I had a lot of fun making this image while running a photography workshop with my good friend and colleague, photographer Joseph Tompa, in Central Victoria. I had taken the group to an old gold mining area for some landscape photography. It's a tough environment and the stony, red cracked earth and big blue sky is reminiscent of Central Australia. In addition to a hat, sunscreen, drinking water and solid walking shoes the bright ground reflects so much light that, to be able to see what's in front of you, sunglasses are required. Similarly, the use of a polarising filter is essential to prevent the inherent color and texture in earth and leaf being reflected off their surfaces and producing a flat relatively colorless result.
It's tough wondering around such a location in the middle of a hot day. It's the time of day any self-respecting landscape photographer would be resting or reserving their energies to basic reconnaissance, so as to determine the locations best suited for photography under more forgiving light.
While we all want to photograph beautiful locations and can all make great photographs of interesting subjects under ideal conditions, it is a hallmark of an accomplished photographer to be able to make a great photograph of an otherwise banal subject or scene, even under less than ideal circumstances. And that's the reason why I take folks to this location. Because it's outside our normal experience it's interesting, but photographing it is challenging and requires energy, technical competence and a unique approach. It's a great feeling to know that by pushing yourself, both physically and mentally, you've done your best and, through the art of photography, employed the subject to explore larger themes.
One of the greatest challenges facing photographers is the need to control lighting contrast. I have a range of mantras that help me demonstrate essential photography truths. Here's one:
The brighter the light (therefore) the darker the shadows.