Tag Archives: kimberley

Reflections on an Outback Overreaction

Climbing up a rock face in darkness to witness dawn and sunrise over Hawk Dreaming from a rock shelter rich in aboriginal art. Watching the sun drop into the Indian Ocean standing on Cable Beach. Exploring the Kimberley bush at dawn completely alone. Just me and the light. Driving on the Gibb River Road in the late golden hours of the afternoon. Sitting in Big Bill Neidjie’s cave. Connecting to the landscape and aboriginal history like never before.

Just a few magical moments from this trip. My head is threatening to explode with feelings, memories and experiences and most of all thousands of images. It is overwhelming. This photo trip has provided some of the best moments in Australia for me ever and fantastic new friends, business connections and ideas. Also some of the most frustrating moments ever with trucks breaking down, trips getting cancelled, missing the Mitchell Plateau, 3 sleepless days of jetlag driving me crazy, hurting my knee at Emma Gorge. Some incredible ups and downs.

The entire purpose of this trip was photography of course and it is too early for me to say whether it was a success. The Kimberley light is difficult; I will write about this in a future post. I have several thousand raw files to go through and a lot of stitched panoramas. Only when I emerge from the digital darkroom can I judge the results of the trip. But we had extraordinary light some days and I know there is some art in the data I’m bringing back.

I am ending with a shot that probably means little to most people. To me it is home; it is what I’m all about. The remoteness. The sense of space. The heat. The red dirt, blue sky and white gum trees. The desolate plains.
The mysterious and fascinating Australian outback.

Outback. Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

A good photo shows that you have connected with your subject; be it landscape, people or animals. I may take it slightly to the extreme bordering on obsession as I have what could be described as an overreaction to the Australian landscape. I hope it shows in my work.

As I leave Australia and my life down under today; I feel very sad in many ways. I shall return to my home the outback as soon as possible.

Kimberley. Home.

“Man was born in the desert. Desert is home.” writes Bruce Chatwin. The Kimberley in North West Australia is not a desert but the extremely hot and tough conditions and wide open desolate plains certainly makes Bruce Chatwins words ring true to me.

The Kimberley is an area in North West Australia of wide open spaces, stunning scenery and vast desolate expanse creating an amazing sense of wonder and adventure. A land as old as time – and almost as timeless to quote a very funny Australian comedian. It is much larger than Great Britain but only home to less than 30,000 people. The Gibb River Road runs from one end to the other and was originally built for transporting cattle. It is an unsealed rocky corrugated dirt track most of the way and usually only accessible by 4wd – sometimes not even by 4wd. Although it is fast becoming more accessible and touristy in the cooler months of June and July it is still a rough and rugged experience travelling it and an experience like no other in Australia. September is a very hot month to hit the Kimberleys but the upside is you will have the scenery and the mosquitoes to yourself!

I cannot describe how much I love travelling through the Australian far outback like the Kimberleys. It feels like home. It creates an actual physical reaction in me. I simply love it. It can make me incredibly sad as well. I just want to stay for all eternity. I want to roll out of my swag in a bush camp on the Gibb River Road every morning every day and shoot sunrise like the one I caught here:

080912-IMG_7470

I want to travel through the bush and end the day every day with sunsets like the one I caught here in Purnululu (also known as Bungle Bungles) National Park:

080914-IMG_7646-2 

I never want it to end…

Pit stop

Having said that; a little pit stop is alright. 14 days of bush camping in stinking hot humid heat with flies and mozzies can get to ya; even to me. It was pushing +40 degrees all days in the sun; it was 37 degrees in the shade at Mount Barnett. The buildup to the wet had already started and conditions were trying. It is an experience like no other. I cannot count the number of mozzie and ant bites and bruises and cuts on my arms and legs (fire ants are bloody lethal!). Shooting every day at sunrise and sunset means you take the full force of the first wave of attack! I have a heat rash so bad I had to buy bloody skin irritation cream relief lotion crap stuff today at a pharmacy. I then had to apply the lotion to arms and legs. Not normally into any kind of bloody lotion! But I was scratching myself to a bloody pulp. All minor details though and totally worth it!

Shooting the Kimberleys

I shot thousands of shots and many large stitched panoramas. Lightroom 2.0 is killing my laptop so I have just exported these 2 quick and dirty previews of the many shots to come when I get home. The Kimberley light is a tricky thing to master; it so incredibly bright and harsh with a dynamic range no camera can capture and it takes a lot of practice and a different shooting style. I’ll go into more details in a post some day. All my equipment survived the Kimberley just fine; but my Canon 20D backup camera did see action as I lent it to fellow photographer Rosi from Sydney to use after her 350D died.

A sad day in Bungle Bungles

A very sad note about the Purnululu Sunset photo; actually from my second visit. The smoke is from a 1 kilometer long bushfire started just hours earlier by a helicopter crash and explosion that killed the pilot and all 3 tourists. I did not know this when I shot the photo and it makes it very weird to look at now. I was up in those very same helicopters just a week before during my first visit to Purnululu and had booked to go up again the day right after the crash. All flights were cancelled of course after the accident. Accidents happens unfortunately and I still feel safer in any helicopter than in any car. But it is a very strange uneasy feeling looking at this shot now knowing what is causing the fire. A bad day in the Bungles.

House

Funny story. Today I arrived back in Darwin for 2 days of pit stop and lotion. Some of the people working at the hotel know me by now and as I stepped in the door towing bags of camera gear covered in red dust they all shouted “hey mate; how are ya; how was the Kimberleys; got good shots?”. Then because I had to wait an hour before my room was ready they upgraded me to a town house! A bleedin’ 2 story larger than my flat town house with downstairs kitchen and living room and upstairs bedroom and bathroom. I just want a swag and a sleeping bag!

So you will have to excuse me; I am busy applying lotion to my skin in a feckin’ town house! Thank the maker I go bush again Friday morning as I take off for Kakadu National Park!

A month in upside-down country

I am just a few hours away from jumping on the Metro train to the airport and initiating the rather long line of events that will eventually see me touch down in Darwin, Australia on Friday!  I am spending 3½ weeks in the Kimberley area of Western Australia and Kakadu National Park in Northern Territory. Ending the trip with 5 days of holiday in Sydney with friends.

Here’s an old panorama of mine from the Kimberleys 10 years ago, I am very much looking forward to revisiting. Last time was during the wet season and a lot was flooded so it was hard to get anywhere; it was 50+ degrees some days and mozzies ruled the world! This time I’ll see much more and mozzies and weather will be slightly more humane!

Manning Gorge

Manning Gorge in Kimberleys, Western Australia
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

I will blog as many travel tales as possible while I travel but I probably won’t be posting more than a few photos from the trip until I get back. I posted a lot of photos last year and it just turned out to be far too much work. Not enough hours in the day to shoot, write, sort through hundreds of RAW files every day, then develop and upload the photos and then publish them on my blog. I will concentrate on shooting and blogging; the developing of RAW files is much better done at home.

See ya on the other side!

Country of Upside-Downers

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…or back in the outback at least…I am back!

On 27th of August I once again depart to rendez-vous with my soul in my second home, the country of Upside-Downers – Australia. I will spend about a month in “godsown” this time concentrating my shooting in the Kimberleys area in Western Australia where I’ll roam the outback for a bit more than two weeks. I will also revisit Hawk Dreaming in Kakadu National and then end up with a few days of visiting mates in Sydney. I may end up going to Broken Hill as well, presently contemplating this idea.

I cannot wait to re-visit the glorious outback in the Kimberleys. I have explored the area once back in 1998 (in the wet season no less but with no rain, just 52c degree sunny days!). This was before I was really into photography and only armed with an old Canon EOS 1000 SLR with one lens and some Fujichrome (and Aerogard for the mossies!). This time I will be armed to the teeth with a tonnes of Digital SLR gear! I have always wanted to go back and shoot here again because it is such a special place.

Here is my 1998 version of the famous Gibb River Road in the Kimberleys, a scan of an old worn down slide.

kimberley-Gibb-River-blog

Gibb River Road in the Kimberleys.
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

See ya soon all you upside-downers down under!

Crocs, Boxer Shorts – and a Sleeping Buddha!

Continuing the newly started tradition of telling some of the older travel stories here’s the story of how I encountered a few crocodiles wearing nothing but boxer shorts and a camera.

I was camping in the Kimberleyland Caravan Park in Kununurra  in January 1998 in the middle of a 5 week 11,000 kilometer outback trip with Amesz Tours going from Perth to Perth the long way – through Darwin and Alice Springs! And in the wet season no less. Some would call it crazy, I call it a holiday! We had just made it through the Gibb River Road in the wet season and every day it was 40 degrees heat or more and with enough humidity, flies and mosquitoes to go ‘troppo’ (a special kind of crazy reserved for the tropics!) in a second. We had one day with 52 degrees heat and you couldn’t touch any rocks when walking in the Kimberleys or your hand would melt. So this nice caravan park with showers and a nice breeze from Lake Kununurra was a welcome two day change from hot bushcamps.

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

‘Sleeping Buddha’ Rock in Kununurra sunset
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

The caravan park is right next to Lake Kununurra and the above sunset of the ‘Sleeping Buddha’ rock is shot on the bank of the river from the caravan park. It’s a gorgeous place to camp.

The very next morning I wake up in a big pool of sweat – as usual. It’s just before sunrise and the temperature inside the tent is already reaching boiling point – as usual. I look out and my eyes cannot believe that the entire lake is on fire! It’s just before sunrise and the colours are something you would never believe unless you’ve been here in the wet season. I grab my trusty Canon EOS Rebel SLR camera and run the 100 meters or so down to the banks of the river. All the way I am staring at the sky in disbelief, we’ve seen some out of this world sunrises and sunsets every day but still this is something very special and barefooted I run towards the light. Now, when I’m almost at the river bank I hear about 3 or 4 splashes and startled by this sound I take my head out of the sky and look down – just in time to see 3 or 4 crocodiles swimming away rapidly! I stop dead in my tracks eyes wide open! It was not the first crocs I had seen on the trip but certainly the first that I almost ran barefoot straight into dressed in nothing but boxer shorts and a camera (normally when I run into crocs I at least prefer to do it in style and be dressed for the occasion!).

The crocs are gone in a split second or two and I don’t get the lens cap removed and the camera ready nowhere near fast enough. I get no photo, I just stand there saying ‘wauv’ to myself pausing for a bit until I remember…the sunrise! The crocs may have gone but the light show is still on so I manage to get a few shots with the blood red sky on fire.

I wasn’t much of a photographer back then so I underexposed them way too much but have managed to rescue them somewhat by scanning the Fujichrome slides using Vuescan software and working them in Photoshop. Here’s the best two, click to see large:

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

‘Sleeping Buddha Rock’ sunrise
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

 

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

Sunrise at Lake Kununurra
Copyright Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

I wish I could reshoot this with the camera and skills I have today but I still like the photos, the colours are spot on and exactly as I remember them from this special morning. I can’t help but think though how fantastic the photos would have been with a few crocs in the foreground!