Snapshots: From Hope Street

It’s a little known factoid, that EE and I walk along the Werribee River near our unit most mornings. Weather permitting we do it before breakfast, and during the winter months that means the start is before daylight.
One of the access streets near our village is Hope Street. Now a friend of mine would like to add “NO” to the front of it, but I have those sorts of acquaintances. Some might even suggest that I attract them.

A highlight of our egress along Hope Street is greeting a friendly pair of Australian Magpies that have made the area their territory.  She has had five nestings over the years since we’ve been passing. Her male has a damaged leg, and he is unable to stand or hunt on the ground. He is however quite capable of perching on fences and lamposts.

A few weeks back as I walked down Hope Street, a rambling carolling call from directly overhead stopped me.  Looking up, I saw Maggie sitting in her newly installed “Grand Design” nest.  Enterprising lass had used lots of discarded building material, wire, plastic and the like to add a new story to last year’s nest.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and I took the camera down at first light to see how things were going.

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Studio Werkz: Creative Lighting Challenges

Warning to Birders.  This blog is mostly about photography, and lighting techniques and fanning the creative juices.  CLICK AWAY NOW!  You have been warned.

My current mentor and I have been playing with the thought, “What if you’ve taken your last “GREAT” photograph.” ;-(

Not one that is technically correct. Used the right lens, got the shutterspeed-iso-aperture worked out.  The exposure is dead on.  The subject is all as it should be.  No need for massive post-production.  Not that sort of Great.
But, y’know, Great!

And image that purely by subject/time/lighting/emotional appeal reaches out beyond the frame and the viewer “gets it”. The ones that sometimes we bleed over or travel miles for, or just happens to occur when we walk out the door.  You, subject, lighting, mood, atmosphere and feeling all make their stamp on the moment and its, “Great”. Not the one that gets more “Likes” on Facebook, or more “Favs” on Flickr.  But one that in a timeless manner somehow moves the thought you saw at the moment to the viewer’s mind and they  not only identify but also imbibe.

Y’know like McCurry’s Pic of the Green-eyed Afghan girl on the cover of Nat Geo.  Still get shivers when I recall how I first noticed that photo in the news agents rack when I’d wandered in off the street.  It was the only magazine in the entire rack that stole my heart away.

I’ve faced some big lighting challenges over the years. Buildings at first or last light. Vehicles in the moody pre-dawn. Brides and Grooms in the midday sun. Chrome laundry bowls on white gloss metal stand. And in all cases the same principles apply.

I had the good fortune to have been trained at one stage by the best.
Dean Collins. Master of Light. —A title he most justifiably deserved.
“He taught us to not only see the light, but to move it, bend it and most importantly control it, no matter where or when we were creating images” tricolorlabs.com

At one seminar Dean showed a 3 foot by 5 foot print of a portrait of Natalie Wood, taken just before her death. No matter where you stood in the room, her beauty shone from the wall. A truly stunning portrait.

So the other evening when the challenge came, I was fascinated how the various elements came together.
Gotta few minutes?
Here we go.

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Snapshots: Mouse Hunting in the Evening Light

We’ve been working with a Nankeen Kestrel for about a week or more now.  At first it was a casual acquaintance, but like all things after awhile it gets a little easier to predict what an an individual bird will do.

We dropped by on our way home from a day at the You Yangs Park, looking we thought for Robins. Not that we had much luck.
But the sunshine was holding in the evening light and we decided to see how the Kestrel was doing.   I have just about concluded that it’s a first year male, who is still in juvenile dress.  I might be wrong, but the light tail feathers and lack of barring are a good sign.

Found (him) sitting quietly on a branch over the paddock.  So I decided to walk up through the grass and see if I could get closer, and perhaps get a better angle. And he sat.

Huge amounts of supposition going on here, however I am pretty much convinced that as I walked through the grass, mice in the area fled, but toward the Kestrel.  Suddenly the head bobbed back and forth, and then he dropped.

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Snapshots: A Raptor Day at the Treatment Plant

A search on the Bureau of Meteorology website, has quite a bit of info on the lack of rain in mid of Australia.  See here http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/drought/
At the bottom of the page is a couple of graphs that begin to put it all in perspective.

And as it dries out, it seems, that quite a number of birds are moving south.  Or toward the eastern coast.
And we’ve seen quite a change in the numbers of smaller falcons and kites in our area.  In the space of a 10 minute drive the other day we saw 14 Nankeen Kestrel.

So we took a trip to the Western Treatment Plant on a sunny morning.

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Drama in Several Acts

We’d be chatting, Mr An Onymous and I, about the history and development of Greek Drama and Tragedy. And the role of Satyr as a political statement. Among the playwrights were Sophocles, and Euripides, and how they used the stage to create the Spectacle and allow the characters and drama to develop.  Anyway, you get the idea. 

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“The Rise and Rise of the Brown Falcon in Unfamiliar Territory”

All good plays need a title that might throw the unwary viewer in the wrong direction.

Curtain Rises.

Act 1

Scene 1.  A roadway somewhere along the Western Treatment Plant.  Single treeline along roadway.  Magpies embedded in trees carolling among themselves.

Enter Stage Left.  Single Brown Falcon, flying about tree height toward the roadway. Point to note.  Brown is flying slowly and deliberately.

Scene 2.  Brown approaches treeline directly toward Magpies. Still slow and deliberate.

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