This post is pretty localised, but if you’re ever in Melbourne it’s well worth taking the time to head out of town along one of the Peninsulas that form Port Philip Bay and taking in coastal towns, beaches and lush hinterland. There are many locations on either side that are great for photographers, but one in particular I keep returning to. Hopefully if you live far, far away this will give you some ideas to explore your local area for photos.
Point Lonsdale is on the Bellarine Peninsula at the entrance to Port Phillip Bay and offers photographers a wide range of shooting opportunities. This review aims to be a short guide as to what photo opportunities you might find to help plan a visit.
Highlights: The lighthouse is Point Lonsdale’s main feature and dominates the landscape. The best views are from the western side either on top of the cliffs or on the main beach where you will have the sun behind your back at sunset. The lighthouse sits atop a rugged cliff top above craggy rocks that have been shaped by the ocean over the years. These can be used to good effect to give a remote feeling to the scene if that is your intention.
Point Lonsdale has an old pier now only used for fishing. Great shots can be had from the beach on either side, or from on the pier itself looking back towards the coastline and lighthouse. It faces east so you’ll need to be up early if you want the sun in your shot.
The main beach faces the rough Southern Ocean which swells over rockpools which provide some beautiful reflections in the right light when the tide is out. The shape of the pools change constantly with the tide, so repeat visits will almost always bring a different result.
As well as this there are many opportunities to photograph birds, flora and rugged coastline.
How to get there: From Melbourne, it’s a 1 1/2 hour drive along Princess Highway. A car park is located only a short walk from the lighthouse itself so no hiking is required. Easy access to both beaches is via stairs.
Gear: A wide angle lens is a must. So is a tripod. A good solid one is needed to combat the high winds that whip off the Southern Ocean. Many shots are likely to be at sunrise or sunset, so you may want to also pack a set of ND filters.
When to go: Summer is when you’re likely to find some amazing sunrises and sunsets, but it gets busy. If you don’t want your photos to include people then sunrise is the better option. Winter can also provide some beautiful colours and due to the rough seas can make for some quite brooding scenes, perfect for black and white photography.
Been on a bit of a landscape binge lately. Like many photographers landscapes (or seascapes as is the case here) were one of the first subjects I ever photographed and are still one of the things I love photographing the most. It’s a kind of therapy. The nature of landscape photography forces you to slow down and be patient, waiting for just the right light and think through how to set up your shot. It’s a great change from the rapid pace of street photography where your subjects are generally moving and “the moment” happens and is gone in the blink of an eye. In landscape photography, “the moment” tends to happen much slower. It’s the ten minutes it takes for the sun to break through the clouds, or the moon to rise. Often you are the only person there and this can make you feel like the piece of land or beach or lake you are photographing truly belongs to you. (Did I go a bit overboard there? Yeah, I thought so too)
I was all set to go on a landscape photography weekend last week, when our dog Rosie, in a display of exquisite timing, decided to escape the yard and explore the neighbourhood. She must have eaten something she shouldn’t have because for the next few days she lost her appetite and wasn’t her usual-bouncing-off-the-wall self so we had to take her to the emergency vet, meaning we had to cancel our weekend away.
Not to be discouraged, I decided to visit some of my favourite locations, Swan Bay and Point Lonsdale. These are places where I learned and practiced many photographic skills and techniques and so have fond memories of. These are a few images from the shoot. Comparing these to early images from these locations It is satisfying to see I have grown somewhat in skill level. It also reinforced the advantage of knowing your location. I had an idea of where the sun or the moon would rise and what kind of light they would cast when they did, so I could set up a shot accordingly. If I didn’t already know these locations, I may have needed to come back several times before getting the shots I really wanted. The best landscape photographers will visit a location many times before finally making the image they have envisioned. So its important not to be discouraged if first results are a little less spectacular than hoped for. Possibly the greatest skill a landscape photographer can have is patience.
PS. Little Rosie is now fully recovered and is wondering what all the fuss was about.
Taken at Swan Bay Jetty at dusk on a freezing cold evening during a visit to the family for Easter. This is near the town of Portarlington, where I grew up, and it struck me while I was setting up how little I’ve actually photographed around this area. Of course I have explored the area before when I first began experimenting with photography but as for actually making a record of the area I must admit I’ve been very slack. This makes me a bit of a hypocrite as I’ve been known to ramble on about travel photography being about more than air miles and far flung destinations. What is everyday to you may be exotic and far flung to someone else. I even wrote a whole article on the subject, so it’s time I took my own advice.
So with that in mind, I’m giving myself an assignment focusing on the Bellarine Peninsula. The aim is to cover the many coastal towns dotted around, and the regional landscape in between. It’s so easy to take the things around you for granted and miss what is great about it while looking elsewhere. This is my attempt to change that and be more appreciative of where I come from and all the good things the area has to offer. It will be a long project, covering seasons and annual events and the end result will be a gallery of images that I hope will reflect life on the Bellarine Peninsula, local customs and the beautiful scenery that abounds. I’m thinking of publishing a calender and possibly even self publishing a coffee table book. Who knows? I’ll post images from time to time here as well.
It’s always exciting to begin a new project and I’m full of ideas at the moment. This is also something I can fit in between other assignments and work to keep shooting constantly, which will hopefully help to avoid the rust that builds up during periods of non shooting when I’m off doing “real work”.