Cope Hut by Richard White
Australia may be deficient in towering mountain ranges, but the small peaks that we do have are not without their charms. What we are fond of calling the high country has attracted its fair share of photographers over the years.
The Melbourne Camera Club has acquired some beautiful photographs taken in the Victorian alps to add to its permanent collection, and they are on display at the club from today. (Melbourne Camera Club, corner of Ferrars and Dorcas streets, South Melbourne).
The photographs are the work of Richard White and David Oldfield.
Richard lives at Mansfield. Each year he publishes a calendar of his photographs, and throughout the year he runs “The Art of Photography Photographic Workshops”, taking participants into his studio, darkroom and on excursion into the hills and as far afield as New Zealand and Nepal. (www.richardwhite.com.au)
His artistic philosophy is: “… I am drawn to the beauty and the unusual in nature. When possible I try to convey my vision about what I see. In some ways it becomes a visual communication. I am endeavouring to express my feelings about the landscape and with some luck it may elicit an emotional response from the viewer”.
Richard is of the view that the ubiquitous digital camera has changed us from people who see things into people who snap things. His approach to photography is old-fashioned and slow. He lugs his 4X5 inch view camera into the hills, carefully composes his shot, makes one exposure and then returns to the darkroom to create the print. Those of us who rely on auto focus, auto exposure and seven bracketed shots should probably hang our heads in shame. A careful photo on film of a stand of snow gums in the mist has a luminous quality that marks it as different.
The other photographer whose work is on display at the club is David Oldfield.
In 1992 David set himself the task of making a photographic record of the high country huts. These rough shelters had been built over decades by miners and cattlemen for short time refuge when they were working in the mountains. In 1991 Fitzgerald’s hut was destroyed by fire and, realising the vulnerability of the huts, David set out to record exteriors and interiors with his Hasselblad. When one of the most famous huts was destroyed in the 2003 fires it was rebuilt using his photos as a reference. He became the inaugural secretary of the Victorian High Country Huts Association.
David and Richard are none too pleased that the rebuilt hut has been disneyfied for the tourists. They reckon a cattleman’s hut with a car park lacks a certain authenticity.