The Munda Bidi Trail is a wonderful thousand-kilometre dirt bicycle ride between Perth and Albany in Western Australia.

I started down the Albany at the south-west tip of Australia and spent nine days meandering north. I guess I only made it about halfway, but that was OK. I did not really have any goals except to see what happened and to try to record my experiences in some meaningful way. These photos are an attempt to go back to what it was like being there.

I made the photos with my Zeiss Ikon Nettar 517/16 6×6 – a folding roll film camera from the 1950s. The process of making them is part of the result. I wanted to remember what it was like being wet and cold but loving the trees and the land. I wanted to remember how I needed to take my gloves off, and take the camera out of its bag and unfold it while trying not to let it get too wet, and then guessing an exposure and setting the dials before making one frame and putting it all away again.

I also made digital photos along the way, but the ones shot on the Nettar with roll film reminded me much more of what the experience was like. Technically, there’s a lot to criticise about them, but I was really surprised by how much they resonated with other people who had ridden the track.

I scanned the negatives myself. The scans from the shop were OK, but they did not really make me feel like I was there. These scans are done by shooting the film on a lightbox with my DSLR and inverting the RGB curves individually in Lightroom. It’s a pain in the arse and I have not got a consistent workflow for it, but it still yields something I cannot yet get any other way.

~ David

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