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 #14: Looking Forward, Looking Back

Noted Australian country singer Slim Dusty, wrote a song “Looking forward, looking back”.

It is often used at country funerals as one of the tunes played during the service, and if it’s like the funerals I attend when we travel back up to the family acres for such an event, usually accompanied by at least one “Truck Drivin'” song as well.

But no such use here.  “I’ve come a long way down the track”.  Yes, dear reader, its time for the annual introspective, retrospective “How’s the photography going, and whither away in the new year”.

Which is why Looking Forward is going to have a little Looking Back.

After nigh on three years, I’ve finally made a break from Aperture 3. My foto database of preference.  And have, with some trepidation moved to the ‘dark side’, and settled on Lightroom for the management.
Not I can tell you without, a fair degree of angst.  Once bitten… etc. So the past few weeks have been amalgamating all the various photo sets into one large ‘Cataloge’ as Lr calls it.

One of the first advantages, that I had lost after the demise of AP3 was all my images are together at long last.  Need a Black Swan, quick search, there they all are.  Need a series of Black-shouldered Kite, not a problem. How about all the shots from Eynesbury.  All the delights of the best of database search and I have to say that is something I’ll not be looking back on.

Which leads to the post the other day on the best 100 photo quotes.  Did you find any you nodded in agreement with?

Did you work out my second pick?  Well you only had 99 options.
In the end, this one got the next to best.

No. 76  You cannot possibly hit the shutter without leaving a piece of you in the image.Joe Buissink

But, I do have to say that if that had not been there, then  a quote from David DuChemin would have been my next pick. (PS it’s not on the list)
“Focusing a lens is not the same as focussing our attention!”
And that leads me to another quote from David, and the point of the title of our post.

“Make an image that is so compelling, so captivating, that no one is going to notice your technique. If Noise  is all the people see, Noise is the least of your Problems.  In years to come, no one is going to extoll your excellent use of ISO.”

Which segues nicely to the header image, and the preamble
*HaH, told you this was going to be the disjointed annual ramble*

Looking back. While amalgamating the databases earlier this week, I came across the series with the Kestrel chicks from a few years back.
This was shot with a Nikon D200, and a manual focus, yep, you young’uns will have to look that up, manual focus  600mm f/5.6 Nikon lens. Ken Rockwell shows it here.   It still rates as the all time sharpest Nikon lens I’ve owned. (and I’ve owned a few in me time). I still have the TC 301 2x teleconverter in a box.  It made a super tele 1200mm f/11 lens.  With only a minimal loss of sharpness.  Just hard on the old D200 to see the focusing. So I used to have to watch the little ‘green dot’ focus point in the lefthand side of the viewfinder.  Too cool

Quite a backstory with this one. I had overlooked it initially.  Till one day my mentor at the time, one John Harris by name, was looking over a series and said, “What have you seen in this?”.  And as the image was a tad overexposed. Think 2-3 stops, I really hadn’t bothered with it.  “Look at the eye,” say he. “Oh,” says I. Long story short, a trip through Photoshop and things were looking a lot better.  John was suitably impressed enough to make me a super 32 Inch print from it.  And there we go again. Looking Forward.  The old D200 had a respectable resolution of 10megapixel. Yet is was sufficient for a large print. Still graces the wall. It’s ISO was bailing out at about 400ISO. Yet, Noise, handling of the old lens, old raw processing engine, skimpy Photoshop CS(1), and yet all that is left in the dust as what shine through is the expression of the bird.

Today, looking forward, we shoot at 1600ISO and think nothing of going higher. We shoot with D850 or Z7, or Canon 1D X Mark II and lenses that laser speed quick autofocus. Yet, John would not say to me, “Oh, you shot this with… and a setting of…  He’d say, “Look at the eye”.

Do we like new gear, of course we do.  But no one asks a surgeon, “Oh, what scalpel do you use?” as in,— If I buy that scalpel, I too will be a great surgeon.  But the first thing people say casually looking at the pictures, is, “Oh you must have a good camera!!!!”. 🙂

Had a great meal in a restaurant, or at home with a super host/ess.  Dare you to ask, “So, you must have a good frying pan?”

We do it with love. Love of the medium, love of the image, love of the subject, and love of the message to our viewer.

This Kestrel was one of two from that year’s clutch.  Both accepted my presence, and would land, sit, preen, eat on the branches of the old tree, while I sat on a log metres away. When I came into the paddock, they would readily fly toward the tree. Their gracious mother, (We called her Elizabeth), regularly hunted in the ground near my feet.  It’s pretty humbling to be laying in the grass, and have a full-grown Kestrel, ‘plop’ on the ground by my knee, so close I could watch the chest feathers going in and out as she breathed.

All of that magic, moment, meeting of the universe, is here. Distilled into the one photo.  And if technique, ISO and equipment were that important,:
“I’ve come a long way down the track.
Got a long way left to go
Making photos, from what I know

”

Looking Forward, so much to get involved with, so many opportunities to enjoy.
Looking Back, so many great people, views and gear that has got me this far.

Here’s another from the same series, just in case anyone ponders it was a fluke.

 

Casual enough to preen while I sat nearby.
Enjoy, and thanks for struggling to the end.
May your vision of the world around you bring compelling images that reach out to others.

 

Saturday Evening Post #013 Nankeen Night Heron

Been an interesting week of weather.  Yesterday in the mid 40s C, today just barely made it to 20C  Mind I’m pretty happy with the cooler weather. Then by mid-afternoon, lovely clear blue sky and a coolish breeze. Go figure.

Many of the regulars here are also members on Flickr.  Flickr seems destined to shoot itself in the foot and alienate the very people who have loyally stuck with it over the years. Who can forget the dreadful, Black Page Format, that nearly gave the viewer migraine, but we persevered.
Now it seems the new owners have no notion of the importance that many users—well, at least the ones I follow— place on the smaller sub-communities of likeminded folk who regularly post, comment and enjoy the work of their community groups.  Just like having friends on fb, but actually friends. And being able to meet them in person and travel to places with them makes it all the more interesting.

But the new 1,000 picture limit is going to strain the friendships I feel. Mind the  cost of a Pro account (and unlimited pictures) is only a few cents a day, and not much more than a pub meal night out for two, so it’s not a serious financial burden.
My disappointment with it, is I get nothing new for my extra investment. I don’t want to upload every photo I ever took.  I’m in the process of backing up my entire library as far back as 2004, (the earlier ones are on CD and DVD,  how’s that for old technology.  Some of those were transferred from SCART Tape Drives. (you young’uns will need to ask prof google about that).

I’m using GoodSync. And its all going to a NAS system from Western Digital.  And Goodsync has reliably informed me, that 5,203 hours are needed to move the images over the Gigabit network I’m using. But to be honest, I think the speed is an inherent problem of WD’s cheep NAS hardware/software.
Oh yeah, the point!

Well if I was to upload all those to a Pro Account and then try to search for them and do all the stuff I normally do in a week with my current pics, it might be as much as 3 days between images. Given that my NBN is not exactly scorching the cables to move data about.

So I’m —as they say— a bit ambivalent about Flickr Pro account.  Don’t panic, I’m not abandoning Flickr, just pondering if I can live with the 1,000 image limit. I still want to keep in touch with folk.

Anyways.

We have been working with Latham’s Snipe at the Heathdale Glen Orden wetlands.
The other morning we glimpsed a Nankeen Night Heron, and, well, EE managed a couple of good shots of it inflight.   ‘Nuff said. She’s good like that

We were back yesterday morning, before the heat, and I saw the bird go into a tree.  I had to wade about in the water to get an open shot, but reckon the result was worth the sloshing about in the mud.

Enjoy

Saturday Evening Post: #011 Retrospective

Interesting to watch the year draw to a close over my photo database for 2018.

Some birds that previously we’ve spent lots of time with are missing.  Red-capped, Flame and Eastern Yellow Robins, Black-shouldered Kites, Some such as Purple-crowned Lorikeets have been a feature.  We are still hopeful of finding nesting Sacred Kingfishers but time, as they say is running out.

The other thing that has been challenging me the past few months is the need to change my DAM software.  Long time readers will know I’ve been committed to Aperture 3 for such a long time, but like wooden wagon wheels, and last night’s pizza, it has all moved on.  The big deal in town of course is Lightroom, and I have to say I just can’t get with the interface. Cluttery and trying to do all things at once, and demanding a straightforward approach, no rating, adjusting, tagging and cropping as Aperture allowed with minimum of fuss.

Which has left me meddling with AP3’s replacement “Photos App”.  And it would work for me, but I have no real control of the output and being the pedantic sort that I am, that is enough for me to not settle. So the search goes on.  But enough of the mundane.

Flickr of course is another of my major outputs, and at the moment it too is in the throes of change.  So how that will impact my needs, and of those folk that I regularly follow will also be work in progress for 2019.  Then there is everybody’s favourite Facebook or Instagram.  The first bores me, the second seems to treat images as adjunct to a post, and I really like to have the image as the Champion of the moment.

Here is an Eastern Yellow Robin, got all excited out at Eynesbury a few weeks back when we found the pair, and they were nurturing a couple of young birds.  But, we didn’t have time to build up a context  or relationship for them, and so like always, they are now impossible to relocate.  Been that sort of a year.

Hope your own planning for you vision of the birdlife in your life is progressing to the new year.   It should be exciting however it goes.

Good luck, and may the new year bring wonderful subjects to your lens.

 

Saturday Evening Post #007

I was really keen to put up yet another Wagtail Nursery set, as we’ve several along the river at the moment.

But perhaps a change is a good thing, so here’s a Swamp Harrier.
Perhaps the most challenging of the raptors that we work with.  These birds are have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to humans, and most often what we see is the white tail feathers of a Swampie disappearing in front of us.

This one came up the paddock toward us, but was searching for an updraft and as soon as it reached it the bird rose at a great rate with hardly a flick of the wings.

Which caused me to ponder that little bit, that how do they sense where the updrafts are happening?  Eagles, Pelicans, Kites, Ibis and many others seem to be able to work their way along and then rise with the thermal.

Unknown, but still things that make going out and watching a most pleasing experience.

 

Saturday Evening Post #006

Hope you like the new site. I like the design as it will work well on pads and phones. Each block will be in a single line down the page, and as there is a limited number of posts on the front page, it shouldn’t go on and on and on forever.
It also seems that unless I ante up some cash and take on a ‘paid’ site then anyone on my mailing list for blog updates will get emails which include ‘clickbait’ ads for stuff you don’t need.

Not my fault I cry, but it does mean that come the new year I’ll have to take a paid site to get rid of the problem.  And I see any such intrusions into people’s trust and relationships as INTRUSION.

Also get ready to see lots of photos of Willie Wagtails at nest.  After what has been a very slow start by the Wagtail community to the increase of their species, they seem to have thrown everything at it the past couple of weeks.  Even a stroll around our morning walk site has revealed 3 pairs hard at work, and we weren’t trying hard.  Add another 4 or 5 pair at The Office, and its certainly going to be a busy wagtail season anytime soon.

Look at the eyebrow in the header image. That is one annoyed Willie.

And on a positive note, a check on our local Tawny Frogmouth young this afternoon reveals they have flown.  Well done Tawnys.

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This one is so busy that it took a snack to work while it was doing its share of nesting duties.  The eggs hadn’ t hatch this time last week.

Saturday Evening Post #005

The Werribee Mansion was built by the Chirnside family back in the late 1880s.  They were  pastoral dynasty that reaped significant profits and the Mansion was among one of their many extravagant projects.  They also maintained a deer park, in the vicinity of the suburb Deer Park. Makes sense right?

They also were members of the Acclimatisation Society, that set out to import species into Australia to provide sport hunting, and included foxes, rabbits, alpacas, pheasants, sparrows and thrushes. It’s a long painful list that we still pay for among decimation of native species. 

One part of the gardens was turned into an ornamental pond. However because of the quality of the sandy river soil, the lake was mostly left empty as it drained quickly.  It was only ever topped up when ‘important’ guests were in residence.

It is interesting to walk among the huge trees in the garden and contemplate that the layout, and those who conceived it, was for another generation. Now stately and immaculately maintained by Parks Vic, it is a pleasure to wander the gardens and see locals and visitors enjoying the grounds.

The Ornamental Pond is still there and is always filled with water these days.  Which makes it a home for freeloading ducks, coots and waterhens and the like. Some, such as grebes and cormorants and egrets have to ply their trade among the frogs, bugs and small fish that seem to be in abundance in the lake.

One Great Egret is regularly found there.  I’ve named it ‘Grace’, for Graceful and Gracious.  Not habituated, but neither afraid of humans, this bird works the pond and its verges and also spends time preening on the trees and small island in the area.
Which makes it a most interesting photo subject.

So much so that I have become quite clued to its body language and can often predict a flight, and a flight path, and sometimes, predict a landing point.
Given the right sunshine, the richness of the dark shadows among the trees, and a hint of luck, a very happy hour or so can be spent by the pond.
Thanks to the foresight of the ‘landed gentry’ who would know doubt be horrified to see common folk picnicking or conducting weddings on their lawns.

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Saturday Evening Post #4 Mother’s Little Secret

Well it’s out.
One of those secrets that eventually would be too much of a story to keep quiet.

The pair of New Holland Honeyeaters that are in the bushes in the garden over the fence, have been busy.

And a couple of days back we got our first glimpse of their hard work.
A new addition to the family.

We’ve been watching them both fly into the bushes, and out and about.  Then carrying in tiny insects and larger ones, much work among the burgeoning bottle brush and spending time hunting off the local sparrow and starling population. 

I’ve been working with the 300mm f/4 PF Nikon lens of late, without the usual TC1.4 extender.  Couple of reasons, but mostly handling and I wanted to see if the small lens could become a viable lens for the direction of my bird work.  I’m getting a bit to tired and sore from carrying the larger longer lenses.  And of course, like all good secrets, I guess I have a somewhat dreamy acquisition in mind. 😉 More to follow I guess.

And just in case you thought I’d gone to sleep on the job, the much vaunted change to the blog layout is underway, its becoming more a ‘long’ term project, but I think it will have some advantages to the phone and tablet viewers. 

 

Saturday Evening Post #003

Sometimes the action just gets ahead of the photographer. Or as a friend on mine was wont to say about other occasions.  “Never let your ambitions overweigh your capabilities.”

Seemed an easy shot. Duck takes off.

Just a bit slow on the ‘panning’ on this one.  A hint to all those who have ambitions of developing a good panning technique.
1. Be very sure you know where the action is going to be when you press the shutter.
2. Face that direction. Adopt a “Bow Stance”, see tai chi details or an archery class.
3. Wind yourself back in the direction of the oncoming action.
4. Pickup and follow the subject
5. Unwind as you go
6. When at the position established in Point 1. release the shutter.
7. Continue to follow through at the same pace as the moving subject.

Reason being quite clear if you think about it, you wind up, tension and all, then unwind, tensionless and the shutter goes off while you are perfectly balanced.

All good in practice, but when the duck explodes from the water.
So I ended up with the Male Chestnut Teal with its beak and wings right on the edge of the frame. 😦

This is a bit of a rescue in Photoshop.  Opened up the Canvas Size, and then added some water/ripples etc from another shot at the same location/time.

Aren’t ducks wonderful.

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