The Photograph Explained: Rock platform, Middle Head, Sydney by Philip Ramsden
Platinum palladium contact photograph
This photograph was taken at Middle Head in Sydney using an ancient (1950s) Linhof 4 x 5 press camera with a lens of 127 mm with no filter. The time was early on a Sunday morning with the sun lighting the rocks below. The position is precarious on a cliff edge with just enough room for a tripod. The spot is popular with fishermen who risk their lives on slippery rocks to occasionally catch fish so full of heavy metals it is an effort to land them.
The film was Tri X Pan rated at 320 ISO and developed in XTol 1:1 at 24 degrees C. In my early 4 x 5 years this was the film of choice because I used it for smaller formats and thought I knew what it would do. If only life was that simple.
The erosion patterns in the Sydney sandstone have been a recurring theme in my photography and have been captured in many formats in colour and in black and white over many years. Sometimes I am drawn to the small details at others to the overall view like this.
Part of the attraction here is the lack of buildings. The rocks are below the old Army and Navy land of Middle Head, now a part of Sydney Harbour National Park, and have escaped the devastation so common around the harbour.
Just around the corner at the top of the frame is Obelisk Beach, one of three nude beaches in the park.
The colours in the stone vary from their original Antarctic white, from when Gondwanaland was united, to the later iron stained oranges and browns seen in the exposed rocks. The colours and patterns are the attraction as they are different all along the coast.
There are rock platforms like this all around Sydney and the erosion patterns vary from beach to beach and up the cliffs at the ends of the beaches. I have walked much of the coastline between Pittwater in the north to Botany Bay in the south taking photos mainly with smaller cameras, however this photo shows me the value of the larger negative.
The contact print is a platinum palladium print made under the supervision of Gordon Undy at Point Light Studio.