Little Visits: Pinkerton and Eynesbury

Doing bird counts as part of citizen science has been a feature of the Werribee Wagtails group for many years.
No longer formally affiliated the members still, however, get together for a monthly outing and also for bird counts every quarter at two locations.

Pinkerton and Mulla Mulla Grasslands (aka Bush’s Paddock) and Eynesbury Grey Box forest were the sites for our recent count.

It is interesting to go back over an area over the seasons and see the changes in habitat as well as the variety of bird life.
The early winter walk is always interesting at Mulla Mulla Grasslands as the Flame Robins return there each year. Sometimes the numbers are quite small, this season they are certainly looking very healthy and in good numbers.
They feed in the open paddocks of the farmland adjacent to the forest area and use the forest fenceline as a secure base to rest.

In the afternoon, we also count at Eynesbury Grey Box. This trip we found 2 pairs of Jacky Winter. Jacky is quite the citizen of Grey Box, both male and female are midtone greys and subtle brown variations. They can also be quite accomodating, and while everyone else moved along the track I sat for a few minutes with one that was feeding and in the end it came in quite close. I might have stayed all afternoon, but duty pressed us on.

And just as well as we also spotted the jewel in the crown of Eynesbury Grey Box. The Diamond Firetail.
The Diamond Firetail is also the signature bird for the area, so always good to locate them.

Time for some shots from the day. The gallery is best viewed by double clicking on an image to go to the larger size.

Enjoy

Saturday Evening Post #187: In Heartbeats

There is, a thought where, to paraphrase Kahil Gibran, “You and the Subject are One: The Difference is in Heartbeats.”

There can be no doubt that photographing birds can be a somewhat hit and miss affair.
Not every bird is ready for its space to be invaded by a stumbling human with a long lens attached to a camera, no matter what the good intentions.
Some birds never allow close approaches. Yet on rare occasions for their own reasons will swing in close and the heartbeats somehow synchronise for a few brief moments.

A couple of Hobbys (Not sure if they are a pair or perhaps siblings from a recent nesting) were working over the treelines. It was easy to follow their progress as the agitated calls of White-plumed and New Holland Honeyeaters announced their travel through the treelines.

One of the pair stopped long enough perhaps to appraise the situation and take stock of the next opportunity. This bird swung in over the top and the first bird abandoned the perch.

This moment shows the second bird balancing its landing and slowly folding up the wings in preparation for also taking its own survey.
Did it know I was there? Of course. But for just a few moments our heartbeats aligned.
A quick look around, and satisfied there was little to eat in the area, it was off across the paddock at full tilt. Gone was the heartbeat moment.

From the Fieldnotes Book: Flame Robins

It has been a little over a month since the first of the Flame Robins began appearing at Point Cook.
As usual they come down in a largish travelling party and then slowly disperse into smaller family groups about the park

Often the older females will stay together and the males will move to other parts of the park.
We have been working with one smaller group that has 5-6 females, 2 males and several juveniles. The one that appears to be the Matriarch is still trying to persuade the males to move on a bit further down the field.

Now that they have settled in, it makes finding them, and photography a little easier. The Parks people have inadvertently helped by cutting a 10m or so firebreak around the fence lines so the birds are able to successfully hunt in the shorter grasses.

Sadly for photography there is not a lot of suitable perches and the fencelines offer them the best views of the area, if not the best poses for photography. But its been good to catchup with them and we now have more photos of the Robins from this season than for the entire previous two seasons that were constantly cut short by limiting lockdowns

So in no particular order here are some from the last couple of visits.

Enjoy

Saturday Evening Post #186 : Seeing is Believing

I had some comments last post about the “Valley of the Shadow of Death”, by Fenton.
The whole truth in media becomes quite apparent when the historian looks at the two images and has to decide which is the accurate and which is the staged version.

Perhaps Rodger Fenton was the first of a long line of photo-journalists that have sought to tell the power of the story with the help of the image being a representation of the event rather than a simple photo reproduction from the moment.

Frank Hurley, the Australian photographer who accompanied E.Shackleton on the ill-fated “Endurance” expedition to the Antarctic also ‘dabbled’ with the moment. It is still hard to explain how he achieved the seemingly night time shot of the Endurance in the Ice. His diary indicates the use of many flashes and the difficulty of making the exposure.

Later Hurley would become a war photographer and many of his images, again, drive historians crazy. He made no bones about making double images, multiple printing techniques and montages. His famous shot of the rescue boat departing for help, is most likely the rescue party returning.

The images of soldiers on the way to the front is thought to be a reversed negative print.

And the one that really gets discussion going is the amazing moment of trench warfare with aircraft, shells exploding and troops advancing seemingly under fire.

Hurley openly stated it to be a multiple printed montage.
In the end he found,
Oct. 1, 1917. Our Authorities here will not permit me to pose any pictures or indulge in any original means to secure them. They will not allow composite printing of any description, even though such be accurately titled nor will they permit clouds to be inserted in a picture.

As this absolutely takes all possibilities of producing pictures from me, I have decided to tender my resignation at once. I conscientiously consider it but right to illustrate to the public the things our fellows do and how war is conducted. These can only be got by printing a result from a number of negatives or reenactment
A good selection of images is here.

Fast forward to Steve McCurry, he of the Afghan girl portrait on the cover of National Geographic. Steve’s later work was found to have ‘Photoshopped” in or out details of some stories and the furore of the net knew no bounds. So much so that he changed his style of photography to account for such story telling rather than image straight from camera. See one of many articles here

Many years back a well known soup manufacturer got into a boil over about marketing shots of its ‘famous’ Farmstyle Vegetable Soup that was ‘packed’ with vegetables. The photograph did in fact show a lovely warm inviting bowl of soup with the veggies all piled high out of the liquid.

However when it was prepared straight from the can, as per the instructions, the hapless cook was greeted with a bowl of liquid with a scant number of veggies sinking to the bottom of the bowl. The clever photographer had filled the studio bowl with glass marbles, and then scooped the veggies over the top and then slowly added just enough liquid to hide the marbles.

And let’s not forget any of the fast-food chains. The chances of getting a burger that resembles the bright crisp item in the photo display is minimal. Again the net is awash with dissatisfied consumers.

So it must be asked if I make some changes to an image, how much is legitimate. Now I’m not talking about Photoshopping Uncle Fred’s face into a daffodil, I’m hoping we are over that.

I’ve been working on some shots the past few weeks making Black and White portraits from a range of photos. I do it because I like the end result. If I share one, it is noticeable as after-all the creature has colour.

I’m not asking the viewer to suspend their credibility or influencing the understanding of the subject. Rather inviting them to explore the nuances of tone, shape, texture and from in a new way.

Perhaps the old adage from the Furphy Watertanker:

Good, better, best
Never let it rest,
Until your good is better,
And your better is best.

Is still a good working motto.

Enjoy.