The Photograph Explained: Reflection, Crimson Wall by Mark Darragh
I began using large format over fifteen years ago and since 2003 have been using a 4 x 5 camera almost exclusively for landscape and close up photography.
Many of my photographs draw on my background in ecology and environmental science. As well as expressing the beauty of a subject I’m often trying to convey a sense of place; the ecology, geology and biogeography of a landscape.
In more recent years I’ve sought to broaden my horizon to photograph purely for artistic expression. The photograph “Reflection, Crimson Wall” is one example of that. It was taken in the Victoria Range, one of the more remote parts of the Grampians in western Victoria. With soaring rock towers, dramatic cliffs and some the prickliest scrub on the planet, the Victoria Range is a spectacular, if sometimes challenging, place to photograph.
I’d photographed this wall several times before as part of wider landscape photographs but on this occasion I found myself at the base of the wall as the late afternoon sun lit up the whole face. What initially caught my eye were the reflected braids of orange from the wall and blue from the sky at the outflow of the small pool. Unfortunately, the topography being what it was, I couldn’t get the camera close enough to take a detail shot without loosing the reflection. The solution was to climb a boulder overlooking the pool use a wider lens (135 mm) to capture the reflection of the wall in the whole pool. A sheet of Velvia 50 captured the rich colour of both the sandstone and the sky.
There is a sense of abstraction and ambiguity in this image which really appeals to me. People often look at it for quite sometime before they start to grasp what the subject is. However as much as I like it, the photograph is by no means perfect. The rock which frames the lower part of the pool was just too close to the camera to hold sharp focus. The reflection itself is not quite pin sharp either, the long exposure (15 seconds) meant that the slightest breath of wind momentarily blurred the reflection. I regard the original image as a work in progress. Thankfully it won’t be a hardship to walk the Victoria Range once again to revisit it.