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I'm a Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia professional photographer specialising in travel, editorial and environmental portraiture.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Getting lost and keeping safe.


One of the great joys of travel photography is getting off the beaten track. Searching out little hidey holes and places where the vast majority of tourists don't get and hopefully discovering a bit of authenticity.

Not that tourist areas aren't always inauthentic but sometimes it's nice to get away from the crowds and find your own little piece of paradise.

So don't be afraid to explore and get lost. Arm yourself with a good map, a business card from your hotel and the desire to have a really good explore and you're sure to come away with some great stories to tell.

Just be careful. Now this might seem totally contradictory to what I said above but it's not. Getting away from it all is great fun but before you venture anywhere you need to make sure that you're not going somewhere the locals wouldn't tread if their lives depended on it. Or somewhere they would go, but if they did they'd be very careful.

Now you're probably thinking big cities with muggers right about now but I'm thinking about this beautiful view up above. I ended up here by mistake. I was looking for a track up to a bluff which looked out across the gorgeous Nourlangie Rock in Kakadu National Park. It is famous for turning red at sunset and that was what I was hoping to capture.

Only I obviously took the wrong path because I ended up at this beautiful little billabong (waterhole) which still had a great view out over Nourlangie so I decided to stay there rather than running around trying to find the right path. There were quite a few cars in the carpark but I never saw a soul.

Doesn't look too dangerous right? Not too many muggers out here. Nope but there are things a hell of a lot scarier. You see that lovely body of water in the foreground. The landscape photographers in us would just leap at the chance to get down to the water's edge and put some lovely lillies in the foreground. And as you looked through the viewfinder you'd probably have a heart attack as you noticed a set of giant jaws leaping at you.

This is crocodile country and it's a pretty safe bet that most of, if not all, the bodies of water around here have giant toothed remnants from the time of the dinosaurs. Every so often somebody gets taken and I certainly didn't want to be one of them so I kept a long distance between me and the water's edge.

It might sound like being a bit paranoid but you can never be too careful when you're off photographing by yourself. We tend to put our eye to the viewfinder and have blinkers on to everything around us. Always find out in advance if where you're planning to get lost is safe and whether there's anything you need to be aware of.

Let some other stupid tourist get eaten by the crocs!

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