Tag Archives: purnululu

The Unchosen Ones

On a busy day at a world class location like Hawk Dreaming or Purnululu National Park I may end up with hundreds of different compositions and several hundreds RAW files. I then spend many hours in Adobe Lightroom in preview mode, marking my ‘picks’ simply by pressing P. I repeat this until I feel I have found and developed all my Chosen Ones.

After a bit of time it can be a great eye opening exercise to filter out the picks and look at the rest with fresh eyes. Often there are subtle gems and future favourites hidden in these rejects; pictures that were left behind when all the obvious choices screamed “pick me! pick me!”. These are the stories of 3 photos that were picked late in the game but ended up outshining others:

Having climbed up into a rock art cave in darkness; I witness first light looking out over the Hawk Dreaming landscape. This shot is not wide angle for a change, but a 100mm zoom view of Cannon Hill in the misty morning light:

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Misty Morning at Cannon Hill
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Trekking in the Bungle Bungle Ranges is an otherworldly experience. This image of blue sky, white gum trees and orange rock is perhaps only for outback fanatics like myself; but I like it very much:

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Bungle Bungle Ranges landscape
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Purnululu National Park has very quickly become one of my favourite spots in Australia. Watching the sun fire up the colours of the orange Bungle Bungle Ranges is a visual wonder:

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Bungle Bungle range in the setting sun
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

The Unchosen Ones. Often ending up being some of my very favourite images!

The Purnululu sunset that almost never was

“All good things come to those who wait” goes the old saying. I am not a patient soul so I often have to remind myself to calm down. And wait. Good things will come. I could argue that if you wait long enough, pigs will fly over a frozen hell but I won’t. It’s often true. Restless, frustrated and impatient I must admit that waiting works. Especially in landscape photography. I am passionate about landscape photography to the point of obsession easily leading to frustrations – but ultimately also to some amazing experiences:

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Glowing Red Bungle Bungle Range at sunset
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

On an outback tour in 2008 in Australia, we were driving from El Questro on the Gibb River Road in Kimberley to Purnululu National Park. It’s an extremely long drive. It was an extremely hot day. Everything happened in slow motion. Everyone moved slowly. Everything took forever. Aircon wasn’t working in the truck. My boiling brain was constantly calculating our location and our ETA, the deadline being sunset at 5pm in Purnululu National Park.

As time froze on the never-ending bitumen road going South, I was getting very restless and frustrated. The sky was fantastic, some spectacular otherworldly cloud formations adding to my frustrations. This sunset would be out of this world and we would surely not make it to Purnululu in time. When we finally hit the 54km dirt road leading into Purnululu National Park it was after 3pm. It was my second time to Purnululu and I knew it is about a 2½ hour drive to get through the 54km quite poor dirt road – at least. Sunset was around 5.15pm. Simple math told me to give up; resign. We would not make it. We would have to stop on the way and enjoy the sunset from the road, I should start scouting for alternative locations along the way into Purnululu.

I remember being so frustrated I zoned out listening to my ipod. Imagine my surprise when we pull up at the ranger station at 4.45pm. We had made it in about 1 hour and 40 minutes! I switch into a shooting mode frenzy! “Nick” I shout at our driver, “Nick, mate, get everyone back on board, we’re 5 minutes from the Kungkalahayi lookout, we can make it we can make it!”.

Make it we did. Shoot many photos I did. All good things to those who wait! I raced up the hill and had a 360 degree view from the Kungkalahayi lookout of an absolutely magical sunset that had me smiling and talking all night after capturing countless images.

The shot above I have shown you before; it is with the sun behind me. Below is a new release facing the sun:

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Purnululu Landscape against the setting sun
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

This is a stitched panorama. I can’t make up my mind whether the ‘sun beaming into a f/22 aperture’ works. There are also quite a few different colours in one shot and a slightly busy composition. But it’s a wonderful scene and there is a lesson in here somewhere I suspect. Something about patience.

Landscape Photography is all about waiting; waiting for that special moment with the magical light. Never give up. Things may look like a no-shot day but the sun can change that in a split second. Always be ready. I seem to get worse at waiting though. But when everything looks grim but ultimately works out beautifully like this day; the restless impatient me at least provides me with some good laughs afterwards. All good things to those who wait!

Purnululu and the Bungle Bungle

Purnululu National Park in The Kimberley in Western Australia is a World Heritage site, home to spectacular 500 meter tall orange sandstone domes of the Bungle Bungle Ranges. Aboriginal people have been living here for tens of thousands of years of course but amazingly Purnululu was not really known until the 1980s when a TV-crew flew over and filmed this huge magnificent area. It is a very significant site to the traditional owners and it’s easy to see and feel why when you visit this mysterious and magical semi-desert landscape of caves, gorges, chasms, creeks and last but not least – the mighty beehive shaped domes!

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Bungle Bungle Domes from above
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

When I spend time in the great outback of Australia I always wonder what it would be like to live here thousands of years ago in the traditional aboriginal way. In tropical Kakadu National Park with years of training and some help I reckon I could survive as a white aboriginal wannabe. There are rivers, plenty of water, wildlife, food and plants and great rock shelters to live in. In The Kimberley I would be in serious trouble but there are still shelters, gorges and water if you know where to find it; even if the climate is seriously hostile. In the desert I would simply die. I would die very happy but I would definitely die. How the desert people survived for thousands of years, finding food and water and surviving the heat in places like this is an incredible feat!

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Bungle Bungle domes in Piccaninny Creek
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Purnululu is semi-arid so it’s cold at night and then after sunrise it quickly becomes very hot, a burning hot unforgiving desert heat and I can’t help but wonder how people survived here. It truly takes incredible skill. I would surely perish but Purnululu is such an enchanting and amazing otherworldly place I wouldn’t mind travelling back in time and attempting to live here with a great mob of desert people! Who wouldn’t want to sit here every night and watch the sun set as shown in my favourite shot from Purnululu:

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Purnululu – Kungkalahayi lookout at dusk
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

In September I visited Purnululu National Park twice – and survived! We cheated though; as we brought food and water with us so not exactly living off the land in traditional way! Phenomenal Purnululu has quickly become one of my favourite places in Australia; it’s unlike anything else and a must-experience. Purnululu is accessed via a 54km 4WD only dirt road that is only open in the dry season. You need to bump along this bumpy road for a few hours and bring all essentials as there’s no food or drinking water available in here. You can get chopper lifted in from Kununurra and stay in the fancy permanent upmarket APT permanent tent camp but where’s the fun in that. No you bring your swag and stay at one of the two very basic bush camp sites and experience the outback the only proper way and prepare to be amazed! Be amazed by the outback experience, the towering 500 meter tall beehive shaped domes, the wondrous chasm, gorges and plains. Check your swag before sleeping though, there are some nasty foot long centipedes around and this being Australia they are of course venomous and they bite!

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Domes of Bungle Bungle Reflection
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

Photographing Purnululu

The Bungles presents some fantastic world class landscapes and a great challenge as well. Like a lot of the outback you have to work for your compositions; nature is chaos and simplicity doesn’t come easy. Finding a way to fit 500 meter tall domes in the frame and show the scale and surrounding is a fun task! The Kimberley light is blindingly bright and harsh creating it’s own special exposure problems. And if you want those big pools of water with reflected domes in them, you need to go in April or May at the latest or everything will be dry as a bone! I had a bit of luck; arrived just after a big rainfall and had a bit of water as seen above. The first photo in my post is of course shot from a helicopter; a brilliant adrenaline ride as you fly above the domes with doors off! Landscapes from the air are very hard to pull off though and Purnululu is made harder by the hazy light when you’re high above the ranges. I am happy with my work from the Kungkalahayi lookout where I got several very nice shots and big panoramas:

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Kungkalahayi Cloudscape Panorama
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

But I can’t wait to return and take on the domes again as I feel I didn’t quite nail them this time around; and Cathedral Gorge and Echidna Chasm I also need to tackle again! While I wait; I’ll escape into photos like this and dream I am living at Purnululu!

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Purnululu Cloudscape at Sunset
© Flemming Bo Jensen Photography

– More Bungles images can be seen in my Kimberley gallery.

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:

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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:

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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!