Up for Discussion: Photographing Your Backyard
Perhaps not literally, but what about the area you live in. I have written about this before, but maybe it is time I did it again. Whether we live in one of the most picturesque places on the planet, or somewhere that no one cares about, there are images there to take.
I’ve lived in this area for 21 years and I’ve been doing photography for longer than that, but I’ve always thought that I needed to travel away from the area to take photos. What on earth could there be to photograph around the Heidelberg area in Melbourne that anyone would be interested in.
Then I started looking at the images that many other people were taking of other parts of the world. These absolutely spectacular shots of places in the best conditions. I kept wondering how come every time I go to great places the weather never seems to be on my side. I never get the sunrise or the sunset. I don’t get beautiful lighting, I just get blah and often. The reality of the world is that there is more blah than beautiful.
Then about a year ago, maybe a little more, I started realizing that I did live somewhere rather special and that all I had to do was open my eyes to see it.
I live in an area surrounded by city, but here, just 15 or so kilometres from the city, where the Yarra River winds its way to the city, is an amazing area that was initially occupied by the Wurundjeri people before displacement and the “new” owners of the land took over and turned it into farmland. It was farmland until about 20 years ago, and from then it is slowly being allowed to return to what it was when the Wurundjeri lived on it.
It has taken me many years to truly appreciate what we have here, and with that want to help protect it and save it. Many of you know that I have received a grant to produce a book on this area, and so taking photos of it has become very important.
One of the things that I’ve come to realize is that I can go any time, it is just five minutes down the road. It makes it so much more relaxing. If I go down there to get a sunrise, and I don’t get one, well there will be others, and there will be other opportunities. I am still to get a good sunset down there, but I am working on it.
Getting good images of a place isn’t about going somewhere exotic, but knowing intimately the place where you are. Of course you can get to know a place that you have to travel to well, but you have to be prepared to travel there often.
I have decided that the trick to getting good images is to know an area and spending lots of time in it. For Banyule Flats I am always looking for new things and the more you go there the more you notice. I am always on the lookout for new things
I am always paying attention to the weather reports and looking out for days I think will give me good sunrises or sunsets. If it looks good for a sunrise and I get up early, I can go outside and if there are no clouds, or it is overcast I go and have a cuppa. If it looks like everything is set then I will take a drive down the road. I don’t know how many times I’ve been disappointed when I’ve driven to somewhere for a sunrise and it has been a nothing morning and nothing has happened.
It is very easy to think that where you live is boring. You see it all the time, you are used to it, and we all know when you see something all the time that it can become boring, who wants to see it? Well you don’t know, there is beauty everywhere and there is beauty where you live, you just need to find it again.
Start thinking about what if someone, say me, was coming to visit you, where would you take me to take photos, then go there and take some photos. Think about what light would suit that place and maybe try some different times of the day. Try going in different weather, it is amazing how different weather conditions can give a place a different feel.
I hear so many times from so many people that where they live is boring, so I am challenging you all to pick somewhere that is within 5 kilometres or 3 miles from where you live and see what you can come up with. Banyule Flats is within that area from me. See what you can get, I look forward to hearing all about your place. If you do a post on the photos, then send a link, I will get to as many as I can to take a look.
So the photos today are an assortment of the photos I’ve been taking at Banyule Flats and surrounding areas over the last year and in different weather.