Working in the North West, the brighter side.

Ok, so my last post finished on a somewhat negative note. It wasn’t really my intention, but I felt I needed to express something that I have been feeling for a few years now.

So, for this post, I thought it would be nice to list some of the positive aspects and talk about the reasons I love working in the North West and other remote parts of Australia.

The first thing would be the most obvious, I get paid to take my camera for long trips into places most tourists or even professional photographers don’t get to go. This results in some fairly unique experiences.

In his natural habitat.

In his natural habitat.

This was shot a few hours north east of Cue, during an exploration project. We had a few down days where the soil was too damp to sample, so I kept busy shooting and taking selfies….
We spent three weeks living in tents, cooking on campfires and watching the world cup via satellite. It was pretty special.  During the 3 weeks, it rained quite a bit, so we had a fair bit of spare time to explore the region we were in.

Our adventures took us to an abandoned station a few Km north of us. I don’t know the story behind the station, or why it was left,  but what did know was that they left behind a lot of stuff. There were entire windmills stripped to pieces and left in ordered piles, stacked in grid patterns, behind a shed. There were rusted out car bodies, some that looked like they were in good condition before they rusted.
The biggest surprise was the interior of the buildings. Each room was filled with dead animals. Even the rooms that had clear exits had corpses everywhere.

Count the corpses.

This is the bathroom. I would say that it’s gone beyond the renovation stage and onto the condemned stage. I can’t remember how many animals we counted in there, but it was over a dozen. In the bath tub too. Yeah, that’s right, I walked all the way into that room.
When we returned to our camp, it was a wordless and mutual understanding that every item of clothing we wore to this place was getting washed, twice. The smell wasn’t that bad, but it made your skin crawl.

wdlf0001-5

Something a little more pleasant. Do you ever resent having to be up early in the morning and having to be at the office before sunrise?
Not me, as a photographer, sunrise and sunset are very good times of the day to be shooting.  In the few minutes from shortly before the sun rises to when it just sit over the horizon, magic happens.
The above two shots are minutes apart and are of the same bird. I was driving in to work and I saw a silhouette on a hill near one of our survey stations. The shape and size told me it was a large wedge tail eagle and I decided that the survey station need a closer inspection.
Visiting a place and spending a few days there shooting is all well and good, but spend a few months somewhere and you start to learn a lot about where the birds like to perch, which birds are where at what time and other things that make it possible to get stunning shots with ease.

Before

After

Ofcourse, it’s not all just lazing around with the camera, snapping away at what ever happens to come with range.
Some times I do work. What you see above is a before and after. Entirely unintentional, I just happened to be driving back from site on this road and notice the pretty sunset. In the exact same spot. At mile stone points in the project.
Industrial and construction photography is a passion of mine, I guess it goes with the enjoyment of the job I do and having a passion for photography in general. I think I’d be pretty happy getting paid to shoot construction projects.

After a week of rock breaking and getting nowhere, the drill and blast crew were called in. Now there is no shortage of crusher dust and road base….

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The Great North West

98% Completion, seconds from the end

 

The above, blurry, photo shows my current location. Situated in the North West of Western Australia are dozens of places like this, work sites where billions and billions of dollars are being spent.
It may not look like it, but this is a multi-billion dollar project, a wharf expansion for a port that links by rail to mines located hundreds of kilometres inland.  The entire port handles iron ore only and it handles several hundred Mt/a. And it’s going to double that with this expansion.

I absolutely love my job. I’m an engineering/construction surveyor working on some of the biggest projects in the world. When I was a kid I played with Lego and Meccanno and was always building industrial stuff. Shit, I say as a kid, but if you put either toy in front of me now, you won’t get a word out of me for a few hours.
One of the best things about working like this is the places I get to go to.  Some are extremely remote, two hours of serious 4×4 driving to get to the nearest road and some are located next to sleepy little towns in the middle of nowhere. All of these places are great for photography, I’ve even called my job a distant second priority to the photography.

<rant>What shits me though, are the self righteous and entitled fucks who expect everything on a silver platter. Not every one who works in places like this are like that, but it seems to be getting worse. Perhaps it’s just an obvious minority, like political lobby groups, but they sure bring the mood of the place down. I’ve never could have imagined that some one could get paid so much to do so little and still feel hard done by! Deck hands and labourers who get paid $150k+ and won’t work because they feel their conditions are unfair. Operators on $200k+ who won’t work because they don’t like their supervisor for personal reasons.
It makes me fume.
Some people blame the unions, others blame the current political parties and some blame the companies, contractors through to the clients, but I think they are missing the obvious culprit here. Culture. It is all through Australia, a sense of entitlement that disables the effected’s ability to be responsible and capable, “I’ve done my bit and don’t need to do any more”. It’s such a far cry from the propaganda stereotypes that every one knows about Australia, that when you tell people what you are thinking, they treat you like a heretic.</rant>

I think I might bring my camera in to work with me tomorrow and take some photos of birds or something….