Saturday Evening Post #193: Being In Tune

Ohh, a musical ramble!
It is as they say, about being in-tune with the manifestations of nature.
Ohh lots of big words in there, and we are naught but humble pirates (Cap’n Barbossa, Pirates of the Caribbean)

—Chauching-tsu wrote it this way.
Mysteriously wonderfully, I bid farewell to what goes, I greet what comes;
for what comes cannot be denied, and that which goes cannot be detained.

Or put another way: Seeing the miraculous in the ordinary. If I insist on capturing only images that suit my style, perhaps I fail to appreciate life’s fulness.

Henri Cartier-Bresson said, “Photography is like that. It’s ‘yes, yes, yes, … It’s a tremendous enjoyment to say “Yes!” Or to paraphrase Alfred Stieglitz, “It is something as I’d never seen it before.”.

Our Grandie turned up the other morning, and said, ‘How about you take me out to photograph birds?” Not that we needed much of an invitation. So we loaded up iAmGrey and set off. First to check the Black-shouldered Kites, and found David N there as well, so we had a bit of a chat about things of the world, and waited for the kites.

We then moved on to Werribee River Park. It was a bit eerie to walk down through the forest as the last time we’d all been there was at the height of summer and much nesting was on the way.
Off in the distance, said Grandie announced, “Sounds like a Fantail Cuckoo”, so we set off further down the track. I also heard, the distinct calls of a pair of Brown Falcons, but despite looking all over the sky through the trees, all I managed to see was treetops and clouds. 🙂

More calls, so we continued on further, coming to an open area between the treelines. I moved wide out hoping to be able to get a good look around the trees as the cuckoo might be out in the open.

EE called it first, no, not the cuckoo. “Up there,” she pointed. “It’s a Brown Falcon”. And as all good readers will know, the bird might well have been just this side of Argentina, so it was going to be hard for us mere mortals to locate.
“No, there.”

Not to put to fine a point on it, a Brown Falcon, sitting very comfortably in the open. The markings almost certainly would id it as a bird that was a regular in the nearby River Park carpark, that I’d named “Bernie” as on a number of occasions we’d encountered him sitting in a tree at the carpark in the very late evening sunshine, ‘burnishing’ his rich, marble chest.

He was in no hurry. We watched as he scoped back and forth across the clearing. No doubt if there was prey here he knew about it. But in typical Brown Falcon attitude, he would not make his move until everything was worked out to the last detail.

Happy to sit, and Dwight was able to make some fine falcon shots. All good for a day out.

Just to say that Apples don’t Fall to Far from the Tree, as we walked back to iAmGrey, he turned to me and said, “What feather is this?” The rich ginger tones and the size could only be from a Nankeen Night Heron. We went to look among the trees. “There, out the back of this tree.” Hmmm EE is going to have sharpen her skills a bit more. The quasi-blackart seems to have come down through the gene pool.
Just then the bird—tired of being pointed at, took to wing. And we got some great views of it flying through the trees.

Good Light to You

Saturday Evening Post# 192: The Journey, Not the Destination

David duChemin of Craft and Vision sent out an interesting update recently.

One of the things that intrigued me was the question of “What you would tell your younger self about the craft of photography he is embarking on” Now I know from an Uncle Google search that those sorts of questions and answers are spread all over the web, like those little bits of microplastic in the ocean.

And. I know that the 14 year old kid with the Super Balda camera and a roll of Ilford FP3 film would take little notice anyway. For a start off, photography as a career would not have had any notion or meaning. Nor, am I sad to relate, among the people and teachers of the time, would there have been any encouragement to pursue such thoughts. The closest I ever got was the local librarian who had assembled a fine collection of photo books by the masters. Perhaps I should have been more bold to talk with her about the choices. And also I must add, the patience of the local chemist that put up with my kid-in-a-lollyshop approach to buying photo-supplies from him—more, I fear of that story must follow 🙂

And anyway photography was a kind of like riding a bike, or bouncing a ball, it just happened as part of life. Bit like stamp collecting. You did it for awhile and then something else, flying kites perhaps, came along.

So I’d not have lectured said lad on the wonders of depth of field, or the charm of Chiaroscuro lighting. Nor would I have wasted the moment explaining how to ‘get ahead’ in a dog-eat-dog world of photo imaging. Nor would I have added, “Take up war photography, not weddings. It’s safer.”
And I’d not be inclined to mention who to avoid like the Robot in “Lost In Space”—Warning, Warning, Danger Approaching.
And of course I’d not bother to add why it would be necessary to learn the same hard lessons over and over again in terms of relationships with people.

My one piece,I think, would be, “Enjoy the Journey, don’t worry about the Destination”.

It’s been quite a three weeks of dreadful weather. Talk about Doona Hermit. So we decided the other morning, that a run to see how the Point Cook Black-shouldered Kites were travelling. We have three pairs of birds that began nests in the past few weeks, but the Point Cook birds would have likely flown. And.
They did.

It’s a funny thing about the ‘Enjoy the Journey” advice. It works. We were pleased to see the young kites well on the way to adulthood, but, the wretched weather beat us. Grey kite on grey sky is not a good look. Add rain, and cold wind, and well, coffee shop is the option.
Yet. As we began to drive out, I heard the familar call of the Brown Falcons, and so we stopped to have a look, and sure enough, Cassia of Cinnamon’s rather dapper white-chested male, had come in with a snack for her approval. By the time iAmGrey was parked and the doors were open, it was all over, so we followed them through the trees to where she had finished whatever delicacy had been offered.
Then she took off through the treeline.
I rather like this image as she is running on short wings as there is little room to manoeuvre through the trees. And we proudly drove away, happy that the pair were still in residence, and he was beginning the process of feeding her up for a nesting later in the year.
A new journey is just beginning.

Too much fun in the rain.

Saturday Evening Post #191: Photos that Make a Difference

There would be few people who lived through the Vietnam War years that would have not seen the photo of “The Napalm Girl”. And perhaps only a few would know of the name of the girl, or of the photographer who took the picture.

June 8, 1971, Nick Ut was on assignment for Associated Press near the village of Trang Bang. What happened next is well covered by pages all over the web and doesn’t need me to reblog it here.
I have thought long about bringing up the topic, but what I wanted to stress was the compassion of Nick toward the badly burned Kim Phuc.
Again his words are so much more profound than mine, but he managed to get the young girl to hospital and then transferred to a burns unit, and stayed to make sure she was well looked after.

Many have said it was one of the defining images of the war that helped turn the tide of support to bring the war to an end. Nick won a Pulitzer Prize for the photo, Horst Faas, the editor at AP ran the story, breaking a number of rules about nudity and content, but believed the story must be told.

So 50 years on here are several links to the story of the horror of Kim Phuc and the compassion of one man, determined to make a difference.

This one turned up on the ABC news site this morning and has a small video clip of Kim Phuc and Nick Ut reunion.

A more indepth article by Nick Ut from the Washington Post and it shows how he stayed in touch with her over the years.

And another from Joe McNally of a 40th anniversary shoot with Kim and her new baby. (I know I’ve linked to this in a previous blog, so apologise if you’ve seen it before.)

Kim started a Foundation dedicated to Healing Children of War and here is the site

I’ve chosen not to include a photograph for this blog page.
Some things pale into insignificance.

Speaking with kindness creates confidence,
thinking with kindness creates profoundness,
giving with kindness creates love.
Lao Tzu

Little (cold) Visits: Dedication is Paying Off

Our local pair of Black-shouldered Kites go about the job of enlarging the species as though they are the only ones committed to the programme.

This past week has been constant rain, high winds and freezing cold conditions. But Belle has a job to do, and somehow through all that inclement weather she has stuck to the nest.

We too have been hunkered down. Looking out the door or window at the incessant rain, and feeling the cold creeping into the bones has not only been debilitating, but has dimmed any idea of being able to see how the Kites have been battling.

This morning, a look through the window, showed a few patches of blue-sky with no immediate rain. ” Let’s go see, and if it changes, we can always come home or go get a coffee,” EE said.

And as the good Banjo said, “We went.”

Mind, two people dressed for an Antarctic Expotition, or as a friend said the other day, Two Michelin Men, might not have been elegant, but at least kept the biting wind somewhat at bay.

At first it was all quiet, but then we noted that Belle was now sitting higher in the nest and there was white-wash on the branches below. So no doubt the young are beginning to grow.

In pretty quick succession Bronson arrived with first one, then two, a third and then fourth mouse. So he is doing his best to keep the high quality rocket-fuel going into little tummies and also keeping Belle satisfied.

In the end the Michelin men retreated to iAmGrey-heater turned on, and headed for coffee.

No doubt by the next time we can venture out, we might get the chance to see a tiny head or two.

Enjoy. And keep warm.

Saturday Evening Post #190: Knockin’ Off for the Weekend

Welcome to a little bit of stream of consciousness

We were having a discussion about when a freelance photo-assignment is completed. Perhaps it’s an event, or a get-together, or maybe even a sporting event.

How do you know when to stop, and leave?

So we followed the options, well at least as many as we could think of. Perhaps the time to stop shooting is when the main action is over. The keynote speaker has left the building, the team has gone to the sheds, the family matriarch has gone home. The bride and groom have left for the honeymoon.
Or are there still more photos to be made of the people cleaning up, the packing and load-out, the security going about locking-up the doors, and maybe the last lights being turned off.

I ventured that another option would be to, “Knock-off, and get home in time for dinner”.
What do you mean, Knock-off?

Colloquialisms don’t travel well down the years or across cultures. I grew up in a farming and building community. Knock-off time was the description of ceasing work. Like “Striking a Blow” was getting started.

But, then we started to see other possibilities.

F’instance. The painting was a good Knock-off of the original. Meaning someone had made a pretty good copy.

Or how about, the soldier who was explaining his lack of some kit items, by responding, “Well someone must have Knocked it Off.” Meaning it had been stolen.

He was Knocked-Off his perch. Meaning that his status had changed as in Scomo was Knocked Off his Perch.

Then for the pedants: The new camera was accidentally knocked off the table onto the floor and destroyed the lens. Well, we all hope that never happens. 🙂

Some meanings come, of course, directly from movie sources as in, “Let’s Knock-off the so and so”, meaning to kill them.

Must be time to Knock-off a cuppa tea. Meaning a tea break. Or it’s so hot I could Knock-off a beer.

and off course a good one to finish. Knock it off, we’ve had enough.

Bet we missed a few.

And on that note, I think I’ll just Knock-off for the weekend. Seeya next week.