Rodney Campbell's Blog

The Coal Loader…

by on Sep.29, 2014, under Life, Photography

The Coal Loader on the western side of Waverton peninsula is a location where many paths of history intersect.

It was first a place of physical and spiritual sustenance for Aboriginal Australians. The Cammeraygal people lived on the peninsula for thousands of years.

The Coal Loader, itself, is a former industrial site that operated from the early 1920s to the early 1990s. It functioned primarily as a transfer depot for coal from bulk carriers to smaller coal-fired vessels.

I’d heard about this location before and since I was in the area shooting sunset I figured I’d drop by in the dark and do a little reconnaissance.

Up top an elevated platform structure housed a large coal stockpile. Beneath the platform are a series of tunnels, each with a number of chutes through which the coal was transferred into coal ‘skips’. The skips operated on a cable-hauled railway system that ran as a continuous loop through the two western-most tunnels and then out onto the finger wharf in Balls Head Bay, where they loaded waiting steamers. This loading system was replaced by a high speed conveyor in the mid 1970s which then serviced ships carrying export coal until 1992.

The site operated for over 70 years before being decommissioned. It was dedicated as public open space in 1997 and formally transferred to North Sydney Council in 2003.

The Coal Loader has now been transformed into the Coal Loader Centre for Sustainability and was officially opened in July 2011.

I wasn’t expecting to find one of the tunnels lit at night so it was out with the tripod and gear for some shots in this fabulous long stone carved tunnel.

I was hoping for a location where we might try some light painting at night – it’s probably too well lit for most light painting but I reckon some steel wool might be viable – will have to head back one night…

After checking out the tunnel there was a reasonable amount of water on the ground at the southern (further from the entrance) end so I got down low on the tripod for some nice reflections.

This was also my first time using my new (extremely inexpensive) Kood slot in graduated neutral density filter. The one I have is a 3 stop soft grad (because I didn’t have any soft grads) and it was only $38 delivered from Cooked Imaging in the UK. I’ll do a full review of the filter at a later stage.

What Lies Below

What Lies Below - The Coal Loader

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 16 mm, 35.00 sec at f/10, ISO 400

and this is the view from the northern entrance – I particularly like those whisps of soft green ferns growing in the cracks on the right and left.

Coal Loaded

Coal Loaded

NIKON D600 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 35 mm, 31.00 sec at f/11, ISO 400

With a native exposure of around 30 seconds @ f/11 and ISO 400 we should be able to easily do a minute at f/8 and ISO 100 which should be fine for some brighter light painting – like steel wool or maybe an orb.

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