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

Monday, March 8, 2010

It's not all about the main show

This beautiful place is Ubirr in Kakadu National Park. Right at the very top of Australia in the Northern Territory, this is probably one of the country's most famous sites.

And this is the view that everybody comes for. The glorious sunset over the golden red rocks and extensive wetlands.

As a photographer on assignment you'd be pretty remiss not to capture this view. Although on this particular assignment it wasn't on my list of things to do originally. It wasn't part of the story and I was at the end of a long day on tour but headed out there on my own because I knew that it needed to be captured.

Anyway it turned out to be a good choice because it also led to me photographing what turned out to be the front cover as well. Which leads me to my point. A lot of people tend to show up at the main show (in this case the view out over the wetlands) and then put the blinkers on. They plonk themselves down and enjoy the show. If your aim is to capture a series of images that shows the full experience then you actually need to walk around a bit and look for photographic opportunities. Of course you don't want to miss the sunset but if you get there in plenty of time you'll have the chance to do both.

Ubirr is a big, flat rock. Well it's more of a stone viewing platform by the time you get a few hundred people up there. And it provides commanding views not over the main show wetlands but also on the other sides as well. So I decided to go walking around the edges of the outcrop to see what I could see. It was a long way down so I put my long telephoto (70-200mm) to see what I could see.
As I looked down on the opposite side from the wetlands I noticed this beautiful sunlit path leading back to the car park. So I decided to sit down and wait for a little while to see if anybody walked along it. I didn't like my chances because, or so I thought, surely nobody would go home without missing the show. Well I was wrong. Quite a few people walked along the path and I had my pick of nice contrasting colours and groups of people.

I tried a few compositions with couples but in the end decided that I liked the image above with four people, the two women on the left coincedentally having the same coloured t-shirt.

Could I have gone home with only this picture and not waited around for sunset? No way Jose. But by taking more than just what everybody else points their camera at you can be sure to come home with a more complete and accurate portrayal of your experience.

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