The Shipwreck Coast in Autumn

at the beach

Autumn is my favourite season for photography.  The top three most important factors for outdoor photography, weather, colour and light, are what autumn does best.

The weather is pretty spot on, not too hot, not too cold.  With the bite gone from the hot summer sun and the mornings suddenly cold and foggy, when the sun does come out, you want to be out in it.  When it comes to colours, autumn is the cliché, with the classic reds, oranges and yellows contrasting beautifully against the grass that has just turned green again after a long, brown Aussie summer.  And then there is the light.

Photography is all about light.  It took me properly getting into shooting 35mm film to really realize and appreciate this.  Film loves light and if the light ain’t there the shot probably isn’t worth taking.  Digital cameras on the other hand are so good (almost too good), that you can become lazy, shoot in any lighting conditions and fix the light later.  But if the light isn’t interesting to begin with, the shot will never be magic.  Taking that principal from shooting film back to digital can really make your hit rate of “magic” shots jump right up, and your processing time way down.

The light in autumn is something else.  The sun isn’t as high or intense as in summer so the gorgeous autumn colours are brighter and warmer.  The shadows are also longer and more interesting.  And the golden hours of dawn and dusk are later in the morning and earlier in the evening.  Add all these elements together, plus a visit from the in-laws from England and we have a fantastic opportunity for an excited photographer to take his family on an autumnal holiday.


The scene was set, the weather was mid-to-high twenties, the tickets were booked and spirits were high.  But then the inevitable happened.  The very weekend the in-laws arrived in Australia craving a break from the famous English climate to the famous Australian one, temperatures suddenly plummeted and the rain fell.  And fell and fell.  Undeterred we replaced our shorts with pants and our thongs with gumboots and headed off for the world renowned and incredibly stunning Great Ocean Road.

My plan had been to shoot film exclusively for this trip but when the days leading up to D-Day were overcast and grey, the pragmatist in me changed to digital fearing the light would not be in my favour.  I could not have been more wrong.  Yes there was rain, yes there was driving wind, and yes the sea was angry at the rocks that it beat mercilessly against time and time again.  But the wind meant that the clouds and rain would blow over quickly and then the low sun would show its face bringing with it warm colours, long shadows and rainbows.  Oh so many rainbows!  That, mixed with the drama of the sea and sky gave an absolutely awesome display of God’s beautiful creation. But not only that, God’s humbling power. The town we stayed in, Port Campbell, is part of what is known as the shipwreck coast and in these conditions it was extremely obvious why.  In the face of such power, I felt quite vulnerable and small.  But what exciting scenes to capture on camera and that for me, it what it’s all about.

“It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens.”  Jeremiah 10:12



All shots taken on a Nikon D750 with a Zeiss 50 1.4 Planar and Zeiss 25 2.8 Distagon.