The Photograph Explained: Lake Menindee

I was recently asked to write an article for 'The Photograph Explained' series, published on the Large Format Photography Australia site. I chose a photograph from my series 'The Line of Lode', made on the shores of Lake Menindee, in western New South Wales.  

Lake Menindee, 2014. Geoffrey A Roberts

The Photograph Explained

In September 2014 I left on a road trip to Broken Hill and its surrounding area in western New South Wales. I had wanted to visit the Australian outback for many years; this was my first journey beyond Dubbo. We packed up the car for a quick five day trip of sun up until heat stroke photography, and after a little snooze, continuing photographing on into the evening. I experienced part of Australia very different to my life in Sydney, a community a little less influenced by the rest of the world and the trends of metro areas.

This image was made on the shores of Lake Menindee, about 100km south east of Broken Hill. It’s a popular destination and there are many manipulated images on the net with unrealistic colours and mirrored reflections. My approach to photography is simple, to photograph a place exactly as I find it, and to reproduce it in a detailed and realistic way. 

Bulldozer tracks marked the sand and many trees had been reduced to a pile of sticks. This is what I found, and so this is what I photographed. Human intervention in the environment appears in almost all my photographs, my photographs are built on elements that would often be cropped out to present an untouched landscape. 

While my subjects are often not beautiful, and perhaps not even particularly interesting to the casual observer, I aim to find form in the scene, and through that, create a meaningful and beautiful image. I design my images upon the geometric elements, emphasising the footprint of society. 

I used my standard set up to make this photograph, and I rarely use anything else – an Arca Swiss F Metric 4 x 5 camera with 110mm Schneider Super Symmar XL. The Arca is a light weight and reasonably compact monorail camera, it offers the precision of a geared metal camera, with portability similar to a folding camera. The 110mm lens fits the field of view I like to use, and it probably accounts for 90% of my images made on 4 x 5. I print at the Think Negative dark room Marrickville on Ilford fibre based paper.

I will be exhibiting this image during the Head On photography festival as part of my show ‘The Line of Lode’, at Think Negative in May 2015.

My camera at Lake Menindee