Leica X1: Pure magic on a winter road trip up the NSW coast
Three weeks after returning from my American road trip I was on the road again — this time on a more modest local journey. I drove north up the Pacific Highway from my home in Terrigal, NSW, to visit a friend who lives in a rather isolated little settlement which has the delightful name of Blueys Beach, about 295km north of Sydney.
The drive up the Pacific Highway was unpleasant, with very heavy rain squalls and after two hours I was pleased to get away from the caravans heading north to the tropics and the trucks and head off onto the Lakes Way, a winding and, in some parts, narrow road which passes through the very scenic Myall Lakes National Park. In summer the road is busy with tourist vehicles — caravans, RVs and SUVs laden with camping gear — but now it is winter and the road was eerily deserted. Mine was the only vehicle on the road for long stretches.
I always take a camera with me when I travel up to Blueys Beach. I usually just put my Leica X1 into my overnight bag as it can handle all the photographic situations I am likely to encounter on the journey.
The sad fact is that although I have driven the Lakes Way many times in winter and summer and, despite the fact that it is very scenic and there are what many would describe a "nice" pictures to be taken, I very rarely see anything I personally want to photograph. Invariably the light is not right because I am not driving the road in the in the early morning or late afternoon. One photograph I have taken a few times with unsatisfactory results is a small farm nestled on the edge of the national park at the foot of the Mayers Ranges. In my mind's eye this is an interesting photo but I always end up deleting my efforts. Landscape photography is not my forte.
On this trip on the Lakes Way I was well past the farm and I was driving through the tiny settlement of Tarbuck Bay on the shore of Smiths Lake when I spotted the rainbow scene at the top of the article. Now this scene —without the rainbow — is a constant and I usually drive past without a second glance. But this time I had the ultimate cliche photo — pure chocolate box schmalz. Surely a certain winner in the next "Seniors" magazine photo competition?
I pulled across the road, grabbed the X1 from my overnight bag, checked the controls — most important with the X1 as they have a tendency to rearrange themselves whilst they are out of sight — and ran to the lake shore. I could not believe my luck when I saw a heron on the boat and a shaft of sunlight broke through and lit the boat. I took a couple of photos and realised that I had nailed it. Of course if I had my Q or the XV with me then I would have had a 28 mm lens and I would have had the left hand end of the rainbow but then I would have had too much foreground so perhaps 35mm-equivalent was right.
On the way back home a day later I passed my elusively photogenic farm just after a heavy shower had passed over. This time after about a dozen previous efforts I am happy with the result. It's all about the light and luck. Pure luck.