Saturday Evening Post #45: Risk Assessment

I saw a warning sign on the tool chest in the back of an RACV Roadside vehicle the other day.

Warning before beginning work have you made a Risk Assessment.

Good advice I thought for someone working on car repairs on the side of the road with cars, buses and trucks speeding by, each driver totally self-obsessed in their own world of radio, wifi, facebook and family troubles.

Good advice, I thought too for your average photographer at work on the beach. 🙂

We had spent the morning, in the sunshine—let it be said, around Point Cook. We had arrived at low tide, and around this area the tide recedes in some places out as much as 100 m or more exposing lots of interesting little rock pools and seagrass beds and rocks that mark the edge of the shallows.

Normally terns, cormorants and gulls are the usual suspects.  And occassionally when the wind is right, strong winds coming inshore, Australasian Gannets that patrol up and down, just out of camera reach.
However on this day, with a strong off-shore wind, the gannets were working along the area just out beyond the farthest exposed rocks. I don’t know for sure, but hazard a guess they were going down to around the Werribee River mouth, turning north and the gliding past us, about midway to their turn around somewhere near Altona, at the Kororoit Creek outlet or Jawbone Park.  Just a guess.  About a 15 min and 10 min turn around time.

So after watching several passes and buckling on the TC1.4 Televerter for a bit of extra gain, I pondered, I could walk along the dry sand/mud, step on a few stones and be close to the action.

That would work.

So I set out. Ever alert as a big wave might squash my plans, or perhaps the tide would turn and maroon me out on the dwindling dry ground around the rocks.
As I stepped over one puddle to another, it was apparent that the tide was indeed turning, as the little riverlets of water were heading in to fill the pools near the beach.  Risk Assessment time.

I ventured on to the far rocks and waited 10 minutes and of course the gannets didn’t turn up on time. Look behind me, ok, dry land all the way. Wait.
10 more minutes and the first gannets begin patrolling down toward me. Still a bit too far out for great results.  They disappear up the bay. Wait.

15 minutes later, and a look behind indicates that I’m running out of time. And the birds appear.  Remember that TC? Well at 700mm focal length, the closest bird overwhelmed the frame.  Quickly take off TC, balance on rock, hope not to drop expensive optical devices on the rock or worse into the salt water. Risk Assessment zero!

Another 10 minutes and the birds are patrolling again. Not as close as the first pass, but I’m running out of options.
Look behind. Water is beginning to fill in some of the lower pools and its all a few minutes from joining together and wet feet slog home.  Risk Assessment.
Retire now to survive for another day.

Australasian Gannets are interesting in Port Philip Bay.  They roost on several of the navigational structures around the bay and on a man-made island called, “Pope’s Eye” near Queenscliffe.
Some reseach, indicates that the birds that fly up and down the coast line on the western side are primarily males.  In other areas it’s pretty much a 60% female, 40% male mix.

I also discovered the link to a web cam on Pope’s Eye.

If you’ve ever wondered what goes on in a gannet colony, and you wanted to avoid getting wet, travelling to Portland, and the smell, then this is well worth the few minutes to view. Solar powered it only functions in good weather.
It cycles a pre-recording if the live feed is off.  Bet you can’t wait for tomorrow.

Here it is.

 

And here is the quick Fly By.

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Saturday Evening Post: #44 Peace

The white dove occurs in the legends and stories of many cultures as a symbol of peace.

Over the past several weeks, a number of family, friends, acquaintances and their families have had to deal with a range of challenging circumstances.

Details aren’t necessary, but a moment to pause and reflect and to reach out is.

In times of emotional or physical hardship, it’s easy to feel hopeless so for all people who are struggling with life-altering challenge.

 

May healing and peace come on swift wings.

Saturday Evening Post #43: Don’t Look Away

We had located a bird, not a ‘lifer’, but one that we see so infrequently.

Problem number one, was, it was ensconced in a old dead bush. Probably a melaleuca or a prickly wattle.  And there the bird was, happy in its quite secure ‘fortress’.

Take a shot or two, just for the record. Walk about a bit, nope, no clear shot that side either.
Bird flys.

Hey, it’s out in the open with a rolling hill behind for a soft backdrop.  Hmmm bird photography is so easy.  Approach, secure a nice frame. Now to wait for a lift off for wing details.
The light goes. Deep clouds gather and the shutter speed drops. Deceivingly low.
Oh, of course the Vibration Reduction, (IS or VR), will take up the slack. But, that is never the case.

Maybe crank up the ISO. Well there goes the feather detail.
So I wait, slowing shutter speed, dwindling light, and hoping the bird will fly.  Watching.  Watching.
Watching.

Light goes to porridge. Shutter speed splutters to a slow crawl.

Time to make some adjustments.
And.

As I pulled the camera down to :
(A) Reset the ISO up a stop,
and
(B) bring the shutter speed up a half stop.

The bird, without warning dropped of the perch and to the frantic warning cries of honeyeaters and thornbills took off along the treeline.

I’d not even rotated the dial yet.

I’ve quoted Ming Thein before, but just in case you missed it.

From Ming Thein

“If you are waiting for something to happen to get a shot, you must be hyper vigilant at all times until you can no longer stand it or have your concentration broken for you: because the minute you turn away, decide to take a pee, sneeze, or pack up for the day…what you’ve been waiting for will happen”

Wise words Ming.

There is so much to be said for having confidence in the camera and the setting I’m using.  Not needing to think, “Oh, I’ll try this or that, or perhaps do this.” I rarely chimp, most I’ll do is check that the exposure is close to where I want it.  If its a touch on the light side when I glance at the LCD then I’m happy.  Any changes are what the sliders in the photo app are for.

For the same reason, I don’t use auto ISO. I just can’t predict where the shutter speed will go.  (Aperture is always the one variable I don’t vary)

Yet, I got in the mail the other day another mail about another ‘Artificial Intelligence” (AI) software that will turn my images into
“Stunning views of your subject”.  Yep, I was stunned.

Can’t imagine how AI is going to be there at just the right moment when the bird unfurls the sails and floats away.

I waited for this Black-shouldered Kite.  No changes of settings.
Just waited.
And eventually, it looked, and lifted off.
Who said Bird Photography was hard.

1906-25_DWJ_6749
From the EXIF 1/3200 @f/5.6 ISO 400. Yep, that’s what I’d have expected

Saturday Evening Post #42 “I’m Not a Lifesaver”

No doubt you will have seen as the credits in a magazine, newpaper or book for Photo by AFP.

AFP is a noted news service that goes all the way back to 1835. AFP are the initials for “Agence France-Presse”.

They currently have over 400 photographers-photojournalists at work on stories in war zones, policitcal events, and just about everything in between that is newsworthy.

One of their photographers has recently come to my attention.

His name is Aris Messinis, a Greek photographer.

The image that has created my interest in his work, and his life, and his compassion, was  a photo taken in March 2017 in Iraq, in Mosul, at the time of the ‘libertation’ of the township from the oppression of Islamic State, (ISIS).  I don’t have access to the image, and below is a quick copy from a magazine in an iPad display.  I don’t normally put other photographers work on this blog, but none the less, to explain it would be much to difficult. And I can’t locate a reference site to give it full credit.  The copyright is the work of Aris Messisnis.  His work is worth more than a second glance.

What caught me with the power of the image, built around the smoke, dust and haze behind the couple, that cover, yet hints at the destruction. While the glace behind is both protective and fearful.  The touch of the family belongings in the single yellow plastic bag holds both their possessions and the centre of their life away from the misery behind.

In October 2015 on the Island of Lesbos (Lesvos), he covered the story of refugees making the prerilous crossing of the Mediterranean looking for a new start to life.

During this assigment, Aris crossed a line that many of his peers feel must never be broken. He put down his camera and helped the people he was sent to photograph. Several photos of him helping children, and babies to safety through the surf surely testify to his involement as more than just a observer of the human condition.  He called out his fellow photographers for not helping a boat that had capsised and plunged its overloaded passengers into the water, “You could take all the pictures you needed, and then lent a hand to help. Why didn’t you?’

The response.  “I’m a photographer, not a lifeguard.”

This is a photo by Petros Tsakmakis. The photo is not one of those ‘set’ for the moment, Aris carried a number of children that day. Petros took quite a number of Aris carrying in young children

Here is a link to a full story by Aris. https://neoskosmos.com/en/33347/aris-messinis-afp-photographer-blog-refugee-crisis-lesvos/

Please be aware, that there are, as they say on the tele news, “Some quite confronting images on the site”.

 

Aris says, “I respect the need to be objective, but in our personal time, when we are not working, we are human.”

 

Thank God he was human.

Photos shared on the site are the work of Aris Messinis and Petros Tsakmakis. I acknowledge the copyright to be theirs or their associated companies.

 

Saturday Evening Post: #39 Decisive Moment

Photography is one of those great expressive mediums that, unlike, say, painting, words, sculpture or dance, to name a few, relies on the moment. At the press of the shutter, the motif is set.  An author can rework a sentence, paragraph, chapter or even a complete manuscript.  Painters leave in, or add in necessary parts of the subject to provide just the right story.

Famed street photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson,  —HCB—(he was much more than that), coined a term “The Decisive Moment”.  Often quoted in photo blogs, books, magazines and the like, (including this one it seems),  yet rarely understood in the context with which he gave it life.

Here’s a good working definition:

“The decisive moment refers to capturing an event that is ephemeral and spontaneous, where the image represents the essence of the event itself.”

As Captain Barbosa in “Pirates of the Caribbean” says, ” There be lots of long words in there, and we’re naught but humble pirates.”

Reams have been written, and great theses developed to explain what HCB might or might not have meant.
He also said, “To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event.”

and then this, “Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again.”

That sounds more like my bird photography in the field.

It’s been quite awhile, since we’ve been able to find, let alone work with Eastern Yellow Robins, but EE’s perseverance hung out again this past week, and we managed a few minutes in the You Yangs with an active feeding bird.
After several relocations and changes in light, I was getting a feel to the actions of the bird.

And because of the morning light getting a reasonable balance of fore and background from the hard light was a challenge. Find bird in viewfinder, move about for best background.

Then it landed on a single upright branch. After several shots against dark and light backdrops I settled on the light on dark approach, and the bird turned into the lighter side.  I waited.  And then almost imperceptibly, the ‘significance of an event’ occurred as the bird bobbed as it lined up the next meal, and then slid of the perch.
Nailed it.

1906-30_DWJ_7466

 

 

 

 

Saturday Evening Post :29 “Salty”

Meet “Salty”.
I don’t know if that its real name, but an old sea dog deserves a distinguished name.

EE and I were at the Werribee South beach photographing Pelicans.  Hmm, there is a post somewhere back there about the adventure.

I turned round ‘seaward’, to see a bloke, and his kayak and his dog, paddling along the water’s edge. Salty had a front row seat on the kayak.

Not sure if I’m more impressed by Salty’s excitement about being on the sea, or the owner’s clever solution for holding the plastic bucket on top of the kayak.

Took me back to me childhood of messing about in boats on the mighty Murray River. Among some of our summer fun as growing lads was a small skiff which plied the river from dawn to dark, and carried home our catch for the day.  Sometimes it was a pirate ship, sometimes a mighty naval vessel, and sometimes it, just like us kids, ‘went exploring’.  And always in the company of one or two of the family dogs.
One particular dog, I’ve talked about here before. “Puppy, or Dog’, depending on who was talking, and what were the circumstance, was a Blue-Heeler cross Fox Terrier, with a snippet of whippet thrown in for good measure.

Like Salty, Dog would sit up in the bow, or sometimes hang off the stern fascinated by the rippling water passing by. So it was a little bit nostalgic for me to watch the delight and exuberance of Salty as they sailed by.

They returned an hour or so later, and I saw them disembark on the pier about 500m from where I was standing.  Salty, jumped onto the pier, a few quick shakes, and look around, it then trotted off the pier in search of new adventures.

I love to see dogs without collars and tags,—I’m an anarchist, or perhaps a iconoclast when it comes to having to id my ‘stuff’. I’m not against the registering of animals etc, just the need for them to carry such id as a sign of being ‘owned’ by some human type person. Dog was never owned, it shared its life with us, and in return we shared with it. She didn’t need a ‘tag’ to know she was part of our family. And for all those who have had such relationships, you know no-one can break that bond.

So sail on Salty, may the kayak take you on many an adventure, “yo, ho ho, it’s a pirates life for me!”

 

Saturday Evening Post: #27

We had the opportunity the other day to be in Williamstown, and as there had been several reports of Eastern Spinebill at the Botanic Gardens, we took it as too good an opporuntity not to go see.

Established in 1856 after a petition from the local residents, a 10 acre site was set aside and developed.  The formal garden layout was by Edward La Trobe Bateman who had also designed the Carlton Gardens. The Willamstown Gardens were opened in 1860, and as was fitting for the time, must have a extravagant gala event.
Today, the gardens have an elegance that belies their small size.

We managed a warm sunshine day, and as those who laboured through my Dean of Light blog sometime back will recall, I have been experimenting with old exposure techniques and manual settings.
Which as it worked, worked well for me when we found the Spinebills as they were on a salvia bush in the shade.
But there were small fingers of light coming through the tall trees on the Gardens border and making their way to highlight small areas of the foliage.
And that is where a Spinebill chose to hover.
I managed to be working on  mid tone for the bush and 2 1/2 stops from there is White (see I’m going to keep going back to Dean’s method), And that is just about where the bird’s face in the sun fell in the technical wizardry we call Exposure.

A little tweak in post to get the shadow area up and we could see the detail of those amazing hovering wings.
As the bird was busy extracting the nectar, its head/bill and body were stationary and so  slower shutter speed kept the wings in motion, while the body was sharp.

Enjoy

Saturday Evening Post #22 DJ’s “Cazenaux Tree”

-During the early 1900s photographers were beginning to really push out the boundaries of the technologies and they sought to work to a “Pictorial Style”, soft out-of-focus areas, misty muted tones, concentration on the ‘feel’ of the moment rather than the subject. All sorts of add-on techniques were used to get just the right ‘experience’. —Sound familiar? anyone who has downloaded Presets for Lightroom, Photoshop or added a Topaz or Nik filter will recognise the style.  Nothing new under the sun.

At the other extreme of creative work were clubs of photographers seeking a more realistic style. One such group was an American Group of 7 photographers, including Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, and Edward Weston. They formed a group called “f/64″, named of course for the greater depth of field and enhanced sharpness. Now there is more to this than just a few lines here will bring, because at the back of it all was a political movement or action for change, going on. Part of their manifesto included: ” … the battle against the tide of oppressive pictorialism” (What@!!)

f/64 and other similar US based groups had a marketing strength and became quite well known.  Not so well known were similar groups in Australia. One was the Sydney Camera Circle, establishing the “Sunshine Circle”. One of its members was  Harold Cazenaux, and part if its manifesto included, “…to work and to advance pictorial photography and to show our own Australia in terms of sunlight rather than those of greyness and dismal shadows…”  The rest of the story is for you to consult the Google University.

Here are a couple of links

http://www.photo-web.com.au/AustPictorial/default.htm
https://www.weekendnotes.com/cazneauxs-tree-flinders-ranges/

And no doubt there are more.

One of his most enduring or endearing or defining photographs was made in the Flinders Ranges, near Wilpena Pound.
It was titled, “Spirit of Endurance” and features an old large River Red Gum on the edge of a dry creek bed, with the Pound in the background.

BirdLife Werribee, formerly Werribee Wagtails, conduct a number of quarterly bird counts in several area, on one of the properties stands a large Red Gum, and when I first spied it, I immediately thought of Harold Cazenaux’s photograph. Here is a link to an online copy of his image. https://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/collection/works/134.1975/
And note that all the shots usually shown these days on the web do not seem to have the same perspective as Harold’s original.  The Answer:  He flipped the negative during printing.

I’ve walked past my stately gum a few times over the years, and each time, promising to bring out the right lens and be there on the right light to give the tree the majesty and presence it needs, to depict its stand against the forces of nature.

Now, I do not in anyway expect my poor humble image of a tree to even cause a dent in the majesty of Harold’s grand moment. However it is true that we stand on the shoulders of Giants.

We had a morning out on the farm, Mr An Onymous, The award winning Chris, he of Eyenesbury fame and a BirdLife representative, and while the others strolled around and discussed bird counting details, I went down to my “Cazenaux Tree’ armed with the 70-200 Zoom, and managed a fair to happy composition.  I had tried wideangle, but it doesn’t give the power of the tree in balanced perspective.

Had I made this on the reliable old Linhoff Super Tecnika, 5×4 inch,  I’d have used an Ilford FP3 emulsion, deep yellow filter, slow development in diluted D.23 developer and would have printed the resulting soft negative on a wonderful Kodak paper called “Royal Bromesko”. But.

I shot it on the D7100 and ran it through Nik Silver Efex Pro, and added a slight yellow/brown for the same effect.

Capturing the tree, in terms of our own Australian Sunlight.

Enjoy

When it comes to Landscape, I must admit to being very old school. The awesomeness of the bulk of the tree and its survival with its wound had to be the hero of the moment.

 

 

Saturday Evening Post: #21 A Piece of Paper, part two

*Don’t adjust your calendar, late night Saturday Evening, early Start Sunday, missed my deadline 🙂 *

I finished last weekend’s post needing to know.

The following day after school, I headed for the local library. Small country town, it wasn’t going to have a lot of books devoted to photography, the practice and theory.

Still, to my surprise now to recall, they did have several books in the children’s section.  In those far off days, my library card was marked “Children” and I couldn’t imagine going into the ‘Adult’ section.

I went straight to the card catalogue and looked through the cards to find “Photography”, and there it was 4 cards if I remember. Reciting the magic number in my head, I made a beeline to the shelves.
One of the books, the name I shamefully have forgotten was something like, “The Young Photographer“, and it was superbly written. It had answers to all the questions I had and lots of things to practice and in the end, I probably borrowed it dozens of times.
A second book was “All in One Camera Book” by E D Emmanuel for Focal Press, and it began a relationship with Focal books that has continued to this day. All in One I think was cleverly conceived and simply illustrated. It went through many revisions, but how it explained Aperture, Shutter and Light, and reciprocity was light-years ahead of the also-ran info I stumble across on the internet all the time.

So armed with these venerable tour guides my journey began.

After I’d borrowed the Emmanuel book for about the third time, a kindly librarian noted my interest and said, “Would you like to look in the Adult section and see if there is anything that might help.” Isn’t it funny how some simple things just happen.

So every so gingerly and reverently I crept into the adult section, by then I even knew the right catalogue number 771.

I skimmed through a large folio book. It was something like, “Great Photographers”, and had names I had never heard of, Weston, Adams, Karsh, Minor White, David Duncan Douglas, and W. Eugene Smith. (I’d never heard of Eugene as a name so that was fascinating to begin with— and I was seriously impressed by someone who would put their first name Initial.  I had a lot to learn as a country kid).

The book had several Smith pictures, one of which was Albert Schweitzer in clinic in Africa. Here is a link http://www.alteredimagesbdc.org/eugene-smith-albert-schweitzer/

And I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to take my camera to Africa and photograph Schweitzer. This time I knew, but I didn’t know what I needed to know.
So I borrowed the book and learned why the Masters work had such power to move our minds.

And I sat each night in the laundry making contract prints of the flowers in the garden, my family, and off course the legendary Blackie. Reading my precious Young Photographer, learning how to make great quality prints and dreaming.
A long way from Africa, but I could dream dreams.

Cumberland Homestead ruins Gum and Aloe Vera
28mm with a Polarising Screen.

A Day like No Other

We’ve been cooped up inside since EE’s “Incident” a few weeks back. But with some improvement and a bit of willpower, she decided that a morning visit with Eloise would be therapeutic. And well, who am I to argue with the ‘good doctor’.  So a check on the weather, and it seemed early morning would be still, great light and not too hot.

A couple of kind souls offered the advice when we arrived, “Don’t Hurry.  She’s not here yet”.  And like one of those prophetic statements that just becomes self-fulfilling, it did. While we waited around,  EE sitting quietly on her new ‘mobile’ seat,  didn’t take long to discover some thing that most others  had overlooked.

A family of Spotted Pardalote had nested in the cliff bank, just below the edge, and as there were quite a number of exposed roots offering great perches in the sunshine, the little birds were moving back and forth encouraging their young ones out into the open.

By mid-morning and a reassuring cuppa of Grey of Earl, we pretty much concluded that Eloise was fishing elsewhere this fine morning.

About that time our flickr mate, Derek turned up hoping to try out his new 500mm f/5.6 PF lens, so I had a chance to ooh, and ahhh, and drool just as bit.  Hope he has remarkable success with it, and it does look a great lens to walk about with. EE even tried on the mobile and expressed interest. So there goes my bank balance I’m thinking.  Mind with the shortage of the lenses worldwide, I should have ample time to save up enough bottletops and bits of string by this time next year for her lens. 🙂

New lenses must be in the air, as I’ve taken control of a 70-200 f/4, for a beaut walkabout narrow landscape lens.  It also works a treat on birds, if I can get close enough.  Funny how sometimes equipment just ‘feels’ right.  I’ve only ever had that happen to a few lenses I’ve owned, but the little 70-200 is sweet. Thinks back to when I purchased a 30-100mm Powerzoom for the Nikon 1 system.  I just loved to carry that lens around, but could never get inspired to make great pictures. But  it felt like the Tao just flowed from it.

Mike Johnson of the “Online Photographer” has this to say about Laws of Lenses, if you want a bit of a smile. https://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/2019/02/mikes-seven-laws-of-lenses.html

Sadly our morning ended without the Lady making an entrance.

So to work.

Australasian Darter hanging out the sheets to dry

 

Little Black Cormorants. They surfaced and almost immediatley went under again

 

Grey Teal

 

Way across the river at the golf club, Toby the Kelpie and his friend the Blue Heeler were helping the groundspeople prepare the greens for the morning

 

I often talk about a “Day at the Office” on the blog. This is looking over the river toward that area

 

Lots of Australian White Ibis entertained us with the landing styles

 

Female Spotted Paralote at the river’s edge
Another view of the Spotted Pardalote

 

Juvenile Spotted Pardalote

 

A male Superb Fairywren about to go into eclipse. I rather wonder if its not a previous season male who is getting ready to move out into the world on his own

Saturday Evening Post #20: A Piece of Paper

It was only a small piece of paper, about 75mm square (2 1/2x 2 1/2 inches to be precise).

It was sitting on the bench top, vivid in its whiteness against the dark top.
Next to it sat three small plastic trays. Each contained a clear fluid.

I was given a small pair of metal tongs and told to pick up the paper and place it in the first tray. I did.

It sat on the top of the liquid and surface tension took over and it stayed floating only partially submerged. “Push it under”.  I did.

A clock with big hands started to tick the background.

And.  Nothing much else happened.

And after about a minute as I peered at the wet paper under the orange glow of the ‘safelight’, a faint change began to occur. Light grey blurs began to appear, and slowly they became shapes and the shapes took on form and tone, and eerily out of the white paper a photo of “Blackie” our cat, began to emerge.

After the clock ticked off its time, I transferred, Blackie, with a considerable reverence, into the second and then the third trays.  Several minutes later, “Mind your eyes, ” Dad said, and the room lights were turned on. And there sitting in the dish was indeed a photograph of Blackie. And, more importantly for the moment, one that I had produced.

I was hooked. At around 12 years of age, my life, as they say—changed, and a direction for life was set.  I not only wanted to know, I knew that I wanted to know more about this fascinating process that could make white paper into a real photograph.

It was a contact print from a negative that I’d made some days before.  And, yet, it was,in all its monochrome glory, a Photograph.

I had to know.  And in a small country town, I knew where to look.
The local library.

The journey continues.

Enjoy a great week.

_DSC9281 - Version 2_Aperture_preview
This is Thomas, my nextdoor neighbour’s cat. Tom used to come for visits and would sit in the sunshine on the window sill of the front of the house and watch the garden. Thomas is a rich ginger cat. Guess which colour filter I used to bring out the best in his rich ginger markings. I’ve resisted adding a tonal colour.

 

(The negative of Blackie the cat is long gone.)
The Header shot is pretty much a direct B+W conversion from colour.  No clever stuff, just Tom and I would spend lots of time working window lighting for effect.

 

Saturday Evening Post #19 : Becoming a Beginner Again

Went to a talk the other night by a birding expert, Sean Dooley. One of the things he spoke about resonated with me as I’d just been pondering the way photography has affected my life, even from the time I was a young’un.

He told a tale of how as a a little tacker, he’d been watching and recording birds for a while in his local swamp at Seaford.  One day a bird landed, that was not of the usual residents.  He immediately knew it to be a Glossy Ibis. A bird that only migrated down on occasions and while not rare, was at least unusual for his area.  He explained the excitement he felt, first in finding or seeing the bird, and then in knowing what it was, and in knowing something about it from his studies.  That excitement was what drove him to spend a year long project seeing as many birds in Australia as possible.  He then wrote a book.

Steve Jobs is reputed to have said, after being fired from Apple the first time, “The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again.”

My current mentor has got me thinking along those same lines.  What is it like to be committed to the photograph, not just the process, but the excitement of making the image.

To becoming a beginner again and being committed to the photograph itself, and in turn not letting the subject down.

There is of course a number of sides to this commitment.
Here’s another.

Being in the field is a profound experience.  It’s what makes bird photography such a noble pursuit. It isn’t just the photography that matters, nor bringing back a technically perfect image. But, rather being out in the field that shapes our souls. To take the time to listen, look, and to see. It’s what makes it difficult and at the same time its such a deep experience.
It’s not about the trophy shot, but about learning to sit and contemplate the beautiful mysteries of life.

Gotta go, I’ve a day in the field ahead. Time to become a beginner again.

Eloise bedecked in late aftenoon light. The shape and tone of the simplification to monotone adds its own element.

Saturday Evening Post #18: For the Love of the Photograph

Sorry about the unsharp image, my fault really, shot it with a Teleconverter attached. <VBG> 🙂

Been having a few interesting discussions with the photofraternity of late, and one of the things pointed out is how unreliable Teleconverters are, and the Nikon 2.0eII in particular. After all, as was explained to me, “All the forums agree that the Nikon TC2.0eII is unreliable, and unsharp”.

My defense of course was a shrug of the shoulders and pat the TC 2.0 on the 300 f/2.8 I was using at the time and saying I was happy with the results. Which probably would have bought fits of laughter, but a bird turned up and everybody swung in to action to capture a 4 pixel size image of the bird about 70metres away.  But, I consoled myself at least they would be sharp pixels, unlike my less than ideal results. 😉

I recall a quote by David DuChemin, “I make photographs, I don’t take them, shoot them, capture them or snap them. I do what I do to see the world differently and to show others what I see and feel. And yes. It did look like that when seen through my eyes, mind and heart.

The tools of my craft are the camera and lens.  The tools of my art are my passion, and vision. It’s not how we make our photographs that matters but what we make of them. The camera and lens is irrelevant to the pursuit of beauty, and authenticity. It’s how I see the light,  chase the wonder and bring it to life. There is too much to see and create to waste time.”

So, I guess I’ll just have to put up with losing sharpness because of my persistence in using such inferior equipment that can’t pass the ‘pixel peeping test’.

Just for the record, the image is handheld, 300mm f/2.8 +TC 2.0e at 600mm equivalent (angle of view). D500, on an overcast day.

The header image is from the camera JPEG. The trailer image converted via  Adobe Camera Raw  7.1. Wasn’t trying for an exact match, rather two interpretations.

Sorry they aren’t sharper.

Can’t imagine how good they would have looked if I’d been using a Canon 600mm with stacked converters from 70 metres away. 🙂

Back to sanity next week—normal transmissions will resume.

Seeya Along the Track

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Saturday Evening Post #17 Along the Track with Crosbie Morrison

When I was a mere broth of a lad, and photography was something my Mum did with the family box camera, there was a radio show on a Sunday Evening on our local radio station.
We didn’t google, facebook, instagram or snapchat. Stange as that may sound, and we didn’t have an endless range of tv programmes to watch, we didn’t even have tv.  We had Radio.

On Sunday Evening “Along the Track” with Crosbie Morrison would take  a young lad on a journey into some form of the natural history.  Interestingly enough, at the height of his popularity, and it was syndicated all over Australia, its been estimated that he had a listener base of 75% of the radios in australia. (how one determines such number crunching, ohhh and ahh, is beyond me. 1/125 of a second at f/16 still amazes me!)

From possums, to crocodiles, blue wrens to electricity generation, we all went along the Track with Morrison and dreamed big bold dreams.

Did his talks bring out the inquisitive, insightful need to know about things in natural history.  Who knows, but I do remember being glued to the radio as he explained about a spider that someone had sent him in a matchbox, or the migratory skill of birds around the world.  David Attenborough is as close as the tv audience of today gets to that. But, and this I think is where radio was so adept. Without the visuals.  We explored it all in the theatre of our mind.

One thing that legacy still holds for me, is an interest in even the most common of creatures.

I was fascinated last evening while working with some wader and sandpipers, of how long, long, long the legs of a Pied Stilt are.  Normally see them knee-deep in water and its  hard to appreciate the length of those long pink legs.
This one graced me by wading out of the shallows and standing on the water’s edge long enough for me to make a frame.

Enjoy