Saturday Evening Post #003

Sometimes the action just gets ahead of the photographer. Or as a friend on mine was wont to say about other occasions.  “Never let your ambitions overweigh your capabilities.”

Seemed an easy shot. Duck takes off.

Just a bit slow on the ‘panning’ on this one.  A hint to all those who have ambitions of developing a good panning technique.
1. Be very sure you know where the action is going to be when you press the shutter.
2. Face that direction. Adopt a “Bow Stance”, see tai chi details or an archery class.
3. Wind yourself back in the direction of the oncoming action.
4. Pickup and follow the subject
5. Unwind as you go
6. When at the position established in Point 1. release the shutter.
7. Continue to follow through at the same pace as the moving subject.

Reason being quite clear if you think about it, you wind up, tension and all, then unwind, tensionless and the shutter goes off while you are perfectly balanced.

All good in practice, but when the duck explodes from the water.
So I ended up with the Male Chestnut Teal with its beak and wings right on the edge of the frame. 😦

This is a bit of a rescue in Photoshop.  Opened up the Canvas Size, and then added some water/ripples etc from another shot at the same location/time.

Aren’t ducks wonderful.

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Heads Up: Changes Coming

Every so often, I look at the overall feel of the blog site and ponder how to make it more friendly and viewer effective.
I’ve been using the current template for a couple of years and have enjoyed the chance to let the images do most of the work on the blog. As they should.

But the winds of change are coming to Birdsaspoetry.
I’m gearing up to turn the front page into small tiles of each post.  That way its easier to see a Body of Work, rather than scroll down interminably to see what has been going on the past few months.
A challenge with the new style is what to do with all those sidebar, bottom bar additions. But, I suspect not to many rock on to the site expecting to see new stuff down there. So they may well diminish in number and it won’t be the first time I’ve dropped stuff off.
Here is a sneak preview of what it might look like.

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Counting Birds at Mt Rothwell

My local bird group, BirdLife Werribee, or more affectionately known by the previous name, “Werribee Wagtails” has for many years been doing  bird surveys once a quarter at various sites.
This weekend we surveyed the Mt Rothwell Conservation and Research Centre just to the north of the You Yangs range.
To quote Peter Sellers from “Balham Gateway to the South”,
It is exciting work and my forefathers have been engaged upon it since 1957—

The previous few days of rain had managed to get past the You Yangs rainshadow and give the area decent drink. As we assembled, we were joined by a group from BirdLife Australia, Ovens and Murray.

And the bush seemed to respond to our enthusiastic banter as we walked over the various tracks that lead through the park.

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Continue reading “Counting Birds at Mt Rothwell”

Saturday Evening Post #002

I want to sing like the birds sing. 
Not worrying about who hears, 
or what they think
Rumi

For those who’ve seen a Black-shouldered Kite food exchange, you’ll agree that the process is highpowered, high speed and high risk.
The male, with mouse, hangs in mid-air while his mate, barrels up to snatch the mouse, usually knocking him about as she passes.
One one occasion, I saw her lock claws over his, and he couldn’t let go of the mouse, and she was not going to release her lunch.

After a bit of struggling it resulted in them tumbling wing over wing, body rotating around body, as they completely out of control plummeted to ground. And she would not let go.
Finally she, being the bigger of the two, gained enough wing control to halt their descent, which left him hanging or rather swaying upside down. Perhaps she relented her release for a milli-second and he was free to drop away and fly off.
I worked with another pair, the male only had one working foot, and he never did food exchange in the air, and I often wondered if he lost the use of his limb in such an incident.

But, I’ve never seen a Spotted Harrier exchange close up.  Always they happen far out over the paddocks, two birds fly toward each other, exchange and then they fly apart.  The mechanics had eluded me.  Until the other day.

A pair of Spotted Harrier are preparing a nest, and in between collecting sticks and grasses, there is time for top up of food.

For a good part of the morning they had been calling back and forth, a bit like the Three Little Pigs building their house.
Then the call changed, much more warble than the shrill call of a bird of prey.   “That is strange,”, saith I to EE who was on the other side of the vehicle, “There is a change or something is happening.”

And sure enough she sprang out of the nest tree and headed across the paddock. About then, I caught sight of the male, who stopped and Harrier-like hung in mid air about 50-60 metres from where we were standing.
She then wafted in as a good Harrier would, and they danced about one another in the air for a moment or two, then she raised the wings and ever so gently slipped in under his, and took the mouse in a total surgical move. Simple, almost ballet like. He watched to be sure all was well, and then just slid away. She returned to the treeline to enjoy her snack

Amazing to see the completely different approach to food handling.

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Saturday Evening 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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