Saturday Evening Post #132 : The Great Romance

If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.
Attributed to Albert Einstein

Writers rely on keeping a notebook.  It gets filled with story or article ideas, and scraps of ideas.  Artists keep a notebook filled with small detail sketches, ideas for design and musings. Musicians also have a book in which words for songs, riffs and other musical factoids wait to be turned into the next great composition.

Photographers that I trained with keep, “Day Books”. A detailed set of instructions of how to light a subject, names and addresses, snippets of an idea for the next shoot, calculations of various lens/aperture combos.

I used to have, (somehow lost in all the transitions) the last day book of one of my mentors, (Probably one of the best Black and White printers of his day—Well at least I thought so).

All sorts of goodies were in there, here’s one “Bellows Extension Factors” :-).  How much chemical to put in a certain developing solution.  Bring home 2 bananas, a loaf of bread and a jar of plum jam, etc.  You get the drift.

We also take a photo, move angle, subject, lighting, come back another day, all part of the collecting of visual notes. Sifting through those ideas surely has helped to prepare for the right moment.

A photographer who published 15 years of his day books is Edward Weston.  Too expensive to own, and I’ve only ever seen one volume, in a library.  Here is a site that shows some of his work.  Caution there are some quite explicit images among them. Edward Weston Gallery

These days as a blogger, I keep notes all over the place.  Some electronic, clipped from web pages, snapped out of books, handwritten in a note app. Also still use the old standard, Moleskine A5 book, and somewhere a Spirax  wire bound student book. And the odd stickit note or two.

Here’s a couple that struck me the past week or so.

Vision: As photographers we are image seekers, and taking that view, life becomes one great romance, an amazing opportunity and journey to see marvellous things all the time.

Expectation: I go out expecting to see greater things, find new opportunities for visuals and experience fortuitous moments. It should bring a freshness and zest to my times behind the camera.

And so it was that #kneetoo and I found ourselves in the sunshine with a family of recently arrived Flame Robins at the Point Cook Coastal Park.

This busy young lady was hunting off the fence line.  The birds at Point Cook, as at the Office, use the fence lines as there is little available perching space otherwise.  This is open grasslands. Shrubs and bushes are non-existent. And the good people of  Parks Vic have kindly mown the grassy verges around the fences providing an ideal hunting area for the robins.  Not wonder they love it.

She jumped onto the post, and it struck me to move a little further along the fence and use a distant pine tree as a rich dark backdrop, and then I spotted the highlight of sky between the branches.

Looking for such visual occurrences, is indeed a great romance.


Saturday Evening Post #131 : Laughter

Sometimes I ponder the direction of the Saturday Night Posts, and worry that I start to sound like some out of context guru who can hand out unhelpful, if not misleading, platitudes.

It is like, at least to me, that I’m developing a creed of not believing in laughter. Yet we live in a world of constant change; seasons, food preferences, political landscapes, health and friends. And so many others for such a long list.

I used to write with a pencil, then a ballpoint, and a pen.(actually at school we used nibs and ink, but really those scratchings don’t qualify), now a lightweight untethered keyboard sits on my lap as my fingers fly over the keys. (mostly the backspace one for corrections, but hopefully I puck erer plikc or pick up most of them. 🙂

Part of those changes at a personal level is my own photography. Equipment, processes and styles rotate about, some lead down rabbitholes into a wonderland, sometime the rabbithole hits a large old rock or root and ends.

So I hope that it all doesn’t become to staid, and too predictable and too serious.

#kneetoo and I,  had been walking in the Eynesbury forest and due to concerns of her aforementioned knee we had kept our perambulations to just a few short distances.

It was time to go home, and as we approached the park exit, we thought one quick look down a bush track might take us into Jacky Winter territory.
So, we went.

Just for a few minutes, mind.

At one of Jacky’s known haunts, we stopped and looked and listened, no  familiar “Peter, peter peter” calls from the area.  “Oh”, she says, “let’s go up to the next track bend.”

We went. Quiet as.  Not content we moved further down the track to the next, and then the next and finally turned a corner about a kilometre from where we started.

Way up head she noted the flash of white feather on grey wing, and so we set off.

Jacky and Jacky were working on insects on the trackline. A simple process for them.  Start on one main branch, fly out grab an insect and land on the  a branch on the other side of the track.  Makes for great photos of these beautiful little birds sitting tummy down as they usually do. Then they would reverse the process and flit to the first branch, and then back again.

I decided for the ‘inflight’ Jacky shot.

Missed the first few completely.  Set up the focus to grab Jacky as it launched, and hopefully the focus would be in the right spot.
Try again. Great shot of the forest behind, but no bird. 🙂
Now it’s been said, practice makes perfect.  Or as the ‘positive thinking’ gurus say, Perfect practice make perfect.

Jacky seemed content to let me try again, and eventually I managed a bird at the very edge of the frame.
I think Jacky saw my satisfaction while ‘chimping’ the result, and with a quick scolding ‘Peter’,  for goodbye, the pair flew off into the forest.

#kneetoo and I made our way back to IamGrey and home.

An encounter with this most amiable little birds is never permanent, but an ephemeral moment.

As Deng Ming-Doa writes, ” As we laugh at the world, we should realise that understanding the changeable nature of life (and the universe) is the swiftest way to joy.”

Enjoy the richness of your next laughter.

Saturday Evening Post #129: Finding Expression

Deng Ming Tao asks an interesting question in an article entitled “Angles”.

It is worth considering, he asks, what does it take to make an angle?

You can make a table from a plank of wood, on two upright slabs. It might even look like Stonehenge. Yet, while the stones have stood the test of time, three loosely arranged planks would most likely topple.

A table manufactured by a craftsperson, is a joy to behold. Each piece in place, each piece supporting the whole, and each, a small work of art in its own right.  The table is a greater because of the strength of all the small parts.

“To put things together and then hold them in proper angle is one of the miracles of skill.”

Over the years, my own photography has been that sort of journey.  Each new skill learned has lead to an expression of a subject in a harmonious balanced way.  And please don’t get confused that I’m talking about some compositional rule.
Each subject requires the tensions of the ‘angles’ to be suitable to best express the mood, emotion, feel and vision.

Like so many pursuits, photography has lead me on a voyage across wonderful waters. But there always comes, as a sailor says, the time when it’s no longer the right thing to hug the shoreline, but rather to unfurl the sails and head out into the wider ocean.

Not all is plain sailing, to continue the analogy, but securing the angles with knowledge, skill, experience and dogged determination, will result in photographs that carry within them a little of the photographer’s vision. Built, like a finely crafted table, on our aspirations.

#kneetoo, and I were on the road outside the Treatment Plant.  Early morning light, and as we drove along looking in each paddock, we missed the Hobby sitting on a post. Then as we drove by, I noticed it.  Too late to stop.

Down the road 100 m, and turn around.  Then drive leisurely back as if we still hadn’t noticed it.
The birds in the area are very familiar with passing vehicle traffic.
It passes.
They barely blink.

Passed without any problem, and then to park off the road, the bird was on #kneetoo’s window side. She was happy.

I slipped out of the door, and edged along the top of IamGrey.
The bird was still unperturbed.

A large truck came around a corner and down the road toward us.  The bird waited. Took notice of the oncoming vehicle.  Did some Hobby calculation about the speed of the approach, our position on the roadside, and concluded perhaps that there wasn’t going to be enough room for all three of us.

A quick unfold of the wings.  It was gone.



Saturday Evening Post #128 : White-bellied Sea-Eagle

From our recent early morning trip to the Western Treatment Plant.

The Plant holds many great photo opportunities for such a wide range of birds, but probably the highlight for us, other than a rare species, is the White-bellied Sea-Eagle. 
They don’t seem to claim the area for roosting or breeding, but rather it’s an opportune smorgasbord for the picking. 

It is not highly unusual to see them, but most times they are just too far away for great photography.  And give up on the idea of ‘sneaking’ up on one.   

So a conversation starter for the day, as we head into the plant, is, ‘I wonder if we’ll see a Sea-Eagle today?”

As we ventured further into the Plant, at Lake Borrie, one of the busiest ponds, we saw several White-winged Black Terns fly past, and I parked the IamGrey a little further along the track, with good views across the lake, and #kneetoo called, “A Sea-Eagle out on the tree.”  
And there was.  
How could anyone doubt!  It might be a knee, but that doesn’t affect the eyesight it seems. 🙂

The Sea-Eagle was way too far on the other side of the lake for good images, so I decided to walk back up the roadway to where the Terns had been working.  However after a few minutes it was obvious that they had moved on. 

A Little Grassbird caught my attention in the reeds, when all of a sudden the high pitched call of startled Pink-eared Ducks rolled across the lake.  
Conclusion? The Sea-Eagle had taken to wing, and knowing its predisposition for duck-dinner, the Pinkies were not hanging around waiting for an invitation to share a meal. 

But, where, I kept peering was the Sea-Eagle?  With the sky covered in Pinkies, it took a few moments to pickup the slowly climbing white shape above the alarmed ducks.

I’m often a bit jealous of my seaborne photographers and their work with Sea-Eagles. At least it’s certain where they will be travelling—along the shoreline.  Inland birds have all points of the compass to choose from when they fly, and it is almost always away from any photographer. 

This bird had a purpose, and I pretty much held my breath as the shape grew larger and larger in the viewfinder, and I realised I was on its flight path and it would run by me on the left.  Time to fill up a memory card, so I switched to multi-frame and began to shoot small 3-4 frame bursts. 
Still it kept coming. 
The early morning light—astute readers will remember form a recent post, “Front Light” —was coming over my shoulder, and all I had to do was keep the bird in the viewfinder and follow along. 

Eventually, it was too close, and too large in frame, and went by me on its way to its next appointment. 


Saturday Evening Post #127 : Formidable Ancestors

I have been musing the past week over the horrendous floods that have swept through parts of New South Wales. Having lived and worked in the area around Newcastle and Maitland in another universe, I had more than a nodding acquaintance with what ‘High Water Mark’ means. 

What struck me even more were the visuals, both video and still photography, of the rescue operations, and the shattered lives that were saved from the merciless waters.

It took me back, to a photograph that had quite an impact on me as a young lad.  (I’ve searched across the web, and haven’t been able to locate a copy sadly). 
The photograph was taken around 1961 or 1963 as best I can recall.  I’m fairly certain it was taken in Newcastle, or perhaps Maitland, but I do know it was in that area.  I think also, and I’m trying to recall a young lad’s impression of the image, that it was a newspaper front pager. And because of the circumstances I remember the image, it was most likely a Walkley Award winner. 

The photograph showed a small child, and the mother being rescued into a boat from the surrounding waters, with a rescuer in the water with the pair.  What struck me, as a young lad, was, that the child could have been me. And of course the mother, my own Mum, and rescuer any number of people I’d known to help out folk in crisis. 

The impact of the image is important, because it is probably the first photograph I can recall that was more than a record of some event. It carried a personal story—an emotion of the agony of the family, the drama of the rescue and the concern of the man helping in the water. 

Up to then, my interest in learning photography was limited to photos of a cat called “Blackie” in the safety and security of our backyard.  Here in this one image was a world that outside of my childhood interest and I saw how powerful photography could be at storytelling.  So much so that it is probably at that moment the first spark of making photography my life passion was kindled. 

Now of course, as a blog scribe I have to be careful not to read a lifetime of experience back into a childhood lightbulb moment, but the point is that image is one that I can recall, and the magazine I saw it published in travelled with me for quite a few years of my youth.  Sadly one too many moves, and changes of interest, and now, I am bereft of the photo, but hold still the vivid memory. 
As I contemplate it now, it is to my loss, that I didn’t follow through with that initial enthusiasm, and I chose to work in fields other than documentary photography. Yet I feel that every time I press the shutter, something of that lightbulb moment is present. 
I also came across a quote from writer T. S. Eliot this week, he of The Waste Land,  in an essay from 1919. He was deploring the tendency of many critics to only be interested in novelty and difference from other’s work. 

He wrote, “… not only the best, but the most individual parts of his work may be those in which the dead poets, his ancestors, assert their immortality most vigorously.’

So I muse, how much of that photographer of the moment of pathos influenced the work I’ve made over the years, and of course how much of my current, and future work.  Rhetorical, I understand.

Here is an image I found while I was searching that was taken several years earlier in the same area, and while not the visual impact of ‘my’ photo, it shows what dreadful impact the floods have on people’s lives. 

This is not the photo I have spoken about, but gives the idea of the work of press photographers at the time

copyright is Newcastle Herald

Now back to the present.
The weather has kept us home the past few days, and #kneetoo has been to a number of medical rounds as the foundation for her new addition.

I took the time to clean the camera, lens and kit, and was outside just checking the focus and things, when Tai Chi pigeon dropped by to see how my practice was going.  Seeing me otherwise engaged it moved to an outside fence, and for just a moment turned toward me against the rich dark shadows of the neighbour’s tree. 

Might not win a Walkley, however I enjoyed the company for just a few moments. As I pressed the shutter, I realised I’d left the exposure set for a much darker scene a few clicks earlier.  Overexposed! Oh dear. A quick twirl of the dial and I was back in the groove.
Which just goes to show, that like all good craft skills, photography needs a dedication to keep sharp for what may happen next. 

Saturday Evening Post #126 : “#kneetoo”

Just in case there is any confusion, the title has little to do with the Black Kite in early morning light

EE has thrown a fetlock. 
Mr An Onymous wrote me a note and called for a new moniker, “#kneetoo”,  seemed appropriate.
We have over the past few weeks been unable to enjoy any real field-time as #kneetoo’s fetlock has been getting more and more painful. 

The pain in the leg, is now, after mri, X-ray, ultrasound, poking and pushing, and oh and ahh ing, identified as a damaged fetlock. Or in layman’s terms, a dicky-knee. 
So it’s off the operating theatre for our heroine and a nice sparkling knee-replacement thank you. 
She will be able to walk about before we all know it,  and in conversations over coffee, exclaim, “Oh, yes, me too!” Hence, if you follow the somewhat obscure logic that occasionally flows from this blog, #kneetoo
Mr Slice and Dice is going to turn on his electric drill, angle grinder and sanding machine after a short wait of about 6 weeks, so it seems.
In the meantime a round of X-rays and mri’s should keep our girl occupied over the next couple of weeks.
Now you know.
We’ve survived a long covid lockdown, so have learned to deal with being house-bound.


 A sunny morning promised some good photo opportunities and as we’d only had one brief visit to the Western Treatment Plant since this time last year, it seemed a good time to reacquaint ourselves.  Working “The Plant” gives #kneetoo an opportunity to photograph from IamGrey, without getting out and walking about a lot.  
So, as The Banjo said, ‘We went’

We timed our departure to coincide with sun rise, (about 7:20am Daylight saving time). Too early for light on the birds, but cleverly timed so that with a stop off at barista Steve’s for a morning cappuccino, #kneetoo would be ready for the day’s activities.

By the time we had opened the Point Wilson Road gate, the sun was streaming over the pines around the pumping station along Paradise Road.” As we headed past the pine trees on the road to Ryan’s Swamp, #kneetoo pointed at a Black Kite enjoying the early morning sunshine. The reason I’ve chosen this shot is it is the same tree that was in last weeks post. (#125) Now, I can’t claim it’s the same bird. So I won’t.


This time I travelled on past the bird, turned around and slowly drove back.  Now the bird was on #kneetoo’s side of the vehicle and all I had to do was work the mobile camera platform (IamGrey) in position.  “A little to the left, forward. Stop. No, just a bit further. Oh, the mirror is in the way, reverse a bit.” Etc ,etc, etc.
It might seem a complicated task, but as we used to photograph motorsport rallies and classic car tours using a similar technique— she photographing out the window—while I drove and navigated at the same time, together with having  to watch for approaching or turning cars, made doing it at a sedate speed on an open farm road feel quite relaxed.
The gracious Kite was neither impressed or concerned.  
However I thought the light on this particular one was as good example of how rich early morning light plays its own magic on the shape and form of the feathers.  The golden glow of that low-Kelvin temp light also brings out the richness of the colours.  Hard to believe they have the name, ‘Black’.
All in all a good start to the morning.

Saturday Evening Post #125 : Simples

Front light is one of our most basic light forms.

Nicéphore Niépce used it for his first ‘heliograph’ made in 1826 or 27.  An 8 hour or more exposure taken through an upstairs window of his Burgundy estate.

Front light was the staple light of George Eastman’s Kodak. The small aperture and low sensitivity meant that bright light was indeed the order of the day.

The (in)Famous “Sunny Sixteen Rule” relies on bright sunshine—a couple of hours after sunup and before sundown— to give correct exposure.

I admit to still using a variation of the Sunny Sixteen, when I shoot in M for Manual on the D500. Normally I use ISO400, and f/5.6 on the 500mm PF with a shutter speed of 1/2500-for white birds 1/3200.  The good old Reciprocity Rule at work before your very eyes.

My dear old Mum’s favourite photo-adage, “Keep the sun over your left shoulder dear”, is just another variation on that theme.

Front Light in sunny daylight gives beginners several advantages:
The subject is evenly lit.
No heavy shadows to spoil the colours. The shadows fall away behind the subject.
Colours are rich and expressive.
Metering is easy, or just the Sunny 16.
The form and shape are lost in a flat looking surface.
A uplifting, bright mood is established.

And of course a couple of disadvantages:
Lack of Drama (most times)
Lack of form and shape because of the loss of shadows
Hard for subject not to squint as they peer toward the bright light.
Birds tend to look away for the same reason, and perhaps because it’s easier to see prey in the bird’s front light.

So on any given day in the field, my first choice is Mum’s Rule. But of course it depends on the mood I want.
Light coming from behind the subject robs us of rich colour and often detail.

So it is not without consequence that EE and I were out at the Western Treatment Plant on a sunny afternoon.

We found the Black Kite sitting conspicuously on a branch high on a tree near the roadway.
We slowed and stopped, the light was coming from behind the bird and the most we really could see was a shape in shadow.

I glanced in the rear view mirror and several cars were coming up behind us. We had stopped well off the road, so there was plenty of room to pass.  To my surprise, they too stopped, several cameras with people attached got out, some cameras stayed in the cars with the windows wound down.  A few shutter clicks, and quick ‘chimp’ at the results, and the vehicles moved on looking for something else to record.

I didn’t have to see the results to know they had a black, Black Kite. All shadow, no detail.
After the dust settled and with the bird still in good view, we moved up the roadway about 75m, and the Kite was now in “full front, sunlight”, dial in the sunny 16, and increase the shutter speed slightly to keep the highlights in the feathers, wait, wait, wait for a head turn, there is the eye catchlight. Click. Job done.

I know in the field, the excitement of seeing a bird is more than enough to make a record shot. I’ve got half a disk-drive full of them.  But getting the best colour, or mood or feel takes a few moment to consider the vision that I have of the results, and then making the necessary steps to work to achieve that.

Do I always use front light?  No, is the loud reply. But it is my light of choice if I am after those rich feather colours and details



PS: For Nikon Users Only. Canon and Sony users, move along-nothing to see here. 🙂
Over on ArtfromSience web site, Ed Dozier has an interesting test series on the Auto Focus on the D500, D850, D6.  His methods and conclusion bring some interesting thoughts to the accuracy and how to get the best out of it, of the Nikon AF system. Hope it helps.
Optimizing Autofocus Efficiency in Nikons



Saturday Evening Post #124: Sneak Attack

I don’t have too many closeup or head on shots of Swamp Harriers.

Our local area of rivers, a few large water storages and of course the wonderful bird haven at the Western Treatment Plant all carry their fair share of “Swampies”.


It is said, that a Swamp Harrier can see the flea on a dog at 40 Kilometres.
I’ve always thought that might be a bit of an exaggeration, and it would more likely be around 38 km 😉

They also have a total, “Zero Tolerance Policy for Human Beings.” This means they will turn away at the slightest chance of human presence. There are stories of Swampies abandoning a nest when the young are just days from fledging, if the area is compromised by human activity.

So your average photographer around Swampies ends up with lots of flying away back shots.  Showing the colour of its tail as it stretches out to put as much distance as possible between them and us.

They will always have a glance behind to be sure of the source of their concern. So, we accumulate a fair number of bird looking back under or over wing as it powers away.

I’ve sat motionless in the reeds, camera at the ready, while a Swampie makes its way slowly, surely and with great care along the edge of a reed bed. I’m sure that they can spot the mirror going up when I press the shutter and by the time the mirror has come back down again, the bird is already turning away. Perhaps another reason to ponder using a mirrorless camera?

Not only do they hunt from a distance, but they also patrol just above the water line with sweeps over a likely reed bed.  This is a head down absolute dedicated to the task at hand operation.
I’ve probably said before, but I think they have some sort of mapping system that they check against.  If there is a change to what they see to the ‘map’ the airbrakes go on and a much closer investigation begins.
Same map alerts them to a photographer, cleverly sitting in the reeds with camera gear and self all cleverly cameoed up.  That lump wasn’t there before!  Is it food? No!  A danger!  Turn Now. And they do.

This bird was on investigation duty along the edge of bund. It swept high, and low, running across the water, pulling back to gain some height. A cleverly co-ordinated sweep of the area.

I held my breath, I was ‘hull down’ on the other side of the bund, so it hadn’t shifted its gaze that far ahead, and would only have spotted the camera and me from the shoulders up.

Finally I couldn’t hold on any longer and let off a burst, and a split second later the bird had turned and was gone.

I was using the amazing Nikon D500 PSUEDO eye-recognition autofocus and it maintained focus even though the bird was disappearing behind the canola growing on the side of the bund.

After last week’s Saturday Evening Post, about eye-recognition, I couldn’t help myself and this shot seemed to fit so well.
The PSUEDO af is really only single spot focus, kept on the bird’s head.  The D500 does the rest.-)

Bonus Night, here are three from the sequence

I was concentrating on the bird as much as it was on its hunting and didn’t see the grasses until I looked at the shot on screen.

Now I see you.

Peeling away from danger.

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.