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.

Saturday Evening Post# 108: In the Glow

Translucence  noun
The quality of being translucent.-permitting light to pass through, but diffusing it so that persons or objects on the other opposite side are not clearly visible.  The latin roots of translucence are trans- through and lucere-to shine.

One more from the old “Lighting” notebook 

The wonderful thing about translucent light is the way it makes colours glow as the light passes through the material

Some examples include, flowers, feathers, water, steam, fog, even flags and fabric.

The results can begin to create an almost surreal quality to the material. 

When only using backlighting, the subject itself will be in shadow and careful careful with the exposure is the first step to ensure the right mood is created.

I once, as a junior member of photographic studio, was involved in setting up a shoot for an advertising brochure for a new winery.  New winery had commenced operations in what I believe was an old dried fruit packing storehouse.  A huge barn-like building covered in corrugated iron. (Very typical of a country store house)  Inside it was pristine in the wine-making areas with all the stainless steel vats, pipes and tubs.
However the foyer area and office was still in pretty much the old walk-in style, and a magic dust hung in the air to catch any rays of sunlight.

One shot, in particular, was going to be the  obligatory shot of the good drop in a glass.
Once we (think me) had carried in all the tripods, lighting and camera gear, the photographer scouted around for the best location

Now the old shed and more importantly the galvanised corrugated iron sheets had been repurposed from another location and small nail holes were scattered through the sheets.
The late afternoon sunlight was streaming in like tiny pencil points through the holes and illuminating the dust in the air.

“Bring me a glass of your finest red,” said the photographer.  Fine time for a drink I thought, we have work to do. 

He placed the glass, with the corporate logo, on a barrel in the foyer and moved it about until the sunlight through one of the nail holes stuck the contents of the glass.
”Here is where we want the camera,” he pointed. And I moved the tripod, camera set up to that spot.  He took a few seconds to get focus, work out exposure, you know all the boring photo stuff no one does these days, and then had me move the wineglass back and forward until…
The light struck the centre of the red wine and like some magic laser-beam, the glass glowed red and the colours swirled across the top of the barrel. 


If you’ve ever seen buildings bathed in colours and changing patterns at night, you’ll be able to visualise the result.

Late one sunny afternoon this week we were coming back from  looking for a Brown Falcon at nest.

As I was unpacking IamGrey, I noted the evening light running through the roses in my next-door neighbours garden.
The beauty of the petal colours and the amazing form and shape of the petals glowed in the light and

And although I have a one image per Saturday Evening Post policy,  here is the falcon as she turned toward the sunlight and the colours cascaded from the feathers.

Saturday Evening Post #105: The Fruits of an Early Spring

While we’ve been in lockdown the past few months, I’ve watched with interest the antics and the movements of a pair of Blackbirds that regularly hunt in our tiny backyard.

Their energies hit high level just a couple of weeks or so ago, and I eventually figured out by watching that they were engrossed in a bush in the next-door backyard. A nest no doubt.

Then last week the frequency of visits, the amount of a calling and the digging in the garden went into really high gear.
Now, I’m not a bird feeder, so for a couple of days I simply refrained, but a sliced apple core, or a small handful of sultanas, or mixed fruits, raisins seemed to be the favourite, saw them ducking over the fence line with full beaks.

I had to smile.



Looking out at the rain soaked ground, lo and behold, not one, but two big fat chicks sitting in the dry under the pergola.  With mum and dad making constant trips to top them up.

Why sultanas?  Well one of my Flickr friends in England David Brooker posted what must be the ulitmate friendship between human and blackbird.

Copyright David Brooker (2020),



Here’s Mum feeding one of the young ones a small piece of pear.

Saturday Evening Post #103: The End of the Day

The title is a part quote from John Muir, he of Yosemite and the High Sierras.
He said, “The end of an Endless Day”. He wandered free and with no encumbrances through the High Sierras and recorded his impressions from the delicacy of a leaf, the fog rolling through the redwoods all the way to the cathedrals of the ranges all around him.

Which reminded me once again the huge difference between looking and seeing.
Muir talks of visitors to the park who are there to catch trout, in the sparkling waters, so engrossed in attaching bits of worm to bent pieces of wire, and ending the life of a trout they didn’t see any of the surrounding areas that bring magic to the place.

For photographers, it’s not a portrait of a person, or a close up of an insect, nor the intricate detail of a flower, or the run of light, shadows and highlight, contrast and shape, form and texture.

It is to marvel at how all those elements come together at one instant in time, and produce a motif that glows from within and takes the viewer on a journey of discovery for themselves.

Great photographer and tutor Minor White, (1908-1976)  See some works here on MOMA created a workshop which was called “Pristine Vision” and participants were encouraged to photograph shapes and forms they didn’t recognise.
It resulted in images of wonderful excursions into light and shadow as the main subject.

A second part of the exercise was to study a large rock wall, high in the Shore Acres State Park in Oregon, and look for familiar shapes in the rocks.

A bit like being in awe of the ‘horsies and duckies’ in the clouds. A game I never tire of.

Great exercises in looking for what you recognise and well as exploring those you don’t.

Saturday Evening Post #97: Learning to Isolate

Bettcha thought this was going to be about staying at home and virus stuff.


Someone once said, “Photography is the art of exclusion.”
Sometimes I’ve thought the viewfinder in the camera should have a little gilt-edged gold frame inside. So we can see what our masterpiece is going to look like enshrined forever on the wall
Because if nothing else, using a camera forces us to put our subject in the frame and exclude all else around, no matter how interesting it it might be.

And so I say to the viewer, “Look at this”, and they don’t get the option to see all the things I’ve left out. Unless of course it’s an handphone shot, with those atrocious wide-angle views. Then I get my feet in every shot. 🙂

I’ve quoted my great mentor, John Harris, a few times, when he’d look at a print or slide, and say, “You’ve got to look within the frame to see the picture that it contains. That is where the gold is.”

It’s a magic of pointing out the line, the light, or perhaps the movement that would otherwise have passed by and not be noticed, let alone photographed.

When it come to ‘seeing’, we are able to show not only what we see, but how we see it.  There is also another form of seeing.  I may close my eyes and say, “Oh, now I see.”

One thing I’ve noted from the lockdown is how much we are ‘story-telling’ people. I don’t mean making up some novella, but just day to day conversation.  Zoe, at my local coffee shop is Greek, her hubby is Irish. She was telling the other day of the ‘fun’ of organising that wedding to keep both sides placated. I had a friend who married an Indian lass, he, was Greek. Another amazing intertwining of cultures for the wedding organiser.  But we chatted back and forth (through our well adjusted surgical masks, -well hers was a handmade one) about the various aspects of the events. Building word pictures and picking up on each others view of the events.  We are story-telling people.

If nothing else for me, the camera has always been a tool of story telling. A tool, that opens, my eyes and the eyes of anyone who views my photos, of the wonders of this amazing planet. The astonishing creatures that we share it with.
The breathtaking sunsets, the wide open vistas, the ranges of mountains that roll on in increasingly rich blues into the distance.

As Bruce Cockburn, a Canadian song writer says,

I stand here dazzled with my heart in flames
at this world of wonders…
Red-gold ripple of the sun going down…
in this world of wonders.

I’ve noted, I fear, I’ve taken to becoming fascinated more by the gruelling events that we are living through. Shock it seems keeps me glued to the tv and the news blogs and podcasts.  The hard stories need to be told, some in the most graphic detail.  But, I’m not the one to tell them right now. I can close my eyes and say, “I see”.
To quote David Duchemin, “I know there is great beauty and wonder out there, all around us, and I’d rather live my life looking towards the light, then fearing the darkness.”

So I take my clumsy tools of light and time and try to bring my vision of the around and help others to share and experience new wonder.

To open our collective heart to the world.

Saturday Evening Post #95: Future Proofing

Over the years I worked with-or for- two organisations that had among their mission statements a reference to “Future Proofing”.
Every iteration of their product line or new product introduction carried a promise, (spoken or implied) of “Future Proofing”.
Somehow the businesses would be able to have sufficient flexibility that they would be able to handle any changes that come down the pipeline.

However, like wooden wagon wheels, both organisations have long since disappeared from the market place and their products are no longer available on the shelves.  So much for “Future Proofing”.

Actually as I look back over it there have been a long list of products that I’ve used that are no longer extant.
Who remembers WordStar. and using ^control key formatting. (Don’t all  put your  hands up!)
WordPefect anyone?  (I know that Corel still have a version, but do you know anyone using it?)
Ahh, Lotus 123 So long old friend. (I used to train Lotus 123, mind I’m not an accountant) And while we are are on spreading sheets, how about VisiCalc on the Mac?

Two more and we’re done.  Aldus PageMaker (not the Adobe version please). And its PC equivalent Ventura.   Ahh, the agony.
Yet at the time, Pagemaker in particular sold more macs in Universities than any other program.
Something quite interesting in using Aldo Manuzio and his friend Griffo, ( everybody should have a friend named “Griffo”, very, well ‘ Stralian maaate’.
Aldo had his own future proofing logo which meant “Make haste slowly”.


What brought all this trip down memory lane on?
Good question.

I’ve spent this week  working through the camera cupboard and looking at hardware I’m never going to use again.
The Nikon 1 system. And don’t think I didn’t put in some effort to make it work for us.  There are several blog pages on this site that tell the history of our association with the small camera and its beautiful lenses. But, it wasn’t Future Proof.

EE has taken delivery of a sparkling new iMac to replace the older Mac Mini that has served her well many years.  The Mini will go the way of wagon wheels as there is only so much bench space.

A bunch of small lenses, including a wide angle we used for car interiors, they are now in the last box before the door in the garage. Along with some flash units, and more coloured filters and paraphernalia of similar used-but no longer used-vintage and we’d all blush if I mentioned how many camera bags are now on the short list too.

Lockdown, has highlighted how “Future Proofing” is as fragile as fine dew on a leaf in the morning.

So no future predictions here. The Doona Hermit is taking just one day at a time.

I’ve also been a bit remiss of the past weeks for not publishing any bird related posts.  Usually have relied on reporting recent trips.  So I’ll take a wander through some of the older files and see if I can patch together some related images this coming week.

In the meantime Stay Safe, Stay Well and Stay Creative.

Besties to all my fellow lockdowns,

From the Global Headquarters of the Doona Hermit.


Saturday Evening Post #88 :Everybody needs One

We all need one, it’s a simple thing.

I know it’s just a play on words, but in light of last week’s procrastination blog, I thought we all needed a Round Tuit.

Here tis.

Here is the poem,

This is a round tuit. Guard it with your life!
Tuits are hard to come by, especially the round ones.
It will help you become a much more efficient worker.
For years you’ve heard people say “I’ll do that when I get a round tuit.”
So now that you have one, you can accomplish all those things you put aside until you got a Round Tuit.

Another of those clever sayings I recall as a young bloke, was,

Be A Lert.  Australia needs more Lerts.

Now you can get it on printed t-shirts.

I had sort of planned to do a couple of photoessay stories during the week, however  some family issues took precedent and EE and I also had to meet David Nice down at the Black-shouldered Kites.

So, the day simply filled out with things, a lert or tuit not withstanding.

I managed to find one of the young sitting under the tree canopy, but occasionally as the breeze blew a small shaft of light would cross over the bird’s body. The rest required I find the suitable background and wait for the bird, and the sunlight to align.

When you are a young Black-shouldered Kite, and waiting your turn for the next free handout, the wait can be quite a long time. I quickly grew tired of pointing the lens at the bird, and it wasn’t moving, and the sunlight still hadn’t moved sufficiently to break through the canopy.

Then in one of those universe moments I often refer to, the bird, the light and the photographer were all on tracks that intersected, and the job was done.

I’ve been reading of late, a book on Life Magazine—and will comment more when I’ve had a more thorough look, but I wanted to make this image in the style of Life.
So a trip into my favourite Black and White converter, Nik Silver EfexPro 2, opened up all sorts of possibilities.

I’m not a great fan of post production work, but have to say that I throw all that advice out the window in Silver EP.   So I spent a few minutes looking for the dark moody Life motif.  Then I added a touch of Selenium (always my favoured toner), to give the dark areas some depth.

Job done.

As a bonus, I’m including a link to my Lightroom Web page where there are a few shots from earlier in the day when one of the young was in a problem solving mode. Hope you find it interesting.

Use this link, Problem Solving
Oh, and I’ve added the original colour and then the mono version of this image as well.

If you double click on the thumbnails, it should open up as a slide show with some text explanation of what’s going on.


Saturday Evening Post #87 : The fine art of procastination

I was searching the web, as you do, t’other day, and Dear Old Uncle G. threw up a search find, that was just about irrelevant to my search.
However it did have a line of thought that intrigued me.

Mostly because it’s an affliction that I have been surrounded by for a few years now.

The point being, “Help, My Photos are being Held Ransom by computer software management programmes (programs).”

Like the bedraggled writer I too am overwhelmed by gigabytes of images, all sitting on a harddrive(s), on DVDs, USB Thumbdrives, and an assortment of other ‘storage’ devices that have scattered my photos landscape.

Yes, I hear people cry, but they are carefully catalogued, selected, and sorted into various albums, collections, folders and “Smart Albums”, so you’ll have no problem finding them.

True, I weakly reply.

But, none-the-less, they are not accessible all the time, I can’t recall ever getting excited about going over the 27,890 pictures in my 2015 Collection.  To be practical, I don’t even know what’s there.  They are held ransom by the very technology that is supposed to administer them. I can’t even hold them up to the light and search through them. Drives don’t work like that.

Oh, let’s create Slideshows, Photo Books, print them out, share them online,  and the like.

And that is where my other failing raises its ‘ugly’ head.
It’s easier to procrastinate,  and it’s not really an act of despair-more an act of rebellion.   I think I am beginning to Not Care, about the unseen photos in the March 2012 directory.

Because, as the writer points out, we need to spend the time to ‘Process’ them. It’s why we shot them in raw to begin with. And that is my failing. I don’t want to spend the time in front of the computer wading through those directories, just to find the “Nuggets of Gold” I’ve overlooked and will eventually get around to “Processing”. It’s enough to drive me back to shooting JPEG. 🙂
And just in case you are pondering a hopeless case, each year does indeed have an album of the Best of the Best for that year. Carefully culled from among the Dross to represent that year.

If I used Star Ratings, these would be my Number 5 Stars.
Probably also get a Colo(u)r label.
Certainly a Keyword (Best of Best) ?—which is how I do it—to be able to seperate them out.

But the rest? Hijacked. Not only held to ransom, but probably never to be thought of again.
I just won’t pay the ransom price of “Processing” them.

I have  boxes of slides that go back more than 50 years, and they too are going to suffer from never being seen again.

The reality is, that I think I’m more excited and interested in the pictures I’ve recently taken, and the ones that I’m going to take in the future.

Ramble Over.

We were out with the young kites on a cold, windless morning.  The sunlight was clear and bright.

First one, and then another of the young Black-shouldered Kites took to the air, and headed out over the open fields.
Swooping, diving, climbing, jinking left and right.
Reminded me of young lambs kicking up their heels.
I thought it must have been enjoying the freedom of flight and life as it flew across the paddock with backlight running through the mists coming from the warming grass, I couldn’t help but pause and enjoy the moment with it. Then the second one came out, and they sprinted up and down the verge on the freeway, looking like pups chasing vehicles.

The serious business of living a Black-shouldered Kite life put aside in the joy of the moment.

Here ’tis.


Saturday Evening Post #78 : Brightening up a Cold Dreary Day

I first met this bird and his good lady, while I was working the Backpaddock at Woodlands Historic Park.
In those days I’d often bump into a birding friend, Ray, somewhere along the track.
Ray had been walking the Woodlands area for quite a number of years and knew just about every honeyeater spot, robin territory, Brown Falcon feeding area, and eagle’s lair over the park. I used to think that a White-throated Treecreeper announced his presence in the area.
He graciously shared his wide knowledge of the park, and most of what I knew about the various robins at Woodlands was handed to me by Ray.

We would occasionally catch up at the gate entrance to the enclosed Backpaddock—this is in the days before it became the infamous “Bandicoot Hilton”— and its usefulness to the birds waned; what I learned from that is that is if you mess with one part of the ecology to satisfy one species, don’t be surprised if things go out of kilter elsewhere.

As we stood near the little map shelter talking, Mr. Mighty would come and sit on one of the close branches, and listen so it seemed, to our discussions.  He would turn his head, fly closer, walk along a branch to get nearer and occasionally add a cheery, “drrrt, drrrt, drrrt”, call to the conversation.

His territory extended from near the gateway some 50-60 metres into the open Grey Box forest beyond. It was not unusual to sit on a log in the area and within a few minutes Mr. Mighty would drop by for a visit. So over several good seasons I managed some interesting moments with him, and the good lady, and their offspring. It wasn’t unusual for her to build 3-5 nest sites and pretend to be working on them all, mostly I guess to kept predatory ravens, magpies and cuckoo-shrikes confused.
She would, however, lose several nestings to these relentless marauders. Perhaps as many as 5 clutches would be started, but only one or possibly two would be successful.

Those who go back to the days of Bird Observers and Conservation Australia, (BOCA) might remember seeing this shot as the penultimate cover of Bird Observer (Aug 2011, No. 870) the quarterly magazine of BOCA just before the merger to form BIrdLife Australia.

During the past week, I’ve been rebuilding my photo database and among other surprises managed to find a folio of Mr. Mighty.  Put a smile on my face.




Mr. Mighty
The little white facial cheek feather is the best id marker. (Apart from his confiding nature) When this was published, it was reversed,

Saturday Evening Post #72 :Joy

“Do your devotions make you happy?
Is your life a joyous song?”
Deng Ming-Dao

It’s an interesting thought for a creative photographer.  A simple fact really.  Do you enjoy it?

Does it make you happy? Sometimes, the pressures of conforming, the need to make images that meet certain standards, or the complexity of striving with a subject in the wrong light, the wrong place or the wrong time, means we struggle to make the photo with a feeling of joy.

Then for its own reasons, it can become a drudgery.

At other times, the light is right, the subject cooperative and a feeling of joy is replaced by celebration when you gaze at the LCD and there it is.  Just as you saw it.

A morning at Lake Lorne looking for Latham’s Snipe, could be just a drudgery, or it could be thrilling.

EE and I had made the trip out just after sunup, and had a chance to look through a number of areas where the birds might have been resting up.  Finding a Snipe is truly like finding the sixpence in the Christmas pud.   The trouble is finding them, and then getting close enough for a good shot.

I had been using the 500mm PF on the D500, but the speed of the little birds, the complexity of the background and the slowness of the operator, meant I was missing  many a shot. By mid-morn I changed back to the 300mm f/4.  Need to be closer, but the wider angle of view meant I could get the bird in frame quicker.

I saw the bird poke its head out of the thick grass, and had a fair idea of its location. Closer, pause, closer, pause.  No head poking out. Perhaps it scampered through the grass further away.
Airborne in front of me, raise camera press shutter, first one blurry, focus locks, nailed it.  Bird is away,  but its the closest I’ve been to one so far.
Time to sing a joyous song.


Werribee Wag-Tales: The Baker’s Dozen + Two

Screen Shot 2020-02-06 at 11.08.02 am

EE and I were on our way down the Bellarine Peninsula for a spot of R&R, not sure what R&R meant in this decision, but rest and relaxation were never going to be high on the list.

On the way down we decided to visit a couple of places along the way and Fyansford Common was a good place for an early start.
Imagine if you will, our surprise when we spotted Mr An Onymous in the carpark.  How co-incidental.  And not long after, we were joined by others of the now, non-affiliated Former Werribee Wagtails.  Isn’t life just full of those serendipitous moments.

So, as a Non-group, we set off our our individual paths around the Common.
A Pied Currawong, a tree full  of Brown Thornbills, and some Red-browed Finches were a good start to the day.

EE and I then set off for Balyang Sanctuary on the Barwon River.  Ideal spot of a cup of the Earl’s finest. Again we were fortunate to find our birding friends had also decided on morning tea here, and Kathy’s sultana cakes provide by husband, Mark, were are welcome treat.
Balyang area proved to be quiet, (nearly wrote quite quiet, but on re-reading_), a few Australasian Darters, and various cormorants with young.  A  rather handsome Sulphur-crested Cockatoo was happy to pose for photographers and watched our meanderings with interest.

Then we drove on to Drysdale Railway Station for lunch, stopping, as usual at the Cinnabar Bakery and Pie Shop in Drysdale and a choice of fine pie delights.  Some might wonder if we go birding and stop for pies, or go for Pies and do the odd bit of birding while we’re out.   You, alone dear reader have all the evidence needed for a conviction.
So our non-group settled in around the steps and seats at the railway station, and enjoyed the some great food, I had the Plain Meatpie (traditionalist that I am), while others had a range of Chicken and Leek, Beef and Mushroom, and Curry.  Great pastry makes a great pie.

The main reason for EE and I to go to Lake Lorne, next to the station, is that it has a good reputation for Freckled Duck, Blue-billed Duck, and Latham’s Snipe.

We began to circumnavigate the lake,  and I dropped off the track into an area near the water’s edge, then with a sharp, “SCHHRAARKH”, the first Latham’s Snipe for the day, exploded out of the grassy edge of the lake, rocketed down about 300 metres and dropped into the edge of the grass.  It was easy to spot as it worked its way, feeding along the edge.
I moved 50m along the edge, and One, then Two, then Three more flushed.  Now it was getting serious.

An area that I’d had some success previously was bare of snipe, so Mr An and I moved further along the edge of the lake until we came to a jumble of branches that required careful negotiation.  Almost across the last one, and Wham!!! Four Snipe were in the air in front of us.  And we were off-balance, so only managed a couple of grab shots.  By the time I was stable of foot, they were across the lake.

We flushed another three and the total for the circuit was a creditable 15, not counting the ones we might have counted twice.
So Baker’s Dozen folk walking the lake, and two extra snipe—actually I’m reliably informed that there was only 12 of us out and about, but as I don’t count birds, I’m hardly likely to number people. 🙂
Especially those who just ‘happen’ to turn up to go pieing/birding with us.

A few fond farewells, and EE and I were off on the next part of the trip.  Gannets and Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos, being our targets.

Wonderful day out with some great people, good birds, fine discussions and great food.  Werribee Wagtails Lives On



Click on photo for a larger size of each shot

Happy Birthday Photoshop

It seems that the 19th of February was the anniversary of the release of Adobe Photoshop 1.0.

Now a full 30 years old. And still going strong, unlike so many software programmes that hit the wall.
Now you may, or may not be a Photoshop fan.  You may be quite the Photoshop luddite, or you may even despise the very name, and would never inflict your harddrive with the hint of an installation.

But none the less, it is one of two programmes I’ve got an intimate working knowledge of, that turned both the photographic and graphic arts industries on their collective head.  Formally two entirely different streams, both bought together by several pieces of software that alterered for ever both streams.

If you really want to get some background on Photoshop, and John and Thomas Knoll and their industry contribution, may I suggest clicking over to Jeff Shewe’s blog. 

If you ask, “Who is Jeff Shewe?”, then its a fair bet that you’re a relatively new digital worker. Check out the link for the full story.
And for extra bonus, get to see Jeff do a quick video demo of


The first Adobe version of Photoshop the original, unvarnished, never to be repeated  Version 1.
And imagine how far we’ve come.

And here is a link to Photoshop’s very own John Knoll demoing version 1.07, Now you’ll know about Jennifer.

My own relationship goes back beyond Adobe’s ownership and involves a product called Barneyscanner.  For its time, (1989) this was a revolutionary 24 bit film scanner. (mostly transperancy). At first they didn’t have a real software solution, just large unmangable, (read unviewable) files.  John and Thomas struck a deal with their little Mac programme that not only could read the files, but actually make some modest adjustments.
By the time Tennis Australia’s Victoria Open was run in Jan 1991, scanning of film was still the major go to working pro tennis photographers.  Generally time frames were impossibly long, with processing and drum scanning and slow transmission, but with Barneyscan and the new Adobe version, time could be reduced significantly for shot to press time.
Co-incidentally that was also the first year that digital photofiles were transmitted directly to the newsdesk. All from a wonderous 1.3megapixel chip. Gasp!, Shock!, Horror! Amazement!

One of the biggest things about demos of Barneyscan and its software was, nobody was interested in the scanner, like, man, what is the programme you’re using and where can I get it???!!!!

Enjoy Jeff’s demo with Jennifer, its a not to be repeated moment.





Saturday Evening Post #69 : Awareness

Last week I started the essay about “Distraction”, and in one of the unique turns of events, was immediately distracted.

As Deng Ming-Dao writes,

“Today is the ideal moment between yesterday and tomorrow”

The observation seems so trite, yet if we could observe the simple, how much would we see.

more from Deng,

“Cat sits in the sun,
Dog sits on the grass,
Turtle sits on the rock,
Frog sits on the lily pad.”
Why aren’t people so smart? ”

He comments: When you next see a cat or a dog sitting still, and admire the naturalness of their actions think then of your own life. Don’t meditate because it’s part of your schedule, or a demand of some particular philosophy.  Rather Meditate because it is so Natural.

I finished last week’s blog bemoaning missed opportunities.  Indulge me if you will, but Brown Falcons don’t bemoan missed opportunities.

EE and I were making our way back toward the vehicle, and came to an opening in the forest, and there, just along a bit, in the open Brown was sitting. Again it took a while to get round past the bird and be able to position it against a leafy backdrop, rather than a porridge sky.

I positioned myself, you better believe it so I also had good views of the around.  I’m left-eyed dominant, and most DSLR designs are for right-eye dominant folk. That way you lucky people can look through the viewfinder and also use your left eye to check the surrounds.  My unused eye is buried behind the dials, knobs and buttons on the back of the camera, and I don’t have the luxury of staying intouch with the around.  It’s why I’d never make it as a army sniper, have to lean over the weapon to aim. Recoil plays havoc on the cheekbones. 🙂

I even spent years trying to train myself to use my right-eye, but all that did was induce vertigo. 🙂

Brown was obviously well fed, and not in a hurry to go anywhere, and didn’t perceive us as a threat.  Twenty minutes went by and neither of us moved. Deng’s thoughts were playing out. Meditation is not to be separated from life.

As it preended out the feathers, it eventually arrived at the tail, and it was possible to see its three new tail feathers and the two outside growing in.
It must have been pretty pleased with its new wardrobe, as it was a very slow, precise and gentle interlocking of the feather edges.