Location Location Location
Welcome to my first location review, location reviews will give you some info on great spots I find to photograph. It will also cover, how to get there, what there is to photograph and some insights into the images I made.
Lake Cobbler - Mt Cobbler - Mt Speculation
Access from the north is possible in a 2WD, you head south from Whitfield, the road is pretty good with a creek crossing at the end, provided you aren’t driving a sports car you should be right.
You can also access this area from the south but you will need a 4X4 and some of the tracks are rough.
What is there to photograph ?? Mountain Lakes, snow gums, rocky out crops, 360 deg mountain vistas, still life opportunities, flora and fauna !!
When to go I think any time would be good expect the mids of summer, I am planning a trip back there after a big dump of snow, I think Mt Cobbler would be spectacular covered in snow !!
Do I have to hike ?? No !! I opted to hike from Cobbler to Mt Spec and back to the lake, but you could do Mt Cobbler as a day walk (2hrs up 2 hrs down) You can drive to Mt Speculation ( except in the snow season as the road from Cobbler to Spec is closed Queens birthday weekend to Melbourne cup WE ) To do this drive you do need a good 4X4 as the road is VERY rocky and rough, there are about 4 rough sections that will test any driver. Once you are there it is a 1.2km walk up to the top of Mt Speculation.
My trip started friday night where I met a mate of mine Dave at the Whitfield Pub. And I can highly recommend the Beachworth Pale Ale, we got out of there before the temptation got the better of us and drove to the Lake, this is about a one hour drive. We set up our tent in the dark, set the alarm for 5.30am and went to bed dreaming of Beachworth Pale Ale, it honestly is a very nice beer.
It was a cloudy sunrise so no strong colours but there was a foot of mist sitting on the dead calm water, now and then a breeze would push the mist along the lake creating a very surreal feel. I took advantage of this with a long exposure to create this image.
Lake Cobbler - Canon 5Dmk2 - 70-200 f2.8 - f16, 2.5 sec, 100 ISO
The sun did break thru a little latter and I got this image.
Lake Cobbler - Canon 5Dmk2 - 24-105 f4 - f16, 1/8 sec, 200 ISO
After breakfast we had a look around the lake and followed a track to Dandongadale Falls, then got our packs ready, locked the car up and headed up the track to Mt Cobbler. For those of you that have never hiked before a 2 night hike would mean around a 20-22 kg pack, I guess mine was around 25kgs with camera gear, I think each hike I do I take less gear in. For this walk I took one body, 24-105 lens, polariser and tripod... I did wish I had taken the 17-40mm as I could have used it several times.
We had lots of time up our sleeve as the walk up was only 4kms... but it was all up hill. The track is a little overgrown in spots, this area was effected by the fires, there are groves of dead snow gums everywhere, very sad, snow gums are my favourite tree and I have been told they don’t regenerate after fires.
Snow Gum - Canon 5Dmk2 - 24-105 f4 - f8, 1/200 sec, 200 ISO, Polariser
This is one of those groves of dead snow gums, I wanted to create an image that was simple but powerful. I visualised this as a BW when I took it so I used a polariser which would darkened the sky, I wanted the sky to be black to emulate “Black Saturday”. These are very busy scenes so you need to isolate a tree. I took several shots, some verticals of just the tree and different angles. I like this one as the tree is dominant and the clutter becomes detail, the detail helps strengthen the focal point.
We made it to the top and found a spot to camp, the weather was clear so we decided no tent tonight we will sleep under the stars.
Mt Cobbler is the mountain you see from Craigs Hut, it is also called Indian Head as it looks like a face laying down.
The first thing I do when I reach a location like this is to check the light. I knew I was here for a sunset and a sunrise so I take compass readings and try and work out what will work when. I found a cliff face that would hopefully work on sunset so explored different angles, this can be so important when the light hits and you only have a few minutes to capture it. So I had a sunset spot ear marked but as the sky was so clear I wasn’t too confident that there would be spectacular colour. The good news was my sunrise spot was right where we were camped, so no walking required.
Unfortunately I was right, not much of a sunset .. but sunrise was a little better.
This is the peak of Mt Cobbler, the sunset just didn’t happen so I wondered around looking for some inspiration .....
Rock Outcrop, Mt Cobbler. Canon 5Dmk2 - 24-105 f4 - f8, 1/80 sec, 200 ISO
A camp fire, dinner and early to bed for a bit of satellite spotting and star gazing
That night Dave woke around 2am with a Boo Book Owl hovering in flight 1 foot from his face checking him out, I guess if I was a National Geographic photographer I would have gone to bed with the camera and flash all ready for such a thing.
The light was better in the morning, lighting up a different rock face, we also had a setting full moon.
Mt Cobbler - Canon 5Dmk2 - 24-105 f4 - f8, 1/640 sec, 400 ISO
A confession, and I have done this twice now. When I hike I take the battery grip off to save weight, and I forget to reattach the quick release plate for the tripod. So I could use the tripod by sitting the camera on the ball head and holding it, but it was not ideal ... hence I opted to shoot more hand held .... if it happens again I will tattoo IDIOT on my forehead.
Views from Mt Cobbler - Canon 5Dmk2 - 24-105 f4 - f8, 1/500 sec, 400 ISO
A typical morning view from Mt Cobbler. This is obviously cropped, the original had very bright sky. To get around the exposure difference I set the camera to Spot metering and took a reading from the mid grey areas. This misty back lighting doesn't last for very long so when its there shoot shoot shoot.
We packed up and headed down the hill, and walked along the 4X4 track looking for a small track that would take us up onto Mt Koonika, well we couldn’t find it, we saw it on the way back, a small rusty tin lid nailed to a tree ... oh well.
Dave has done heaps of walking and is good with a map and compass so we headed off track for a couple of kms and intersected the track up to Mt Speculation... and we saw ( nearly stood on ) two snakes, Dave still hasn’t worked out why I let him walk first and I follow....
The forecast was for a change in the weather and you could see it coming in. Dave had 3G coverage so a quick look at the BOM told us we were in for RAIN THUNDER LIGHTNING AND WIND. So we had a couple of hours up on top and then walked back about 8kms towards where the car was.
Again on top of Mt Speculation you have a 360 degree view, it really is a magical place, even just a few moments of solitude up there is bliss.
Mt Speculation - Canon 5Dmk2 - 24-2105 f4 - f5.6, 1/1000 sec, 400 ISO
Canon 5Dmk2 - 24-105 f4 - f4, 1/2000 sec, 200 ISO
Storm definitely coming - Canon 5Dmk2 - 24-105 - f11, 1/320 sec, 400 ISO
Camping on top of a ridge with the prediction of high winds is not a good idea, so we headed back down the track and found a clearing. The rain did hit, so did the thunder and lightning and the wind howled all night but as they say “you get what you get and you don’t get upset”
The following morning was quite clear but still windy, a short 5km walk back to the car and we headed for home.
All in all a great location and I look forward to my next trip there.