Saturday Evening Post #97: Learning to Isolate

Bettcha thought this was going to be about staying at home and virus stuff.


Someone once said, “Photography is the art of exclusion.”
Sometimes I’ve thought the viewfinder in the camera should have a little gilt-edged gold frame inside. So we can see what our masterpiece is going to look like enshrined forever on the wall
Because if nothing else, using a camera forces us to put our subject in the frame and exclude all else around, no matter how interesting it it might be.

And so I say to the viewer, “Look at this”, and they don’t get the option to see all the things I’ve left out. Unless of course it’s an handphone shot, with those atrocious wide-angle views. Then I get my feet in every shot. 🙂

I’ve quoted my great mentor, John Harris, a few times, when he’d look at a print or slide, and say, “You’ve got to look within the frame to see the picture that it contains. That is where the gold is.”

It’s a magic of pointing out the line, the light, or perhaps the movement that would otherwise have passed by and not be noticed, let alone photographed.

When it come to ‘seeing’, we are able to show not only what we see, but how we see it.  There is also another form of seeing.  I may close my eyes and say, “Oh, now I see.”

One thing I’ve noted from the lockdown is how much we are ‘story-telling’ people. I don’t mean making up some novella, but just day to day conversation.  Zoe, at my local coffee shop is Greek, her hubby is Irish. She was telling the other day of the ‘fun’ of organising that wedding to keep both sides placated. I had a friend who married an Indian lass, he, was Greek. Another amazing intertwining of cultures for the wedding organiser.  But we chatted back and forth (through our well adjusted surgical masks, -well hers was a handmade one) about the various aspects of the events. Building word pictures and picking up on each others view of the events.  We are story-telling people.

If nothing else for me, the camera has always been a tool of story telling. A tool, that opens, my eyes and the eyes of anyone who views my photos, of the wonders of this amazing planet. The astonishing creatures that we share it with.
The breathtaking sunsets, the wide open vistas, the ranges of mountains that roll on in increasingly rich blues into the distance.

As Bruce Cockburn, a Canadian song writer says,

I stand here dazzled with my heart in flames
at this world of wonders…
Red-gold ripple of the sun going down…
in this world of wonders.

I’ve noted, I fear, I’ve taken to becoming fascinated more by the gruelling events that we are living through. Shock it seems keeps me glued to the tv and the news blogs and podcasts.  The hard stories need to be told, some in the most graphic detail.  But, I’m not the one to tell them right now. I can close my eyes and say, “I see”.
To quote David Duchemin, “I know there is great beauty and wonder out there, all around us, and I’d rather live my life looking towards the light, then fearing the darkness.”

So I take my clumsy tools of light and time and try to bring my vision of the around and help others to share and experience new wonder.

To open our collective heart to the world.

Photographic Essay: New Life Abounds

Here is a quick update of several of the clutches of Masked Lapwings in our area.

The single one, seems to be the most accessible, so guess you’ll see a few more pictures of it as it matures. I’ve named it Opal, from opalescence, a visual quality of milk.  Why milk?  Ah, you’ll have to read the back story. 🙂

Also included is a shot of three others in a large water-collection pan, that doubles as a community park.
And a couple from the supermarket pair, but they tend to stay just too far away for short lenses, and there is no-way I’m pondering wandering along with the long tele-hardware anytime soon.

A bright blush of colour, that has opened up all along the streets after the cold wet past few days. Isn’t nature amazing.

From The Global Headquarters of The Doona Hermit

Three of four that are in a large water overflow area. It is also used for a number of community activities including bike riding and football and off-leash doggies in an on-leash area.
(Sorry Magda no Nettie).
Parent of the group of four. I thought it was going to have a go at me, but it was getting ready for a run at a dog that was off-leash in an on-leash area.,
One of the two young next to the supermarket. They are pretty advanced and seem to be putting on weight.
One of the supermarket young.
Opal with a typical lapwing pose with one leg lifted and paused.
Opal on a wing stretch.
Still practicing for the sprints
Head shake
Fine hope of spring.

Saturday Evening Post #96: Eavesdropping

I don’t know about anyone else, but seriously, I’m seriously over Zooming, Youtube tutorials on just about every subject there is. Youtube product reviews, that are simply biased every which way, and the “We’re all in this together” mantra.  I just don’t get it. The number of vidiotclips I’ve watched on how to make the most of my post-processing, are hardly entertaining, nor that well filled with actual instruction, and a lot of waffling (well, I shouldn’t complain about that too much should I, dear blog reader), and in the end not all that helpful for the types of problems I’m trying to solve. Not everyone is making (thank goodness) 34 frame HDR landscapes.
Joe McNally said it best, ” Post is not a hospital for poor camera handling technique.”

Must be the weather, or it’s hard to be a non-photographing photographer, or perhaps a non-plumbing plumber, we just can’t get out to our subjects, (well ok, a plumber can do emergency calls)

Eavesdropping is different.  Listening to two totally invovled photographers in discussion about many elements of the craft, and little snippets of value seem to drift out, hoping to be cherished beyond the intimate discussion, and landing every so vapour-like on an eager ear. Something to build on.  Or perhaps, slipping slowly across the void, hitting the wall or ceiling and lost forever.

We, EE, I and David Nice, have spent many hours with the nesting kites and their energetic young. It’s like eavesdropping on their lives. Waiting for an instant that is more than just another kite shot, but a real insight into their lives, a sensitivity for the moment. Learning a little about what it’s like to be a Black-shouldered Kite. I spoke with a long time friend today, about the excitement of being close enough to see the feathers rise and fall as the bird breathes.  You don’t get that on vidiot.:-)

Here is one snippet that I meant to publish when I spoke of Rodney Smith in Saturday Evening Post #93, Speaking Privately.
You can see the full text here. But here is the eavesdropped version.

Rodney was photographing the Chief Executive Officer for a corporation.
He says, “I’d learned over the years that the play for power and control was simply fear… if you could earn their trust, they were willing to be truly vulnerable and powerful subjects.
The CEO walked in and said, “I’m very busy, let’s get this over as soon as possible.”
Everybody, the people who hired the people who hired me are sweating.  Time is motionless.
Smith asks him to stand in one place, look directly at the camera, takes one picture and says, “Ok, that’s it, you can go now.”

Subject says, “Are you serious? That’s it”.

Smith replies, “I believe you have a competent picture equal to the effort you’ve put in to that experience and I’m willing to accommodate your need for speed. If you have some time in the future, and are willing, together we can produce something of far more substance, but now, that one frame will be enough.”

He leaves, everyone else leaves (quietly), Smith packs up and heads down the hallway.
Just about out, and the secretary says “He would love to see you in his office.” Smith is then shown some photos of houses that the CEO owns, and offers that he would love to be photographed in one of those locations where he would have more time.

“If one opens up to me, I’ll give them my heart and soul… the picture is bigger and stronger than me. It is sacred and worth fighting for.   What starts with a handshake in the end is an intimate embrace.”

I was sitting on the grass, at the edge of a foot-bike path.  The young kites were intrigued by the concrete and the grass and whatever might be in the grass.  Every-so often their concentration was broken by a bike-rider hurtling past, but they quickly came back to investigate.
This one was working its way up the footpath towards me. Could it see me? Of course. Did it change its approach because I was there, No not one bit.

Holding my breath, and trying to avoid camera shake, and suddenly it rose up, flew toward me, and landed on the grass. I could see the feathers rise and fall.




Little Visit Off the Couch: Hot off the Press

Now into the third week of a six week isolation lockdown, it’s been very challenging to find suitable images for the day to day lives of the birds we work with.
In spite of the “We’re all in this together”, mantra, the birds don’t seem to have taken it too heart much, and haven’t been lined up in the street outside waiting for me.
We also don’t have any real suitable birding areas to walk by in our 1 hour a day “exercise” allowance.

But there are quite a number of storm water run-off drains and basins, throughout the suburb and several of them are within easy walking, and two are directly on the way to the local supermarket.
Every year Masked Lapwings gather to use the various open paddocks, drains and basins to creche their young. One pair has always chosen the grass verge between a dual carriage way.  And try as the parents might, it always ends in disaster as the little tykes run about on the road.  Not much between a fully laden Mac truck at 80+ kph and a baby lapwing.

One enterprising pair have located into a paddock directly behind said supermarket and as they are well protected by a 3m high chain mesh fence, and sharing the location with two rather large goats, they seem fairly secure, and have two spritely young.

A second pair have taken advantage of an unused house block and the nest is almost dead-centre in the middle of the block. No access for me. 🙂

A third pair, are using a run off basin that is also used as a local scratch-match footy oval, soccer-field, dog walking and mountain bike area. However restrictions have given them pretty much run of the area, and on the couple of times I’ve visited early in the morning, they seem to have four young on the go.  Not easy to find, and I for one am not venturing out into the open field for a closer looksee.

A fourth pair, and subject of the blog. (Didn’t think I was going to get here did you!) have taken up ownership of an open storm water runoff drain.
EE located them the other morning, and I thought a trip by with my biggest shopping bag was in order.  They seem  to only have one that has survived. But it is doing quite well.  On my first visit, it spent most of the time running about on a disused concrete footpath above the drain as the surrounding grass verge was particularly thick and over grown.
But in the meantime, the council, bless their environmental cleanup hearts have moved into the drain with mowers and brush-cutters and turned it into a “V’ shaped version of a bowling green.

Look as we might we were unable to see if the little dude had survived or where the anxious parents might have relocated it.

However, all is well.  This morning on the milk run, I found it back in the same area and sprinting up and down the footpath.

So hot off the press.


From the Global Headquarters of The Doona Hermit.

The day before the grass on the verge was over its head.
An adult that is ready to defend its prize.
Ready to run.
Still plenty of hiding spots on the far side of the footpath
Stepping into the sunshine
Get set. Go!

A tiny wing shake.

Little Visits from the Couch: A Morning with the Young Kites

I really feel I’ve been remiss working on the blog of late.  I guess if anything it has pointed out to me the very nature of the “now” of the running a blog.

Birds as Poetry has always been for me about our interactions, or visits with a limited range of birds.
So no visits, well, not postings.

Still, as I wander back through the most recent trips we took in mid June, there are certainly moments that need to be shared.

So expect to see a few Photographic Essay of our days with the young kites.   It either shows how dedicated to a clutch of birds, or how narrow our travel and bird experiences were during that period.  Be kind, we weren’t able to travel very far.

The evil thing is cutting such a swathe of agony for so many people.  I fully expect we will be limited in movement for quite a long time to come.
So enjoy the little interludes as I sweep out the library files, (figuratively of course)

Not often we saw all three on the same branch
After so many weeks with them, they were now very comfortable with our presence, and simply carried on around us
This picket was the only landing spot near me, and the young one came in quite deliberately to land. I’d like to think it wanted a closer look at my camera.
The clever one foot landing
They had spent more of their lives all together in the small nest, and still were happy to share the smallest branch area. One just about losing balance to make room for the interloper
It’s mine, no, mine, no mine.
One mouse, two hungry mouths, and not the ones Dad was interested in feeding. He would let them get close, but then turn away. He delivered it to the third one.
Still getting the hang of taking from Dad’s claw. This one has overshot the mouse and crashed into Dad’s tummy

Saturday Evening Post #95: Future Proofing

Over the years I worked with-or for- two organisations that had among their mission statements a reference to “Future Proofing”.
Every iteration of their product line or new product introduction carried a promise, (spoken or implied) of “Future Proofing”.
Somehow the businesses would be able to have sufficient flexibility that they would be able to handle any changes that come down the pipeline.

However, like wooden wagon wheels, both organisations have long since disappeared from the market place and their products are no longer available on the shelves.  So much for “Future Proofing”.

Actually as I look back over it there have been a long list of products that I’ve used that are no longer extant.
Who remembers WordStar. and using ^control key formatting. (Don’t all  put your  hands up!)
WordPefect anyone?  (I know that Corel still have a version, but do you know anyone using it?)
Ahh, Lotus 123 So long old friend. (I used to train Lotus 123, mind I’m not an accountant) And while we are are on spreading sheets, how about VisiCalc on the Mac?

Two more and we’re done.  Aldus PageMaker (not the Adobe version please). And its PC equivalent Ventura.   Ahh, the agony.
Yet at the time, Pagemaker in particular sold more macs in Universities than any other program.
Something quite interesting in using Aldo Manuzio and his friend Griffo, ( everybody should have a friend named “Griffo”, very, well ‘ Stralian maaate’.
Aldo had his own future proofing logo which meant “Make haste slowly”.


What brought all this trip down memory lane on?
Good question.

I’ve spent this week  working through the camera cupboard and looking at hardware I’m never going to use again.
The Nikon 1 system. And don’t think I didn’t put in some effort to make it work for us.  There are several blog pages on this site that tell the history of our association with the small camera and its beautiful lenses. But, it wasn’t Future Proof.

EE has taken delivery of a sparkling new iMac to replace the older Mac Mini that has served her well many years.  The Mini will go the way of wagon wheels as there is only so much bench space.

A bunch of small lenses, including a wide angle we used for car interiors, they are now in the last box before the door in the garage. Along with some flash units, and more coloured filters and paraphernalia of similar used-but no longer used-vintage and we’d all blush if I mentioned how many camera bags are now on the short list too.

Lockdown, has highlighted how “Future Proofing” is as fragile as fine dew on a leaf in the morning.

So no future predictions here. The Doona Hermit is taking just one day at a time.

I’ve also been a bit remiss of the past weeks for not publishing any bird related posts.  Usually have relied on reporting recent trips.  So I’ll take a wander through some of the older files and see if I can patch together some related images this coming week.

In the meantime Stay Safe, Stay Well and Stay Creative.

Besties to all my fellow lockdowns,

From the Global Headquarters of the Doona Hermit.


Saturday Evening Post #94: From the Notebook

“How ya Doin!”
Eddie Murphy Beverly Hills Cop

Shout out to all who are in Lockdown at the moment. We are at the end of week one with five to go.
It’s kinda like the job that just has to be done. Like vacuuming under the couch, or taking out the rubbish.

After the past few Posts I thought I’d try a lighter look at what has accumulated in my Notebook.

When I was still an apprentice, an early mentor introduced me to carrying and even better, making notes in a Daybook. I have, I guess been an inveterate note collector ever since. In the early days, notes of film type, lighting, camera settings studio setups filled many a page.
I came across one of those books a long time back (since lost again unfortunately) that had diagrammes of set design or location details for shots that I didn’t even recall making.

I even went through a “Yellow PostIt Note” phase.  Just about everywhere you looked in the workroom were magazines, books, tabletops and equipment with little yellow notes with scribbled details.

Or excepts from some book or movie or activity that I thought I might work on.

These days, I confess, I clip things from the Web and keep in an electronic notebook.

Here is one I came across recently.
Jane Goodall.
Jane is the lady from the 1960s who spent her life working in Africa with Chimpanzees. Amazingly her discoveries changed a lot of scientific thought about these creatures and the whole human race.
She recalls in a BBC interview some of the most important events from her time in the jungle.
Here is the link.

Her technique of getting to know the Chimps as individuals was frowned on by the scientific community. Yet my own experience with birds has followed a similar path. Great to hear her defend her position. Enjoy

I found this one a bit amusing

Would have never thought of using Ibis as a measuring tool.
As some wag said,
“If you are 3 Ibis away, you’ve just lost your lunch”

From the Rodney Smith collection challenge last week.
The image I’m currently living with was the one “Zoe with Ducks” From the Storytelling Series.

However I am also quite taken by “Chicken Haiti”  from the Humour set, is in there with a chance as well. I like it for the moment of timing. Given chickens to the best of my knowledge generally don’t perform to schedules.

I woke this morning with the sound of rain on the roof, and outside it was all grey and gloomy.
“Good day to stay under the Doona I thought”, and for no apparent reason, the song “Rainy Days and Mondays always get me Down”, by Karen Carpenter rang through my head. Funny as I haven’t heard it for years, and could never have cast myself as Carpenters fan.

Talkin’ to myself and feelin’ old
Sometimes I’d like to quit
Nothin’ ever seems to fit
Hangin’ around.



Robin Whalley, a Landscape photographer from England posted this one. Interesting to me as he has gone back through some of his old work, and found some shots that he’d ignored, but now that he has some time, he’s been able to bring out a feel and mood that he’d missed earlier.

As I’m now working through my own collection of “Might have been good” shots, I found it very encouraging.

Funny old world.


The Doona Hermit


Saturday Evening Post #93: Speaking Privately

When we talk of photography, it’s not something we think of in a ‘private’ sense all that much.

“Let me Share some Pictures I took”, “Here’s a shot I made at the park”, “This is some pictures I took on my holiday to Tuscany last year.” “My granddaughter’s graduation photos are here.”
“I photographed this Flame Robin at Woodlands Park in June.”
We share, Messenger, Facebook, Instagram, (No, No, not Tic Tok), prints, email and blogs to name a few.
Photographer type conversations sometimes start, “Whatchabeendoinlately?”

Yet one photographer I’ve followed over the years has the concept of “Private” as part of his creative approach.

His work is characterised by enchanted worlds full of subtle contradictions.

His name? Rodney Smith.

Noted for sharing his vision of the world with Humour, Grace, and Optimism.
He has since passed, but on his blog entitled intriguingly enough, “The End‘, Rodney Smith would describe his creative process as being  “intricately connected to how I examine my own life, how I got to know myself, and how I drew clarity of my emotions and translated them into pictures.”

So, if you want, you too can Go To The End

A further quote, “I want people to see the beauty and whimsy in life, not its ugliness. I feel the need to reach out for its soul, its depth, and its underlying beauty. I represent a world that is possible if people act their best. It’s a world that’s slightly beyond reach, beyond everyday experience, but it’s definitely not impossible.”

So here’s your humble scribe’s challenge. If you’ve manage to read this far without your eyes glazing over. (well done of you have!)

Follow this link over to his Gallery – the Humor Section.

While you’re there, have a look at several of the others sections, but do visit the Surrealism one as well.

Hopefully one or two will make you laugh, or smile, or just ponder a bit, or at least cause you to be amazed at Rodney’s sheer visual audacity.

Second part of the Challenge.
Pop a note into the Comments below, let us all know which one ‘privately’ appealed. Don’t have to say Why.   Just enjoy the trip.

Next week I’ll reveal my fav.  Hint, its neither of the ones with Hay Bales. But they did run a close second.

Took me a while to find a “Rodney Smith” Private moment among my own recent shots.

Don’t think its a great example, but at least I remember smiling when I pressed the shutter.

As Rodney is quoted, :”Choose Photography for Love, rather than fame, fortune or glory.”

I look forward to hearing from as many as possible.

Go on, you can do it.