Interludes: Of Tooth and Claw

Tho’ Nature, red in tooth and claw
In Memoriam;
Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Welcome to Interludes:
We had been monitoring a pair of Black-shouldered Kites for the past several months, in between lockdowns, and had come to the conclusion that perhaps they had abandoned the project due to the cold weather.
However a couple of weeks ago things seemed to change, the male began to bring in food and took to sitting on a tree close to where we thought the nest might be.  Plaintive cries from a hungry female confirmed it.

But, the nest tree was cleverly located behind a huge chainwire fence at the Treatment Plant and access and a close approach was out of the question. So in between weeks at home and bad weather we just had to wait.

Then, the weather opened up one morning to sunshine and we journeyed out for a looksee.

Can’t be sure, but it is pretty clear that the young had emerged from the nest, and at least one of them has made a few tentative flights.
Set up, settle in, see what happens.

One of the young took to the air, but its direction and control skills needed much more development.  Eventually after much loud calling it landed a bit down range in the next tree.

Unfortunately, the tree was already inhabited by a nesting Australian Magpie.

And Maggie has a zero tolerance for visitor. Enraged and highly defensive, the little Kite would be no match for Maggies sustained attack.

There are no First Warnings!
We have a NO Visitors Policy
Not on MY tree you don’t
Contact
Ouch, That Hurt!
Pressing home its attack
Safely back on the Nest: We didn’t see it again for the afternoon
The Cavalry Arrives. But after several half-hearted swoops on the enraged Magpie, Dad gave up.

Interludes: “On The Road Again…”

Well then, time to don the old spotted ‘kerchief, pull down the weather beaten widebrimmed hat, tune up the ole guitar and climb aboard the VW Microbus for another round of Willie Nelson singin’  “On the Road Again”. Now Willie may not be my fav entertainer, but I do as an aside, get a bit lumpy of throat everytime I hear his “Blue eyes Cryin’ in the Rain.”
Wipes moisture off keyboard continues typing.

Yep.  She’s back on the Road.  Well, more particularly out and about in the field with camera at the ready.

A few more weeks, and the old EE will be back to full form I’d be thinking. Goodby to #Kneetoo it seems.

How many Australian Hobbies would you normally expect to see in a morning? Most of us would be hard to agree to One, and then think it lucky
Two?  Stretching it Mate.
Three? EE

Now for bonus points, how many of those Hobbies would be carefully ensconced in a tree happily feeding away on a recent take?
One, oh, ok, I’ll give you that.
Two? Well that is why you should turn up the music louder. She’s back on the road.  🙂

We were working on a couple of recently fledged Black-shouldered Kites, when the conversation changed to,
“I think a Hobby with a meal just landed in a tree back there.”

We look, well at least I did.  Dark in there, lots of thick branches and leaves.  Searching.
Click, click, click.  She’s spotted it.
And there was the Hobby with what was the remains of a House Sparrow.  Way up there, in among all that clutter.  Amazing.

Suitably  photographed, we left it to its devices and headed back to iAmGrey for a cuppa.

Midway through, the conversation changed.

“I think there is a second Hobby with a meal in that tree at the end of the roadway!”

Abandoning the warm Earl of Grey to its own devices, we move to the other side of the parking area.
Now this one wasn’t so hard, out in the open, on a branch, looking very uncomfortable trying to eat on a sloping branch.
Click, click.

Job done we relocated to a second pair of kites.  Another Interlude story for next time.

Just as EE got out of the iAmGrey, a Hobby flew pretty much head height over her. ”
Click Click. Click.

I can still hear the guitars, and,”The Life I love is making photos with my friend, I’m so glad that we’re back in the field again!!”

Young Black-shouldered Kites mock battle
Only recently fledgded, but already quite the adept aviator
Hobby Number One. Once under the tree, it was easier to see among the foliage
A fresh catch that needed cleaning up for table presentation
Hobby Number Two. A rather awkward perch to work on.
Hobby Number Two. Eventually moved to a more suitable branch in the open. 
However this was the home of a pair of Willie Wagtails, and visitors were not welcome.
There is only so much harasssment it could take. FInished the meal, and time to leave.
Young Black-shouldered Kite. It seems this clutch flew two young.
They have been moved a few hundred metres from the nesting area. Perhaps the food is better on that side of the highway.

Outta the Kitchen Drawer

I bet we’ve all got at least one.  If you’re a photographer, like collecting camera bags, it might be that you have more than one.
That drawer in the Kitchen that holds all the knickknacks, detritus, and otherwise never sorted collection of things that have no where else to be stored.

Oh, look, four rubber bands, an old shopping list, some faded receipts for something or other, a pair of blunt scissors, the battery from… I wonder what? And all sorts of other accumulated, but not discarded  items of dubious value.

Irish comedian Jimeoin even wrote a song about it, “The Third Draw Down”  careful about the words, but that is comedy these days.

Well, I’ve been collecting a little here and there for a blog but none of the topics are significant enough on their own to warrant a single blog.

So.

Let’s put them in the Kitchen Draw and rummage through.

#kneetoo is back in the bush.
A few days before out current Fifth Lockdown, #kneetoo made her first real venture out into the wide world with camera and patience both firmly attached.

Also a deckchair, carefully placed in the sunshine was an essential element.  Subject was a Black-shouldered Kite’s nesting.  So here is how the action unfolded.

What else is at the back of the draw.?
Talked at the weekend about the “Mapping” ability of the Brown Falcon.
A tv semi-doco over the weekend produced in England. Life in the Air: Masters of the Sky

Can’t find that much about it, but the graphics are really explanatory, and the short inflight shots really help show what each segment is about.  However there is a lack of any references to the research, and I suspect that many of the sequences have been strung together from unrelated events.

Of interest is the segment on the garden hunting of a Sparrowhawk.  The graphics show how the bird, from 50m out from a birdfeeder in a backyard is able to negotiate a convoluted track in to avoid detection from all the dozens of little eyes always on the alert.
Having established the track, the action then ‘follows’ the bird from strike launch until four seconds later when a dramatic ‘puff’ of feathers over the birdfeeder is supposed to indicate a strike.  It is interesting to see the path the bird takes, its twists and turns to keep hidden for as long as possible   There are quite a lot of slo-mo sequences of it flying under, through and skimming over a bush here, turning on a tree there and the through the railing in a gate.
A great story.

I’d have loved it to be a bit more referenced as it is a great example of what I believe about Brown Falcon.  I love to see Browns running wing height over the ground, through the bracken, and bushes, to arrive at its target. Or the considered attack on a Tiger snake. It is all mapped and planned.

Rumage, rumage rumage.

Here are a few more from the Red Wattlebird attack on Bronson as he delivers another few sticks to bolster the well hidden nest.

 

 

 

 

And not looking to happy about surveying the damage to his rump.

One more from under the receipts, and those old drink coasters, who knew we still had them.

Wanted to finish on a positive note with a big SHOUT OUT, to all the Heroes doing Heroic work on our behalves during this most stressful of times.

Had to get some blood tests the other day.  The nurse doing the work is taking a break after a 6 week shift at the Showgrounds taking Covid 19 tests.  7:30am to 11pm has been her workload for most of that time. Goodonya!

To all those who have one way or another provided support, helped with logistics, cleaned everything—I see you at my Woollies—and all the other amazing Heroic things that are being carried out, often in the background.

Our local Shik community who are working to provide meals and support for so many isolated. ‘Onya!’

Meanwhile the fearnews concentrates one more more ratbag element, when there are so many great stories, even in their simplicity being written by people who have dedicated themselves in so many ways.

And of course to all those whose one simple act of getting tested, and then isolating for the appropriate amount of time.  Thank you.  I dedicate this blog to your act of selflessness.

The list is long, and includes those who turn up at sites to provide some cheer, food, flowers, to all those front line workers, what a great way to say, “Thanks”.

May healing come rapidly on wings of peace.

 

 

 

 

 

Little Visits: The Power of Wings

Somethings happen so fast that it defeats the human eye to follow.  Sometimes a short sequence of photos can reveal not only fine details of an event but also an understanding of the forces at work.

Such, is the case of a pair of Black-shouldered Kites at work on their current nesting duties.
Our blog friend David Nice gave me the headsup that the Kites were back at work on the Sneydes Road area. Time for a looksee.

And indeed they were. The nest is quite a new site for the pair, and built in such a position that its a little hard to fly in nesting sticks directly, and the male has been ‘drifting’ them in at an angle to get the larger longer sticks in just the right position.

I normally don’t shoot multi-burst, but, well you know how it is, the first pair of kites we’ve worked with in quite awhile. So I was happy to begin to fillup the memory card.

Where the magic happened however was when I began to curate the images and found the various changes in wing angle and feather application that he was using to ‘drift’ into the right position.
So the series here are simply to show how he has used wing angle and wing lift to get the right momentum, direction and control. With one wing carrying the movement while the other wing lets air cascade away to ‘fall’ in that direction.
Hope you find in interesting.

 

His second problem is that the locals are not too impressed to have the new home renovators at work in their area, and each trip in and out was a to run the gauntlet of ravens, Red-wattle birds and magpies.  A bit costly on feather contacts on a number of occasions.

 

 

Return to the Office

As the first Australian Lockdown came to an end back in March 2020, Scomo, our Prime Minister announced that it was “Time for Australia to come out from under the Doona and get back to the office”. Fine sentiment.

For readers not familiar with Scomo, it is a contraction of the Prime Minister’s name. Scott Morrison.
It came to public attention first on August 2, 2018, when during a press conference, Mr Morrison was asked about his leadership aspirations, as there was a lot of unease about Malcom Turnbull’s leadership.
He reached out and hugged Mr Turnbull and said, “This is my leader, I’m ambitious for him”

To which the (doomed) Malcom Turnbull responded, “Thanks, Scomo.”

The irony of the comment really only became obvious about 3 weeks later, when Malcom Turnbull was ousted, and Scomo became Prime Minister. (Skipping over some of the heavy duty political drama in there!)

So with the recent lifting of restrictions on the Victorian Lockdown to a 10km travel radius, I decided to take Scomo’s advice and “Return to the Office.

Mostly I wanted to see if the Flame Robins were still in the area. But as it turns out, they have become very conspicuous by their absence.
I did find a lone Black-shouldered Kite who was happy to share a photo of its hunting prowess.

Then I heard the intense call of Magpies announcing a raptor approaching. Looking far across the paddock a small dot with large wings was headed my way. To be honest, at first I thought it was a local Black Kite and was nearly going to dismiss it, but the intensity of the maggies attack made me look again.

Wedge-tailed Eagle

Trying desperately to get enough speed to gain some height and escape being harassed. However maggies are trained for this and they were making sure that the Eagle had to stay down just over the paddock.
It kept coming and then the Eagle and its attendant pesky magpies flew pretty much over where I was standing.

Thanks Scomo.
Hope I don’t get deposed 🙂

Saturday Evening Post #114: Understated Elegance

Perhaps one of the greatest skills for a ‘portrait’ photographer is to ‘connect’ with the subject.

Some people I’ve met seem to have a natural aptitude for bringing out unique character traits of their subject.  A smile, nod, hand movement, a word or two, and suddenly there waiting for the press of the shutter is the ‘essence’ of the person’s personality.

There are so many reasons why people often (always!) say, “Oh, I don’t take a very good picture!”  Too true.
We want to have a candid photo approach, but we don’t want a candid result.

Yousuf Karsh, a Canadian portraitist from the 1930s to when he retired in 1992, was a refugee from Armenia. He apprenticed to first his uncle and then a prominent American celebrity photographer.

His photographs of the great and near great of his time include, what is regarded as the quintessential portrait of Sir Winston Churchill. The story of the making of the portrait is as great as the moment recorded.
Churchill, it is told, turned up at the photo session with his signature cigar.  Just as Karsh was about to make the exposure he walked up toChurchill and removed the cigar from his hand.
The result shows a ‘miffed’ Churchill, yet one that brings out the essence of the subject.

Different time, different subject, different circumstances.
Martin Luther King,
King’s life can only be described as frenetic. Always on the move, always surrounded by helpers, people congratulating him, or commiserating.  The famous portrait was made a quiet corner of a church. The simple setting enabled Karsh to bring out the qualities of leadership, visionary and engaging personality.

Another that is quite confrontational, and given the subject, so it should be is Fidel Castro.  Frame filling, piecing eyes and wisps of shadow glancing over the facial planes make a compelling image.

See more his portrait work here.
If you do visit this site, be sure to click on the Sittings page, and type in the name of one of the studies. Then  click on image and it will open up to a little of the background to the portrait. Fascinating.

Here are a few Karsh quotes.

Within every man and woman a secret is hidden, and as a photographer it is my task to reveal it if I can. The revelation, if it comes at all, will come in a small fraction of a second with an unconscious gesture, a gleam of the eye, a brief lifting of the mask that all humans wear to conceal their innermost selves from the world. In that fleeting interval of opportunity the photographer must act or lose his prize.

I try to photograph people’s spirits and thoughts. As to the soul-taking by the photographer, I don’t feel I take away, but rather that the sitter and I give to each other. It becomes an act of mutual participation.

Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.

And just because we’ll allow him a sense of humour,
The trouble with photographing beautiful women is that you never get into the dark room until after they’ve gone.


I’m often quoted—or misquoted—for wanting to bring out the character of the birds that we meet.
Some birds can be cooperative and its possible to spend sometime making sure things like, lighting, background, pose and the like are helpful. Others, are fleeting and gone.

If nothing else Karsh’s work hints at the need for outdoor photographers to adapt the camera to the subject. We don’t have the luxury of the formal studio portrait.

Yet that mobility enables us to be flexible and capture natural moments.

Bronson is a hard working Dad. We have had the good fortune to work with him through three clutches, and our presence is no longer seen as a threat.

I do therefore, take some liberties with his patience. But always out of respect.

No  photo is worth agitating a bird.

I am, I guess I need to add, quite a critic of my own close approaches, and like to think I have over the years become attuned to a wing flip, leg move, head shake or downright glare that indicates I’ve crossed a line.  Apologetic I retreat.

He sat in the soft early light, and the thought of “Elegance” struck me.  I then worked about to find a suitable background.  The small tree behind gave me an isolation for the head, and the branch gave him a feeling of place.
Waiting is something a Black-shouldered Kite is gifted with. I too needed to wait for the head turn, the piercing eyes surveying the field and the relaxed body.
Click

Any relationship between this shot and Karsh’s “Grey Owl“, is purely coincidental, and no comparison is intended or suggested.

Enjoy

Photographic Essay: I Thought Everyone Loved Me!

This is a story from earlier in the year.

The young Black-shouldered Kites had only recently fledged and were still in the process of learning how to use the muscle control of the wings, how the wind varies. and that it might be possible eventually to fly in something more than a straight line, and land by simply crashing into things.

As it turned out this youngster got to the air, but with a strong wind blowing it managed to drift away from the shelter of the nesting area and about 200metres out eventually land in the leaves of a tall gum tree.

What it didn’t know, and was soon to find out, was that a pair of Red Wattlebirds also had a nest in the tree and some fine youngsters coming on. And at that stage they had a zero tolerance policy for any bird, stray or otherwise from resting near their young.

After several swoops the little Kite realised an important lesson in life. Not everybody loves a cute little ginger and white Kite.

Under attack it took to the air, but it didn’t have the aerial skills of the Honeyeaters that mercilessly chased it from the area.  Taking out a beakful or two of back feathers in the process.

A week later it would have been a different encounter, but the Honeyeaters pressed their attack with avengeance.

Here tis.

Photographic Essay: Dad’s Rules, or Dad Rules

The poor old male Black-shouldered Kite, in the this case, Bronson, has to put up with a lot as his young aeronauts learn the ways of Black-shouldered Kite.

He gets yelled at for more food, buffeted and bounced about the sky by his inept, but over-enthusiastic young and pushed from his perch if they decide to land near him, and do it rather inelegantly.

Yet, for the most part he seems to take it all with good grace, and just gets on with the job. Perhaps he sees it as part of the drama of doing business with the young birds.

However, there are several rules that he seems to have, and enforces.

One of the rules is that there should be no in-fighting among the young ones. Each will get a turn at food, or his attention.
Another relates to landing rights, and if one of the young should knock its sibling from the perch while landing then consequences are inevitable and he’ll step in.
Another rule seems to be if he is busy preparing for a hunt, then he will not be interrupted by one of the young landing nearby and calling at him.

His major, and most enforceable rule seems to be if the young ones in their enthusiasm and lack of skill decide to take to the air to defend against passing Kestrels, Falcons and Black Kites.
He will then herd the young one back out of the way, giving it a bit of  a clip for its troubles.
Then of course he has to go and defend against the now aggrieved foe.

His major method appears to be a clip on the back with his claws.  Because he can still outfly them, well at least at the beginning, it seems to be quite a successful method.

Here are a few instances

Never knock Dad off his perch. In this case the young one had managed to get a grip of one of his legs instead of the branch, and couldn’t let go.

As the young one tried to find a new perch, Bronson came it an gave it a clip on the back

Bronson pursuing the young one back to the nesting area.

Suitably chastised the young one headed for a rest at the nesting site


Bronson had landed hoping to have a top-up meal. In a sneak attack the young one managed to get a grip of the mouse and pulled him from the tower.

C’mon Dad, time for a feed. This is the eldest of the two females, and she obviously inherited her mother’s bossy gene.
She had given him either a peck or a push to move him on.


This young one had decided to land on the same top branch as its sibling. Not enough room for two, and the first one had to yield.

Within a few seconds Bronson had arrived and a quick clip on the back, you can see a feather flying, and the young one was forced off the branch

An angry Dad with the wings down.


Foolishly this young one decided to defend against a grown Nankeen Kestrel. The much more agile Kestrel was prepared to take the attack to the young one. Dad would have to set in.

Dad’s Rules

Now he has to hunt the young one away from the Kestrel.

And a good clip on the back will be its punishment. He then had see off the angry Kestrel.

Photographic Essay: Ground Work

Once they have mastered the art of flying, the young Black-shouldered Kites were introduced to working on the ground.
After all mice don’t fly, so they would have to spend part of their hunt on the ground.

In first few attempts that I witnessed they showed more of a fascination of what was on the ground, rather than any attempt to ‘look’ for food.

They seemed to enjoy laying down on the ground and rubbing their tummies along the gravel or grass.
Chewing the grass was another peculiar activity.

Slowly but surely they gained enough experience to hunt through the grass and while never successful at least they were on the way to developing the necessary skills.

Looking through the damp grass

They are not designed to walk around on the grass and tend to ‘roll’ along like sailors on a deck

Time for a portrait

A little tummy rub on the gravel

This one was sitting behind a clump of grasses and came out to see me when I showed up.

Fascinated by the taste of grass.

Another tummy rub on the wet grass.

I know you’re down there.

Now able to drop into the grass silently.

Photographic Essay: Feeding your Black-shouldered Kite

Firstly I was sent this link by a friend, and I thought it struck a similar chord to some of my recent meanderings on visualisation.  It also has some useful in-the-field bird photography advice.  Funny how it’s taken a lockdown for people to realise that ‘awareness’ is not some app on a phone.
Tiny Wonders by Jessica Martin ABC News

She talks about developing a “Sense of Awe”

Quick quote,
“In many ways, then, these tiny, simple things we’ve been savouring lately — a flower, a bird’s pitch-perfect trill, how the sun hits the wet grass after a night of heavy rain — are the big things.

There are silver linings in all this.”

Hope you find it encouraging.


Back to the Kites.
I’m just now getting to working through the images of a couple of months back to consolidate them into working groups of similar actions or events.

The young had been on the wing for a couple of weeks and had developed their in-flight feeding skills.  Poor old Bronson, had more work than a one-armed paperhanger keeping up with their voracious hunger.  The female, Belle, seems to play no part in their early training or feeding once they are on the wing.

From The Global Headquarters of the Doona Hermit

Remain

Look out Dad, here I come

Timing is right, speed is right, direction is right, eyes on the target.
Release the Claws!

Nailed it

Dad won’t let go until he’s certain the young one has a proper grip.

This one missed the speed, angle and accuracy tests. Need to go around again.

To help, Dad readjusted his grip.

More speed, but this time an overshoot.

Take Three, timing looks better here

Whoa! where did the mouse go.

Where’s my mouse!!
Hard to keep them filled up and quiet.

Little Visits from the Couch: A Morning with the Young Kites

I really feel I’ve been remiss working on the blog of late.  I guess if anything it has pointed out to me the very nature of the “now” of the running a blog.

Birds as Poetry has always been for me about our interactions, or visits with a limited range of birds.
So no visits, well, not postings.

Still, as I wander back through the most recent trips we took in mid June, there are certainly moments that need to be shared.

So expect to see a few Photographic Essay of our days with the young kites.   It either shows how dedicated to a clutch of birds, or how narrow our travel and bird experiences were during that period.  Be kind, we weren’t able to travel very far.

The evil thing is cutting such a swathe of agony for so many people.  I fully expect we will be limited in movement for quite a long time to come.
So enjoy the little interludes as I sweep out the library files, (figuratively of course)

Not often we saw all three on the same branch

After so many weeks with them, they were now very comfortable with our presence, and simply carried on around us

This picket was the only landing spot near me, and the young one came in quite deliberately to land. I’d like to think it wanted a closer look at my camera.

The clever one foot landing

They had spent more of their lives all together in the small nest, and still were happy to share the smallest branch area. One just about losing balance to make room for the interloper

It’s mine, no, mine, no mine.

One mouse, two hungry mouths, and not the ones Dad was interested in feeding. He would let them get close, but then turn away. He delivered it to the third one.

Still getting the hang of taking from Dad’s claw. This one has overshot the mouse and crashed into Dad’s tummy

Little Visits from the Couch: A Moment of Connection

Greetings from the Couch.  Snuggled under the Doona looking out the window in afternoon.  I don’t look out in the morning, else I’d have nothing to do in the afternoon.

During one of our forays with the young kites a few weeks back, this young bird was getting more and more anxious about Dad returning with a snack.

The area has a mound of earth, left over from an old bridge removal over the nearby freeway to Geelong.  Several gums have grown in and around the mound and it has made a most pleasing studio in which to work.

The tree in this case grows out of a lower part of the mound and I was standing at the top nearby, which gave me an eyeball view of the bird only a few metres away. It was quite relaxed about my presence and had chosen to fly in for a better view over the paddocks, waiting for its share of the morning’s food.

Then, it all  happened, leaving the branch it landed on nearby leaves and after steadying itself took off. Straight toward me!

It sailed by in full cry just past my shoulder, and the poor old camera/lens af combo gave up after about the third frame, and my old body gave up a second or so later as it rocketed by.

Too much fun.

From the Doona Hermit

Remain.

Comfortable with a great view of the paddocks

Here I come

All systems go

I always enjoy that heraldic pose. This was getting a little to close

And a bonus of the three together after a meal.

Little Couch Visits: On the trail of growing Black-shouldered Kites

Added the “Couch” heading to my normal visits and journeys.  We are as it happens, at home on the couch, iPad in hand.

So come with me on a journey back in time. Shades of “Back to the Future —another couch-time activity.

We had been, in early Feb and March, working with a pair of Black-shouldered Kites at nest. The day the first lockdown took effect, the young had only just flown. And then we didn’t see them for over three weeks. By then they were well advanced.
It was a bit of a missed photographic opportunity as the nesting site lended itself both from great light and open areas, for some really clear shots of the birds as they began their life on the wing.

Time passed, and restrictions lifted and we went back to the usual haunt to see if they were still around.
No. Well gone.

A couple of weeks later we returned with Flame Robin arrivals in mind.
EE spotted way, way, way down the paddock—even for her— a flash of white in the sky and declared that the young kites were probably way down the fence-line in the distance.

Robins, or Kites?
We set out along the fence-line.
The mice population among the bracken must have been very good as all three quickly scored a meal while we were approaching.
They settled down in among some of the small trees to enjoy a feast.

Out of nowhere, Dad arrived on the scene and took station on one of the higher branches.  But rather than welcoming him, they harassed him for food.

However he wasn’t taking any orders. His Uberfood days were over.

The interesting thing that we noted was the colour change, each one was well into moulting the subtle grey and white and the ginger colours were being replaced.

I guess having some more time at home, I can work through the files and find some images, or sets that normally I’d just leave to mellow on the disk.  A  tweak here, a slider or two there, a brush on a mask there, and ‘hey presto’.

Enjoy

Remain.

The Doona Hermit.

They were down in a tree-line, and it took EE awhile to locate them

Perhaps pretending not to be there. It is starting to replace the juvenile feathers with the adult grey.

Easy to see how the grey adult feathers are moulting in

Dad dropped in to see how they were doing and immediately they all thought he should be hunting for them.

Fully able to look after themselves

Not a good idea to knock Dad off his perch

Feed me, feed me. That look on his face says that he is not hunting any more for them.

A Hunting We will Go

Hunting like the professional it has become

Saturday Evening Post #91: It’s About Time

One of my fellow blogosphere inhabitants, the Chronicles of  A Blogaholic, posted just recently a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.

“We may have all come on different ships,
but we’re in the same boat now.”
Martin Luther King, Jr

Now to be honest, I am not that familiar with the writings of MLK, but this one struck a chord with me, as we settle into a six week enforced stay at home.
I am, truth be told, not that enthusiastic to the “We’re all in this Together” media blitz that keeps coming over the gunwales, I think that most of us more identify with “I am in this Alone”. However to a much broader term, the MLK quote I think carries its own special message for the here and now.

Time it seems, doesn’t stand still, we have been working with a growing trio of young Black-shouldered Kites, they are not going to sit around, frozen in time, if you will, waiting for me and my lens to get back out and pickup where I left off.
They will be gone. Following the ways of a Black-shouldered Kite. I’ll have some photos and some memories.
They will have their lives, a day full of moments, each filled with intent.

Time it seems, is Now!
When it comes to the images I make, to the people whose lives I’m gifted to share, to opportunities to learn about myself and others, there is only now.
Inspiration is not just two more pages over in the book I’m reading, I may never turn the page and miss it. It’s not another 1:34 along in some dotube that I’m watching. I might click ‘stop’ before I get there.

Robert Capa, had an amazing life, made some awesome photographs and experienced more than most.  Many will know of his Falling Soldier killed in action.  The irony I think of that photo is it was made on the last day of the conflict.
Time or chance or…

He once said, “If you photographs aren’t good enough, it’s because you are not close enough”
I think he means, not so much a physical proximity—today, of course, abiding by the 1.5m rule—but rather an experience with the subject. As nature photographers, we buy the longest lens available, or at least that we can justifiable afford.  Although I suppose some lenses I’ve owned over the year stretch your definition of ‘justifiable’ to a new horizon. 🙂

The question was once asked of a nature photographer, ‘Do you think it’s possible, to some degree, to translate the experience of a close encounter with a wild animal—in this instance it was the Kyutzeymeteen Ghost Bears—into a photograph?”
And a second part of the question, “If it is, how come so few people achieve it?”

With our long lenses, it becomes I believe a lot harder to provide a close, almost intimate invitation into the world of our subject, the narrow lens might fill the frame, but it doesn’t necessarily bring the right feeling. They compress lines, shapes and distances. Rather then drawing the viewer in, the long lenses exclaim, “This was a long way away, don’t you feel safe.”

Establishing that closeness, is first and foremost I also believ, is about respect for the subject, taking time to build the relationship, building on a fascination for the subject, a thread that is extended to the viewer.

Recently, as we approached the roosting area of the three local kites, I spotted one on the ground behind some bushes.

I stopped and sat on the ground, maybe I’d make a great takeoff shot against the sky. To my surprise the young bird stepped around the bushes and moved closer to me. The light changed, a soft and mellow melding light that draped like a poem over the form of the bird.
It was time.