coastal, colour, landscape, South Australia

aerial photography

November 28, 2017

As mentioned here and here  I had an opportunity to do some aerial photography in late November along the coast of  the southern Fleurieu Peninsula thanks to  Chris Dearden   and his  recreational Sonex motor-glider (a Xenos).   We flew from the privately owned Goolwa  airport  to   the mouth of the River Murray, then turned west and flew  to Newland Cliffs in Waitpinga,  then flew back to Goolwa.  This was the first time that I’d done any aerial photography outside of a few  snaps on various commercial flights.

I was stunned by the beauty of this part of the southern Fleurieu Peninsula  coastline from the air.  It sure looked very impressive.

Mouth of the River Murray

I just could not resist making a  photo of the mouth of the Murray River  with the two dredges working full time to  keep the mouth of the river  open. Water should be flowing through the mouth and into the Coorong, given the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and  the water buybacks to increase  the  environmental flows of the river and the dredges not needed.

What we have learned recently is that the  Murray-Darling Basin Authority is incompetent and that  the NSW state government and bureaucracy have been complicit in water theft and meter tampering. The Murray-Darling Basin Authority knew about the  theft of water for environmental flows  by  some irrigators for cotton growing in northern NSW and  it did nothing. Same for the Queensland  government. There is a long history of state governments in the Murray-Darling Basin  turning a blind eye to excessive water extraction  by irrigators.  

I didn’t really know what to expect,  what the  photo difficulties would be, or what camera would be the most suitable.   It was a case of jumping in trying different angles and elevations and light, and using very minimal equipment (one   Sony NEX-7 digital camera and one 35 mm Leica lens),  seeing what eventuates, and  then taking it from there. Thankfully we did not have clear skies or rain. Bright overcast, when the shadows fade away, looks to be   good conditions for aerial photography.

Newland Cliffs, Waitpinga

Whilst driving to Goolwa airport to meet up with Chris  I recalled that early aerial photography, especially of battle zones in the First World War,had  helped give rise to abstraction in modern painting, and abstraction in painting in turn influenced photography; the joint show emphasized the symbiosis.  I tried to forget  about the aerial photography done by Richard Woldendorp and John Gollings  or Edward Burtynsk’s painterly abstractions and industrial  sublime imagery of toxic landscapes. I simply  had to,  as  the gear used by Burtynsky in his aerial photography, was way  outside my price range:

With the door open, the thud-thud of the engines grew louder, and the cabin filled with exhaust. Burtynsky was peering into the viewfinder of an eight-pound digital Hasselblad. While exploring angles on the landscape, he bent at the waist, swaying from side to side. The camera sat atop a handheld gyrostabilizer, a compact cylindrical device that weighs an additional six pounds, and contains two wheels spinning at twenty thousand r.p.m.s, providing a constant counterforce against jolts or vibration.

He had support staff, drones and security. All I had was an additional camera,    an old Rolleiflex TLR  film camera,   and it would have been hopeless trying to use it  through the  perspex canopy of the fixed wing Sonex, given all the reflections from the perspex canopy.

From the air you can see how much of the land has been reshaped by agriculture. Farming is the single largest human activity of land use  that has been  done to transform the surface of the Fleurieu Peninsula since white settlement. This landscape is defined by human impact.



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