Power Of Nature: Great Ocean Road

Waves crash over a large, flat rock in the Port Campbell National Park along the Great Ocean Road in Australia.

I made this photo in the Port Campbell National Park near the famous Twelve Apostles, along the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia.

You might also discover photos that explore weather, textures and shapes may evoke the experience of your Great Ocean Road trip far better than straight documentary photos of iconic landmarks.

I made this series of images at day’s end. Sunset had come and gone along the Great Ocean Road and I was photographing during the twilight, before the landscape was consumed by darkness.

I was enthralled by the power of the waves as they crashed over the huge, flat rock, once a part of the mainland.

I hope this image conveys my impression of the scene as it unfolded before me. As well as illustrating the power of nature I wanted to provide a link to the sense of mystery I experienced as the waves and rock seemed to merge into a single formless entity.

As such I hope the image is a metaphor for the transient nature of existence.

Water cascading over huge rocks in the Port Campbell National Park along Australia's Great Ocean Road.

Low Light Photography Near Day’s End

I knew that the long exposure time, required by the low light under which I was working, would allow me to record the movement of the water around and over the rock.

By closing down my lens aperture less light would reach the sensor and, as a consequence, the exposure time would be further extended.

This suited my needs and produced the ephemeral images you see above. There’s no doubt the mood of these images is dependent upon the following:

  • The movement of the water recorded by very long (i.e., slow) shutter speeds

  • A black and white rendering of the original color images which helps remove the objects depicted from their usual reality

The long exposure also meant that I didn’t need to fiddle with neutral density (i.e., ND) filters in the fading light. That made the process of making the images, in camera, much more enjoyable.

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Photos Tell Stories, Explore Truths and Reveal Reality

Notice also that the first two photos in this post feel a little different. The large, flat rock in the centre of the top image has been placed onto the right hand side of the frame in the second image.

I think this two photos provide a good example of why it’s important to explore different options when it comes to framing your photos, in camera.

Both photos explore relationships.

You might say that the first photo is about the resilience of the rock and the ongoing battle to wear it down that’s being undertaken by the sea.

However, the second photo explores the relationship between the two rocks as much as it does between the rocks and the sea.

It’s also a somewhat quieter image due to the warm tone I’ve added to the photo during post processing.

You see what you exclude from the frame can be as important as what you include. It all depends upon the story you want to tell. Sometimes, as the creator of the image, it’s very much your story that’s being told.

However, many dedicated landscape photographers will understand that their best photos are made by surrendering to the story nature unfolds within the frame.

The camera allows us to record the image. But it’s the frame, into which elements from the external world are composed by the artist/photographer, where the inherent truths within the image are first glimpsed.

Post processing allows the artist/photographer to further reveal and preserve those truths.

Good photos are made by technically proficient photographers.
Great photos are made by artists who surrender to the truth being revealed through the process of making photos.
— Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru

A view of sandstone cliffs and sea at days end in the Port Campbell National Park along the Great Ocean Road in Australia.

Great Ocean Road Attractions | Don’t Limit Yourself

Great Ocean Road attractions are many and varied. But there’s no reason to limit yourself to relatively straightforward documentary photos of the most iconic locations that everyone else photographs.

By all means make those photos, though you’ll often find the experience of doing so around sunrise or sunset well worth the challenge.

But also consider photographing some of the more remote or less well known locations along the Great Ocean Road.

Of course it’s not just what you photograph, but how you go about making your photos, in camera and on the desktop, that makes all the difference.

I employed a Canon 5D camera and the telephoto capability of the Canon 85 mm f/1.2 L series USM lens to isolate the rocks and waves from the surrounding Southern Ocean in the first two photos in this post.

The final image in this post, the color photo which depicts the location from which all 3 photos were recorded, was made with a Canon 24 mm f/1.4 L series USM lens.

I like the image, though it’s more of a documentary photo as it helps place the viewer in a particular place and time.

My point is that through our choice of lens focal length, framing and post processing we’re able to present very different views, if not realities, from the world around us.

My advice is to explore a location creatively by making a series of photos that explore a variety of different elements, natural or man made, and moods within the same location.

The more variety your explore the more fun you’ll have and the more you’ll be able to tune into your own, intuitive nature.

After all it’s your Great Ocean Road trip and your photos of the fabulous Port Campbell National Park that matter most. That’s why your photos need to come from within you, as much as they need to represent the world around you.

Rather than imitating the photos everyone else makes, strive to make photos that explore your own experience of the world around you.

Low Light Photography | Please Stay Safe

Low light photography is great fun. Nonetheless, working under such dim lighting can also be challenging.

You need to be able to work the various buttons and dials on your camera and, when your work is done, safely find your way back to the car.

There’s no point having a wonderful experience if you’re seriously hurt in the process. Please ensure that, if you’re out and about making photos in the landscape, particularly near day’s end, you’re adequately equipped should you run into trouble.

At the very least I’d suggest you bring along the following:

  • A good headlamp with new or freshly charged batteries

  • Your mobile phone, also fully charged, and an understanding of how to use it to contact authorities in the case of an emergency

  • A warm top and a fleece hat, should you loose your way

  • Some food (e.g., fruit, energy bars) and water in case you have to sit it out and wait for help or daylight before you’re able to retrace your steps back to the car

You’d be amazed just how easy it is to lose expensive camera equipment, car keys and even the path back to the car with the fast approach of night.

Night photography in the city presents its own challenges. You’re often so involved in the process of making photos that you become unaware of what’s going on around you.

Not only is your own safety, potentially, at risk but that fancy camera could make a tempting target for thieves.

You might want to protect yourself, somewhat, by undertaking all your night photography adventures with a friend.

Let’s all have great fun making photos. But let’s set ourselves up for success by being responsible about how we do so.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru