Without a doubt my favourite landscape location for photography is the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. It wasn’t hard to find - it was at my door step as a young child. The mountains are a very special place for me. Although, having now lived there for two extended periods of my life, I now find myself based in Sydney teaching photography with Len's School. Yet the ‘Bluies’, as the locals call them, keeps luring me back by tugging at my heart strings. Each visit brings new visual delights. I feel a deep spiritual connection to the landscape when I am there. Just by walking in the Blue Mountains landscape brings me inner peace, so we are definitely deeply connected.
As someone who chooses the road less traveled, the Blue Mountains has plenty to discover, with the majority of the 10,000 km2 a designated wilderness area that is only access is by foot. There is a life times worth of exploring to do in this natural wonderland.
My favorite photographic spots are the tumbling creeks and the canyons they run through. The creeks litter the escarpments and cut deep swathes through the plateau forming world renowned slot canyons. Deep in these slots are the most beautiful scenes of pools, running water, waterfalls, green mosses and ferns, and arching water worn sandstone.
I am passionate about the mist. I become very restless if I am not out with my camera on those beautiful days when the Blue Mountains is swallowed in a thick still fog usually caused by low clouds. With the moisture laden air and soft diffused light which saturates the colours, it is in the mist that the wet greenery radiates and the gum trees glow. With thoughtful composition the subjects can just pop off out of the photograph. Clean backgrounds become a breeze to work with and the sense of depth can become a dramatic visual element.
Easily accessible places to start are Leura Cascades and Charles Darwin Walk or for those who are fitter I recommend Valley of the Waters at Wentworth Falls, the Grand Canyon in Blackheath and the glow worm tunnel (the best spot here is on the other side of the tunnel so take a torch to get there). If you are looking for something off the beaten track try the canyons on Newnes Plateau and at Mount Wilson, though these places are only for the experienced qualified bushwalker and canyoneer. Many adventure tour operators in Katoomba run trips to these places.
One of the great things about the Blue Mountains is its year round accessibility. Yes it is very cold and wet out during the winter months but this has been when I have captured my best photographs. The spring wildflowers are stunning, in particular the clumps of waratahs that sprinkle north pointing ridge lines and spurs. In summer the canyons are a good place to be as they are lovely and cool and offer relief from the heat and are best photographed early or late in the day once the direct sunlight is out of them.
This article appeared in Australian Photography January 2013