Saturday Evening Post #200: Th’th’the’that’s all folks!

Number 200!

And when the fanfare, the party favours, the streamers, and the cheering all die down, its time to face reality.

Number 200 will be the last regular Saturday Evening Post. I’ve decided to call it quits, like many who stop while there is still a glow to the process.

When I first started Saturday Evening Post about four years back, my  intent was to publish a photo from the week and explain where, and why i was highlighing it.

Then came covid and in particular the lockdowns. Melbourne ended up enduring the longest lockdown of any city in the world. (As the Ombudsman said in a report on why Victorians were not allowed to return home, “It was hard not to agree with the complainant that such requests were ‘beyond unreasonable… very intrusive and unkind, it’s inhuman actually’. …. But the effect of a complex and constrained bureaucracy meant some outcomes were downright unjust, even inhumane.”   See here )

So  I turned to the blog as an outlet to the frustration of not being able to travel about.  And so the style of the blog changed and we began to cover photographic topics, the work of great photographers and my own recollections of a young lad in a country town with a passion for making images.

But, as insightful readers will have noted, its been harder and harder keep up the flow of that sort of material, and I also began to add a few ”stream of conciousness’ posts along the way.  Easy to follow if you were aware of where I was coming from, or even going to, but as a reader explained to me, “It’s to complex and I just click the photo and move on.”  That should, I suppose, have been a warning.  So it seems that its perhaps better to step of the treadmill of grinding out a page simply to fit a deadline.

But by then the magic of #200 was looming on the horizon and here it is.

So what to expect.   Well the normal sections of the blog will continue on their own ad-hoc basis as they are posting now.  I am hoping to be able to photograph birds in such a way as to bring an insight into their lives, in a single story.  Little Visits and Pages from the Field Note Book, should be regular in an irregular sort of way, and perhaps even an occassional Saturday Evening Post, (perhaps).

So, I hope you’ve enjoyed the journey. I have. Thanks to everyone who has commented, added additional information or insights and generally made the blog a bit larger than just my ramblings. I have truly appreciated all the various interactions.

Thanks again, and as Crobie Morrison used to say, “I hope to catch you Along the Track, somewhere soon.”

 


We were out the other day around the Altona area and had arrived at the Maddox Street Boatsheds area where the Paisley Drain and  the Kororoit Creek empty into the Bay.
The Environmental Team of Hobson’s Bay Council have carried out significant works in the area developing it for walking and bird watching.  My good friend, Andrew Webster is part of that team and they have made up special signs to help id birds in the area.  One of those signs has been erected at the Boatshed area and as I walked through the bush toward it I was pretty thrilled to see a painting repro of a Nankeen Kestrel. Instantly I knew the source of the picture.
It was one from a series of Kestrels that I made out at Woodlands Homestead several years ago.  Hard not to recognise the wing angle and pose of the bird as I see the photo every day as it’s a wall print next to the computer.   Pretty chuffed (not Choughed) to see it and it was good to recall the memory of the time with those birds and also that it can go on to help other who are beginning bird observers.

Here is a link to the shot on Flickr.

Nankeen Kestrel, avoiding road traffic

And here is the shot on the sign as comparison.

Travel Well
Stay Safe

Saturday Evening Post #199 : A Name

The Grand Bard has his heroine, Juliet say,
And I have to add she was a somewhat wordy lass,

“‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself. (Romeo and Juliet: 2.2.38-49)

We’ve had a few days out this past week with several groups of birders. And when it comes to the id of birds it does get a bit Juliet wordy and complicated. For some its a matter of pedantic significance, for others a much more laid back and free approach.

I think, on pondering back over the discussions, and they were all good fun and in good humour, that I’m not a bird chaser. I find much more satisfaction from the Jon Young ‘Sit-Spot” technique of enjoying the surrounds and the few birds that might be in the area. An hour or so with a pair of Brown Falcons or some agile Superb Fairywrens makes me just as happy as traipsing through the bush. Perhaps I’m just getting old and enjoy the odd sit down more. 🙂

To that end, we tend to name birds that we can recognise. Many will have followed the progess of Belle and Bronson. Do they respond to those names. Not that I’ve ever noted.
or the female Brown Falcon, “Cassia of Cinnamon” and her unnamed partner.

Those that have travelled the blog for a few years might recall, Jack and Jill, the Eastern Yellow Robins, or Mr Mighty a Red-capped male.

The reason for naming has always been that moment, as the San Bushman says of,
“The stengthening of the thread of connection with the bird”.
A thread that is not always two-way. Sometimes the birds are unfazed by our presence, and others it more a tolerance.
I often say we are invited, by the bird, to enter into its close space. Birds that allow that closeness get names. It’s part of our connectedness.
Others, that show aggression or fear are best left alone. No picture is worth an upset bird.
Sometimes on approach, and I get scolded, or the bird takes off, I’m the one who is angry with myself, not just becasue a picture opporunity has been missed, but the chance to build awareness.

On the other hand, sometimes birds are just found. And as we walked the boat harbour area near home, we came across these two Little Cormorants and a sign that make a great connection.

Enjoy

Saturday Evening Post #196: Can I have a bite?

There is an ad currently running on the telly for some sort of icecream confectionary and has someone with a friend how wants a bite of the icecream. Said friend keeps popping up in the most embarrassing moments asking, “Can I have a bite”

Thought the actions and expression of this little kite to its sibling was a bit like the ad. You settle down for a quite rest on a branch and someone comes to disturb.

The pair were actually preening and this one thought it might help by picking through the neck feathers.

We have been struggling a bit this week with very average weather and haven’t been able to put in much time either with the local kites or some other birds we’ve been monitoring.
So the weather doesn’t help the attitude either.

Had an interesting online discussion with a photographer who has returned from a trip with something like 4,000 images and the need to ‘process’ them. Along the way we talked about the interesting fact that these days taking a picture is ‘free’ no cost invovled and so we tend to take lots of them. Not just multi-burst, but lots of them and then hopefully edit back later.

Part of his lament was that out of the 4,000 or so images he would only spend some time on just a few. The rest would go unprocessed.
Even in the past couple of years the entire multi-burst concept has changed. Once you might get a camera to make 3 frames in a second. The problem for us DSLR users is that mirror has to go up and come down for the next exposure.
Now, mirrorless has numbers that match motionpicture speeds. My Dad’s old movie camera ran at 16 frames per second, many of the newer cameras exceed that by a long way.

Sure, editing is easy. Keep going till you get the good one. The one with the right expression, or the moment the bird behaves unusually, or get the perfect wing extention as it lifts of the branch, or lifts the fish out of the water.

YET

Yet here’s a classic shot my Flickr friend Neil made of a Collared Sparrowhawk with prey. One shot stuff.

The image is the work of Neil Mansfield via Flickr All rights are his.

So while the technology is always going to help us achieve some seemingly impossibe shots, sometimes it’s luck. Sometimes it’s patience. Sometimes, perhaps its going through the 4000 shots to find the gem and the rest will just be snapshots.


Saturday Evening Post #195: Dreaming

What if you slept
And what if
In your sleep
You dreamed
And what if
In your dream
You went to heaven
And there plucked a strange and beautiful flower
And what if
When you awoke
You had that flower in you hand
Ah, what then?

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

“If you spend a long period of time in study and self-cultivation, you will enter Tao. By doing so, you also enter a world of extraordinary perceptions.
You experience unimaginable things, receive thoughts and learning as if from nowhere, perceive things that could be classified as prescient.
Yet if you try to communicate what you experience, there is no one to understand you, no one who will believe you.
The more you walk this road, the farther you are from the ordinary ways of society. You may see the truth, but you will find that people would rather listen to politicians, performers, and charlatans.”

― Wayne W. Dyer

Sometimes people say the most insightful things, but sometimes it takes awhile to sink in, or perhaps other overwhelming thoughts press the useful to background.

Had a cuppa the other day with a few folk who were bemoaning the advent of our societies entrapment or mesmerisation by social media and technology in general. And how things were not like that in ‘the good old days’.

And it seems to me that the policticans, performers and charlatans have been able to make the most of the media, and why are the creatives left behind. But I think perhaps it’s what people dwell on, rather than searching out for the inspirational.
There are plenty of pages, blogs and sites that allow creatives to express and reveal so much of their vision. As Mike Johnson of The Online Photographer once said, “Every generation has something new to offer, and you’ve got to take them on their chosen terms.”

Robin Walley, “The Lightweight Photographer”, also was offering some advice on composition. The takeaway for me, was not that the subject or scene conformed to some given set of rules, or even a set of ‘percieved rules’ of the viewer, but rather where was the photographer’s heart. Can I find that in the shot. Thinking back on some of the early photos I (or you) might have made and we were pretty excited about. What would it be like to revisit that same location or subject.

Robin says.

I shot this on my recent trip to Cornwall when walking through some woodland. It could be anywhere, yet I found it rewarding to spot and capture. The shape of the trees, the shadows and the light on the bridge all combined to make me think there is a picture here. I took a moment to capture it and then the light changed, and the moment was gone.

I remember wondering at the time if I had imagined the scene briefly looking good.

It’s also interesting to think back to when I first became interested in photography. I would often see images like this in books and wonder “What was the photographer thinking. It’s just a path, bridge and trees. There’s nothing worth photographing.”

How things change.


The young kites are starting to stretch their wings.  For them it’s not an adventure, it’s life.  
For us it’s an exciting adventure in photography. It’s like finding the flower in your hand.

Saturday Evening Post #194: The Amazing Magpie

Just prior to covid restrictions, you know, BC (before covid) I had just started an “Amazing Magpies” project. I had opened up a webpage on SmugMug and was beginning to develop some acceptance by several Magpie pairs in our area. I was hoping to be able to follow them through the nesting and fledging of their crop for the season.
Alas
Living in Melbourne with the longest lockdown of any city in the world, I think some of the Maggies past on by the time we were out and about again. So I saved myself some money and closed the SmugMug page.

Mentioned last blog that we’d been out and had spent some time with a number of Magpie pairs on the day. Interesting to see that now that the nesting season in approaching how the pairs are beginning to take notice of oneanother.

Unlike many other birds, Magpies don’t seem to have courtship rituals. No long dance routines, or fly displays. They just seem to know who the right mate is, and stay together.
And that’s what we’ve been seeing.

They seem to have begun to take much more notice of each other. Walking and hunting close to one-another, attentive little games. One pair we found today were playing some sort of hide-and-seek game around a bush. Running behind the bush so as not to be seen, but then, sticking a head out to be sure to be found. Frolicking at the ‘discovery’. Now I’m sure I’m anthropomorphising the activities but how else do you explain it.

One pair already has a nest site chosen, and the discussions are down to the furniture going in, and who does what in the construction. But mostly they sit on a fence together and scan the territory to be sure no one has dared to put a wing-flap over the boundary. If it should happen both are off at great speed and much wing noise as they rush to encourage the competition to move along.

So I thought about re-establishing the project. But in the end wondered if there was a Flickr group for Australian Magpies. After all there is a Flickr group for just about everything else. Including groups for Facebook and Instagram. 🙂 No Joke. Go figure.

But no. No group for Aussie Maggies. So. I’ve started one.
I guess I’ll be posting a few more Maggie pics to Flickr over the next few months, to keep the group up todate.

For those not on Flickr here is the link to the Group.

You can click through the images in the group in this slide show

Australian Magpie, Brown Falcon: Stand Off

Thanks Eleanor for quickly adding some images

Saturday Evening Post #193: Being In Tune

Ohh, a musical ramble!
Sorry.
It is as they say, about being in-tune with the manifestations of nature.
Ohh lots of big words in there, and we are naught but humble pirates (Cap’n Barbossa, Pirates of the Caribbean)

—Chauching-tsu wrote it this way.
Mysteriously wonderfully, I bid farewell to what goes, I greet what comes;
for what comes cannot be denied, and that which goes cannot be detained.

Or put another way: Seeing the miraculous in the ordinary. If I insist on capturing only images that suit my style, perhaps I fail to appreciate life’s fulness.

Henri Cartier-Bresson said, “Photography is like that. It’s ‘yes, yes, yes, … It’s a tremendous enjoyment to say “Yes!” Or to paraphrase Alfred Stieglitz, “It is something as I’d never seen it before.”.

Our Grandie turned up the other morning, and said, ‘How about you take me out to photograph birds?” Not that we needed much of an invitation. So we loaded up iAmGrey and set off. First to check the Black-shouldered Kites, and found David N there as well, so we had a bit of a chat about things of the world, and waited for the kites.

We then moved on to Werribee River Park. It was a bit eerie to walk down through the forest as the last time we’d all been there was at the height of summer and much nesting was on the way.
Off in the distance, said Grandie announced, “Sounds like a Fantail Cuckoo”, so we set off further down the track. I also heard, the distinct calls of a pair of Brown Falcons, but despite looking all over the sky through the trees, all I managed to see was treetops and clouds. 🙂

More calls, so we continued on further, coming to an open area between the treelines. I moved wide out hoping to be able to get a good look around the trees as the cuckoo might be out in the open.

EE called it first, no, not the cuckoo. “Up there,” she pointed. “It’s a Brown Falcon”. And as all good readers will know, the bird might well have been just this side of Argentina, so it was going to be hard for us mere mortals to locate.
“No, there.”
And,

Not to put to fine a point on it, a Brown Falcon, sitting very comfortably in the open. The markings almost certainly would id it as a bird that was a regular in the nearby River Park carpark, that I’d named “Bernie” as on a number of occasions we’d encountered him sitting in a tree at the carpark in the very late evening sunshine, ‘burnishing’ his rich, marble chest.

He was in no hurry. We watched as he scoped back and forth across the clearing. No doubt if there was prey here he knew about it. But in typical Brown Falcon attitude, he would not make his move until everything was worked out to the last detail.

Happy to sit, and Dwight was able to make some fine falcon shots. All good for a day out.

Just to say that Apples don’t Fall to Far from the Tree, as we walked back to iAmGrey, he turned to me and said, “What feather is this?” The rich ginger tones and the size could only be from a Nankeen Night Heron. We went to look among the trees. “There, out the back of this tree.” Hmmm EE is going to have sharpen her skills a bit more. The quasi-blackart seems to have come down through the gene pool.
Just then the bird—tired of being pointed at, took to wing. And we got some great views of it flying through the trees.

Good Light to You


Saturday Evening Post# 192: The Journey, Not the Destination

David duChemin of Craft and Vision sent out an interesting update recently.

One of the things that intrigued me was the question of “What you would tell your younger self about the craft of photography he is embarking on” Now I know from an Uncle Google search that those sorts of questions and answers are spread all over the web, like those little bits of microplastic in the ocean.

And. I know that the 14 year old kid with the Super Balda camera and a roll of Ilford FP3 film would take little notice anyway. For a start off, photography as a career would not have had any notion or meaning. Nor, am I sad to relate, among the people and teachers of the time, would there have been any encouragement to pursue such thoughts. The closest I ever got was the local librarian who had assembled a fine collection of photo books by the masters. Perhaps I should have been more bold to talk with her about the choices. And also I must add, the patience of the local chemist that put up with my kid-in-a-lollyshop approach to buying photo-supplies from him—more, I fear of that story must follow 🙂


And anyway photography was a kind of like riding a bike, or bouncing a ball, it just happened as part of life. Bit like stamp collecting. You did it for awhile and then something else, flying kites perhaps, came along.

So I’d not have lectured said lad on the wonders of depth of field, or the charm of Chiaroscuro lighting. Nor would I have wasted the moment explaining how to ‘get ahead’ in a dog-eat-dog world of photo imaging. Nor would I have added, “Take up war photography, not weddings. It’s safer.”
And I’d not be inclined to mention who to avoid like the Robot in “Lost In Space”—Warning, Warning, Danger Approaching.
And of course I’d not bother to add why it would be necessary to learn the same hard lessons over and over again in terms of relationships with people.

My one piece,I think, would be, “Enjoy the Journey, don’t worry about the Destination”.


It’s been quite a three weeks of dreadful weather. Talk about Doona Hermit. So we decided the other morning, that a run to see how the Point Cook Black-shouldered Kites were travelling. We have three pairs of birds that began nests in the past few weeks, but the Point Cook birds would have likely flown. And.
They did.

It’s a funny thing about the ‘Enjoy the Journey” advice. It works. We were pleased to see the young kites well on the way to adulthood, but, the wretched weather beat us. Grey kite on grey sky is not a good look. Add rain, and cold wind, and well, coffee shop is the option.
Yet. As we began to drive out, I heard the familar call of the Brown Falcons, and so we stopped to have a look, and sure enough, Cassia of Cinnamon’s rather dapper white-chested male, had come in with a snack for her approval. By the time iAmGrey was parked and the doors were open, it was all over, so we followed them through the trees to where she had finished whatever delicacy had been offered.
Then she took off through the treeline.
I rather like this image as she is running on short wings as there is little room to manoeuvre through the trees. And we proudly drove away, happy that the pair were still in residence, and he was beginning the process of feeding her up for a nesting later in the year.
A new journey is just beginning.

Too much fun in the rain.

Saturday Evening Post #191: Photos that Make a Difference

There would be few people who lived through the Vietnam War years that would have not seen the photo of “The Napalm Girl”. And perhaps only a few would know of the name of the girl, or of the photographer who took the picture.

June 8, 1971, Nick Ut was on assignment for Associated Press near the village of Trang Bang. What happened next is well covered by pages all over the web and doesn’t need me to reblog it here.
I have thought long about bringing up the topic, but what I wanted to stress was the compassion of Nick toward the badly burned Kim Phuc.
Again his words are so much more profound than mine, but he managed to get the young girl to hospital and then transferred to a burns unit, and stayed to make sure she was well looked after.

Many have said it was one of the defining images of the war that helped turn the tide of support to bring the war to an end. Nick won a Pulitzer Prize for the photo, Horst Faas, the editor at AP ran the story, breaking a number of rules about nudity and content, but believed the story must be told.

So 50 years on here are several links to the story of the horror of Kim Phuc and the compassion of one man, determined to make a difference.

This one turned up on the ABC news site this morning and has a small video clip of Kim Phuc and Nick Ut reunion.

A more indepth article by Nick Ut from the Washington Post and it shows how he stayed in touch with her over the years.

And another from Joe McNally of a 40th anniversary shoot with Kim and her new baby. (I know I’ve linked to this in a previous blog, so apologise if you’ve seen it before.)

Kim started a Foundation dedicated to Healing Children of War and here is the site

I’ve chosen not to include a photograph for this blog page.
Some things pale into insignificance.

Speaking with kindness creates confidence,
thinking with kindness creates profoundness,
giving with kindness creates love.
Lao Tzu

Saturday Evening Post #190: Knockin’ Off for the Weekend

Welcome to a little bit of stream of consciousness

We were having a discussion about when a freelance photo-assignment is completed. Perhaps it’s an event, or a get-together, or maybe even a sporting event.

How do you know when to stop, and leave?

So we followed the options, well at least as many as we could think of. Perhaps the time to stop shooting is when the main action is over. The keynote speaker has left the building, the team has gone to the sheds, the family matriarch has gone home. The bride and groom have left for the honeymoon.
Or are there still more photos to be made of the people cleaning up, the packing and load-out, the security going about locking-up the doors, and maybe the last lights being turned off.

I ventured that another option would be to, “Knock-off, and get home in time for dinner”.
What do you mean, Knock-off?

Colloquialisms don’t travel well down the years or across cultures. I grew up in a farming and building community. Knock-off time was the description of ceasing work. Like “Striking a Blow” was getting started.

But, then we started to see other possibilities.

F’instance. The painting was a good Knock-off of the original. Meaning someone had made a pretty good copy.

Or how about, the soldier who was explaining his lack of some kit items, by responding, “Well someone must have Knocked it Off.” Meaning it had been stolen.

He was Knocked-Off his perch. Meaning that his status had changed as in Scomo was Knocked Off his Perch.

Then for the pedants: The new camera was accidentally knocked off the table onto the floor and destroyed the lens. Well, we all hope that never happens. 🙂

Some meanings come, of course, directly from movie sources as in, “Let’s Knock-off the so and so”, meaning to kill them.

Must be time to Knock-off a cuppa tea. Meaning a tea break. Or it’s so hot I could Knock-off a beer.

and off course a good one to finish. Knock it off, we’ve had enough.

Bet we missed a few.

And on that note, I think I’ll just Knock-off for the weekend. Seeya next week.

Saturday Evening Post #189: All I Need.

I have as many will be aware working a lot with Black and White, or Monochromatic images recently.
In somewhat a return to beginnings.
My very first attempts at photography were with a 127 size film camera and making contact prints from each negative individually, at first, in the family laundry under the glow of weak orange light. It’s hard to know if my somewhat blurry images of Blackie, the Cat could be seen as anything more than a waste of pocket money. 🙂

But I persisted, and as I did I learned something of the craft of photography by osmosis from books at my local library.

Here I learned of the work of a Sydney based photographer, Max Dupain. Most will have seen a version of his “Sunbaker” image. But Max was a much more influential artist.
There are plenty of sites that delve into his life, history and art, so I won’t belabour that.
He stood, against, in the 1930s the ‘pictorialists’. The blurry, hazy interpretations of people, landscape, architecture and more. He set a course of drama, clarity and importance of tone, shape and design..

You can flick through a range of his images on the web and conclude, “Oh, I’ve seen that before, or made shots just like that of the same subject.”
But Max did it first.

Some sites worth checking out to see his work.

7 Works

Light and Shadow

Sydney Opera House Construction

I remember acquiring for my Father a copy of a Max Dupain series calendar around 1989. My Father’s own work was in someways contemporaneous with Max. We did spend a few hours occasionally discussing the photos on that calendar.

Max did not travel the world, preferring his own home locations, but I remember a print with rich black tones of “Lunchtime in Hobart” and a similar one of “Collins Street, Melbourne“.
Another fine series is the “Shark Tower at Manly
and from that tower several images of the surf running on Manly Beach. and “Lifesavers

Max once wrote that if his work was to have any significance,:

” It has to be devoted to that place where I have been born, reared and worked, thought, philosophised and made pictures to the best of my ability. And. That is all I need. “

So it has been from that background that I’ve been been working in Mono of late. Not taking a preexisting image and using the amazing effects of Nik Silver EFx Pro, but rather looking for shape, tone, texture and design but rather seeking out images that have the qualities of a great Mono shot. I have been using the Monochrome setting in-camera, (and yes, they are JPEG), and once again experimenting with the use of inbuilt colour filtration to increase, or decrease a range of tones.

When I saw Bronson sitting in an open area against a clear blue sky, I was already seeing the final result. I have published a version of this shot on Flickr. I had opened up the shadows and brightened up the sky, but my first choice was as it came from camera.

Enjoy.

Saturday Evening Post# 188: Elusive

There is so much about photography that is elusive. Sometimes like Eastern Spinebills, it is the subject. Our friend Rodger has been photographing them at Royal Park with varying degrees of success and as we were in the area we decided to go have a looksee.

After several hours it was sad to conclude that they would remain elusive. 🙂
We did manage a brief glimpse of one that came by, settled on a branch, and frustratingly was surrounded by small twigs and branchlets.

But.

We did see one.

I’ve only just received back from repair my 300mm f/4 PF lens. It is a great little lens to be walking about with and, as here, I use it almost exclusively with the teleconverter TC 1.4 which gives me a fine 420mm focal length.

This one I’ve owned since the get go. I received one of the first of the lenses in Australia. The dealer could only get an allocation of one lens. It’s been one of my go-to lenses for birds ever since. It does have a software issue with the D810 and vibration reduction settings, but as I’ve retired that camera it is no longer a concern. EE uses one and it never comes off her D500. That lens I’ve always thought has a little more highkey contrast than mine. Not much, but just noticeable if we shoot side by side.

Earlier this year mine started to look a little soft and rendering fine detail and feather markings became a problem. It came to head when I was working with a Little Egret that had some fine breeding plumage feathers and they all looked doubled-edged and soft. Strange. So began the usual: check focus accuracy, suspect the camera, increase contrast in the camera and turn off first one setting then another.

But to now avail. Then one morning when I was going to try again, I picked the lens up and it had a distinct rattle. ???
Seems that one or more of the glass elements had worked loose. The local authorised repair centre was about to close its doors and it seemed that I’d have to send the lens to Nikon Techs in Sydney. I managed to find a repair centre in Adelaide. DigiCam seemed to have some very good reviews, and I filled out a form on line, and the following day received details of how to ship the lens. It went the following day with their arranged courier.

DigiCam came back quickly with an initial report and it seems that several retaining rings had worked loose and needed replacement.
Yes Please!

They kept me updated regularly on the progress, the need to order parts, and the likely turn around time. Great to have a good story to tell.

And about three weeks later the lens was returned looking very fine. They had even replaced a damaged element (which I have to say I put my hand up as culprit), so what I had was pretty much new out-of-the-box. Given all this happened over the Easter break, it was a super quick turnaround.

Tentative first test on the tv antenna across the road showed it looked as good as ever.
Now that it has had several trips to the bush, and made some special images I must say that DigiCam have won me as a customer and I’m delighted to tell the story of exceptional service.

Now all I need is to find some more Spinebills to work with.

Enjoy
(From the Election Free Zone)

Saturday Evening Post #187: In Heartbeats

There is, a thought where, to paraphrase Kahil Gibran, “You and the Subject are One: The Difference is in Heartbeats.”

There can be no doubt that photographing birds can be a somewhat hit and miss affair.
Not every bird is ready for its space to be invaded by a stumbling human with a long lens attached to a camera, no matter what the good intentions.
Some birds never allow close approaches. Yet on rare occasions for their own reasons will swing in close and the heartbeats somehow synchronise for a few brief moments.

A couple of Hobbys (Not sure if they are a pair or perhaps siblings from a recent nesting) were working over the treelines. It was easy to follow their progress as the agitated calls of White-plumed and New Holland Honeyeaters announced their travel through the treelines.

One of the pair stopped long enough perhaps to appraise the situation and take stock of the next opportunity. This bird swung in over the top and the first bird abandoned the perch.

This moment shows the second bird balancing its landing and slowly folding up the wings in preparation for also taking its own survey.
Did it know I was there? Of course. But for just a few moments our heartbeats aligned.
A quick look around, and satisfied there was little to eat in the area, it was off across the paddock at full tilt. Gone was the heartbeat moment.

Saturday Evening Post #186 : Seeing is Believing

I had some comments last post about the “Valley of the Shadow of Death”, by Fenton.
The whole truth in media becomes quite apparent when the historian looks at the two images and has to decide which is the accurate and which is the staged version.

Perhaps Rodger Fenton was the first of a long line of photo-journalists that have sought to tell the power of the story with the help of the image being a representation of the event rather than a simple photo reproduction from the moment.

Frank Hurley, the Australian photographer who accompanied E.Shackleton on the ill-fated “Endurance” expedition to the Antarctic also ‘dabbled’ with the moment. It is still hard to explain how he achieved the seemingly night time shot of the Endurance in the Ice. His diary indicates the use of many flashes and the difficulty of making the exposure.

Later Hurley would become a war photographer and many of his images, again, drive historians crazy. He made no bones about making double images, multiple printing techniques and montages. His famous shot of the rescue boat departing for help, is most likely the rescue party returning.

The images of soldiers on the way to the front is thought to be a reversed negative print.

And the one that really gets discussion going is the amazing moment of trench warfare with aircraft, shells exploding and troops advancing seemingly under fire.

Hurley openly stated it to be a multiple printed montage.
In the end he found,
Oct. 1, 1917. Our Authorities here will not permit me to pose any pictures or indulge in any original means to secure them. They will not allow composite printing of any description, even though such be accurately titled nor will they permit clouds to be inserted in a picture.

As this absolutely takes all possibilities of producing pictures from me, I have decided to tender my resignation at once. I conscientiously consider it but right to illustrate to the public the things our fellows do and how war is conducted. These can only be got by printing a result from a number of negatives or reenactment
A good selection of images is here.

Fast forward to Steve McCurry, he of the Afghan girl portrait on the cover of National Geographic. Steve’s later work was found to have ‘Photoshopped” in or out details of some stories and the furore of the net knew no bounds. So much so that he changed his style of photography to account for such story telling rather than image straight from camera. See one of many articles here

Many years back a well known soup manufacturer got into a boil over about marketing shots of its ‘famous’ Farmstyle Vegetable Soup that was ‘packed’ with vegetables. The photograph did in fact show a lovely warm inviting bowl of soup with the veggies all piled high out of the liquid.

However when it was prepared straight from the can, as per the instructions, the hapless cook was greeted with a bowl of liquid with a scant number of veggies sinking to the bottom of the bowl. The clever photographer had filled the studio bowl with glass marbles, and then scooped the veggies over the top and then slowly added just enough liquid to hide the marbles.

And let’s not forget any of the fast-food chains. The chances of getting a burger that resembles the bright crisp item in the photo display is minimal. Again the net is awash with dissatisfied consumers.

So it must be asked if I make some changes to an image, how much is legitimate. Now I’m not talking about Photoshopping Uncle Fred’s face into a daffodil, I’m hoping we are over that.

I’ve been working on some shots the past few weeks making Black and White portraits from a range of photos. I do it because I like the end result. If I share one, it is noticeable as after-all the creature has colour.

I’m not asking the viewer to suspend their credibility or influencing the understanding of the subject. Rather inviting them to explore the nuances of tone, shape, texture and from in a new way.

Perhaps the old adage from the Furphy Watertanker:

Good, better, best
Never let it rest,
Until your good is better,
And your better is best.

Is still a good working motto.

Enjoy.

Saturday Evening Post #184: Less is More

More or less. 🙂
Much of the advice regarding storing digital ‘assets’ almost since the beginning of digital photography has been something like, Well its cheap to make digital photos as you don’t have to buy film so take as many as possible.
The corollary to that advice was keep them all, disk space is cheap, and you never know when you might need one of them. Or, like high quality wine, they will improve with age on the disk.

So, I guess we have to admit. We did.

Recent weeks I seem to have been ‘enlightened’ on blogs and newsletters, by those same experts with a new mantra. (Perhaps they forgot their old advice or needed to trot out something new)

It follows roughly similar calls, to “learn to curate you photos- delete the ones you won’t use. Choose the best ones and work with those.”

While the “shoot lots and keep all”, was a good idea when digital files were small—the first ones I made were 750kb each! (Think how many I could get on a 1 megabyte card) today’s high res, high pixel count files in raw can be as much as 65mb or each. It quickly begins to build up terabytes of files, most of which will never see the light of day.

I have to say, (mostly) I tend to edit hard after a shoot. Comes from the old days of filum I guess. Out of a roll of 36 exposures, I didn’t want to sit in the darkroom and print every one to figure which were the keepers. Make a quick Contact Print. Mark with Chinagraph pencil. Print the best. Reject the rest.

I could also argue that most of the social media sites promote poor to average photography as being ‘normal’, but not tonight.

If I do about 250 shots in a day’s outing, by the time I get home I’ll edit them down to about 20 or so useable. Then I need about 8-10 for Flickr, 1 for this blog and several for a book project and perhaps a photo-story here on the blog.
For completeness I usually know in advance which shots I want for a story anyway as I’ll have tried to assemble much of that in the field.
Now if I do 3 field trips a week, that is about 60 or so images.

If I stuck with the old mantra, that would be around 700 images I’d need to store a week. A month, it’s 3000 (boy scout math), by the end of the year—36,000 images. (Not bad for a years work). Ten years? Oh, no wonder I need a new 8tb drive this year.

Ansel Adams is reported to have said, “Twelve good images a year is an excellent crop”.

So the new advice seems to be—edit.

The other hidden advice in all that is of course the ability now to run off, for fun, as many as 20 or more shots in a second. Then spend anguished hours on the computer trying to find the best one. The software doesn’t help either as it allows the shots to be ‘Stacked’ so that you only get to see the best one, and 19 languish in the ether, never to be seen again.
Or, and I put tongue-firmly-in-cheek, just post them all and let the viewer decide!!
One ‘guru’ recently claimed to have returned from a workshop trip with over 30,000 shots. And aren’t I glad I’m not getting an invite around for that slide show!

For those of us who do lots of inflight shots, and I have to admit to leaning more and more that way in my own work, the chance of a multi-burst gives us a range of wing, head, body, lighting and expression to chose from.
And just sayin’ for my own work, if its not ‘That’ shot. Then the remainder get deleted.
I’m looking for “… an excellent crop”

Knowing how the bird is going to react is also a huge part of the inflight learning process. This young Kite was ready to go and join its siblings hunting over the grasses in the late afternoon light.

It turned on the branch, I held my breath, and then it simply launched into space. It was heading straight down the barrel of the lens. 🙂

I paused, and as its face came into the light, pressed the shutter.
Less- is more.