Home Cameras/Lenses Leica Clock Around the Rock with a couple of Leica digitals

Clock Around the Rock with a couple of Leica digitals

  Uluru from the Air
Uluru from the Air

I should start with an apology to the Bill Haley and the Comets classic hit for the transposition in the title, but we did walk all 10km of it, and we did walk it clockwise around the Rock.

Winter is the time to visit Uluru, previously known as Ayers Rock, smack bang somewhere in the centre of Australia. The temperatures are tolerable, and the air is clear. So it was time for the better half and me to take a few days to visit an area that we hadn’t previously. Driving there from Sydney would have taken three days each way, far too long and tiring if we were only going to be there for a short time, so we flew from Sydney directly to Ayers Rock Airport. Sightseeing and some photography were the primary aims of the travel along with a birthday celebration for my better half.

Regarding photography, it’s easy to get the standard tourist images of Uluru, so my challenge to try to find some other pictures that provided our own memories of a special few days there.

  Yes it’s the Rock at dawn. Every tourist captures this image. Each one a little different as the light changes.
Yes it’s the Rock at dawn. Every tourist captures this image. Each one a little different as the light changes.

Our first morning involved a 5 am start (and I am not a morning person!). We collected our packed lunches at the hotel desk and were bussed to a sand dune to watch the sunrise on the Rock. The National Park areas are quite strictly regulated regarding access and locations, so we were there along with many other fellow travellers. It was cold (-1 Celsius), but everyone was excited as the light changed. It was an opportunity to include tourists themselves in the photos rather than just take the standard Rock pics that most everyone else was making.

Then it was off to the base of the Rock for the 10km circumnavigation that we had planned. Easy walking, excellent flat track. We walked it, a few others did as well, and it was quiet and peaceful after people spread out according to their own pace and direction.

Below: Different ways to circle the Rock. We walked. Click on images to enlarge

Up close and personal with Uluru there are new sights to intrigue every few minutes.  The walk took a relaxing three hours. Always interesting with changing perspectives — and different aspects as below.

That night we were again back on a bus for a short ride to an installation by British artist Bruce Munro — the largest in his worldwide series of Field of Light.  50,000 individual lights of subtly changing colours out there in the desert, all connected by optic fibre cables fed by stored solar power. It was surreal to walk a long path amongst them. Seeing the lights in the cold darkness out there in the middle of nowhere was a surreal experience.

Below: Uluru Field of Light, exceptional en masse, and even the pathway lights were extraordinary out there in the desert.

Well, that took care of our first full day out there. For the second day, it was back on the bus at 5 am (yawn!) and off to another sand dune to view sunrise on Kata Tjuta, formerly known as The Olgas. They are a large group of nearly 40 individual domes, many even higher than Uluru, about 50 km away, standing alone in their own desert location. Again, the crowds were there, and The Olgas were the subject, but the sunrise looking back towards Uluru in the distance provided the opportunity for a couple of different images.

  Lata Tjuta, freezing dawn
Lata Tjuta, freezing dawn
  Looking back towards Uluru, 40km away
Looking back towards Uluru, 40km away

Below:Walking a gorge at Kata Tjuta. My better half tells me that an artist’s trick is to sometimes include a splash of red in an image, but if you can’t find red then blue will do.

That evening it was again on to a bus for a late afternoon viewing of  Uluru. The colour change was quite fast and undoubtedly dramatic as the sunset occurred. That was followed by a white tablecloth dinner under the stars out there in the desert.  And what better place to have two astronomers and their telescopes to provide the after-dinner talk and explore the Southern sky.

  Uluru changes colour dramatically at sunset — just before....
Uluru changes colour dramatically at sunset — just before….
  .... and just after
…. and just after

All too soon, the next day it was back to Ayers Rock airport for the return flight to Sydney. It afforded the opportunity for a couple of photos out the window. The iPad had to do the job because the cameras were safely packed away in the overhead locker.

Below left: Ayers Rock airport. A runway in the desert. Centre: Abstract sand dunes of the Simpson Desert  Right: On approach into Sydney, looking along the Parramatta River towards Sydney Harbour (Click on images to enlarge)

And what were the cameras? A Leica X2 set on full Auto for all day shots, and a Leica D Lux 109 wide open at f/1.7 for the night shots. Ageing technologies, yes, but each of them is half the weight of the Leica Q that a colleague continues to urge me to move to (He’s a frequent Macfilos contributor, he knows who he is!).  I’m happy with those little pieces of compact kit, they’re great for long walks in special places. And the images from the plane were taken with an iPad 2017, the cameras were safely stowed in the overhead locker.


  1. Well done, Wayne. Excellent photos and an equally good accompanying write up.

    The Leica’s certainly did the job for you, which is all that matters, irrespective of the age of the tech.

    Good job.

    • Yes Jason, they are not the latest cameras, but the quality of Leica glass is ageless, and I do wonder just how much sensor technology has changed for most cameras in the recent past. As I said, I’m pretty happy with them, and they are beginning to feel like family!

  2. Really fascinating. My two favourites are the ones where only part of the rock is shown – like great shoulders heaving their way into the frame. Enormous presence. Print them at least at A3!
    I should have liked to know which camera did what, and in particular how you found the D-lux.

      • Thanks John.
        Correct that the three night images at Field of light were the D Lux 109.
        Also the Uluru just before and just after sunset near the end of the write-up.
        I like the D Lux a lot as a travel camera. Compact, light and excellent jpegs straight out of the camera. A function of a very good short zoom lens and a sensor individual pixel size (not total mp) that provides excellent image capture in low light.

        • Thanks, Wayne, I’d wondered about this for quite a while, and whether I should go from 1" Sony compact to the D-lux 109

          • Hello again John.
            Michael posted some other D Lux 109 images of mine in an article on March 16 this year. Just search back on it using Macfilos Index tab.
            I bought mine on EBay for well less than half new price, in immaculate condition. Lucky maybe, but I do think that Leica owners are almost always careful owners so I have no qualms about buying a well described Leica on EBay.
            Maybe plug your Sony model and D LUX 109 into web Cameradecision.com or Apotelyt.com for head to head comparison. And do take great notice of the pixel size (not the total megapixels). The D Lux pixel size is the same as the latest Leica CL, and if you don’t need massive cropping or huge size prints then the D Lux 109 gives you great output, including moderately low light images.
            Have fun considering, and window shopping. 🙂

          • Further note…….and yes, John, I also have a lovely little Leica C and agree with your comments elsewhere that it is a great ultra-compact that fits in any pocket. But as good as its images are, the D Lux are better, as they should be. We just can’t beat physics.

  3. I used to live in Australia but in those days sadly I couldn’t afford the trip to what I still remember as ‘the rock’. Having seen your shots, and read the text, I wish I had made it. One day perhaps …
    Glad to see the X1 still snapping up great images.

    • ….and I wish that I had made the effort and made the trip years ago. But certainly glad that I have now done so. It’s a magic place to spend a few days.

  4. Who could be that Q owner you speak of I wonder?

    This is a place I would love to visit and photograph, and is on that wish list of life.

    Cracking images Wayne, proving those little Leica’s have a lot of life in them. Thank you for sharing the journey, it was fascinating.


    • Yes Dave, we both know who he is: AKA Mr X1.
      Having coffee this morning we discussed how a good subject and interesting light are primary features of a good image. A secondary need is good glass and a good camera. Hhhhmmm.
      I did enjoy the challenge of trying to find something a bit different in images from a location where everyone takes the same shot. Examples that I best like are the two images that John Nicholson refers to below, and also the second image in the writeup ( the Rock at dawn ). Most people take that second image with the Rock filling the frame. I liked seeing the distant rocks at Kata Tjuta 50km away on the horizon at the side of the picture, and the fact the sun had already risen higher there.
      All good fun.

      • I hope you enjoyed the coffee break with Mr X1. 🙂

        I always say a good photographer will grapple with whatever camera and glass are available to get decent results in most circumstances.

        I like the Rock at dawn shots, and the ones at Kata Tjura – if anything it shows how prominent Uluru is on the surrounding landscape. Something i hadn’t really appreciated until I saw your images yesterday.

        Roll on seeing what you get up to next.


  5. Fabulous pictures Wayne. If I ever have the chance, I will visit Uluru. The sense of scale you got in the picture just before the sunset shots is impressive. Well done.

    • Thanks Richard. It’s a great place to visit. In fact, photographs just can’t really convey the immersive experience of being out there in the open spaces with those massive natural structures.


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