The Granite Pools

Wave benches can be rewarding zones for photography. They can also be incredibly dangerous. The ocean has a habit of swelling up, crashing onto the rocky surface sweeping all and sundry to oblivion. Most cameras cannot float and I most certainly have never mastered the unnatural act of swimming. No image is worth risking one’s life. Yet wave benches are alluring. I visit them often.One of the safer wave benches I know is near Streaky Bay in South Australia. Here there is a vast field of torn, fractured, twisted and denuded granite rocks tossed and strewn by the force of the waves over many thousands of years._DES0769 Deep cuts and crevices exist offering shelter and safety from waves and wind. This is ideal for my type of location figure work. It is easy for the model to emulate thefigure and form of the rock field bringing a harmony between the feminine curves of the model and their echoes in the patterns of granite. I have made many wonderful figure studies within and on this granite field. I went there earlier this year with a model to celebrate this setting. I have done this for many years.df-306dgdf-306dg

 Occasionally, on this wave bench the light plays games with the rocks. I enjoy it when the light is softened and made to glow by the diffuse effect of cloud cover. It emulates what I can create in my studio at home. It makes the outdoor portraiture and the figure study easy. You can simply concentrate on the idea, the narrative you seek to convey.june22-008

Frequently the light is broken, fractured by a cloud cover that allows sunlight to break through forming shafts that tease and pluck at the textures, colours and patterns across this bench of granite boulders. Sometimes these shafts of light fall upon the rocks highlighting them against their neighbours. This effect is exaggerated by the rustic colour of the granite set back from the ocean’s edge. Here the brown, yellows, greys and blacks collide in a rich parade of shimmer and glow. This special light can last for just a few seconds and at other times it stays and plays with you, it teases and frustrates as it marches across the wave bench. I enjoy the granite pools. It is my idea of a wonderful setting for outdoor photography – for the figure in landscape genre but, as the image below, shows the rocks themselves set against the gritty sunny edge of the southern shoreline can offer up pure magic.


When I saw this rock and its relationship to its surrounds I made a mental note to wait for that moment when the sun shafts some three hundred metres away arrived and lit it up, setting it ablaze, making it glow with implied heat.

This happened. I made my idea visible. To give emphasis to what the light on the rock surfaces offered I have adjusted levels, and used a layer to bring back the visual strength of the central rock. This figure-ground relationship is the aesthetic strength of this image along with the foil of colour and shadow, of the light, the bright and the dark.  When I look at this image I think I am at the edge of Hades.  Well, actually it was Hell simply because their were zillions of *&^%$ bush flies attracted to the seaweed in numbers that threatened to carry you away. My model was unimpressed and underwhelmed. But, she smiled a lot at my enthusiasm for the rocks.  The flies tasted awful.general12-april2-0061