Saturday Evening Post #98: Back to the Future

“The sanest man Sets up no deed, Lays down no law, 
Takes everything that happens as it comes, 
As something to animate, not to appropriate, 
To earn, not to own, 
To accept naturally without self-importance:
If you never assume importance You never lose it..”
Lao Tzu

One of the blog posts I regularly follow has been that of Ming Thein (MT)
Over the years his insight into the creative photo process and his attention to detail in technique has always offered new ideas and directions. His clear and reasoned explanations of the elements of a photograph, form, shape, tone, texture, point of view and the like, has always been interesting, and I have to say that not always did I agree, but that is part of the fun of looking at someone’s work.
But MT has called his blog time over.

In the same week, Kirk Tuck over at Visual Science Lab is also calling an end to his current blog as he is off to pursue some video options.

“I see myself writing less and less about new photography gear and new picture making practices. ..  I’m not anxious to watch my writing devolve into some personal pathos about lost life opportunities, bad decision making, therapy or diets. Or “how we did things in the golden age of photography.”
I have recently (finally) come to grips with the whole concept that, in what’s left of the commercial imaging world, you can do quite well with a smart phone and a suite of programs to enhance your smartphone photos, with less hassle and less time spent than “doing them the right way.”

Sad to see them both go, but fully understand their individual reasons.

Truth be told, as the weeks of lockdown have deteriorated into months, that I find it much  more difficult to warp out words that are relevant and encouraging. There are only so many stories from my own ‘golden age of photography’, only so much pathos that I’d be inclined to share online.

Saw an ad on the tv the other night (Yes, you read that right. Me, watching tv), from Apple. The tag line was, Taken[and Edited] on an iPhone, lots of flashy coloured splashes, and some clever image size, and perspective things to ponder over, and it just confirmed to me that the future of photography is going to do what it has always done.  Change, evolve and find new markets, new vision and new visual experiences.

In another life I once made a presentation at a major photographic convention, just at the turn of digital, and indicated as photographers we have always been “on the cutting edge” of technology.
In the beginning we used to shoot only glass plates, then flexible film.
We began with Monochrome Images, who would have thought of colour.
Rangefinder cameras gave way to Single Lens Reflex.
Bulky studio lights gave way to sparkling electronic flash
Formal indoor portraits became rich environmental, tomorrow pictures (as Don Nibbelink coined).
Digital began for us as scanning from negatives and transparencies. Now we think in terms of 61Megapixel sensors and look beyond that.
Not unsurprisingly at the time, a lot of what I said was dismissed as ‘activist nonsense’ by the organisers.
Well.

And as my Tai Chi Master would say,  “If an art is simply a repetition, then it will fade and die.  For the Art  to live on and grow it must find opportunity to express the old in new ways”.

Me, I’m looking forward to our times in the field. To look for and work with the birds again.  To hopefully bring back some new fresh stories of our amazing natural world.

Been delving through the archives of late.  Not much else to do really, amazing to find moments or opportunities with birds that I had overlooked.

White-winged Choughs are a favourite bird. I am happy to spend hours in their company. Many will tell they  find them difficult to photograph. To the contrary, I’ve sat on logs in the forest and have them hunt over the log, around my feet and sit on the log and preen.  Talking all the time.
Choughness is a compelling life.

This one was only a few seconds before the ‘guard’ in the tree. The communal life means they share various activities among the flock. It had been relieved of its sentry duty and wafted down to enjoy a rummage among the leaf-litter.

Looking forward to the ‘Roadmap Ahead’ tomorrow, or as Sean McCaullif said, “With all this social-distancing, what is the point of being a Hermit!”

Remain

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

In the School with Choughs

Flow with whatever may happen 
and let your mind be free. 
Stay centered by accepting 
whatever you are doing. 
This is the ultimate. 
Chuang Tzu

 

We’d been sitting quietly for awhile. Infact long enough to enjoy at least one cuppa and think longingly for the Thermos for a second.

It’s the You Yangs. Near the old, now unused, Duckponds School building. We were making one last session at finding the Jacky Winter pair and to see what the Eastern Yellow Robins were up to.
And.
To tell all the truth.  Not much.  Yep, that’s it. Little, a void, devoid, uninhabited. Departed, moved on, relocated.

And its been like that for quite awhiles. Many of the more productive spots we’ve been visiting, have been, well, decidedly UNproductive.

I knew there were White-winged Choughs on the other side of the main road, as their calls were quite clear.

1802-12_DWJ_3288.jpg

Continue reading “In the School with Choughs”

Life with a sprinkle of Choughness

Long term readers will know of my fascination with all things Choughness.

White-winged Choughs can be both frustrating and rewarding to follow.  Some families seem to have a high human tolerance and I’ve had them hunt around my feet and sit on the same log with me.  Others. No matter how much time I spend, they just keep moving on.
They are not the world’s greatest aeronauts and I often think that if they can run to the next location that is their preferred method of locomotion.

They also have quite well established family rules. Which they understand, while I must guess what is going on.  And at just about every encounter, I come away impressed by some new view of choughness.

One family we see regularly in the You Yangs have just managed to get a couple of young ones off the nest.   Now comes the job of teaching these little ones all the rules of choughness.   And its a big task.  The young birds are quite clueless. And they have an average attention span of about 1 millisecond.   “Is it food”, seems to be the total of their ability to reason.   So the adults have to spend quite a bit of time working with young. And because of their lack of reason, they are easily enticed away by other families offering “bigger grubs”.  Oh boy, I gotta go

Choughs need quite a large family size, at least six or seven adults to raise a young.  Larger groups have more flexibility and its reported, more success.

Found the family at work around some rocks, and settled down for a sprinkle of choughness to add to my day.

Continue reading “Life with a sprinkle of Choughness”

Blogging 101 the Third Week in Review; “Family Matters”

Family Matters

Been away for the bulk of this past week. Up at the Family Acres.  We stayed at the Murray Downs Resort in Swan Hill.  Really nice and quiet, and just a few km out of town.
Like all good resorts, probably enough to do without having to make the tourist mecca trip. And a lovely golfcourse built in.
But, of course not being the sporty type, golf doesn’t mean, clubs, balls and keeping score.  It means wide open green areas, water, trees, bushes and … birds.

So each morning we managed to be up at Sparrows call, and walk around the course, before the golfers began their pilgrimages.
In return we got to see among other things, White-winged Choughs, Rainbow Bee-eaters, Pied Butcherbirds and a host of the usual suspects.
With the Goschen Roadside Reserve about 20 minutes away, it should have been a great birding week.

But.

Family Matters.

So photography was banned.  Well at least frowned on. So I snuck into the deep pockets of my Breakaway jacket, a D810, sans its L Bracket, and in the other pocket, the 300mm f/4 PF with a 1.4 TC attached.    Not much help for general photography but at least it covered some of the birds at the golf course.

The White-winged Choughs have adapted quite well, thank you, to the rolling sand hills, saltbush and thin mallee scrub, nestled between the sweeping grassy greens of the golf course.   Able to enjoy both the richness of their old habitat and the pleasures of the new.

I managed to spend two sessions, a mid morning, and a late evening with a couple of the families.  They are so used to people zooming past in carts, or walking by with bags and clubs that a dude walking quietly with a camera seemed quite  harmless. So within a few minutes I was accepted into the family, and they worked around me nonchalantly. Even the ever present “Lookout” bird relaxed enough for closeups.

Blogging 101 was also concentrating on the family of bloggers.

But a lot of it was about branding, id, making themes that people will follow, or seek out and developing a feature to enrich readership, as my eyes glaze over….

So I came to the conclusion “Family Matters”. Those who graciously have clicked the Follow button or come over from another link are welcome here as family, and the time shared is as much important to me as the enjoyment of the birds.

So there is not going to be a ‘sustainable purely personal blog of random musings benefitting from a hint of structure.. ” here anytime in the foreseeable future.

Just me sharing our best time with the birds and hoping you enjoy it as much.

Here is how the Chough Family took their day.

Enjoy.

Sentry on Guard. If it can get the sentry to accept my presence then the family will settle down.
Sentry on Guard. If I can get the sentry to accept my presence then the family will settle down.
Always a delight to see the wing spread. They are not the world's most agile flyers
Always a delight to see the wing spread. They are not the world’s most agile flyers
The benefits of settling in a golf course. Plenty of water in pools on the road
The benefits of settling in a golf course. Plenty of water in pools on the road
A somewhat deformed beak.
A somewhat deformed beak.
Taking a stroll under the cooling shower of a lawn sprinkler.
Taking a stroll under the cooling shower of a lawn sprinkler.
The family that preens together.
The family that preens together.
Plenty of food among the damp understory litter.
Plenty of food among the damp understory litter.