Nestled in the Bago State Forest is a majestic Sugar Pine field. Golden pine needles carpet the ground, softening every footstep as you walk along the 500m track under a canopy of the Earth’s largest pines.
Coined the ‘Pine Cathedral’, the forest is more than 90 years old and one of the most famous in the region. Not only a hot spot for tourists, the Sugar Pine Walk is an Instagram sensation, a magnet for amateur and pro photographers alike who continue to be inspired, finding new ways to show off this natural wonder.
If you’re a novice photographer and keen to capture the Sugar Pines in all their glory, these five tips will get you on the right track to taking the perfect shot.
TIP #1 – LEAVE YOUR IDEAS AT THE DOOR
The best way to get a powerful shot is to leave all your preconceived ideas behind, says photographer James Thomson. Venture into the woods with an open mind of what your photo will look like. By doing this, you will capture and showcase the forest as you see it, making it truly unique.
In a similar vein, try not to get caught up recreating images you may have seen. Don’t limit yourself, because according to photographer Mitchel Pearson, once you’re standing among the majestic giants, you’ll see there are many more possibilities. The Sugar Pine Walk is a playground for any photographer – so test new things and most importantly, have fun!
TIP #2 – DO YOUR RESEARCH
In order to capture the perfect shot, photographer Stephanie Aceglave recommends taking your time exploring the forest. The key to a dynamic and powerful photo lies in the symmetrical lines of the sugar pines, so make sure you investigate all parts of the forest to find that magic spot.
For the serious photo enthusiast, photographer Phil Winterton suggests spending a couple of days at the forest before and after sunrise to really find your creativity and set up your shot. Take your time, pack food, water and immerse yourself into the forest.
TIP #3 – TIMING IS EVERYTHING
There’s a reason they call it the ‘Golden Hour’ and it’s key to getting a great photo of the Sugar Pine Walk, says photographer Daniel Tran. If you want soft light, an hour after sunrise or an hour before sunset is ideal. Plus, if it’s a cloudless day, you should get beautiful golden light shining through the giant pine trees.
If you’re shooting in Winter, keep an eye on the weather. According to photographer Gary Swift, if there’s too much snow, you might not be able to access the walk. A light dusting of snow is optimal for the best winter wonderland shot. If it is snowing, get there early – it’s an extremely popular spot and if you’re too late, there will be footprints everywhere!
There’s nothing like the feeling of standing between the giant pines in silence, listening to the tops of the trees gently bump into each other in the breeze with no other distractions – It’s something really special.
Image: Mitchell Pearson
TIP #4 – EXPERIMENT
Play around with a variety of different focal lengths and angles, says photographer Daniel Tran. Try photographing with a wide-angle lens which allows you to fit more of the scene into your image. In contrast, try a more telephoto lens to isolate interesting details.
Photographer Gary Swift also suggests shooting from a lower angle to really accentuate the size of the magnificent trees. Try including a person standing at the Sugar Pine Walk to further create a sense of scale of the giant sugar pine trees.
TIP #5 – THERE’S A PHOTO FOR EVERY SEASON
The good news is that you can get a great shot of the Sugar Pine all year round. In different environments, the trees form completely new identities. The warmer months will offer beautiful lighting, glistening sun and a gentle breeze creating movement in the trees – it becomes a golden forest. The cooler months will see the walk transformed into a fairytale, with crisp white snow dusting the trees and ground – a winter wonderland.
Sugar Pine Walk is an approximately 5-hour drive from Sydney or Melbourne, located about halfway between Batlow and Tumbarumba. If you’re travelling from the south, turn right into Knopsens road (turn left if you’re coming from the north) and enter Bago State Forest. Follow the logging road for about 400m into the forest and on the right you will see the car park and entrance to the Sugar Pine Walk.
Words by Ali Hiddlestone