I have had a photographic encounter with the sacred, I think. A while ago I lugged the 8x10 to a place called Granite Bay near where I live. It is a fantastic rockscape with monoliths, deep shadows, and crevasses; visually powerful and evocative. While I was setting up the camera a passer by admonished me for intruding into a place sacred to the old aboriginal tribes that used to live in the area about 100 years ago. The aborigines have been gone for a long time, no one left to offend, so I completed the photography and moved on.

Later I realized that it may have been the dramatic and slightly eerie ambience of Granite Bay that told the ancient aborigines that it was a sacred place. Sacred places are rarely ordinary looking, or so it seems. The same ambience talking to me, a 21st century photographer, definitely insisted "Photograph Me". Perhaps for modern technological man the response to a spiritually powerful landscape is not to worship but to photograph.

Photography itself may be akin to a sacrament. Consider first the difficult pilgimage, 8x10 on the back, photographer sweating in the sun, agonizing across steep topography to get to the site of power. Then a portable shrine, the 8x10 camera, is set up. Various obeisances and rituals are subsequently performed with a big dark cloth, spot-meter, filters etcetera. The final step is the offering. A large piece of expensive photographic film is ritually "burnt" in the portable shrine in supplication to the power of the subject matter.

The ancient original worshipers are gone from many places in the world, not just most of Australia, but where they survive their priority should be respected. If the spirits of a place survive or accumulate power on the basis that someone pays homage to them then photographers must be preserving a lot of earth-magic. The spirits of Granite Bay seem not to mind photography. They have always treated me benignly and have invited me back many times.