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Uluru In View Photography Weekend: Day 2, Manta & Mayu (Country & Taste)

Uluru In View Photography Weekend: Day 2, Manta & Mayu (Country & Taste)

Day two of the inaugural Uluru in View Photography Weekend at the spiritual heart of Australia.

Uluru In View Photography Weekend: Day 2, Manta & Mayu (Country & Taste)

October 10 – 12, MiNDFOOD co-hosted a fabulous photography weekend at Uluru with Voyages Ayers Rock Resort. Four of the country’s top photographers were on hand, hosting workshops and sunrise/sunset sessions, and chef Mark Olive prepared meals using native ingredients. More than 20 people signed up for the fabulous event, including Claire Choquet, our official blogger for the three days. Here, her report on Day 2.

Photography is not for the lazy. Alarms went off before 5am so we could get out to the Kata-Tjuta viewing platform ahead of the sunrise, and get tips from the photographers as we tried to capture the landscape in the golden light. From this viewpoint, we could see the sun rise behind Uluru, silhouetting the monolith against the colourful rainbow sky of dawn. As the sun crawled higher, the light came through to pick out Kata-Tjuta’s domes in bold relief, revealing the texture of the stone and land. The challenge was not finding something to shoot, but deciding where to point the lens.

I’m shooting with a Canon EOS 6D, and I have so much more to learn to make the best of it. And as the rising light reveals new texture on Kata-Tjuta, Wayne Sorensen gave me some really great hand’s-on advice, showing me how to zoom in on the live view screen and focus manually to make sure the focal point is neat. Thanks to this tip, I’ll never take a landscape photo without using this feature again.

With the sun climbing into the sky, golden hour was over so we all packed up our gear and jumped on the bus. Our driver Rees took us back towards Uluru, and thanks to his knowledge of the roads we were able to stop and shoot at another vantage point away from the crowds. We circled the rock, which revealed a new facet at every turn as the sunlight painted varying shades of red onto its ridges and threw dark shadows into the recesses. Rees shared with us some Tjukurpa stories which have been told by the Anangu to explain the creation of some of the features on the rock. According to custom, these stories should only be told in situ while viewing the features in context, and that for the same reason it’s not permitted to take photos of those areas, since the image would no longer have the context of the surrounding land. We stopped at the foot of the rock, at the base of the ‘scar of Uluru’. We strolled along the base walk, all of us taking the chance to appreciate the grandeur, the texture, and the spirituality of this unique place. It is easy to understand why Uluru is heritage-listed for both its natural and cultural values.

With the temperature rising, we sheltered indoors in the resort conference centre for photographic workshops prepared by each of our four experts. Grenville Turner gave good advice on image composition, with the key message that your shot should be “about the subject, not just of the subject” as well as practical tips on image processing. Wayne Quilliam, who could break ice in an Antarctic winter, taught us to connect with the people you’re shooting to create beautiful portraits, and to play with the light to tell a story. Sally Brownbill took us through some stunning portfolios to give us ideas about how to present our own images to get that wow factor. Wayne Sorensen who has a real passion for landscapes showed us how to stitch several shots to create panoramic images.

The afternoon offered another unique experience: chef Mark Olive (“the Black Olive”) presenting a masterclass on native foods and herbs, challenging us and our palates to identify their different flavours, and giving advice on how to incorporate them in recipes. The Native Thyme, with it’s eucalyptus tones up front and hint of lavender was a real discovery, and I’m already planning to grow a pot back home. After his bags and equipment went missing in transit, Mark showed the patience of a saint when technical difficulties meant he couldn’t complete his cooking demonstration, and instead offered to act as model for all of us while we tried to capture an image for the theme “Taste”. Moved about like a mannequin, handed props and asked to look into a dozen cameras at once, his smile never wavered. Meanwhile the experts had turned assistants, holding up makeshift reflectors or a scrim to help us get the right light.

Eventually we left Mark in peace, because we didn’t want to miss our last chance to capture Uluru in the sunset light. Rees took us out to another lesser known lookout near the resort, then Wayne Q suggested that we should head to the base again to get a different view and to avoid the crowds at the usual sunset spot. Michael and the Voyages team took the change of plans in stride and we were soon strolling along the base walk, seeing the rock’s magnificent oranges and reds in the evening light up close, contrasted against a cloudless blue sky, or the shadows of the trees. It offers one last chance to capture and connect with the beauty and spirit of the place. Even with the detour, we were able to make it back to the viewing spot and enjoy a glass of sparkling while watching Uluru’s colours change from afar as the last rays of light disappeared.

uluru sunrise Uluru up close Chef Mark Olive Native ingredients Alfresco dining at Sails

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