Photography in the five Western Deserts with Simon Nevill

– at the DRB Nats.

One of the thousands of sand dunes in the Great Sandy Desert, © Simon Nevill

Simon Nevill took us on a pictorial adventure tour of the five Western Deserts as his way of bringing nature photography to life at the DRB Nats December meeting. During 2018 he travelled alone for 15,000 km along the tracks of all five deserts: the Great Sandy, Little Sandy, Tanami, Gibson and Great Victoria. The deserts combined are larger than NSW. Conditions were harsh and in some places not even kangaroos could survive. He said large 4WD drives are badly damaging the Canning Stock Route and the Gunbarrel and he passed ten burnt out cars because spinfex (Triodia sp) had built up underneath their petrol engines and caught fire.

4. Young travellers on the Canning Stock Route. The young gent on the left is the great grandson of the explorer Warburton, copyright Simon Nevill..jpg

He gave us a history lesson of the tracks taken by some of the early European explorers including Warburton, the first to come through the desert in a big way, and who died crossing the Great Sandy. There was a gasp as Simon showed a photograph of two men he’d met “walking some camels down”, only to discover that one of them was the great grandson of Warburton. Apparently, there are 3,000,000 camels damaging the deserts and they can survive for 11 days without water.

Young travellers on the Canning Stock Route. The young gent on the left is the great grandson of the explorer Warburton. © Simon Nevill

Simon’s passion is taking landscape photographs and bringing back the artistry of large panoramics. His photographic tips included:

  • “Light is so important.” Simon does at least 80% of his photography in the very early morning or late evening after the sun has set and when it appears that there is no light; but with his big format 62 megapixel camera he always finds some. He said we can do the same with most cameras.
  • Lovely after-lights are a favourite of his and he will leave his shutter open for about 5 seconds on F11. It produces some magnificent photographs.

Use a drone to photograph inaccessible places as they capture the patterns from the air and give a different perspective on the scenery.
It helps to be thin and light to climb things!

Simon’s rig, camping above gorge on the Connie Sue track, © Simon Nevill
  • Interesting foregrounds are needed; a rocky slope may be more interesting than a beach.
  • It helps to be thin and lightweight, to climb things!
3. Simon's vehicle travelling the Canning Stock Route photographed by a drone, copyright Simon Nevill..jpg

“Imagination is essential.” He asks himself, “Where will I get a great angle? Do I have to climb up?” He says to get a vista, normally the higher he goes the more impressive the shot.

Simon’s vehicle travelling the Canning Stock Route photographed by a drone, © Simon Nevill

Simon’s photographs were indeed stunning and inspirational.


In addition, Robin Campbell brought us many flowers from the Wheatbelt. People keep telling her there are no flowers out but she proved them wrong. On the Macrocarpa trail in Kulin, Eucalyptus macrocarpa sis currently flowering with both red and yellow flowers. Gwyn Thomas showed us a complete slough from a bobtail and Bryn Durrans tested everyone’s ability to identify the nuts and seeds of various plants. The audience did well! There were prizes galore. We had a big turn out with 91 people attending and it was a great way to end 2018.

Rachel Green.