Saturday Night Post #123.1 Now Here’s the Ultimate Co-incidence

Arrrgh.  Nuff to make me blush.

After last night SEP #123 “It Doesn’t Matter“,  pointing out the vagaries of  believing in new gear.

Found a shot by David Hume Kennerly on Twitter.

Shot with the amazing Canon R5 and a 100-500 lens.

Humming Bird

I can’t obviously publish it here, but do take a sneak look.

Reminds me that sometimes to better check my refs.


Saturday Evening Post #123; It doesn’t Matter

David Hume Kennerly, was at one time in his career the unofficial White House photographer.  This was, it must be said, at a much more laid back time at the presidential domicile, than has been the case in the past few years.
Photographers shot filum, and a professional purchased a camera and then used it for many years. Changing perhaps lenses and accessories to meet the demands of the job at hand.  They chose a short telephoto lens for portraits, a macro lens for some studio shots, a longer lens for sports, and for the cut and thrust of news stories, a short wide angle lens to get into the heart of the action.
Swapping out a camera and lenses just because a new one was on the market was not even considered.
A studio I worked with used 120 Twin Lens Reflex cameras for everything but commercial studio shots and had done so for many years, one of the Rollies was at least twenty years old.

David Hume Kennerly was at that stage the ‘unofficial’ photographer, because, perhaps security and press requirements were far easier than the complexity that press photographers currently face.

He was once asked, the story is told, by a student, in a carpark as it is also told, “Mr Kennerly, what camera do you shoot with?”

“It doesn’t matter,” he repeated emphatically, “it doesn’t matter.” That’s the way the majority of photographers in those day felt about it. It was actually actively uncool to care too much about gear.
What mattered was what you did with it.
Source: TOP Mike Johnston

Just recently a photographic acquaintance has purchased a shiny new Canon R5 and a few lenses.
He told me, “It’s a Game Changer”, but to be honest I didn’t quite understand what the ‘game’ was.
For those that who not hardware aficionados, among its many attributes the R5 sports, “Eye Recognition Auto Focus”, which enables it to lock on to an eye and hold focus. And especially bird’s eyes.
See a bird in a tree, camera locks focus on the eye. There’s a pelican flying past, the camera unerringly grabs focus on the eye.
How cool is that. (Except the coolness requires as I read the instructions about 4 or 5 major setting changes, and a button press (or two) to get it to begin to work its magic.
Let it be known that Canon is not the only black box with such amazing “Eye Recognition” Now I haven’t had time to read all the psuedo-expert sites that extol the virtues of the magic so can’t or won’t comment further.

Just to have full disclosure, I’m not an equipment luddite, still clinging to my 3 megapixel handfone to spite the changes in hardware going on apace.

But, what I do note, having seen some results, is, “It doesn’t Matter!”  What matters is what is being done with the camera.  Are the images telling a ‘game changing’ story?
Time I suppose will tell.

I found this Reed Warbler out in the open, and quite confident about posing for a moment or two.
I couldn’t help but ponder, how much better a ‘game changer’ piece of equipment would have been. Would it have taken the photo while I looked the other way?  If it was put it on a motorised trolley, would it tenaciously track down the Reed Warbler and get that prize winning shot?

Or perhaps it might just take the fun out of finding, and working with the bird to get the best pose and with a single spot Autofocus (on my old antiquated D500), just about getting the best eye focus I could.

David Hume Kennerly might well be right, “It doesn’t Matter!”


Saturday Evening Post #122: Simplicity

A funny place to start, but Ernest Hemingway, the great writer, once said of his craft, “Write all the story, take out the good bits, and see if it still makes works.” His crafted stories are strong, alive and engaging.
It has been said by those who know about writing critique, that his stories always left a little unanswered question or two. The magic that allowed the reader to participate.

When I was but a young lad, the world of Television was more a mystical dream, than a reality. Rather we’d gather round the radio with Serials, Entertainment, Humour, Dramas, and short fillers of all sorts of interesting topics.
The blog is too short to mention them, but my Mum waited to the mid afternoon for “Blue Hills”, after dinner it was “Dad and Dave”, the kids were enthralled by “Biggles” and all the spin offs.
The one thing, that I learned so much later in life was that as a listener, I became involved in the show, because I needed to add, “Imagination”.  The theatre of the mind.

Any two people listening to the voices and story would conjure up quite different settings for the action. Such is the wonderful power of imagination.

Photographs, and by guilt-by-association, photographers, can often be simple records of the moment, and little involvement either by the maker, or the viewer.
Other times, the Hemingway moment is there and all the ‘good bits’ have been removed, either at the camera stage or in post, and what remains ‘still works’.

Magic that sings and dances a story into our brain, straight into the ‘theatre of the mind’. We see, feel, experience and add to the photo at an emotional level.

Sometimes a photo is a bit like a present. All wrapped up.  And the excitement is as much in the unwrapping as it is in the beholding. Not knowing what is beneath.

It’s about not telling all, but rather letting the viewer decide.

The art of saying More with Less.

Keep takin’ Photos. We do.




Saturday Evening Post #121: Learning

“Learning is the only thing the mind never exhausts, never fears, and never regrets” – Leonardo da Vinci

Greetings from the Doona Hermit Worldwide HQ.
Once again we find ourselves in a lockdown.
I suspect that most of us were hoping it would not happen again, but at the same time dreading that the inevitable would surface  like a rogue submarine to waste havoc on our best plans.

The quote from Leonardo was sent to me by my new friend, William, at Wacom Customer Support.
William and I have been busy the past week or so, trying to get the Driver installed for my new Wacom Pen/Tablet.
At first I was a bit bemused, but as each day, and each attempt only made things more exasperating, my mood, I have to confess changed.
The long story is Mac’s Catalina and above Operating System will really only recognise software downloaded from the Temple of All Things Apple,(TATA) and only it it has been blessed or approved by the Apple High Priest of Software Accreditation. (AHPSA)

So give William his credit, like some heretic without a cause, he kept feeding bits of ‘code’ that eventually cracked open the door to the Vault of Software Consciousness (VSC).  That is after more restarts of the machine than its had in the 3 years I’ve owned it.
Reminded of a universe so far away and an Apple Macintosh SE, that required deleting something called plist every-time a new device was attached. 🙂

So now my sparkling new Red Wacom tablet and its attendant pen ‘talk’ to the computer and my days of ‘mousing’ around might be entering their own Twilight Zone.

All this because my current photo management software, (Capture One 21) has such a cool interface with pen/tablets, but that as they say is another story.

Just before Dan Stalin introduced his sweeping Lockdown Rules and unleashed his “Fine ’em at any cost’ Troopers, we had made an early morning run to see the Great Crested Grebe family.

Out of Five eggs, it seems that one didn’t hatch, and the family is down to three young. Perhaps the fourth one was too weak to survive.  After all they can only look after so many, and the strong will take preference.

So back to the Doona.

Good luck to all my fellow detainees.

(and PS,  I think Dan has made the right call just in case I get branded as a dissident and I find burning crosses on the front lawn.)

Saturday Evening Post #120.1: Followup: The Love Heart Grebe.

Did a bit of research since I wrote last night.

Guess what?

The mark is a visual clue to the adults that the little tacker is hungry.

Thanks to Ashley over at for giving me a hint about what it all might mean.  See his comment on the post last night.

Here is a link to a good site explaining it

And a little clip of the info, thanks to David Craven.

>>So, what is this? A deformity? Some parasite? A magical third eye? A literature search was required. Wading through various papers there were lots of theories. The patch was natural, and present in nearly all grebe chicks. Some thought it helped control the chicks temperature while tucked on the parent’s back. Some thought it deterred predators. Others thought it was used in signalling parents.

It took a 1985 paper by Gary Nuechterlein to settle it. Hand-rearing some Western Grebe chicks, he used a series of experiments to determine that it was allied to begging for food. The more the bird begged, the brighter red the crown patch. Once fed, it faded to a lighter pink.

There we have it. Next time you spot grebe chicks, keep an eye out for the red patch!<<

Thanks David.

Saturday Evening Post #120 :That Little touch of Love

It’s been a pretty quiet week at BirdsasPoetry Worldwide HQ.
We’ve not made any financial Take-over Offers, nor it seems have we been the subject of a Reddit share raid.

The weather has also been suitably unkind to those of us who ‘commit photography’, so it’s been home under the doona a couple more days.  Given our experience during the long lockdown because of the ‘c’ word, it hasn’t been too onerous.

It also seems that the majority of the birds we have been working with, have finalised their nesting cycles and are also settling into preparing the winter stretch.  Our local backyard Blackbird is already showing the signs of shedding her worn feathers and her mate has a strange bald patch above his beak and across his head, which I take to mean he too is getting ready to dress to impress as the cooler days come by.

One of the exceptions to this trend are the local White-plumed Honeyeaters, and we did discover quite a number of them during the week collecting cobweb for a fine new house among the leaves.

I called Mr An Onymous, and he informed me the Jawbone Great Crested Grebes had hatched, and so with his medical appointments and mine coinciding with a small blank space in both diaries, we locked into go looksee.

The two adults, one sitting on the nest, with still one egg to hatch, and the second one in the water feeding the infants with tiny fish and other assorted tiny water creatures, all looked good like very relaxed and adapted caring parents.

When I had a good look at the photos afterward, you know, ‘blowed up big on the screen to pixel-peep (I jest— insert smile and laughs here), I noted a small bald patch on the young as they peeked out from under the adults wing-feathers,

Closer inspection showed how much it looks like a “Love Heart”.  I presume its because the upper feathers fold down over the spot sufficiently to create the shape.

Interestingly Andew T. (follower of present blog) also sent around a note to the interested noting the same markings.

For the fanciful among us, perhaps it’s a special “Love” bond  between the parents and their tiny offspring.

Satuday Evening Post #119: Feeling the Magic (Part #3)

I was rummaging through a box of books in the garage, you know, hoping I’d not thrown out the very book I now wanted, when I turned over a copy of “The Joy of Photography”, from Eastman Kodak Company. For those that have never heard of them, they used to make a product called, ‘filum’, back just at the beginning of the Jurassic Period. 🙂

I know that a number of the dear readers of this sometimes monotonous blog, were probably not ever born when the book first rolled from the presses. Kodak, among many of its tentacles, had a publishing arm, that specialised in ‘how-to’ books to help budding photographers learn some of the skills of the craft.  This of course was way back in the days before social media platforms spewed out erroneous, badly researched and often downright inaccurate information from keyboard experts who never actually ventured beyond their monitors to take, well, real, photos.
I digress.

A quote in the introduction from noted photographer, Ernst Haas,“Art is Aristocratic—photography is its democratic voice.”, sets the scene or tenure of the book. (Please don’t tear off to ebay and buy a copy, much of it has to do with that aforementioned, ‘filum’ and the hardware and techniques to craft a photo back in the olden days.)

Based on the recent drift of my Saturday evening discourses, the opening page had a quote I thought worth repeating here. Hoping of course that the copyright of the text is beyond the statute of limitations or what ever controls text reuse these days.
Under the heading of “The Vision: The joy of photography is learning to see” the authors say:

“The world of photography is a personal one. We take pictures to express our feelings about people, nature, and the world around us. And as in any other art of communication, be it writing, music or art, we experience great pleasure when the results of our efforts communicate what we set out to say.”

There— couldn’t have said it better meself.
Sneaky little quote because the book is then divided into techniques for photographing:
The world around us.  🙂

It rambles on from there about ‘visually  articulate’, but if I have to look up words in a dictionary, I usually skip over them 🙂

We had the good fortune, and a little help from a few friends, to come upon pair of Great Crested Grebe at the Jawbone Reserve, in the middle of a nesting.
They had just exchanged sitting duties, and this one really needed to stretch out, bathe and relax. Once suitably damped, it needed to dry out the feathers.


Saturday Evening Post #117 : Feeling the Magic (part 1)

Got a note from David DeChemin the other day.

He asks the best questions.
“Do you remember the first time you looked at a photograph and you saw how powerful they can be?”

“The thrill when you felt something and maybe couldn’t explain it.”

Well, I can’t recall the first photo I ever saw that had that stopping experience. I can, and I’ve mentioned it here before, recall the the moment I walked into a newsagents and there on the front counter display was Steve McCurry’s green-eyed “Afghan Girl”  on the cover of National Geographic. An image that has probably moved many people.

Likewise, Gene Smith’s “Tomoko in her bath”. I chose Paul Neil’s website version as he too talks about the impact of the photo on his photography. He also explains how the image has been withdrawn at the family’s request.

My list is a bit longer but the one image set that I think drove home to me how powerful photography can be as a story telling medium, occurred quite early in my ‘career’.

A noteworthy event happened in the country town I grew up in.  Many no doubt will have visited the Swan Hill Pioneer Settlement. (It was I think one of the very first of its genre in Victoria.)

The feature of the Settlement was to be the Paddle Steamer Gem.
Best ref I can find is a Pintrest series by the Pioneer Settlement. (No, sadly my pics are not there. 😦   )

As a very young photographer, I followed it for most of the day on its last journey as it was towed by the PS Oscar W.

Home I went, processed the film (It was a 120 roll shot with a Super Baldax camera), made some prints and my Dad helped to paste them on a board, which he took to work the following day.  Because of the interest of the moment, comments of course flowed.  And while memory is fading, I think I made a few prints to give to his work colleagues.
But what impressed me is, as David D says, “Photographs can touch us deeply. They can create experiences in our emotions and imaginations that we never forget.”

There is much said today about the best, “new camera, new lens, new software, new plugin”, and I fear that it is always going to be that way ,  while the art and craft of photography’s magic is put to the side while pursing the greatest, current, soon to be swept aside fashion- the next quick fix.

I’ve enjoyed the magic over so many years, and it still gives me goosebumps when an image  reveals, not just what I saw, but the way I saw it.

The Black-shouldered Kite was sitting quietly in the early morning light.  I could see the richness of the mist behind, the pearly mellowness that brings the subject’s character into a new view.  Took me awhile to manage to get the Lr sliders and effects working for me, but it was worth it to say, “this is the way I saw it.”

Saturday Evening Post #116: Constancy

Clear sunlight on falling snow: fire and ice.
Bareboned trees stark to the horizon
Cold marshes, haven to ducks and geese.
A Falcon sits motionless on the post.
Deng Ming-Dao

He then writes that wherever we are, the constant change of life and the cycle of the seasons in upon us. We notice the ongoing rhythms of life.

Trees that spring to life after rain, or a change of season, ducks that know the time to breed.
All tings change, while all things move constantly.

The world he says is like one gigantic turning wheel.

I was nearly going to title this “Ready for another year’s journey around the Sun”.

But, then a friend sent me the following, I hope you find humours, gif

and given the harrowing journey we have taken with the virus and the attempts to control it, the sad growth of staggering numbers in other countries plus the local lockdowns to limit it in our various states and now add to that the tumultuous events of insurrection in the Washington DC, the 7 day trial has not been all that inspiring.

As it happens, EE has a T-shirt with the words, “Please Unsubscribe Me from Your Issues”  She wore it a time of uncertainty and upheaval, where group ‘membership’ defined people. And that time passed.

Chronicles of a Blogaholic has a most passionate post on the attempt to start the Second Civil War in the US, it’s a wide ranging thought provoking piece.  Coup d’état

When I was a mere broth of a photographer one of my mentors was ‘hot’ on Chiaroscuro— or light and dark.
Not just for the effect, but also as the method of carrying the story.
Cycle through more years than I care to write about, and the challenge of working in this fine light with this wonderful bird against that backdrop gave me some great memories.

One of the benefits of such light, apart from the challenge of exposure is the beautiful way the subject stands from the chaos behind.

Stand boldly young Falcon

Saturday Evening Post #115 Going Out, Not Knowing

Came across a Quote for the Day, today that used a Christian Holy Bible verse.

“…he went out, not knowing whither he went…”, The Letter to the Hebrews (Gotta love that King Jim English)-see ps below.
Tells the story of a dude in Mesopotamia that went out one morning and, well, just kept going.

Intrigued me, as I use a highly stylised version of Tolkien’s Aragorn poem,
“Not all those who wander are lost;” as a blog byline.

Seems to me  that no matter how well I can plan a day out with the birds, in the end so many times I don’t know what I am going to find.
Tolkien, “A light from the shadows shall spring”

Truth be told, there is a bit of the thrill of the chase. An acceptance that I am being invited into the lives of fascinating creatures.  The only thing I can be sure of is that the birds will have their lives to live and my small investigative muse- Lyric Poetry?- will have to welcome what is on offer.

Occasionally on the track armed with camera and gear a passerby will ask, (usually innocently)  “What are you doing?’ or more pointedly, “So, what are you photographing?” I’ve mentioned some of my usual responses before, but, really the answer is, “I’m waiting to see what the birds are doing!”
How else do you explain a sense of wonder?

So I bustle through the morning necessaries, getting ready to ‘Go out, not knowing wither I go!”, expectantly looking forward to a new opportunity  that is bigger than my vision of the world, and so much more exciting.

I trust that 2021 brings the most exciting visual opportunities to your lens.

PS: The original story in the Hebrew text says in the rather lyrical, “Lech Lecha”—can be roughly translated as “Go out to Yourself” as in an “internal odessey”

Now you know the extent of my  ancient text knowledge 😉

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.

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


Saturday Evening Post #113: With Gratitude

Simple Post—With Gratitude.
When I was very much a young bloke, I was a member of a speaking club.  Mostly a social thing as I recall, and of course, a few business contacts never went astray.

One of the points that I recall from all that is the reviewer saying over and over.
“Make sure that you state the purpose of your message up front, early and clearly. So no one has to ponder what or where you are going. No one wants to listen for twenty minutes and then finally discover what the topic, and your point of view actually is”.  He probably didn’t end with a verb, but hey…

Magazine editors make the same demand of feature writers. If the lead is buried 5 paragraphs down, its either rewritten, or returned.

And So I find myself as we approach the end of the year, scarcely able to grasp where we have come this year, not only  physically and emotionally, but photographically.

And it lead me so far to be Grateful that I’m even here to write about it.

I’m also grateful to everyone who has kindly ‘Liked’ the blog, and to those special people who’ve taken a few moments to add their thoughts on the subject.
Me writing a blog does not make me the expert, and really it only exists if people take the time to read, and view the photos. Thanks to your all.

My gratitude to all those on the front line who have stressed and strained under the most dreadful conditions to keep us safe. What else can we say. Thank you.

To the coffee dudes in the local coffee shops who’ve struggled to keep their businesses afloat, to provide food and also a social meeting point that has helped to relieve some stresses.  Thanks.  And thanks to my plastic card that has tapped and gone so many times on cups of coffee to go.

Thanks also to the lockdown, yes I mean that.  As its given me the chance to sort out my runaway photo library. Now a svelte shadow of its former bulging self, I think I am confident the dross has been discarded.

And to the software manufacturers who have plied me with ways to “Bring out the Picture within my Photo.” with their special sauces and blends of technology. At least this year I’ve been able to play with them, and actually laid out money for one.

Thanks to EE, Mr An Onymous, Dave T David N, Len T, Chris L and so many others whom I have had the pleasure of sharing the bush, and the birds and their special patches.  It’s been a thrill each time.

And thanks to the birds. Without them ….asPoetry wouldn’t be as exciting to work on.

The Australian Hobby here is the female of a nesting pair.  She has just been delivered a meal for her young. Time to prepare it and feed her growing brood.

The eternal struggle to maintain the species goes on. Ohh ending on a preposition.(Be grateful I ended)

Saturday Evening Post #112: Staying Fresh

Been a bit of a review time this past week.

Among other things I came across a few blog posts that resonated with me at different levels.

One is from a local blogger. George Handel,  No not THAT one. 🙂 George and his family have been recording their walks, bike rides and explorations of places in our local area. (mostly).
I think one of the things the Corona lockdown did was to give us an opportunity to explore local parks and places that we probably would normally overlook. George takes us on a fine little visual journey through some of their family favourite locations.
The other thing the lockdown has given us is an appreciation for things local, and the chance to explore them.
It often concerns me that as birders, or photographers we travel for many hours to get to a spot, and on the way blindly pass by many other worthwhile locations that would no doubt yield many great sightings and photographs.
And finally George times many of their visits around Pie Shops.  No point in being out and about if you can’t find a decent pie, I always think.

Another came to me via a newsletter.  William Beem, talked about the sequels, using many movies as examples.
Star Wars, Lethal Weapon, Pirates of the Caribbean and Terminator, just to mention a few.
His point being if you strike an emotion with an audience visually, they want to you to keep doing it over and over again.

Which leads to the point, that sooner or later, there is no growth, and each shot is made to achieve the same emotional appeal, and your vision becomes stale and stunted.  Writers I think, call it “Writer’s Block”.

Does it happen to bird photographers. Absolutely, your current scribe stand as evidence for the prosecution.

But, we also have the seasons on our side as birds, and their behaviour changes across the seasons. Which I think makes it exciting to be out and about at any time. Hopefully that keeps us fresh.

Another interesting analogy came from Ken Rockwell,(Yep, the blog everyone loves to hate), where he was talking of complaints on the internet about camera colour rendition, and of colour perception.
He likened it to everyone’s ability to talk forever about how pianos are made, but for ordinary players the subtle variations of a concert piano are eclipsed by their own limitations of playing. To a Master the subtle variations are everything.

Reminded me of a scene from the movie “The Blues Brothers”. The band goes to Ray’s Music Store to pick up some instruments.
The keyboard player complains about the feel of a keyboard, trying to beat the price down.
Ray, the owner, steps out from behind the counter and proceeds to the keyboard, (Ray, is in fact Ray Charles, for those who haven’t watched the movie 99 times))

Ray sits down and belts out one of his famous numbers. Concluding that there is nothing wrong with the keyboard, and it might well be the lack of talent of the keyboarder.

As Ken finishes off, “Art its not the duplication of reality: art is the expression of imagination.”

Saturday Evening Post #111: The Almost Portfolio-Revisted

Or perhaps the subtitle, “The Ones that Never Quite Made It”.

Was revisiting a blog by Spencer Cox who wrote earlier in the year about the photos that didn’t quite make it into the portfolio.
The ones taken at the same time, same location, same subject. The one you share and are happy to show around.


The ones that never have a life beyond the hard-drive.

Now Spencer, to be told, shoots mainly landscape, architectural and portraits.  So on location, he is likely to make a few variations of the same subject.

For those of us who are working mostly with wildlife, and here on the blog with birds in particular, it’s not very often that we get out-takes that are so similar that we mull for hours over the choice of which one to use.
We either have it, or it’s a missed opportunity.

Sure, I can shoot a ‘bird on a stick’, and blast off 20 frames. But really, there will be so little variation that any one of the 20 will be fine. Or, we meet a moment, the action happens, and 20 more frames won’t hold that magic. It’s gone.

I’ve never been much for multi-burst. (old fashioned I guess), I never worry about the camera spec that tells how many frames I can get in the buffer before the camera stops taking shots.
Except: I do use it for some inflight shots. Mainly because I’ve got the bird in the viewfinder. If I try for single shots, I wander off the bird action very quickly.

It might be interesting to think of some of the great photographs that have been made over the years, and ponder what the ‘out-takes’ might have been like.
Steve McCurry’s Afghan Girl, Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare, Paris–of the man jumping a puddle,  Galen Rowel’s Rainbow over the Potala Palace, Winter Home of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Lhasa, 1981.

No doubt there were several frames one side or the other that were nearly as good.

Sometimes there was only one frame. Think Frank Hurley and The Endurance trapped in the ice

or Ansel Adams, Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico

Because of the time, the place, the equipment and the moment, there are no ‘out-takes’.

I once knew a photographer, who travelled the world making shots for magazine and books to demonstrate various photographic techniques.  He also shot using a specially built camera panoramic shots on huge pieces of film.
On one occasion he was visiting Australia and a trip along the obligatory Great Ocean Road was in order. Unfortunately the day he went, the weather was atrocious overcast, rain and hail.
He did setup and use the pano camera to make a shot near Loch Ard Gorge and captured all the power of the surf whipped up by the strong winds. It was really a misty interpretation.
It did however get made into a large wall-mounted print that graced the hallway of a certain multi-national company. From memory the width of the print was close to 3 metres.
Interestingly he also shot quite a large number of 35mm transparencies. And after they were returned from processing, he set up a small light box and proceeded to edit them.  Out of 36 shots to the roll, he probably kept 2 or 3. Now the cardboard rubbish box he had contained some images that I would have loved to have made.
But out they went.

Spencer talks about why one of his images made the folio, and the other(s) didn’t. It can be a matter of lighting, placement, point of view, camera settings, changes in lens or simply movement of people.  In the end. One picture has to carry the story.

There are a lot of ‘almost portfolio’ shots from our morning with the Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos.
But in the end, I chose this one.
Because of the angle. Because of the wing action and because the light was over the face.  The few shots either side miss out on one or more of those elements.

And above all, for me, it is a little quirky, like the bird.