Plans. Some say life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. I disagree. Life is simply What Happens, plans or no plans. Sometimes What Happens when you have no plans is rather incredible though. Such as Casey Smith inviting me along on his and Rod Thomas’ 12 day Cape Leveque And Karijini Photography Expedition – CAKE09 – travelling and shooting thousands of kilometres of Western Australia landscapes from Broome to Cape Leveque to Broome to Karijini National Park to Broome!
So begins the tale of Three Men in a Troopie. Fellow photographers and Aussies Casey Smith and Rod Thomas and yours truly the international superstar (cough) in Casey’s Toyota Landcruiser “Troopie”. Three Men, 5 cameras, 3 tripods, swags, tents, food, drinks and Australia’s largest state. This epic journey will be the topic of several posts to come, so what follows are just a teaser (long teaser) and some quick ‘n rough developed images (cropped single shots, no stitching, laptop is already dying by Lightroom and tropical heat). Many more images to come from our expedition to these fantastic CAKE09 destinations:
The remote corner of Cape Leveque is 200 kilometres north of Broome in a 4WD, home to white beaches, blue skies and red cliffs. And Three Men in a Beach shelter. The shelter is really 3 walls and a roof made of palm leaves. It is perfect, we had an outstanding camp right on the beach (all houses should have sand for floors!). Outstanding camp. Outstanding fun. Outstanding weather. Outstanding photographers. Cape Leveque slightly less outstanding though. Nice and beautiful, sure, and we did get some great clouds. But, pristine, not. Too many photo-wreckers (people), too many foot prints in the sand. Something is up with the horizon here as well. I shot some horribly crooked images including one mega crooked horizon shot (I blame the beach, tripod was sinking) that I promised Rod I would post un-edited…stay tuned! Having shot every angle we left one day early as we wanted to do a sunset shot at…
James Price Point
Just 60 kilometres north of Broome it is what Cape Leveque isn’t. Untouched. Cliffs are higher and a deeper red, blues are bluer, whites are whiter, beaches are pristine and no photo-wreckers (people), all serenity! Price Point will soon have a large gas hub on the beach though – Save the Kimberley! – so get up there and get your images before you have to clone out a gas pipe line on this beach:
The hottest town in Australia, a fact the town is very proud of. Record is 167 straight days with temperatures reaching 40+ degrees. Population…well, the couple running the caravan park (they opened the office when we arrived at 3pm, not the busiest day ever), two women and two kids at the Info office and we saw the same couple with two kids twice. So population, around 11-12 people. We pit-stopped here for one day on the way to Karijini having arrived via the lesser known but extremely beautiful Boreline dirt road, taking us through some amazing Pilbara landscapes that are truly spectacular:
Possibly the funniest quote of CAKE09 is also from Marble Bar. Having asked for directions to the caravan park at the Information/Internet/Tele office, we asked for a good spot to shoot the sunset. “Oh you mean photography” says Info Woman and proceeds “You should ask Steve. He’s down at the Garage. He’s an amateur photographer. He is REALLY good!”. Steve, if you read this, we are not knocking your work, it just came out extremely funny! Incidentally, when shooting the sunset in Marble Bar do not go to the top of the Water Tank hill. View is remarkably ordinary. We should have asked Steve. I did shoot a stitched pano of Marble Bar at sunset from the water tank, a piece of art I plan to flog to the Info Woman, I think it is just what tourism in Marble Bar needs.
Karijini National Park
More than 1,000 kilometres south of Broome in the heart of Western Australia’s Pilbara region is the Karijini National Park. Home to gorgeous gorges with waterfalls, water holes and steep beautiful iron rich deep ochre coloured rock walls. Home to beautiful Pilbara landscapes featuring the Hamersley Ranges, blue sky, ochre red dirt, golden yellow and green spinifex grass and white gum trees. Also home to Three Men in a Tent for 7 days!
I am all about ‘Grandscapes’, shots of wide open spaces with sky and horizon. So while Casey and Rod abseiled into gorges on their private tour with the excellent West Oz Active guides, I explored the red soil topside by for example hiking Mt Vigors with the excellent RemTrek Adventures. View from the 900 meter peak is outstanding, offering a 360 degree panoramic view of the region. One of my images of the outstanding sunset from Mount Vigors:
I also shot several gorges and pools but I am not so confident about the results. Could not shoot a good water shot to save my life although I may have done another waterfall shot I like. Images will be a while to come, as I shot many of them as HDRs and they need work to work, so stay tuned, and also read the blogs from Casey and Rod for beautiful gorge images from their abseiling adventures.
Last day in Karijini rain was forecast and the clouds brought us a beautiful sunrise with a touch of Pilbara Magic. Shooting into the rising sun, clouds on fire, I look back and am awestruck. Big fat rain clouds are lit up over the Hamersley Ranges and a perfect 180 degree rainbow hovers above it. It is astoundingly beautiful. Unfortunately before I find a composition, rainbow is fading as quickly as it appeared, leaving me with this image and many more gorgeous cloudscapes that was a perfect end to Karijini for me:
Camping at the Karijini Eco Retreat (no fancy expensive eco tents for us, I brought my outstanding $32 tent from Coles supermarket, a tent which Casey actually ended up using) is a great and true outback Pilbara experience, sleeping right on the Pilbara red rocks. Outstanding fun was had at camp again. But also a bit cold at night. Karijini in June is winter, 20-25 midday but gets down to 5 or even colder at night. One time it was warmer in the fridge than outside. One morning there was rim frost. My brain does not pack well at 6am so I left warm woolly sweater purchased in Namibia + my jacket back in Broome! Only the tough survive – using a National Geographic windbreaker. I also hope deep ochre red colour comes into fashion. My skin and my clothes will be very trendy!
Three Men in a Troopie – to be continued
I have just scratched the surface (and stolen the title from Tim Flannery), many more CAKE09 images and stories to come. My deepest thanks to Casey and Rod for inviting me along, do check out their websites and blogs, they are REALLY good! Casey Smith: web and blog. Rod Thomas: web and blog.
- Karijini and gravity. First I dropped my 77mm filter adapter ring into Joffre Gorge. Went pling-pling-splash then floated down a waterfall. Brilliant. Means I now hand hold filters resulting in more than one shot with my fingers in the image! Numbnuts here also dropped 77mm lens cap in rocks, spent 30 minutes finding it again. Then dropped it again at Dales Gorge but got it back. Driving back to Broome we get out to shoot the clouds, I had been videoing road trains so had my camera in my lap. First thing to fall out of my door onto dirt road – is my lens cap!
- Western Australia is one huge state. Friday Super Driver Casey in his Super Troopie truck drove from Karijini to Paraburdoo to drop Rod at the airport, then from Paraburdoo to Broome. 1230 kilometres from 5.00am to 6.30pm. Longest I’ve ever travelled in a car in one day and on the map it doesn’t even look like all that much as shown here. Turned on GPS once in a while to check progress, at one point it says “turn left in 395 kilometres!”. Great Northern Highway is really great and really long!
- Rod’s Manfrotto tripod with leveling base and huge 3-way head is so heavy it should be registered as a lethal weapon. Watch yourself if you walk behind him, when Rod wears this giant on his shoulder and swings around you could be knocked sideways into the neighbouring gorge!
Fantastic Read Flemmings, sounds like you have had an awesome experience, and great photos, I especially love the Mt Vigors shot, looking forward to seeing more results soon.
Thanks heaps Thomas! Kind of very happy with this blog post as well, think it reads quite nicely. Also very happy with the Mt Vigors shots, glad you like them, wait for more to come!
sounds like you're having a ball Flem!
some funny stories there, and good luck with keeping your lens cap a bit better behaved! 🙂
i hope you got a good campsite at the retreat- my whole site was basically a ants nest. i was too lazy to line up a different site, but each night i was eating dinner i would be cursing the fact.
but in saying that if i moved sites-i wouldn't have seen my Karijini Sunrise image… so i guess it paid off in the end 🙂
i love the Mt Vigors also, the sliver of light coming across the spinifex to the tree is just magic! and its such a beautiful sky. very nice!
Classic Flem Pilbara image in the Boreline Rd image. great composition as you seem to always get when shooting these outback images
Hi Stephen and thanks for the comment! Yes it was a brilliant CAKE09 adventure, very happy to have been invited along. So many more funny stories to tell, quite a few as well that won't go on a public blog haha. I need to buy several backup 77mm lens caps, I just keep dropping that thing! Our campsite was quite alright, not many ants at least, just a few cheeky crows. The Mt Vigors shots I have are so nice, what a great hike that was and on a day where I worked my magic and got magic clodus. And glad you like the outback compositions, it is funny as get me on open land and I am in my element, stuff me in a gorge and I am bewildered and frustrated, can't compose, keep looking for sky, clouds and horizon.
Love the blog post Flemming, great story. Lovely photos, looking forward to more.
LOL at the randomness. Good read and awesome shots!
Thanks and thanks for your comment!
it took you this long to post….. NOT outstanding mate….. A verry funny read mate, and as you said, some stories probably not good for a public blog huh…..
Awesome to have you along mate, would do it again tomorrow in a heart beat ! ! !
Might catch up with you one day in Denmark huh… maybe at your brothers wedding ???????
Will talk to you soon mate before you leave for KL
I know mate, sorry, slowing the team down again as when I am cooking coffee or taking a long time making sure my hair looks good!
I like your saying on the phone, "what happens on tour stays on tour" 😀
I would do it all again tomorrow, I am ready! Was so wicked.
Could use a hand with using a flash, so yeah, see ya in Denmark!
A fantastic post as usual Flemming ! Some beautiful images to boot – with my favourite being the Mt. Vigours one. That light on the trees and spinifex is to die for !
But you probably knew I'd be a sucker for shots like this from places like these…
Thanks very much Tony, I figured you would love that Mt Vigors shot! The light on that day was out of this world.
På dansk, da jeg helst ikke vil rode mig ud i udenbysk her…
Skøn, dejligt lang blogpost her og fantastiske billeder. Jeg synes ofte, de har et helt overnaturligt lys – og jeg kan godt lide det, uanset hvordan det er havnet på billedet! Pragtfulde kompositioner, rammen er fyldt ud og man drages hid og did i det enkelte billede.
Hvor er du dog blevet dygtig! Jeg håber, du en dag vil kunne gøre alvor af drømmen (?) og leve af det.
De bedste hilsner
Kære Hanne, tusind tak! Dansk går stadig fint, selvom jeg ikke har sagt et dansk ord overhovedet siden 7. april.
Glad for at du kan lide det overnaturlige lys, det er mit speciale. Det er selvfølgelig pudset af i Adobe Lightroom og der er tit også brugt pol filter, men lyset er der i original filen (man kan ikke snyde sig til godt lys, garbage in = garbage out) – det er mit speciale at finde og skyde overnaturligt særligt lys, og jeg har udviklet en radar til at genkende situationer hvor det sker!
Jeg lever drømmen, spæder op med noget freelance IT, men er helt sikker på at det på længere sigt kan lade sig gøre at leve af mine billeder! Der er godt gang i salget, potentialet er der, skal blot have endnu flere varer skovlet over bordet.
Some great shots there, and it sounds like you had a great time.
Thanks for the entertaining post 😉
Thanks very much Martin, glad you enjoyed it!
Great read Flemming. Good to know i'm not the only dope around who drops lens caps 375 times everywhere 😀
Very jealous of everything.
Although, how did you survive with just a Nat Geo fleece? Insulate yourself with socks??
Thanks Charlene! Yeah, I have never dropped a camera but drop lens caps and now also filter adapters.
I had a sweatshirt and a NG windbreaker and was fairly alright. We hit the sleeping bags after dinner anyway as it was too cold to be outside. Last 3 nights it was cloudy and much warmer so we managed, it's a dangerous life as a photog! Would like to say I got that NG windbreaker working for NG in the darkest most dangerous parts of Africa…in reality it is just one of those free ones you get as a subscriber 🙂
Great read Flemming, I hated the roads in the Bungles and spent one day there, so I will be home tomorrow with shots from the Gibb. I am sending off all my film today as well so its done when I get back from Melbourne. Man I need a good rest I am tired.
Glad you had a great time on the trip and I look forward to seeing more of your work.
Hey Casey!! Yeah those Bungle roads are pretty rough can see how they would get to ya after all that driving you had already done! Look forward to seeing blog posts and photos!
Thanks heaps for everything mate, speak to ya soon.
Great shots, really makes me want to head up North to the Kimberley… Sure seems like it was a great trip. Mark
Great read Flemming sounds like a great trip with some awesome results.
Thanks Matt, glad you like the story and images – was an awesome tour and we make a good team, wish we could go again today!
gorgeous gorgeous photos!
Thank you very much Chloé and thanks for the comment!
I like that your photos are never over processed. Nice captures here Flemming
Thanks so much Katie!!! I strive for a look that gives me a sorta otherworldly light with an edge but without looking over processed, still has to look like nature!