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. 🙂