Exploring the Great Ocean Road
After living in Melbourne for almost 3 years it didn’t feel right that I hadn’t been down to the Great Ocean Road since moving over. Hyped for its stunning coast line and beautiful waterfalls I had been itching to get down there and take some photos. After planning it for a while now, I finally made my way down to the Great Ocean Road and the Great Otways National Park headed towards Wye River with some friends and it did not disappoint.
As much as I love living in inner city Melbourne, I do miss being able to jump in the car and get to great coastline within 30-45 minutes like I would previously when living in Hobart and fire off some photos. So whenever an opportunity arises to get out and photograph some of Victoria’s coastline I’m always eager to go. A while ago now two friends and I decided to plan for a weekend trip down to the area for a lazy weekend and photography.
We decided to leave after work on Friday night and Melbourne being Melbourne quickly got caught in peak hour traffic. Rather than let the night go to waste we took a little detour to get some photos of the sunset as we made our way down. A quick look on Google Maps and we settled on Jan Juc. I’m pretty sure the decision was made on name alone. But luckily for us, the beach didn’t disappoint and was topped off with a stunning sunset.
The first photo was captured with a set up of the Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 17-40, tripod, B+W 110 10 stop filter and a .9 Cokin Z-Pro neutral density filter to darken the sky. One downside to using the Cokin graduated filters (other than the slight colour cast) is that you have to be careful where you position the filter. For this shot I positioned the filter on an angle (think 10pm on a clock) to have the filter coming down from the corner. This avoided the cliffs being gradually darkened which would of occured if placed at the 12 oclock position and going directly from top to bottom. For this reason graduated neutral density filters while great, definitely have their short comings and something you may want to consider if looking to purchase some.
As we continued down further we eventually made our way to Wye River a little later than originally planned. Wye River is a quiet little town situated along the Great Ocean Road that’s less touristy and more relaxed. I much prefer it over Apollo Bay which is often swamped with tourists.
Wye River has a stunning beach, pub, cafe and makes a great spot to situate yourself for exploring the rest of the Great Ocean Road. Our plan for the weekend was to shoot some seascapes around the area and explore inland with a trip to the Great Otway National Park which is home to Beauchamp Falls and Hopetoun Falls. Both waterfalls I had been wanting to get to for sometime now but being around 3 hours from Melbourne are a little too far for a day trip.
The Great Otways National Park
After waking up early to shoot the sunrise at Wye River, we decided to grab a coffee and make our way more inland towards Hopetoun Falls and Beauchamp Falls. I had seen the two locations photographed many times before so I was keen to get down there and photograph them myself.
It was a cloudy morning as wet set off from Wye River but unfortunately on arrival to the Great Otway National Park, the sun began to slowly rise through the clouds and create patchy light over the waterfalls. While not ideal, I find if you are shooting with patchy sunlight that shooting slightly under exposed is a great way to avoid over exposure and provide you with a more even exposure. For some photos where there was patchy sun light in the photograph, I used the adjustment brush within Lightroom with the highlights and exposure decreased slightly and painted over the sun lit areas. It works well to create a more evenly lit scene. Once again, not ideal and I’d much prefer to be shooting in overlight conditions where the light is even but you have to make the most of what you’re given on the day right?
A while ago now I put together an article on waterfall photography. If you haven’t shot waterfalls before and looking to get started you may want to give it a read to get started. It’s nothing fancy but just goes through the basics on how I photograph waterfalls with some examples of shutter speed and some basic tips.
Star Trails at Wye River
As part of getting down to Wye River we were also keen to shoot some star trails (a plan that was always pending what the weather had in store for us). Lucky for us, the weather and conditions were perfect for star trail photography. Generally star trails are best photographed around the new moon of every month. While not exactly the day of the new moon, our time at Wye River was a few days after the new moon (this sounds like a Twilight novel or something…) and the sky was clear which created great conditions for star trail photography.
I must admit, star trail photography is something I struggle with. I’m not sure whether it’s the impatience of waiting around for the exposure to complete (in this case 90 minutes) or just the bashing around in the pitch black dark but this time I didn’t want to let past experiences deter me so I set up on blue hour near ruins of an old jetty at Wye River. The plan was to take 10 minute exposures at F5 at ISO 100. Through taking 9 exposures at 10 minutes I then opened them as layers in Photoshop and set the layer modes to ‘Lighten’ which combines all the images and only keeps the lightest part of the images.
In hindsight I wish I shot for another 90 minutes to capture more of the star trails but with episodes of The Newsroom running low on my Nexus 7 (great show by the way!) and sitting alone in the dark I decided to call it a night with this being the final result. The beach is situated below the Great Ocean Road which created ambient light over the rocks and pylons which worked quite well.
Apologies for the Great Ocean Road and Great Otways National Park image overload!
If you’re ever down this way I’d recommend you make the trip down. Most flock down this way to see the 12 Apostles but I’d take your time driving down as there’s a lot more to see along the Great Ocean Road beyond the 12 Apostles. I do hope to photograph the 12 Apostles one day but for the moment other parts of the Great Ocean Road have me tempted to further explore. Time to get another weekend organised I think…!
Hope you had a good weekend and thanks for reading.