Wet and Wild at Uluru
It’s the middle of winter in Australia’s Red Centre. The rain is smashing down in biblical proportions. I’m standing at the foot of Uluru, soaked to the core and shivering cold.
Rewind three days and I was photographing at Uluru under pristine blue skies as part of a photo workshop. After the workshop I was left to my own devices. Then the rain began with a light drizzle. It soon developed into relentless, torrential rain, six times the monthly average in twelve hours.
Most tourists sheltered in their hotels but I made my way out to Uluru. I’d heard about waterfalls forming on Uluru in heavy rain.
Up close, the waterfalls on the rock are simply spectacular. The top of Uluru vanishes into a moving carpet of white clouds and waterfalls cascade everywhere. They appear as though they are falling from the clouds. The place is deserted and I have the run of the rock to myself.
The next four hours is the most challenging but rewarding shoot I have ever undertaken. With torrential rain, howling winds and 15kg of camera gear on my back, it’s near impossible conditions for photography. How the heck am I going to keep everything dry?
To protect the camera from the elements I employ a highly sophisticated set-up of plastic bags and an umbrella to shield the camera. To make things even more difficult, I’m also using an ND filter to slow down the exposure for silky smooth waterfalls. This means I can only get one or two frames before I have to wipe everything clean again.
I must have looked a sight to the few brave tourists I bump into. A strange bedraggled fellow, soaked to the absolute core, squelching around in water filled hiking boots with an untold amount of equipment on his back and sheltering a camera and tripod under shopping bags and umbrella.
But I was a man on a mission. Nothing was going to stop me while the waterfalls flowed. So from one amazing scene to the next I snapped and clicked my way through every memory card I owned. Before long the light was fading fast and the rock surface turned an eerie purplish hue. And just like that, the shoot of my life was over.
The path to get here wasn’t easy. I intend to use my images for selling as art prints, so I had to apply in advance for a photographer’s permit from Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Parks office: there are many sacred sites around Uluru that cannot be photographed for Anangu believe their culture is degraded if such images are taken and shared.
Applying for the permit isn’t difficult, but you need to apply well in advance and be very specific about your intended usage, what you are shooting and what dates you will be there (at a cost of around $20 per day).
After the shoot, each image was assessed and approved by the Parks office. They gave me a free portfolio review saying I had “incredibly rare and beautiful photographs that should be treasured”.
All in all, it was a mammoth effort to achieve this shoot. Would I do it again? Hell yeah. There’s no greater reward than to share such a unique experience through my photographs.
Uluru, Waterfalls in the Clouds opens on Tuesday 13 May at Art Moment Gallery, 99 Curlewis Street, Bondi Beach and runs until Sunday 8 June 2014. Entry to the exhibition is free. All are welcome to attend the exhibition’s Opening Night Wednesday 14 May 6 to 9pm. The event is free, with wine served and guest speaker at 7pm. For more information visit headon.org.au/event/uluru-waterfalls-clouds.
All visitors to the exhibition will have the opportunity to win a $2,500 Uluru Adventure Holiday for two people, courtesy of VOYAGES AYERS ROCK RESORT. Visit waynesorensen.com for more details.