Mt. Amos

My trip to Mt. Amos would have to get my "long time coming" award. I'd been thinking about this shot for years, and began planning it in earnest after returning from my holiday to New Zealand in August/September 2016. I had intended to go with someone as the idea of sleeping alone on the mountain overnight didn't appeal to me, but eventually I decided to just go it alone and packed up my car with the essentials.

The trip was always going to be an overnight affair. I'd read plenty about the ascent of Mt. Amos, and it didn't sound particularly pleasant to do in the dark without having climbed it once or twice in the light. In hindsight, I definitely made the right call. Assuming I didn't fall and die on the way up, it would have taken twice the time it took in the light, just because I would have second guessed the path I was taking every fifty meters

If you haven't done the walk before, the Mt. Amos track is marked by metal waypoints and ribbons, and has multiple seconds of bare rock and steep climbs through sharp crevices. The climb is basically all up hill, and takes roughly 1.5 hours each way as the descent can be just as tricky - particularly with a full pack of camera gear.

So thankfully I made the right call to summit the mountain late in the day to shoot the sunset, take some astrophotography shots overnight, and rise early to shoot the sunrise. Unfortunately my luck ran out pretty quickly, as the cloud and fog rolled in, and my sunset was wiped out. I'll include a shot here just so you can share in my disappointment.

Supreme sadness.

Supreme sadness.

At this point I hadn't committed to climbing that rock in the foreground, and was pretty tired and disappointed by the fog. In hindsight I should have applied myself and tried to get some cool foggy shots with myself in the foreground, but the fog was rolling in so quickly that I probably wouldn't have gotten anything anyway!

After the sunset passed without being visible, I settled in for a snooze. I found a soft bit of ground out of the considerable wind, and using my bag as a pillow, snuggled up in my sleeping bag. It was still quite warm this time of year so it was a really comfortable sleep, apart from the howling wind that set my nerve on edge a little. Every now and then throughout the night, the skies would clear and I was able to grin up at the curtain of stars that appeared for 20 or 30 seconds. 

I hopped up during a clear patch at night to attempt some astrophotography, but conditions weren't great and sadly I didn't come away with any usable shots. Had I risen an hour earlier than I did, I might have had enough light and leftover stars to get something interesting, but sadly this didn't eventuate either!

The sunrise itself was actually pretty uninspiring as well. There was heaps of cloud, but in varying formations that just didn't seem to gel properly. It seemed like it was going to be such a stunning blue hour + early sunset, but I didn't come away with any decent shots of that either!

Thankfully, the golden hour more than made up for all the failures up until this point. When I think about it, it does make a lot of sense. Wineglass Bay is famed for its pure blue waters, and I was never going to get a decent shot of that before the sun rose above the horizon. 

During the blue hour + early sunrise, I'd contemplated scaling the large rock in the middle-ground of the shots I was taking. I had been inspired to make this trip because of shots I'd seen by Australian photographer Daniel Tran, and was keen to put myself in my shot for scale as he had done.

I had assumed the rock would be easy to hop onto, but it turned out to be more of a mini-rock climb - something I'm not super comfortable with. I checked the rock out twice before deciding I'd kick myself if I was too scared to climb up, and made the ascent. With my camera set up and shooting a photo every 10 seconds, I struck all the poses I could think of and spent some time chilling out enjoying the view. I'm a little embarrassed to say that it took me some 5+ minutes to figure out how to get down (I considered jumping many times but ended up awkwardly climbing backwards the way I came up) but eventually I made it and after a little more shooting, decided to make the descent while I still had some energy. 

As I already mentioned, the descent was just as hard as the climb, and my knees and jeans paid the price of my heavy camera gear. I could barely hobble to my car at the end after the stress I'd put on my knees, and had two big holes showing through to my undies, from sliding down most of the way. After a quick trip to Tombolo Coffee in Freycinet, hit the road and ticked off one of my must shoot locations.

1/80sec @ f11 | ISO400 - Canon 6D + 17-40mm

1/80sec @ f11 | ISO400 - Canon 6D + 17-40mm

Phil KittComment