With the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area at his doorstep, Ben Wilkinson has all the inspiration he needs to explore his passion for landscape photography.
Seeking positive inspiration in his life, photographer Ben Wilkinson picked up a DSLR in 2012 and instantly became hooked. His newfound passion gave him motivation to experience life in a way that may have otherwise passed him by.
“I have always enjoyed imagery but things became more serious when I went through a period in my life that wasn’t very productive and I needed a change,” says Ben. “As fate would have it I acquired a D5200 and started walking around Mt Wellington and going to events at every opportunity, I couldn’t get enough!”
Ben pinpoints a turning point, recalling a work meeting he attended in which he was completely fascinated by a photograph of Lake Oberon on the wall, taken by renowned Tasmanian landscape photographer Peter Dombrovskis.
“After that meeting I spent hours researching the Tasmanian wilderness areas and became obsessed with finding out how to visit these spectacular locations,” explains Ben.
“Going to Lake Oberon became a goal I focused on but it took time to gain the experience and equipment I needed to get there.
“It was with this goal in mind, and the focus it gave me, that I found the change I needed in my life.”
It’s no surprise then that Ben names his shoot at Lake Oberon as being his most memorable. “It was the achievement of a life goal,” he says. “The gruelling hike to get there, a mild case of hypothermia, breathtaking scenery … the glorious sunrise I had dreamed of – these made that moment something I’ll always remember fondly.
“The shots that are the most value to me personally are the ones that have a story, its all about the journey and experience for me.”
One photography project of Ben’s that was particularly challenging, though not so much for a physical aspect, was a commission he undertook to photograph Port Arthur. He photographed the historical site at night, capturing magnificent star trails and the Milky Way over the buildings. The results are impressive, as is Ben’s dedication to getting the shots. He spent 14 nights over four months in winter alone at a site well known for its dark history. Sleeping in his car during bitterly cold nights, Ben admits he was quite nervous – especially walking around the site alone at 3am.
“Most nights my mind was screaming at me to get out of there,” says Ben. The dedicated photographer stayed however, and captured beautiful imagery. The star trail pictures alone are a combination of more than 800 images and took up to 20 hours to complete, he explains. “I have to thank the star trail master Luke Harrison for the inspiration, advice he gave and the tutorials on his website.”
Ben, camera in hand, enjoys hiking into remote Tassie locations and learning all he can about the wilderness and its history. He credits photography and hiking, along with his family and friends, as giving him a greater appreciation of life.
“In such a busy world a simple camera has enabled me to escape … I can get lost in a moment where nothing else matters and the worries of life are completely forgotten.
“That glorious moment when you arrive at your destination and set the camera up, the light hits your surrounds and you capture the essence of your journey and location.”
But now his biggest challenge is simply finding the time for all the hikes he has planned, Ben feels a constant need to improve, and this is also what motivates him. “I appreciate how far I’ve come, for sure, but the journey is a never ending attempt to achieve greater things and I love that,” he says.
Ben is still learning how to edit his images to achieve the results he envisages. His aim is to get it right in the camera and remove the need for much editing at all, but says he enjoys practising how to use luminosity masks and exposure blending techniques.
The photographer names Antarctica, Everest and Machu Picchu on his list of places he’s keen to shoot, and closer to home he’s currently planning a few hikes in Tasmania, including the newly opened Three Capes Track. Ben will complete the hike with good friend and fellow photographer Francois Fourie. The images will be used by Tourism Tasmania to inspire people to explore the precious wilderness that this passionate outdoors lover is so fortunate to be able to explore and share with others.
Through his images, Ben hopes to promote the natural beauty of Tasmania and highlight the need to protect threatened areas, such as the Tarkine.
“If there is something I hope people take away from my images it is that they should get out of their comfort zone and experience these places for themselves, utilise them and realise how important they are,” he says.
Perhaps it will be one of Ben’s wilderness photographs hanging on a wall that will be the motivation for someone else to find their passion in the future.
In the bag
- Nikon D800
- NIKKOR AF-S 14–24mm f/2.8G ED
- NIKKOR AF-S 85mm f/1.8G
- NIKKOR AF-S 50mm f/1.4G
- NIKKOR AF-S 105mm f/2.8