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Behind the image: 'Aberrant'

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‘Aberrant’ is an image I created after the first sunrise of an extremely productive trip to Tasmania in October 2019. Fellow photographer Luke Tscharke and I had hiked into Lion Rock the afternoon before for two nights of camping. The epic location is situated in South Cape Bay, the southernmost point of the Australian continent, with the next landmass directly south being Antarctica. This spot was in fact Plan B after a planned hike into the wilderness of the northwest’s Tarkine (Takanya) region had to be cancelled due to intense inclement weather. With good skies forecasted, and hints at the chance of an aurora – which is a story better suited to another one of my photographs, titled ‘The Hunt’s Reward’ – we hiked in to camp out for the next two nights.


After attempting some wide-angle compositions the next morning, which simply didn’t work due to a lack of sky interest, I went off to investigate some interesting rocks along the beach that had caught my eye on the way in. A section of the beach, about 100 metres long, was covered in these perfectly smooth, black rocks, that made a satisfying knocking noise against each other as the waves periodically rolled over them. It was abstract heaven for me, and I spent the better part of an hour searching out patterns and interactions with rocks, water and seaweed.


One feature of this section of shoreline that fascinated me to no end was the occasional stand out of a pure white stone amongst the black ones. They appeared to be of the same geological make but stark in colour contrast. This one, in particular, caught my eye, as it sat in a subtle structure of the common black rocks that immediately made me try to compose an image of it. I shifted the white rock about two centimetres to centre it ever so slightly and fired off some hand-held frames.


Compositional thoughts: At the time, I regretted not using a polariser to cut the reflections from the black rocks and thus create greater separation. However, after returning to the frame over a year later to process it, I am glad that the reflections were retained, as I believe they add great depth and detail to the darker rocks and give them a greater part to play as a supporting act in the composition. The subtle sphericity of the rock placements is one of my favourite parts about the frame, as are the small salty water droplets as an additional detail to be admired when viewed in large format. I liked the simple yet effective message that the composition sends – dare to deviate from the tropes and adherences that restrict you.


Technical information:

Single hand-held frame

Focal length – 31mm

Aperture – f/9

Shutter speed – 1/50

ISO – 320

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