Saturday Evening Post #66: Down the Rabbit Hole

“When did you go down the Rabbit Hole,” he asked.

I was chatting with a mentor, and the question of how we got into photography came up.

Long term reader(s), (Thank you), will recall I’ve discussed my early photographic exploits.  So I’ll not bore you further with daring exploits of a 13 and 14 year old boy armed with a Magic Carpet, “Super Balda 120 Folding Camera”.

But it got me to thinking about how Alice, in her adventures met all sorts of different situations. Together with some fascinating characters, and some great, thanks to Lewis Carrol’s unfettered imagination, and his superb way with words, that bring tears of joy and delight, along with a helping of drama, and the delicate balance of—will things turn out alright.

And no two rabbit holes are the same. For some it’s a technical exercise, for others a range of creative pursuits. For others the need to document the good, or the bad about the world around. Causes, events, happenings, occasions, quiet moments, even introspection are all part and parcel of the photo pursuit. These days an added facet is the unending webbased discussions that seem to fill each moment of the day with an ever increasing complexity. This camera, that lens, have you tried the best software, my vision, my pov, my set of rules or even my blindness to other’s view of their world.  All the while it seems it stops us from making those great images.

(I was nearly going to write, and where for all these waffling experts are their stunning photos to prove their position,. But not wishing to offend anyone, I won’t 🙂 )

I think a better question, is ‘Now that I’m down the Rabbit Hole what direction do I take?”  To mess with the Cheshire Cat? To follow the time poor Bunny, or to trade swords with the Queen of Hearts?  Or to try to escape from the White Rabbit’s house?

There is, as William Neale, points out, a delicate balance between working more with the same subject for better angles, better light, more mood, or simply moving on for another subject.
These days, I’m committed to Bird Photography, so add the additional “Wonderland’ moment of how the subject interacts in its world.

Sometimes I stay for hours, hoping for a new look at the old subject, sometimes coming back many days in a row, looking for that telling moment. Sometimes I find such exciting subjects and I just need to slow down and have the patience and the concentration  to wait for the right moment. The one that captures the right nuance of the subject.

Raucous, loud and bullying are all words that tell of “Sulphur-crested Cockatoos.” Amazing aeronauts, masters of the air and skilled artisans of the wind, also are part of their character.
We were in a paddock waiting for for the appearance of some small bush birds.  All around the Cockys were putting on Royal Command Performances.
It might have been a distraction.  But once down the Rabbit Hole, all sorts of worlds open up if you have the Key, the Potion, and the Cake. 🙂

 

Saturday Evening Post #65 : The Gift of our Very Personal Now.

Simple one tonight.
Mostly because I couldn’t have said it better.

Here is a quote from “The Online Photographer”, A Postcard from Peter

“The gift of seeing, feeling, and the joy of response!

“We live in a world full of immense challenges—often personal and maybe more often, generalized challenges to the spirit presented by the major forces at play all around us—politics, economics, ideology, attitudes, and environmental realities. In the midst of all of this—among the daily blessings and joys that offer so much amazing life in the present moment—is the opportunity to go out, and use one’s eyes, heart, movement, and presence to not only see, but to feel, and respond by registering with a camera, our very personal now. For many of us, it is not only photography, but more importantly, this opportunity to exist and live in the present among all that life can offer daily, that is an essential nourishment for the soul. And, it all starts by simply being out, present, and alive, by seeing and feeling. This opportunity is such a blessing for us all.”

—Peter Turnley

Original contents copyright 2020 by Peter Turnley. All Rights Reserved.

Mike at Online Photographer also features a photo by Peter. But courtesy means I won’t republish it here, without permission.

Peter Turnley is a photojournalist and has had many magazine covers over his career.

I have often pondered in quieter moments, that if I’d have not taken a turn to commercial photography, that PJ would have been my pursuit.
So to that end, much of my current bird photography is not about exotic, or more species, but simply to record the goings on of the lives on birds that I come in contact with.

Its my own gift of the Very Personal Now.

Enjoy.

 

Saturday Evening Post #64: A Special Conjunction

Art is the demonstration that the Ordinary is Extra-ordinary—A. Ozenfant

Been away for the past week(end) up at the family acres.  EE’s sister’s Wedding to be precise. Right on the edge of the fire zone in the north of the state.  How close, well, the reception was held in the local Fire Refuge Shelter-the hall was booked before the current crisis. At other times, it’s the local football club building. Go Tigers!

Had the chance to relive some of my early history, as I was called on to ‘do the wedding photos’.  Talk about dragging an old warhorse out for another canter round the circuit.

So armed with the trusty D810, and  brace of SB-600 flashunits, I did, indeed, set off. Add a good short zoom, 24-70 would have been the choice, and I’ve got inside groups and closeup intimate portraits covered.

And as it all came flooding back, like learning to ride a bike, I recalled why I really like to use strobe flash.  A touch here, a shadow fill there, a rosco gel on that one, change up the white-balance, bounce it, fill it, wind down the power for a rich backdrop, and so on, and on.
I also recalled why we went down the Nikon path back when we went digital full time:—Their superior (at the time) flash control. Joy to use and control the power and balance, without lots of cables, and light control gizmos.

Reminded me of a quote from Tom Ang, is his photography book.  “The joy and delight photographers take in their experience of light. It may, then, be a sharing of the experience of life itself. It is our good fortune as photographers to have a particular awareness of light’s harmony with life. For the special conjunction of a certain quality of light with the stream of life creates a ‘significance of meaning‘ that we turn into a photograph. Light always leads the way.
The wise photographer learns to be taken up by light—not to contemplate it too deeply.”

Working on the Magnificent Magpie project, I was suddenly aware that while I was walking around Maggie checking out the angle, the light the backdrop, the point of view, Maggie was evaluating me too. What a great two way communication.

I ended up sitting on the grass while Maggie hunted across a large lawn lit by streams of light against dark shadows.

And then Maggie stepped out of the shade, into the light, and the conjunction happened.

Just like working with strobes and getting harmony and balance through the electronic flash, Maggie worked with the available moment, and all I had to do was play my part.
Press the shutter button.

Tom Ang again, “The Tao of effective lighting is to let the subject and the light work it out for themselves. Letting be: that is how to be effective without working.”

Saturday Evening Post #63 : Big Annoucement—The Magnificent Magpie project 2020

I’ve spent part of the holiday time reading, or studying, a book called “Australian Magpie”, by Gisela Kapplan (see here)

One of the things that struck me was from her detailed observations, how often I’ve seen the same or similar behaviour, yet how little of it I have actually photographed.  And I put it down to, “Oh, they are just Magpies”, while I was looking for that ‘elusive’ new species I needed to locate. 🙂
I think I wrote about that last week.

I’ve just finished a project with another group and wondered what I might contribute in 2020.
Which is why I’ve decided to spend the year collecting as many Magpie Pictures as I can.

So welcome to the announcement of the beginning of “The Magnificent Magpie project 2020”.  Magnificent being the Magpie not the project, just so we’re all clear on that.

Rather than fill pages and pages of WordPress blog, I’m going to make it mostly a visual journey.
To do that, the photos will appear on a SMUGMUG folio.

Yes, I know all the flickr folk shudder at Smugmug, but they do make it very easy to create photo galleries and link the work in various threads.
And yes, I did spend a buck or two for the page, (50% off for Flickr pro members—no, its not a paid sales incentive remark, just explaining).

And I figured if I put some funds up front, I’d be more likely to consider it of value and the project might have continuity for the year.

Here is a link. https://birdsaspoetry.smugmug.com

My plan is to take photos of habitat, behaviour, activities, interaction, and other character qualities making each a gallery that is added to on a somewhat ad hoc basis as I come across Magpies in their day to day lives.
One good thing, is they are hardly rare, so I’m probably not going to get stuck for subjects.

Those that follow will see the galleries expand as move along with the project.

There are places to comment, and there are at the moment several other galleries in place with other images, as I began to figure out how it all worked. Hope you enjoy the way SmugMug shows of the images.  There is a full page quad arrow for a bigger size.

I might also expand it for Local Birds, in my neighbourhood, and then birds from various locations that we visit. Like “the office”

Feeling good about a project that is not only interesting, but achievable.

Hope to see you over at SmugMug some time.  I’ll put the occasional update page here just to keep it linked.
Yes, Birdsaspoety.com will continue, this is just a parallel work.

I can hear magpies calling as I write. 🙂

Saturday Evening Post #62 : Thanks for a Great Year

When you drink Water
You remember its Source
Deng Ming-Dao

He goes on to say; ” Every ordinary moment, every little detail should be a celebration of your personal understanding. Your smallest act should be treated with reverence. And you acknowledge the precious quality of everyday things. And you maintain a gratitude for both the good and the bad things in your life.”

A family friend received a ‘Write it yourself personal history’ book. We were talking about it today over coffee, and she explained it has lots of insightful questions to act as thought starters. Now I’m not going to do the details here, but it dawned on me that one of the deep insightful ponderings that didn’t seem to be included was “The celebration of the great events” that had occurred. So we spent quite a bit of time discussing, several monumental bad things in her journeys, until I pulled it up and asked about the good things.
I follow a blog by Dewitt Jones, (a former Nat Geo photographer among other things called, ‘Let’s Celebrate what’s right”. https://celebratewhatsright.com/dewitts-images
Always simple images, always the everyday things, the things that sometimes in our rush, we overlook. I once wrote on this blog about the photographer who rushed past because he was looking for ‘his moment’, and had missed the important visuals happening where we stood. 🙂

So here we are at the end of an era, about to meet a new decade.
Normally the blog discusses some of the musing of where my photography has been, and where it should, or might be going.
But this year, lucky reader that you are!  Not so.
Rather as Ming-Dao points out, tis time to remember the Source.

The sheer ability of the pleasure of being able to go, find some birds and enjoy parts of their complex, hard to understand, and almost impossible to photograph fully, lives.
We’ve shared some time with Wrens, Woodswallows, Waterbirds, and a mix of raptors. Some we’ve seen from conception to flight, some have amused us as Lorikeets, and some have worked their ways into our hearts, like my Tai Chi Pigeon. (A Spotted Dove actually), and currently she is sitting in a tree in the frontyard on her precious little nest of twigs, with one lovely big egg for her to look after.

So a big “Thank You” to all who have taken the time to follow the blog. I hope you’ve enjoyed the journey as much as I have in each stage that has been documented.
I appreciate all those who’ve not only read, but taken the time to drop a comment or two.   Just a few words makes returning to the keyboard regularly like taking a wonderful rich drink of water. And I need to remember the Source.  Thanks again.

To those that follow on Flickr, well done. Appreciate the time, the comments, the views, and of course your own wonderful photography, that inspires, and enthralls me every time I log on.

Big shout out to all who’ve been in the bush with us this year, or who have dropped a note say, “have you seen…”. It’s great to see friendly faces along the track

And to Mr An Onymous for putting up with my bad jokes, and lack of appreciation of how bold his insight into the world really is.
And Thanks to EE. She, who, not only shares time in the bush, but shares her special skills at recognition and has the patience to put up with my wanderings.

Now to follow the Source into 2020

And a big “THANK YOU” to Cassia- of Cinnamon, for allowing us to share a very important couple of months of her life.

Saturday Evening Post #61: Like a Wraith

Still working my way though Deng Ming-Doa’s 365 Meditations

“All things in this life depend on direction. In our world all is oriented toward the sun. The planets revolve around it, the seasons depend on it, and our very concept of day and night is tied to the the sun’s rising and setting. The sun is the dominant element in our lives.”

And on the evening before the Summer Solstice (in Southern Hemisphere), I thought, the sun is also the dominant element in my photography.

I talked recently about the “Sun over your left shoulder, Dear”.

Front light: Pure, direct, making our subjects brim with colour. Little shadow depth, a strong, harsh, rich light.
Side Light:  The angular light the gives us rich detail, with texture and form. The light of inspection, depth and tone. Running from brilliant highlights, to melding soothing form and tone, through to rich deep shadows.
Back Light: The light of Drama.  Subjects in rim light, highlights displaying the complexity of the shape. Long running shadows that have a mood and rich mystery. Lacking in colour, detail and texture, but making up for it in deep mystery and mysticism.

Light is the center of our camera settings.  I choose a fast or slow shutter speed depending on the light, and the intent of time perception. Light, I choose a large aperture for subject isolation with narrow depth of field, or a smaller aperture for greater depth of field and sharp detail across the frame depending on the light. Too much light and I drop the ISO, or I raise it for low light subjects.  I shoot with Neutral density or polarising filters to control my vision of the moment.  I add flash for fill-in or main light effects. Reflectors and gobos in the studio. And I try to find such effects when I’m in the field.

Light: The dominant element in my photo graphos, life. (photos-Light, graphos,-of writing) Who’d have thought.

I was waiting next to a melaleuca bush. In front of me was the large pine that Cassia’s nest is situated.  I can just see the two young bobbing back and forth occasionally.
To my immediate left, (and why I’m standing where I am) is a tallish young pine that the pair have been using for food exchange.  30m further away a larger tree with a huge pinecone cluster on top. Ideal for preparing food. And 50m further on, and opposite the nest, one of her fav perches, and a launching spot toward the nest.
In the distance in the paddock 2 isolated pines, both with excellent views over the paddocks and again favoured for inspections of the territory.

But. No Cassia.

Behind me and the bush, about 100m away is a line of very old pines, probably date to the 1870s when the homestead in the area was established.  About a week before she had been sitting among the pines and had made a direct run across the paddock, over the melaleuca bush and past my head at a couple of metres.  Not a defensive move. I reckon, she did it to keep me awake.  EE is still laughing.

The distinctive magpie call. “Falcon in flight. Let’s go”, alerted me this time.  I peeked around the bush, and like a wraith out of the darkness of the trees, sweeping over at fern top height I saw her running directly toward my position.
Light, just right. Soft, overcast, kept the backdrop moody, yet enough to separate her shape and form, and show her intention.
I think I spoiled her game this time:-)

As in the last few yards, she slewed to the left, and went by without looking.  You can’t hide from a Brown Falcon.

 

Saturday Evening Post:#60 A touch of Black and White

Facing a blank sheet

is an artist’s terror
Deng Ming-Dao

It is a most interesting thought for those who try to find a medium of expression.

It’s not just an urge to create something, but to express something.
But what, and for each of us that answer is different.

One of the joys, rather than terrors of our art is finding that vision and then pursuing ways to bring to life for the enjoyment or the edification of others.

On his web, “The Online Photographer”, author Mike Johnson has been examining and critiquing where Black and White digital photography has been heading, and what are some of the challenges.

I had the good fortune, to work, at least for a short while,  with one of the great black and white printers of the 1970s. A critical time in the world of black and white imaging as the new kid on the block was the expanding colour print market.

Wedding albums were still hand-coloured.  Bridesmaids dresses where pastel shades, people had ‘blue’ eyes, and a good handcolourist was a prized asset to a studio.

As Mike points out in his article the difference between the work then, and a bulk of current digital b&w was a rich deep black, a stunning white, and a superb range of middle tones.
As Mike sees it, the mid tones are now a thing of the past, as we stretch our Tone Curve Sliders left and right to make, St Ansels “Soot and Chalk”. (A term coined by Ansel Adams for washed out results)

The Lab I worked in had the most wonderful Durst A600 4×5 inch enlarger and a range of Nikon and Rodagon Enlarging lenses. Optics that were indeed cutting edge, if there had been an edge to cut.
The philosophy of the lab was simple. The craftsman said, “If its not good enough to hang on my wall, its not good enough for my customer.”.
And a print was examined, and if not up to standard, it was reprinted.  And woe to the printer, if that happened the second time. Kept us on our toes.

Blacks were indeed, Black. Mid-tones sparkled, and whites, did infact hold detail.

Trip forward a number of years, and I no longer make black and white prints.  I look at the results from highend black and white printers (the machinery, not the operator), and in-spite of fantastic inks and amazing rag papers, I usually am confronted with soot and whitewash.
On screen results are no more encouraging.

Yet, truth be told, I still see in Monochrome a lot.

My fav way of getting there these days is via Nik Collection’s Silver Efex Pro.

I think the last image I shared here was of a Grey Butcherbird, and strangely here is another.
When I found this Butcherbird just recently, I thought, “Oh, how good you will look in monochrome”, and worked to get a respectable backdrop for it, and SExP did the rest.
I chose a film style of an old Ilford favourite Pan F and added a touch of Selenium tone to hold those wondrous mid tones.

Saturday Evening Post #59 : Hot off the Press

Deng Ming-Dao writes in 365 Tao Meditations

Hawk doesn’t think during the hunt.

It does not care for theory or ethics.

All that is does is natural.

Animals live simple lives close to Tao. They do not need to think or reason: They never doubt themselves. When they are hungry, they eat. When they are tired, they sleep. They respond to the cycles of the day according to their intuition.
They mate in the proper season, and the nurture their young according to their understanding.

+===========+

Now I might disagee somewhat with their ‘need to think or reason’, but I think he means its more about calculated risk and designing to be something other than a falcon.

Stop the Presses!
The day has arrived.
Cassia has been hunting further and further out among the paddocks and tree lines, the past couple of visits.
She was almost out of sight way down the paddock, and EE and I took the moment to cross the patio, and have a closer look at her nesting sight.  Half-expecting to be challenged, but she seemed more interested in avoiding the local magpie flotilla and picking small prey from along the edges of the paddock.

And

There it stood.
Big, Bold, Brown and Black.
Perhaps not quite ready to fly, but only days away from stepping off the only place it has known, and moving out into the much wider world.

It sat, perfectly Brown Falcon still, and watched the goings on around the paddock. A vehicle track runs quite close to the nesting area, and at one stage a local fox management vehicle drove past.   It was thoroughly scanned onto the scene, and off again.  I can’t imagine what the young falcon thought of such an event.
Clever Cassia has infact two of these little bundles of joy in the nest it seems but we didn’t get a good look at it.

Eventually tiring of all this learning, it must have rocked back into the nest, settled down and disappeared.

Soon Cassia appeared with a prize meal.

In the next few days, or so, all the theory of flight will come into one small black and buff package as it steps into its own unknown, and is instantly freed from the constraints of doubt. Ready to write its own story of wonder.

Enjoy.

Saturday Evening Post #58 : A Step Closer

Continuing with the story of Brown Falcon at nest, and working inside the bird’s comfort zone.

She had been fed by the male. Looks like  a pipit. We were standing quite a bit far back from the action, when she took the food, landed on a tree nearby the nest and began to eat her fill.  The male stayed around and sort of ran interference against the marauding Black Kites, and she was so confident of his ability she didn’t pause from her food.

In the end, the Kites took the hint and moved away.

Next the story becomes interesting, as she took the remains of the pipit, and flew further out, beyond where we were standing, meaning we were between her and nest. Something she has not done previously.
After some more feeding, she picked up the pipit and flew around past us, and landed on a closer tree. Then she repeated the process again, landing just beyond where we were standing.

A look about to make sure all was safe and she launched, dropped to the deck, and swung past us about head height or so. Then with a few wing beats, she flew up toward the nest and landed on a branch nearby.
“She has a young one to feed”, was the obvious answer.

Regrettably, or on purpose, take you pick, she landed so the food transfer occurred behind the main tree trunk, and after a few minutes she flew out to land on a close tree-top and began her preening again.

We took the close flyby without aggression as a sign she has decided we are harmless to her cause and she’ll carry on around us. Hopefully she will allow us to share in the growth of the young one(s).

We’ll see.

Saturday Evening Post #57 : Nature Gives and Takes

Firstly a pause for to comprehend the massive destruction, “Cataclysmic, Apocalyptic, Total, Tragic, Devestating, Violent, and Undescribable” are words that have been used to describe the bushfires sweeping along the New South Wales and Queensland countryside as I write.

My heart goes out to all those who have suffered and lost and are bewildered if not overwhelmed by the speed and severity of the fires.  Heartfelt gratidue to all those brave volunteers who’ve put their lives on hold and on the line in so many ways to help and defend where possible. The task truly does seem overwhelming.
As a little, little tacker growing up on an orchard in a fire prone area, I remember my Dad being away for over a week or more a couple of times each summer to fight local blazes. In those days the major weapon was a small metal knapsack that held probably 20 litres of water.  Mum had several of them around the outside of the house and while they were very attractive and interesting to a small growing boy, they were not to be touched under any circumstance.

I hope that a weather change brings some relief to the drama.

But nature also gives; even at a very small level.

I’ve featured a nest branch of a pair of Little Lorikeet both here and on Flickr, and the other day, while we were looking for returning Sacred Kingfisher I took a little while to drop by the nest area, and at first it was quiet and I assumed they had flown the young. Back to the Kingfishers, and not long afterward I heard the distinct calls of the Loris and went back for a second look.
To my suprise both adults were on the top of the branch, and a little head kept popping up out of the hole. However in the time I was there it did not venture out, and eventually mumn and dad flew off to feed, and it tucked itself back into the nest.

May peace come on healing wings.

Saturday Evening Post #56 : Street

When I was a much much younger photographer, and life was quite simpler in so many ways, I used to enjoy wandering the streets of a small country town with a camera, roll of film and the only lens I owned. Well it was a fixed focus, fixed lens so a brace of interchangeable lenses was not even on my ‘must have’ horizon.
And try as I might, I just couldn’t match the power, quality and story of photos that I saw in books by Henri Cartier Bresson or W Eugene Smith, that I could look at in my local library. But I was much too young to be introspective, so just kept click’n away recording the goings on in a town.

No one really took much notice of a ‘kid with a camera’, so most times my meager lens was sufficient. It certainly matched my limited vision. But I guess I did learn a thing or seven about making dark moody prints that epitomized the moment.

As I grew older and moved to the ‘big smoke’, I was able to rub shoulders so to speak with a number of photographer who excelled in making the most of street, and to hone to a fine tune, the art of ‘the decisive moment’. One Michael J. Hill springs to mind,  I guess I mention Michael, as I have a half baked blog that he features in, but still have to add the polishing touches.

I love following on Flickr a range of Street Photographers, and still mentor under David DuChemin from time to time.

EE and I were travelling the Bellarine Peninsula and had arrived at Drysdale. It is one of those charming towns the writers always say, “nestled in the…”  As if all charming villages nestle.  The same writers have ‘bubbling streams’, and ‘astonishing vistas’, along with ‘constant changing panoramas’, and the like.

Drysdale at present is in the middle of a huge roadworks project that will be a bypass road for traffic along the Bellarine. But, at present the town is somewhat ‘engulfed’ (I had to put that one in) by large heavy duty road making equipment, on the way into town. Which means that lots of little red witches hats and dangling plastic safety marking tape are all over the area.
Just past the guy holding the ‘STOP/SLOW’ sign, I noted a Grey Butcherbird by the side of the road. Totally unconcerned about the changes happening to its landscapes, there it sat making the most use of the strange perches and the opportunities for the food that was being stirred up from time to time.
I pulled off the road, and we watched as Butchy hopped from fence to witches hat to tape and then onto the ground with the big hardware rolling all around.

Cameras out, and I was a kid again. But this time with a much better defined vision, and an interchangeable lens. 🙂
Eventually got the shot I wanted, and on looking at it, thoughts of all those old prints came back, and I thought that a mono approach would bring out the ‘street’ feel.
A quick trip through one of my fav programmes, Silver EFex Pro gave me the desired result.  I also added a small selenium tone just to match the bird’s mood.

Oh, the colour version wasn’t too bad either.

I’m gone.

Saturday Evening Post #52 :

It started as a fuzzy idea.

We should go to the Treatment Plant on Friday afternoon, said EE.
Looking at the weather maps, well it seemed reasonable 5 days out.
So we planned.
And come Friday afternoon, not only was it a fuzzy idea, but in reality, the weather was fuzzy to say the least.

Still not be deterred a second plan arose.  “Let’s go out to the Highway Lounge for an afternoon coffee and if it’s still raining when we come out, well, take it as a sign, and we’ll come home.
If its not raining, take it as  a sign, and go on down to WTP”.

Can’t argue with that logic, and the coffee would at least be hot.

By the time we had indulged in one of Garry’s finest, the rain had indeed ceased, and lo, but truth be told the wind had dropped off and while overcast, it was at least pleasant.
Mind, I did check for bright lights in the sky and the sounds of heavenly voices when she said. “It’s a sign. Let’s go.”

But, and you knew that was coming right?

But,

As we turned on to Point Wilson Road, strange little wet drops appeared almost by magic on the windscreen.  I was sure it was a sign.  However as we were already down in the plant, we kept going.

The T Section had quite a number of Whiskered Terns, (formerly Marsh Terns), hunting over the ponds, and had the weather been kinder, the photography would have been easier.

Bump up the ISO to 1600, and hope that I’d get enough shutter speed.  There is no stopping these highly energetic birds, and if you thought swallows and martins were a challenge, crank it up to a new level for terns. Especially grey birds on grey water. The auto focus, even the best of them, and the D500 ranks pretty highly, has a problem. And the rain only added that extra hint of difficulty.
So we persevered.

At one stage they started hunting over the grass areas on the bunds, and some contrast between bird and background.  Good fun.

Enjoy

Saturday Evening Post #51 : Of Shape and Form

Form and Shape are among the basic elements of art.

Often to find form I find its necessary to look beyond the the subject and the structural elements of the composition.
And being able to reduce the elements to simple black and white often makes the form more visible.

Currently on the tv is an ad for TAB Corp. (Yep, I don’t bet, don’t encourage it, and generally rail against it).
However this one, I hope you get a chance to see it, is about the work of all those behind the scenes in the industry.  Those that get up very very early, the food staff, the trainers, the jockeys, the handlers, saddlers, blacksmiths, transport, and the like.

What makes it a very exiting visual is that is is all shot, or at least reduced to black and white. The lighting, contrast, the edgyness really has a great feel to it all.

I can’t seem to find a link to it else I’d share it.

Which leads me to Little Ravens hard at work on a nest.
Don’t you hate a poorly developed segue 🙂

This is one of a pair that were gathering nesting materials.  If you look closely you’ll see some binding twine that the bird had collected. Taken it to the nest, discovered it didn’t fit, and has landed on the post and pushed it into the crack on the fence post. Perhaps it would be needed later.

Then it looked at me.  And I could feel it was taking in every little detail. Even knew the serial number on the lens. 🙂
And the thing that got me working on the moment was the light seperating out the shape from the background and the draping moulding light playing over the form of the feathers.
“If I use this,” I thought, “I’ll make it monochrome.”

What is so great about monochrome is that enables the viewer to savor those shapes, forms and textures, that transcends the ordinary to an ethereal world.

Enjoy

Saturday Evening Post: #49 An Endless Love Affair

“Light makes a photograph. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light.
Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the (a) key to photography.”

So said George Eastman. Founder of the Eastman Kodak Company, and  man who went on to amass a fortune at his death that, today would be around $2 Billion.

I wondered for all that, if there was a collection of photographs somewhere taken by a man who Embraced, Admired, Loved and Knew light.
But sad to say he seems to have left very little of a body of work that could be said to be the photography of George Eastman.

Here is a link to an image of Eastman using a Kodak Number 2 camera while on board the S. S. Gallia in 1890
George_Eastman_(F._Church_1890).jpg

He was enamoured with motion pictures and carried a 16mm camera on his travels. From those journeys a number of documentaries of various places were made in the 1920s. He also regularly travelled to Game Hunting Safaris in Africa.
I can recall seeing some book or documentary once, that showed Eastman, the ‘White Hunter’ in suitable garb posing around the bodies of dead beasts, but no doubt the majority of those photos would have been taken by his handlers.
Here is a link to one from the George Eastman House site. 2007-0007-0127-safari-ge-and-villager.jpg

We had been with BirdLife Werribee, formerly and now informally  known “Werribee Wagtails” on a day outing to Ocean Grove.

The group was walking around Blue Waters Lake Reserve and had stopped to see several Nankeen Night Herons in an old willow tree, with its twisted branches and long fringes that made sighting just that bit difficult.

Also flying past down the centre of the lake from time to time were Royal Spoonbills.  They had to sun behind them and looked a treat in brilliant white against the shady far shore of the lake.
I lost interest in hard to see Herons and became enthralled with both the spoonbills and the light so beautifully cascading through the feathers.

Exposure for such scenes is at best fraught with complications. As EE is known to say.  “If I get the feather detail right, the background gets lost. If I keep the surrounds then the contrast takes out the feather details.” Or some combination of those words that expresses the difficulty of backlighting.

No hero lecture here. I choose exposure for the feathers, and will worry about where the background goes when I work out the mood and feel that I want from the moment.  That is a slider thing. I make no apologies.  Give me Photoshop with layers, layer masks, paintbrush, and a Curves setting and  that’s me for post production in the digital darkroom.

How to set the exposure right for the wings?  See my blog sometime back on Dean Collins.

I managed several birds on the day, and at first thought I’d like to have the head and neck showing. But in the end, I selected this one as the shape and curve of the wings is Satur poetic.

Enjoy