Despite The Warm Colours, Jack Frost Is Here
These images might look as if they were shot on a tropical island, at the start of a scorching day – but they weren’t. They are part of a series that I shot right here in mid-winter Melbourne last Friday, exactly a week ago.
Yes, I deliberately used the silhouettes of a group of tall palm trees in the Alexandra Gardens to highlight the strong burst of colour in the sky – and while it was not a frosty morning, it was still a classic winter day.
Yes, the colours are really unusual for chilly weather, but the strange thing about this series of images is that I almost opted not to shoot anything that morning.
I was actually walking along Southbank, thinking that there was no way I’d get any decent shots that morning, when I noticed the smallest patch of orange cloud under Princes Bridge. Time to change plans, I thought. I kept walking towards the Arts Centre, climbed the steps to the bridge and sure enough, a few minutes later I could see that the hues were starting to build as the sun, still closeted below the horizon, threw the clouds into glorious shades.
It was like watching Nature’s version of Joseph’s coat of many colours. The deep red and the vivid orange began to build up in one area of the horizon.
Fortunately, my standard lens is a Sigma 18-125mm, which gives me sufficient focal length to capture one specific area of a landscape. Yes, I had a 70-300mm lens in my camera bag, but I knew I wouldn’t need it. Most of the frames in the sequence that I shot for the next 30 minutes would have been in the range of 80-125mm.
Did I miss any shots? Yes, I was looking the wrong way when a lone seagull literally came flying towards me with the vivid dawn directly behind him. I swung the camera up hurriedly, but missed the shot completely. Instead, I had to make do a few seconds later, when a flock of birds flew over the river with the Melbourne Cricket Ground as a backdrop.
At one stage, I wondered if I could possibly get a slightly different perspective on the horizon, rather than just shooting across the Yarra River. Why?
Because sometimes it is easy to become fixated on a stunning horizon, getting into a comfort zone and ignoring other devices or possibilities in the vicinity. As I looked for a different point of view, I had a broad grin on my face when I realised I was literally standing over a visual gold mine. You see, I was leaning on the edge of the bridge and as soon as I looked down, I realised all I had to do was step back and use it in the frame.
Easier said than done. In this case, I was shooting from the pedestrian walkway on the far side of the bridge, so I walked to the very edge of the kerb to a point where I could kneel in complete safety as traffic whizzed past. Having found a spot (and shutting out the noise of passing vehicles almost within reach!) I was able to quickly shoot three or four frames through the bridge.
For other participants in Dot’s concept, go to Sky Watch HQ.