Spontaneous Southwest Safari


I’ve just gotten home after a whirlwind, 2 day Southwest photo safari, & I’m not sure if I’m more excited about the photos we took or the conversations I had with strangers.

I was up at 3am to get to the meet point out in Perth foothills for a 4am escape from Perth. Jason Matz Photography & I were hoping to grab some photos of the sunrise, but it was rather a fizzer. Not a cloud in sight & mildly hazy. The sky looked dirty instead of pretty or interesting, so we gave up & continued on to Busselton.

That was where it all changed.

The sun rose out from behind a row of trees across a field covered in a low lying fog. Wow! It was divine. Jason suggested to me that I should take this time to learn how to set bracketing on my camera & see what I could get out of the scenery. Stuffing around in the menu, I was getting annoyed that my bracketing button wasn’t working. Then realised that it was somehow set to Multiple Exposure (& I have no idea how or why it got there!) & was taken very unceremoniously back to the grand old days of shooting film & being silly. Needless to say, I’ll be playing with that again soon!

Multiple Exposure

Back on the road again, we spied a bridge over a misted river. The light was divine. Golden tones & deep, contrasty shadows. It was entirely something else. Split second decision & we’d taken a side street to stop again for photos. This is the point that I count as my favourite of the two days. Don’t get me wrong, there were some seriously amazing times & opportunities, but this is the one that stands out the most for me.

DSC_3333-columns in the mist

DSC_3395-2-golden mist over river

There were plenty of side-of-the-highway stops along the way south. Both of us pointing out scenery, entirely loving that we weren’t on a schedule & could stop as often & for as long as we needed whenever we saw something we liked.

DSC_3508 The farmhouse with a guard cow

We spent a while in Cowaramup, photographing the cows & enjoying the art in the gallery upstairs at MuKau. Then it was on to Margaret River for a 10am breakfast at Sails Too. Fast, friendly service & great coffee. The food was lovely too. It was a good enough experience that we went back there from Busselton on Sunday just for coffee. 50km for coffee. No big deal, right? Certainly not when you take into consideration we’d planned a 280km trek for sunset…. Which became far longer.

DSC_3525 cowaramup cattle

DSC_3533cowaramup

There’s an SES cow in Margs. MooSES! Dressed up on the side of the road. I’m happy to report that your favourite little dragon made a complete fool of herself photographing that while giggling & exclaiming at how cool it was. A complete stranger came up to me & struck up a conversation about it, so I explained I was a member of the SES in Perth Metro (as though it explained everything). He grinned & told me about another cow I’d need to photograph down there & gave me directions. It’s not in a spot you’d be going unless you lived there. I felt exceptionally special!

DSC_3732 MooSES

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DSC_3705 brunch sails too

From Margs we headed down Caves Road. We got as far as the carpark for Mammoth Cave before deciding that the weather was too nice to be underground, & we left to make the most of the lovely sky. We stopped again to play in the forest on the side of the road on the way to Augusta. Sadly we didn’t see any fairies, despite the Fairy Crossing road sign.

DSC_3864 forest of giants

Look closely at the bottom right of this photo.

Augusta had harsh light & overcast skies. Certainly not the best conditions for landscape shooting, but the birds at the inlet put on a show for us. This was Jason’s favourite part of the weekend. He was shooting at 400mm (dear gods, that lens of his is lovely!) while I was on 320mm. As with everything we shoot together, our photos are so completely different. There’s no competition & we will exchange settings & help each other improve.

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DSC_4296 stretching pelican

Such a marvellous bird is the pelican, for it’s beak can hold more than it’s belly can!

DSC_4344 pelican

From Augusta, we trekked north again for Cape Naturaliste. The entire trip had been built around photographing Sugarloaf Rock at Sunset, & we’d been watching the clock as we travelled to spur of the moment points around the south west. Artists are meant to be crazy. Spontaneous & entirely insane. This was case & point.

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We climbed down the rocks from the lookout, carrying about 15kg each on our backs, plus tripods & jackets. Setting up right on the edge of the water & the higher rocks, we kept one eye on the incoming tide & another on the sky. This was my first time shooting a landscape in this manner & I couldn’t have done it with better company. Bracketing, timers & intervals in hand, we settled in for what he hoped would be a perfect sky.

We weren’t disappointed.

DSC_4686-Sugarloaf Rock

The show finished & we packed up fast to have enough light to trek/climb back up. All up, we were there for perhaps 45 minutes. Sounds like nothing much when you consider everything else, but it was worth every second.

Back in Busselton for the night & we had a simple, take away dinner & a Matso’s Ginger beer. All of those wonderful choices for meals & we resorted to maccas back at the room (which turned out not to be the 2 bedroom apartment described but instead was a single room with 2 beds). Dessert was Dubliner Whiskey to relax weary muscles & soothe the soul.

Day One of our Southwest Safari was 490km.

At the end of the journey, the trip metre told us we’d done 881km.

I’ll tell you about the rest of the Southwest Safari once Jason’s had a chance to process some of his photos.