Task #80 of my 101 Things in 1001 Days project: photograph a street scene or landscape in all 4 seasons.
I was really excited to finally finish this particular task. When I first added it to my 101 list I think I envisioned setting up a tripod in the Botanic Gardens, or even photographing my own pretty street throughout the seasons. But then I heard about Macedon and it’s beautiful Honour Avenue and decided that it would be the perfect scene for my 4 Seasons photo project (despite the long travel time!).
The idea is simple: Each season take a photograph from the same position, for one year. I chose to shoot a few angles of the same street.
In response to the tragedy of World War One most Australian districts erected memorials to commemorate the lives of the soldiers and nurses of their district. One special form of memorial was the Avenue of Honour, and many of them have become important cultural landscapes that are unique to Australia. By 1918 the casualty rate of Australian soldiers was so high that every Australian was closely associated with somebody who had been killed, so lots of people became invested in the creation of these war memorials.
Macedon’s Honour Avenue honours the 154 men and women of Macedon and Mount Macedon who enlisted for service during the Great War of 1914-1918. Each oak tree was planted for an individual and the order was determined by ballot, not rank. It was a real community effort, certainly more hands-on for the community than a creation of a monument which was often manufactured far from home. A real labour of love.
There are definite flaws in each series of photographs. In a perfect world, and with bottomless supplies of time and patience, I’d have taken a tripod and measured the height of the camera. I’d have replicated the aperture settings and focal point, and taken lots of notes about my EXIF data.
I didn’t do any of this and I don’t have any regrets. I set out to complete my 101 list (and this task) in the spirit of done is better than perfect, and I think this series captured that spirit completely. I even packed the wrong lens for my Spring shots!
I did adopt a few strategies to make sure that the final product was as good as possible, without stripping all the fun out of it by measuring everything. I used a few roadside landmarks to remember the position of each shot (mostly speed limit signs) and took along reference photos of previous shots to help me eyeball my next one in the viewfinder. I did my best to replicate the number of fence posts down one side of the shot, while copying the gap between two trees on the other side. Of course, all this went out the window on the day that I turned up with the wrong lens in September, but even that was kind of a liberating mistake. It taught me how to use what I had to approximate the work of another lens and focal length.
It’s funny how forgetting that lens wasn’t a dealbreaker in Spring, but when I noticed that my Summer photos were too similar to the Spring photos I actually went back and re-shot them two weeks later. Fortunately the very first few autumn leaves were changing by then and it created just enough contrast with the previous season. I put my most recent photos at the top of each series just to create a little more distance between Spring and Summer.
I shot four different scenes hoping that one year later at least one of them would work out. It turned out that all four were worth keeping, and they make quite a nice series together.
This was such a satisfying project and I recommend trying it yourself – even if it’s just on your camera phone!