The Photograph Explained: Tenby Point Mangroves by Shane Booth

Tenby Point Mangroves

It’s interesting the places you drive right on pass on your way the bigger and better things and the landscape possibilities of Phillip Island in the south east of Victoria are endless as the buses lining up to see the Fairy Penguins. But lowering your eyes and stopping before you actually get there allows you to explore the charming coastal strip squeezed in between the highway and Western Port bay around the Grantville area.

This was the second time I had visited the area which is known for some of the most southern mangroves in the world, the first was a quick look and see while trying to discover the where about of some old jetties and after being pointed in the wrong direction by a local time ran out and I needed to get home. The second time was the day this image was made when a day off work during winter beckoned and the upcoming weather was looking promising for some photography.  Of course not all things go to plan, the day turn out quite cloudless and by the time I reached Grantville and most of the subject matter was backlit by a raking winter sun and I had no intention to wade out into the Western Port mud to shoot back the other direction.  I spent some time photographing several coastal scenes on a nearby beach and as the sun moved across the sky and slowly made towards the horizon I continued my way back along the beach to the car.

I was passing this scene for the second time after noting it for another day and better light. However by this time the tide had came in covering the mess of roots holding it upright and put several components in isolation like a dragon swimming through the water (ok bit of a stretch) so I decided to set up my 4 x 5 field camera and frame the scene before you. While envisioning a records type shot, I was lucky that a small clearing appeared between the horizon and cloud bank which had formed allowing a subtle side light to grace the mangrove for one last time that day. Some quick hit and miss metering using something like the zone system (metering for the shadows in the fork of the tree) was done showing a shutter speed of 5 sec @ f16 and the resulting exposure was made allowing for reciprocity failure.

What I like about this image, mostly the feeling of tranquility from the still water and diffused shadows but there is also some fine details in the tree which only ever reveal themselves in the real print.

If I’ve held your attention this far you properly wanting to know more about the equipment I used, this image was made using my old Wista 45 and what is quickly  becoming a favoured lens, a Schneider Kreuznach Symmar-S 180mm f5.6 all mounted on a Velbon CF635 topped with a Arcatech GV2 ballhead. The film I currently use is Fomapan 100 which gets developed in Rodinal at 1:50 in my home darkroom using a unicolour rotary drum. The final print is on Fomatone MG 132, a lovely matt paper with a hint of sheen and cream base, which was developed in Dektol 1:2 and Selenium toned.

FYI: The most southern mangroves, known as White Mangroves (Avicennia marina) are found in Corner Inlet at Wilsons Promontory.

Portrait of Shane Booth

Shane Booth