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Review of the Walking & Photography Week in July 2011

24-Jul-2011

What a week! The weather was (almost) perfect, and the moody days allowed for some dramatic photography. We were lucky given the huge low pressure system just to the south of us that caused record rainfall in Sydney.

Our inaugural Walking and Photography Week started with champagne and nibbles at Little Island, where our first time visitors were dwarfed by 400 vertical meters of Mt Lidgebird's lower cliff line. The scene was complemented by hundreds of thousands of Providence petrels in the sky, having returned from the northern hemisphere to breed. It's an easy walk to Little Island, but not for Daniel who carried the esky. He's an enthusiastic soul and was happy to apply his 'silver service' training to pouring champagne into paper cups.

Our first 'real' walk was to Kims Lookout where we were greeted with one of Lord Howe's most famous vistas. The cameras, big and small, were busy trying to capture the range of blues in the lagoon. From Kims, we made our way along the ridge to Malabar, where our faster walkers were busy making friends with Senator Bob Brown. Lord Howe is a great leveller, and people from all walks of life (and political persuasions) find plenty in common. Thanks to the local knowledge of John Edwards, who's visited Pinetrees over 15 times, we didn't miss the secret vantage point below Malabar. You could sit there all day and still not take it in.

Looking south at Kims - Lord Howe IslandThe view from Kims Lookout - Lord Howe IslandBelow the summit of Malabar - Lord Howe IslandKims Lookout from the ridge - Lord Howe Island

The descent of Malabar took a little longer, thanks to the distraction from Lord Howe's sole hang glider, but we eventually found our BBQ at Neds Beach. Our new chef, Adam, and French Canadian waiter, Katie, greeted us with cold beer, white wine, soft drinks, Thai marinated fish, garlic prawns, lamb chops and a selection of salads. After a rest, we met our local ecologist and photographer, Ian Hutton, for a guided walk through the intertidal zone. The wind was a bit cool, but most people were happily enthralled by Ian's rock pool revelations.

Tuesday greeted us with a perfect day. We cancelled our plans to set up a studio and work on portrait and still life photography with Kenny Lees. Instead we packed lunch and headed for Boat Harbour. Kenny came as well and stumbled on the one thing that makes people think about their photos - competition. His off the cuff suggestion of a competition for the 'best pandanus' photo became the focus of the day. Subtropical forest can get a bit thick and people got themselves into all sorts of tangled positions in search of the winning photo. Boat Harbour was as beautiful as ever, and the view up the razor sharp eastern ridge of Mt Lidgebird was stunning. 

Light and shade in the Kentia forest - Lord Howe IslandPhotos in the forest - Lord Howe IslandA happy group of photographers - Lord Howe IslandKenny Lees in the pandanus - Lord Howe Island
Photos at Boat Harbour - Lord Howe IslandMt Lidgbird from Boat Harbour - Lord Howe Island

That night, in front of the fire, the judging of the day's competition was a little controversial. Despite the impressive photos from top notch DSLR cameras, the winning photo was taken on an iPhone. Jason had stitched 3 images together to produce a stunning image of a Lord Howe pandanus. Well done!

Wednesday was moody. There were storms, rainbows, patches of sun, high cloud, low cloud and big gusts of wind - in short, a perfect day for a photo competition. The brief was simple - photos with the most 'mood' and 'drama' from The Clear Place, Transit Hill and Blinky Beach would win. People explored the sheltered eastern 'off-shore' side of the island at their own pace. Some walked the route in a few hours and returned to Pinetrees for lunch, while others lingered in each place with their cameras and tripods and waited for the opportunity. Brett's photos from The Clear Place and Transit Hill were stunning - probably the best of the week, and Donna's photo at Blinky captured one of Lord Howe's iconic landmarks with a dramatic backdrop (see the gallery below). One couple won three bottles of wine that night - it's a good thing they shared with everyone.

Thursday was the highlight of the week. We arranged for Dean 'Occa' Hiscox to collect us from the Pinetrees boatshed in his glass-bottomed boat, Coral Princess. We cruised through the lagoon to North Bay for a BBQ lunch and prepared for a short off-track climb to North Head. It's a rarely visited vantage point, but the location of some of Kenny Lees' best photos. Occa is a great guide - knowledgeable, relaxed and competent. His route up North Head got our oldest guest (76) to the top. Well done John. The view from the ridge was amazing - cliffs, ocean, lagoon, beaches, forests and big mountains. Every direction presented a post card view. Surprisingly, the winning photo of the day wasn't taken from North Head. The brief was for a photo that captured a classic (but not clichéd) Lord Howe landscape, and Paul with his compact camera on panorama mode got the photo of the day - from the Pinetrees boatshed. 

North Head - Lord Howe IslandSea cliffs at North Head - Lord Howe Island
Don's step back - Lord Howe IslandA rarely visited place - Lord Howe Island

The final day was all about competition. Graphic designers have a rule of thumb that says "blue and green should never be seen except with something in between". This can be difficult at Lord Howe where most views are dominated by saturated greens and blues. In fact, it can be quite a challenge to find another colour that works in your composition. So the brief of the day was the best photo of 'blues and greens with something in between'. People went in all directions and were spotted in unusual places with big cameras and tripods. Word had got out among the Lord Howe locals and reports came in all day about the whereabouts of our guests.

The fire-side judging that night had a 'tribal council' feeling. Thirty votes were recorded from guests, walkers, staff and family to judge winners in two categories - 'compact' and 'DSLR'. Sue's photo of Blinky Beach won the compact category easily, while the DSLR category had to go to a tie break. Cousin Richard held his nerve and cast the winning vote to Brett (again!) for his beautiful image of kayaks on the foreshore of the lagoon. John's photo of Elsie (my daughter) was politically savvy and equally beautiful. If Elsie had cast the final vote, John would have won.

All up, it was a great week. We walked most tracks on the island and climbed to one amazing 'off-track' place. The winning photos were exceptional. Click on the gallery below.....

This photo gallery has no pictures.

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