Saturday Evening Post #170 :Bedazzled

Been a bit quiet over at birdsaspoetry land this week.
Weather has been less than ideal: hot/cold/wet/windy.

Enough to make the average Doona Hermit snuggle up.

So I did a little internet browsing.  Had a chance to catch up with Thom Hogan’s site and his discussion on New Year’s resolutions, about planning Not To Switch Camera Brands.

Not that I’m brand switching, but sometimes it’s easy to fall into the “If I just had that one piece my photos would be so much better”.  I do admit to guilt on changing processing software however.  I’ve harddrives full of them.  Funnily enough, my photo work hasn’t improved using one or the other. Nor has my library ever become better organised or searchable.

Speaking of useful pieces of software, have you ever wanted—for a specific reason—to extract the JPEG from your raw camera files.
Yeah, I know just output a JPEG from the processing software. However Iliah Borg, he of the best raw viewer ever made, “FastRawViewer” has produced a little utility to extract the JPEG preview,  the one that you see on the back of the camera when you review.
Can’t say its a ‘must have’ piece.  However from time to time for a quickie result….  The size of the file will be dependant on camera settings but even with raw only set in camera the JPEG will be full size and with a moderate compression.

Have a look here. RawPreviewExtractor  In Beta and it’s Free.

There is something spine-tingling to stand up close to a raptor.

Many will have had the experience at a zoo, or a wildlife refugee or sanctuary.  A few lucky foks may have been able to have the bird perch on their forearm. To gaze into those eyes and ponder the amazing  intellect behind them is truly bedazzling.

But in the wild, it’s quite different.  The birds are, by nature, true social distancers.
I’ve mentioned on the blog about several times when I’ve had a very close contact with a raptor.  Not an aggressive flypast (I’ve had a few of those too!), but a bird that comes into my territory. One year I photographed a Kestrel (search for Jane Austin’s character Elizabeth here to see some of those times). She would land in the grass where I was laying and hunt around my feet.  Amazing to see the feathers move as she breathed.
One of her daughters, the following year, would come and sit on the fence post next to me while other people moved about.   Now next to me is not over there a bit, but we shared the same fencepost. Kinda like a dog at heel.
She would sweep out to hunt, and if a walker, or vehicle or bike rider came down the path, she’d swing around and land within touching distance till they had moved on.  Hard not to talk to such a bird, and the occasional head-cock might have meant something. Or not. 🙂

We’ve also had quite a number of close connections with Black-shouldered Kites, but hardly ever with Hobbys.

You might know that most mornings, I leave home very early around sunup and walk my local river park.  I have a small pondage with a flat area, that I make part of my morning Tai Chi routine.

This morning as I settled in, I heard, in the distance, the cries of hunting Hobbys. Sharp, short and piercing.  Looking about, I finally spotted two small fast moving shapes about 500-600m along the creek.  They both took off toward the local football oval, and I lost sight, so continued with my routine.
Then, as they say, out of now-where, one came wing flicking along the riverline. Looking no doubt for dragonflies, or perhaps something a bit more substantial.  After making a lap or two, it turned, and dropped right down on the reeds and headed in my direction.  I had by this stage paused and was enthralled at watching this awesome aviator.
Then it turned even tighter and made its way toward the end of my ‘special place pool’—which is not much bigger than a couple of car spaces.

It suddenly dawned on me as I stood frozen to the spot, that the bird would come over the reeds about knee-height and directly toward me.  Amazingly, and I suspect it was planned, it flicked ever-so lightly just a metre or so in front of me, and passed by my right knee with little more than a handbreadth between the bird and I.
It was easy to look down and see all the feathers raked-in as it ran fast by me. It even turned its head at the last moment to acknowledge I was there. The other thing worth noting was it was silent in the air. No “Whoosh” as it powered by.

I stood bedazzled watching it climb out of the reeds behind me and continue along the upper creekline.  Then. a few definite wing flicks and it was gone.

Of course the camera was home safely in the cupboard. (The weather gurus had predicted rain).
Still I hunted through the photobase, to see what I had the would help bring the moment to life for you dear reader.