Photographing The midnight oil house

In my first blog post I tell you how I recreated Midnight Oil’s famous album cover

I'm sorry, but this story has to start with some bad dancing.

Just be thankful it's animated and not me!

As a teenage boy, I hated dancing, like a lot of other teenage boys I suspect.

Growing up in Australia during the 1980’s, I had a saviour. Peter Garrett, the energetic front man of  ‘Midnight Oils’. Peter has a unique dancing style, and that is putting it mildly. But his style was easy for me to copy, so thank you Peter, teenage awkwardness solved!

Ever since I have loved their music. I also remember each album cover had an amazing landscape image on the cover.

Thirty years later when I fell in love with landscape photography, Midnight Oil’s images were my starting point. In this blog post I walk you through how I found the location of the photo and attempted to replicate it.

The 'Diesel and Dust' album cover

Out of all the Midnight Oil album covers, for me the cover of ‘Diesel and Dust’ is the one that comes to mind. This is the photo I want to replicate.

Image copyright (Midnight Oil, 1987)

Who is The Midnight Oil photographer?

Early in my career I won a $4000 prize for one of my photos. Part of this prize was to spend a day with Ken Duncan, perhaps Australia’s best known landscape photographer. As part of his presentation he played the film clip for Midnight Oil’s ‘One Country’. It turns out Ken was their photographer.

The video clip, which I’ve embedded below, shows Peter Garrett singing to a montage of Ken’s images. I’m sure you agree the images are incredible. I really like Ken’s natural style, he has definitely had a huge influence on my own style.

What is The Midnight Oil House?

I always assumed the house was in the middle of The Western Desert. One day a friend told it’s just two hours north of Adelaide in a town called Burra. The house is generally known as ‘The Midnight Oil House’ and is one of Burra’s main tourist attractions.

Time to plan a trip!

My first look at the Midnight Oil House

Oh wow!

I was booked for a photoshoot with Adelaide Uni in a town just south of Burra. I decided to pack the swag and head to Burra afterwards to check it out. I hadn’t googled the house before I went on my trip and I’m so glad I didn’t, it would have ruined my first look. It was not what I was expecting, a real surprise. It was in the middle of a lush green field with rolling hills in the background. Quite beautiful really.

My first look at the Midnight Oil House

Oh wow!

I was booked for a photoshoot with Adelaide Uni in a town just south of Burra. I decided to pack the swag and head to Burra afterwards to check it out. I hadn’t googled the house before I went on my trip and I’m so glad I didn’t, it would have ruined my first look. It was not what I was expecting, a real surprise. It was in the middle of a lush green field with rolling hills in the background. Quite beautiful really.

Want a copy of my photos?

Head over to my gallery page where all my landscapes are available in high resolution to download. 

I decided I had to re-create Ken's image

Play Video

The Midnight Oil House Video

I’ve created a video that shows my journey to re-create Ken’s Photo, I hope you enjoy it.

For me this journey has been enlightening. It's shown me how photographers can use light, lenses and angles to produce completely different results.

My finished image

I think I did a pretty good job. It’s not as good as Ken’s, but I have excuses! Firstly, I was unable to get onto the property and secondly the condition of the property was different to Ken’s original. 

Who knows, maybe one day I will have another try.

14 Responses

    1. I heard Ken Duncan talking about the house. He went back to take more photos of it and got told off by the owners. When he explained who he was they relaxed. Apparently it is undergoing some deterioration. He went to Midnight Oil and raised some funds for restoration.

  1. Great to read all the background Andy, next time definitely use your own dancing, I’ve heard amazing stories 😉

  2. I had a poster of that album cover which completely covered my teenager bedroom wall. So I was stoked when I found the house when driving back from Woomera one time. Photo was taken using Kodak film…

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