From the Fieldnotes Book: Flame Robins

It has been a little over a month since the first of the Flame Robins began appearing at Point Cook.
As usual they come down in a largish travelling party and then slowly disperse into smaller family groups about the park

Often the older females will stay together and the males will move to other parts of the park.
We have been working with one smaller group that has 5-6 females, 2 males and several juveniles. The one that appears to be the Matriarch is still trying to persuade the males to move on a bit further down the field.

Now that they have settled in, it makes finding them, and photography a little easier. The Parks people have inadvertently helped by cutting a 10m or so firebreak around the fence lines so the birds are able to successfully hunt in the shorter grasses.

Sadly for photography there is not a lot of suitable perches and the fencelines offer them the best views of the area, if not the best poses for photography. But its been good to catchup with them and we now have more photos of the Robins from this season than for the entire previous two seasons that were constantly cut short by limiting lockdowns

So in no particular order here are some from the last couple of visits.

Enjoy

Saturday Evening Post #186 : Seeing is Believing

I had some comments last post about the “Valley of the Shadow of Death”, by Fenton.
The whole truth in media becomes quite apparent when the historian looks at the two images and has to decide which is the accurate and which is the staged version.

Perhaps Rodger Fenton was the first of a long line of photo-journalists that have sought to tell the power of the story with the help of the image being a representation of the event rather than a simple photo reproduction from the moment.

Frank Hurley, the Australian photographer who accompanied E.Shackleton on the ill-fated “Endurance” expedition to the Antarctic also ‘dabbled’ with the moment. It is still hard to explain how he achieved the seemingly night time shot of the Endurance in the Ice. His diary indicates the use of many flashes and the difficulty of making the exposure.

Later Hurley would become a war photographer and many of his images, again, drive historians crazy. He made no bones about making double images, multiple printing techniques and montages. His famous shot of the rescue boat departing for help, is most likely the rescue party returning.

The images of soldiers on the way to the front is thought to be a reversed negative print.

And the one that really gets discussion going is the amazing moment of trench warfare with aircraft, shells exploding and troops advancing seemingly under fire.

Hurley openly stated it to be a multiple printed montage.
In the end he found,
Oct. 1, 1917. Our Authorities here will not permit me to pose any pictures or indulge in any original means to secure them. They will not allow composite printing of any description, even though such be accurately titled nor will they permit clouds to be inserted in a picture.

As this absolutely takes all possibilities of producing pictures from me, I have decided to tender my resignation at once. I conscientiously consider it but right to illustrate to the public the things our fellows do and how war is conducted. These can only be got by printing a result from a number of negatives or reenactment
A good selection of images is here.

Fast forward to Steve McCurry, he of the Afghan girl portrait on the cover of National Geographic. Steve’s later work was found to have ‘Photoshopped” in or out details of some stories and the furore of the net knew no bounds. So much so that he changed his style of photography to account for such story telling rather than image straight from camera. See one of many articles here

Many years back a well known soup manufacturer got into a boil over about marketing shots of its ‘famous’ Farmstyle Vegetable Soup that was ‘packed’ with vegetables. The photograph did in fact show a lovely warm inviting bowl of soup with the veggies all piled high out of the liquid.

However when it was prepared straight from the can, as per the instructions, the hapless cook was greeted with a bowl of liquid with a scant number of veggies sinking to the bottom of the bowl. The clever photographer had filled the studio bowl with glass marbles, and then scooped the veggies over the top and then slowly added just enough liquid to hide the marbles.

And let’s not forget any of the fast-food chains. The chances of getting a burger that resembles the bright crisp item in the photo display is minimal. Again the net is awash with dissatisfied consumers.

So it must be asked if I make some changes to an image, how much is legitimate. Now I’m not talking about Photoshopping Uncle Fred’s face into a daffodil, I’m hoping we are over that.

I’ve been working on some shots the past few weeks making Black and White portraits from a range of photos. I do it because I like the end result. If I share one, it is noticeable as after-all the creature has colour.

I’m not asking the viewer to suspend their credibility or influencing the understanding of the subject. Rather inviting them to explore the nuances of tone, shape, texture and from in a new way.

Perhaps the old adage from the Furphy Watertanker:

Good, better, best
Never let it rest,
Until your good is better,
And your better is best.

Is still a good working motto.

Enjoy.

Saturday Evening Post #185: The Magic of Being There

Some interesting comments came up last week from the way I curate my library of photos.
It’s hard on a single page to cover all the ins and outs and to not sound like setting some rules. I guess I was taken by the number of recent blogs and newsletters that have now made a change from ‘save everything’ etc.

There is of course the another side to why we take, and what we share photographically. As Mr. An Onymous is oft to say, “Just being out there in the field is enough. Birds are a bonus”.

Photography is so good at providing a visual memory of a holiday, party, event or field trip. Looking back through my library can provide a feeling of the time we spent in a location, the birds, the weather, the company and the enjoyment.

I found this quote from Sarah Leen who was (is?) Director of Photography at National Geographic.

“It (Photography) has been the way that I have experienced much of the world. In a deeply personal way I feel an image is a poem about time, about “staying the moment.” Photography can defeat time. Images can keep the memory of a loved one alive, hold a moment in history for future generations, be a witness to tragedy or joy. They can also change behavior, stimulate understanding and create a sense of urgency that will move people to action. Photography is the universal language that speaks to the heart.”

To me photography has always been about storytelling. The eye of the photo-journalist at finding both the story and being able to bring it to the page.

Storytelling goes back to the earliest days of photography. One of the very first ‘war photographers’ was an Englishman named Roger Fenton. He was appointed the first official photographer for the British Museum and in 1855 spent time in the Crimea photographing the war. One of his most (in)famous photos shows the also infamous “Valley of the Shadow of Death” (Yet we need to be careful, as this is not the site of the equally infamous charge of the Light Brigage)
It has a most interesting history in that there seems to be two versions. One with cannon balls on the roadway, and one without.
The question arises did he have them placed for dramatic effect or cleared away for pictorial feel?
This is a good review
Either way it is part of his storytelling and adds to the story in a graphic detailed way.

So yes, my library does have lots of shots that will never be acclaimed, but as I review them from time to time, the magic of being in the presence of the bird is a heartwarming experience.

Saturday Evening Post #160: Walking the Walk

It is reported that J. R. R. Tolkein,  once said, “It is a dangerous business… going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept to.”

I wonder, like dog owners, am I taking  the camera for a walk, or is the camera taking me?
Some dog owners seem so detached from their dog as they walk about, I am convinced that the dog is indeed walking them.
Dogs seem to be easily distracted.  A smell here, a sight there, a movement over there. All needs to be carefully examined and if time permits to be explored.
No matter how long or short a lead, a dog will always run at the limit. (Locked down bird photographers are no different)

The problem, if it is indeed a problem, of walking with a camera is that I lose track not of where I am, so much, as to time and place.  A few minutes planned stroll becomes an hour or more in one location.

All sorts of shapes, and tones and picture possibilities hijack me and I am, as Chris Orwig says, “Swept away by it all” (Visual Poetry, p 208)

You can, as Elliott Erwitt once remarked, “You can find pictures anywhere. It’s simply a matter of noticing things and organising them visually.”

Working with birds the ‘organising them visually’ is quite the challenge. Small birds flee, others chose to simper in the deepest of bushes, knowing that any attempt at a photograph is useless.  Larger birds sulk and turn away. It’s easy to develop the ‘Oh, if only I was…” attitude.

We have after nearly 18 months been given the freedom to move about again.  For some it’s a trip to the shopping mall, a coffee in a piazza, new shoes, a haircut, or a visit to an art gallery.  For most of us it’s time with family and friends who’ve been similarly isolated.

So as we begin to take our first tentative steps back out into the field, so many opportunities seem to present themselves.
To quote Elliott again, “It has little to do with the things you see, and everything to do with the way you see them.”

Time to step out and enjoy the sunshine, the rain, the wind and the wonderful things that will grace our lenses.

Enjoy

Saturday Evening Post #154: Is that Light at the End of the Tunnel—Or, A Train Coming Toward Me!

When the night has been too lonely
And the road has been too long
And you think that love is only
For the lucky and the strong
Just remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snow
Lies the seed that with the sun’s love
In the spring becomes the Rose

Amanda McBroom
From the movie “The Rose”, sung by Bette Midler.

======================================================================

And a friend sent me this link
Hope you find it interesting

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/sep/25/melbourne-is-suffering-a-reverse-groundhog-day-only-bill-murray-can-save-us-now

 

 

Saturday Evening Post #147: Introducing Interludes

I’ve been working on a personal project of late. Independent of any C19 lockdowns, just happens to coincide tonight.

Astute and long term reader that you are, you might have already picked up on a few of the vibes, every so often sections get added to the blog, and somethings just fade away due to lack of interest on the part of the scribe.

birdsaspoetry.com has over the years changed, developed, and waned sometimes depending on my various activities.

Originally set up in the early 1990s it was by invitation only, to a blog that was part of the Apple Mac program, and I had a full .Mac account at the time. But, Apple, decided that running servers for people was not in their core business and it was terminated.   The blog at the time was not so much about birds, but formed part of visual poetry class I was involved with. Someone in the class challenged me about making bird images that demoed some of the visual poetry skills we were working on, and so birdsaspoetry was born. And lived again, mostly by invite on a Bigpond server.  Around the same time, the college I was teaching at introduced a programme for students to work on line with a ‘free’ service on the Edu-blog server. (Another WordPress imprint).
And I moved the blog to there and opened it up.  By then I was photographing at Woodlands Historic Park on pretty much a weekly, sometimes daily basis, and the blog was dominated by the comings and goings of the various birds out there, but, mostly as I settled in to understand the Red-capped Robin, and Scarlet Robin populations and the winter visits of the Rose and Flame and Pink Robins, and later the families of Eastern Yellow Robins that lived in the sugar gum area, the blog took on a much more intimate view into their lives.  Interludes.

But when we moved away in 2014, again all that changed and I began to report our various trips about.

However the new project is a bit of a mix of the past interludes and the challenges of our current on again off again local travels.

Interludes is in fact a personal book project I’ve been working on this year.

It is a picture book, a two page spread, much like the old photojournalism magazines.
Each double page will have as the planning proceeds 6-8 photos and little if any text, of the time we spend with a single bird, or family at a given time (interlude).
It is not a for sale book, simply a portfolio I’m assembling.  Not tonight to talk of the details of how its being assemebled, else I’ve having nothing to write about next week. 🙂

The triptych I revealed last week is a only a rough mock of the front page. Nothing is settled on the picture content.

So, where does the blog fit in.  Well, after all that waffling introduction, you probably saw the first of the connections when I put up, “On the Road Again” during the week.

I’m planning to bring each of the events over to the blog as an in-depth look at a bird, or family and the actions of that day.  Expect some closeups, some action, and a few birds on stick, or inflights.

In a way it revolves the blog back to its roots of the early Woodlands Robins series.

So expect to see short stories, with a number of related photos.
My challenge of course is to keep to the course. 🙂

In the meantime,

Lecky blanket: Check
Doona: Check
Door Locked: Check
Blinds wound down: Check
Welcome to The Fortress: The Global Headquarters of the Doona Hermit.
Remain Safe,  Stay Positive—(but Covid Negative)

A Callout from a Fantail Cuckoo to all those in 14 day isolation. Thank You. You are doing us all Proud.

Saturday Evening Post# 142 Design in Tone

The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It’s our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows.
~ Brene Brown

There are two major ways of defining “Tone” in photography.

Pity is they seem to get mixed up by under or over use.

Tone 1. The scientific measurement of the range of dark to light values in a photograph. Formally known as the Characteristic Curve.
The bane of photostudents in the days of filum, as it required astounding numbers of tests, peering through densitometers and calculations from log tables. Never a topic that people qued up to be the first in the door.

Tone 2.  The pictorial use of dark through light to help establish mood and emotion.  Light areas attract the eye, darker areas hold mystery.

Ms Brown, was no photographer, but out of her writings its possible to distill some fine photo-enhancing thoughts.

One of my fav photoshoppie, tool is the Circular Grad Tool. As best I can recall it didn’t make a Photoshop appearance until Photoshop 5 in 1998.
Highlight my subject.  Lighten for emphasis, Darken for mystery.   Use two, one for the subject and one for the backdrop and the eye of the viewer is both drawn and surrounded by the environment without losing the subject.  At least that’s the theory.

Funny how, even having taught the use of the tool, there is always just one more trick up its sleeve.
I was browsing the awesome book, THE DIGITAL NEGATIVE  by the equally awesome Jeff Schewe, (my copy is dog-eared and bursting with postalnotes.) and noticed a technique of resizing each individual side of the Grad Tool when it’s been drawn.  Oh, dear, how come I didn’t know that already.  Big grins.

As a lot of my current softer feel technique is based around the use of the tool, I was somewhat taken back that I hadn’t noticed this small technique.
For the interested, draw the grad as normal, hold down the Alt key and each of the ‘handles’ is independently moveable to match the need of the subject.
Simples.

I’d chosen this image sometime ago to match the good Ms Brown’s quote, so decided that it fitted well with the tonal series.  Bring out the best of the red and orange in her dress and keep the green behind muted and job is done.

Enjoy.

Scarlet Robin, Petroica boodang
. 
She does work hard all summer long, and now the cold weather has set in, its time to throw off the old, and take a new sparkling feather set for the season.

Saturday Evening Post #139.1 : On Dorothea Lange

It’s not often that I need to add something to a Saturday Evening Post.

I was directed to a Youtube site, and as I don’t usually spend much time on there, I’d have been very lucky to have found it even accidentally.

Someone has taken a sound track of Bruce Springsteen’s rendition of a song by Woodie Guthrie that he wrote in the 1930s concerning the “Dust Bowl” refugees in the US as they moved from their devastated farms, west, looking for work. They have also collected a slide show of Dorothea Lange images to go with the music.

Lange and Guthrie were contemporaneous, both approaching the refugee activity in their own way. Dorothea with photos, Woodie with poignant heart-felt words in song.

If you are not a Springsteen fan, and let’s face it sometimes the word are hard to understand, nor are you a fan of his music, at least on this its a very simple guitar accompaniment, the best thing to do is turn the sound down, ponder the words, and become involved with the visuals.

A version of the song by Woodie Guthrie is here

They are not all from her work with the refugees, some are from a series of the “White Angel Breadline” (1933).
(Lois Jordan, a wealthy widow living in San Francisco, known as the White Angel, established a soup kitchen to feed the needy and hungry. With little or no outside funding, Jordan fed more than one million hungry men over a three year period)

What struck me personally was the broad similarity to some of our most pressing social crises.

Such issues as: the Biloela Tamil family, Refugees in detention, and the Homeless on the streets of Melbourne the First Nations people recognition, Yes, even climate change, among so many others.

I wondered what Woodie Guthrie and Dorothea Lange would have done against these predicaments.
Dorothea is quoted as saying, she considered her portrait subjects collaborators and is quoted as saying,”I never steal a photograph.”

Photographically it also had me wondering, “Where are the Great Photographs of these current issues?”

Sadly, I had to conclude we live in a world of visual overload. A photo of an issue is only as fresh as the number of ‘Likes’ it has recieved. Each one has a very limited shelf-life or use-by date. Overwhelmed with the next disaster we are fed a constant steam of images, each catching our attention, but like newspapers of old, (remember newspapers?) tomorrow used to wrap up the scraps for the bin.

Does this mean, or am I inferring, that there are no great photographs nor story-telling photographers, left.
No, of course not.

But as you, hopefully, follow the Youtube link you’ll see how great and powerful a medium photo-journalism can be.

Follow this link

Bruce Springsteen ”I Ain’t Got No Home” – YouTube
Mick Wilbury

I leave you with a Dorothea quote,

“I am trying here to say something about the despised, the defeated, the alienated. About death and disaster, about the wounded, the crippled, the helpless, the rootless, the dislocated. About finality. About the last ditch.” – Dorothea Lange

 

 

Saturday Evening Post #134 : View from the Birdhide Window

Medical Update #1

#kneetoo has been for surgery and after several days of recovery and learning to walk again, I had the good fortune to collect her this morning.

85 steps before breakfast,  the physio said. So how does 90 sound. 🙂
20 more steps per day, means 140 more per week, which equates in one of those logarithmic graphs to a 1000 in just a week or two, and then 5000, and well you get the idea, #kneetoo will be back in the field before I can recharge the camera batteries. 🙂

Seriously, but. Lots of work to do, crutches, walking frame (thankfully Dolly the Trolley has been waiting for this moment) heaps of physio work—coincidentally many of them looking like Tai Chi moves.  I’ve got to do this…  Oh, I said you mean “Part Wild horses Mane”.

I’m not one that is much into blood and gore, so most of the medical stuff gets by me. I go into panic on a paper cut, a slip the kitchen knife is enough for me to sit down for awhile. So most of  Mr Slice’n’Dice’s handiwork is not something I’m going to pursue.  However I am fascinated by the mechanical process of the production of the replacement knee joint. And more particularly how the robotic process results in such a precision job. The attachment joints are something that my old woodwork teacher could have only dreamed about.

Here’s what #kneetoo’s looks like.

Her suite at St Vincent’s In Werribee overlooked Hoppers Lane.  David Nice’s patch. A large window gave her a grand view of the roadway, and traffic and more importantly the gardens and trees on the Uni Campus across the road.  (PS you can just make out the trees over the road in the xray shot, as I took it against the window)
So, in her secure Birdhide window, I’d get daily reports.
What the local pair of magpies have been doing, where they are feeding and roosting.  How the local Willie Wagtails and Magpie Larks were in regular dispute over feeding rights. The three young Hobbies that flew past. And the numbers of Purple-crowned Lorikeets feeding among the flowing gums.  Perhaps I should have taken her in a camera.

So thanks to everyone for their kind words and support. We both really appreciate it all.

While #kneetoo was in ‘confinement’, I took the opportunity of a sunny morning for a quick run to the Western Treatment Plant. Mostly I wanted to see if the Flame Robins had turned up in any numbers.

As I rounded a corner, I saw a Brown Falcon on a tree ahead, slowed and although I knew the bird was too far away, I slipped around iAmGrey to get a better look.
To my surprise her mate, (bit of guess work there), was sitting on a stump, among the grasses and shrubs.  And the light was just about right. No doubt the birds was sitting out of the breeze warming up in the bright morning sunshine. The beautiful rich white chest was on good display.

This is not a bird that I have worked with before, so had no idea what it would do.   He(?) sat for awhile, but it was obvious that my presence made him uncomfortable and I wasn’t going to move any close or to a better angle. I’d worked out his flight path would be down and away from me, so I’d only get one chance at a flight shot. However, he beat me, dropping from the stump, and not wing spreading till he could glide behind one of the bushes.
So I retreated.  Happy to have made the acquaintance, and hoping that a return visit will be a closer experience.

Saturday Evening Post #130 : Renewal

Now that daylight saving has finished for the summer, my early morning pre-breakfast walks are no  longer in the darkness of pre-dawn.

Lots of trees, the bends in the creek, and other shapes that I passed in the darkness, now have detail, colour, and form.

The brilliance of the sparkling stars against their velvet cushion is replaced by soft warm (in kelvin temp) light melding over the scene. Just the brightest of the stars lingers in eye-sight  for the first few minutes.
The warm of the air in the summer mornings is now a crisp autumn bracing tinge but not yet the biting cold of a frosty morning.

Well, at least most days when it’s not overcast and grey all round. 😦

The interesting thing about a change of season is the renewal.
The ancients explained it best by the comings and goings of the mystical Persephone.
She  was the daughter of Demeter, goddess of the harvest. Persephone was kidnapped by that (evil master of darkness) Hades.
Every autumn Persephone returned to her underworld home, taking with her life giving power of seed, and so the ground was barren over the winter months. Then, come spring, “She’s Back” and with her the richness of the spring growth.

All very good for the ancients, but it did provide a good explanation, if somewhat coloured with fantasy of the changes of the seasons.

For us as bird photographers, it often feels like Hades has been at work.
The waders are heading for Siberia, the local Snipe have gone, ready for their ocean hop to Japan, and most bushbirds have finalised their nesting and are settling into winter territories.

We wait for the arrival of the winter flocks and hope to see bright rich red sitting on the fences soon.

Mr An Onymous gave me the heads-up that Flame Robin females were at the 100 Steps park, so we will hopefully this year be able to catch a few sightings.

Winter may in its way bring cold and shorter days, but it also brings renewal as the birds, and the plants have a time to rest up, ready for Persephone to make her re-appearance.

For extra bonus points:
The Degraves Flour mill that used to occupy the Degraves Street location in the heart of Melbourne CBD still has the Degraves family statue of Demeter perched high atop the building.
Here is a clip from Google Maps Street view showing her benevolent oversight of the growth of the city.

(I used to work in that building in another time in the universe)

Saturday Evening Post #118: Feeling the Magic (Part 2)

Tom Brown (Tracker) “Too often we walk in ignorance.”

“Empathy,” writes Jon Young, “is a dangerous word in science, because it taken to mean a less rigorous critical objectivity. “However I’ve noted over the years that those who succeed are those who adopt and empathetic point of view of their study of the birds.”

I rambled a bit last weekend about the importance of ‘the image’ and its affect on the viewers.

To balance that out, I think there is also an affect that happens to the maker. Sadly, not every photo we take is a “Gold Medal Winner.”  Some simply go straight to the big pixel bin in the ether.

But sometimes the photos express not only the feel of the maker, but also the importance of the moment that it was taken.

It’s not all about excellence in technique, the quality of the equipment, nor the visual impact.
Sometimes it’s simply that “I was there, and this is what I saw.”

We, EE and I have been monitoring a nesting pair of Sacred Kingfisher.

As the dear Mrs Beeton says of cooking a Hare, “First Catch your Hare.” Research would show that she wasn’t the first to use that statement in publication, that probably goes to Hannah Glasse, in how to cook a fish. But

I digress.

We had seen the presence of a Kingfisher along the river track, and EE was keen to see where they might be nesting.  We had been photographing Hobbies, with our friend, Neil A, when EE decided to move down the river and seek out the Kingfisher.

Half an hour later, a fateful text arrived. “I’ve found it.”.  Even the great Sherlock Holmes could figure out what ‘it’ was. So I farewelled Neil, and the Hobbies and went for a looksee.
“There”, she pointed. Quite economic of words when the occasion calls, is EE.

So over the next 3 weeks or so we’ve been watching the feeding of the young, and hoping for a quick glimpse to see how big, and how many.

They flew just over a week ago. Two perfect little birds.

Now on the wing, they would be even harder to locate.
By one of those happy co-incidences, there had been a fire in an old hollow tree.  The old skeleton was not only grey, but blackened.  Once the fire had been extinguished, it was necessary to cut down the tree to quench the embers within.
All this meant was a small area was flattened scrub with all the necessary Fire Response people at work.

It opened up the ground and the parent Kingfishers took their young down there to learn the finer points of hunting on the ground.

Eminently suitable for photography, and we sat on some of the burnt logs and watched the young explore the area, catch their first bugs, and rest on the downed limbs of the tree quite close to where we were sitting. They were so enthralled by the outside world that they took no notice of  us and gave us the wonderful opportunity to watch them at work, and to photograph them in a relaxed way for both bird and image maker.
Empathy.

Jon Young, “There has to be a moment from heart, spirit, soul and body.”
“Its about taking the time to tune-in, not just show up, but really tune-in—and learn a thing or two about what the birds already know.

Feeling and sharing “The Magic”

Field Notes Book: Attack is the Best Stragergy

Open fields and paddocks are of course a mecca for various raptors. Around the Werribee River Park (aka The Office), Black and Whistling Kites, Swamp Harriers and Brown Falcons usually make frequent appearances.
Presently however because of better conditions further north perhaps, there is only a handful of  raptors in the area.

As the Australian Hobby clutch hatched and the young grew, the parents became much more pro-active, and protective of the growing young.  One morning they had several encounters with Swamp Harriers and Whistling Kites.

The female was now sitting out of the nest, high up on well sighted perch. Any raptor that approached recieved a serious warning call, and if that didn’t work, a much louder, more rapid call, that also drove her from the perch in hot pursuit.  The male would arrive, usually from on high, several moments later.

Unlike Peregrines, Hobbies seem to make much more shallow stoops, presumably they cannot really physically attack the much larger Kites, so a game of bobbing across the sky, with quick shallow dives on the intruder is probably to put it off the job in hand, and eventually drive it from the area.

Welcome to the action.

  • Seriously you want to wander into my territory. Go ahead make my day.

  • A Swamp Harrier defending against a stoop

  • Here we go again. She is  rocketing out from among the trees. Warp Speed.

  • A Whistling Kite trying to deal with two attacking Hobbies.

  • Coming out of a stoop must really initiate a powerful ‘g’ force on the body.  From flat out to cruising in the blink of an eye.  You can see the angle of the wings changing and the air breaking over the back as the airflow changes.

  • After all the action has quietened down, the male quickly returned with a  top-up meal.

  • Hopefully see the young next week.

Photographic Essay: Mother Duck Said…

There is cute and then there is really cute, and then.  There is Pacific Black Ducklings.

EE and I had spent an evening in the formal gardens at Werribee Mansion in the warm afternoon sunshine.

The gardens support an ornamental lake, that on occasions has quite an eclectic mix of waterbirds.  But not so much at the moment.  I think the water is a little too ‘fresh’ because of all the rain run off, and the high water level doesn’t have much opportunity for wading birds.

Not so of course for your enterprising Pacific Black Duck.  These birds are quite the masters of adaption to the around.  While everyone else has been in lockdown or away from the area, we found a mother duck and her precious little bundles enjoying the lake practically to themselves.

At first we watched three or four scoot around on top of the water. Then another one among the reeds, then another further down the pool, and then another…

Mum decided all this water activity was good, but it was time for a sit in the dry on the grassy side of the pond.
So out she jumped and the little yellow bundles all followed behind. 1, 2, skip a few—10.

A little bit of preening, mini wing stretches and Mum decided a nap was on the list.  So she settled down, and they began to position themselves under her bulging wings.

We moved to the other side of the lake, and about 20 minutes later on the way out, found that it was time for the fluff balls to take a walk over the freshly mown lawns.  Funny to see them tumble about across the grass.

 

Click on a galllery pic for a larger view

Saturday Evening Post #109: On the Edge

Rim Lighting: The technique gets its name from the fact that lighting a subject in this way produces a thin line or ‘rim’ of light which appears to cling to the subjects outline. Using rim light lifts the subject from the background in images rendered predominantly in shadow.

Another from the old “Lighting” notebook.

Rim lighting at its very simplest, isolates the subject from the background. It has the wonderful ability to bring out and emphasise the shape of the subject.

A light source is always behind the subject, a fine line of light following the subject’s shape.
It can be a mood of drama, mystery, strength and isolation.

An instructor I worked with early in my photo journey used to say of studio work, “First we put in a rim light, then keep adding lights to bring out the quality of the subject.  When that balance is correct, we stop and make the exposure.”

For outdoor portraiture, or product photography, that light is almost always the sun. It’s one of the reasons we work early in the morning with hard raking light to give long shadows, or in the late afternoon as the light dances through the dust and atmospherics at the end of the day.

Then, exposure is always something to contemplate.  Not always easy to add light to a bird in shade, or in deep shadow of full sun. Enter fill-in flash, or even a reflector of some sort, and by the time it’s all setup, the bird has either flown, or died of old age. 🙂

Willie Wagtail was out and about in the early morning sunshine.  To my delight it chose to stop on a nearby limb with the light streaming toward me.  Against the shady darker backdrop, the ideal setup for rim lighting made me stop and take notice.

I love this light enough to share a second image for Saturday Night.

Different lighting indeed.  Early morning, but overcast. My little hero, of the broken nest, was encouraging the girls in their rebuilding of a new nest.

He was under some overhanging branches and the light was pretty close to non-existent. So it meant  slower shutter, larger apertures and greater ISO. But in one of those lovely quirks of nature, as he turned on the old branch,  enough light came from the open areas behind him to trickle just a little light through his translucent fluffed-out feathers. Who said photography is difficult.