Coast

This piece reviewing a photographic exhibition by Ian and Roger Skinner and shown at The Queanbeyan Hive from 28 October to 14 November 2019 was submitted to The Canberra Times on 8 November for consideration for publication. Sadly, the response was “I really liked your piece about Coast! But the show finishes too soon for us to run it – it would be finished by the time we publish it…”

So, I am publishing it (unaltered) here instead:

This was my first visit to The Queanbeyan Hive; a delightful small gallery in an old house replete with pressed metal walls. I will visit it again. This exhibition filled just two rooms, with diverse artwork in the remainder.

I have a copy of Roger Skinner’s magnificent book ‘A Life in Light’ celebrating 50 years of his photography. I have seen his brother Ian’s images on the walls at the Huw Davies Gallery at Photo Access in Manuka. So, I was looking forward to this exhibition. Ian too has published books; I should add one of them to my collection.

What does the coast mean to you? Is it primarily places where you go to spend time on the beach or in the ocean? Do your childhood memories include building sandcastles, exploring rock pools looking for crabs, and first attempts at catching a wave? Do your family photo albums include shots of people in strange costumes? I even have a couple of images that include my grandfather wearing his bowler hat during family visits to the coast.

The coast is the land along the edge of the sea; a place where saltwater, sand dunes, shells, crabs and bluebottles are present. It’s also a place where humans build docks and harbours, cause pollution and leave waste.

Both Skinners live inland, in Canberra and Muswellbrook respectively. To create this exhibition, they chose to travel to observe the coast. In their exhibition proposal they wrote “An observation by a person who doesn’t live in constant touch with the ocean is an odd experience, There is of course a novelty – separated from their familiar eucalypts and dried, rolling hills, there comes a sudden rush, where everything is new and different, but then also and beyond that, comes the touch of the very measured eye. With a constant re-referencing separated by monthly or daily re-examination of these places. And things happen. The brain becomes more focussed and the eye sees thing differently. Very differently.”

There is a particular connection between brothers. These two have finally got around to holding this joint exhibition which brought them together visually. The exhibition affords these two artists the first joint exhibition in their lives as photographers, ever! Having been photographers for fifty plus years each, this affords a rare opportunity to see the output of these two brothers working remotely from one another, on a theme, that is physically remote from their regular inland homes. They are presenting their responses to their chosen coast locations.

Ian’s images are of Guerrilla Bay, on a part of the nearby South coast. I know it well and most readers probably do also. It is only 500m wide, East facing, bordered on the South by Burrewarra Point. It has rock platforms and gullies. Ian’s landscapes display the ocean-sculpted shapes and what he describes as “natural jewellery gathered in crevices, and tenuous flotsam arranged as if in a gallery on the sands.” If we’ve been there, have we seen Guerilla Bay as Ian has?

Small - To the Island © Ian Skinner

To the Island © Ian Skinner

Roger’s images are from the West Coast of Flinders Island. I’ve never been there. I know the island is in Bass Strait. I’ve been told it is beautiful, wild and rugged. Roger is showing us Zen observations of isolated smooth granite boulders, resting in sand, tide marked and covered in red lichen. If we visited there, would we see it as Roger has?

Reverse Arch © Roger Skinner

Reverse Arch © Roger Skinner

I am delighted that these brothers are sharing their great printed imagery with us. We who are photographers must all learn to see when we look. I will see more when next at the coast.

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Using Social Media

My latest contribution to the Australian Photographic Society pages in Australian Photography magazine appears in the October 2019 issue under the title Using Social Media. Here it is as published:                                    EPSON MFP image

And here it is as submitted:

Using Social Media

I’m not an expert at using social media, but I have learned a little about using hashtags to attract more viewers of my images. Why do I want to? My principal reason is to share some of my images with people, because letting other people see my shots is a big part of my passion. Why take photos if nobody gets to see them?

A while ago I received an email from a lapsed APS member suggesting that much more use of Facebook could be used. The Society’s President is keen to see APS and more of its members making use of social media; not just Facebook, but Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, 500px, Flickr and many more. Choose your own.

To justify the time and effort involved in using social media sites, we need to learn how to do it well. For example, we need to think about the best time of day to post to sites such as Facebook and Instagram. Many people are addicted to the former and check it first thing in the morning and last thing at night every day because that’s when they have the most time. So, to maximise the prospects of our friends and followers seeing our photo posts we need to post at times to coincide with the majority of those people being on Facebook.

Instagram is very much a photo-driven site. Again, early morning posting is a good approach. So too is early evening. But don’t forget that your followers may well check new posts when they are on their lunch breaks.

Now, let me talk about hashtags. Firstly, what is a hashtag? The dictionary tells us “A word or phrase preceded by a hash mark (#), used within a message to identify a keyword or topic of interest and facilitate a search for it. Whenever a user adds a hashtag to their post, it’s able to be indexed by the social network and becomes searchable/discoverable by other users.”

OK, now we know what they are, how do we decide which hashtags to use? One approach might be to look at the tags used by people who have lots of followers and use the same ones. But if one of those tags is used by a million other people then your post is going to get lost amongst all of the others using the same tag. So, we need to find appropriate tags that give our images an improved prospect of staying at the top of posts for longer.

Let me reiterate that; if a particular hashtag is used by huge numbers of people that doesn’t mean it is the right fit for you to gain followers and Likes. The only thing it ensures is that your image will disappear into the deep crevices of social media. Out of sight! I read somewhere that the hashtag #photography is used on 252 million Instagram posts every second. Apparently that means an image with that tag will disappear within 30 seconds.

There are various tags I always use in order that those who follow three photography organisations of which I am a member will see my photos. I urge all members of the APS to tag their photos with #australianphotographicsociety to help promote our Society.

I also regularly use tags like #canberraphotographer, #brianropephotography and #igerscanberra (that means Instagrammers of Canberra).

For my image on this page, I would use only some of the following tags – #beijing, #beijingbuildings, #1in36, #squares, #windows, #grid, #architecture, #onewhite,  #onewhitewindow, and #3dimensional.  I leave it to you to consider which of them might be good tags for the image.

Hole in One - by Brian Rope

Hole in One

We need to be up to speed with relevant hashtags and current trending topics. And, if you haven’t realised already, you can simply make up your own hashtags – if you are clever enough to think of one nobody else has ever used. Oh, and please ensure you spell your tags correctly! For me #monochrone doesn’t cut it.

If you want to follow my personal Instagram account it is  https://www.instagram.com/brianrope/. If I follow you in return, we can learn more about social media together whilst seeing each other’s imagery.

To find Websites that explore this subject in more detail, just do a Google search for something like “using social media to promote photography”.

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Conceptual Photography

My contributions to the Australian Photographic Society pages in Australian Photography magazine are now only twice a year. My latest piece appears in the April 2019 issue under the title A New Concept.EPSON MFP image

 

 

Here it is as submitted:

During the Australian Photographic Society’s annual convention in 2018, there were some speakers who discussed conceptual photography. Marian Drew, one of Australia’s most influential and significant photo-media artists, gave a presentation. And there was a panel (Phillipa Frederiksen, Julie Powell and Lisa Kurtz) discussion about conceptual art – with Greg Mc Millan as Moderator.

The panel discussion elicited considerable discussion revealing a lot of interest in conceptual photography. When the new Management Committee of the Society met for the first time following the AGM, it resolved to establish this new initiative and charged me with the responsibility of managing it.

So, what is Conceptual Photography? Some readers may not be certain. If so, like me, they might find the material at these Website pages helpful:

https://www.lightstalking.com/how-to-shoot-conceptual-photography/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conceptual_photography

https://www.tate.org.uk/art/art-terms/c/conceptual-photography

The image illustrating this article is, in my view, conceptual. Let me attempt to justify that claim. There is an organisation based in Melbourne that has embarked on an ongoing project called ‘Unit of Measure’. For their initial project, participants measured parts of the built environment in Collingwood using something other than the usual units of measure, such as feet and metres. Instead they used standard-sized basketballs as their unusual unit of measure, and took photographs showing, e.g., how many such basketballs fitted into a door opening.

When some of that project’s people came to my home city to conduct a Unit of Measure Photowalk, I enrolled and found myself measuring parts of the urban environment using Coca Cola cans. So, the concept was to use those cans as a different unit of measure and find things in the urban environment that we explored which were exactly so many Coca Cola can diameters wide or exactly so many Coca Cola can lengths high and so on. The concept was to measure the urban environment using something different to the normal as our Units of Measure. And, of course, to create images of what we did. Conceptual photography? You be the judge.

New Acton UoM 0058 Cropped

Just under four months after I was given the challenge, the Society announced what it considers to be a stunning new initiative – a very special new photographic Prize, unlike any previously seen in Australia, providing the opportunity for Conceptual photographers to be recognised as the best in Australia – and to win significant prize money. You may have seen an ad about it in the March issue of this magazine. Have you entered yet?

The main challenge in establishing the event was identifying a suitable partner with premises for displaying the winners and other finalists, and to acquire the winning print. I was absolutely delighted when the Magnet Galleries in Melbourne agreed to join us. The winners of the Australian Conceptual Photography Prize (ACPP) 2019 and the best entry by an APS Member will be announced on Thursday 4 July 2019 at the 6.30 PM AEST opening of the exhibition of the finalists’ prints at Magnet Galleries’ Melbourne Docklands Gallery. Will I see you there?

The winner of ACPP 2019 will be awarded $8,000 cash. The winner of the best entry by an APS Member will receive $2,000 cash. If the winner of ACPP 2019 is an APS Member then that entrant will receive both cash amounts – totalling $10,000. Other prizes may be added as sponsors are announced.

Because the ACPP is acquisitive, the printed winning framed artwork that is awarded the Prize immediately becomes the property of Magnet Galleries.

Each entry must be a still work that has been substantially produced by photographic means, including analogue and digital photography, collage and mixed media.

Each entry must be accompanied by an Artist’s Concept Statement, of no more than 100 words. This may well prove to be a challenge for photographers not used to explaining the concepts, if any, behind their images. However, I see that challenge as a most useful learning exercise for people wishing to enter the Prize, and something that should improve their future photography as a result.

There are, of course, other entry terms and conditions. Each entry must not have been previously selected as a finalist in a Prize or exhibited at a major public institution. There also is a specification that a maximum of four entries may be submitted by any one entrant. And, entries must have been created in the twelve months preceding the closing date for entries (3 May 2019).

To read full details about the Conditions of Entry, about Submission of entries and Entry fees, about Exhibition prints and about Judging, and to Enter the prize, visit the APS Website: https://www.a-p-s.org.au/ or scan the QR code below.

qr code - jpg

 

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A Photographic Biography

Every quarter I have been writing a piece for the APS Focus page in Australian Photography magazine. This is my latest piece, published in the September 2018 issue now in newsagencies.

As published:                EPSON MFP image

A Photographic Biography

A traditional portrait essentially only shows what we look like at the moment in time when it was taken. An environmental portrait reveals more because it includes something of the environment in which we live or work. The more skilled and imaginative the photographer the more interesting a portrait will be for the viewer to study.

However, what if we want to show the viewer of a portrait much more? I asked myself this question when I began thinking about how I might portray myself in the context of a visual autobiography. A what?

Well, why is it that biographies must be in the form of the written word, perhaps illustrated by a small number of relevant family photos? Why can’t it be reversed so that the photographic medium becomes the principal information, perhaps “illustrated” with a small number of relevant words?

As my thought processes took some shape, it occurred to me that I could identify some key points throughout my life (or someone else’s) from its starting point through to the present (a little like chapters in a written biography). Each key point could then be illustrated in a series of photo montages.

The next question was how to structure each montage. I have always thought of peoples’ lives as journeys and, since most journeys involve traveling along roads, I had the idea of using an image of a section of a road as the background to each montage. Of course, journeys can also be taken by train or plane or boat – so images of railway lines or sky or oceans could also be used as the backgrounds.

The next step was to consider how to lay out other images to form the montages. To develop this concept for my own autobiography, the answer for me was easy. Because my surname is Rope, I could photograph pieces of rope to superimpose somewhere on the road background and then add other images relevant to each identified point on my life journey.

Since this is the reverse of the traditional approach, I would also need to write a few words to go with each composite image. Perhaps the real challenge for we visual artists?

The viewer who studies the composite images when completed will see places where I have lived, schools I have attended, people who have been a significant part of my life at various times, images revealing things that have been important to me, items that I have made and photographs of significance for me.

The composite images would need to be available in a sufficiently large size for “readers” to adequately see all the elements within them, including any text that was superimposed.

Printing each “chapter” at, say, A2 would certainly help. That would mean creating a very large photo book for the coffee table or holding an exhibition of the completed biography or decorating all the walls of your home with the large prints. Alternatively, the biography could be “read” on a sufficiently large monitor.

I have only just commenced my autobiography project but have “drafted” a small number of composites which, as with the chapters of a written biography, may be re-worked to get them right.

The limited space on this page does not lend itself to reproducing a detailed composite. However, it should be sufficient to show the basic elements of a montage about my voyage to Australia as a child migrant. It has an English beach at the top, an Australian one at the bottom and ocean in between. It shows a statue of children stepping ashore at Fremantle where I first set foot on Australian soil, and the year when I did.

Across the Seas Basic Elements - by Brian Rope

The complete composite also includes the ship on which I travelled, its name, a newspaper report about the gale when docking in Melbourne, and some rope. The draft accompanying words read:

10-pound Poms to a country with boundless plains to share

Vomiting all the way through Bay of Biscay

Via Gibraltar, the Suez Canal – going the wrong way

shout those who couldn’t hack the new life, and Colombo

Sharing a cabin with dad and five other men

Bread and jam for children passed on to parents

Bus from Fremantle to Perth on a stinking hot Sunday

No shops open and many annoying flies

Gale force winds in Melbourne break tug ropes as we try to dock

Then a road journey to Western Districts and a new home

My long and close involvement with the Australian Photographic Society and other areas of photography is certainly worthy of inclusion in my autobiography, but I’ve yet to work on it. Perhaps the Society’s annual convention at the Gold Coast this September might provide another image for inclusion? Will I see you there?

 

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Back Stories

Every quarter I write a piece for the APS Focus page in Australian Photography magazine. This is my latest piece, published in the June 2018 issue now in newsagencies.

As published: EPSON MFP image

How well a photograph tells a story is something many of us look for in our own imagery and in other images that we view. Those of you who subject your images to critique by judges will often have heard them speak about the story it tells them. At my local photographic society a few nights ago, the judge told us he thought an image was powerfully showing the pain of a woman with cancer wondering whether she would survive to see the child her daughter was carrying. I have no idea whether his interpretation was correct, but it resonated with me.

In recent times I have begun exploring the stories behind some of the places that I photograph. For example, near to my home in a new suburb there is a hill that, when climbed, provides great views of the surrounding area – especially at sunset. They used to do hang gliding from the top. I recall seeing them often as I drove past.

Near the lower end of the path to the hilltop, there is a playground enjoyed by many neighbourhood children and their parents. Some elements of the playground are very useful for framing images of the hill. Others make interesting subjects in themselves because of their vibrant colours and angular shapes. Of course, images of your children or grandchildren enjoying the play equipment can also be captured.

As I make your way up the hill, camera in hand, I pass by four installed large rocks into which have been set the verses of Henry Lawson’s poem, Rain in the Mountains. Depending on the weather and time of day when I go for a walk, I can photograph images on and around the hill reflecting phrases in that poem. Misty cloud. Frowning mountains. Leaden grey sky. Night coming early. Rain passing. Golden afternoons.

Towards the top of the hill is a lone tree which makes a great focal point for images against the changing cloudscapes and moods of the sky. At the very top of the hill is a historic trig station as well as recently installed features, pointing to the various high points in the surrounding landscape and providing artworks for contemplation.

From the slopes of the hill you can see an historic building in the surrounding paddocks that have not yet been developed with townhouses and apartments. In the right late light, the building glows golden.

Along the paths that go around the hill as well as up it, there are information boards providing knowledge regarding some of these things, such as the trig station. Others share information about something I have never seen and previously knew nothing about. For the parkland slopes of this hill are the habitat of the critically endangered Golden Sun Moth (GSM).

When I put together illustrated articles for my occasional blog, I seek to learn more about things that I have photographed. I search the Internet. Working on articles about the trig station and the hill in general, I got quite a surprise. A biologist and environmental consultant that I know, Alison Rowell, has undertaken monitoring of the GSM and its habitat in this area during the very short lifespan of the adult GSM. Sadly, I am most unlikely to ever photograph a GSM. Adults are only seen under suitable weather conditions during a few weeks in spring and early summer. The males fly low and rapidly over the grassland searching for the females, which sit in areas of short grass.

However, I have learned what I think of as the back stories – about the hill, the trig station, and the historic building in the paddock. Reservoir Hill was so named because it once was the site of a reservoir – no surprise there.

The trig station was part of the national network of triangulation pillars providing reference points for measuring distance and direction and assisting in the creation of maps. A trig point typically consists of a black disc on top of four metal legs or concrete pillar, resembling a navigation beacon. It is also accompanied by a metal disc, which is located directly below the centre point of the tripod or on top of the pillar itself. This one is no exception.

The building in the paddock was part of Bells – the most powerful naval wireless base in the British empire and the largest naval or commercial station in the southern hemisphere.

Members of the APS often tell stories about their images – such as when they are putting together a series of images for a Conceptual Art Portfolio Award, when they are posting on the Friends of APS Contemporary Group Facebook group, or when they are presenting a talk at the annual convention.

Reservoir Hill Trig Station - by Brian Rope

Reservoir Hill Trig Station

Late light on Reservoir Hill - by Brian Rope

Late Light on Reservoir Hill

 

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Presentation About Contemporary Photography

Last week I gave a PowerPoint presentation to members of the Canberra Photographic Society about Contemporary Photography. I promised to make the contents of that presentation available online. Here they are.

  • It is a lot about today’s lifestyle and about knowing the reasons for our images and about conceptual photography
  • Series are about a number of works based on an idea but the works need to be contemporary not traditional
  • It is not about competition or honours. It is about challenging ourselves in our thinking and in our photography
  • It is where the artist/photographer has imbued their own personal expressions/feelings of the life around them and of their own life experiences, moods, feelings into an image or series of images

2016 Iris Award

Winner 2016 IRIS AWARD

First Impression © Chris Bowes

The IRIS Award is an international prize recognising new and outstanding portraiture in photographic art. The criteria for selection focuses on portraits that are unique, compelling and engaging whilst maintaining excellence in photography.

Is this a Contemporary image? Is it even a portrait? Undoubtedly, there would be various responses to those questions.

2017 Olive Cotton Award

2017 Olive Cotton Award for photographic portraiture

Maternal Line 2017 © Justine Varga

This image was created without a camera. Its selection caused a great deal of controversy which, in turn, generated a lot of discussion and debate – including amongst members of the friends of APS Contemporary Group Facebook group. I welcomed the discussion. Is it a Contemporary image? I believe it is.

2017 NPPP

2017 National Photographic Portrait Prize Winner

Portrait of Richard Morecroft and Alison Mackay © Gary Grealy

Is this a Contemporary approach to portrait photography? Or is it traditional?

2018 Scone Photographic Art Prize

Scone Photographic Art Prize Winner 2018 © Anne O’Connor

It has quite a lot of white space around it because it was printed square on Velin Rag paper within an A3 matte. A Contemporary image? Yes, in my view.

2018 Moran Contemporary Photographic Prize

2018 Moran Contemporary Photographic Prize Winner

Zach (standing in front of his friend’s home in “The Pines”

– an Australian town that sits on the fringes of society) © James Bugg

This competition requires entries to be Contemporary. So, clearly, this is considered Contemporary. I had no idea where “The Pines” was located. Dr Google suggested it was on the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia. However, I’ve since learned that it is actually a precinct within the outer Melbourne suburb of Frankston North.

Horizons - Earth and Water

From the Photo Access exhibition “Horizons – Earth and Water” © Marie Lund

Created without a camera, generated by sunlight. When I was 9 years old I was creating images by sunlight – albeit by putting film negatives in contact with photographic paper in sunlight. In my view this image is very definitely Contemporary.

Faceless Self-Portraits

Earlier this year members of APS Contemporary Group invited to produce two dimensional self-portraits that did not include their face and submit them for exhibition. This arose following the debate mentioned earlier regarding the portrait winner of the Olive Cotton.

From the faceless self-portraits that I created I submitted three and am currently waiting to hear which (if any) the adjudicators will select. Here they are together with their accompanying artist statements.

Toyed tag

Toyed Tag

 Graffiti  artists  constantly  have  the  looming  threat  of  facing  consequences  for displaying  their  graffiti.  Many  choose  to  protect  their  identities  and  reputation  by remaining  anonymous. With  the  commercialization  of  graffiti,  in  most  cases,  even with  legally  painted  “graffiti”  art,  graffiti  artists  tend  to  choose  anonymity.  Being  a graphic  form  of  art,  it  might  also  be  said  that  many  graffiti  artists  still  fall  in  the category  of  the  introverted  archetypal  artist. So,  if  I  was  a  graffiti  artist (introverted  or not),  I  wondered  what  my  tag,  or  artwork, might  look  like.  I  came  up  with  this image to  represent  myself. It  incorporates  my  hand  plus  a  “word”  which  is  a  play  on  a nickname  I  had  in my  school  days. Acknowledging  that  I  am an  inexperienced graffiti artist  or  writer (a Toy),  the  piece  is crossed  out  with  the  word “toy”.

Love Carving

Love Carving

 Lovers sometimes carve their initials inside a heart shape on a tree, thus sharing something about themselves to all who later see their artwork. Rather than carving an actual tree, here I have superimposed my initials and those of my wife inside a heart shape on my image of a tree. The peeling bark and other changes in the tree’s surface since the “carving” was made have obliterated much of it, but those who know me will still read a little about me (and her) in the image.

My Road

My Road

A traditional portrait only shows what we look like at a moment in time when it was taken. An environmental portrait reveals more because it includes something of the environment in which we live or work. This composite image portrait seeks to show the viewer much more by featuring a selection of “waypoints” throughout my life from its starting point through to the present. Each “waypoint” is “attached” to a rope (reflecting my surname) and everything is overlaid on a photograph of a piece of road (representing my life journey). The viewer who studies the image will see places where I have lived, schools I have attended, people who have been a significant part of my life at various times, images revealing things that have been important to me, items that I have made and photographs of significance for me. The future journey is unknown – as in the past there may be unexpected paths to be followed. Viewers will, of course, have difficulty understanding the complete story behind some of the elements incorporated in the portrait, but will interpret it for themselves.

OK let’s look at some other individual shots of mine:

  The Shoes

Contemporary because of the bumper sticker and the “today” spare shoes decorations. (If the driver really is Gay, shouldn’t the spare shoes be in rainbow colours?)

 

Listening

Listening – who to? What is being said? Who else is part of the conversation? What is the relationship between these two and others speaking or listening? In other words, what is the story in this captured image?

 

Safe keeping

In safe keeping. The bottle of beer that is.

 

Back pocket

Contemporary because it shows today’s penchant for keeping phones in back pockets and also shows a little of what we consume? (And someone in the audience suggested it was also contemporary because it showed the current style of deliberately faded seats on the jeans.)

 

Isolated

Contemporary because it isolated an item and provides no real context?

 

Decay

Contemporary because it shows the decay of a section of the building but not the whole thing in context?

 

Popular culture

Contemporary because it shows how today’s people need to incorporate popular culture into everything?

 

Now let’s look at some series, again my images:

 

 From the series “Skies”

Five views of (essentially) the same section of the sky at different times and during differing weather conditions.

 

From the series “From Moving Vehicles”:

Moving 1

Moving 2

Moving 3

Moving 4

Moving 5

A short un-named series captured in a darkened room lying in bed:

Dark 1

What is there beyond the nearby pillow?

 

Dark 2

Sunlight penetrating above the curtains reveals little inside

but shouts that the outside is very bright.

 

Dark 3

Further into the room there are just glimpses where the sunlight catches the edges.

 

Dark 4

Below the curtains and under a closed door the light barely penetrates.

 

Dark 5

Between curtain drops little is revealed

other than a glimpse of familiar hanging souvenirs.

 

Dark 6

Through an open door the light beckons from another room

beyond the unused exercise bike.

 

From an un-named series taken as I walked out from the AIPP judging recently:

Marker 1

This and other arrows had been placed there obviously to show the way in but when I spotted them on my way out I thought I’d capture something of my journey out showing not only the arrows but also other “markers” along the way.

 

Marker 2

Mystery “markers”.

 

Marker 3

Don’t trip, then wipe your feet twice.

 

Marker 4

There’s a step to the left.

 

Marker 5

And steps going up.

 

Marker 6

Let the light show the way.

 

Marker 7

Going around in circles now.

 

Marker 8

Back that way.

 

Marker 9

Anyone for hopscotch?

 

Marker 10

Diamonds through that door.

 

Marker 11

It’s clearly this way.

 

 

Finally, some links for those who are interested:

Things to read and consider:

Monash Gallery of Art – Australian home of photography – https://www.mga.org.au/

Foto Relevance Deep Focus – Appreciation, History and a Place in Contemporary Photography – https://fotorelevance.com/deep-focus/

Pat Brassington: the body electric – One of Australia’s most influential contemporary photo-media artists – https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/media-office/pat-brassington/

Essay: The Art of Photography – https://writingcreativenonfiction.wordpress.com/2014/05/01/essay-the-art-of-photography/

Groups to join:

Friends of APS Contemporary Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1259990940713900/

and the Contemporary Group of APS itself –

https://www.a-p-s.org.au/

 

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Reservoir Hill

Reservoir Hill is in the Canberra suburb of Lawson, where I live. It has quite a few features that make it worth a visit.

It has a trig point (more correctly known as a triangulation pillar). They were regarded as valuable to surveyors, providing reference points for measuring distance and direction, and assisting in the creation of maps. They can still be used for mapping and triangulation.

A trig point typically consists of a black disc on top of four metal legs or concrete pillar, resembling a navigation beacon. It is also accompanied by a metal disc, which is located directly below the centre point of the tripod or on top of the pillar itself.

Trig points are generally located at the top of hills or points of prominence in the landscape. Many provide unique views and challenges, with some being difficult to get to.

IMG_0543

The trig station silhouetted against the setting sun

This historic Reservoir Hill trig is easy to get to. It sits atop the hill in an area that has been reserved as parkland in the newish suburb. It is simply a matter of walking up the hill on a paved pathway that has been constructed as part of the parkland’s landscaping. Even better, it is possible to continue down and around the other side of the hill on the same pathway to your staring point, or to branch off and emerge at a different point.

Reservoir Hill trig station was part of the national network of triangulation pillars providing reference points for measuring distance and direction and assisting in the creation of maps.

IMG_0586

My own shadow on the path around the hill

The parkland is formally known as Lawson South Open Space. It is the habitat of the critically endangered Golden Sun Moth (GSM). I have discovered that a biologist and environmental consultant that I happen to know, Alison Rowell, has undertaken monitoring of the GSM and its habitat in this area during the very short lifespan of the adult GSM.

IMG_0575

A sign with information about the GSM life cycle

A fact sheet appended to a report by Alison tells the reader:

“The Golden Sun Moth is protected under Commonwealth legislation as a critically endangered species. It is a medium-sized moth that is active during the day. Its wing span is about 35 mm, and in flight the males appear dark brown or blackish, with a rapid wing beat. At rest the wings of the male appear dark bronzy brown with silvery lines. The female has forewings similar to the male, and also has bright orange-yellow hindwings that can be hidden or revealed by moving the forewings.

The larvae are present in the soil at all times, living underground for two or more years and feeding on the roots of particular grasses. Adults are only seen under suitable weather conditions during a few weeks in spring and early summer, when they emerge from the soil to mate and lay eggs. The reddish brown pupal case is left protruding from the soil after the adult emerges. During periods of warm sunny weather, the males fly low and rapidly over the grassland searching for the females, which sit in areas of short grass displaying their golden hind wings to attract the males. The females are not as easily seen as the males, as they tend to remain on the ground. Males usually turn back if they fly out of their habitat, but both males and females may rest on bare ground such as paths to bask in the sun.

The moth larvae live in the upper layer of the soil, and can be killed by disturbance or compaction of the soil, or any activity that damages the grasses on which they feed. This includes vehicle movements, chemical or fuel spills or changed drainage. Adults can be killed by trampling, vehicles or chemicals.”

Near the lower end of the path to the hilltop, there is a playground enjoyed by many neighbourhood children and their parents. Some elements of the playground are very useful for framing images of the hill. Others make interesting subjects in themselves because of their vibrant colours and angular shapes. Of course, images of your children or grandchildren enjoying the play equipment can also be captured.

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Sails at the playground

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Sunset behind the lone tree framed by a playground sail

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A grandchild enjoying the playground

As people make their way up the hill, they pass by four installed large rocks into which have been set the verses of Henry Lawson’s poem, Rain in the Mountains. You can read it here: Rain in the Mountains.

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Verse 3

Depending on the weather and time of day when I go for a walk, I can photograph images on and around the hill reflecting phrases in that poem. Misty cloud. Frowning mountains. Leaden grey sky. Night coming early. Rain passing. Golden afternoons.

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Frowning mountains

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Golden afternoon

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Night coming early

Towards the top of the hill is a lone tree which makes a great focal point for images against the changing cloudscapes and moods of the sky.

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Lone tree at sunset

At the very top of the hill is the historic trig station as well as recently installed features, pointing to the various high points in the surrounding landscape and providing artworks for contemplation.

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Pointing to Mt Rogers

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Artwork circles

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Sculptural seating

From the slopes of the hill you can see an historic building in the surrounding paddocks that have not yet been developed with townhouses and apartments. In the right late light, the building sits amongst golden glowing grasses. The building was part of Bells – the most powerful naval wireless base in the British empire and the largest naval or commercial station in the southern hemisphere.

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Bells in golden glowing grasses

Along the paths that go around the hill as well as up it, there are information boards providing knowledge regarding some of these things, such as the trig station.

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Sign about the trig station

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The trig station standing sentinel beneath a cloudscape

Take a walk on Reservoir Hill some time. I may see you there.

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