I am a parcel of vain strivings tied By a chance bond together
Henry David Thoreau
A few weeks ago we went camping with friends at Bents Basin, just outside Penrith. When we arrived on Saturday afternoon it was hot and humid. After we put up our tent we drank beers in the shade and played silly games. In the evening it rained heavily and we huddled under the parasol while lightning lit up the fields before us. The moon was huge and, once the rain had stopped, we walked over the brow of a hill to get a better view of it. The morning was cool, grey, and filled with smoke from the campfires around us. It felt like the first day of Autumn.
trip to tassie
we must go out and re-ally ourselves with nature every day
Henry David Thoreau
An off-the-cuff decision to walk down to the beach. It was threatening rain and sure enough, before I got to the bottom of the hill it was pouring. I sought shelter at the Icebergs swimming club, concerned my camera would get sodden.
A place usually crammed with hot, tanned bodies was deserted, the hollowed-out pool was waterless, the only sound the ocean crashing against the rocks. Two surfers ran into the water and started paddling. It began to thunder.
In winter I plot and plan. In spring, I move.
A bracing clifftop walk, rainy days and dark evenings, golden winter light. Slow mornings with coffee. Warming winter food - porridge, with almonds and maple syrup, and spicy-sweet laksa. Dramatic skies over Sydney landmarks, the City at night, and a freezing Saturday in Canberra riding bikes along the lake.
HeadOn Photo Festival
The past couple of weekends has seen me clocking up some serious miles across town in a bid to see as much as possible of Head On Photo Festival . This is an annual festival that showcases the best of Australian & international photography and I bloody love it. It's so inspiring to see so many talented people's work. There are some cracking venues too - I love that its an excuse to potter around some new places while drinking in the the inspiration.
First stop: Gaffa Gallery, in the CBD. This is housed in a beautiful old heritage building, which I think used to be a police station. It's a tall skinny building and the gallery is spread over several floors. It reminds me of the old buildings in Buenos Aires - tiny, unassuming entrances from outside but vast on the inside. It even has a studio in the roof garden! Sadly I didn't get a picture of it, but it was fun to imagine an artist at work, a canvas surrounded by greenery, in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city...
There were some beautiful images by Silvi Glattauer which explored "a personal narrative of identity that pendulates between Australia and Argentina". Her landscapes are so calming and the colours are just dreamy. I also really enjoyed the graphic, black and white candids by Antonio Privitera - such clever composition and proof that everything looks better in monochrome.
Onwards to Paddington Reservoir, where I lingered for a good hour because, well, just look at this place! It was a working reservoir in the 1800s that was transformed into an "urban park" in 2009. I got carried away taking photographs of my own, but after I had exhausted all possible angles I put my camera away to concentrate on the exhibitions. There was quite an international flavour, with artists from the States, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. I loved the series Of Caravans and Canvas (below).
A short but sweet stop next at the Botanic Gardens to see Leah Kennedy's Progress? which was very cool - sparse aerial landscapes which took on a surreal edge when seen as a collection. Can we also take a moment to appreciate this outdoor gallery? I hope that there's more outdoor venues like this next year.
Another beautiful venue, this time the State Library to see some photojournalism. Here they have a collection of photographs of John F. Kennedy, from his early years in the army, through the advent of televised political debates, and ending with a photo of Jackie, alone, her face like stone, on the day of his funeral. I wasn't expecting to be as touched by these images as I was - I left the library feeling really sombre at seeing such a singular man's life told in just a few carefully curated images.
Juniper Hall is in Paddington, just across from the Town Hall, and its one of those places I've walked past hundreds of times and thought that I should go in and look around. Finally, last weekend I did, and what a wonderful space it is. It feels like an old house that you've been left to roam around in; I was taken with the details surrounding the marble fireplaces.
Here they were showing the entrants for the Moran Contemporary Prize which is focused on 'contemporary life in Australia'. As I've vowed to myself countless times to learn more about Australian culture and history, I fell like I learnt a lot from this exhibition - in fact I went back the following week, it was that good.
Finally, to the festival hub at Paddington Town Hall. There was heaps to see here and I spent along time going back and forth between different exhibitions (I'm not one of those people who goes round an exhibition in an orderly sequence; I dart between things that catch my eye). Of all of the incredible work here, the exhibition that had the biggest impact on me was Paula Bronstein's Afghanistan: Between Hope and Fear. I felt such a range of emotions as I moved along the wall of photos. One image in particular, of a girl begging outside a restaurant stayed with me for a long time - it was so devastating, yet so beautiful at the same time.
I left the Town Hall feeling inspired; to take more photographs, to take better photographs, to work at learning the craft but also to be more creative with my techniques and compositions. Above all I want to be more fearless. I want to stop telling myself that I can't do something, that it isn't "me", that I shouldn't bother trying because it's probably too hard. I want to be courageous. Now I need to do the work to get me there.
I got a new camera recently, a Nikon 35Ti, from the early 1990s (so technically not new). Its my first film camera and I'm in love. Want to have a look?
It's been really fun shooting with a film camera for a change. I love the look off film photographs and the anticipation of getting a roll developed. I'm going to continue to use my Nikon D3200 (film is expensive!) but switch it up regularly as I get used to using my new toy. I also think it's going to make me a better photographer, as now I've got my first roll of film back, and sifted through some duds, I can see the mistakes I've made, either with rushing taking the picture or not thinking properly about what the light is doing at that moment.
Shooting film is teaching me to pause, think, and then act.
I think that's a good metaphor for me to slow down and take a step back before reacting to situations. I've had a few bad days lately, where my anxiety has bubbled up and I've found myself spiralling into negative thought patterns. The inner critic has been very gobby of late! But I'm trying to remember to pause, notice my thoughts, and take a few deep breaths before reacting. It's easier said than done, particularly in a moment of conflict, but every time I make myself do this, it becomes a little easier the next time.
Anyway. Slight detour in what was supposed to be a post about my pretty new camera! Want to see some photographs?