I’ve been out scouting locations landscape and astrophotography shoots. To my understanding, salt lakes tend to change throughout the year and I’ve been waiting for almost a year for this time to come again.
Throughout the year, many salt lakes will gather some water and then start drying off. The salt rises to the surface and then starts crystalising. The lake continues to evaporate and as it dries it contracts and causes the salt to create pressure ridges. Salt lakes provide some great photographic opportunities – with calm weather, a thin layer of water at the right time of day can provide a mirrored surface. When the pressure ridges appear, they can provide very interesting textures. Salt lakes are rather unfriendly towards a lot of vegetation as well – killing off trees or forming salt crystals as the water recedes.
Just a few notes of care that I have:
- Frequently salt lakes tend to be quite remote – there’s a lot of travel time for me to get there. For some of the upcoming shoots I intend to do, I think I’ll need to seek accommodation. Night driving can be dangerous in fatigue (not just your own, but other drivers) and wildlife – and many of these lakes are 3-5+ hours travel time for me.
- Getting lost onsite – I’m packing my hand held GPS – but heading back to the car in the dark can be quite disorientating.
- Salt lakes – are lakes. Sometimes the surface isn’t actually hard and you get the sinking feeling.
I went out on the salt lake hunting last weekend checking 4 salt lakes. I travelled 700+ km’s and combined with the exploration on foot – took 10-11 hours. Noting that with these images it’s not taken in the best lighting, it’s just scouting. It’s important for me to do the scouting for the proposed night shoot because the lakes change so much through the year and due to the large distances involved, may have difficulties in finding the right alternative.
First stop – nearby salt … pond. This doesn’t even register as a lake, but I’ve been here before and it’s not too far. The textures are definitely available at this lake. Quality is a bit average though with the surface being quite soft.
Second lake – there was some faint pressure ridges forming, but the lake was under baked >_< with my feet sinking up to 20cm.
Lake 3 was fantastic – I only walked a short distance in, but drove to a couple of different entry points to check the terrain. The lake was very hard that I left no foot prints (meaning it doesn’t feature in the photos – but also means it maybe harder to trace my way back). The pressure ridges were well formed and not too dominant. To top things off there was a some heavy drizzle (large drops) when I was walking on the lake and it resonated musically off the salt lake for a brief moment.
Lake 4 was very impressive as well – the rocks featuring to the side had very interesting features. The lake itself though was very flat, having the texture of rough sand paper rather than having the interesting pressure ridges. There was a thin layer of water around parts of the lake though that at the right time may make some interesting reflections. Further around the lake, there was some pressure fractures, but they were quite messy compared to the previous lake.
This was an older image that I’ve taken at Lake Dumbleyung – showing some dead trees coming out of the lake. I’d gone back later in the year and the water level was higher, but due to some strong winds, there wasn’t any water reflections.