A Day like No Other

We’ve been cooped up inside since EE’s “Incident” a few weeks back. But with some improvement and a bit of willpower, she decided that a morning visit with Eloise would be therapeutic. And well, who am I to argue with the ‘good doctor’.  So a check on the weather, and it seemed early morning would be still, great light and not too hot.

A couple of kind souls offered the advice when we arrived, “Don’t Hurry.  She’s not here yet”.  And like one of those prophetic statements that just becomes self-fulfilling, it did. While we waited around,  EE sitting quietly on her new ‘mobile’ seat,  didn’t take long to discover some thing that most others  had overlooked.

A family of Spotted Pardalote had nested in the cliff bank, just below the edge, and as there were quite a number of exposed roots offering great perches in the sunshine, the little birds were moving back and forth encouraging their young ones out into the open.

By mid-morning and a reassuring cuppa of Grey of Earl, we pretty much concluded that Eloise was fishing elsewhere this fine morning.

About that time our flickr mate, Derek turned up hoping to try out his new 500mm f/5.6 PF lens, so I had a chance to ooh, and ahhh, and drool just as bit.  Hope he has remarkable success with it, and it does look a great lens to walk about with. EE even tried on the mobile and expressed interest. So there goes my bank balance I’m thinking.  Mind with the shortage of the lenses worldwide, I should have ample time to save up enough bottletops and bits of string by this time next year for her lens. 🙂

New lenses must be in the air, as I’ve taken control of a 70-200 f/4, for a beaut walkabout narrow landscape lens.  It also works a treat on birds, if I can get close enough.  Funny how sometimes equipment just ‘feels’ right.  I’ve only ever had that happen to a few lenses I’ve owned, but the little 70-200 is sweet. Thinks back to when I purchased a 30-100mm Powerzoom for the Nikon 1 system.  I just loved to carry that lens around, but could never get inspired to make great pictures. But  it felt like the Tao just flowed from it.

Mike Johnson of the “Online Photographer” has this to say about Laws of Lenses, if you want a bit of a smile. https://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2019/02/mikes-seven-laws-of-lenses.html

Sadly our morning ended without the Lady making an entrance.

So to work.

Australasian Darter hanging out the sheets to dry

 

Little Black Cormorants. They surfaced and almost immediatley went under again

 

Grey Teal

 

Way across the river at the golf club, Toby the Kelpie and his friend the Blue Heeler were helping the groundspeople prepare the greens for the morning

 

I often talk about a “Day at the Office” on the blog. This is looking over the river toward that area

 

Lots of Australian White Ibis entertained us with the landing styles

 

Female Spotted Paralote at the river’s edge
Another view of the Spotted Pardalote

 

Juvenile Spotted Pardalote

 

A male Superb Fairywren about to go into eclipse. I rather wonder if its not a previous season male who is getting ready to move out into the world on his own
Advertisements

Saturday Evening Post #20: A Piece of Paper

It was only a small piece of paper, about 75mm square (2 1/2x 2 1/2 inches to be precise).

It was sitting on the bench top, vivid in its whiteness against the dark top.
Next to it sat three small plastic trays. Each contained a clear fluid.

I was given a small pair of metal tongs and told to pick up the paper and place it in the first tray. I did.

It sat on the top of the liquid and surface tension took over and it stayed floating only partially submerged. “Push it under”.  I did.

A clock with big hands started to tick the background.

And.  Nothing much else happened.

And after about a minute as I peered at the wet paper under the orange glow of the ‘safelight’, a faint change began to occur. Light grey blurs began to appear, and slowly they became shapes and the shapes took on form and tone, and eerily out of the white paper a photo of “Blackie” our cat, began to emerge.

After the clock ticked off its time, I transferred, Blackie, with a considerable reverence, into the second and then the third trays.  Several minutes later, “Mind your eyes, ” Dad said, and the room lights were turned on. And there sitting in the dish was indeed a photograph of Blackie. And, more importantly for the moment, one that I had produced.

I was hooked. At around 12 years of age, my life, as they say—changed, and a direction for life was set.  I not only wanted to know, I knew that I wanted to know more about this fascinating process that could make white paper into a real photograph.

It was a contact print from a negative that I’d made some days before.  And, yet, it was,in all its monochrome glory, a Photograph.

I had to know.  And in a small country town, I knew where to look.
The local library.

The journey continues.

Enjoy a great week.

_DSC9281 - Version 2_Aperture_preview
This is Thomas, my nextdoor neighbour’s cat. Tom used to come for visits and would sit in the sunshine on the window sill of the front of the house and watch the garden. Thomas is a rich ginger cat. Guess which colour filter I used to bring out the best in his rich ginger markings. I’ve resisted adding a tonal colour.

 

(The negative of Blackie the cat is long gone.)
The Header shot is pretty much a direct B+W conversion from colour.  No clever stuff, just Tom and I would spend lots of time working window lighting for effect.

 

Snapshots: Breakfast at Tiffany’s

Well not quite, but I went down early this morning as the light looked like being great, and promised to be back ‘soon’, but stayed a bit longer.
EE has done a fetlock, or pulled a ‘hammie”, and is a bit out of circulation at the moment, so I set off on me lonesome, hoping the sunshine might stay.

The Lady was in residence by the time I arrived, and was no doubt looking for breakfast.  She had several attempts but missed, then stretched out upriver and within a few minutes returned with a sizeable fish.

Bathed in early morning sunlight
I’m really getting a feel for her contrasted against the cliffs behind
The first swing and miss for the morning. Have to say I really thought she was on a winner here
A second attempt.
The tail kicks up and must give her some extra speed
Another miss.
Plenty of light to make the water sparkle
The fantastic head shake that flings off all the excess water
A mintue later and she was back with a fish
There was a young family in the carpark, and their baby cried. The long stare took it all in
And there goes the last of the tail. All done at that.

Saturday Evening Post #19 : Becoming a Beginner Again

Went to a talk the other night by a birding expert, Sean Dooley. One of the things he spoke about resonated with me as I’d just been pondering the way photography has affected my life, even from the time I was a young’un.

He told a tale of how as a a little tacker, he’d been watching and recording birds for a while in his local swamp at Seaford.  One day a bird landed, that was not of the usual residents.  He immediately knew it to be a Glossy Ibis. A bird that only migrated down on occasions and while not rare, was at least unusual for his area.  He explained the excitement he felt, first in finding or seeing the bird, and then in knowing what it was, and in knowing something about it from his studies.  That excitement was what drove him to spend a year long project seeing as many birds in Australia as possible.  He then wrote a book.

Steve Jobs is reputed to have said, after being fired from Apple the first time, “The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again.”

My current mentor has got me thinking along those same lines.  What is it like to be committed to the photograph, not just the process, but the excitement of making the image.

To becoming a beginner again and being committed to the photograph itself, and in turn not letting the subject down.

There is of course a number of sides to this commitment.
Here’s another.

Being in the field is a profound experience.  It’s what makes bird photography such a noble pursuit. It isn’t just the photography that matters, nor bringing back a technically perfect image. But, rather being out in the field that shapes our souls. To take the time to listen, look, and to see. It’s what makes it difficult and at the same time its such a deep experience.
It’s not about the trophy shot, but about learning to sit and contemplate the beautiful mysteries of life.

Gotta go, I’ve a day in the field ahead. Time to become a beginner again.

Eloise bedecked in late aftenoon light. The shape and tone of the simplification to monotone adds its own element.

Snapshots: An Eloise Collection

Enough of this photography vision inspired techno mumbo jumbo.
How about some photographs.

Good point.

As I rack up harddiskfulls of Osprey pictures, it getting hard to put them all on Flickr.
I know there is way to make project pages here on WordPress, however I just can’t figure out how to make it work the way I want. But the story telling of the blog suits my photo journalism style I think, so I’ll persevere a bit longer.

In the meantime here is a few so that you don’t miss out.

Enjoy

Gotta Love that intense look
Balancing
This is like a layup in basketball, straight onto the perch
A hit and miss. One fish that got the chance of another day
Sometimes photographers talk about “Pre-visualising the image” it’s an Ansel Adams term. Here I more ‘pre-willed’ as I knew she was swinging up, and was lucky she chose the small shaft of light through the trees.
Soft melded light that just reeks character
Take away food
A big wing stretch before leaving
Swinging up in the even light
Soft evening light enhances the colours
A really tight turn with the head held level
Sometimes the poetry just happens in the best light

 

 

Saturday Evening Post #18: For the Love of the Photograph

Sorry about the unsharp image, my fault really, shot it with a Teleconverter attached. <VBG> 🙂

Been having a few interesting discussions with the photofraternity of late, and one of the things pointed out is how unreliable Teleconverters are, and the Nikon 2.0eII in particular. After all, as was explained to me, “All the forums agree that the Nikon TC2.0eII is unreliable, and unsharp”.

My defense of course was a shrug of the shoulders and pat the TC 2.0 on the 300 f/2.8 I was using at the time and saying I was happy with the results. Which probably would have bought fits of laughter, but a bird turned up and everybody swung in to action to capture a 4 pixel size image of the bird about 70metres away.  But, I consoled myself at least they would be sharp pixels, unlike my less than ideal results. 😉

I recall a quote by David DuChemin, “I make photographs, I don’t take them, shoot them, capture them or snap them. I do what I do to see the world differently and to show others what I see and feel. And yes. It did look like that when seen through my eyes, mind and heart.

The tools of my craft are the camera and lens.  The tools of my art are my passion, and vision. It’s not how we make our photographs that matters but what we make of them. The camera and lens is irrelevant to the pursuit of beauty, and authenticity. It’s how I see the light,  chase the wonder and bring it to life. There is too much to see and create to waste time.”

So, I guess I’ll just have to put up with losing sharpness because of my persistence in using such inferior equipment that can’t pass the ‘pixel peeping test’.

Just for the record, the image is handheld, 300mm f/2.8 +TC 2.0e at 600mm equivalent (angle of view). D500, on an overcast day.

The header image is from the camera JPEG. The trailer image converted via  Adobe Camera Raw  7.1. Wasn’t trying for an exact match, rather two interpretations.

Sorry they aren’t sharper.

Can’t imagine how good they would have looked if I’d been using a Canon 600mm with stacked converters from 70 metres away. 🙂

Back to sanity next week—normal transmissions will resume.

Seeya Along the Track

1902-08_DWJ_9233_NX2

Atmospherics

It rained overnight. Not a lot really, we were promised a deluge, but like all good weather cells, some places were more fortunate than others.  And the weather prognosticators, of the tv weather. in their usual scramble to spread fear and anxiousness among the masses were predicting a morning that would have made Noach tremble in his galoshes.

We, EE and I were keen—insert obsessed—with going back out and seeing Eloise, and as I had an early morning appointment, we figured on an early start and then home for breakfast. Good plan.
Weather looked pretty nice with stars asparkling in the rich blue predawn sky. But by the time we’d pulled into the parking area, an ominous dark cloud was rolling in behind. However because of the rain, and the heat, what we also had was the area festooned in mist. Everywhere. and the photographer was beginning to lament leaving the landscape lens at home.

Eloise must have had similar Osprey thoughts about the weather and she didn’t turn up until about an hour and a half after sunup.  Caught a glimpse of her wafting through the mists. She sat on the furtherest tree and showed no sign of going fishing. We concluded she must have eaten an early breakfast elsewhere today.

But in the meantime the mists and the birds in the area were a pleasant interlude.

1902-07_DWJ_8809
The mist lay a carpet of pearl across the landscape
1902-07_DWJ_8838
Lack of light and high ISO were the order of the day.
1902-07_DWJ_8799
White birds on pearl
1902-07_DWJ_8843
Eloise coming out of the mists
1902-07_DWJ_8943
The Royal Spoonbill decided to sleep in.
1902-07_DWJ_8977
Even when a burst of sunshine came, the Spoonbill carried on
1902-07_DWJ_8971
Eloise perched a long way from our camera point
1902-07_DWJ_9034
The Dusky Moorhens were happy with a fresh supply coming down on the river
1902-07_DWJ_8982
No wonder the mists lingered. The air was still, the water mirror smooth

Snapshots: Learning the Fine Art of Fishing

or:  Eloise Does Fast-food Breakfast.

You knew it was coming right? Of course you did.

With such a bird in the vicinity, and the possibility of her taking a fish sometime when I was there, it was too much not to expect I’d sacrifice a couple of hours sleep, and go down to K Road Cliffs in the early morning.  EE had somewhat offhandedly remarked that perhaps I should sleep down there in the car.

So armed with the ever reliable D810 and the 300mm f/2.8 and TC2.0, I set out.  The only thing that made the plan look less than successful was the weather. Overcast. Porridge. Classic 3200ISO weather.

I found her sitting high in a tree overlooking the horseshoe bend and its big fishing hole.  The tide was at the end of running in high, and that seems to be her preferred time.
So I waited. Did I mention that lack of light.  I’m not a great high iso at any cost person, but it was high or go home, and I took the former not the latter option.

And waited. So did she.

Here’s the long sequence.  Enjoy

 Eloise was sitting high above the river on a favoured perch.

A first strike

 The next attempt.  What I learned from all this is that she prefers to hunt close to the river bank. Each strike was only a few metres from the edge.  I’m not sure if that makes it easier to see the fish or if the fish work close along the river bank

  Tail up and grappling hooks going down

 I put this not so good one in to see how close she runs to the edge. Another miss

 Back up to the far bank. Here is part of the high cliffs on K Road. They sometimes appear in movie and tv dramas.

 Another try another miss

1902-04_DWJ_1989

The look and the wingspread say it allAnd away for another attempt

I missed the strike, but here it’s possible to see how close to the edge she is working

Gathering the energy for extraction

I’ve included this as I love that just over the wing view.  However the fish is not coming out without a fight.

Sinking back in to try again

WIngs spread out, she spent a few seconds regathering her strength and perhaps rearranging the fish underneath for better lift

Swing and away

Now to find a quiet spot of enjoy breakfast

A little later some Whistling Kites thought they could freeload so she took off again with her half-eaten prize.

 

Saturday Evening Post #17 Along the Track with Crosbie Morrison

When I was a mere broth of a lad, and photography was something my Mum did with the family box camera, there was a radio show on a Sunday Evening on our local radio station.
We didn’t google, facebook, instagram or snapchat. Stange as that may sound, and we didn’t have an endless range of tv programmes to watch, we didn’t even have tv.  We had Radio.

On Sunday Evening “Along the Track” with Crosbie Morrison would take  a young lad on a journey into some form of the natural history.  Interestingly enough, at the height of his popularity, and it was syndicated all over Australia, its been estimated that he had a listener base of 75% of the radios in australia. (how one determines such number crunching, ohhh and ahh, is beyond me. 1/125 of a second at f/16 still amazes me!)

From possums, to crocodiles, blue wrens to electricity generation, we all went along the Track with Morrison and dreamed big bold dreams.

Did his talks bring out the inquisitive, insightful need to know about things in natural history.  Who knows, but I do remember being glued to the radio as he explained about a spider that someone had sent him in a matchbox, or the migratory skill of birds around the world.  David Attenborough is as close as the tv audience of today gets to that. But, and this I think is where radio was so adept. Without the visuals.  We explored it all in the theatre of our mind.

One thing that legacy still holds for me, is an interest in even the most common of creatures.

I was fascinated last evening while working with some wader and sandpipers, of how long, long, long the legs of a Pied Stilt are.  Normally see them knee-deep in water and its  hard to appreciate the length of those long pink legs.
This one graced me by wading out of the shallows and standing on the water’s edge long enough for me to make a frame.

Enjoy