On a trip through the South West a few months ago, we spent one night in Albany after a couple of day’s at the Stirling Ranges. Setting off to scout some locations for a sunset shoot we rounded the bend at the head of Middleton Beach, to come across a large crowd at the lookout. Curiosity took over and we stopped and looked, sure enough there were some whales at the base of the cliffs. Not even 10m off the shore it was a stunning site. Needless to say we sat and watched for a while, and didn’t leave enough time to scout a location.

I decided to go down the hill to some nice rocks and see what I could get, as it was so late there was nothing to lose. We ended up in a little rocky cove, but nothing really took my eye. So I left Alysia there and clambered around the rocks a bit further to see what was there. I looked back, and suddenly the cove we were in looked alot more interesting, and I set up for the shoot.

Perched/wedged in a precarious position on a boulder with not much room anywhere, I was constantly getting wet feet and legs from the sea splashing up on the rocks. Not to let that worry me I kept shooting as the light got better and better. Then it happened….

First I see the swell…I think oh…could get a bit of splash here….then it grows….I think oh…..could get quite wet here….then it grows more…I grab tripod with right hand….put hand in between camera and sea (yeah cos that’s going to do anything..) ….. and then SPLASH!!!!! I’m soaked head to toe instantly, camera is soaked.

Somehow senses kicked in and I had the camera turned off and battery out before the wave had settled. Throwing camera, lens, filters into the bag I skate across the slippery rocks back to the cove. Where of course I am greeted by the “oh you look a lil wet” from the girlfriend… πŸ˜›

So I gave the tripod to her and sprinted back up the hill, to nearly run into some walkers on the path who looked very surprised to see a man dressed as a drowned rat emerge from the bush! I get back to car and pull everything apart and dry slowly in front of the cars a/c vents. At the end of the day it all came up well, and despite lenses and filters needing a very good clean nothing was wrong with the equipment. Still…it’s not what you want on the 3rd day of a trip!

Middleton Dreaming

Middleton Dreaming

I like the rocks in the foreground of this shot, and the sloping rocks going into the water. The rocks are great in that part of the world! The sky was starting to turn nice, but probably needed another couple of minutes to go real nice. But nothing can be done with that. There were some nice atmospheric clouds going past the other side of the harbour, some which are getting lit by the setting sun. It is still weird looking at this image knowing what happened about 30 seconds later! It looks so peaceful and surreal.

Here is another shot of a mother and calf Humpback whale just off the coast the following day. Not a great shot at all but seeing these beautiful creatures up close is unforgettable!


I hope everyone had a great christmas, and all the best for the new years πŸ™‚

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12 responses to “Albany

  1. Great story! Seeing those whales are just amazing, I’ve seen them off the coast at Brisbane and it’s such an incredible experience.

    Mother Nature got ya this time πŸ™‚ Watch your camera for corrosion after all that salt water!

  2. Fortunately living inland I’m not exposed to those problems. Very lucky, salt water is horrid stuff, even my 360 pano started to rust after my 2 month holiday on the NSW coast.

    I love the soft colours in the photo above. Beautiful, plus not over exposed with the water either.

    Whales are great, on my trip to NSW recently I remember standing out on our balcony and watching the Humpbacks putting on a display, shortly the whole down was down at the wharf admiring the massive beasts.

  3. Thanks Flem, yeah luckily I had some camera body cleaning stuff with me. I hope it stops it. Needless to say I learnt my lesson and no longer talk about replacing my camera in front of it. Bloody thing tried to take me down with it haha. But no doubt the salt will get it a bit still.

    Thanks Tom. I reckon the light would have been even nicer a few minutes later, it was just at that point where it starts turning when the wave hit. Oh well…
    Salt is nasty stuff, don’t take long at all to get into the equipment.

    Yeah they are amazing hey. It’s funny the people who go and watch them too. Big tough guys who you wouldn’t think would want to stand there watching still go down. You can’t help but have a soft spot for them. Would love to do a cruise some day!

  4. I would have wept openly had that happened to my gear. You are very brave! And good to know all is well.

    Ah the whales are wonderful. My husband and his parents had gotten stuck 4wd-ingn on Yaegarup beach (Pemberton) one time into the night. While they were freezing their a–es off, they related stories about hearing whales singing out at sea, all through the night. It sounded pretty magic. I’d’ve gladly frozen to have gone through that, but as it were, i was up in Perth being a good girl and studying.

    I’d love to go on one of those whale watching cruises some time. The husband thinks i’m bananas though πŸ˜€

  5. well i suppose it’s good to hear the camera gear can take a beating. the corrosion though, may be a bit harder to avoid.

    i’ve only ever seen southern right whales in the Bight and they were far offshore. must have been wonderful to see them so close. i can’t believe the Japanese get away with what they do to them.

  6. You obviously don’t know me too well yet Charlene, I think it’s more to do with being blinded by the scene and not thinking too much about the things going on around me πŸ˜›

    Wow that sounds like a pretty amazing night they experienced! I didn’t realise you could hear them above the water like that.

    It was a pretty cool experience Cain. They were closer then any others i’ve seen before. The lookout had about 50-60 people, and everyone was there in amazement. The baby one pictured was playing the whole time. Making patterns in the water with it’s bubbles and stuff.

    And yeah, time will tell on the corrosion. I now have a plastic bag in my kit to give a bit more protection from sea spray and waves. I do notice those buggers a bit more now!! πŸ˜›

  7. I like the first shot Stephen ! Aptly named too… hehe.
    Living on the exposed bass strait, salt air and spray is a part of life…In regards to gear/cars etc. No point having something if you don’t use it how and where ever you want.
    best of luck in 2009 Stephen !

  8. thanks Tony. haha i wonder why you like the name of that bay…. πŸ˜›

    very true on the equipment too!

  9. Nice shots mate, Good to hear your camera survived haha my 5d has salt around viewfinder I think from the ocean! plastic bag does help while waiting πŸ™‚

  10. jamiepatersonphotography

    Hi Stephen,

    Great photos. When Neal, Kirk and I were last down south we saw a couple of whales frolicking in Bunker Bay and at Meelup Beach. It was so cool, I would love to use my photography in some way to further their cause.

    Jamie Paterson

  11. Thanks Jamie.

    they’re so magical hey. it’s hard to imagine wanting to harm them, and as Cain said, especially what the Japenese do.
    I wish my image did them justice. it’s pretty rubbish but what’s the point of taking a photo if you can’t share it with anyone πŸ™‚ we watched the baby playing for about an hour while having breakfast at the lookout. was a amazing morning.

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