A Portrait of Hobart in Spring

This might be the best time of year to visit Hobart – and there’s a lot to see. In partnership with Canon, we asked photographer Luke Burgess to shoot his favourite local landscapes using the Canon EOS R series range of cameras and lenses, capturing a vivid and detailed portrait of down south.

Published on 02 December 2020

In Hobart, spring is a late bloomer. Although the flowers are out and proper warm weather feels closer, the wind still has bite and the nights can feel like a mainlander’s winter.

Nestled under Mt. Wellington and its blustery winds you can find shelter among the blooms and shoots in the Botanical Gardens. It’s not often on the ‘it’ list for travellers, but it’s definitely one of the most beautiful corners of the city. In particular, I love the Japanese Garden and watching the new foliage emerge.

A short walk into town and en route to Mt Wellington, I like to make my way to the small shops in the city, especially the ones with a particular penchant for food and design. Pigeon Whole Bakery, homewares and art shop LUC Design and Tom McHugos Hobart Hotel pub round out a nice stroll before heading up the mountain.

It’s worth a trip to the top of Mt. Wellington for obvious reasons, but if you want to gain a sense of this former volcano’s previous life, take the North South Track which lands you halfway up the hill and among the lush undergrowth and native subtropical rainforest.

Swimming without a wetsuit is only for the brave, but perching yourself on the sand can be slightly less frightful. Hinsby Beach – a few clicks from town and about 40 minute drive from Mt. Wellington – is a favourite for the locals, with cute little weatherboard houses and the odd caravan floating around. At the beach, you may notice that the average age of Hobartians has fallen in recent years off the back of the “MONA effect”, with a diverse group of city shifters moving south and livening up the capital.

This year was wet by the standards of previous seasons and the weather has been erratic to say the least, but with Hobart being a short drive from the rolling hills of the countryside, I always try to head out to the surrounding areas to visit the small wineries. The greenery is spectacular this year and there are numerous perches to take in the scenery.

Although 2020 has been unusual for all sorts of reasons, spring in Hobart this year is sensational.

This image was a classic drive-by decision. If I don’t stop to shoot, will I regret it? I decided I would. With the late afternoon sun diffused by haze, I was keen to see what shadow detail I could retrieve whilst keeping the colours true. I used the reflective qualities of the weatherboard siding to help capture the pastel shades and great tonal range in colour. It made for a crisp and spring-appropriate composition. 

I like shooting high contrast situations, and the Canon EOS R6 and 50mm lens meant I could easily shoot highlights while still capturing the shadows. Using the wide-open RF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens also meant I could move quickly – helpful, as I was standing in the middle of the road.

I enjoy working with prime lenses, particularly between the 40-60mm range. They place helpful restrictions on composition, and allow you to exclude negative space in otherwise pre-defined spaces. 

Interiors are a great example to test this theory. Here I put the RF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens to work, choosing the crop for its compressed and busy arrangement. I also shot handheld to test the Canon EOS R6’s focusing speed in the darker location, and edge-to-edge sharpness at a slightly higher ISO. 

What’s in the frame is exactly what I wanted to be there. The softness of the foreground blends smoothly and it was great to compose using the Canon’s articulating screen the same way you would a waist-level finder. It was fantastically bright and allowed for  clear composition.
Catching Jay Patey at his busy Pigeon Whole Bakers, which he operates with his wife Emma, can be a difficult task. I managed to grab a quiet moment with him standing in the easterly light casting on the shopfront, so I snapped a portrait. 

I’m an admirer of the ‘chiaroscuro’ lighting technique, famously refined by Leonardo Da Vinci. The term translates to ‘light-dark,’ meaning a sense of depth and tonal range that’s high contrast. It makes the eyes focus on the highlights but also go searching in the shadows for detail. 

I went wide open on this image using the RF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens, to see if I could keep the focal point crisp whilst allowing for control over shadow detail through exposure. It worked wonderfully: the colours are true and there’s a softness in the shadows. Jay’s expression told me “I have a lot to do,” but with this lens it was easy to get the shot I wanted without delay.

The crispy bao at Tom McHugo's is something I eat once a week. Here I wanted to see the little bubbles that form in the dough when cooking, as well as get a sense of scale and tone. The RF 35mm f/1.8 Macro IS STM lens performed beautifully for this. 

Focusing was simple and switching between auto and manual with fringing was a great way to capture an array of different focal points. The Canon IBIS (in-body stabilisation system) was also essential. It allowed for crisp detail, with minimal distortion and accurate depth-of-field preview. The round dish and backlighting helped too.

Find out more about the Canon EOS R series here.

This article is produced by Broadsheet In partnership with Canon and their EOS R series of cameras and lenses. A range expertly crafted with superior quality and has products to suit all levels of photographer, videographer and content creators.