Around Our World In 31 Days

Around Our World In 31 Days

In case that sounds like a takeoff on Jules Verne – it was meant to. The world that was circumnavigated by air is Australia and the voyagers were Denis Glennon and Tony Hewitt. Their sponsor was Canon Australia and their purpose was to discover their personal reaction to the colour, texture, shape and form of our coastline.

The set their hearts on seeing us ” Girt By Sea ” as the lines from the national anthem go – and they have entitled their photographic exhibition and the book that displays it in just that way. It is especial – they had to get permission from the Prime Minister’s office to use the phrase.  The journey of discovery and the results are especial too.

Quick note – go to see the exhibition at the Central Park building at 152-158 St Geo Tce sometime between the opening on 25 September until the close on 13 October. Entry is free – and the times run from 10.00 to 5:30 weekdays and 10:00 to 4:00 Saturdays. You’ll see more than I can describe of their work and appreciate the artistry that went into it.

Even quicker note. You get in for free. If you are wise you’ll take some money and consider buying a print or the gorgeous collection book that accompanies the exhibition. Saul Frank and I inspected a copy during an interview with Denis and Tony and were immensely impressed. It would be a highlight of a photographic bookshelf.

But onto the actual doing of the trip. A list of facts:

a. They flew in a Cessna 210. It’s a plane some 30+ years old but the high wing and openable windows on the port side make it ideal for aerial photography. They took four days out of the 31 to fuel, maintain, and service the plane, but it did a magnificent job.

b. So did the pilot. Getting to the correct spot for photographs and then placing the photographers over the coast at the right height ( anywhere from 500 ft to 8000 ft ) in spite of prevailing wind directions and speed is no mean feat. The aircraft has to be kept in a bank that can be up to 45º and drifted over the target.

c. So did the photographers. And not just in the air pushing shutter buttons. There was a whole logistics and organizational trail leading up to every time the wheels left the ground or touched it again, and this had to be sorted out long in advance. Consider as well that each flight had a budget of actual shooting time that was dictated by the distance to target vs fuel status. They had to plan ahead as much as possible to spend the budget wisely. How to plan….

d. With Google Earth. They had some idea what was coming up through intensive research beforehand and constant phone updates. Also constant attention to meteorological status. But both Denis and Tony emphasized that the actual shooting was done in reaction to what they found, rather than a preplanned concept. A reactive and responsive exercise.

e. With tide tables. The appearance of the coastline changes constantly in some areas – large tidal flows cover and expose features and make immense differences in the colour, shape, and pattern of the subject. They plotted their moves as much with the moon in mind as any shaman would. You might almost be tempted to call it ” Dances With Tides “…

f. With Canon Australia. I expected that they would have taken the biggest guns in the Canon armoury for this task…but they decided to do the shooting with pro-sumer bodies; the Canon EOS 5D MkIV and the Canon EOS 5D Sr.

The glass was Canon L-series…and that is no surprise. 70-200mm for one and prime lenses for the other. And yes, they were focused in infinity…

g. With Camera Electronic. I am happy to say both Denis and Tony said that CE had a place with ancillary gear support and encouragement. We’ll also be appearing with staff members at a special exhibition night during the run of the show – more details as I find them out.

I noted that most of the pictures I had seen on websites or in the book were taken from a vertical viewpoint, but the photographers pointed out that they had, indeed, taken four pictures at the four corners of Australia in an oblique view. These are to establish position for the viewers.

I also noted that there was a map on the front of the cover of the book – showing the route around Australia – that seemed a little odd when it came to the shape of Tasmania. I was put right – the map is a tracing of the actual path of the Cessna and the straight bits are the crossing of Bass Strait. An uncomfortable one, apparently, as they had to share the limited cabin space with a rubber life raft big enough to take all three adventurers if needed. In the event, it wasn’t needed.

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