Consistency in a time of contrast


It was to be a day in search of visual consistency. The intention was to learn some skills that would ensure, or at least increase the odds, of returning from a field trip with a range of photos that would sit happily together. The only jarring would be intentional.

Instead, it was a day of contrasts.


7:30am. Before anything can distract, the camera gear lands on the backseat and I point the car south. The fog is thick, and the question that hovers as thickly for some miles is “When will it clear?”

8:45am. After stopping for caffeine, I eventually turn west, and the Point Hut sign is encouraging even if the view is not.


Point Hut Road Sign Fog


And then the fog is suddenly gone, as if it had not existed, not dulled my morning, not hidden from view the changing scenery as my little car climbed Corin Rd.  The light reminds of summer.

A couple of years ago, the facilities at Gibraltar Falls were upgraded. It’s not a huge picnic area, but I think the idea is to camp just down the slope at Woods Reserve and take a stroll up the 1.2km path to the Falls. A nice outing for the family … in summer.  The walk down to the Falls from the car park is much shorter.

The sun sits before me, low in the sky. I remember that consistency requires the sun to be in the same position for each shot. I turn around to take photos of the path.  It means I will only have images of the ascent.

The railing appears to cascade down the slope.




But further down, at the top of the metal staircase, I face a dilemma. The patterns of the metal lines draw my attention and overpower the potential I can hear just out of sight.  This could be an interesting image, but the sun is no longer at my back, the far wall is in shadow …  I take the photo anyway without too much thought. Ideas of visual consistency evaporate as quickly as the fog. Old habits return.




Past encounters with waterfalls have always been at pace. Never still for long. They are always seen on the way to somewhere. Schedules dictate. Today, the pace is no different but it is habits, not schedules, that rule.

I pause.

The rocks are varied. Sharp angles. Round angles. Dark and light shades. There is even some lichen growing. The rays of the sun snatch at the beads of water, creating highlights.

I see in my mind’s eye a selection of abstracts.  Consistency should be straightforward. I’m confined to this tiny viewing platform, four paces wide, so the angle of the sun will be the same.  If I can just keep the camera settings the same … Click. Click. Click. I’ll crop them back home.


Waterfalls in Threes


A little further down and there it is … the ubiquitous piece of human rubbish, lobbed by someone who must mark and spoil, who must tear at ideas or feelings they cannot identify with, do not understand … or maybe I’m being too harsh … perhaps a bird found this citrus peel in the picnic area and dropped it here.


Citrus peel


I turn back onto the main road and descend into the fog. There are people at work who’ve just come back from holidays. Perhaps this is how they feel, descending from a gentle place of bright intrigue, descending to the drab burly of routine.

But even the fog can engage us in its secret plot, if we dare to take the time to look.


 Point Hut Fog



Ideas about visual consistency were drawn from “Achieving Visual Consistency” by Ming Thein, published on 9 June 2014.


2 responses to “Consistency in a time of contrast”

  1. ChristineR Avatar

    Brilliant colours. The sun consistency idea is a new one on me, but oh so limiting! Lovely photos, Cherrie.


    1. Cherrie Zell Avatar

      It’s only limiting if you plan to use the images together and (underlined) want them to look like they belong together. It’s bringing elements of film technique into photo essays. If the shadows were suddenly going in the opposite direction in the next movie scene, we’d assume time had passed.

      But, if I wanted to compare the descent with the ascent at the Falls, the different shadows would be fine. Unfortunately, at that time of day, the sun during the descent was in my eyes.

      Thanks for the feedback.


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