Travelling has provided Lesley Walter with a wealth of material for her photography, and some of her favourite memories have been preserved forever with her stunning landscape shots. See some of Australia’s and the UK’s most beautiful scenery through Lesley’s eyes …
Hi Lesley. Please share some of your life story with us …
Together with my husband, we left Tasmania 15 years ago to travel around Australia in our campervan – but we didn’t get very far. When we arrived in Forster, we couldn’t bear to leave. It has been our home ever since, and I can’t imagine living anywhere else now. I love the natural beauty of the area, the climate, and the friends I have made.
What first sparked your interest in photography?
I have loved taking pictures ever since I realised the magic of the camera at about age nine, when my father gave me a very basic film camera for, I think, my ninth birthday. I still remember the first shot I ever took, which was of some cows in a field in Devon. Of course, it was black and white film in those days (I am giving away my age now!)
I progressed to owning a Canon AE1 (SLR) and took lots of what we call “record” shots, and the camera is a very powerful tool with which to do this. With no tuition or guidance, in addition to the cost of processing film, my photographic skills were not very well developed until the advent of digital, when I like to think my photography improved.
You’ve taken many beautiful photos of landscapes. What do you feel are some of the key elements for capturing fantastic images of our surroundings?
My favourite genre at the moment is landscape photography. We have beautiful coastal and rural scenery on our doorstep, and to make a unique representation in the form of a good image can be a challenge. Good composition, knowing what to focus on in a scene, what to leave in and what to leave out is the framework for a good landscape image.
But it is the light that makes an image special. Those golden hours, around sunrise and sunset, are fundamental to producing a successful landscape image. That is always a challenge – to be in the right place at the right time of day – and often this is not possible … Especially if you’re not an early morning person like me! They say the hardest part about photography is getting out of bed in the morning, second only to recreating reality in a visually appealing or informative way.
You’ve travelled around much of Australia, and also throughout the United Kingdom. What are some of your favourite photos taken during these travels?
When I retired from work last year, I spent a couple of months in the UK. New surroundings are always an inspiration for photographers and I made the most of this trip, spending time in the Scottish Highlands. The dramatic and awe inspiring landscape of the Isle of Skye resulted in a few of my favourite images, and I loved Yorkshire for the beauty of the moors and dales, where there is a photo opportunity around every corner.
But now my aim is continue to travel in Australia, to photograph the beautiful places that I have heard about. I’ve just returned from a three month trip to the Flinders Ranges and the Red Centre. The gorges of the West and East MacDonnell Ranges were among my favourite places ever for landscape photography, and I’m happy with a number of the shots taken in these areas. The colours of the outback, with the deep reds and intense clear blue skies are a dream for photographers.
You’re a member of the Forster Digital Photography Club. How have you found being a member has benefitted your photography?
I joined the Forster Digital Photography Club in 2007, and the encouragement and support of the other members is entirely responsible for the development of my photography skills. Being involved in the club, and also occasionally as a Committee Member, has kept me inspired.
The club provides a friendly environment for people of all skill levels to share ideas and develop skills in photography. Submitting images in the monthly competitions is a great learning tool, as the external judges provide feedback on each photograph, and these critiques have enabled me to learn, improve my photography and editing skills and progress through the Grades. The social aspect of the club is also a benefit, and I have made some very good friends.
Tell us about some of the competitions you’ve won for your photography …
I’ve been competing regularly in the Forster Digital Photography Club’s monthly competitions, with some success. In 2009 I was the B Grade Champion and Photographer of the Year, also winning Image of the Year. I was A Grade Champion in 2012 and 2013, and last year my image “The Sweeper” was voted Image of the Year.
Way back in 2007 I was runner up in the Australia Day Council’s Photographic Competition, which was sponsored by Microsoft, and I was lucky enough to win a fabulous computer system.
What are some other subjects that inspire you?
I have most recently concentrated on trying to improve my landscape work and editing skills. However, when the opportunity arises I like to take candid shots of people, and “Street Photography” is a genre I admire and would love to be able to do well.
I have recently purchased one of the new mirrorless compact system cameras (Fuji XT1), which will be great for this style of photography, as it is more discreet and less obvious than my larger Canon SLR.
I do take family portraits, but do not regard these as competition images. I also like to experiment with long exposures.
Where are some places you’d like to travel to in future with your camera?
I will continue to travel Australia in my campervan and am looking forward to crossing the Nullarbor to Western Australia and heading up to The Kimberley. The images taken by some of the professional landscape photographers I admire will continue to inspire me to visit these unique places, and I will attempt to interpret the scenery in my own way.
The Forster Digital Photography Club has a website (www.forsterdigitalphoto.com) and anyone can view the Public Gallery. There is currently a small display of images at Great Lakes Library in Forster, and the club may hold a larger exhibition at the Library at a future date. More of my images can be viewed at www.flickr.com/photos/lesleywalter