Power Generation and the Environment

Pond and grasses in front of windmills near Yambuk, Victoria, Australia.

Nikon D800e camera and Nikon 24-120mm f4 lens @ 44mm. Exposure: 1/250 second @ f7.1 ISO 100.

Everybody Loves a Blue Sky

There I was near Yambuk, a tiny little hamlet in South Eastern Australia near the end of an extremely hot summer’s day. I was in the mood for a little reminiscing and had decided to visit the area to seek out some places I believed the family had visited when I was very young and also to check out some of the windmills used for electricity generation in the area.

The sky was blue, the weather fine and, this close to the sea, the temperature was much more pleasant than the 43 degrees celsius I’d experienced earlier that day. It was also the golden hour so the light was softer and displaying a warmer hue (i.e., color).

But, while blue sky days are lovely to experience, they can be a bit bland to photograph. My approach was to fill the frame with as much foreground content (e.g., color, shape and texture) as possible and, by doing so, position the horizon very high within the frame. As a result I hoped to draw attention to the juxtaposition between the traditional purity of the landscape and that of the distant turbines.

Bring in the Polarizing Filter

To emphasize the color I employed a polarizing filter. Polarizing filters reduce reflection off non-metallic surfaces, thereby keeping color and texture from being reflected off the surface of grasses and foliage in the landscape. They work a treat when the sun is behind the camera.

Windmills, What’s Your View?

Personally I’m all for green power generation, and I love windmills. I consider them to be like modern sculptures, gleaming white on windswept landscapes. The fact that windmills can be located on dramatic coastlines as much as hilltops and flat arid landscapes is problematic. Some folks consider them to be visual pollution supplanted onto otherwise pristine countryside. Some local folk even complain of health problems emanating from these giant, white stacks of spinning metal.

As far as landscape photography is concerned I suppose the addition of these turbines into the landscape is as much dependent on the landscape in question as your own particular view on the value of such devices. You’ll either consider them a distraction or an interesting addition to the landscape. Horses for courses, I’d say.

I certainly wouldn’t want to see a bunch of them crop up on Central Australian landmarks like Uluru or iconic sites such as The Twelve Apostles in southern Victoria.   

But it seems certain that such machines are to become an increasing presence in our landscape and an ever more important part of our electricity generation. And, given the alternative from the coal mining and nuclear power industry, I’m really pleased to be looking forward to a greener and more sustainable electricity supply into the future. They may not provide all the power we require, but these modern day windmills seem to be an important part of the mix of technologies needed into the future. I’m also very glad that the designers of these turbines have managed to make them, at least to my mind, so aesthetically pleasing.

Here’s to a clean, green and job rich future with more reasonable costs to the consumer and a healthier environment for all. 

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru