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.

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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.

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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.

Saturday Evening Post: #33 Connection & A Headsup for Interest

Photographers, as Freeman Patterson says, are aware of connections. They are everywhere.

Because, as photographers of natural things, our opportunities are almost as endless as our subject matter. We tend to approach our subject in one of two ways.

  1. Making realistic documentary shots.
    of
  2. Making impressionistic creations of shape, tone, colour and form.

Or, sometimes it can be a combination of both. Making compositions that suggest more than they actually tell. They cause the viewer to use their imagination as they look at the elements. It’s what they speak to individuals.

My old mate John Harris was always a big believer in causing people to ‘use their imagination—to engage the viewers sense of fantasy and wonder.’

Photography really has a relationship with chance. We think of the ‘lucky’ photographer who makes an image at just the right moment.

Yet often it is no accident. Particularly if the ‘lucky’ photographer seems to be able to repeat it time after time.
It is not accident if the photographer anticipates the event and is ready.

It is not so much an accident as hoping and purposefully waiting for the ‘lucky’ chance.

We were as it happens photographing Sooty Oystercatchers, when I saw this Royal Spoonbill beating its way along the shoreline.
What I wanted, I told myself was the bird isolated against either the blue of the sky or the darker blue of the sea. But by the time the bird was ‘in range’ it was flying pretty much along the horizon line. And I couldn’t get any higher, so had to content myself with the bird isolated against the lighter sky.

Later as I was looking at the shots on the screen, I had marked all the horizon line images for deletion. And that would have been the end of it.

And then the connection dawned on me. The bird is suspended between its two elements. Air and Water.

A quick crop, straighten up that horizon and job’s done. Connection.

Headsup
Not sure if you are a watcher of things video online.
There is a city building in Ohio in the US of A that was destined for renovation. As they began work on the building they discovered a pair of American Kestrel had just nested in an isolated part of the building.  To the credit of the building company, they have suspended work for two months so the young can hatch and grow up without interference. They also installed a web cam and you can watch the progress of the young family.

 

Here’s the link.

Take a look inside an American Kestrel nest

If you are fortunate, lucky or well connected, you’ll get to see Mum feeding her brood.

Enjoy

Saturday Evening Post: #32 “Let there be…”

Light.  (and as someone once said, You could see for Miles!!) 🙂

Had a day with BirdLife Werribee—formerly Werribee Wagtails—in the Gardens.  (Melbourne Royal Botanic no less).

At one of the entrance gates these rather formal lights, from a bygone era attrached our attention. So much so that the birdo in my was laid to oneside and the building and details photographist took over.

I was limited by a couple of things. Longish lens, so I had to move back, and lack of space to move back without getting some tree, bush or pole in the way.  I also really wanted the shapes to be established behind a shaded area to give the right contrast. In the end, I had to make the exposure through some branches that blew back and forth in the breeze. Never mind, managed in the end.

Did a little job with the Photoshop brush to enhance the brillance of those golden filagree, to balance the richness of the glowing globe.

As Freeman Patterson says of light, “It’s the resulting shapes, lines, textures and perspectives that you have to arrange in the picture space. Not the Light. Stay focused on the elements, once appropriately arranged, the resulting light will carry the story.”

Saturday Evening Post #31 Evoking a Response

I had started on a journey for this post, through managing digital photos (digital assets—always important to use the right technical terms, so the masses know they are dealing with a well studied and knowledgable source.), but as it developed into a a bit of a rant, I thought something a little more lighthearted might be a better Evening Post.

Freeman Patterson once said, “A good photograph is one that clearly shows the character of the subject while revealing a little of the photographer’s response to it.”

Hard for us bird photographers sometimes and the bird is usually not the least concerned about allowing us any emotional response at a personal level, so we have to include that in other ways.
The placement in the frame, the isolation or inclusion of the surrounds, the pose of the creature, and the form, shape, tone and texture that we area able to achieve.

“If you think of a photograph in this way, you’ll find your personal direction, as a photographer emerging and becoming clearer”. And I’d add to that both to yourself, and those who view the photos.

“Coming to know yourself through interaction with someone or something is very satisfying.  In the end you get the picture, of both of you.”

Which somehow gets me on the beach with the light changing over a Pied Cormorant. A fairly tolerant bird at best, so its not to hard to work with them. But I’m on the wrong side with the light, the background is bland and the bird stoic if nothing else.

Risking putting the bird to air, I moved until the backdrop was at least neutral, and about the same time, a sliver of light came out, the bird turned and I pressed the shutter.

I often gain as much from just sitting or standing and watching the bird in its own world. Little character traits become obvious—here the foot folded up under the tummy. Other times it is just a matter of waiting until all the elements come together. I may make a photograph, or I may not, but the fact that I can observe, see, apply visual design and appreciate the bird’s life for its own sake, enables me to remain fully relaxed for the moment.

Australian Pied Cormorant, Phalacrocorax varius

Saturday Evening Post #26 Responding with Wonder

Every year the White-winged Terns (not very aptly named I suggest), wing their way south and a group of them visit the Western Treatment Plant.

They come in varying stages of breeding plumage from white (hence the name), to mottled black, to an impressive Jet Black. To be graced by the presence of these birds is a real highlight for me and we spend several sessions down a the WTP trying to capture them in flight.  Not always easy, as tricky as they are, sometimes they hunt on ponds that are inaccessible from the roadway. But when the light is right, they are hunting close and the action is fast and furious it is indeed a photographic delight.

After my confusing rant last week which had started out well enough on an examination of lighting techniques and the astounding work of Dean Collins, I thought I’d be a bit more circumspect this week and stick to, well, you know, birds.  And the enjoyment of images.

Seeing as Freeman Patterson explains it, is “…using your senses, intellect and your emotions. Encountering your subject with your whole being.
It means looking beyond the labels of things and discovering the wonderful world around you.”

These birds fill me with awe, they travel to us from Asia, or maybe Northern Europe. They don’t breed here, but spend their time feeding up for their trip to warmer climes.  My challenge is not to just capture their presence, but also to grasp a hint of their freedom to roam the world, not encumbering it, but making it a little more enjoyable for those who accept their invitation to wonder.

White-winged Tern in late evening light

Saturday Evening Post #25 The Dean of Light

Mr An Onymous and I have been experimenting a bit of late with the Exposure modes in the Nikon system. For almost all my digital life, I’ve been a staunch supporter of Nikon’s Active Matrix exposure system.

Briefly it reads the light value of the scene, and then compares that to a database of similar image values and determines exposure setting, f/stop, shutter speed, and/or ISO value to match with the current scene values for correct exposure.  Internet gurus (know it alls) may disagree, but its worked well for me the past 15 or so years.

What Mr A and I were experimenting with is the value of 18% reflectance and the need to determine a ‘correct’ exposure.
Now long time blog readers will be quite familiar with my rants on the “Mystery and mystic of 18% grey” and the more memorable “The 18% Grey Myth and how we’ve been Conned”, so there is not need to continue that further tonight.

One of the greatest teachers of the correct use of light, its values and how to gain correct exposure with Colour Slide, (Transparency, or ‘Chromes) was Dean Collins.  A US based commercial photographer. I had the great fortune to have attended one of his Seminar events and his clear, concise and skilled explanations of all things lighting was indeed one of the highlights of my life.

Dean’s premise for portraits was to get the Diffused Value of the skin at a specific exposure value, for various skin types, dark, light, tanned, etc.  Then set that and either add light for shadow control or remove it for highlight control. There I just saved you the $1000K for the seminar.  Thanks Dave!

Dean had established through experimentation that if the Diffused value is correctly exposed then Photographic White, (no detail) would be 2 1/3 stop more exposure and Photographic Black (no detail) would be 4 1/3 below.  They didn’t call him “The Dean of Light” without good reason.

The rest is just fascinating tech wizardry and dry boring numbers, so we shall not pursue further other than to suggest that a look at some of Dean’s work will reveal how clever with light he really was. One of the best photos is at the bottom of this blog, along with the whole story,
https://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/08/review-best-of-dean-collins-on.html
What is most amusing about this shot, is it was setup with gazillions of flash units running on a sensor, fire the sensor light and all the lights go off.  Except.  As they were getting ready for a shoot, a Japanese tourist came by, pulled out his little camera and took a shot, and set off every bank of flash, all gazillions of them. 🙂

Today, we can’t in the field, make those changes to the light, but clever Photoshop, and to some extent, Lightroom and others  can help. (I’m deliberately avoiding the issue of fill-in flash to help balance out those shadows, in my opinion, it’s so overused and so mostly poorly handled that the results remove the form of the subject)

I loaded the Yellow-plumed Honeyeater file into PS and hunted around with the Eyedropper tool for a value about 127-128 (Mid tone, think Diffused Value if you were paying attention)  Not finding one where I wanted it, I raised the Exposure slider until the area just under our model’s chin was as that value.  All good.

Now I need a Black of about 4 1/3rd less. Past experiments would say that is the 0 value, right?, but I think it’s better at about 25-30, so I dropped the “Shadows” slider until I was getting 25 in the black under the eye. Next is Photo White, and I hunted around the sky values until I found some that read 255 (white), but again from experience I think that is excessive, so I usually use dropped the “Highlights” slider to a value of around 230-235.  Here I went with 235. That way I get a tiny hint of form in the white. (Which by the way look like clouds in this shot, but clever reader you’d be misinformed).

Perfect highlights giving an excellent Hi Key Portrait. Dean would have approved.

And all this because I managed to get a pretty close exposure for the Diffused Value in the first place.  Thanks to Mr A’s theory.

This is not a solution for resurrecting badly over/underexposed photos.
Someone at a bird photography seminar once said to me, “Yes, but I don’t do it that way!!!” to which I responded, “True, but then you don’t get the results I do.”

Herein endeth the lesson.
Keep takin pictures,  we do.

Oh, and I’m not going to answer responses about 8, 10, 12 or 16 bit imaging.

Saturday Evening Post #23: For the Joy of It


Vale Innocence—Christchurch 15th March 2019

I had written this blog earlier in the week, but felt I needed to add my heartfelt support and condolences to all those affected by the unspeakable tragedy in the quiet, wonderful, heartwarming township of Christchurch in New Zealand. For all those affected directly by the atrocities, for their families and friends and colleagues, for the amazing first responders and the superb work of all the authority services involved and all New Zealanders.

May Peace come on Healing Wings.


EE and I have been away on a break the past week.  Took a get-away with some of the people in our village to the quiet township of Portalington for some shopping, eating, entertaining and general good-natured company.  No cameras, birding, bird photography, early morning get-aways or late evening stay outs. Company!

Still as I was doing the last of the packing the weather forecast looked like some of the outdoor activities would likely be a washout or freeze out, so I pondered a day or two indoors and grabbed a book. (and a camera and lens—more to follow).

The book I chose was “Photography for the Joy of It“, by Freeman Patterson.  A great Canadian photographer and teacher.
He is one of those whose style was introduced to me when I was making a career change, and his work gave me a new direction for my own picture making at the time.  My copy of Photography for the Joy of It, is, to say the least, well-worn, and dog-eared.  Here tis.

It has been through a few updates since my copy was first published, but the simplicity of Freeman’s images and his honesty with the text is still a delight to read and view and to ponder.  So much so that by the end of the first day inside because of the weather, and bad tv programmes, :-), I was reaching for the D7100 with my rapidly becoming favourite walkabout lens the f/4 70-200. I was even seeing possibilities through the window of the unit.

Patterson is now in his 80s and still going strong. freemanpatterson.com  will find him if you are interested.  His “Images, Ideas, and Reflections” letter is a beaut source of creative inspiration, and some good quotes too.

A lot of his work that excited me at the time had to do with the application of Gestalt psychology, “an organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts”

Alignments, shapes and patterns being a big part of it.  Let’s not get technical.

So with a day to fill-in on a shopping field trip to the local Queenscliff area, and my head ringing with—Proximity, Similarity, Continuity, Closure, and Connectedness, (you’ve got to look that up), I entrusted EE to the group, and began to stroll the main street in the sunshine, armed with said lens and a polarising filter attached. Gotta make the most of colour.

One thing that comes out of looking through the book is the way he has assembled so many photos that seem at first to be too simple.  The thought runs continually, “Oh, I could have made that”, which is precisely his teaching style.
Here is an image of his that I have always been enjoyed.  I don’t have permission to reproduce it here, but this is a shot from a page in the book.  I acknowledge All rights, use and intellectual properties are the ownership of Freeman Patterson.

The title he chose for this fascinating view is “Maybe Maggie Left it Here!”

Now chooks might not fascinate you, but his patience in getting the elements to work in just the rich way says much to the Proximity motif.

I didn’t find any chooks, but had a fascinating day exploring the buildings and shapes and tones, colour and textures and incongruities of the way as humans we assemble the things in our lives.

In case you don’t ever read the book, here is the last line in the last chapter.

“Photography is a good way to explore yourself and your place in the scheme of things.
Try to understand your personal responses to different subjects—those you photograph and those you avoid
Then the techniques you use will make sense.

The Joy of Photography is the Joy of Self-discovery.”

Window detail Queenscliff March 2019

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.