Saturday Evening Post #005

The Werribee Mansion was built by the Chirnside family back in the late 1880s.  They were  pastoral dynasty that reaped significant profits and the Mansion was among one of their many extravagant projects.  They also maintained a deer park, in the vicinity of the suburb Deer Park. Makes sense right?

They also were members of the Acclimatisation Society, that set out to import species into Australia to provide sport hunting, and included foxes, rabbits, alpacas, pheasants, sparrows and thrushes. It’s a long painful list that we still pay for among decimation of native species. 

One part of the gardens was turned into an ornamental pond. However because of the quality of the sandy river soil, the lake was mostly left empty as it drained quickly.  It was only ever topped up when ‘important’ guests were in residence.

It is interesting to walk among the huge trees in the garden and contemplate that the layout, and those who conceived it, was for another generation. Now stately and immaculately maintained by Parks Vic, it is a pleasure to wander the gardens and see locals and visitors enjoying the grounds.

The Ornamental Pond is still there and is always filled with water these days.  Which makes it a home for freeloading ducks, coots and waterhens and the like. Some, such as grebes and cormorants and egrets have to ply their trade among the frogs, bugs and small fish that seem to be in abundance in the lake.

One Great Egret is regularly found there.  I’ve named it ‘Grace’, for Graceful and Gracious.  Not habituated, but neither afraid of humans, this bird works the pond and its verges and also spends time preening on the trees and small island in the area.
Which makes it a most interesting photo subject.

So much so that I have become quite clued to its body language and can often predict a flight, and a flight path, and sometimes, predict a landing point.
Given the right sunshine, the richness of the dark shadows among the trees, and a hint of luck, a very happy hour or so can be spent by the pond.
Thanks to the foresight of the ‘landed gentry’ who would know doubt be horrified to see common folk picnicking or conducting weddings on their lawns.

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Saturday Evening Post #4 Mother’s Little Secret

Well it’s out.
One of those secrets that eventually would be too much of a story to keep quiet.

The pair of New Holland Honeyeaters that are in the bushes in the garden over the fence, have been busy.

And a couple of days back we got our first glimpse of their hard work.
A new addition to the family.

We’ve been watching them both fly into the bushes, and out and about.  Then carrying in tiny insects and larger ones, much work among the burgeoning bottle brush and spending time hunting off the local sparrow and starling population. 

I’ve been working with the 300mm f/4 PF Nikon lens of late, without the usual TC1.4 extender.  Couple of reasons, but mostly handling and I wanted to see if the small lens could become a viable lens for the direction of my bird work.  I’m getting a bit to tired and sore from carrying the larger longer lenses.  And of course, like all good secrets, I guess I have a somewhat dreamy acquisition in mind. 😉 More to follow I guess.

And just in case you thought I’d gone to sleep on the job, the much vaunted change to the blog layout is underway, its becoming more a ‘long’ term project, but I think it will have some advantages to the phone and tablet viewers. 

 

Saturday Evening Post #003

Sometimes the action just gets ahead of the photographer. Or as a friend on mine was wont to say about other occasions.  “Never let your ambitions overweigh your capabilities.”

Seemed an easy shot. Duck takes off.

Just a bit slow on the ‘panning’ on this one.  A hint to all those who have ambitions of developing a good panning technique.
1. Be very sure you know where the action is going to be when you press the shutter.
2. Face that direction. Adopt a “Bow Stance”, see tai chi details or an archery class.
3. Wind yourself back in the direction of the oncoming action.
4. Pickup and follow the subject
5. Unwind as you go
6. When at the position established in Point 1. release the shutter.
7. Continue to follow through at the same pace as the moving subject.

Reason being quite clear if you think about it, you wind up, tension and all, then unwind, tensionless and the shutter goes off while you are perfectly balanced.

All good in practice, but when the duck explodes from the water.
So I ended up with the Male Chestnut Teal with its beak and wings right on the edge of the frame. 😦

This is a bit of a rescue in Photoshop.  Opened up the Canvas Size, and then added some water/ripples etc from another shot at the same location/time.

Aren’t ducks wonderful.

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