Saturday Evening Post #58 : A Step Closer

Continuing with the story of Brown Falcon at nest, and working inside the bird’s comfort zone.

She had been fed by the male. Looks like  a pipit. We were standing quite a bit far back from the action, when she took the food, landed on a tree nearby the nest and began to eat her fill.  The male stayed around and sort of ran interference against the marauding Black Kites, and she was so confident of his ability she didn’t pause from her food.

In the end, the Kites took the hint and moved away.

Next the story becomes interesting, as she took the remains of the pipit, and flew further out, beyond where we were standing, meaning we were between her and nest. Something she has not done previously.
After some more feeding, she picked up the pipit and flew around past us, and landed on a closer tree. Then she repeated the process again, landing just beyond where we were standing.

A look about to make sure all was safe and she launched, dropped to the deck, and swung past us about head height or so. Then with a few wing beats, she flew up toward the nest and landed on a branch nearby.
“She has a young one to feed”, was the obvious answer.

Regrettably, or on purpose, take you pick, she landed so the food transfer occurred behind the main tree trunk, and after a few minutes she flew out to land on a close tree-top and began her preening again.

We took the close flyby without aggression as a sign she has decided we are harmless to her cause and she’ll carry on around us. Hopefully she will allow us to share in the growth of the young one(s).

We’ll see.

Saturday Evening Post #57 : Nature Gives and Takes

Firstly a pause for to comprehend the massive destruction, “Cataclysmic, Apocalyptic, Total, Tragic, Devestating, Violent, and Undescribable” are words that have been used to describe the bushfires sweeping along the New South Wales and Queensland countryside as I write.

My heart goes out to all those who have suffered and lost and are bewildered if not overwhelmed by the speed and severity of the fires.  Heartfelt gratidue to all those brave volunteers who’ve put their lives on hold and on the line in so many ways to help and defend where possible. The task truly does seem overwhelming.
As a little, little tacker growing up on an orchard in a fire prone area, I remember my Dad being away for over a week or more a couple of times each summer to fight local blazes. In those days the major weapon was a small metal knapsack that held probably 20 litres of water.  Mum had several of them around the outside of the house and while they were very attractive and interesting to a small growing boy, they were not to be touched under any circumstance.

I hope that a weather change brings some relief to the drama.

But nature also gives; even at a very small level.

I’ve featured a nest branch of a pair of Little Lorikeet both here and on Flickr, and the other day, while we were looking for returning Sacred Kingfisher I took a little while to drop by the nest area, and at first it was quiet and I assumed they had flown the young. Back to the Kingfishers, and not long afterward I heard the distinct calls of the Loris and went back for a second look.
To my suprise both adults were on the top of the branch, and a little head kept popping up out of the hole. However in the time I was there it did not venture out, and eventually mumn and dad flew off to feed, and it tucked itself back into the nest.

May peace come on healing wings.

Saturday Evening Post #56 : Street

When I was a much much younger photographer, and life was quite simpler in so many ways, I used to enjoy wandering the streets of a small country town with a camera, roll of film and the only lens I owned. Well it was a fixed focus, fixed lens so a brace of interchangeable lenses was not even on my ‘must have’ horizon.
And try as I might, I just couldn’t match the power, quality and story of photos that I saw in books by Henri Cartier Bresson or W Eugene Smith, that I could look at in my local library. But I was much too young to be introspective, so just kept click’n away recording the goings on in a town.

No one really took much notice of a ‘kid with a camera’, so most times my meager lens was sufficient. It certainly matched my limited vision. But I guess I did learn a thing or seven about making dark moody prints that epitomized the moment.

As I grew older and moved to the ‘big smoke’, I was able to rub shoulders so to speak with a number of photographer who excelled in making the most of street, and to hone to a fine tune, the art of ‘the decisive moment’. One Michael J. Hill springs to mind,  I guess I mention Michael, as I have a half baked blog that he features in, but still have to add the polishing touches.

I love following on Flickr a range of Street Photographers, and still mentor under David DuChemin from time to time.

EE and I were travelling the Bellarine Peninsula and had arrived at Drysdale. It is one of those charming towns the writers always say, “nestled in the…”  As if all charming villages nestle.  The same writers have ‘bubbling streams’, and ‘astonishing vistas’, along with ‘constant changing panoramas’, and the like.

Drysdale at present is in the middle of a huge roadworks project that will be a bypass road for traffic along the Bellarine. But, at present the town is somewhat ‘engulfed’ (I had to put that one in) by large heavy duty road making equipment, on the way into town. Which means that lots of little red witches hats and dangling plastic safety marking tape are all over the area.
Just past the guy holding the ‘STOP/SLOW’ sign, I noted a Grey Butcherbird by the side of the road. Totally unconcerned about the changes happening to its landscapes, there it sat making the most use of the strange perches and the opportunities for the food that was being stirred up from time to time.
I pulled off the road, and we watched as Butchy hopped from fence to witches hat to tape and then onto the ground with the big hardware rolling all around.

Cameras out, and I was a kid again. But this time with a much better defined vision, and an interchangeable lens. 🙂
Eventually got the shot I wanted, and on looking at it, thoughts of all those old prints came back, and I thought that a mono approach would bring out the ‘street’ feel.
A quick trip through one of my fav programmes, Silver EFex Pro gave me the desired result.  I also added a small selenium tone just to match the bird’s mood.

Oh, the colour version wasn’t too bad either.

I’m gone.

Saturday Evening Post #55 : A Zest for Life

Due to a turn of circumstances, and a change in the weather, with intense cold together with strong winds, meant I was housebound the other morning.

I kept walking to the window, and pressing my nose up against the pane, but to no effect as the weather just seemed to laugh at my difficulty.

Then, on what can only have been a serendipitous moment, a small brown bird arrived on the fence. Followed by a second, and then a third.
A closely followed by the local backyard Blackbird.  Looking as always dapper in his rich dress.

We’ve known for the past few days, that they had an active nest in one of the bushes in the garden next door, and we had seen occasionally the past few days a young one in flight.  But now it was obvious that the pair had hatched out a fine looking crop of three young ones.

And I should add “Hungry” ones.  They sat on the fence, the garden pots and bushes, calling, calling, calling.  Feed me. I’m here, feed me.

I opened the sliding door to patio and sat down inside on a small stool, with the D500 and the 300mm PF lens.  As there was little light available in our small garden area, I was running into trouble getting sufficient shutter speed, so took a decision, and after all, they only ‘common’ blackbirds, to run the ISO up beyond 3200 and see how good the D500 might be. I also wanted to try out the latest offing from Topaz Labs with their AI DeNoise, although for the present image I didn’t use it.

The small garden area must have been full of good tummy filling food as they stayed for at least an hour or so.  Which gave me a great time to learn of some of the habits of the little birds, and to experience their simple zest for life. Each mouthful was accepted and then the cry went up for more. I began to feel both sorry and develop a respect for the hardworking male.  The female must have been off having a rest, (or gone shopping?)

The small birds cheery chatter among themselves and their calls for more food was a warm feel on a cold day.
Each carrying a new life, each eager to get a great start and each filled with a desire to learn the way of being a blackbird.

Much of the time I just sat and watched, as they skipped back and forth from pot to fence, to the edge of the patio, and eventually running across in front of me.
Not often I can have that much fun looking out my own door. 🙂

No doubt this will not be the only crop the pair will have this year, and soon instead of being their protector and uber food deliverer, Blackie, will chase them out of his territory and they will begin a new chapter of their lives.  Not doubt they will take the same enthusiasm with them.

Enjoy.

Saturday Evening Post #52 :

It started as a fuzzy idea.

We should go to the Treatment Plant on Friday afternoon, said EE.
Looking at the weather maps, well it seemed reasonable 5 days out.
So we planned.
And come Friday afternoon, not only was it a fuzzy idea, but in reality, the weather was fuzzy to say the least.

Still not be deterred a second plan arose.  “Let’s go out to the Highway Lounge for an afternoon coffee and if it’s still raining when we come out, well, take it as a sign, and we’ll come home.
If its not raining, take it as  a sign, and go on down to WTP”.

Can’t argue with that logic, and the coffee would at least be hot.

By the time we had indulged in one of Garry’s finest, the rain had indeed ceased, and lo, but truth be told the wind had dropped off and while overcast, it was at least pleasant.
Mind, I did check for bright lights in the sky and the sounds of heavenly voices when she said. “It’s a sign. Let’s go.”

But, and you knew that was coming right?

But,

As we turned on to Point Wilson Road, strange little wet drops appeared almost by magic on the windscreen.  I was sure it was a sign.  However as we were already down in the plant, we kept going.

The T Section had quite a number of Whiskered Terns, (formerly Marsh Terns), hunting over the ponds, and had the weather been kinder, the photography would have been easier.

Bump up the ISO to 1600, and hope that I’d get enough shutter speed.  There is no stopping these highly energetic birds, and if you thought swallows and martins were a challenge, crank it up to a new level for terns. Especially grey birds on grey water. The auto focus, even the best of them, and the D500 ranks pretty highly, has a problem. And the rain only added that extra hint of difficulty.
So we persevered.

At one stage they started hunting over the grass areas on the bunds, and some contrast between bird and background.  Good fun.

Enjoy

Saturday Evening Post #51 : Of Shape and Form

Form and Shape are among the basic elements of art.

Often to find form I find its necessary to look beyond the the subject and the structural elements of the composition.
And being able to reduce the elements to simple black and white often makes the form more visible.

Currently on the tv is an ad for TAB Corp. (Yep, I don’t bet, don’t encourage it, and generally rail against it).
However this one, I hope you get a chance to see it, is about the work of all those behind the scenes in the industry.  Those that get up very very early, the food staff, the trainers, the jockeys, the handlers, saddlers, blacksmiths, transport, and the like.

What makes it a very exiting visual is that is is all shot, or at least reduced to black and white. The lighting, contrast, the edgyness really has a great feel to it all.

I can’t seem to find a link to it else I’d share it.

Which leads me to Little Ravens hard at work on a nest.
Don’t you hate a poorly developed segue 🙂

This is one of a pair that were gathering nesting materials.  If you look closely you’ll see some binding twine that the bird had collected. Taken it to the nest, discovered it didn’t fit, and has landed on the post and pushed it into the crack on the fence post. Perhaps it would be needed later.

Then it looked at me.  And I could feel it was taking in every little detail. Even knew the serial number on the lens. 🙂
And the thing that got me working on the moment was the light seperating out the shape from the background and the draping moulding light playing over the form of the feathers.
“If I use this,” I thought, “I’ll make it monochrome.”

What is so great about monochrome is that enables the viewer to savor those shapes, forms and textures, that transcends the ordinary to an ethereal world.

Enjoy

Saturday Evening Post: #49 An Endless Love Affair

“Light makes a photograph. Embrace light. Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light.
Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the (a) key to photography.”

So said George Eastman. Founder of the Eastman Kodak Company, and  man who went on to amass a fortune at his death that, today would be around $2 Billion.

I wondered for all that, if there was a collection of photographs somewhere taken by a man who Embraced, Admired, Loved and Knew light.
But sad to say he seems to have left very little of a body of work that could be said to be the photography of George Eastman.

Here is a link to an image of Eastman using a Kodak Number 2 camera while on board the S. S. Gallia in 1890
George_Eastman_(F._Church_1890).jpg

He was enamoured with motion pictures and carried a 16mm camera on his travels. From those journeys a number of documentaries of various places were made in the 1920s. He also regularly travelled to Game Hunting Safaris in Africa.
I can recall seeing some book or documentary once, that showed Eastman, the ‘White Hunter’ in suitable garb posing around the bodies of dead beasts, but no doubt the majority of those photos would have been taken by his handlers.
Here is a link to one from the George Eastman House site. 2007-0007-0127-safari-ge-and-villager.jpg

We had been with BirdLife Werribee, formerly and now informally  known “Werribee Wagtails” on a day outing to Ocean Grove.

The group was walking around Blue Waters Lake Reserve and had stopped to see several Nankeen Night Herons in an old willow tree, with its twisted branches and long fringes that made sighting just that bit difficult.

Also flying past down the centre of the lake from time to time were Royal Spoonbills.  They had to sun behind them and looked a treat in brilliant white against the shady far shore of the lake.
I lost interest in hard to see Herons and became enthralled with both the spoonbills and the light so beautifully cascading through the feathers.

Exposure for such scenes is at best fraught with complications. As EE is known to say.  “If I get the feather detail right, the background gets lost. If I keep the surrounds then the contrast takes out the feather details.” Or some combination of those words that expresses the difficulty of backlighting.

No hero lecture here. I choose exposure for the feathers, and will worry about where the background goes when I work out the mood and feel that I want from the moment.  That is a slider thing. I make no apologies.  Give me Photoshop with layers, layer masks, paintbrush, and a Curves setting and  that’s me for post production in the digital darkroom.

How to set the exposure right for the wings?  See my blog sometime back on Dean Collins.

I managed several birds on the day, and at first thought I’d like to have the head and neck showing. But in the end, I selected this one as the shape and curve of the wings is Satur poetic.

Enjoy

 

Saturday Evening Post #46 :Pattern and Creativity

Den Ming-Dao quotes a Taoist thought
“Pattern and Creativity
Are the two poles of action”.

When I read that,  I was struck by how true it is of photographic pursuit (I didn’t say photographic achievement 🙂 )

In this day an age of Facebook, Twitter-twadle, self-obsessed selfie takers, and all encompassing media bombardment it is sometimes hard to find the quiet of the moment to hear the wind in the tree, or feel the warmth of a rock in the sunshine.
And I’m not the only one, a clever Subaru ad, I saw the other day has as its theme a small child enjoying the moments. Such a tying shoelaces correctly for the first time. I remember that too. (If you get a chance to see the ad, don’t miss the closing scene)

It is to be recalled, that I’m a photographer first and a bird observer secondly.  I have several friends who are always on the look out for the next ‘new’ bird. Seeing 400 species in a year is their thing.  Me, I’d be happy to see the same bird 400 times.

Neither is the right appoach it is simply different expressions of pattern and creativity.

Den Ming-Doa goes on to comment:
Followers of Tao use patterns when planning. They observe the ways of nature, percieve invisible connections, matching patterns with goals. When the unpredictable happens, they change immediately.
The spontaneous creation of new patterns is their ultimate art.

I’ve always considered myself blessed by the  number and variety of my mentors, who, among other things made me work at establishing a love of light, its form, quality and direction. Each element plays an important part in both the choice of subject, and the approach to bring out the right theme or mood.

Each encounter with light, soft, harsh, bright, moody, rich, or colourful, sets in motion opportunities.
And just occassionally, when the unpredictable happens… It offers the opportunity for a new pattern in my work.

It was a day—as so many have been of late—of overcast, grey, lowering, porridge skies.  High ISO, slow shutter speeds, difficulty in seperating grey/white subjects from grey/white backgrounds.

I’d found—to be honest, it wasn’t lost!— a Black-shouldered Kite, resting in a tree. Probably worn out from hunting for mice in a drenched paddock. I sat down on a rock and watched.  Took a few frames, just to keep my shutter finger warm, and waited.  Perhaps it would fly and hunt.

When on a moment, the cloud changed, and a small breach opened up to let through sunlight that, like a “Super Trouper” Syncrolite spotlight drenched the scene. Directed, on schedule, on cue, and on time to the Kite, and leaving the surrounds in theatrical darkness.  —Just like a script 🙂

And the Kite awakended by the light perhaps, like an actor on a stage, rose to the warmth and opened its wings for stretch relief.

Two frames, and the light, again on cue, was cut from the scene as the clouds regained their strength.

Sometimes, its seems the we plod, but we perservere and prepare, go out hoping, if not dreaming, of finding the birds and the light and the setting, striving to bring our vision of the world back home on a memory card.

As Deng Meng-Doa concludes:
If we nurse our plans through good times and bad, our plans will eventually succeed with the inevitability of fish being caught in a net.

Have a great weekend.
Keep takin’ pictures, we do.

Saturday Evening Post #45: Risk Assessment

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

Warning before beginning work have you made a Risk Assessment.

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

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

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

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

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

That would work.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here it is.

 

And here is the quick Fly By.

1908-16_DWJ_0969_NX2

Saturday Evening Post: #41 Problem Solving

Long term readers will remember, or might recall, that I have a warm and fuzzy feeling for “Choughness”, the life skills of your average White-winged Chough clan.
I put up a shot a week or so ago from a trip to Serendip Park, where the Choughs were trying to raid the feed bin for Brolgas and Magpie Geese.

Now it probably doesn’t take much to figure out that your average feeding spot for a brolga or goose is somewhat higher up than even the tallest chough.

The family I worked with two week ago had adopted the ‘jump higher its got to work’ approach as each family member tried-usually in vain-to get a grip inside the feeder and only had time to grab a small beakful before plummeting back to earth.

However time goes on. Problem solving skill seminars and practice sessions followed up with various counselling events, has given the Choughs a new approach to the problem
Or

This is a different family and well on the way up the evolutionary ladder. Next step Chough on the moon?

This family had developed a very workable solution indeed.  One clever bird, (Called Lucky by its friends) would jump up, flap/drop onto the edge of the feeder, and somehow balance its centre of gravity over the feeder and thus successful land inside. Then with great scooping bills-full, drop seed out of the feeder to the waiting family members below.
The only draw back to this incredible bit of problem solving is the Brolga, Magpie Geese and Little Ravens, don’t take to kindly to their food supply being raided, and every few minutes Lucky was forced to abandon its position to avoid a sharp wrap from the Brolga.

Where there is a will there is Choughness.

Enjoy

Saturday Evening Post: #40 “I will sing, sing a new song”

Ha!  Just messing with your minds really.

As our younger girl grew up, the group U2 were a constant source of music enjoyment in the house.

And as I hit number 40 for the Saturday Evening Post, I thought I’d quote from one of U2’s music would be a bit special.

Lots of interesting anecdotes about the piece, but I’ve always liked Bono’s statement, “We wrote it in 10 minutes, played in in 10 minutes, recorded it in 10 minutes, mixed it in 10 minutes, but that has nothing do with with why its called 40. (How Long!)

Rainbow Lorikeets are among some of the brightest, and most active little clowns that frequent the trees where we live.  They can always be counted on to come up with a new wing flap, expression, act, or even song to entertain.

I have no idea what this one was upto, but its mate was on the branch next door, and for some reason, lots of big wing flaps were needed to emphasise the importance of some point of communication.  I managed to get it right on the end of the outward stroke.

“Many will See, Many will See and Hear” (40, How Long)

Enjoy

Saturday Evening Post: #39 Decisive Moment

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

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

Here’s a good working definition:

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

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

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

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

That sounds more like my bird photography in the field.

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

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

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

1906-30_DWJ_7466

 

 

 

 

Saturday Evening Post: #35 Of Shape and Form

I have of late been looking at the prospect of replacing my ageing Lightroom.  Adverse, as I am to paying the Adobe conglomerate a monthly hostage or blackmail fee, I was hoping to find a reasonable standalone option.  Not that I want flashy sliders and zillions of use/ful/less presets. No, my requirement are simple.  Good image management, and the excellent keyword search facilities.  Truth be told, I think Abobe still are the only ones in the ball park.

But I was amused to look at some of the offerings.  Catchy marketing phrases, “Make the most of your photos.”
“Reveal the hidden photo within”. “Photos that will look their ABSOLUTE best”. “Match your artistic inspiration”.

I worry about ‘finding the hidden photo’, as in I’ll put up an image I’d have deleted anyway, and a few tweaks with the ‘inspired’ AI software, and dah dah!  Oh, what a great image,  I didn’t know I was THAT good a photographer. Where has the image been all my life.

Yet not one of them has the simple ability to find the Keyworded “Black-shoudered Kite, WTP 600mm f.8, D810”, or what ever. With just on 100+k images, I’m not likely to rekeyword to match a program that can’t read standard IPTC data sets.

But what got me thinking was the ability to now discover previously overlooked photos that somehow match my artistic inspiration.

As a young photo-assistant, my mentor talked of three images.  The one we saw, the one we photographed, and the one we printed and distributed to the customer.  Now it seems we can add a fourth, the one we never saw coming.
Which I suppose means I can mindlessly point the camera out the window, run the file through some AI (artificial intelligence, in case you’ve not been keeping up), and lo, there it is in all its glory. No longer is digital development or enhancement a craft in the service of my vision.  It has become my vision.

It’s like a singer with no vocal training, no voice development and no concept of fine breathing picking up an AI microphone and revealing the hidden talent within to sound like Pavarotti.

There is, so say the ancient sages, a little bit of Yang in Yin, and a little bit of Yin in Yang. I’m often grateful that I came to photography at the height of black and white. The power that comes from working to get the best angle, the right shape, the richest lighting, all necessary to take our 3D world and bring it on to a 2 D medium, print/book/screen.

Push the Yang, and we get dark moody results. Push the Yin, and light and bright shines forth.

I found this Little Raven on a local tv antenna. It was preening, and talking to its family stationed on other close perching spots. At some point, just as I pressed the shutter, it decided to turn and talk to its close neighbour.

What astounds me is the bird’s ability to turn its head in the direction it’s going to move, then lift off and with total confidence turn its body to match the direction and plant its feet back on the perch. Poetry in motion.

The yin of the eye makes its statement within the yang of the bird.  The yin of the cloudy sky is balanced by its little bit of dark antenna.

The freedom of the bird is contrasted by the fixedness of the aerial.

The confidence of the bird is balanced against the rigidness of the tubes.

The cleverness of the bird making use of the available is contrasted against the metal structure built for just one purpose.

I’d love to see AI find all that.

Saturday Evening Post: #34 Getting Close

It is said of famous battle photographer Robert Capa, when asked by a collegue why his photos weren’t good enough, responded, “If your photographs aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.”

It’s easy at first blush to believe that Capa meant, well, get out of the trench and get close to the action. However it is more than likely that his comment had a much deeper meaning of getting close to the subject in an intimate knowledgeable way.

It’s about a matter of experiencing. And as bird photographers we chase distant subjects with the longest lenses, and its hard to establish a feeling of the intimate from a distance.

For us its a matter of spending time, respecting the subject, and allowing the time to wonder. I really believe one of the great gifts of photography is that it teaches us to see. And not just what we see,

but,

How we see it.

So much so that I can say, with some degree of wonder, that the camera has opened my eyes to the world around me. Not just the natural, but the human. Some of it from the dark side, but also from the beauty. It’s not a perfect world, but I don’t want to discuss that here.

The gift helps us to learn to see. Moments of interaction of shape, light, line colour, slow down.
And we make space for wonder at the world around us and the brillance of the amazing medium we have to share those moments with others.