Saturday Evening Post #129: Finding Expression

Deng Ming Tao asks an interesting question in an article entitled “Angles”.

It is worth considering, he asks, what does it take to make an angle?

You can make a table from a plank of wood, on two upright slabs. It might even look like Stonehenge. Yet, while the stones have stood the test of time, three loosely arranged planks would most likely topple.

A table manufactured by a craftsperson, is a joy to behold. Each piece in place, each piece supporting the whole, and each, a small work of art in its own right.  The table is a greater because of the strength of all the small parts.

“To put things together and then hold them in proper angle is one of the miracles of skill.”

Over the years, my own photography has been that sort of journey.  Each new skill learned has lead to an expression of a subject in a harmonious balanced way.  And please don’t get confused that I’m talking about some compositional rule.
Each subject requires the tensions of the ‘angles’ to be suitable to best express the mood, emotion, feel and vision.

Like so many pursuits, photography has lead me on a voyage across wonderful waters. But there always comes, as a sailor says, the time when it’s no longer the right thing to hug the shoreline, but rather to unfurl the sails and head out into the wider ocean.

Not all is plain sailing, to continue the analogy, but securing the angles with knowledge, skill, experience and dogged determination, will result in photographs that carry within them a little of the photographer’s vision. Built, like a finely crafted table, on our aspirations.


#kneetoo, and I were on the road outside the Treatment Plant.  Early morning light, and as we drove along looking in each paddock, we missed the Hobby sitting on a post. Then as we drove by, I noticed it.  Too late to stop.

Down the road 100 m, and turn around.  Then drive leisurely back as if we still hadn’t noticed it.
The birds in the area are very familiar with passing vehicle traffic.
It passes.
They barely blink.

Passed without any problem, and then to park off the road, the bird was on #kneetoo’s window side. She was happy.

I slipped out of the door, and edged along the top of IamGrey.
The bird was still unperturbed.

A large truck came around a corner and down the road toward us.  The bird waited. Took notice of the oncoming vehicle.  Did some Hobby calculation about the speed of the approach, our position on the roadside, and concluded perhaps that there wasn’t going to be enough room for all three of us.

A quick unfold of the wings.  It was gone.

Enjoy

 

Little Visits: They’ve Flown

For several previous days, it was apparent that the young Kingfishers were getting ready to fly. Interestingly, they are pretty much fully developed when they fly, and while the parents still top them up with food, they appear to have some hunting ability for easy to find prey

#kneeetoo, and I arrived early one morning and waited for the usual food supply activity. After a bit of time had passed, it was obvious that something had changed. A further hunt around the nest area, and following the adults, we soon found, the first of the flown young. It’s plaintive cry for food was taken care of by both the adults, and just occasionally would one venture to the nest opening and deposit a top up snack, so, a second one was still nest bound.

The following day, it too had broken free from the nest and we found them moving about the forest with ease.
A tree had caught fire a few days before and the local fire and park people had cleaned up the mess, and cut down the old red-gum tree, as the fire had eaten through the inside. So there was a lot of downed timber as well as cleared spaces, and the young Kingfishers were taken there by the adults to sharpen their hunting skills.
It was a bonus for your photographers as the venerable old gum had supplied some fine landing spaces for the Kingfishers and some of the larger trunk pieces a good place to sit and watch the activity.
As the morning went on, the young became engrossed in being fed, and learning to feed themselves and completely ignored out presence, often landing only an arm’s reach or so away. Sometimes too close for the lens to gain focus.

In the end, a mid-morning rain brought closure for our efforts and the young took off to find some shelter.

 

Saturday Evening Post #128 : White-bellied Sea-Eagle

From our recent early morning trip to the Western Treatment Plant.

The Plant holds many great photo opportunities for such a wide range of birds, but probably the highlight for us, other than a rare species, is the White-bellied Sea-Eagle. 
They don’t seem to claim the area for roosting or breeding, but rather it’s an opportune smorgasbord for the picking. 

It is not highly unusual to see them, but most times they are just too far away for great photography.  And give up on the idea of ‘sneaking’ up on one.   

So a conversation starter for the day, as we head into the plant, is, ‘I wonder if we’ll see a Sea-Eagle today?”

As we ventured further into the Plant, at Lake Borrie, one of the busiest ponds, we saw several White-winged Black Terns fly past, and I parked the IamGrey a little further along the track, with good views across the lake, and #kneetoo called, “A Sea-Eagle out on the tree.”  
And there was.  
How could anyone doubt!  It might be a knee, but that doesn’t affect the eyesight it seems. 🙂

The Sea-Eagle was way too far on the other side of the lake for good images, so I decided to walk back up the roadway to where the Terns had been working.  However after a few minutes it was obvious that they had moved on. 

A Little Grassbird caught my attention in the reeds, when all of a sudden the high pitched call of startled Pink-eared Ducks rolled across the lake.  
Conclusion? The Sea-Eagle had taken to wing, and knowing its predisposition for duck-dinner, the Pinkies were not hanging around waiting for an invitation to share a meal. 

But, where, I kept peering was the Sea-Eagle?  With the sky covered in Pinkies, it took a few moments to pickup the slowly climbing white shape above the alarmed ducks.

I’m often a bit jealous of my seaborne photographers and their work with Sea-Eagles. At least it’s certain where they will be travelling—along the shoreline.  Inland birds have all points of the compass to choose from when they fly, and it is almost always away from any photographer. 

This bird had a purpose, and I pretty much held my breath as the shape grew larger and larger in the viewfinder, and I realised I was on its flight path and it would run by me on the left.  Time to fill up a memory card, so I switched to multi-frame and began to shoot small 3-4 frame bursts. 
Still it kept coming. 
The early morning light—astute readers will remember form a recent post, “Front Light” —was coming over my shoulder, and all I had to do was keep the bird in the viewfinder and follow along. 

Eventually, it was too close, and too large in frame, and went by me on its way to its next appointment. 

 

Little Visits: Kingfisher Feeding

Still continuing with the Kingfisher Nursery.
The young had been hatched about 3 weeks, and were now quite grown. But almost impossible to see as the tree opening had a rather large lump of wood that covered part of the hole, and it was difficult to get a glimpse.

Kingfisher young fly pretty much complete, in that they are capable in a few days of fledging to be self-sufficient. Although the parent birds keep up a good food supply.

Here then is a selection from that last week feeding.  

The setup is pretty much as described previously.  Main flash high and to the left. Using the Auto FP setting on the Nikon D500 to override the usual problem of working with faster shutter speeds.   On Auto FP, the SB910 Flash-units fire multiple times in what seems to be a continuous stream of light from the beginning to end of the exposure so all the sensitive chip receives an equal amount of light without any part ‘blacking’ out.   Downside is that the poor old SB’s have to drain the charge, and I can only get two or three frames per in or out flight. Then of course the battery has to recharge the unit, so it’s a few seconds delay.  I’m sure that Eric Hosking with his half ton of batteries or Steven Dalton in his studio set up didn’t have that problem 🙂

Enjoy