Saturday Night Post 001

“Thus it is said:
The path into the light seems dark,
the path forward seems to go back,"
Lao Tzu

What, I said to myself, is the point of having a blog if I don’t post something to it?
So after bumping into Robin Whalley’s site, The Lightweight Photographer,  he is all into Mirrorless cameras, get it, light weight!!!!  I thought his idea of a current shot with a little bit of ramble seemed like a good way to keep the blog roll rollin’. (think a theme song is in there somewhere, shades of old b&w tv and Rowdy Yates.)  Oh, I date myself.

Had a bit of time at the Mansion Lake of recent.  And as the evening sun was dropping behind the trees, small shafts of light ran between the wonderful, large, trees, and made great little spot lit openings on a super stage.
All I had to do was call in the talent, and have it fly into the light, and being the obliging bird it is, (This egret is a regular at the Ornamental Lake, and has been on the blog and my Flickr sites on more than a number of occasions.) it did.

BTW, Robin Whalley has some rather useful books and vids on using software such as Lightroom, Photoshop, On One and others.  His approach I rather enjoy, and as he is now doing a series on Nik Software, my fav Noise Reduction and Sharpening tools, I guess I’m a bit hooked.

Cue Great Egret.  Enter Stage Left.

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Pied Cormorant Call of the Season

We had truth be told, taken a trip down to the Jawbone Conservation Park at Williamstown.  One of my Flickr mates  David Nice, had reported a Great Crested Grebe.  As the ponds can give good access to the birds in quite a few places, it seemed like a good idea to have a looksee.

On our day, however, the Great Crested Grebes (there are two there), must have been hunting out in the open water, as not a crest nor a feather were to be found.

As the Jawbone lakes are quiet water, the water birds use the area as a resting spot, and also to get to know one another it seems.

We watched for 15 to 20 minutes a pair of Pied Cormorant that had more than fishing on their mind.

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Little Visits: Little Ravens

Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh: Ker-Lunk.
A Little Raven flew past my ear, and landed directly on the picnic table in front of me.
Grab camera. Now the bird is so close I can’t get focus.  Move back on table, eventually get a great head shot.
With a boldness that had to be experienced to be understood, it walked over the table checking out anything that would be usable food.

Long time readers may recall that I used to do quite a few “Little Visits” when I was having my Nikon 1 Series excursus. But when it became clear Nikon had abandoned the system, well so did I. And with it of course my Little Visits.  (Little being a reference to the N 1 system- hope that wasn’t too subtle)

But this visit has made me want to revive the series. Sort of suits a lot of what I’m currently doing in the field. Rather than chasing lots of birds, I’m back to working with just a few.

So, after checking the table, and the surrounds and yes, I know, I don’t feed birds, but I  ‘accidentally’ dropped a bit of my muesli bar and my visitor was very quick to retrieve, fly to the river, soften it off in the water and then fly to a branch just over my head and deposit it into the waiting beak of its recently fledged young one.  Ahh!

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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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