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

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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

1902-08_DWJ_9233_NX2

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

Saturday Evening Post #16 The Violin and the Camera

Came across a quote from David DuChemin the other day—yes, I’m still reading his book(s).

“For most of us we picked up the camera because putting the viewfinder to out eye and expressing ourselves through the photo was the most magical thing ever”.
Of course he is talking to photographers that may not have the same background, intent or purpose that i have when I go out to photograph birds.  Yet, at one level, looking through the viewfinder and see the amazing actions, beauty and story of these feathered creatures applies in some way.

Sometimes it getting the best possible technical picture of the bird, sometimes its the challenge of making the hardware perform, or using the right technique or choosing the right sliders in the software to enhance our meagre vision.

But, in the same way that a violin does not play the music itself, a camera does not make a photo by itself. Yet sometimes as photographers we begin to think the new camera, lens or software will finally give us the golden images in our journey. i wonder if the master violinist would treat their beloved instrument the same way we seem to deal with our technology.
“Oh, look there is a new 10megamusic  violin, and it comes with built-in memory.” Every musician rushes for the new instrument.  “Hey, look they’ve just released a 24megmusic model, its got bluetooth and dynamic range speakers” Suddenly last year’s model is not longer being played.  “Announcing the breathtaking new highly advanced 46megmusic with interchangeable neck and internet upload capability.”
The skill of the master musician is not only in the music, but also in their use of the instrument. A new model does not make up for the many years of patient, dedicated and sometimes exhausting practice that they have put in to hone their craft. To make it art.

So I ponders, to meself, and then to blogosphere, and of course you dear, suffering reader, why will the next great breakthrough in camera technology increase the hit rate I get.  Or should I instead be working on resonance with my subject.  Self-answering question.

As someone once said, “If I’m more interested in the destination than the journey, I’m going to be disappointed if I don’t get there immediately, and disappointed when I do.”

The Tao master Lao Tzu said it this way, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Forget the end result When you arrive, you’ll start a new journey”, or something pretty similar to those words. 🙂
Nature it seems never forces anything to grow.   Yes step by step, tiny bug, by tiny bug, the juvenile Dusky Woodswallow will emerge as an adult. Ready to start its own journey of discovery.

Good luck.

 

 

Postcards: Confessions of a Serial Event Attender

Our friends in the Conservation Dept. at Hobson’s Bay City Council, were running a bus tour through the Cheetham Wetlands.  An area that is off limits to public use. We, Mr An Onymous and I had secured seats, so rocked up early to be sure we’d not miss a moment.

As I was entering the Point Cook Coastal Park, carpark, I noted a Brown Falcon at rest in a usual lookout spot.  It was quite close to where they had nested earlier in the season, so it was good to make a reacquaintance.

 

The rest of our group turned up, some new faces, and several other friends.  I’m beginning to feel like a Serial Event Attender. Open the gates, and I walk on in.

Bernie the local Parks Vic ranger was on hand to guide us about for the day, and to explain lots of the interesting parts of the former Cheetham Salt Works.  The need to control the water flow through the old ponds is a major part of his work, and it’s always interesting to learn how he works out the levels.
We also had the chance to meet Cristal from Latrobe Uni who is running a programme with the Red-capped Plovers that not only roost in the area, but in spite of what appears harsh conditions regularly nest on the salt flats over summer.  Her programme at present is working out the various calls between the parents and the chick in the egg. Cristal, (hope I got the spelling right), has all sorts of high end recording equipment out with the nest sites across the area.  She was happy to announce that several young had been successfully hatched in the past few days.

So we set off. Andrew, our ‘uber driver’ at the wheel

We stopped at the ford that separates the salt water of from the ocean and the freshwater run off from Skeleton Waterholes Creek, (both the Skeleton and Waterholes part of the name have a most interesting history, but for another day) . There had been reports of an Australian Spotted Crake, in the area. Andrew had thoughtfully provided a great Nikon Spotting Scope, and not only was I keen to try it, I was trying to work out a way how to smuggle it home!

I’d set it up, and was just beginning to scan the creek line, and the first thing I saw was THE CRAKE.  The image of grown man, leaning over a scope, jumping up and down yelling, THE CRAKE, THE CRAKE, is probably worth forgetting.
Leaving the scope in more capable hands I moved off with the Sigma Sport 150-600 (yes, I still have it) and tried for a photo.(and I noted, that Andrew was quick to retrieve said scope and secure it back in the van, before I left anymore fingerprints for possible Id, should an equipment register review ever be necessary 🙂 Mind Mr An and I did a little preventative maintenance to the tripod attachment so that should count for something in our favour. 🙂

 

There were, further along a good number of Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, Red-necked Stint and Bernie assured us large number of Curlew Sandpiper, although that must have been yesterday.

A Singing Honeyeater obliged with some good views, and it’s fair to conclude it was feeding young nearby.

Another pass by the creekline and we spotted a wader that took few minutes to id correctly.  A Common Sandpiper.  The flash of white under the wing being the best id.

Its easy to see how well they blend into the surrounds.

 

At the beach line Andrew discusses with Rob the finer points of sand distribution by wave action.  Interestingly enough Bernie indicated some rocks, now 30-40 metres from the current land edge, that around 30 years ago were on the coastline.

On the return journey we found several pairs of Red-capped Plover with young.This one had called the young into the bushes along side the road and was directing things from the safety of a nearby rock. We admired her babysitting abilities and moved on quickly. This one, I find particularly interesting as neither of the pair were banded

Thanks to Andrew, Bernie, and the team for allowing us to enter this fascinating area. Each trip always brings new insights.  Also thanks to the various councils, government groups and such like that made such an event possible.  The value of the area, as the housing developments keep getting closer, is even more important for the small birds that call it home.

 

Saturday Evening Post #15 Enjoying the Beautiful Moment

Been reading Ming Thein’s blog over the years. He has had a pretty rough year one way and another, and lamented the need to consider life beyond his photographic endevours.

His New Year’s Resolutions always make for challenging thoughts.

This one among other things makes a bold statement, “Few pros last longer than ( 5 years), and almost all the ones I’d met that had were really quite jaded and uncreative by that point – it was just a job”  Now I’m not going to take on his observation, and it’s important it is read in context.
But it got me to wondering.

We all go through creative periods when the juices seem to dry up and its hard to come up with a new challenge or vision.
I’m also reading some David DuChemin books at the moment, and as he went through a huge accident, was in hospital for quite a number of months in intense pain with the possibility of never walking again, I think there is little cross connection with Ming’s insights.

David says, “If you don’t love photography for the sheer act of trying to express yourself and will only find joy in it when youre a finally there, yours will be a most disappointing journey. Not only will you never get there, but you’ll miss how beautiful and exhilarating the journey itself is.

If you love the journey so much that you wish it had no  ultimate destination, you are in luck. It doesn’t have to.”

I had my first published picture when I was 14. The following two years I did several photo essay jobs. One I actually got paid to travel. And somewhere blind fate stepped in, and blinded, I took another direction in my life. And I reckon, looking back at everyone I know well, the same thing could be said to a degree or another.

But the one thing that never changed I believe was the excitement of “pressing the button to make the moment”. Sometimes just looking through the viewfinder in an inquistive way is enough.

And there we were in Ballaratt. Hot overcast day, with a Great Crested Grebe that seemed happy to bob and paddle around close to us.  Should have been a 10 second shot. Aim, focus, set exposure. Wait. Bird turns. Click. Now what’s next?

But.

As the bird moved back and forth, a whole new world of images began to open up. Shadows, reflections, shapes, settings, all seemed to roll by in an endless view.
So we sat. I posted quite a selection from that half hour or so, yesterday.  But some of them I had already visualised beyond a simple record.  It’s that kind of journey.

Feeling jaded.  Not a bit. Feeling it was a job. No. It’s a journey. A bit like the movie, “The Never Ending Story Part II” —See, I’m amused by a never-ending story that had to have a sequel 🙂

David D again. “Vision is everything you think, feel, and bring to the photograph.  You don’t bring it. It brings you. It’s your view of the world.”

A quick trip into Nik Silver Effects Pro, find a suitable blend of my favourite cool filter, Cyanotype, (Used to make them in real photochemistry in another life).
And there it is.

A beautiful moment in a fantastic journey.  I’m not going to reach the destination anytime soon.

Keep takin’ pictures.  We do.

More on a life in monochrome and my affair with Silver Effects Pro  next week.

Snapshots: Latham’s Snipe—On the Fly

Didn’t need a degree, (pun intended) in weather forecasting to know that Friday 4 January 2019 was going to be a “Scorcher”. 44 Celesius and that, as my Dad used to say was “in the shade”.  Standing in an open paddock photographing birds, would result in not much more than a badly burned chicken nugget going home.

So.

We had been pondering going to look for Latham’s Snipe at the local Heathdale Glen Orden Wetlands, and because these tricky little dudes mostly feed at night, and roost by day, and they are incredibly alert and super fast in the air, and the most important and possibly only element that we can control is the light.
A bright sunny day gives, plenty of light for fast shutter speeds, and also the best possible AF performance.   So we formulated what can only be considered a ‘cunning plan’.  We would load up the gumbbies and the cameras and get down there very early in the morning.  That way if it was a clear day then we could spend a couple of hours with good light and be on the way out for an early morning coffee-breakfast, just around the corner before the heat became opressive, and overwhelming and ugly.

Alarm goes Off!!!!

Look out window, still dark, but there are no clouds in sky.

EE grabs quick breakfast, and a cuppa to go, and we’re away.

It’s only a few minutes drive and by the time we arrived the sun was well above the roof and tree line around.  Looked good. Except we parked at the wrong end of the ponds for the light, no point in trying to catch them against the light. My Mum’s favourite, “Keep the sun over your left shoulder, dear”, was what was needed. So gumbbies on, we clump clump clumped down the footpath to the other side of the ponds.  And met, out for an early morning walk with his dog, the president of BirdLife Werribee, (Formerly Werribee Wagtails). Morning, Mr Torr, we acknowleged as we walked by.

On to the end of the pond, and a gate leading into a boardwalk, and as I opened the gate for yet another dude with a dog, there behind him was my Flickr mate, David Nice. Morning, David. The wetlands is David’s “Patch” and he was happy to help explain some of the likely spots.  Thanks, you’re a champion.

So we began. Snipe help by letting out a sharp “Yelp” as they take to the air. And that’s it. No second prizes awarded.
The big deal is getting the AF to lock on to the bird at warp speed.
I chose to use the D500, and the 300 PF f/4. No TC attached.  This gives about the best and fastest short of dragging out the big gun pro lenses, like the 300mm f/2.8  Also inspite of my usual, I set multi-burst, and AF to Continuous and selected the Group Focus.  This hopefully picks up the closest subject and well, perhaps Snipe aren’t in its database.  The other big changes, are M for manual and  set the hightest shutter speed I can manage and balance out the ISO around 800. Also I turn “Off” the VR (IS) as I know there is a bit of a lag on focus if the VR is guessing what to do.  Set lens to the limited 3m to ∞. Don’t want it looking for birds that aren’t there a few metres in front of me .

Primed up, with good light, and an open area or two to work in, and we are sniping.

No one said it was easy.

Enjoy.


This is how close they are to the nextdoor neighbours


 

Landing rights with a Minah

Off course it would be a treat to actually find them on the ground and feeding, but I’m working on that.

 

Saturday Evening Post #012 Bee-eaters

Ahh, yes, it’s Sunday, don’t adjust you clocks, one of those nights when my bed looked more longingly at me than the keyboard.

And besides, look it’s a nice new day.  Overcast, intermittent rain— I walked early this morning and came home drenched— so its keyboard time again.

One of the main reasons I’ve not prepared earlier was I was wrestling with a new way of making albums that could be linked to Birds as Poetry blog, however like so many things in the blogosphere, the idea and the application are a bit far removed for a simple click.

All this comes of course from the previous week of humming and hahhing around what I’m going to do with the database.  And its beginning to look like I will commit to moving to the “Dark Side of the Force” and take on Lightroom and all its cloud(ed) options.
But, more of that later.

We did a couple of trips to Bee-eater country.  Seems to be many less than in previous years. However we did find enough to fill up a couple of hours. And of course commit to going back again. Sometime, perhaps, if we can fit it in, maybe, who knows.

Had planned at this point to link to an album.  Click Here — See nothing happens, so here are a couple of extras from the morning.
UPDATE: This Link Should Work  beware though its on an Adobe Creative Cloud site. Shades of Rod Serling and “The Twilight Zone”. Insert spooky do do dah do music here. 🙂

The header image is a phone pano of the creek line and if you look really closely you’ll be able to see at least three active nests. (only kiddin’—the nests are there, but the detail is not sufficient.)

Hope to be back on publishing schedule for the new year.
Good luck for 2019, I hope the photo muses bring many fine images to fill your lens(es) this coming year.
Keep the vision, Keep taking photos, we do.