Cradle Mountain – Lake St Clair. “The Overland Track”

Posted December 16th 2013


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Last week I completed the trek from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair, or better know as “The Overland Track”.  We completed a total of 75km in 8 days, which included side trips to waterfalls and mountain hikes.

Rated as one of the best walks in Australia, it is certainly not an easy track to complete.  But it is certainly one of the most rewarding things I have done.

The track is broken down into an average of 8-10km between huts that you can sleep in, as well as mingle with other people from all walks of life, eat dinner and talk about to the next day’s leg.  Each hut has detailed elevations and what to expect on the track.  But they make it sound easy in the writing on the walls.  Trust me, it is far from easy at all.  In this blog post, I will give detailed accounts of what to expect, good and bad, as well as any hazards along the way.

First and foremost, before you even start the walk you will need to get a pass to walk the track.  These cost about $200 in the peak season, and each day is limited to 40 people to help curb overcrowding along the track and the huts along the way.  The smallest hut sleeps 20 and the largest sleeps 26.  Also you will need a parks pass, which can be purchased at the visitors center on the day you leave.  Another logistic to consider is at the other end there is a ferry, which is a small boat that holds 21 and costs $40.  Book this before you leave the visitors centre because if there is no room you have to walk the last leg around the lake, which is 16km.  We didn’t book and didn’t have any issues, but we made sure we left really early to get a seat.  The only other part you will have to organize is transport back to either Cradle Mountain to get your car, or a bus to the airport.

There are also many ways you can complete the hike.  One of the easiest ways is to hike with guides.  When you travel with guides, they take care of everything, including supplying meals, beds and in some cases hot showers each night.  Another perk is that you are away from the general public doing the hike. The cost for that will range from $1800 – $3000.

“ROONEY CREEK – WATERFALL VALLEY HUT” – We began our Overland Track journey from Rooney Creek, crossing the button grass valley and heading toward the looming mountains in the distance. Following Crater Creek up the gentle foothills, we appeared at the almost hidden Crater Lake, with its historic boatshed much like the one on the shores of Dove Lake.  From there the hills became steeper and the packs began to feel heavier.  Emerging onto Wombat saddle for a spell gave us views over to Dove Lake and the peaks on the opposite side.  But the track continued upwards.  After some very steep sections of rock with both stairs and safety-chains, we made it to Marion’s Lookout, where the views really began to open up, revealing Cradle Mountain with its classic swept spires.

Crossing Cradle Plateau on boardwalk was a pleasant relief after the grueling climb up to Marion’s Lookout.  We passed numerous small tarns surrounded by vibrant green cushion plants as we watched Cradle Mountain grow closer with each step.  Before the turnoff to climb Cradle Mountain stood a small hut called Kitchen Hut, an emergency shelter and a great spot to stop for lunch.

After leaving Kitchen Hut, the track followed around the base of Cradle Mountain and crossed the head of the Fury Gorge, which is Australia’s deepest gorge.   Twisted windswept snow gums hang onto the steep slopes with determination in the face of Tassie’s wild westerly winds. Here, the boardwalk ended, leading us along a narrow, rocky track under Benson’s Peak and out onto the Cradle Cirque.  The boardwalk returned, bitumen-covered as well, and Barn Bluff dominated the view as we enjoyed the easy going along Cradle Cirque until Waterfall Valley emerged beneath us.

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WATERFALL VALLEY HUT – WINDEMERE – After leaving Waterfall Valley we crossed the valley floor, crossing over sedimentary escarpments, which are actually the tops of waterfalls after it rains.  This whole valley was carved out by glaciers, pushing their way out and down toward the Forth River.

Barn Bluff stood guard over our shoulder as we climbed up and out of the valley, threading through the multi-colored flowering scoparia bushes and alpine eucalyptus trees.  Soon after, we crested the rise and the view opened up in all directions to reveal the button grass plains, dotted with tarns and rocky outcrops.  It was easy walking and we were actually bored most of the walk.

After leaving Lake Will Junction, we crossed the button grass plains and the vista of mountains appeared up ahead.  Geology changed to craggy quartz underfoot as we approached the ridge overlooking Lake Windermere and tonight’s destination, and revealing tomorrow’s journey over Pine Forest Moor.  Then we climbed down to the lake using some very clever stone step-work, surrounded by flowering Waratahs and heath plants. The track work is a testament to the talented track crews who spend their summers out there.  The track skirts Lake Windermere and climbs the last bit to the hut and much needed rest.

If there is one thing I would be aware of that we found along most of the track after Waterfall Valley, was tree roots are all over the track.  Tree roots can be ankle breakers if you are not careful. I fell over twice as I was being lazy once I knew that huts were close.

WINDERMERE – PELION HUT. This leg of the journey is the longest day of the trip, covering a wide range of terrain and vegetation types.

After leaving Windermere, the track meandered through forested valleys and button grass hills. Behind us, Barn Bluff still dominated the scene, with the gentler side of Cradle Mountain receding in the distance.
The impressive bulk of  Mt.Pelion West grew closer as we climbed up to meet Pine Forest Moor. After stopping for break at the Forth Valley Lookout, we crossed the plains between Pelion West and Mt.Oakleigh before dropping down through more sheltered forest to Pelion Creek…..(some people might have mistaken this for the days’ destination…..but its really just a pleasant spot for lunch!! )
The track followed the contour of the hillside for a couple of hours through tangled rain forest and became difficult underfoot, dodging the numerous roots and mudholes was hard work. This is a very old section of track, where the deep side-cuts are still visible, made by the explorers and used as a route through to the West Coast.
The track sloped down to cross Frog Flats and then the Forth River, before immediately climbing over the last ridge before Pelion Plains. Those last couple of kilometers were taxing on weary legs, especially when the pack didn’t seem to feel any lighter!  It was a relief to see the plains unfold ahead and the huge hut come into view.

MT. OAKLEIGH CLIMB – Today for us was a rest day, but in saying that we still did an 8km return hike to the top of Mt. Oakleigh, but it was well worth the effort.  This was a pretty easy climb with about 1/3 of the climb being a massive steep grade.  The views are nothing short of spectacular.

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PELION HUT  – KIA ORA –  Pelion Hut was the perfect place to rest on the wide verandahs, enjoy the sunshine and gaze across the plains to the jagged crest of Mt. Oakleigh.

But onwards we went, tackling the long steady climb up from the plains through the deep green forests to Pelion Gap.  On a sunny day from Pelion Gap almost every peak along the Overland Track can be seen. From here, Tasmania’s highest peak, Mt. Ossa, can be climbed.  This is best done in fine weather though. 
The track from here to Kia Ora Hut ambled gently downwards across Pinestone Valley, through alpine heathland and remnant pencil pine trees. The track was easy underfoot, apart from the deep mud holes and squelching boards that laid across the puddles of thick black mud.

Kia Ora Hut was in a sheltered clearing, nestled between the imposing cliffs of Cathedral Mountain to the east and Falling Mountain to the west.

KIA ORA HUT – WINDY RIDGE – This day’s walking was pleasant and varied, as the track wound around the foot of Castle Crag and headed for the DuCane Gap.  From the historic hand-built DuCane Hut, the track headed straight into the deep forests of Middle Earth.  Everything here was shades of green, from the ancient King Billy pine forest and towering eucalyptus trees, down to delicate ferns, mosses and fungi growing by the old hand-hewn boards underfoot.

After the previous nights rain, D’Alton and Fergusson Falls were spectacular, and well worth the steep climb down. 
The track down to Hartnett Falls wasn’t very exciting.  It was narrow and overgrown, making it difficult to push through the scrub with the pack on.

Leaving the waterfalls, the track climbed up toward the DuCane Gap. After the heavy rain this was like walking up a river. 
From the Gap, the track to Windy Ridge lead steeply downhill through more rich green forests.  The bubbling streams followed the track in places, cascading over mossy rocks and wet logs, making it a tempting spot for setting up the camera. 
Bert Nichols’ Hut was a short distance on, and this newer, spacious hut overlooked the dramatic cliff tops of Mt. Geryon and the Acropolis.

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WINDY RIDGE – NARCISUSS.  Upon leaving Windy Ridge, we noticed the difference in the surrounding vegetation compared to the previous days walking. We were now surrounded by sub-alpine forest trees and shrubs and everything was flowering prolifically.
The track was easy underfoot, following the contours, until we emerged onto the last bit of boardwalk crossing the button grass plain, overlooked by Mt. Olympus.
After crossing the Narcissus River on the suspension bridge, the track followed the river the short but pleasant distance where it flows into  Lake St Clair, Australia’s deepest lake.

The last leg to the ferry was a short and very quick trip of just 8km.  It is here at Narcussus Hut where you call and confirm the ferry ride back to the visitors centre at Lake St Clair.

Also, you take off your pack with relief knowing that you are so close to never carrying such a heavy weight like this for a long time.  But it’s also the time where you get across the other side and spend 20 bucks on a coke and a burger, use a toilet that flushes and feel the hot water on your hands and face again.

To say this is not a hard trip would be lying.  It’s difficult for a person like myself who is not that fit.   I didn’t struggle too much other than with the weight of my pack.

But it was one of the most rewarding challenges for me that I have done and one I am sure I will do again in winter.

Understanding Depth of Field (DOF)

Posted December 9th 2013

Depth of Field Explained

Understanding depth of field is key to beginning to take competent photographs. Depth of field is one of the most important adjustments you can make on any camera that can radically change the outcome you get when you press the shutter button. So what is depth of field?

It can be defined as the distance around your focal object in the picture frame–or the field of best focus. Artistically, it situates the viewer and can communicate so much about the relationship between the subject and the rest of the image. So how do you become a master of changing your depth of field?

Adjusting the lens aperture: how to change the depth of field

Okay now we won’t pretend that this rule for changing the lens aperture

(and thus altering the depth of field) is easy to remember. In fact, it even seems counterintuitive. Here we go: the smaller the aperture (F8 over F2, for example) the greater the depth of field in your final image.

As your subject moves further away from you, this also will lead to an increase in depth of field. Following on, in close ups, the depth of field is quite limited. Playing with this effect can produce  interesting landscape images, such as the one above taken in the forests of Tasmania.

The interplay between the trees in the foreground and the trees in the background creates a world that seems like you could just step into it.australian panoramic photographer

How aperture and exposure are connected

The relationships don’t stop there. Aperture and exposure are connected via light and focus. A smaller aperture of course lets in less light, which means a sharper and more focused image will be the result. Think of all those overexposed images you’ve taken before–aren’t they all blurry and impossible to make out?

Why you can change exposure with focal length

By manually changing the focus on the camera, you can also affect the depth of field. A longer focal length makes the differences in the focus more dramatic, which can reduce the depth of field in the final image.

This can be great to take some photos in urban areas where you have limited space to work in. It’s also great for portrait photography when you need to situate your subject in a dramatic way (sometimes it’s easier to learn through looking at someone else’s work than seeing depth of field explained). To the eye, objects will appear at the same size.

Revisiting the subject of close-ups, changing the focus distance can lead to increased magnification of your image. As an image becomes larger in the viewfinder, small variations in the depths of the subject mean the lens must be focused at varying distances from your sensor or your film.

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This means that subjects closer to you require more careful setup to photograph. Mastering this setup means that you can take extremely detailed and impressive close-ups, such as the one above.

Once you’ve mastered the concept of depth of field, and how it works with the other controls of the camera, it will add a new layer to your photography. Instead of taking flat images, you can manipulate depth of field to truly take storytelling images with the camera and capture environments in all of their nuanced glory. A good way to start would be to look at work by some of your favourite photographers and see how they use depth of field to their advantage in creating dramatic images.

Basics on taking a good landscape image

Posted December 9th 2013

australian panoromic photographerAlmost everyone has access to a digital camera these days. Cameras can be bought in the store, smartphones can be equipped with them, and even tablets have digital cameras. This has caused many people to want to start taking their own pictures either as a hobby or professionally. However there is a huge difference between just snapping a photo and taking a great picture. It takes thought, planning, and attention to detail to make a great professional photo.

First of all you need to understand the composition of a photo. Every single photo is a work of art and that means as a photographer you need to pay attention to things like the foreground, background, and the subject elements in the photo. Even things like the lighting matter when taking a great photo. Think about something like landscape photos. Is it better to take that picture during the day, morning, or evening? The time of the day will effect where the shadows in a picture fall and how long they are.

This is also true for panoramic photography. You will need to consider the elements in the pictures to take sure that everything looks great together. The next part to look for is lines in the picture. What you want to find are things like roads, paths, or even sunlight. These elements do not have to be straight either. Sometimes it’s better use angles or diagonal lines in a picture.

This is important because you want to find a frame in your picture. That means you can use elements in your photo like a bridge, trees, tree-lines, or beaches. The same is also true for indoor photos as well. Look for elements like a bookcase or a table that will provide some sort of a frame in your picture. Also make sure that you avoid centering items in your photo unless it makes sense to do so. Many amateur photographers will gravitate towards centering an element in a picture. Professional photographers will generally offset the subject in the photo and capture some sore of a natural frame for the background.

An easy way for photographers to accomplish this is use the rule of thirds. That means when taking picture, try and divide the photo into three parts. Many digital cameras will assist with this by having an option that will display gridlines in the viewer. This really helps a photographer lineup elements in the photo and take a really great picture.

For people who are looking for some great outdoor photography work, contact Casey Smith of Casey Smith Photography. Casey specializes in landscape photos, panoramic photography, and photography of Tasmania. There are also plenty of other photography jobs that Casey Smith Photography will do as well, so feel free to inquire. You will find that the work that they do encompasses all of the elements that were discussed above and it will result in truly stunning photographs that capture the most perfect view or moment.

Sydney exhibition on awareness of the Tarkine Rainforest

Posted November 11th 2013
Tarkine Rainforest, Tasmania

Tarkine Rainforest, Tasmania

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Made up of over 70 000 hectares of dense rainforest, the Tarkine is one of the largest protected rainforests in the world and one of the most stunning as well.  For a photographer, it can take a lifetime to cover.

Pictured here is the Balfour Forest, which took me about an hour to access by 4WD from the Bass Highway via the Arthur River crossing. It’s from this point onwards  that you need to be in a 4WD. Once I reached the small car park, which only has room for three to four cars, I set off into the bush on foot to have a look at this wonderful area that the Government has protected for us to enjoy.

A few days prior to venturing out, the Tarkine was closed due to strong winds of over 100 kph that battered the North West of the State. This became obvious as soon as I entered into the forest, as there were trees over the track on many different sections of the path. This just made it a bit of an adventure getting up and around the fallen trees.

I walked for about 90  minutes and allowed about the same time for the return trip before the sun set – all the time taking in everything the area had to offer in its beauty. To say that the Balfour Forest is stunning is an understatement. I love it all – from the miniature growth on a delicate branch, to the grand old trees that stand tall, to the leaf litter and fallen trees that are slowly returning to the soil. 

I totally enjoyed capturing the beauty and scenery of this forest with my camera for others to enjoy.  The above photo is one of the many that I took on this adventure into the Tarkine. Several of these photos will be on display in Sydney for a one night showcase, along with various works from five other Tasmanian 5 photographers to raise the awareness of the necessity of protecting of the Tarkine.

The image below is from Lake Chisholm rainforest.

Tarkine Rainforest Tasmania

Tarkine Rainforest Tasmania

Moving To Tasmania

Posted August 26th 2013

In a few weeks I will be moving permanently to Tasmania,  and for the next 18 months I will be working from the North West Coast where I will be conducting research, sending off film from previous trips of the state as well as processing any film I have waiting for me at the post office.

My first port of call will be the Tarkine Rainforest where there is an abundance of waterfalls and wilderness to be captured. I will then head to Cradle Mountain and capture the beauty of the area there as well. In November I will also be heading out on a 8 day trek with another lover of Tassie and covering the stunning landscape that we will see before us on the Overland Track.

I will be armed for my many adventure with nothing else but my Linhof 617 Panoramic camera, a 72mm lens and a heap of film that I am sure I will run out of in the 18 months I will be covering Tassie before I move to Hobart.

This is a pretty exciting time for me to say the least and one I am really looking forward too thats for sure.

So please add yourself too my facebook panoramic page via the link below, and its there where I will be posting comments about my travels, as well as new photos from my many adventures.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Casey-Smith-Panoramic-Landscape-Photography/134282983273597?fref=ts

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Brisbane City Skyline, from the Adina Hotel.

Posted July 27th 2013

In 2007, I took a trip from Adelaide to Brisbane for the Riverfire and classic photo of the F111 display over Brisbane City skyline. After leaving a friend of mine and finding a position nice and early, I waited for the nights activities to happen so I could capture a great shot that I have seen many times before.

It was there I met Garry Schlatter who thought that where I was positioned was also a good position for a photo of the dump and burn. But Garry had a better idea, he left for about 10 mins and spoke to the reception desk of the hotel that was above us about getting a higher view. To his credit he came back and told me that we have access to the pool deck of the hotel on the second floor. It was there that I captured a photo that will now be used in front of the Adina as part of a 3 meter banner for this years Riverfire.

This is how I have captured the photo below, in return for the file, I asked if I could have access to the top floor of the hotel for a few hours on sunrise and sunset to get some photos for myself as well as for the hotel. Below is one of the photos I captured on sunrise. It certainly is a great view from the room and one that I am very glad I had the opportunity to have.

To see more of the images I captured please click on the link below.

http://www.caseysmith.com.au/photographs/latest-images/

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The Key To Photographing Waterfalls

Posted July 8th 2013

 

qld_076One of the questions I get asked a lot as a photographer is, “How do you get such nice waterfall photos”

Well keep reading as I am about to explain the simple things that will get you great shots with no problem at all.

First you will need to have  2 elements of nature in your favour, one is that is has to be overcast, or the whites in the water will be over exposed for you and once you loose detail there is no way you will get it back. Second is there has to be water flowing, I have tracked to many falls, get there and there is nothing at all.

So once you are at a waterfall, you will then need to have your camera mounted on a tripod as exposures will be too long to hand hold and you will avoid any camera shake. The only other piece of equipment I have for these shots are a polarising filter, this will take any glare that is on the greenery and any highlights that are in the water as well. Once I am there I will generally take my light meter and take an exposure of anything that is green, be it a fern or leaves that are in your frame should be surfice.

Another aspect to take into consideration is colour balance, sometimes if you in shade at a waterfall and its sunny day but before 10am, then it will give you a cold colour temp and have a very blue effect, to avoid that all you need to do is change your colour balance from auto to shade, this will give you a warmer shot before any sun hits the falls and your time there is up.

With your exposures, if you have an exposure of 1 second or more, you will get the smooth flow of the water as you can see in this photo of Curtis Falls, the filter will help you get slower shutter speeds as you will need to adjust by 1-2 stops of light in your camera.

I hope this has given some incite into what I do and how I achieve it. But the best way to learn is to get out there and take photos.

 

Detail In Your Low Lights

Posted July 2nd 2013

australian panoromic photographerIf you have ever wanted to know how to get that photo that shows the colour of the sky when you are taking that wonderful sunset photo but also giving your detail in the water and not getting the typical dark area of one half of your photo, keep reading as I am about to explain how I do this for you.

As the sun has set in this photo I will explain what I did to obtain this shot for you. Using a Minolta spot meter I took my base reading from the water, taking my readings in various parts of the water , this will let you know if your camera sensor or film will not have any clipping or blowout. It would be safer to expose closer to your highlights in the water and not your lowlights as there will be more chance of loosing detail if you expose for your lowlights, this potentially could ruin your photo.

This can also be done with your digital camera if you don’t have a hand meter, your camera should have a metering setting that allows you to set it to spot metering, if you use this then it will give you the same readings as I would get.

Lets say for the purpose of the blog, my exposure is 1sec @ F16 for the water, I will then take a reading for the sky and doing the same as I did for the water, I check various locations in the sky. If my reading is 1sec @F32, then I will add a 2 Stop soft graduated ND filter,  by adding this filter it will give me a photo that is balanced across the film plane and I will have detail in the water as well as detail in the sky. Lee filter make an excellent range that are not cheap, but will not give you a colour cast in your photos, so what you see on the day will transcribe to your photos in the camera.

If you a not able to afford the Lee filters then Cokin make an excellent range as well. But I guarantee that it will make a huge difference to your photography once you employ this.

Photo below was taken at Adelaide’s Larges Jetty on a Fuji G617 using Velvia 50ISO Film.

Stay tuned as next week I will do a blog post on how to get photos of waterfalls without loosing detail in the water.

 

Moving To Tasmania

Posted May 12th 2013

Tasmainia waterfall

I am pleased to announce that later this year I will be packing up my house and moving to Tasmania where I will be living permanently.

For the next 2 years, after I leave my current job I will be spending a considerable amount of time heading out to the rain forests, waterfalls and wonderful coastlines that Tasmania has to offer. The plan will be to research locations and head out on my own for 2 weeks of solid photography, then come home for one week to process any photos from my pervious 2 week trip. I will be posting photos on my FB account and adding new images to my website over the next 2 years once I get there.

Once I feel I have enough imagery I will be looking for a location to open my own gallery, this is something that I been wanting to do for a long time now. As work has given me the training as a photographer, it has now given me the chance to take an offer that doesn’t come along very often.

So stay tuned as I will be working very hard starting in about 5 weeks to get as much imagery of the Brisbane and Gold Coast area before I leave here. The first being a full week from the Adina Hotel in the city, taking photos both morning and night.

To say that I am excited is an understatement, I cant wait to get started and I’m really looking forward to the next chapter in my life.

 

 

Adelaide City, Double Exposure.

Posted October 4th 2012

 

A while ago I read a story on how a photographer did a double exposure and captured the city in daylight and as well capturing the city lights in the one photograph.

So with somewhat of an idea how to go about it, I thought I would give it a try. I did this photo when I was living in Adelaide , so I ventured into the city with my Fuji a roll of velvia as well as my light meter. Standing from across the Torrens, I waited for as late as possible for the sun to hit the city. Lucky for me I had some pretty cool clouds above the city to give the image a bit more drama. I took my first exposure for the city , from what I recall I think the exposure was around 4 seconds at F16 or 22, cant recall as it was a long time ago now.

Without winding on the film at all, i waited for about an hour for the sun to set and the sky to be totally black, it was then that I took my second exposure, this would be for the city lights. This exposure was for about 8 mins.

The image here is a product of what I did that late afternoon / night.