Mount Lofty 5k Loop
Warrandyte State Park, Melbourne
I came back to Warrandyte State Park again this weekend. Mount Lofty is wrapped around by Yarra River. Running along the side of Yarra River was tranquillising.
The starting point of this trail was the same carpark, the same starting point last week. Last week’s trail went west. This weekend’s trail went east. The entire trail was made up of very wide gravel tracks. There were loose rocks. There were some uphill climbs. Otherwise, it was a relatively easy track.
Alltrails map: here.
Since I knew I wanted to take photos of the running river with slow shutter speeds, I took my monopod fitted with a no-frills ball-head. A tripod would’ve been better. The monopod was barely stable enough at 1sec shutter speed at certain focal lengths, even with Olympus’ IBIS. But its featherlight weight was more suitable for running.
I’d also planned to take some photos in the twilight before sunrise, before I really started my run. Weather forecast said sunrise was 6:45am. When I arrived at the carpark at about 6am, the sky was already glowing purple red. At these magic hours, the light quality changes every minute. As seen below, in the space of 15 minutes, the sky turned from purple red to golden yellow.
The first half of the trail hiked up a ridge onto Mount Lofty’s “peak” which was merely 120m high. But the surrounding views and landscapes were still magnificent.
The 2nd half of the trail simply followed the windy Yarra River.
The making of the first photo
The first photo of the lone cluster of grass at the beginning of this post was actually among the last batch of photos taken at the spot below. I almost didn’t take the shot. I was searching for colourful subject to contrast the water reflection and nearly dismissed the boring cluster of grass.
You can see the cluster of grass at the centre of the stream. You can also see the golden yellow and green were reflections of the trees at the opposite bank of the river, and the blue was reflection of the sky. The grass and the river were mostly in the shadow. That allowed the reflections to stand out.
Anticipating using some slow shutter speeds under bright daylight, I brought my Olympus OM-1 which has built-in Live ND1. It came in handy to reduce the exposure by 3-4 stops. To made the shot, I put the camera onto the monopod and found a vantage point where the bright yellow reflection of the tree trunk lined up next to the step-drop of the stream. I used the short tele lens to frame tight into the details to create a composition where the step-drop and the yellow reflection created suggestive diagonal lines to lead the eyes and the grass sat at one side off-centre acting as a visual anchor point. The colourful reflections and the wavy silk-like patterns are also the key elements of the composition.
I used a slow shutter speed to let the running water “paint” the wavy patterns. I knew from experience a shutter speed between 1/2sec and 1 sec would work well. I tried various combinations of shutter speeds, both landscape and portrait orientations, slightly different compositions and repeated a few times to capture different swirl patterns. Some general breeze came and went, causing the grass to sway from time to time. That needed a bit of patience to wait for the right moment and a few repeats to get acceptable sharp images. This one shot is the one I liked the most.
Click on the follow gallery to see different crops that I tried.
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Live ND - an in-camera computational feature which simulates optical neutral density filters by stacking multiple shots.