Saturday Evening Post#146: Awareness

Triptych: “A group of three photos displayed together. Usually with a common connection of feel, subject or meaning.”
—”the whole is greater than the sum of the parts”

I had a work colleague, many years ago, who specialised in in Triptytch. His field of work was, of all things, English countryside pubs.
As a young photographer, as he would tell the story, as he travelled about the ‘olde country’, he did stop at the pub for at least a quick pint. By the end of a day’s photoshoot, again, as the story was told, he was quite the merry, and the photography intent did suffer.

His little Austin van carried in the back, a selection of quite large potted plants. Usually colourful flowers and bushes, or the occasional small formal tree.
Once he had found a suitable location, the lighting was right and the best angle for the shot was selected, he would, ‘arrange the studio’ by tastefully placing, or replacing existing pots from his collection.

When he arrived in Australia, he started the same process, but, the sweeping expanse of Australia’s countryside meant it was a long dry drive between suitable pubs, and your average pub on the dusty road of the  Lachlan plain, while a useful metaphor in a Banjo poem, didn’t seem to take all that well to a few carefully arranged geraniums out the front.

He turned for awhile to making triptych of vast mountain ranges, and it was about the time I contributed several photos to his endeavors.
It is an interesting process to shuffle through a range of prints, looking for the special magic that connects them is a way the makes the whole so much greater than the strength of the individual elements.

From my previous “Little Journey’s” post you’ll know that #kneetoo and I had taken a run to the Treatment plant in the sunshine.

I’d also written the previous Saturday Evening Post #145  about mindfulness and being in the moment.
I had need earlier in the week to attend my local doctor’s clinic for a discussion with my GP.  Among the various topics discussed, he made an out of left-field suggestion that, “Perhaps you might like to try ‘mindfulness’.”
To which I was happy to respond, “Well I wrote a blog on that very subject at the weekend, and I incorporate it in my Tai Chi training and photography. What would you like to know?”
As I discovered at the treatment plant working with a number of quite co-operative Brown Falcon, I’m a bit rusty on the reflexes and awareness of the subtle signals Brown sends just before it throws from the perch and is gone. Brown generally jumps down, and away.
Not great for infight, however it is possible to get a just-on-the-wing-unfurl and sometimes, the light, the angle and Cartier-Bresson, ‘decisive moment’ collude and a worthwhile result makes its way on to the memory card.

But when you’ve lectured, written, and extolled the virtues of “Awareness” for weeks without practice, the Karma is also going to be ready to bring me back to reality.
Such was the case with four Browns

They all were in no hurry to go anywhere, and we were quite happy to sit or stand with them. The joy of watching the bird at work in its environment soon sees the minutes melt away.

Then when the time to go occurs, and the camera better be more than ready. Arms ache, feet move to better balance, a step to include or exclude some background object, and waiting.
But sad to say, each bird slipped off the post without me even getting the shutter release halfway down.  Karma!

It once again reinforced to me how much of what observing these amazing birds reveals, and how much each is an individual.

More to learn.

Quick Triptych from a Lightroom printer Layout Style. All just moments before departure.




10 thoughts on “Saturday Evening Post#146: Awareness

  1. At least you were able to capture the Falcons before they left David. I also have been learning the reality of being mindful, though I constantly teach it, I have not always been in my earlier years. I have a posted note on my printer to remind me. ‘Be Present’ which has helped as I do get absorbed with my creative mind and books, but it has helped me to practice what I preach. I also have been waiting for the fly off shot, and the instant you turn or are distracted by a person coming by, you look again and they are gone. I just be thankful for what ever I get these days, as my hand is not as steady and my eyes dimmer, I am amazed and give thanks for anything in focus. Enjoy your week, hope you are still our of lock-down, it only gets worse here. 🙂


    1. Ashley been thinking of you and yours and the crisis of lockdown that has been thrust on you. As you are aware, this is something that we have a deep, and personal appreciation for, and while sympathy may not help, our empathy is immense.

      Singaporean photographer Ming Thein once said,
      From Ming Thein
      “If you are waiting for something to happen to get a shot, you must be hyper vigilant at all times until you can no longer stand it or have your concentration broken for you: because the minute you turn away, decide to take a pee, sneeze, or pack up for the day…what you’ve been waiting for will happen”

      As I explained to Adam, sometimes I try in the blog to give an indication of how it works in the field for us. We don’t these days do much bird chasing. Surprising sometimes how many great moments we find in just our sit spot.

      I do hope you are all coping well, we watch each day, agonising over the numbers and sometime lamenting the stupid actions that the sad minority seem intent on inflicting us all with.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A splendid triptych, David! Wonderful to see! And heartening to know it is not just me who so often misses the ‘critical moment’ shot.
    As to being a tad rusty, I don’t think my first trip out will yield much of merit after a prolonged forced absence.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi David,
      There is I really feel, a rusty spot. I wonder if the top tennis players or golfers take a few weeks off and then lose that ‘edge’ of knowing what is going to happen next.
      I know that sometimes it is feels easy to be ‘on song’ but there have been a lot of ‘practice’ shots no one ever sees. 🙂


  3. G’day, David. As I have been reading several of your recent posts I was experiencing some lovey moments of mindfulness created by your thoughts and accompanying images but somehow the “disturbances of everyday life” prevented me from leaving my comments. Today, because the idea of triptychs is very close to my heart (“all good things come in triptychs” as some ancient wisdom says ;-), I decided to dwell a bit longer on the couch and write some of my thoughts.
    Firstly, I am very glad that the recovery of #kneetoo is progressing nicely, as I follow her new captures on Flickr. Sometimes though I wonder, how you swap the cameras capturing all the BS Kites, Blue-winged Parrots and, very recently, how you behave when a Brolga comes flying by…
    Now to the Triptychs – the best thing about them is that they tell a story, which may not be so clear when you look at one shot only. There is always some special idea behind a triptych, although it may not be so obvious at first sight. When the photos are good, you look a bit longer and when you get it, your appreciation of the presentations is tripled.
    I went to WTP last Sunday afternoon after spending most of the day (besides driving) in the area of the Werribee Mansion. I only did a quick drive around because the clouds obscured the sun completely and there was not a slightest chance of taking a good shot of anything, except for some Yellow-billed Spoonbills. As I was on my way out I saw a Brown Falcon on a tree with two ravens. To catch the trio, even in this light (or lack thereof) would have saved the day for me. I made a stupid mistake of stopping and getting out of the car – before I grabbed my camera the show was over… Thus it’s really nice to see your three birds sitting there “just moments before departure”. Some hours before locking the last gate behind me I was photographing two beautiful cocks and their hens wandering about near the stalls – most obvious sign of the absence of raptors.
    So much on practicing awareness.
    My best wishes to you two.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Adam,
      Thanks for the thoughts, glad to know a few hastly grabbed words can bring out such gems of thought.
      We are working out of three locations fairly consistently at the moment, so camera/lens choice is a bit predicated on where we are, and the photo opps.
      D500 and 500mm is still my go to. #kneetoo is bolted to a D500 and the 300mm f/4 PF with a TC converter.
      I read somewhere the other day that it takes about 10,000 hours to develop the skills of a craft. Not sure I can say that is true here. One of our daughters has a friend, how is a concert pianist. He has played in major orchestras all oveer Europe. He has been playing since a very small child, (Now in his 40s)
      He makes me laugh a lot when he tells stories of people who inevitably say something like, “Oh, … I wish I could play the piano like you do.!”
      He always responds, “Oh, no you don’t.” “If you did, you would have already done the 30 years practice!!”

      I think I write the blog info sometimes trying to give a feel of what it’s like for me to be in the field, how much time I’m prepared to put in with a bird, if its cooperating, and bring out some points of detail of the obervation that might be helpful, like wing action, or head turn, the moment of departure. In the end, the moment I take my eye from the viewfinder, the bird will do the most interesting thing. The white chested Brown is a good example here as #kneetoo has a classic departure shot on Flickr. Me, well I saw it disappear across the paddock, as I’d just taken the camera down to relieve my arm stress 🙂

      My friend Andrew taught me quite a number of things about Triptych and the hours we spent together working out the best three images for the story or even what the story was, and in some instances, the theme changed as we worked were all all a great learning experience.
      The WTP did seem a bit quiet the other day, but I guess its part of the timing when we arrive, the weather, food changes and of course loads of luck. The place is so large, a single bird can be an impossible find.

      Glad you enjoyed the little farm chickens. I often stop near there and see what they are up to.
      PS. back on the main road in from the Shadowfax Winery is a disused Tennis Court. On the corner tree at the courts there are a family of Nankeen Night Herons in residence. Hard to see among the huge branches and twisted leaves, but it can be a profitable few minutes if they decide to more into a more open area.

      Keep takin’ photos We Do


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