in my images to have dynamic motion through a short-ish exposure or smooth water from a very long exposure, particularly in areas like splash pools. This meant yet another set of images with a 6 stop ND filter for the water aspect of the image which I also took 2 frames of for polarisation (enhancing colour) and unpolarised to allow reflections.

Fern Pool. This panorama was taken at 30 seconds per image to obtain soft blurred reflections. On a blustery day I would have taken shorter exposures for the foilage but did not need to on this occasion.

Dynamic light: Because we are now comfortable with blending exposures for dynamic range we find that we do like to take images which contain a huge dynamic range of light rather than staying ‘safe’ by shooting scenes with easier exposure such as fully shadowed scenes or pre-dawn /post-sunset. We also noticed that we used far less of our GNDs to the point where I probably won’t be investing much money in upgrading them. The GNDs often did not suit the scenes we were shooting with trees and sheer canyon walls precluding their use.

Oxer Lookout: This scene needed 5 images for dynamic range and another one with me sitting in the foreground. Blended with luminosity masks in 16 bit format.

We hope to give more detailed descriptions of each location we visited in Karijini including behind the scenes images to give you a truer sense of the environment and scale. For now, it’s back to the catalogues to keep working on our favourites!


Posted on April 27, 2015, in Australia, How we..., Photography and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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