Spider after a storm

Capturing Desert Wildflowers on Kodak Ektar – By Cameron Wheatley

I wanted to get as far away from the city as I could, to actually see the stars and feel the sense of awe and curiosity that nature brings with it. And I wanted to capture that all on film.

My goal was a four-day hike in the Little Desert in Western Victoria and I wasn’t going to let a bit of steam pouring out from under the bonnet of my car stop me! After an unscheduled repair session with a local farmer in the desert… at midnight… I made it to the campsite.

When I arrived it was pitch dark. I knew the expansive landscape I was in wasn’t your typical Instagram fodder, but the one thing that kept popping up in my research was something about the wildflowers in spring… So I came prepared with the landscape photographer’s go-to film, Kodak Ektar, to draw out every last bit of colour I might come across.

What I discovered as the sun rose completely blew me away — I spent four days weaving through an endless carpet of red, white, yellow and pink. And Ektar was the perfect choice to capture the colour.

Little Desert Wildflowers

Pink flowers

Red Flowers

Red Flowers

Ektar was the right choice, but it made things a bit tricky when deciding what lenses I was going to take, or more specifically, carry! It’s unforgiving of any underexposure and so I tend to rate it at iso 80 instead of 100. I also like to shoot with a polariser. That meant I was shooting at an equivalent iso of around 20. I definitely wasn’t going to get away with my standard hiking choice of a slow 35-70 macro zoom.

Ultimately I went with a small collection of prime lenses. The beautifully compact Nikkor 20mm f3.5, the Tamron Adaptall 90mm f2.5 macro and my trusty 50mm f1.8 pancake. All matched with my (dad’s) bulletproof Nikon FM2n. Other than the inconvenience of switching lenses a little too often this combination worked beautifully.

The only time I found myself without the right tools was when I encountered an Emu and two chicks (they’re fuzzy and extremely adorable like giant ducklings) … the 90mm was just not long enough to get a decent shot. Next time …

In the end I was pleased with the results. This image of the spider is one of my favourite ever images. It perfectly captures the last moments of golden hour after a storm.


Wimmera River

This trip held an added layer of meaning for me. The environmental organisation I work for was founded after the local community banded together to save the Little Desert from being cleared and turned into farmland way back in 1969. It was an unusual experience hiking through this incredible place and knowing it had come so close to being destroyed … I was thankful that sense had prevailed (at least this time).

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6 thoughts on “Capturing Desert Wildflowers on Kodak Ektar – By Cameron Wheatley”

  1. These are beautiful images, Cameron. Well done! Looks like a pretty place to camp. I was going to say “fun” instead of pretty, but desert camping is an acquired taste, for some. I grew up camping in the American Southwest; fun times.

    1. Yeah it’s definitely a harsh landscape, but definitely fun to explore when it’s not too hot 🙂 I’d love to visit the American SW some time.

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