Detail, Derby Tidal Flats, Western Australia
Phase One XF 150MP, 110mm Schneider Kreuznach, f4 @ 1/2000 second, ISO 200

The secret is out! The next ‘big thing’ in aerial photography is to be found at Broome and Derby. Okay, so Tony Hewitt has been photographing this area for years, but unfortunately for him, I’m a bit of a blabber-mouth! And it’s hard to contain my excitement about the images I’ve been processing over the past couple of weeks (and posting on Instagram too).

In picking a shot for this newsletter, I had a surfeit of choice. I selected this one because I thought it might translate best into the ridiculously inadequate screens that the majority of people will use to view it – their phones. If it’s an Android, it will be dull and flat. An iPhone way too colourful and contrasty. (I’m looking forward to the hate mail about these comments!) Better results will be on a quality monitor like an Eizo, but I’m only posting a 1000 pixel image, so while the colour and contrast will be great, lost are the nuances of detail and texture I have carefully recorded.

Most aerial images in this genre need to be reproduced as an A3 or A2 print to see their potential. A one metre print (every now and then, I stick one up in the window of my shop for people to view through the tinted glass) looks fantastic and suddenly you can see the tiny ripples of water, the regular pillows of sand and little pieces of seaweed and driftwood.

So I have chosen something simple where an abrupt buttress of sand fights an incoming tide, its shape standing out strongly against the soft, undulating floor of the shallow bay.

I think I can safely say all the photographers who have come on aerial photography workshops with Tony and me have been convinced about the need to print, whether as prints or in a photo book. However, I concede that I get an immense amount of satisfaction simply by editing the photos. During this process, I get to view and enjoy the fine details, to watch as what is invariably a flat, low contrast raw file develops into a rounded, more considered presentation. In many ways, that enjoyment is enough, but I would be lying if I didn’t admit to enjoying the occasional pat on the back (or a like) when I post images on social media as well.

I just wish I could better share the full experience online – and perhaps in the years to come, we will!

If you’re interested in aerial photography, Tony Hewitt and I have two workshops next year, one to Shark Bay and a second to Broome/Derby where this photo was taken. Details on the Better Photography website.