Tag Archives: bunitj

Hawk Dreaming Magic through Lightroom Magic

Hawk Dreaming is a magical sacred place so it is only fitting I use a Hawk Dreaming image to show a bit of Adobe Lightroom 2.0 magic.

Hawk Dreaming Magic

The image was photographed at my beloved Hawk Dreaming, home of Bill Neidjie and the Bunitj clan, in Kakadu National Park, Australia. Long time readers will be quite familiar with this, newcomers can read more by clicking here. It is one of the most magical places in Australia and I twice I have been fortunate to visit this incredible place with just me and a guide from Aussie Adventures (the area is sacred and closed off, you cannot visit without a guide)!

I am standing alone at the East Alligator River feeling truly at one with the landscape. It has been a humid and hazy 39 degrees warm day. Just as I like it. The wind has picked up and sweeps across the plains. The setting is timeless and takes you back tens of thousands of years. This is untouched. I am preparing to shoot Cannon Hill lit up by the sun across the river. But a bush fire has created a strong haze that eats and diffuses the setting sun so tonight’s light and photo is happening behind me. Always be aware of the light and clouds and approach with an open mind. Be prepared to shoot an entirely different scene than what you envisioned; you have to connect to the place and take what it gives you rather than force your own ideas! I do a 180 and move a bit to find a good composition I like that includes the clouds, ranges and savannah. I forget rule no. 1 when looking through a camera – look where you’re going – and nearly back into the river and join the crocs! I take a few steps forward onto dry land and end up making this image:

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Sunset over the ranges at Hawk Dreaming
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Lightroom Magic

This is two images stitched with all post production done in the brilliant Adobe Lightroom 2.2. I develop the RAW files in Lightroom and then export for stitching in PTgui. I find Lightroom to be so intuitive, easy and powerful that I then import the stitched panorama tiff file back into Lightroom to do final post processing! Lightroom was made for photographers and version 2 is brilliant. For pixel editing, layers and masking etc. you need Photoshop – but Lightroom is now about 90% of my post processing workflow as Lightroom offers post production in such an easy non-destructive intuitive way that creativity is always at the forefront and not technical Photoshop skills.

Lightroom 2 offers some amazing features that I use a lot: Virtual graduated neutral density filter, Retouching brush, Spot Removal and post-crop vignette. You can accomplish the same using layers and masks in Photoshop, but it is a longer workflow and in Lightroom it is just too easy. You’ll be laughing as the Aussies say. Grad filter emulates a real grad filter but you can add as many as you like and then have the filter change exposure, contrast, saturation etc. This video shows the filter in action. I shot this using my Cokin ND grad filter but still ended up with a dim foreground as the dynamic range is huge. So I used a grad filter in Lightroom to add some contrast to the sky and lighten the foreground as I am shooting into the light and also another filter to brighten the foreground. Adjustment brush enables you to paint in adjustments such as contrast, exposure, saturation to localized areas of the image. I used it in this image to paint light back onto the ranges. Post-crop vignette is simply the easiest and most powerful vignette feature. Spot Removal is an easy way of healing dust spots and as this was shot at f/22 with a dusty Canon 5D sensor I had quite a bit of spot removal to do. Too easy in Lightroom! The small web version (downsizing can heighten contrast and saturation) here makes it look perhaps slightly overcooked but the full size large version is sweet .

Hawk Dreaming. Adobe Lightroom. I highly recommend a magic location with a touch of software magic!

The Hawk Dreaming Aboriginal Art Experience

I wish to take you on a journey into one of the Hawk Dreaming rock art shelters and try and make you feel what it is like to travel back in time. It is a difficult task describing this in words (time travel is a bit hard too), but do come along on this illustrated trip as we explore a Hawk Dreaming aboriginal rock art shelter.

I am often asked how large is Hawk Dreaming and I don’t actually know, it’s not marked on a map of course. We’re only allowed access to a small area anyway but it is a significant and beautiful area along the East Alligator River with around 15-20 art sites included Bill Neidjie’s cave and important sites like the painting of the Warramurrauungi – the creation mother. All the paintings we can access are found around the large range shown here in my panorama:

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Hawk Dreaming Ranges Panorama
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

This is a stitched panorama shot from the river looking southeast towards the ranges. It was a hazy sunset but with good clouds and light above the rocks. I am trying to shield the camera as it was so windy on this night that I had to hook my backpack to the tripod to prevent it from blowing over! I managed to get some sharp exposures and I am very happy with this shot, it is quite successful I reckon at expressing the open expanse of the Hawk Dreaming floodplains and the ranges.

The art sites are found in shelters in these ranges. Look at the full size version of the panorama above and you see some of the shelters as horizontal lines along the side of the range. One of them is a large spectacular cave accessed through a bit of climbing. It has a huge collection of art on the walls and grind holes in the rock. It also offers a magnificent view North and if one was allowed to bring a swag up here it would offer a truly special place to sleep. I have attempted to capture the feeling of sitting in the shelter in the following panorama. This stitched pano required a lot of work in PTgui. It is shot at 17mm so I could include the cave as well as the view. But 17mm means distortion and a very tough stitch. In the end I got what I wanted, a pano of looking out of the cave:

Click to see large size on my gallery! Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Rock Art Shelter Lookout Panorama
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

As you sit here in the rock shelter and lookout over the glorious landscape then think back tens of thousands of years and have a look around. There are grind holes on the floor from grinding paint and flour. There is still charcoal on the floor leftover from fires. There is absolutely nothing to break the illusion. You are back in time. No fences, no signs, no roads, no people! This is not a museum. This is real; this is authentic and you are right there in it, experiencing traditional living with the land lifestyle. Imagine a clan of Bunitj people sitting right next to you, laughing, eating, painting, sleeping. Living in this very shelter. It is a great place to live, the land here provides plenty of food and the natural shelters make for perfect homes. It is a slice of magical time travel.

Now. Look up and look behind you and what you see is this panoramic view:

Shelter art pano - 1000pix web

Tens of thousands of years of living here is documented on the walls in layers and layers of painting. Again; this is no museum. This is time travel; this is real. The paintings range from just having fun recreational paintings to very important sacred paintings. A lot of it is food sources and dreamtime stories and ceremonies. Very interesting are the paintings of encounters with white people and before that, meetings with the Macassan traders in the year 14-1700. I apologise for the large watermark but have to protect this image as it is sacred art and is something I shot for the present custodians of Hawk Dreaming. I’m afraid I can’t show you close-up of the art; you’ll have to visit and see yourself!

If you have visited other rock art sites in Australia I think you have spotted why this Hawk Dreaming experience is unlike any other. This is so real it becomes a time travel. Again; no fences, no crowds, no lines, no boardwalks, no signs, nothing that turns the experience into a museum like viewed from a distance feeling. Hawk Dreaming enables you to sit down in a shelter and take it all in with no filters between you and the authentic experience.

I trust you enjoyed this trip in Hawk Dreaming sitting in a Bunitj clan rock shelter. It defines the word special and I can only attempt to capture a bit of this in my photos. It feels like ‘my country’ like home to me.