The Red Centre – Outback, Northern Territory, Australia
At the end of last month I flew to Alice Springs and explored the surroundings of Central Australia over an extended weekend. It was an unbelievable trip and the experience of almost pure Outback was so unfamiliar/unique to me that I found it was amazing how Australia offers such a dynamic range of landscapes and culture from cities to the vast outback. I documented my trip visually as you’ll see as you scroll down – although some of these images are very revealing of Central Australia it is still nothing compared to being there, however with the use of panoramic photographs I hope it offers a better representation of the broad spacious lands that I experienced.
The Red Centre - Northern Territory, Australia
As you might have seen over the past few weeks I have been posting my Shot of the Day’s of my trip and commenting on the photographs. Those are probably the best photographs I took and I thought I’d share them again here as the main attraction! Click on the photographs to find out more:
Kings Canyon cliff walls stand tall some 300m and late in the day is beautifully illuminated by the sun creating a golden warm colour. This is a panorama of nine photographs taken hand-held from the main lookout in the riverbed, I touched up the shadows with Photoshop to reveal more detail.
Kings Canyon Rim (Click to view larger)
Kings Canyon was beautiful – I made it there at around sunset, greeted by the 270m sandstone chasms – brilliantly lit up by the dropping sun, which produced a golden fringe around the canyon forest. Heading back from the main lookout I side tracked into the river bed a little and this pool of water was perfectly placed for me to capture the reflections and canyon walls! I had to do a free-hand panorama to include both the reflections and orange sandstone, I later stitched the nineteen photographs together in Photoshop, creating this vertical panorama!
Sunset Reflections - Kings Canyon
Stick Insect out for his morning walk – along the board walk near my lodge at Kings Canyon Resort. Using my long lens I had a very shallow depth of field, which made the eyes really stand out in this photograph! I did some lomography on this photo in Photoshop.
Stick Insect on a morning walk
Early mornings in the Outback are cold, so cold that there is frost on the desert bushes (due to openness of the desert the heat from day escapes freely as the sun sets). Using a higher ISO I made the sunlight blow out the background and highlight this photograph creating whiter whites and drawing more attention to the foreground focal point – Grass shoot with frosty dew!
Grass Seeds Morning Dew
I attempted a ‘HDR’ like image in Photoshop’s Camera Raw and it turned out to be very handy in manipulating my photograph into a better quality image than I would have produced if I used Photomatix (in my opinion)! If you look closely at the screenshots of my before and after the level of noise is very minimal in the shadows in particular and I would have a massive amount of noise after processing a raw in Photomatix!
Looking up at the enormous Rock is something you have to experience first-hand, before I visited Uluru I thought it was a reasonable large rock in the middle of Australia and I’d have no problem jogging up the side. I was completely wrong! Uluru is truly a massive rock emerging from the ground 348m high – only a third of its entire bulk! This is a panorama of three photographs stitched in Photoshop and I was using my polariser, which is such a necessity when photographing out in the Red Centre as it eliminates the glare and saturates the blues.
At the base of Uluru before the climb!
Another photo from the top of Ayers Rock/Uluru showing the deep holes eroded over time due to wind and rain. It is a panorama of only three photographs stitched together, and I managed to get Kata Tjuta in the distance.
On Uluru looking out at Kata Tjuta
The climb to the top of Uluru is well worth the effort – the panoramic view is amazing and the thought that your in the middle of Australia! This photograph is a panorama stitch of fifteen photos, and as you can see a polariser has made the colours very rich, however the dark spots in the sky are a result of the maximum polarisation being 90º Degrees to the sun.
On top of the largest Rock on the Planet - Uluru, Australia! (Click to view larger)
I woke up fairly early (6:30 am) and went down to the Olgas viewing area to catch the sunrise. There were quite a few photographers there already, with their tripods setup in prime position (you have to get up pretty early to get the special corner edge of the platform ), so I had to race around them with my camera capturing the different angles as the light changed over the Olgas and Uluru. In this photograph you can see the small silhouette of Uluru on the horizon (right), and the rising sun as the light spreads out across the frosty desert.
Sunrise over the Red Centre
Uluru is the largest rock in the world and it is always interesting to compare the size – I don’t think I gave a fair representation of the size in this photograph, however the 2-3cm rock in the foreground is 2.1km from Uluru!
Uluru is one of the most photographed and visited attractions in Australia, so you’ve probably seen this type of photograph alot!
Kata Tjuta/The Olgas
The Olgas – Kata Tjuta is geologically spectacular, with Uluru/Ayers Rock and The Olgas just a few Kilometres apart rising out of the Earth, amidst nothing but flat desert. The Olgas have been formed over millions of years from wind and rain erosion and once was similar to Uluru’s form. This photograph is a panorama made up of seven portrait orientated photos stitched, and I had my Polariser on to remove the glare – producing better tones and colour. No post-processing done!
The Olgas - Kata Tjuta
Kata Tjuta is an amazing formation of rocks consisting of several large sandstone domes. This a panoramic view of the main domes stitched in Photoshop made up of six photographs, and taken minutes after sunrise so the lighting was good.
The Olgas, Kata Tjuta - Northern Territory, Australia
This is one of my favourite panoramas of the trip, because it includes everything about the desert outback of Australia. I woke up early to make it to the Olgas lookout, unfortunately not as early as the campers that had taken the prime position on the corner, but I managed to get this wide angle panorama of The Olgas/Kata Tjuta to the left and Ayers Rock/Uluru very faint on the horizon to the right of the Sun. I uncovered some of the detail in the shadows with Camera Raw Photoshop and stitched the fifteen photographs in jpeg format – my computer couldn’t handle the huge raw files of 206mb!
Kata Tjuta and Uluru Sunrise
Alice Springs lies very close to the centre of a Australia far from any major cities. It was originally only known for the small Telegraph Station used to relay messages across the Red Centre. The town is layed-out in almost perfect symmetry with ‘The Gap’, a natural break in the MacDonald Ranges. This panoramic view of Alice Springs was taken from on top of Anzac Hill and hand held (360° Degrees). I used a Circular Polariser and as you can see it is best when 90°Degrees to the Sun (Dark Blue region in the sky) !
Alice Springs, Northern Territory - Three Sixty Panorama (Click to view larger)
Northern Territory is ‘Outback Australia’ – as their number plates say The Northern Territory Flag consists of the Southern Cross, the Sturt’s Desert Rose and the red/orange colour of the Land (Ochre). This photograph was taken at Anzac Hill in Alice Springs looking directly up at the flagpole and with the use of my polariser I made the sky almost black – contrasting the colours of the flag. I made some small adjustments with the techniques used in my tutorial: http://www.scottphotographics.com/how-to-make-a-photograph-lomographic-in-gimp!
The Northern Territory Flag - Anzac Hill, Alice Springs
Alice Springs was named after the waterhole ‘Alice Spring’ that was named after the wife of Sir Charles Todd (the Postmaster – as the town was originally a Telegraph Station). This photograph is a stitched panorama of two images – my polariser was able emphasise the reflections on the waters surface and create a more vibrant look to the overall photo.
Alice Spring - Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia
On the Road
This long exposure is of a Road Train travelling along the Stuart Highway not far out from Alice Springs. I was standing just off to the side of the road with my camera and tripod when this massive (only) 2 trailer Road Train came howling past. The red and orange LED lights made excellent light streams, but unfortunately my camera’s sensor was too hot to expose long enough to capture the stars (so clear in the Outback)!
Road Train Lights - Outback Australia
A Road Train parked outside a petrol station in the middle of ‘nowhere’ or as the locals like to put it ‘the middle of everywhere‘! The Northern Territory, South Australia and simply the Outback is famous for the three trailer long trucks that cruse along the highways at speeds of up to 130 km/h carrying fresh goods from town to town. The best thing about this roadside station was the five dollar ‘Pig Dog Rolls’ a light, greasy, nutritious snack filled with a sausage wrapped in a slice of bacon and a crispy pastry to hold it all together!
Road Train at an Outback Roadside Station - Northern Territory, Australia
Out on the Stuart Highway you rarely see wildlife during the day, but occasionally there is road kill which has occurred after dusk as the fauna becomes more active. Unfortunately I came across a poor Roo (Kangaroo) and two Wedge-Tail Eagles that were scavenging over the remains, I was pretty lucky to get this close to one of them (the other flew away) with my 200mm Lens I managed to capture the largest bird of prey of Australia!
Wedge Tail Eagle - Outback, Northern Territory, Australia
Ripples in sand and dunes formed by strong winds is the very first thing I associate with the Desert! There isn’t alot of dunes around the Alice Springs and surrounding regions, however you do see a few small patches on the highways between Uluru and Alice Springs. This is one of those, I used my polariser here (I did nearly everywhere) especially to cancel the glare out and allow the true red/orange colours to be captured, while darkening the blue sky. Not quite the same as the old Windows XP background, but the result I wanted !
Sand Dune - Outback, Northern Territory
Dingoes are famous in the Outback, not just for the accusations that have been made in the past, but as I found out at night when they sometimes congregate together and howl! This was taken near the Uluru Cultural Centre and where he was just wandering around, maybe scavenging for scraps and wasn’t looking to harm anyone passing by just a couple metres away – nothing made out from stories or movies!
My Red Centre Video
Here is a video of all my 1,750 photographs combined along with a couple of clips from on the plane. I made this in iMovie as you may recognise from all the flashy text effects :P and I’ve sped up each frame to 1/5 of a second so you can view my journey over the short five days in a quick snippet. The music is Holiday by Dizzee Rascal (produced by Calvin Harris) – Hip-Hop style and perfect for the fast flow of photos.
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Michael Scott is the publisher and photographer behind Scott Photographics! He is very passionate about his photography and enjoys sharing the best of his experiences for others to enjoy too! Contact Mike via email!