Ports of all sorts / by Mario Mirabile

The south coast of Australia can be a wild and treacherous place for shipping. With the shortest route from Europe to the east cost lying along its often rocky and treacherous reaches, it was, and continues to be, a busy route. Exposed to the Roaring Forties, the conditions brought many sailing ships to grief. The south-west cost of Victoria, in particular, is famously rugged, so much so that it's become a tourist attraction. The few ports along its length are welcome havens when the weather turns foul.

Originally known as Belfast, Port Fairy was once a busy whaling and sealing port. The wide bay offered shelter from the westerlies, but the main port was eventually established on the Moyne River. As whaling declined, it thrived as a busy agricultural hub for the fertile Western District of Victoria, until road transport and larger deep water ports saw its importance fade. Port Campbell is perched on the cliff tops near the most treacherous stretch of coastline in Australia, aptly named the Shipwreck Coast. A small inlet opening directly onto Bass Strait  has been home to a fishing fleet for 140 years. Even in today's modern vessels, it must take considerable courage to steer a small boat away from its shelter when the wind rises. These days, the towns are primarily havens for tourists, but they retain many reminders of their seafaring pasts.

Tech Talk
Both images are multi-shot panoramas. I rose early for the Port Fairy image, hoping for glassy water and a dramatic sky. I Unfortunately I got neither, but I managed to coax a bit of colour out of the dawn light. 

I tried a similar shot of Port Campbell from a lookout just  east of town on my last visit a couple of years ago, but was never particularly happy with it. On that occasion, the light was poor and there was a dead tree just below my vantage point which interfered with the view. The light was better this time, but the tree was still there. No matter where I stood, the tree still interfered as I swept the camera through the arc of the view. So, rather than stay in the same spot, I tried taking the sequence from two different positions on the lookout. This goes against panorama best practice, and would normally be expected to guarantee a  mis-aligned sequence, but Photoshop appears to have coped admirably.

Olympus E-5, Zuiko Digital 12-60mm f2.8-4 SWD lens. Processed in Lightroom 5 and stitched in Photoshop CS6.