Exploring the Bellarine

The Bellarine Peninsula holds a wealth of photographic opportunity. From country buildings and towns along the bay to surf coast locations just before the Great Ocean road. Being just over an hour away from Melbourne, it’s a wonderfully accessible location.

There are a few places here that we intended to shoot. The tried and tested lighthouse at Point Lonsdale for sunset, another attempt for yours truly at Point Addis for sunrise and a trip to Airys Inlet for sunset and something fun that Alex was intent on trying out.

Landscape photography is often unpredictable and really a case of just making the effort of being there and seeing what you get. Light, weather, and in the case of seascapes, tides and what’s been washed up often means the best conceptualised composition, even for a place you’ve been before, is usually thrown out the window.

That said, it’s the perfect conditions to forcing you to “be in the moment”. Some time spent taking in what’s going on and being present to it before getting your camera out can pay dividends.

Point Lonsdale was our destination for Friday evening. It’s very popular for photographers as it provides three distinct compositional elements – the lighthouse, the pier and rocky foreground creating rock pools when the tide is low (low tide was forecasted for the day. The Thursday night prior had put on one hell of a sunset with the sky burning red. Friday unfortunately brought no such joy.

Dark clouds and a punishing southerly wind meant a switch from favouring sky to foreground for compositions but the rock pools and water movement provided plenty of possibilities.

It really is amazing the difference filters can make to your photography. Any camera today still struggles to work with the amount of dynamic range that is present with strong lighting conditions. The NISI 4 stop reverse grad really brings that back into a manageable photo.

The next morning, we were off to Point Addis. This is a spot I have attempted to shoot a few times now. Getting to the caves along the shore is possible only with a fairly low tide and as I am not a local, the sky has tended to never put on anything remarkable. While the tides were perfect, the heavy dark clouds blocking the sunrise meant the 5:15am start to the day was not well rewarded.

Leaving point Addis, we spent the day checking out other potential locations. Grey skies and intermittent rain badgered our efforts although a few potential locations have now bee added to the list. After taking the wrong road trying to access a picnic ground, we encountered one of those wonderful chance happenings as, to the side of the road, a small boat house on a private damn emerged. A few pictures were all we could manage before the rain drove us back to the car but we’ve now marked this for a future attempt.

The plan for the evening was to catch a quick meal at the Airys Pub (which runs its own Micro Brewery – win!) and then out to the beach at Airys Inlet. Low tide exposed a vast amount of wonderful foreground to explore and for a while around dinner, breaks in the cloud suggested we might yet have an interesting sunset. Golden hour gave us some light to play with but sadly the horizon was blocked right around the time the sun went down.

The beach at Airys Inlet provides not only small rock pools but also the beginnings of a cave under the lighthouse. This was the perfect place for Alex to try out something he’d been wanting to do for some time – some steel wool photography.

Both the cave and a nearby rock pool leant itself to the photos. The first allowing the sparks to bounce off, framing the cave. The water reflection, with the blue of the disappearing day providing background though was the stand out. I think that, location permitting, this will likely be a staple of future workshops.