Desert rains may be brief, but the aftermath can be massive as vegetation blooms and rapid growth occurs as a result of evolutionary adaptations for survival in the harsh desert conditions. Following a large rain event in Alice Springs, I decided to head down to the area looking to capture something unusual.
A favourite road of mine to travel is the Old South Road running from Alice Springs to Aputula (Finke Community) following the Old Ghan Railway route and the famous Finke Desert Race.
After spending a few days travelling south with not much luck I came across a flooded claypan at the Rumbalara Siding on the Old Ghan Railway. Deciding it was worth a few days I set up camp near the claypan, to see what would eventuate. With good cloud cover, I chased Crimson Chats during the day and magical desert light in the mornings and evenings, but neither subject were producing the right image.
What is a claypan?
A Claypan is a dense, compact, slowly permeable layer in the subsoil having a much higher clay content than the overlying material, from which it is separated by a sharply defined boundary. Claypans are usually hard when dry, and plastic and sticky when wet. Of course, the claypans host quite a variety of life-forms. Some are permanent, Like particular types of birdlife. Others, like crustaceans, appear mostly after rain.
I walked every morning and evening, doing my standard find it learn it shoot it. I had to understand what the light did as the sun rose and set and the effect across the body of water.
During one of my afternoon walks, the early sunset began to look interesting, and my days of research were about to pay off. Then there was an explosion of spectacular colour and it became a case of “Where do I point the camera?” With such a wide field of view, I was spoilt for choice and began to work purely on instinct and the knowledge I had gained over the past few days.
It was definitely one of the most impressive sunsets I have ever witnessed. To be the only one to have seen it, due to the remoteness of the shoot, is truly a great memory.
Paul's Sunset Photography Tip
Sunsets are typically unreliable as to just exactly what they are going to produce and quite often fade away into nothing much at all. Plan for the best but know your subject and plan for alternative shots should the spectacular sunset not eventuate or in the the case of Rumbalara Gold - colour was everywhere and instinct took over for getting the best image.