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Brindabellas captured in infra-red

Canberra Times logo Canberra Times 26/05/2014 Sally Pryor
Infra-red film-makers James van der Moezel and Glen Ryan have made a new film of the Brindabellas . © Elesa Kurtz Infra-red film-makers James van der Moezel and Glen Ryan have made a new film of the Brindabellas .

Film-maker Glen Ryan used to be baffled when people raved about the beauty of the Brindabellas.

Having grown up on the coast, he was convinced that he didn't need to go inland to film all the drama and beauty of the natural landscape.

But having spent the past year shooting Canberra's surrounding mountains, he has completely changed his mind.

Along with fellow film-maker James van der Moezel, he has captured major weather events as well as the minutiae of plant and insect life using specially designed near-infra-red digital cameras, which can pick up various details that the naked eye can't see.

"In practical terms, what that means is it actually cuts through a lot of the atmospherics, so you tend to get pretty clear pictures," he said.

The pair began their mission last year, with time-lapse footage taken near Wee Jasper in NSW as part of an exhibition at Belconnen Arts Centre.

Wanting to trial a new motion-picture near-infra-red camera, they began driving around the region, looking for suitable landscapes, before realising that the most dramatic visuals could be found closer to home.

"One afternoon, I realised it looked pretty cool over the back of Stromlo from over on Red Hill," Ryan said.

"We went out to Stromlo one day and then I thought, wow, if you actually come out here every day, pretty much something happens every afternoon in these ranges. So it went from just being a trial to actually a full-on obsession to try and get this story of the Brindabellas."

The duo are now on-track to finish a 90-minute film based on the footage they have been shooting since last June, and will be showing a 40-minute preview on Friday night at the National Film and Sound Archive.

It will be the first time anyone has seen the footage, and the first time Ryan and van der Moezel will have seen it on the big screen.

They have funded the project themselves and have never had access to large-scale projection equipment.

Ryan said the screening would be a useful audience test; the film has no narrative, but is instead a series of "stories" based around everyday weather events and natural occurrences.  

"The way I explain it is, if we go out to Tidbinbilla and stand there now, it's an awesome experience but there are so many things you can't photograph in two dimensions – there's sound, there's the feeling of the sun, the smell – you can't get that in a two-dimensional photograph," Ryan said.

"But by shooting in infra-red, you can't get all that either, but you are actually getting that extra element that can't be in a traditional photograph, so in way doing it slightly differently helps make up for that."

He said he hoped the film would give people a newfound appreciation of the spectacular mountainscapes on Canberra's doorstep.  

"It's a way of just looking at things that are here every day," he said.

"I can't think of any other city where there's a cloudscape and sunset situation that is as good as this. People overseas who see it on Facebook can't believe that this happens every night just next to the capital city."

Brindabellas is screening at Arc Cinema on May 30, 5.30-6.30pm. Entry is free but bookings are essential. 

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