Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Long And Blinding Road

No Trees. No Shade. No Respite. It's The Outback

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON


Mate, you ain't driven in the Outback unless you've driven the Nullarbor, the barren highway that cuts across this dry continent from east to west. There is nothing longer in this country, so I guess this was the perfect way to illustrate the "Long" theme for this week. The highway is straight as a die and its greatest beauty is its amazing starkness. It's called the Nullarbor because it comes from the Latin "null" and "arbor" - meaning no trees.

You think I'm kidding? Look carefully at this photograph. There's not a tree to be seen. Look left, right. Come and stand where I took this shot. Look in front of you, look behind you. Swivel 360 degrees. Ain't nuffin'. Just brown desert scrub, as far as the eye can see. Nothing higher than a man's calf muscles. This sun-bleached stretch of barren land is as dry as a bushman's wit.

The sign says "Nullarbor Plain. Western end of treeless plain". Examine the image carefully and you'll see that the sign itself is the only thing that casts a shadow in this entire vista. I was also capitvated by the seemingly endless concrete ribbon of highway and the amazing sky that spans everything from light blue to azure.

In the past week, quite a few bloggers have told me they can't get serious about photography because their cameras aren't good enough. Folks, you can take a decent shot with just about any camera. This was taken with a little point-and-shoot Ricoh. Just take out those cameras and post your pictures. If you have problems, let me know and I'll try and help you. But follow the Nike slogan and just do it. You'll never regret it.

29 comments:

Seamus said...

Is the road paved all the way across the continent? That would be an enlightening experience to travel it!

AVCR8TEUR said...

Wow, that is barren. I don't know how long is the drive, but it looks like you better have enough gas, food, and No-Doze.

mago said...

In my imagination it is silent there. Is that true?

Maddy said...

My knowledge of the outback is limited to film, books and a couple of Australian pals. It certainly looks very bleak.
Cheers

This is my calling card or link"Whittereronautism"until blogger comments get themselves sorted out.

Hammer said...

Reminds me of west Texas. It amazes me how people traveled through such desolate places before modern transportation

lime said...

lol, i remember being in the great plains of the USA and writing home that the only shade to be found was under a cow....at least there were cows to cast a shadow....

Les Becker said...

I have to agree with you about taking pictures with just about any camera, David. The one I'm using now was considered "mid-range" in retail outlets for amateur photographers when I bought it, but it's a pitiful specimen compared to most affordable cameras. Still, I have managed to get some really great photos out of it.

The one I had before (the HP PhotoSmart R607) doesn't even come close to this one, and yet with that little thing, I took photos that I'm very, very proud of. Had I not drowned it in coffee, I would still very happily be using it. Proof positive that there is no such thing as a camera that's "not good enough".

M@ said...

beautiful continent. just saw some australian films recently from netflix.

B.T.Bear (esq.) said...

Not a tree to poo behind for as far as the eye can see! I wuddent like that! An all that sand to get in me fur, too!

Dave, I've cort sumthin awful on my camra. I hope yu can hav a minit to com an see an giv me yor advice.

:@o

Willard said...

Interesting shot. I have never been where there are no trees.

Your are right with your comments about the cameras. It is amazing what can be done with low to mid range equipment if it is shot correctly!

BRUNO said...

Would love to hop on a vintage Harley out there, get comfy in the seat, and let 'er rip until she stops from wear and tear, or the end of the road, whichever comes first!

That is one of the most "exciting" BLAND photos I've ever seen! I can taste the bugs in my teeth already...!

Desert Songbird said...

There are parts of the American Southwest desert that are similar, but nothing quite to this extent.

Fascinating.

KaiBlueCreations said...

It's beauty is it's simplicity.
PEace, Kai

Carver said...

That is a great shot and perfect for the theme. I know what you mean about cameras. I sometimes wish I had a serious digital camera but I feel like I can't justify it until I learn how to do everything it will do. I had a much better 35 mm with several lenses but when I switched over to digital photography, I've made do with an affordable one. I can add lenses if I get a converter but that will get into a lot more money and I don't feel like I can justify it until I develop more skill. I get decent macro shots but need more work with the landscape ones. Didn't mean to prattle on so. I always enjoy your photographs.

Lynda Lehmann said...

Interesting...I never realized the outback was that stark!

You're right about the camera. Some of the shots I've taken with my tiny SONY point-and-shoot digital are better than those taken with "better" cameras.

It's the eye that counts!

David said...

[I tried to post a comment earlier, but my feed reader crashed!]

I've never been to the Nullabor, but heard a lot about it. You've captured the spirit of the plain very well here.

I totally agree with you about the camera - the most important thing is not the camera, but the time. Keep a camera - any camera - with you at all times, and you should be able to capture some good moments that are far better than any set up shots.

Cheers,

David

Kate Isis said...

Thats the one road in the entire country that gives me nightmares. Long, straight, relentless, mirage inducing. Far better to fly.
Theres a road from Gunnedah across to Coonabarrabran that has one slight curve. I stopped and got out of the car and danced around that curve.
And the Hume highway from south of sydney to Melbourne had me in tears until when we finally saw the looming sight of Melbourne far off in the distance, I thought it was all a joke.

I'm fortunate enough to have a photographer friend who hands me down his old cameras as he updates. But I started with a small compact camera and learnt to take my time and see the world through the lens and I eventually started producing some decent shots. I think no matter what camera your working with, once you get the hang of composition you could take shots on a box brownie and come out with good results.

Pope Terry said...

I'm just wondering if all the lovely foreigners here realise how much of australia is really unliveable. Its hard to imagine how the Aboriginies did it for so long

Wendy said...

You certainly have a way with words - I like your description of this barren stretch of road being a concrete ribbon. Is any part of it tied up in a bow?

Nancy said...

Interesting shot.

If you were to take a picture in my neck-of-the-woods, you would have miles and miles of white powder... ;-)

Andrée said...

It's actually pleasant to see an area that is naturally devoid of trees and is not deforested, poisoned or developed and is therefore treeless. It is beautiful and strange to me. Great post.

Gene Bach said...

Dang man, the out back looks about as flat as West Texas. LOL

Epijunky said...

Hey :)

I was green with envy while checking out a camera I couldn't afford (a good ten years back) when the camera's owner told me these words which stuck with me to this day:

"It's not the camera or the lenses, it's what's six inches behind them"

Mimi Jackson said...

Funny, I often don't take/post pictures for that very reason. I consider myself to be a miserable photographer. I actually have a good camera, but the solution for me, is probably to take more shots, so I can choose the better ones.

Tanks for the encouragement.

Suzi-k said...

well this is a step in the right direction in your search for the ultimate outback shot.

Misty Dawn said...

Looks like it goes on forever!

Sniz said...

This is so cool to get this "insiders" view of Australia.

archie said...

Wonderful shot - I only ever "did" the Nullarbor once - that was back in the early '70's when it was gravel from Eucla to - Oh, somewhere near Ceduna. In those days I didn't have a camera yet much of that Christmas trip is burned into my memory. The stand-out? Walking into the Cafe at Penong, thinking, "Wow this is cool." and then seeing the thermometer on the wall reading 114F!
My blog ID until blogger sorts itself out. I refuse to be a nonnymouse or a nicked name!

Catmoves said...

Hi David. I can well remember the "road" from the Isa to Townsville. Once I used the railroad (goes when it wants to) and once flew the trip. We no sooner got up in the air than we were going down to land at another town. (Yep, mail plane.) And once I drove it. Just once. That was enough. (But I loved Townsville after the Isa.)