26 January 2009

Get your rocks off

Hi blog readers, B Sharp is on a job that takes in Brisbane, Innamincka, Adelaide, Portland, Waubra and Canberra. When groups of people travel on a dead straight road, not passing any on-coming traffic for at least an hour at a time, they develop this habit of naming stationary objects as they fly by. Like "bird". (silence) "roo". (silence) "car". (silence) "sign".

On arrival in Innamincka, heart of Australia's burgeoning hot rock electricity industry, we were confronted with a rare desert downpour, 20 millitres that afternoon and night - the most in one year. The publican and helpers were shovelling the torrent of water out from the front door, because over the years the pub has kind of sunk into the clay, creating a natural dam in the car park.

When we finally got out to the site of the new power station the next day, the verdict was "who would have thought we could get so excited over inanimate objects in the middle of nowhere?". For photography and vision its going to be tough to liven up the subject of hot rocks, you see they are 5 km underground. But for clean energy its enough to get you hyperventilating like an American virgin at a Jonas brothers concert. Maybe that's just me.

Photo: Innamincka trading post - more than a thousand clicks north of Adelaide. Sun after the rain.

Riders on the storm

On the road to Cunamulla. This town is a sliver under 1000 kms from Brisbane. A documentary maker visited there some years ago and made a film that portrayed it as the bleakest most fucked up place in Australia. They have race issues, they have unemployed youth, they have it all.

On the way in, we are approaching a storm dead ahead. We are on one of those outback roads to nowhere, a dead straight line of bitumen, disappearing into the horizon in a perfect study of vanishing point worthy of a high-school art project.

We’re going at about 100 km/ hr and there is a massive black storm cloud hanging right over the hood of the car. Lightning cracks on the horizon. Our stills photographer is driving the landcruiser and picks up the industrial–sized camera from its permanent spot beside the gearstick. He rests it on the top of the steering wheel while dropping speed by about 5 kilometres an hour. “What are you doing?” is the simultaneous cry from the producer in the front seat and the video cameraman in the back passenger seat. “You’ve just got to get the moment before the rain starts, otherwise its no good”, comes the reply. He’s trying to get a shot of the lightning which is now arcing down from the dark clouds ahead to the horizon.

“Dude, if you’re going to use the camera, at least slow down” says our slightly older cameraman. He’s competing with the roar of several tonnes of metal roaring across the desert, plus rain and extra wind. ... “What?”... “I said, use it, but use a slower speed for god’s sake!” shouted now from the back seat. “Yeah, I’m on a one second exposure”. Laughter breaks out in the face of impending death. “Not exposure time – use the break for Chrissakes.” Nothing if not dedicated to the shot.

Its official, we're in the middle of nowhere. The GPS is lost.