When planning a driving holiday in Australia, don’t forget to plan a ‘shot list’ of where and what you want to take photographs of. Even if you don’t publish photos and you’re just doing it for the memories or to create a photobook at home later, having a bit of a plan for the images you would like to get can be a good idea and enable you to get those postcard, or these days, Instagram images.
What I mean by a shot list is knowing what natural attractions and landscapes are in the area you are planning to visit and trying to be at the right place at the right time. We’ve probably all had those times when you get to a certain spot only to find out that for instance, you’re facing into the sun and your photos won’t do the area justice. That may not matter if you have plenty of time and aren’t on a schedule to move on, you can just come back another day. But for many people if you are on a time frame or have a lot of things planned and need to keep moving, timing can be everything!
Some examples of getting the timing right are:
- Being on Cable Beach in Broome in time to see the daily camel rides at sunset. For this you need to be on the beach and parked to enjoy the sunset yourself but also set up ready to catch the action when it happens – hopefully with a spectacular sunset to boot. Make sure you give yourself time for a few practice shots so you can adjust settings if you need to.
- Being at Byron Bay Lighthouse, the most easterly point of Australia, to witness a sunrise. For capturing scenes like this you have to make sure you know when sunrise time is, and be ready and waiting well before, to capture the moment. I usually like to visit an area more than once so that I can plan where I want to be for photos at a certain time of day, especially if it means early mornings or night photography.
- At other times you may need to check tide times if you have a specific shot in mind, or to access certain beaches. There are many beaches in Australia that you can drive on, but you need to be certain of tide movement before you attempt them.
- Getting an annual or seasonal National Parks pass can be a big benefit if you want to make numerous visits to a park. For instance The Pinnacles in WA is worthwhile visiting to take photos at different times of the day with the late afternoon sun casting long shadows in this desert scape. Night photos with starry skies over this eerie landscape make this a popular time too.
- Sometimes you can be lucky even at the wrong time of day. In the heat of a day look for shadows that make an interesting pattern and be prepared, just maybe you can find someone else looking for shade.
It’s always a good idea to chat with local Tourist Information Centres or check any updated information on National Parks and Wildlife websites before venturing to some locations, just to confirm local conditions or any expected closures or difficulties getting to locations. There’s nothing more frustrating than finding out you can’t get somewhere you’ve been dying to see and hearing ‘oh what a shame, it only closed yesterday’!
So now I prepare a little before heading off to any destination by doing some research on what natural attractions are in the area, when it’s best to see them, how long it takes to drive and / or walk to them and also plan what lenses I may want to carry and if I will need a tripod or not to achieve what I’m after.
Once last tip I would have is to get shots whatever time and day you are there if the weather is looking perfect, all the best planning in the world sometimes can’t match what Mother Nature can bring and the best made plans can come unstuck with unexpected weather changes.
Even if plans don’t come to pass you never know when a gloomy sky can emphasize things in a whole new way.
Happy snapping, and remember practice makes perfect.