The Pilbara Project Teaser

The Pilbara Project from Michael Fletcher on Vimeo.

Well here it is. A post at last. In my defense editing video is a longer process than editing one still image at a time. Those stills guys, Tony, Les, Christian, and Peter have it easy.

It was a real honor to be involved with “The Pilbara Project” and many thanks go to FORM for giving me the opportunity to hang out with some amazing photographers and not just the professional ones. It was also great to see the graduates of the previous photographic courses enjoying the experience of shooting with the pros and not being intimidated by their experience.

This clip though short took a lot of time to produce and I am already seeing ways I could of done it better but it’s just a taste of what is to come. I have hours of footage and audio to sort through and hope to add to the project in future visits to the Pilbara with my new mates Les, Tony, Peter x2, Carolyn, Linda, Jane, Faye, Judith, Nicole, and Simon. Christian didn’t get a mention because he’s my brother not my mate (too long sharing the same room hehe!!) but I must say that he is instrumental in all of us being here and for that reason I think we all cant thank him enough.

Cheers for now guys……

Mike Fletcher

An Amazing Journey!

I have lived in the Pilbara for the past 15 yrs and I see it as one of the most amazing and interesting places I have ever been. I am still in awe of the colours, textures and the vastness of my home.

I am one of the PHotography students who got to spend time with and learn from the ‘Pros’ – Christian, Tony, Peter, Les & Michael along with fellow students Judith, Simon & Nicole. Last week was spent seeing my stomping ground through their eyes and I have to say it was amazing! It was also at times comical to see who each person was watching and which way each camera was pointing. Thanks to Carolyn & Peter for their fantastic organisational skills, along with some fantastic conversations.

I am so thrilled to have been selected (thanks Christian) to participate in the Pilbara Project. (I have bruises from pinching myself) The concept of this project is brilliant and I am grateful to be a part of it. I have taken part in the PHotography 08 & 09 courses and have gained so much from the experience. I have always loved taking photos but now I love photography.

My photography journey has truly only just begun and I am so very pumped to continue on my way, and through this blog, share my journey with others.

Hot Damned Hot!!

The name says it all! We stopped at this scene about 80kms inland from Marble Bar. I took this handheld stitch pretty quickly as at the time I thought I was going to drop dead from Cyanide poisoning. If you get a good dose of that stuff you would be dead in a matter of minutes. I wish I had thought a bit more about entering a mine site without checking it was ok, never again, I can’t handle the stress!! Oh and the heat…. note to self, next assignment to be in a less extreme location!! Poor Pete went from Antarctica to the hottest place in WA.

Shot with the amazing Nikon D3x and 24-70mm lens, love it!

Our Pilbara Experience in Pictures

http://www.vimeo.com/9422196 Go to this link to view my slideshow of images from our recent trip to the Pilbara.

The Pilbara Project from Christian Fletcher on Vimeo.

Port Hedland Aerials

Day one of our trip to Port Hedland and FORM had organised a heli flight over town and the surrounding area. Of course there were only three seats going so it was decided that the best photographers would get a flight. Luckily Tony pulled out so I got to join Les and Pete for a burn around in an old Jet Ranger. All the doors were off so we had a great view. It was Les’s first flight in a chopper and when he managed to get his hands unstuck from the sides of the fuselage he  pinged off a few shots. Pete was blasting away on the Phase One but with vibrations and wind it isn’t as easy as I had it with the Nikon D3x. Ok as Pete likes to tell me, “the shots look great as an 8″x10″, I told him who wants all that resolution and who has a wall big enough to hang a pic from a medium format camera. Then he bangs on about capturing in 16 bit and I just switch off, who needs it??? I hate it when he does that, I’m not listening lalalala lalala…….

Heat Stroke

Yesterday we left Marble Bar. As a group we decided to go for a little 300 km detour  heading down a gravel road into the middle of know where to see what it was like. Along the way we stopped off at an unused gold mine which was closed, not surprisingly, as it is only nutters who would be out there on such a stinking hot day in a stinking hot place.

As all good photographers do we decided to go in anyway and found a virtual treasure trove of cool stuff to shoot. We also found lots of drums saying cyanide. Ah she’ll be right mate, no problems as long as it is in the drums. Tony and I decided to kick a little of the dust in one of the shed around to get some good light rays, ok, I decided to. All good, no dramas, didn’t work too well but it was fun whilst it lasted.

On leaving we were visited by the caretaker who gave Les a serve for us not telling him we were on the property and then he dropped the bombshell. There is cyanide all over the place and if you start feeling sick get to the doctor asap. My legs began to shake as I had been dancing around in the dust minutes earlier. Now here we were on our way to who knows where and I was possibly going to drop dead of cyanide poisoning. Les told us what to look out for, the signs of our impending doom, bad taste in the mouth, tingling fingers and that wasn’t very reassuring. Before to long I had a bad taste in my mouth and then my heart rate went up. I had to be brave as the first person to cry like a big baby would suffer the brunt of the jokes for the rest of the trip.

By the time we got back to Hedland I was stuffed, head pounding, dry throat, nausea and lethargy.  Still I couldn’t say too much as the word that is another name for a cat came to mind, and I didn’t want to be called that. I woke up this morning still feeling bad so I went to the doctor to discuss how many days I had left on the planet. I have to get some blood tests done to determine if I have inhaled any cyanide but he thought it was more heat stroke that is my problem and that more to the point I am a big baby. Still what ever it is I feel horrible. We have been going pretty hard since getting here and I had just reached my limits of endurance. Bummer the others are still going strong!!

The good news is I have been confined to my hotel room for the day and get to catch up on some computer work. The others are out on the wharf  getting cooked, ah being on your death bed isn’t so bad after all.

The photo is of our guide from BHP Andre, he was good enough to show us around his patch, and what a patch is is! We had so much fun there shooting all this industrial stuff, it was gold we were getting from an iron ore plant!! This photo was taken with the amazing Nikon D3x and 24-70mm lens. Just love that camera, in fact all these images to come are from the D3x. Tony Hewitt has the dream rig, a D3 and a D3x with all the best lenses Nikon have. He does some amazing stuff with it.

The Pilbara Experience

Hi all, sorry for no posts but I have been in and around Port Hedland shooting with Tony Hewitt, Les Walkling, Peter Eastway and my bro.

We are having a brilliant time and getting some pretty nice light. I must say it is pretty interesting shooting with these blokes and seeing how they work. We have one Hasselblad H3d being used by Les, a Phase one and Alpa combo being used by Pete, Tony and I are shooting Nikon D3x’s (thanks Julie from Nikon for the gear) and of course some Canon gear being used to film everything.

We have been to Karratha and the Dampier Archipelago, had Heli flights, Light plane flights, boat trips and tours to the big BHP plant in PH. Some great material and to see Les get all frothed up is just brilliant. The guy is a legend and I was hoping he enjoyed what we have been shooting.

One thing I find shooting with such notable photographers as we have here is I always am wondering what they are shooting and should I be checking it out too. It can be a little intimidating. We have also had some of the previous photography students joining us which has been great fun. Simon, Nicole, Faye and Judith, remember those names they are the next big thing! Well in Port Hedland anyway, Pete is still the next big thing, he is just taking his time getting there.

Off to Marble Bar in half an hour. We are expecting thunderstorms and about 42 degrees. We are pretty excited. There is so much to photograph out here you just need the good light and a fresh pair of eyes.

Here is a couple of pics of the boys in action.

Cheers

Christian

A New Pilbara Experience

Feb. 1, 2010.  Today is my first day of work.  I recently joined the team at FORM out of desire to work in regional Australia.  However, my prior experience traveling in Western Australia hasn’t brought me further North than the beaches of Dongara, further East than the farming communities surrounding Northam, or further South than the wineries enveloping Margaret River.

Previous to making Australia my home, I lived for a couple years in the Northern desert region of Mexico where I taught art at a University in Hermosillo.  When I first entered Mexico, I considered myself primarily a painter, with photography playing a supporting role.  After months of struggling to find my way with paint, photography soon became my dominant means to interpret the world around me.  The sublime landscape was filled with contradictions, bending my logic of space, colour and texture.  But rather than try capture what can’t be contained, my lens would find its way to the periphery, the small edges and ruptures appearing on the endless horizon.

Now after living in Australia for a couple years, the smell of oils and turpentine once again pervade my studio.  We will soon see if the Pilbara air has the same affect on me as the Sonoran Desert.

I lived in a new development on the outskirts of Hermosillo where cinderblock houses were erected daily in the liminal space between the city and the desert.

Day 1: Not long after we landed in Port Hedland, the group of photographers and filmmakers spread throughout the port.  The group includes Peter Eastway, Les Walkling, Tony Hewitt, Christian Fletcher, Michael Fletcher and local P.H.otography graduates Nicole, Simon, Faye and Judith.

Day 1: Peter Eastway shooting around Port Hedland

Day 1: Harbour tour of Port Hedland

Day 2: Making our way to Karratha

Day 2: Stopping at every panoramic view along the way

Day 2: Les Walkling in Cossack

Day 2: Michael Fletcher and P.H.otography graduates

Day 3: Tony Hewitt and Christian Fletcher touring the Dampier Archipelago

Day 4: Storm chasing on the way to Marble Bar

Day 4: Evening shoot at Marble Bar

Day 5: Morning shoot at Marble Bar

Day 5: Les at Marble Bar Pool

Day 5: Michael filming near Comet Gold Mine

Day 6: My first trip up to the Pilbara is beginning to wind down and this is the last day of shooting.  I will be spending much of the day in the Courthouse Gallery, surrounded by the brilliant P.H.otography exhibit (‘I Took The Time To Look’ Perspectives of the Pilbara), which had a grand opening last night.  Hopefully we will see a great showing for the ‘Meet the Photographers’ event tonight as well.

The past week has been an amazing experience.  Although we travelled non-stop, it only showed me how much more is out there.  It has been very humbling traveling with this group of photographers.  I am trying to decide if it is a comfort or discouragement that they even at times have difficulty capturing what lay before us.  I am traveling light as usual, using the Olympus E-P1 with the collapsible M. Zuiko 14-42mm lens.  Further observations on each of the photographers will be posted soon.

Day 6: Tony giving advice after the 'Meet the Photographers' event

Day 7: Final thoughts at the airport

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