Rodney Campbell's Blog

Bay of Islands…

by on Feb.25, 2016, under Life, Photography

Staying so very close to the western end (Bay of Islands) of the world famous Great Ocean Road I was sorely tempted to try and visit one of the world’s most scenic coastal drives for sunrise or sunset.

I hadn’t been on the Great Ocean Road for perhaps twenty years and the time before that I was a young child.



NIKON D750 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 48 mm, 30 sec at f/11, ISO 100

Note: These photographs (especially the wider shots) look much better when larger – so click any of the images below to see larger versions in an inline overlay slideshow gallery viewer.

I was initially considering the option of driving all the way across to the Twelve Apostles and Gibson Steps for sunrise. However it is a 90 minute drive from Port Fairy and with sunrise before 6:30 and wanting to be on location an hour beforehand after a 20 minute walk down the cliff steps and across the sand I’d need to be getting up at double insane o’clock. I’d then spend the day slowly driving back and finish with sunset at the Bay of Islands before returning home. It would be an insanely long day as well (with astro twilight at 10PM).

I opted instead for the slightly easier option. I’d leave in the early afternoon and start at the westernmost end at the Bay of Islands (a one hour drive) and then work my way eastwards along the Great Ocean Road stopping at various places to shoot until I reached the Twelve Apostles or Gibsons Steps for sunset. Then return home very late when done.

Bay of Islands

Bay of Islands

NIKON D750 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 24 mm, 1/30 sec at f/11, ISO 100 x 4 Frames

So first stop was this Bay of Islands – an amazing spot really and one that most people coming from the Melbourne side probably don’t make it to after a long day.

As I was shooting in the middle of the day I always knew the conditions would definitely not suit the style of photography I like. So I pretty much always knew I’d be shooting daytime long exposures with some heavy ND filters (the Lee Little and Big Stoppers). Even still I was hoping for some good moving clouds in the sky but it looked like today I was going to be out of luck. Still it was the only day I was going to be here so I was going to make the best of it.

Pro Tip: The first image up top was taken from the normal public viewing platform next to the signposted car park for the Bay of Islands. A thirty (30) second exposure using the Lee BigStopper, Lee 0.6 Grad and a CPL. The view from this spot is quite spectacular but unless you’re willing to jump the fence and go risk it all the compositions are somewhat limited and at this time of day (4:30PM) there are lots of people around. I’d recommend instead to drive a few hundred metres west of here where you’ll find another road which leads to a boat ramp (going all the way down the cliff to the water). From the car park here theres a small walk out to another much more private viewing area where it was much easier to jump the fence as it were and get to spots with much easier compositional choices. The four frame stitched panorama above and the image below were both taken from this area.

Shooting with the sun still high in the sky to the west (sunset was at 9PM) I was somewhat limited with my compositional choices. I basically couldn’t face my camera westwards at all without suffering massive contrast issues and intensely washed out areas. So my compositions were generally limited to eastward views and I still had to deal with severe flare issues with the large rectangular and square filters. Holding my hat up high in the air to shade my filters and camera for minutes at a time during the exposures must have looked “interesting”.

Island Stacks

Island Stacks

NIKON D750 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 52 mm, 61 sec at f/11, ISO 100

Driving a couple kilometres east you come to a place called the Bay of Martyrs. This spot provides an ideal location to look along the coastline and all the island stacks which make up the Bay of Islands.

Bay of Martyrs

Bay of Martyrs

NIKON D750 + 24.0-70.0 mm f/2.8 @ 56 mm, 51 sec at f/11, ISO 50

I was looking directly into the sun here so that was painful – lucky I was going for that hazy soft dreamy look ;).

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