Behind the lens: Remembering Ray
Ever since I was born, my family and I would pack up our belongings, hitch the caravan, and drive what was then an hour and twenty-minutes from our home in Western Sydney to North Narrabeen on the North Sydney coast. It was there I learned to swim, surf, fish and ride a bike, met my greatest friend, and spent every Christmas. North Narrabeen helped spark my creativity and shape me as a person.
When I was 10, my grandfather Ray, whom my family and I adored, passed away suddenly while fishing at the lagoon. In the following years I would climb the side of the headland to look out over the ocean and the North Narrabeen Rockpool, focusing on the smallest details to help reflect and clear my mind.
22 years later, I now have a family of my own and my wife and I are keeping the tradition alive of remembering my grandfather with our three kids by our side. But up until recently, I’d never photographed here.
On holiday and with overcast weather forecast, I set out at midday while the kids were having a nap. Staying true to my interests in black and white photography and keeping the significance of the location front of mind, I went for a minimalist approach. My recently purchased 70-200mm f2.8 lens was the right tool for compressing the scene, and it worked perfectly in this instance. Having tried several compositions, I settled on the one you see here.
I chose to frame the corner of the pool in the centre of the frame as it kept the photograph balanced and visually pleasing. With my composition set, it was time to slow the shutter speed down. I used a NiSi 10 stop ND filter which allowed me to turn the water to milk and ‘erase’ the swimmers passing by, leaving only the striking walkway and rails visible.
For me, this photograph is a reminder not only of the sad times as I remember my grandfather Ray, but also those times of reflection as I watched the world go by. I’m happy that today it also has lots of happy memories of times spent with my family as well.