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.
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.
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.