Albany, Western Australia
February 2001

Albany is a town/city on the South Coast of Western Australia. I found myself down there during the early part of 2001 attending the wedding of two college friends. My usual inability to confirm my attendance until the very last moment presented a problem of accommodation. This was fortunately solved at the moment by the offer of a room at another college friend's family beach house.

The shot on the right is the sun streaming in from the back of the house on one of the two mornings I rose far too late to get any decent photos of the sunrise. This was probably excused somewhat by the five hour car trip and a wedding reception which ran quite late.

Since I was living almost on top of Middleton Beach, the first afternoon provided an opportunity to wander along the tourist board-walk provided by the city council to visitors looking for some picturesque coastline. It runs around a large hill and terminates in the heavily industrial Albany port. This is, perhaps, unfortunate.

From the vantage point of the path, you can use a long lens to pick details of the passing yacht races, the surf on the rocks or any passing submarines. In this cases the pictures were taken using my AF-S 80-200, the yacht picture demonstrates the contrast loss when using the TC-20E, but also suffers from the local haze.

Also along the board-walk, some of the hill's rock structure has won out over the local vegetative cover and provides some interesting opportunities for a normal or wide lens. The picture on the right was taken with the Nikon 50 f/1.8.

The wedding was performed at midday but the reception was scheduled for the evening. With the newly married couple being dragged off by the photographer to find a more interesting backdrop, the rest of the guests were left to amuse themselves. My generous host and I headed off to one of the particularly interesting parts of the Albany coastline.

Within 15km of Albany are a set of blow-holes (interesting only in heavy seas), a natural rock bridge and a feature called 'The Gap'. The Gap is a long and relatively narrow channel into the cliffs into which the normal calm Albany summer surf hurtles, throwing spray thirty metres up the cliff.

The sheer size of the feature made the 20-35 necessary to get more than a single rock in the frame. Most of the vantage points are eighty metres above the water and finding a vantage points with at least some of the water out of the shadow provided a challenge.

Immediately around the area of the Gap itself, there are an endless spread of interesting rock formation, many of which are constantly battered with surf. Pictures of most of these came from the second visit to the Gap. It should be noted that the entire promontory containing the gap has large "Warning: Dangerous Seas" signs posted in prominent locations on the roads. I believe that a few more adventurous fishing enthusiasts are swept off the rocks during most normal years.

Most of the interesting shots were obtained from going close to the waterline with a wide-angle. Shots taken with a telephoto and a tripod have the combined disadvantages of compressed perspective and the difficulty of finding a tripod location out of the quite strong winds. My own nervousness levels were quite high, trying to keep myself and the camera out of the worst of the salt spray and trying to ignore the suspicious puddles on otherwise dry rocks.

The final shot was taken over some of the coastal vegetation looking away from the Gap. The pale haze rising out of the frame on the right is actually salt spray from some more violent surf rising into the sun. The contrast in just a few tens of metres along this stretch of coastline is amazing.

© Bruce Murphy 2001