Snapshots: Think Local

I know, the think global, act local is all the rage in some politically correct circles.

We have been thinking locally the past week or so. Partly because of the weather— finally getting the rain we desperately need. And also strong winds, which we could do without. 85kph gusts the other day. Seriously, if you can’t stand up in it why go out.

EE and I have had need to visit the local medical area at Werribee Hospital precinct. As it turns out, my Flickr mate David Nice, has several good areas mapped out in the area.  With Kestrels, Brown Falcon, and Little Eagles, and ‘alleged’ Black-shouldered Kites.;-)

So after the serious stuff, and the coffee in the cafe area, to recover, we’ve been sitting in the car along a couple of the roads by the local paddocks to see what is happening. Now tis true we don’t have the bird Karma of David N. but I do have EE, and that is about the best advantage I can offer.

Oh, she cries, Black-shouldered Kites,  I scan. Nothing. I scan more. Still nothing, I point the Bushnells across the sky. Nothing.
Ok, saith I, Where?
Over there, beyond those trees. What she actually means is in the next suburb! Bushnells finally lock on. Yep, those two insignificant dots, could be Black-shouldered Kites. I retire defeated.

“On the left”, the cry goes up.  Turning in my best Tai Chi move, I make a brush knee move to the left, and sure enough, as I swing up the camera, there is David’s friend, ” Georgia” the Kestrel, lining up for a hunt.  So we spent the next few minutes in the area, and saw her making a number of catches, crickets or the like, I suspect.
She then lucked out with a mouse, then another, which she stashed near a rock, and as we were geting ready to move, she flashed by with a third one, to land on the buildings in the medical precinct.  Not sure where she went with it after that.

We then moved further south, and found a male Kestrel hunting in the paddocks near the Uni.  At one point he was about three metres above the median strip on the roadway, with cars ripping past on both sides.  My heart was in my mouth. No luck, so he too moved on.

Found Arthur the Brown Falcon at work in the fields again. Every time he got airborne, the local Magpie squadron took him out, so he was contented to hunt mostly among the tall grasses and roadside.

And just as the light was going to be captured by thick dark clouds, a Little Eagle drifted overhead, and it too moved further over the freeway.
So.

Think local does have benefits.

Locked on
Lift off.
What are you doing in MY paddock. Inquisitive Willie Wagtail just has to know.
Male, levelling into position
Little Eagle
Little Eagle on a close pass
Nankeen Kestrel, (M), hunting on a roadside verge. He is only a few metres from traffic both ways.
Arthur the Brown Flacon. He had been sitting on the fenceline for about 10minutes. Then just dropped the couple of metres.
Hard to know what he caught, but after a few minutes contemplation, he moved on.
Georgia with a mouse. She will prepare it, then take it across the paddock and tuck it away under some stubble for later on.
Her lunch is tucked away for later.

Georgia with a second mouse. She will fly to the buildings on the far side of the road.
Georgia with the second mouse. I’m unsure what she was going to do with this one, but she disappeared behind the buldings. And we headed for home.
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Saturday Evening Post #30 “Whatchabeendoin”

Apologies: Sorry about late delivery, normally I prepare this early for upload, but had a couple of hectic days. Enjoy.

 

“Whatchabeendoin?”

A question that always came up among a group of photographers that I worked with.
We were an eclectic bunch.  A radiographer, a teacher and lecturer, a writer and creative, a wedding photographer, a specialist in commercial, with a leaning toward panoramic shots with a “Widelux” camera, a landscape photographer whose work with a Gandolfi Variant on 5×7 Inch set styles the digital workers are only beginning to achieve, and me, who around that time was working with a lab processing film for variety of sources, including “The Day in the Life of.. (Australia)” and Rick Smolan’s “Treks” for Nat Geo, the story of Robyn Davidsons’ camel trip across the Northern Territory and Western Australian deserts.

So after the usual answers, to “Whatchabeendoin?”, of:  “I did the Smith and Alexandar” wedding last week, to: “I’m in an underground carpark doing wide shots for an architect who is going to redevelop the area, to: “I’m doing a series of trees along the escarpment on the Western Arthurs”, we’d get down to what we were doing creatively.

Usually half a dozen so slides or prints were laid out and we’d discuss, creatively where the feel, or life, or experience of each of the shots was taking us as viewers.

One of the group was an Englishman who had worked in his youth as a photographer for a postcard company, he would travel about taking photos of various tourist attractions for postcard sales. Pubs were his speciality.  And interestingly enough, almost all his pub shots had one thing in common.  Potted geraniums in the foreground on the scene. He used to have in the back of the little Morris van, a selection of potted plants and would set them up out the front of the building, ‘for colour and added interest’.

He could do about 5-7 shots in a day.  And off course always talked to the landlord and shared a pint or two as he went.  By the end of the day he was well oiled.  “It is one of the reasons that we say, “Merry old England’, he would quip.

The Widelux guy and I ended up working together for a large multinational company, and once at the end of a conference, the obligatory ‘group photo’ was made.  They had hired a dude with a Widelux (an F7 to be precise), and this camera didn’t have a shutter, it had a rotating lens on a slit. And shot on a curved back with 120 roll film for a very long pano shot.  The exposure took several second as the lens rotated around the scene and the film (Bit like panos on hand fones today)
We reasoned that if we stood at one end of the group at the beginning of the exposure and then ran behind the group to the other end, and stood there, we’d be in the shot at both ends of the group. Great idea. We did.

But of course the person who ‘shouted louder and controlled the purse strings’ was not amused by our action, and we both ended up working in different part of the company sometime after that. “Childish and pathetic” were some of the less colourful words used.

The couple of years we worked together provided some of the best work, creatively and expressively that I think I ever did. The creative input, and the welcome feedback, not the ‘oh nice shot’, but— where is this going, how to I feel about it, and what is it saying, were all great guides that ended up keeping us alive to our work.

Time of course goes on, and we all moved by to other opportunities. However for quite a long time we’d occassionally get together for a meal, and the inevitable, “Whatchabeendoin?”

One particular day, I turned up with an iPad. (the original one), and a small folio of bird photos I was working on. It was one of the nesting season of Kestrels that I was following. Somewhere on the blog are shots and stories from those years.
We met in a restaurant near Vic Market, and after a few bottles of red, the ‘Whatchabeendoin” came up.

Andrew, the pub photographer above, latched on to the image shown here.  It was taken during the rain that broke the 7 year drought that season, about 4 days of constant rain.
The bird is Elizabeth as she waits in the mist for Mr Darcy to return with some breakfast. He had only been able to get out to hunt occasionally for several days, and spent most of his time trying to stay dry on the tree.
The nesting site was very close to end of the runway at Tullarmarine, and there was a constant stream of aircraft coming and going over the site.
All I had to do was line up the bird with an incoming and my image was made.
Andrew was taken with the red of the light and the isolation of the shape of the bird, and we talked about the shot for several minutes.
Then he said prosaically, “Y’know, you could have improved this!”,

Oh, saith I.

“Yes I think a few well-placed potted geraniums at the end of the runway would have “added that little extra colour and interest”.’
🙂

So I ask, “Whatchabeendoin?”

Studio Werkz: Creative Lighting Challenges

Warning to Birders.  This blog is mostly about photography, and lighting techniques and fanning the creative juices.  CLICK AWAY NOW!  You have been warned.

My current mentor and I have been playing with the thought, “What if you’ve taken your last “GREAT” photograph.” ;-(

Not one that is technically correct. Used the right lens, got the shutterspeed-iso-aperture worked out.  The exposure is dead on.  The subject is all as it should be.  No need for massive post-production.  Not that sort of Great.
But, y’know, Great!

And image that purely by subject/time/lighting/emotional appeal reaches out beyond the frame and the viewer “gets it”. The ones that sometimes we bleed over or travel miles for, or just happens to occur when we walk out the door.  You, subject, lighting, mood, atmosphere and feeling all make their stamp on the moment and its, “Great”. Not the one that gets more “Likes” on Facebook, or more “Favs” on Flickr.  But one that in a timeless manner somehow moves the thought you saw at the moment to the viewer’s mind and they  not only identify but also imbibe.

Y’know like McCurry’s Pic of the Green-eyed Afghan girl on the cover of Nat Geo.  Still get shivers when I recall how I first noticed that photo in the news agents rack when I’d wandered in off the street.  It was the only magazine in the entire rack that stole my heart away.

I’ve faced some big lighting challenges over the years. Buildings at first or last light. Vehicles in the moody pre-dawn. Brides and Grooms in the midday sun. Chrome laundry bowls on white gloss metal stand. And in all cases the same principles apply.

I had the good fortune to have been trained at one stage by the best.
Dean Collins. Master of Light. —A title he most justifiably deserved.
“He taught us to not only see the light, but to move it, bend it and most importantly control it, no matter where or when we were creating images” tricolorlabs.com

At one seminar Dean showed a 3 foot by 5 foot print of a portrait of Natalie Wood, taken just before her death. No matter where you stood in the room, her beauty shone from the wall. A truly stunning portrait.

So the other evening when the challenge came, I was fascinated how the various elements came together.
Gotta few minutes?
Here we go.

1807-25-DWJ_2027.JPG.jpg Continue reading “Studio Werkz: Creative Lighting Challenges”

Snapshots: Mouse Hunting in the Evening Light

We’ve been working with a Nankeen Kestrel for about a week or more now.  At first it was a casual acquaintance, but like all things after awhile it gets a little easier to predict what an an individual bird will do.

We dropped by on our way home from a day at the You Yangs Park, looking we thought for Robins. Not that we had much luck.
But the sunshine was holding in the evening light and we decided to see how the Kestrel was doing.   I have just about concluded that it’s a first year male, who is still in juvenile dress.  I might be wrong, but the light tail feathers and lack of barring are a good sign.

Found (him) sitting quietly on a branch over the paddock.  So I decided to walk up through the grass and see if I could get closer, and perhaps get a better angle. And he sat.

Huge amounts of supposition going on here, however I am pretty much convinced that as I walked through the grass, mice in the area fled, but toward the Kestrel.  Suddenly the head bobbed back and forth, and then he dropped.

DWJ_2181.jpg

Continue reading “Snapshots: Mouse Hunting in the Evening Light”

Snapshots: A Raptor Day at the Treatment Plant

A search on the Bureau of Meteorology website, has quite a bit of info on the lack of rain in mid of Australia.  See here http://www.bom.gov.au/climate/drought/
At the bottom of the page is a couple of graphs that begin to put it all in perspective.

And as it dries out, it seems, that quite a number of birds are moving south.  Or toward the eastern coast.
And we’ve seen quite a change in the numbers of smaller falcons and kites in our area.  In the space of a 10 minute drive the other day we saw 14 Nankeen Kestrel.

So we took a trip to the Western Treatment Plant on a sunny morning.

Continue reading “Snapshots: A Raptor Day at the Treatment Plant”

Re-decorating the Office

Well it is indeed that time of year when the seasons change and with that change the birdlife at the Office begins to take on a new look for Winter.

So a change of colour scheme is definitely on the agenda.
Out with the mottled tones of Summer, and in with the bold colours of cooler days.

And the first of our Winter collection is ready for show

Continue reading “Re-decorating the Office”