LANDSCAPE PHOTOGRAPHY > TASMAN NATIONAL PARK AND THE THREE CAPES TRACK – TASMANIA > Cape Pillar Sea Cliffs (Three Capes Track, Tasman National Park)
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Cape Pillar is the crowning beauty of Tasmania’s popular “Three Capes Track”, which is located in Tasman National Park in Tasmania’s southeast. The Three Capes Track takes visitors out to Cape Pillar and Cape Hauy, while the third cape, Cape Raoul, can be seen at a distance (and visited on a separate day walk).
These stunning dolerite sea cliffs rise out of the Southern Ocean to an astounding height of 300m (984’) and are among the tallest sea cliffs in the world. Tasman Island is situated off the southernmost point of Cape Pillar and is best viewed from “The Blade” or by sea. Tasman Island’s lighthouse was built in 1906 and remains operational although it is now unmanned.
“Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I [God] made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’?…The earth takes shape like clay under a seal; its features stand out like those of a garment…” (Job 38:8-11, 14)
It was a loooooong way down, about 300 m (984′) to be almost exact.
It was early morning, and I had Cape Pillar all to myself. (Woo hoo!)
From a photographic standpoint, I was a bit disappointed because the light had not worked out for sunrise. However, the towering dolerite sea cliffs were impressive enough to command my photographic attention–even without the photogenic light for which I was hoping. I had my Sigma 8-16mm, non fish-eye, ultra wide angle lens with me, so I thought I would put it to good use and capture the entire 300m cliff in one shot. Few other lenses and cameras could achieve this feat.
For some reason, the best compositions always seem to be located in the most precarious and dangerous positions. In this particular location, there were a number of boulders on the top of the dolerite columns. I really wanted an unobstructed view of the Southern Ocean battering the bottom of Cape Pillar’s mighty sea cliffs. This meant I must *carefully* lean over the edge of the 300 m cliff.
I attached my camera to my tripod and put the camera strap around my neck, then I laid down and carefully inched over a rather downward slanting boulder. I felt (sort of) safe when my hands were still gripping the boulder, but as soon as I had to let go of the rock in order to adjust my camera settings the downward slant made me feel too unsafe, especially as I inched my centre of gravity closer to the edge. Bummer, because the unobstructed composition from that location was really awesome, but safety first!
I searched around for a safer boulder and eventually found this one. Once again I laid down and inched over to the edge. Then I laid my tripod down and suspended it over the edge. Then I inched part of myself over the edge to line up the shot. (This is not a job for the faint-hearted or those afraid of heights). Thankfully, I was so preoccupied with the technicalities of the shot not to think about the 300m drop off below me.
Although it wasn’t the best vantage point I found that morning, it was the best one that was still safe. I now bring it to you to enjoy, minus the danger, or the thrill, depending upon your personality.