There is a straight stretch along Picaninny Creek, between the domed hills near the turn to Cathedral Gorge, where the baking sun lays bare patterns of deep runnels along the dusty creek bed. As you walk along the creek, treading as it were the exposed ribs of the earth, you might look down into the intimate shadows between the gnarly old bones. In the cool air before sunrise gentle breezes of sometimes warm and sometimes cool air flow out of the deep gorges and between the hills; the slow breathing of an ancient land before it wakes.
Here and there amongst the hollows and dips, and in the half-shadow of the rounded worry holes, lie pockets of water worn stones and polished pebbles. On the bends of the creek piles of sand and rocks are banked up along the base of the banded red and black beehive hills that are so characteristic of the Bungle Bungle Range in Purnululu National Park. This is a landscape of extremes. While it is very dry now, a torrent of water can sweep through here on its way to the Ord River which flows north to the Argyle Dam.
I am here of course for the pre-dawn light, rising at 4am and driving the twenty odd kilometres from camp, then walking a kilometre in the dark with my camera backpack and tripod. I reach the spot I have chosen in good time just as the first faint glow of dawn shows in the eastern sky. By the time a blush of colour shows in the eastern sky and on the hills, I have set up and tested the light with a first run through on the panorama I am keen to capture.
Now it’s a question of waiting for the reflected red glow on the rocks to appear when the full colour shows in the eastern sky, about forty five minutes before sunrise. For about an hour I am busy taking all the shots I can along this short stretch of the creek. The other spots I have picked out in this area will have to wait for another early morning visit.
By the time the sun has been up for half an hour the best of the light has been and gone. The rich colour in the rocks is fading and the sky is already bright with the sun casting stark shadows across the landscape.
Later that day I process several shots from the morning shoot and I’m very happy with the results and what I learnt about taking and processing panoramas. My new tripod certainly helped. Now I’m keen to do a lot more.