Rodney Campbell's Blog

The Spa Pool…

by on Mar.07, 2016, under Life, Photography

If there was one image that sums up the amazing experience at Hamersley Gorge or even the whole of Karijini it would be those iconic images of the heart shaped Spa Pool here in Hamersley Gorge. The Spa Pool is actually a very small rock pool (about the size of a car).

The Spa Pool

The Spa Pool

NIKON D750 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 35 mm, 6 sec at f/16, ISO 100

Many visitors to Karijini skip Hamersley Gorge because you have to drive so far outside the park to get here. I do understand – it’s a 90 minute drive on rough dirt roads from the main cluster of gorges centred around the Weano Recreation area and the Karijini ECO Retreat.

The pool looks inviting, and my daughter and I had planned to take a swim here (we’d brought towel and swimmers and all). It was still quite a hot day (even at 4:30PM) out but the water is freezing and the lip edge was very slippery so we just rested our legs in the water for a moment rather than taking the full plunge.

This little pool has been shot to death but you don’t travel this far without taking some images so here are my takes on Hamersley’s famous Spa Pool.

The shot leading this post is actually my last image close up to the pool and my favourite. It’s an exposure blend of three frames at -1, 0 and +1EV taken at 4:50PM (sunset would be in a little under an hour). It took me a while to get the composition right to highlight that famous heart shape to the pool.

There’s actually not a lot of working room at the Spa Pool. The pool itself is a lot smaller than I was expecting and it is way more exposed to the open sky than I’d anticipated seeing various images online. I was very fortunate to be the only photographer here this afternoon and my daughter and I were the only ones to venture up the gorge to this spot.

Even working with very wide lenses (I was using the Nikon 16-35) it’s hard to get all of the pool in when standing right near the lip of the pool. Plus you can only move back about a metre before falling into the large pool of water behind you.

When I first arrived here with my daughter I tried setting up right at the inside lip of the pool to shoot into the cavern. Even at it’s widest I couldn’t really fit the whole pool successfully in a single shot.

As I’d never actually done a multi row panorama before, this was my first ever attempt. I didn’t own or have a multi row pano kit at the time but I figured I’d give it a shot (all puns intended… or not). So I took nine (9) horizontal frames in a 3×3 grid – manually by hand adjusting my camera on the ball head – hoping all the sections would somewhat line up and overlap properly. It’s certainly not ideal – especially with so much rock so close to the camera lens (parallax anyone) but I had to give it a try.

An additional issue I was contending with was the glare and reflections on the water and rocks. Using a polariser was a must to try and cut these down at shooting time but when shooting a panorama with a very wide lens the angle of polarisation as I adjusted the different frames was huge. In the end for some of the frames I had to shoot two shots – one with the polariser adjusted to remove the glare from one part of the image (e.g. the water) and another to optimise other parts of the frame (e.g. the rocks). I then blended the best parts of each frame in post before merging all the frames to a panorama.

Hamersley Spa

Hamersley Spa

NIKON D750 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 20 mm, 3 sec at f/16, ISO 100 x 9 Frames

The result this very wide view – a three row stitched panorama of nine frames in a 3×3 grid

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.

Below is about the best I could do from this sort of distance from just behind the opening of the pool – using a single vertical frame. The image which opened this post up top is as you can see taken with the tripod setup about a metre or more further back (just before tumbling into the pool behind). Shooting from this spot you are back from the lip of the pool, but the rocks on the right cover the right side of the pool, however you do then get that well known heart shape this pool is so famous for.

NIKON D750 + 16.0-35.0 mm f/4.0 @ 19 mm, 5 sec at f/16, ISO 100

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