Saturday Evening Post #92: About 95% Negative Space

“You’ll find,” he said, if I recall correctly, “that Negative Space carries a lot of visual weight. The subject therefore has to be very strong to balance out that 95% Negative Space.” A mentor was extolling the use of the broad, seemingly lacking in detail, surrounds of the main subject.

He went on, again as best I can recall, “Negative space helps the photo stay calm, and isolates the subject, and at the same time removes any interfering elements that distract from the view seeing what you are seeing.”

Great advice to a budding studio product photographer. After all a client doesn’t want a lot of competing visual elements, they want to see the product.  And in particular, the product’s name, brand and model number (if applicable). If Mr Colgate couldn’t see the word “Colgate” in large letters on the subject, he would wonder how anyone would recognise his product, no matter how ‘creatively’ the subject was shown.

The same might be said of a certain cheese brand that is about to change its name. No matter that it was the brain child of a certain William Edward who’s family name now carries unfortunate connotations.
Ford Motor Company want to see their famed logo, and it is said the Coca Cola logo was one of the most recognised logos in the world.  Now it seems the jury is out on the most recognised, but Google might be close to the top. At least when I googled, that is the result I got. 🙂

From a studio product point of view, getting the subject well lit, boldly presented and refreshingly isolated was always the big challenge. A small fill light  here, a white card to be reflected in the strong sidelines of the product, a disappearing shadow to give depth, all against a plain backdrop.

But negative space is more than just a simple way of saying, ‘here is the subject’, it does, as my mentor suggested, carry a visual weight that needs to be carefully balanced by a subject. It reduces visual clutter and the minimalist approach welcomes a view to pause and reflect in a tranquil, welcoming way.

I have been I think, always a minimalist. Well, at least at heart. Preferring the simple to the complex visually.
Whether street, or field, or portrait, or product, I’ve always been happier to work with a subject against an uncluttered backdrop.

Most times, either here on the blog, or on Flickr, or my other web site, I try with the birds to provide as much detail as possible, preferring the closeup frame filling moment, rather than building a mystery or calmness or asking the viewer to pause and ponder, “Why there, why now, what was going on?”

So the past several weeks have been a bit intense, staying at home, (by preference) working through the photo library—it’s called Culling!
Removing those images that I am never going to pay the hostage price.
See Saturday Evening Post #87

And finding of course some photos that I’ve never spent time with, yet, hold a strong sense of graphic because of the smaller subject in its surrounds, or lack of them. Not always suitable as bird descriptive shots, but perhaps with a little work, suitable for Birds as Poetry.

Shots where the bird is almost inconsequential in the frame compared to the negative space.
It is true that I hadn’t been consciously working on that feel when I pressed the shutter, and it did require me to revisit to see the opportunity.
I’ve oft quoted my long-term friend and mentor John Harris. “You’ve got to look within the photo, to find the picture. Always look at the details, look at the obvious as there is always a highlight there somewhere, that others aren’t seeing.  That is the diamond.  Look for it always.”   Thanks John.

The ones that have got the creative juices flowing, are those that lend themselves to making the most of the negative space.  I’ve shared a few on Flickr of late, and thought this very active male Superb Fairywren had made a strong enough compositional statement to balance the dark moody area behind him.

As he moults into his breeding colours he is ready to become the master of his new status, his balance of the negative space gives him a strength and purpose.

The Doona Hermit.



Nikon 500mm f/5.6 PF: Report from the Field

Tis a well know fact that this blog does not do equipment reports. It’s not as though there aren’t enough opinionated sites to trash the best of hardware. However I’ve had a few enquiries regarding this lens, and rather than rehash what Uncle Google can find in a minute, I thought I’d rather share a few paras and pictures on my use with the lens so far.

If you own Canon gear, don’t proceed any further, you have the wonderful DO 400mm f/4.  Be happy!

I hummed and hahed when the lens was first released.  The big bikkies involved was probably the first stumbling block. And I was working with the Sigma Sport 150-600mm f/6.3 and it was working well for me.(more to follow below)

But the low weight and small size were an attraction, and in the end, I placed an order with Ross at Camera Exchange in Box Hill, in October 2018. I also planned to trade the Sigma at that time.
Eventually, got a note from Ross. “It’s here!”. March 29 2019. The wait-time worldwide has been astounding. So I motored over to collect the lens. Thanks Ross.

What follows is where it fits with my current work.

Time for the Pixelpeepers to click away now, as there are no charts, no ranking scores, no graphs and definitely no lens test charts to pour over. No dudes riding bicycles, or shots of the building over the road, or some obscure mountain in the distance.
Just how does it work for me.
Also please remember that these are all JPEG images made out of Lightroom to 1600pixels at 90% Qaulity. A few are crops, some almost full frame. Shot on both D810 and D500.  I’ll note the data with each shot.

All the ratings are against My Expectations of the lens, coupled with use of previous lenses in the field. 100 % is just that. I’m completely happy with that aspect.

  1. Price: No % Score, but I’d have no hesitation in buying it.
    Gotta get that out of the way.
    It’s a pro piece of kit, Nikon are asking big bucks. If that doesn’t fit with your bankbalance, then click away now. For those who want to save some money, the Nikon 200-500, Sigma Sport 150-600, and the Sigma Contemporary are all good value for money, and sharp. Canon users have the DO 400mm or a pretty nice 100-400 f/5.6 Zoom and a neat 400mm f/5.6 without image stabilisation. Any one of those lenses would be a reason for me to change to the Canon System.
    My reasoning was to amortize the investment over the next 10 years or so, and a couple of bucks a week is a reasonable.
  2. Size: 100% Meets my expectations.
    It is about the same size as a 70-200 f/2.8. Which makes it imminently handhold-able.
  3. Weight: 100% Meets my expectations.
    Having been using the 300mm f/4 PF from its introduction, I had a definite idea about how the weight would be. I’m confident I could carry it all day in normal use without needing a porter.
  4. Handleability: 100% Meets my expectations.
    I’ve thrown around some big lenses in my time, but this one just feels right. The balance on the camera and handholding is very comfortable. Mr An Onymous will tell you I once fell in love with a 10-30mm zoom for the Nikon 1 system, just from picking it up off the benchtop. I ordered one the next day. If it feels right, the chi is working, and it is pointless to fight nature.
  5. Focus AF: Exceeds my expectations. This is such a fast lens to focus, especially on the D500. Sometimes I think it finds the subject before I get it sorted out in the frame. Big plus. And it locks and follows. If I compare it to the 300mm f/2.8 or the 70-200mm f/2.8, which are my go to ‘speedsters’ for action, then it’s right up there as good as, if not better.  I can’t compare it to the 400mm f/2.8 as I’ve never owned one, but that is the gold standard in fast focus.  I reckon this lens would give it a pretty good run.
    The other feature is like all pro lenses, its sharp all the way from the closest point to infinity. Unlike most consumer zooms that lose interest in focusing after about 30m. I’m looking at you 18-200mm and 80-400mm.
  6. Sharpness: 100% of my expectations.
    Just have a look at the photos below.  I don’t do comparisons, but looks equal to the 300mm f/2.8, and has more contrast than the 300mm PF.(My copy.  EE’s copy is a little better than mine I think).
  7. Unsharp fuzzy bits.
    My photos don’t have bokeh, (never pronounced so a Japanese would know what these people are talking about), mine have fuzzy out of focus bits.
    So against a smooth backdrop 100% of expectation. Milky smooth as it should be.
    Against busy high contrast backgrounds, 75% of expectation. But then my expectation wasn’t that high. Digital sensors are the real problem here. Most lenses struggle with those clunky blobby bits of branch and bush and the like.
  8. That Removable Foot. 100% meets my expectation.
    I’ve seen some remarkable nonsense written about the foot. It’s like “OH wow, something to complain about”.  If the only reason not to buy this lens is the foot, then my advice would be trade in the camera gear and buy a set of golf-clubs. It is the same foot used on the 70-200 f/2.8 zoom.  I’ve owned three of them over the years, and not once has it worked itself loose, and those lenses travelled lots photographing car events.  If the user is so clumsy as to loosen it off then forget to tighten it, I don’t see that as a feature fault, I see that as incompetence!
    For my hand the end of the foot rests nicely on the edge of palm of my hand, and my fingers sit well just before the lenshood, near the programmable buttons (coming up soon). A good fit for me. I’ve used it without, and my preference is with the foot.  I’ve also had no intention of buying third party Arca mount foots.  I simply don’t intend to ever put it on a tripod again. (Coming up soon).{Update Aug 2019}  I’ve since taken the foot off and popped a BlackRapid “Fastener Fr-5″, in the 1/4” hole.  Not a fan of BR, but I can attach an OP/Tech fastener and that works for me.
    I found not much difference with and without the foot, and its just one less thing to get caught  up when I’m cradling the lens while sitting down (think driving around the Treatment Plant)

    {Update Nov. 2022}  I ended up buyng a Henjar Foot.  It has ARCA rail  and also has a QD (Quick Detach) a standard used for all sorts of weaponry.  I added it to a Blackrapid clip with an ebay QD swivel bracket (cheeeep on fleabay)
    I am not a Blackrapid fanboy, but in the end, I tolerate it for the convenience of the QD set up.  Means I don’t have to pull the confounded strap on an off my shoulder each time I want to put the camera/lens down seperately.  Put it down to crabby old person dysfunction.

  9. Programmable Buttons. 95% meet expectations. I use these a lot. Just wish they were a little bigger so my finger doesn’t need to hunt for them.  They can be set for a specific distance and the lens will return to that spot. About 30% of my use. Or programmed out of the D810 and D500 menus to do a range of activities. Mine is usually an AF function about 70% of the time.{Update August 2019}  I’ve since taken a big black ‘Sharpie’ marker and put a big “X” on the Lens Coat camo, just above each of the buttons.  Easy peasy to find now.
  10. Tripod use. Balances well with the D500 on a Wimberley.  If you can’t get it to balance on a Wimberley, then read the instructions. On the Markins Q20 that I use a lot, it’s a treat. But now, the problem is you have to take a lightweight lens, and sally forth into the field with a whacking great tripod. Don’t see the point.  End of discussion
  11. VR 100% of my expectations.  Image stabilisation is so much better implemented than on the 300mm f/4 PF. I found myself handholding at much slower speeds than I anticipated. See below.
    {edit Aug 2019} For Inflight, I usually turn VR off.
    I have a paranoia that the VR interferes with focus acquisition, and while it might only be a microsecond as the VR settles down, it just might be enough to move the focus from the eye, to a wingtip. Besides for inflight, (regardless of the lens I’m using), I want the fastest shutter speed I can get. Give me 1/8000 please.  No need for VR there.
  12. Lens Hood. Guess what!  100% meets expectations. It fits, it locks, it’s lightweight. And in my world. It goes on the lens, and is never removed. (except to clean the lens). I use a bag that fits the lens with the hood attached. (and its taped in position so doesn’t go wandering off on its own in the field.) That is the way all my lenses are fitted.
  13. What about Teleconverters. Met my expectations 100%, and perhaps exceeded them.
    The results with the TC 1.7, were what I expected. And I won’t be using it again with this lens any time soon, or later.
    Haven’t had a need to try the TC 2.0, but I know it will be slow to focus and that won’t work for me too well.
    {edit Aug 2019}  The TC 2.0 is really not workable. Hunts, even in good light. One, two, three strikes. You’re Out!
    The TC 1.7 is quite sharp, no problems, but again needs a bit of patience for focus. Won’t see me trying inflights that way any time soon. Or Later!
    With the TC 1.4 I found it needed some focus Fine Tune Adjustment.  Using the D500 in camera, it gave a result of -6.   When I tried it I found the focus position was just not right.  So I played around, and hit on +6. Can’t fault that.
    I often get asked about Teleconverters as if they will help get a pin-sharp shot of a duck on the far side of the lake.
    Here are 3 helpful points for that sort of shot. 1/ Learn to Swim, 2/ Buy a kayak, 3/ Develop better bush craft.
    TCs are best for giving a little bit of extra magnification closer up, say in the 15-30m range. After that for the birds I work with, both heat haze and tiny size make it impractical.
    Acquisition can be a bit ‘iffy’ in lower light.  And the tendency to hunt is always likely.  But it’s a solid performer once the focus is there. Side by side I doubt I could pick sharp, with and without the TC 1.4

Beginning to sound like a ‘fan boy’, so let’s see if some of this makes sense from my field experience.

This is the first image I made with the lens.
1/320 f5.6 ISO 400
Tai Chi Pigeon
Spotted Dove
Early morning overcast.
1/640 @ f/5/6 ISO 400
Superb Fairywren
Morning Sunshine, near full frame.
1/800 @ f/5.6 ISO 400
Black Swan
1/500 @ f/5.6 Just a hint of sunshine coming through the trees.
Eastern Osprey
1/200 @ f/6.3 ISO 400
Eastern Yellow Robin
Late Evening Sunshine
1/2000 @ f/5.6 ISO 800
White-bellied Sea-eagle
1/200 @ f/5.6 ISO 400
Tawny Frogmouth
1/400 @ f5.6 ISO 800
Hazy indirect light through overhanging trees
Eastern Spinebill

What about the soft out of focus bits

Late evening. 1/640 @f/5.6.
Creamy out of focus bits.
Juvenile Whiskered Tern
1/1600 @ f/5.6 ISO 400
Very late afternoon rich light.
Brown Falcon.
Messy out of focus bits because of messy background
Brown Falcon, messy out of focus bits. This is mostly the result of sesor issues rather than the lens design.

How good is VR. I don’t shoot many in low light but here’s one from the back fence.

Checking VR or Image Stabilisation
1/50 @f/5.6 ISO 400. Handheld.
The sun had set, but there was still light in the sky.

Then of course the always asked question.

Oh, but what about Teleconverters. I’ve got to see it with Teleconverters.  See my point 13 above.

TC 1.4 700mm
1/3200 @f/9.0
Handheld. Bird worked its way toward me on the water line.
Red-kneed Dotterel
TC 1.4 700mm 1/500 @f/5.6 ISO 400
Soft out of focus bits and plenty of detail on WIllies beak whiskers.
TC 1.4 700mm 1/1250 @f/9.0
Handheld, overcast day. Lightened up 1/2 Stop in Lr.
TC 1.4 700mm 1/2500 @f/9.0
Full sun. It is no macro lens, but the detail is certainly there.

I was going to really annoy myself and write ‘accessorising’, but restrained. 🙂
I added a B+W UV filter. Not a great believer in UVs as the Sensor already has a UV component, but let’s face it, this an expensive piece of glass.  My first B+W UV was with the Sigma Sport, at first I was hesitant, now, I’m a convert. The B+W shows no visible image degredation, I wish I’d come across them years ago.
Added some Lenscoat to protect the lens, I really like the Kevin Kealty ones from the Wildlife Watching Supplies in the UK, they are a bit thicker and don’t seem to shrink like the US based mob.
Also work with a LensWrap, that I had for the 70-200mm, fits like a glove and gives added security for travelling. Simply velcros off when I’m ready to go in the field.
Everybody has opinions on Carry Straps.
The lens does NOT have special strap attachment points, like the bigger pro lenses and the Sigma. Pity, as it would only have been a few dollars more.
I started using a BlackRapid Strap, but find them uncomfortable.
I changed to an OP/TECH Sling Strap  Which we’ve used for years on other long lenses, and it does the job well. And doesn’t take over the camera bag when travelling. I’ve snuck on a BlackRapid attachment since, and have one OP/Tech connector on the Lens, and one on an ARCA “L” bracket on the camera. Two attachment points makes me feel more secure.

{Edit Aug 2019} Like camera bags, carry straps will continue to keep me searching.  🙂

{Edit Nov 2022}  For full disclosure, I’m now using a Blackrapid Classic Strap and a QD (Quick Detach) on a Henjar bracket  See above

I think the price is well justified for the work I am doing. It is indeed my go to lens at the moment.

The Sigma 150-600 Sport worked well for me. In the end just too heavy for carry around field work. {edit} And, while it was very sharp, the focus was often a little to slow for me for inflight. Once acquired it stayed locked. Even using the Dock to set a faster focus acquire rate, it still left me wishing for a bit more speed.
The Nikon 200-500 Zoom. Is a sharp, well-balanced lens. I would have purchased it if the Sigma had not been on the showroom floor. I do find it a bit bulky to carry as the barrel is nearly twice the diameter of the 500m PF.
The 300mm f/4 PF and a TC 1.4 420mm @/f5.6  EE’s go to lens. Solid performer, I find mine with the TC has a little chromatic aberration in highlights, easy to fix in Lr, but detracts sharpness a little.  It is a lovely walk about for hours lens. Sharpness side by side with the 500mm PF would be hard to pick, and as I’ve used it for over three years, it’s a lens I have a high regard for.

Yes, there are a couple.
I tend to take a lot more pictures as it gives me a chance for good framing for inflight birds.
The lens makes my 300mm f/2.8 look a bit redundant. Not sure what I will do with that.

{Update Nov 2022}  I traded the lens at Camera Exchange  Haven’t really missed it.

The 300mm f/4 PF is also going to take a back seat.  It sits in the lens cupboard and like a dog waiting to go “Walkies”, sort of quivers at me when I open the door.  Perhaps a D7200 or D7500 and use it for wider shots from the vehicle. Certainly can’t take both to the field.

And here are two more from a shot this morning.  The White-winged Terns are still around, and I spent the best part of 2 1/2 hours with them, one long session of about 90 minutes.

1/8000@/f5/6 ISO 800
Grab Shot. Got out of vehicle, lens grabbed focus, I framed next. Swamp Harriers do not give second chances.
1/2500 @f/5.6 ISO 400
I was working with these terns for about an hour and half, took several hundred frames. Lens didn’t feel tiring to hold. Had I not run out of time, and the birds out of patience, I could have easily done another hour or so, the lens is unbelievably easy to handhold.

So there you go. Thanks for taking the time to read to the end.
It is a keeper for me, and I’ll probably extend myself to get the best from it in the coming weeks.

Keep takin’ pictures we do.

(I’m hoping EE does not read this as I’d hate to have to wait another 5 months for the next lens.:-) )

Postcards from Mt Rothwell

We don’t need to know what it looks like (whatever it is), 
but what it might mean—what it might feel like. 
More than ever, we need images that speak to a deeper part of our humanity 
than the thirst for details. 
We need, and hunger for, context, insight, hope, 
and the kind of visual poetry that stirs our hearts, 
sparks our imaginations.
David DuChemin

Posted 28 Jan 2018

A few days before our sojourn up to the ‘old’ country, we were part of Werribee Wagtails quarterly bird count at Mt Rothwell.

In line with the weather all around, it was hot.  But we managed some good numbers in the first morning walk and at lunch time were sitting in the shade of the office area.  The ranger in charge  (Should that be hyphenated?) Ranger-in-charge.  There—setup a hose and sprinkler to give the little garden area a bit of relief.  This one action of course brought all the small bushbirds out for a bit of a cool off.

Continue reading “Postcards from Mt Rothwell”

Studio Werkz

When I was a mere broth of a photographer, and just learning the craft, almost all weddings, portraits and product and advertising photography was done in the Studio. Photographers like D’acre Stubbs specialised in getting just the right light on a product, and Wolfgang Sievers made wonderful detailed industrial photos with dramatic lighting.
And I traded my poor old Super Baldar, 120 folding camera for the chance to learn the craft as a trainee.

Continue reading “Studio Werkz”

Little Visits: A Morning in the Sunshine at Eynesbury

Still in the Little Visits Mode:
The monthly Birding Walk at Eynesbury was on again today.

We drove into the Grey Box forest in the warm sunshine, and slowed down to enjoy the play of the light among the trees.  It has rained overnight and there was that wonderful distinct crispness to the air and the whole forest seemed to sparkle in the moment.  The great Grey Box stood soaking up the light and the tones of the light playing over their trunks was a delight to see.

Continue reading “Little Visits: A Morning in the Sunshine at Eynesbury”

Wrens on Guard: Dangerous world for a young wren.

From our trip to the Office a week back.

We had walked down along the edge of the river to a spot where the river cuts back on itself forming a little backwater.
Good place to stop says, EE and well, I agreed.  Settled down for a cuppa in the sunshine.  It soon became apparent there was a family of Superb Fairywrens in the locality.   Their constant chattering and carrying food about, lead to the conclusion, “They have a nest, or young one’s very close to where we are sitting.”  The obvious spot was a large crop of grass and low shrubs they kept flying around.
We moved.

With the humans out of the way it didn’t take them too long to get back to work.
I’ve been reading, co-incidently Rowley and Russel, Fairy-Wrens and Grasswrens. 

Published in 1997, it details a lot of the field work of these two Australian Ornithologists over many years.  Intriguingly, I’ve been delighted to see a lot of what we have observed being detailed in the work.
One thing that becomes clear about the Superb Fairywren is the unusual family arrangements.
Once called “Mormon Wrens”, as it was assumed that one bright blue male was in charge of a harem of females in various lighter brown dress.

But it’s now known that there is only one ‘active’ pair, and the remainder of young in the family group are ‘Helper’ males of the first or second year.

On average the males outnumber females by around two to one.  So a female adult is in as the good Jane Austen so succinctly put it,

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.”

Change man to female wren, and it seems that an available female has little trouble in establishing a new family connection. One such female in Rowley’s book is reported as having attained a bond relationship in somewhat under two hours of leaving the home territory. 🙂

So what we saw were a male/female pair and two or three helper males hard at work.

What we weren’t counting on is what happened after about 20 mins of watching.

The chattering went up, the birds surrounded the bush and it was obvious something was amiss.  Suddenly at least two young virtually tailless fledglings burst clumsily out of the bush and took off, mostly running as they were not yet equipped to fly.
One took refuge alongside EE’s foot for a few minutes and then ran off eventually tumbling over the river bank edge and lodging (fortunately) in the bushes about two metres down.

The family continued its agitation at the bush. Conclusion being that some predator, – rat, snake ? had managed to get into the area.  Did they lose any of the young.  Hard to say. After about 10 minutes one of the helpers found the young one over the river edge and went to feed it.

Here is the drama as it unfolded.

The shot of the young wren is by EE (Dorothy M Jenkins- Friendsintheair, (c) 2016)

One of the main perches near the nest
One of the main perches near the nest
Busy feeding. A helper bringing in some food.
Busy feeding. A helper bringing in some food.
Helper male
Helper male
The male also on feeding duty
The male also on feeding duty
In full cry, the female is so active.
In full cry, the female is so active.
One of the young is just going out of the bush in the top right.
One of the young is just going out of the bush in the top right.
Danger, danger
Danger, danger
He wa so agitated and very wary at the same time
He wa so agitated and very wary at the same time
Young male on full alert
Young male on full alert
A young one out of the nest and unsure of what to do. Copyright D M Jenkins (c) 2016 Friendsintheair
A young one out of the nest and unsure of what to do.
Over the edge. This one is about 2m down from the river bank. One of the helpers eventually came and looked after it.
Over the edge. This one is about 2m down from the river bank. One of the helpers eventually came and looked after it.


Setting the Scene: A Day at the Office

Blogging 201 assignment for this week is Setting the Scene.
As it turns out, I was gearing up to reflect on a day at the Office yesterday.
The weather turned Kind.  Really Kind.  The kind of Kind, where the cameras practically pack themselves out of the cupboard and into the car, and sit there going, “Well…..” “Well…. are you ready to leave yet.”

We left early, and decided to take the longer walk down to the river behind the golf course. This is really old river flat, and the river makes a distinct “U” for several hundred metres and then a fine “S” movement that provides for some great old river flat dissected by the flow of the water. Water bird can abound, and there is still some good grass and tree cover to make life entertaining for the smaller bush birds.

Its a long way for EE to walk, but stoically she lead on.

The Office for the uninitiated is an area along the Werribee River a few kilometres from the mouth at Werribee South. It cuts through the rich river soil and in places the cliffs are 30-40 metres high.   The big birds – think raptors- enjoy the wind currents coming up the ramparts and I do believe a good case could be made that there are certain areas where its better, and a sort of ‘flyway’ or navigational line is drawn.  They seem to favour coming and going along those locations.

You just know its going to be a good day when as you drive in a Black-shouldered Kite is hunting close to the carpark, and just inside the walking track, Bernie the Brown Falcon is loafing in a favourite tree.

Next up a Little Eagle made several passes along one of the ‘flyway’ paths.  The Ibis, both White and Straw-necked use the same paths on the way to the feeding grounds along the river.

We sat with a family of Superb Fairy-wrens, and I will tell more of that tale on another blog, and were entertained by the feeding antics of a few Crested Terns. (another blog post methinks)

It was pretty awe-inspiring to be sitting by the river, dangling my feet over the river bank and sipping Earl of Grey, and enoying the time time in the sunshine with such a group of bids. And all less than 10 minutes from home.  A most amazing place.

Easy day, easy photography, easy birds, and Just Another Day at the Office really.

How’s that for setting the scene!


Black-shouldered Kite.
Black-shouldered Kite.
Berne the Brown Falcon
Bernie the Brown Falcon
A view along the sandy cliff face. The area we are heading is down toward the right hand side.
A view along the sandy cliff face. The area we are heading is down toward the left hand side.
Superb Fairywren. This is a helper bird. A male not yet left home.
Superb Fairy-wren. This is a helper bird. A male not yet left home.
Great Egret
Great Egret
Little Eagle
Little Eagle
White Ibis
White Ibis
Crested Tern against the cliff face.
Crested Tern against the cliff face.
Crested Tern, juvenile, on a wing sretch, while waiting for Mum to deliver food
Crested Tern, juvenile, on a wing sretch, while waiting for Mum to deliver food

Blogging 201: Or, The Tantalising Tale of Timmy the Super; Superb Blue-wren

Continuing with Blogging 201 by WordPress Uni.

The current lesson is the all important first line.  The opener that reaches out and grabs the readers attention and drives questions that must be answered, so read on read on.

Had to write for assignment 5 different openings for this blog.

Cruel fate deals a heavy blow in the life of a young wren.
– always good to have some catchy disaster theme, we want to know it won’t happen to us.

Super success for the springy young Wren who overcame hardship and rose to the heights of his profession.
– Always good to have a success story and link it in someway to a fabled lifetime goal.  We all want to think I need to find out how he did it, I’ll be able to do the same thing.

It was a Dark and Stormy Night; the rain fell in sheets except for the occasional intervals when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets….
Hmm, I think that one has been done by someone before.

The forest rang with the shrill clear sound of a high pitched voice, crying out challenge and authority to all who could hear.
– The old power game story, we want to know who, where, why and what effect this bold challenge will bring to the forest.

Take your time, the wind encouraged. Walk quietly and all with be revealed.  Look not for the answers that appear quickly, but rather look, feel, listen, and taste. There is much to know, much is hidden and much will be revealed for those who tread quietly.
– Well when you’re desperate for a fifth opening line, a page from my new novella will do nicely.

And so dear reader, assuming you are still there, hello? hello? we can adopt the opening line I always like best for this blog.
Tell you what we’ve been upto and let your judgement decide to read on or to quickly click away to something much more relevant in your life.

So dah dah!!!!

We went to visit Timmy today.
-I like the direct attention grabbing simplicity.
I’m betting you came over here to see what the birds are doing and that is just what is not going to change.

We went to visit Timmy today. Just to refresh the memories, we had visited this plucky young hero a few weeks before the holidays and found he had lost his tail. Completely!
Then over the next couple of weeks, Timmy not only began to regrow, but also take on his responsibilities as territorial defender for his female companions and their soon to be growing offspring.  -There is every good chance that the young that come from his territory are not his offspring, but rather the work of his next door neighbours.  But, don’t be sad,  Timmy’s genes live on with the females of the surrounding territories.  Its the way it works in Wrenland.

We had, because of trips to the family acres, depressing weather, hot weather, other places to go and just plain old laziness, not been back to see Timmy or indeed the entire Office area for over six weeks.  But, today, nice light, an early mark on the house duty(s), and we decided and afternoon trip would work.

I soon heard Timmy’s cry as we approached the corner on the track that he called home.  And.  There he was.  And with a nice rich full tail. Well done Timmy.
Local boy makes good!

Among his new duties were looking after about 4 or more young.  And they all looked just like “Dad”.  Short-tails.  Must only have been recently fledged.

So between feeding and rounding up the little ones, being harassed by the females, and being sure to take time to keep his nemesis, Tommy the Bigtail, in his own territory, Timmy has his work cut out.

And that is the way I overcome writing complex mind entrancing opening lines.
Simply show the pictures.
Enjoy Timmy.

Looking good in the look out bush. And what a tale!
Looking good in the look out bush. And what a tale!
Where did you get that tail?
Where did you get that tail?
When you have an itch you just gotta scratch it.
When you have an itch you just gotta scratch it.
Standing in the middle of the road and discussing territorial arrangements with his rival.
Standing in the middle of the road and discussing territorial arrangements with his rival.
Just like "Dad".  A tiny tailless terror.
Just like “Dad”. A tiny tailless terror.
One of the family.  Giving him encouragement to feed the kids?
One of the family. Giving him encouragement to feed the kids?

With Great opportunity comes Great Responsibility

If you’ve been following for a while, and have a bit of a memory, you might recall that I put up a story of an aggressive Scarlet Robin Carpark attendant that took to the “mirror bird” reflected in the car.

See here  scarlet-robin-attack-of-the-mirror-birds

Well time has moved on, so has the Scarlet Robin, but the carpark as it turns out is still there. So we pulled up there the other day hoping to find a few interesting bush birds as there is good piece of grey box forest on the far side of the fence.

What we didn’t expect, of course was to set up by the latest iteration of the Carpark attendant.

The “Blue Flash” Car Inspector.   He came out of nowhere and immediately took to the mirror bird in the far side car mirror.  EE said, if the window was down,” I could touch him.”

Next he proceeded all along the front windscreen, (I’d gotten myself and the 300mm lens out of the car by this time. Then on to the drivers side door and gave that a right hammering.

On looking at the shots, he does look like a young male who is just moulting-in to breeding plumage, the few grey feathers are still showing. So perhaps he is now the chief breeding male and needed to be sure he was in fact the only one in the area.

After about 10 minutes or so, he flew off across the carpark chattering at all the watching females and lesser males.  They seemed to giggle at his arrival and they all took off back into the scrub.

Here is a selection.

DWJ_2134 DWJ_2137 DWJ_2117 DWJ_2110 DWJ_2101 DWJ_2103 DWJ_2087 DWJ_2088