A NEW DEVELOPMENT…….

It’s Saturday in Melbourne and the rain/hail has cleared from the sky and the sun has come out.

The birds are tweeting in their very best voices to entice me outdoors.  I opened the balcony sliding door and stepped out into a puddle of water blanketing the tiles.

I wanted to check the sky and…… see if the small deciduous tree in front of my balcony had any new buds yet.

It did……..but very tiny and hard to see.

Then I spotted it.

A tiny nest about 3″ across.

I will have to rearrange the potted plants on my balcony so that the nest is visible from my desk chair.

I’ll keep you posted if there are any new residents.

I will be thrilled if I get new neighbours.

TOMORROW LOOKS PROMISING……….

Dare I get my hopes up that tomorrow will be a lovely day for Photography?

Will Melbourne’s weather forecast be right for a change?

Sunday 20 August

Summary
Min 4
Max 14
Partly cloudy.
Possible rainfall: 0 mm
Chance of any rain: 20%

Melbourne area

Partly cloudy. Areas of morning frost. Slight (20%) chance of a shower in the evening. Light winds.

 

Light winds is one of the descriptions I’m always looking for (in Photography).  Partly cloudy is far more interesting than a clear blue sky for Photography.

So where shall I go tomorrow?  (it feels like I’ve been pretty much indoors for the whole of Winter this year, partly the weather, but partly these #$@! severe headaches and neck pain – which are now permanent, but I’ve got plenty of prescription painkillers these days in the wake of all those MRIs I had.  They only show one new slipped disc in my neck, to match the 6 slipped discs in my lower back.  Methinks I may have to give up the heavy 150-500mm lens soon).

St Kilda Beach or Pier?

or somewhere local?

Newell’s Paddock Wetlands & Conservation Reserve?

Brighton Beach ?

It’s a long way off now that I’ve moved to the western suburbs, but actually only 2 buses, or a tram and a long bus trip?  But it’s Sunday tomorrow and the buses don’t run as often.

The Royal Botanic Gardens?

Queens Park, Moonee Ponds?  That’s only a tram ride to the end of the line and a 5 minute walk to the entrance.

Or shall I renew my Zoo Membership and go to the Great Aviary for some Bird Photography practice?  Despite lack of direct route via public transport, it IS only about 3-4 kms away as the crow flies.

Or shall I go somewhere new?

Guess!

PS.  It’s only 10.45am and the hail and heavy rain has just started (it’s Saturday morning as I type this post).

THIS TIME LAST YEAR…….

From the archives – 15th August 2016.

After moaning about the wild and windy weather lately, I thought to check out  what I was doing this time last year.

(well, 15th August, 2016 was close enough).

It appears I was in the Royal Botanic Gardens doing some flower photography.  The dark background suggests it was on a dark overcast  Winter day, but it didn’t stop these lovely pink flowers shining.  I’ve had a ‘senior moment‘ and can’t remember what they’re called 🙂    Uhmmmm…..Japonica….Flowering Quince?).  At least I remember where I made the image.  It was next to a blue rubbish bin, 50 metres up the path from the Rose Pavilion, which was located on the hillside above the large Ornamental Lake).

Did I ever mention that I’ve walked around and through the Royal Botanic Gardens between 8-10,000 times in my adult life.  I even walked to/from my office on the southern perimeter of the RBG for some 16 1/2 years.  It’s a beautiful part of Melbourne and well worth a visit.

The Royal Botanic Gardens I mean, not my old office 🙂

WILD & WINDY WEATHER

Image made from my apartment balcony a couple of weeks ago.

It’s been wild and windy weather in Melbourne and its surrounding suburbs on and off for several weeks now.

The laneway leading down the small steep hill to my apartment block acts a bit like a wind tunnel, so it seems to be more like gale force on my west-facing balcony.  Over the weekend and yesterday, I had to end up closing all my windows, (and door to the balcony), as the wind had blown in loose soil and bark mulch from my potted herbs.

Quite weird having to vacuum a layer of soil off my bedroom carpet near the window and clean all the bark off a chest of drawers (near that same window).  I only had the windows open about an inch (to give you some idea of the strength of the wind).  The lounge sliding door was only open about 1/2″  to let in some fresh air.  These modern apartment blocks leave a lot to be desired in terms of fresh air, especially when they’re as tiny as mine.  I’m missing my nature walks at the moment.  There have been some sunny afternoons but I’ve had commitments to keep me at home (like the washing machine repair man and the supermarket home delivery service).

When it rains, I have to shut the windows completely as they are the louvered kind and the rain comes straight in from the west.

Strangely enough. despite the weather bureau predictions, we seem to have had little rain.  Maybe the best of the rain has been in the eastern and southern suburbs, although the skies in the west, where I live, have been dark and ominous enough.   I guess it’s rained overnight as my balcony tiles were wet, but I’ve had to start hand watering the potted plants.  I have noticed the sage and lemon thyme, which I cut down low at the start of winter, has lots of lovely green leaves again, so the soil temperature must be warming up at least (now that Spring is not far off).

To me, nothing signifies climate change, (and how dry Melbourne’s winter has been this year), when I have to hand water my potted plants in the last month of Winter.

Perhaps we’ll have record-breaking Spring rains like we had in 2016?

The wind whistling through my apartment block sounds just like an Arctic Storm and I always wonder what makes such a loud sound in a modern building like this one.  Same thing happened in my previous modern apartment block.  And while there has been the occasional colour in the sky at dusk, no stunning sunset images to share with you either.

 

This morning, I suddenly noticed gaps in the plants I’m growing near the balcony rail to give some privacy – I’m quite close to the footpath and road, despite being on the first floor of this building.

I was shocked to see 2 of my heaviest pots blown over.  I assume the wind must have dried the soil out so much they’ve become lighter overnight?

I quickly righted them and scooped the spilt soil back in, but not much point sweeping all the other scattered bark mulch and soil ( with the wind so strong during the day).  I gave them a generous watering to make the pots heavier.

Roll on Spring and some windless days…………………..please 🙂

 

I’m like a toddler with a new toy – can’t leave iMovie alone now I’ve worked out how to use it over the weekend, but I really need to go out and shoot some new images/subject matter for Test Run #3.

Here’s test run #2……….made after I arrived home from some errands in the city centre this afternoon.

I was so engrossed in re-arranging some old images to try and fit the music I chose for this test run, I nearly forgot to cook dinner tonight 🙂

(I can’t work out why some images are static and some fade.  Hmmmmm.  Back to ‘the drawing board’.  I’ll work it out in the end.  This is another ‘hit’ or ‘miss’ effort as I can’t seem to alter the speed or change the transition of each image the way I would like.  Well, at least I’ve successfully passed the Beginner’s Class in iMovie). 

Enjoy……..and I recommend you switch to FULL SCREEN (located down in the bottom right hand corner of the slide show screen)

 

Yesterday was a momentous day.

I wanted to make another YouTube, (or slide show), with sound.

With the Picasa software used in the past no longer on my computer, I discovered it was no longer available or supported on the internet either.  So a couple of days ago I started searching for a new piece of editing software that would do the same thing.

And, to make the task easier, I decided on a simple slide show based on my Brighton Beach images.  Note: I’ve use these images before to make a Picasa software slide show with a standard piece of music which was available on Picasa at that time.

Brighton Beach is in a bayside suburb not too far from Melbourne city (by bus, train or car), known for its iconic colourful bathing boxes. These bathing boxes, or storage sheds, can only be owned by local residents and on the rare occasion one is sold, such as in January 2016, the auction resulted in the astonishing figure of Aust$285,000.  Just imagine a painted shed being sold for that gigantic sum. No land.  Just a SHED!  Just as well Brighton is an affluent suburb.  I’ve uploaded some sample shots to paint a picture of the beach I’m working with for this slide show.

Finally, Friday night, I decided just to upload iMovie onto my Mac and give it a try.  It took about 8 hours to download and I had to leave the computer on all night.  It wiped out approximately 2.2GB (which I didn’t take in when I read the instructions) so with only an 8GB monthly internet package, I’m going to run out of internet this month (unless I stay off the computer for most of the next week or two.

Anyway, yesterday morning, at the end of the download, I opened iMovie and stared intently at the Black space with the various options at the top of the screen……..I stared blankly for a fair while in fact.  My brain was going around in circles in Imagination & Creative mode i.e. the Right side of the Brain was firing.

I thought it pointless to read, or watch, a tutorial on how to make a movie or slide show using iMovie, as by the time the tutorial was over I would have forgotten half of what it said :).

Yesterday I stared at the black screen for some time after the overnight upload.  I nearly went into one of my regular Meditations with the focus on the words ‘black screen’ repeated over and over in my brain.  I snapped out of that when I realised half the day was gone and I was still in my PJs…………and the screen was still black.

iMovie has dozens, (if not hundreds?), of music clips, so I just chose the sound of waves crashing for this first test exercise.  Fortunately I’m still very good at observing small details visually, so realised very quickly if I took images from several beach visits, the sky might be bright blue in some shots and overcast on others.  One cold Autumn day I was down at Brighton Beach and it was pretty much deserted.    On another, the broad stretch of soft sand at low tide was crowded (it being sunny and a weekend).   So I couldn’t use too many images showing the sandy section of the beach or the sky colour.

One day the waves were merely lapping at the fine seaweed and shells sprinkled haphazardly across the sand high tide line.  Another day, the waves were crashing with high spray and greater ferocity.  So choosing to make a slide show from several beach visits was not without some challenges yesterday.   But, I do have a certain amount of patience and tenacity (as shown in my working life, as much as in my current bird and nature photography hobby).

Towards the end of my initial test slide show, I placed the pale sky and images made facing into the sun (giving silhouettes), to suggest to the viewer the sun, was getting low in the sky.  It wasn’t late in the day, so this was merely an illusion.

Then I couldn’t work out why it didn’t upload to my YouTube channel.

This morning I finally noticed that I hadn’t given it enough time to upload (to YouTube).  Duhhh!

It took a few minutes and then I decided to share my test sample of using the Apple Mac’s iMovie software with you.

So here ’tis.

My very first slide show using iMovie.  Remember I’m only a beginner and this was my first attempt.  But I thought it was pretty good for a first attempt.

Enjoy………………….and yes, you are excused if the sound of crashing waves gets too monotonous and you turn the sound off 🙂

GREY TEAL (Anas gracilis)

I think this is a juvenile Grey Teal, but for a while I thought it was a female Chestnut Teal.  I used to see it often in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne.

INTERMEDIATE EGRET (Ardea intermedia)

Intermediate Egret (Ardea intermedia)

Many moons ago, when I was more au fait with my computer, had more ‘grey matter’ in my brain and had Picasa editing software installed, I made 4 YouTubes from a range of early photos.  I’d forgotten all about them until yesterday and thought to share one of them today.  Amateurish they might be, but I seem to remember they were great fun to play around with.  These were made when I had only one blog, Victoria A Photography (now deleted).

I split into 2 new blogs, A Black & White blog under my name Vicki A Alford – Photographer  (which I don’t use often) and this current Nature blog you’re now reading, Living with Nature.

Living with Nature could have been titled A walk with my camera as that is what it is.  Just images I make when out walking (for fresh air and exercise).  These days I never go to a particular place to photograph a sunset.  Any sunset shot is merely what I happen to see at the end of a walk, or from my apartment balcony.  There’s a professional photographer called Vicki Alford in Melbourne, so I inserted the first letter of my middle name to differentiate between the 2 of us.

Back in those days, I dabbled in Food Photography as well.

Food Photography became rather expensive as I had to keep buying so many different ingredients for recipes (to photograph).  There were many times when I ate the food/recipe before I’d decided on the final image to share, as it looked so yummy.  It not only looked yummy, it was delicious as I used to be a good cook.  This clip opens with the image which was a finalist in the Michaels Camera Store monthly contest – “Food” – a few years ago –  Caponata Siciliana – a sweet/sour Bruschetta dish of which I am extraordinarily fond.  I made about 50 images and then, dissatisfied with the results, ate the food.  The next day I went out and bought all the ingredients again, made many more images and ended up choosing the shot below.

Michaels Camera Store in Melbourne is my ‘go to’ shop for anything Photographic and the assistants have been more than generous with their time and advice.

In fact, I spent months trying out all the long telephoto lenses, (including the Canon L series expensive lenses I couldn’t possibly afford), before I chose the Sigma 150-500mm f5.0-6.3 lens for my bird photography.  Due to my poor memory, I used to visit the store regularly with queries, both technical and lens related.  No question was EVER too trivial or silly for these highly knowledgeable sales assistants – all of whom are very experienced photographers themselves.  I believe some of them are professional photographers who work in the store part-tome to supplement their income.

I visit less often now that I live further away from Melbourne’s city centre.

Hope you enjoy the variety of images in this clip……

AUTUMN COLLAGE

From the archives

Many years ago, I used to use Picasa software to make collages or Birthday Cards.  I no longer have this software and this morning I discovered its no longer available.  The collage above is one of many I made in the early days of my Photography hobby.  

Enjoy…………..