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Scott Leggo: capturing adventure

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While most of us spend our winter nights by the heater, photographer Scott Leggo is often braving the elements to capture the sunrise over some of Australia’s highest mountains.

It’s mid-winter and Scott has headed out for a multi hike in the backcountry of Kosciuszko National Park. He hasn’t seen anyone for days and the weather has been cruel—consistent high winds, snow, and poor visibility, not to mention the below-freezing temperatures.

The snow has buried his tent for a third night in a row, but he’s determined to capture a view of Australia’s highest mountain that few have witnessed. With the weather cleared, Scott rises from his sleeping bag and adds on more warm layers.

Guided by the light of his head torch, he walks out in the dark with snowshoes to a spot he knows offers a good view. As he waits, tripod and camera set up, the clear morning provides an interrupted view of the summit of Mount Kosciuszko. At 2228 metres it is Australia’s highest mainland mountain. Sitting just below the summit is Lake Cootapatamba, a post-glacial tarn and the highest lake in Australia at 2042 metres.

“I wanted to capture both of these highest features of Australia during the middle of winter,” says Scott of that particular morning.

“My morale was low having captured only a few photographs and the weather forecasts bearing no resemblance to what I was experiencing. After enduring a night of buffeting high winds I awoke on this morning before sunrise to relatively clear skies.

“Walking out in the pre-dawn dark I was greeted by an ever-changing light show before me, with dramatic changes in colours and constantly changing cloud formations due to the high winds. The waiting game and frustrating days prior had finally paid off as I enjoyed this scene and the view around me.”

Kosciuszko Dawn. Credit: Scott Leggo.

The result is the multi-award winning photograph ‘Kosciuszko Dawn’. It’s photos like this, captured over more than a decade that have built Scott’s brand and established him as one of Canberra’s leading landscape photographers.

Since he began taking photos in 2006, Scott has been awarded the titles of ACT Professional Photographer of the Year and Landscape Photographer of the Year and was also awarded the title of Master of Photography by the prestigious Australian Institute of Professional Photography.

A former Air Force officer and diplomat, Scott credits the meticulous planning required in his previous careers to helping him capture many of the shots he does, while managing to endure the best and worst that mother nature throw at him.

But Scott’s adventures in the outdoors aren’t limited to solo snow camping. For his photo ‘Twisted Beauty’, Scott convinced his wife Phillipa to spend a long weekend camped out in Kosciuszko National Park, albeit without the snow. Scott explains his intention was to photograph the park’s signature snow gums, however, on the fourth morning of the trip, it began to pour with rain. Nevertheless, Scott was determined to get the perfect shot.

“Along the way, we couldn’t escape the history and beauty of these trees, with their natural colours highlighted by the wet bark,” explains Scott.

Though they were due to leave the park that day, Scott waited patiently for a break in the rain, finally able to get the shot he wanted. The resulting image captures the twisted beauty of the multicoloured gums which have managed to the survive the bushfires which have devastated large swathes of their habitat in recent years.

Twisted Beauty. Credit: Scott Leggo

Scott has sold images like ‘Twisted Beauty’ via his website for more than a decade, with his photographs adorning the walls of government buildings, embassies and private homes across the world.

However, this year marked the start of a new chapter for Scott and the business he describes as very much a family affair. It was time to make the move to a physical site where people could view his work as it was meant to be seen. With wife Phillipa and their new daughter in tow, Scott opened an eponymous gallery in the heart of Kingston.

“Having been an online business for more than ten years, it’s great to now have a permanent dedicated place where people can come and view my photographs and see them in person before purchasing them for their home or workplace,” he explains.

“The gallery provides an opportunity to show people what we have across Australia and inspire action in some way, encouraging people away from their desk or to get outdoors and see what the world has to offer.”

the essentials

What: The Scott Leggo Gallery
Where: 45 Jardine Street, Kingston
When: Open seven days a week from 10 am
Website:  www.scottleggo.com

Feature image: Scott and Phillipa at the new gallery in Kingston. 

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