From the archives

30th September 2012

Salvia africana-lutea is one of the first flowers I photographed when I took up Photography as a hobby.   Its also probably one of the few flowers I actually know by its botanical name (instead of the common name).



From the archives

September 2012

Normally, Melbourne would be preparing for the Royal Melbourne Show at this time of year, but it’s cancelled in 2020 (of course).     It’s a great family day filled with the pungent smell of doughnuts, hotdogs and other takeaway food.   The rides and merry-go-rounds cater for the young and old.  The show bags – filled with commercial samples, comics, lollies and such, are usually something to be collected in number (according to how deep one’s purse) and carried home to be treasured and played with for days after the visit by the young at heart.

When we were young, it was always a treat to sample the chocolates, liquorice and boiled sweets and toffees as we usually only ate healthy home-grown food.

Back in the early days of my photography hobby in 2012, I took the afternoon to wander around and look at some of the exhibits – after all, I’m still a child at heart.

I unashamedly have copied these details from Wikipedia……

The Royal Melbourne Show is an agricultural show held at Melbourne Showgrounds every September. It is organised by the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria and has been running since 1848.[1] Each year Royal Melbourne Show attracts attendances of up to half a million people.

The traditional purpose is the display of rural industry, including livestock and produce with its associated competitions and awards however, the show also features amusement rides and a sideshow alley, as well as the peculiarly Australian tradition of ‘Showbags‘, carry bags containing samples of goodies produced by various commercial enterprises.

A prominent feature during showtime is the many rides including a permanent wooden Mad Mouse roller coaster which resided at the grounds until 2001, owned by Wittingslow Amusements. A permanent chairlift also resided on site until 2005. The site has its own railway station, used during special events located on the Flemington Racecourse line. The Thursday of the show was once observed as the Show Day public holiday in Melbourne; this holiday was abandoned in 1994.[2]

While the Royal Show is the main show in Victoria, many cities and towns in regional Victoria host smaller shows, such as the Royal Geelong Show, Bendigo Show, Ballarat Show, Warragul Show, Whittlesea Show and the Shepparton Show.

There was no show in 1915, 1940 to 1945 nor 2020 (of course).

You can read more about the competitions and other details here.   Its permanent location is actually within walking distance of where I currently live but over the other side of the river.   It would be a rather circuitous route via car or taxi as there’s no road crossing the river in this immediate area.

So here’s a few random photos from the baby animal area and some of the craft exhibitions.

I took many more photos at the showgrounds that year, but they disappeared in last year’s laptop crash and attempted photo library transfer to the new desktop.

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus)

female House Sparrow

House Sparrows are as common as mud, but that doesn’t take away the pleasure of observing their habits and trying to photograph them from the comfort of my desk chair.

They’re fascinating.

Sitting at my desk with intermittent glances out the lounge windows gives me a ‘birdseye view’.

I got fed up with my sore neck and headaches this week so put my new(ish) 27″ iMac back down on a box atop a low table behind my desk again this week and discovered that with the screen 5-6″ lower, I was able to observe the Sparrows (and sometimes the Superb Fairy-wrens) in the nearby Eucalyptus tree over the top of my iMac screen.

The fixed stand on the iMac (desktop) is one of the few daily and rather trivial annoyances that have entered my life since my crashed Mac Pro laptop and Dell high resolution 27″ screen left my life mid-May 2019.

The Dell screen could be moved up, down and even turned portrait size (as well as the usual landscape view).   i could tilt it any old way.  I had it connected to my 13″ Mac Pro on my desk and with the slight colour tone differences could correct any colour saturation that looked a wee bit off on either screen.   The Mac Pro laptop had a slightly richer colour.

(note: in the series below the window was dirty from recent rains so the images are a bit faded).

A couple of days ago, a male House Sparrow seemed to be actually enjoying bouncing up and down on a small branch.   For once I could clearly see through the thick foliage.

If I didn’t know better, I might suggest the bird was bouncing up and down on the branch in the brisk winter wind for the sheer fun of it.

Seriously.   The bird stayed on the branch for quite some time.

Took me a while to focus over the top of my (lowered) computer screen and through the louvred window panes on that side of the room.

NOTE: I have reduced the shadows, increased the contrast and ‘black point’ in photo editing so you could see the bird more clearly, otherwise, the bird’s outline would have been almost invisible.

You will notice this male Sparrow has a beautiful soft thick grey winter coat of breast feathers and in the cold winter morning the bird has also fluffed up its feathers to retain some warmth.

Here’s example of a couple of Spotted Turtle-doves in Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve behind my apartment building in winter 2017 below. Note how they’ve fluffed up their winter coat in order to retain some warmth.


Back to the story……….

One other day this week, the sun came out and several sparrows came to play and splash around in my (temporary) birdbath.

Actually, it’s not temporary.

A large plastic plant saucer atop an even larger empty plant pot makes a wonderful birdbath.   It’s higher up so I can take photos more clearly through the windows.  Since the water is quite deep, I have put 2 small metal water bowls in the centre so the birds have a sturdy bowl rim to stand on and bend over when quenching their thirst.

The Avian species on my balcony needs some good ergonomics just as much as me with my desk chair height  😀

One day, when the stores open again, I might buy a real birdbath.   The blue ceramic one has broken twice over the last few years necessitating 2 trips to the local Bunnings Hardware Warehouse with its attached plant nursery.    It’s only 15 minutes walk away but closed for 6 weeks at the moment.   I usually book a taxi to go there (and back home) as I always buy too much.

For the newer followers who have just joined me, this series (below) gives you an idea of where I buy my herb and veggie seedlings each Spring.   Bunnings is the name of a larger Hardware warehouse chain of stores and they must have millions of products indoors, let alone the large outdoor plant nursery.

The House Sparrows play and splash around and make great entertainment value in this current ‘lockdown’ in Melbourne.

If you’re a bird photographer.  Even an amateur like me.   Don’t dismiss the fun in observing these common little birds that frequent our urban landscape in the absence of more exotic species.

I’ve taken so few photos in recent weeks, I actually leave my cameras packed away in their soft pouches most days.

I saw a grey Fantail land on my balcony fence this week and missed the shot due to having no camera ready and waiting.

Just to share what a Grey Fantail looks like, here are the images made last year when I spotted one in my Japanese Maple.


Mostly it is loss which teaches us about the worth of things.


CHEIRANTHUS Sugar Rush (Cheiranthus cheiri)

…and right now I’m enjoying the flowers of the Cheiranthus Sugar Rush (Cheiranthus cheiri) blooming on my apartment balcony.   We’re only 10 days into the current 6 week evening curfew and strict lockdown in Melbourne and I’m missing all my herbs and veggies I used to grow on my balcony.   I re-homed or planted out most of them when I temporarily moved house last month and with the lock-down and all the stores closed, I am missing their fragrant cheerful presence in my life.

KANGAROO PAW (Anigozanthos species)

Looking through my various flower folders this morning, I came across the Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthos species and hybrids) and didn’t remember sharing any of these images before.   Maybe I’ve just forgotten but here are a selection for the new(er) followers.

Kangaroo Paw is one of Australia’s iconic flowers with the flowers being highly distinctive and their finger-like projections and cover of fine velvet hairs giving the flowers their colour.

They’re an immensely popular garden plant across Australia (and around the world).

It’s the floral emblem of the state of Western Australia and there are 12 species, with the 12th being particularly striking because of its black and green flowers.

In the wild, the colours range from red and green through various shades of reds and yellows through to the black & green of Macropidia fuliginosa.

The images below were made with various cameras and lenses and differing light conditions and locations.    I prefer the varieties with fewer blooms and to photograph them as they are just opening (as lots of flowers on a plant can look a little ‘busy’ for photography purposes).




STAGE 4 LOCKDOWN in my state (of Victoria, Australia)

As from yesterday, Melbourne and its suburbs have gone into Stage 4 lockdown with a curfew starting last night – Melbourne city was virtually a ghost town from 8.00pm – 5.00am with only police (and the homeless ?) last night and will be deserted in the streets at night for the next 6 weeks at least.

Mask wearing is now mandatory in country Victoria also, as it has been mandatory for the last couple of weeks in the city.

We have to stay within a 5km radius of home and only 1 person is able to shop once a day and that must be within the 5 km radius.   Obviously, there is an exception if you don’t have shops close to your home.

I just watched an interview with a Melbourne mother who works from home and has had to go back to teaching her 7-year-old from home and she said “Trying to be present in each moment is a struggle.”

This is my focus every day and has been for about 95% of the last 18 months as my hip and spine pain reached new levels.   I have no commitments (except buying food & medications) and if you think I have an easy life, you’re right.   I do have an ‘easy‘ life, but that doesn’t mean to say I like staying home all day with chronic ill-health and pain.

I miss my walks outdoors.   I miss my Photography hobby.   I miss my rare, but thoroughly enjoyable visits from my few friends.

It IS doable.   It’s hard, but once you work out the fine details of managing your life home-based, in some ways it can be liberating.   You are not alone in this new way of living.    You are one person among the millions that are being affected.

No rush to get to work.  No rush to meet social, sport or any other outside-home appointments.   No need to get dressed or perfectly-groomed, unless you want to appear so in a video link-up.   Even then, it’s only the top half that needs to be groomed (if you wish).   You can still wear your PJ pants and ‘Bunny’ slippers on the lower half.   Imagine how much washing and ironing that will save you?

….and with face masks mandatory for every single person outside the home, a doctor I saw on an E.R. hospital visit on Saturday night said it’s really hard to read some patients as you can’t see their facial expressions.  I guess he’s not the only one that finds masks a wee bit harder.

Many businesses and most shops are closed (except for pickup and delivery) and you will need a pass to be excluded for travel outside your local bubble.

Food shops will remain open, but there may be some items out-of-stock – mainly those from interstate or when raw materials for processed food are needed from interstate.  Actually, I’ve found some fresh food items missing from the shelves for about 3 weeks.

There is some criticism about these stricter rules/laws, but to be honest, I’d rather be stuck at home than exposed to the ‘virus’.

I feel most sorry for those in high-rise apartment buildings with babies or chronic health problems, particularly those with young children under 7 – single parents who were totally dependent on their jobs to survive.  But the Government is rolling out financial assistance as an ongoing measure well into 2021 (whereas originally the financial assistance was only to September 2020).

It’s the aged care sector that is being badly hit with nursing home residents being transferred to other care.   So many suffering and many dying prematurely.   I’m so glad my 93 year old Father passed away in December 2019 as he wouldn’t have had a hope of understanding much of what is happening, or the limitations within his nursing home (where he resided for the last 10 months of his life).

I don’t mind wearing a mask outdoors at all – saves me a fortune on lipstick   😀  but my glasses do tend to fall off if I bend over to get something off the bottom shelf in the supermarket – not funny    😀

Compared to other countries (except N.Z.) Australia is extremely very well off with a minimum of COVID cases, but this is because our Government and state Premiers have acted fairly quickly and brought in wide-sweeping severe restrictions, so if you’re one of those protesting wearing masks/restrictions in other countries, I implore you to think carefully about your movement in the community and interaction socially and at work.

Some folk are STILL going out at night and socializing in past weeks, despite the restrictions in Melbourne. They are deliberately flouting the restrictions.   I feel like giving them a good k*** u* t** b*******.

I implore you to carefully consider travel and activities outside your home.

Start thinking about a new way of living if you reside in an urban area.

Start adapting…… (if you haven’t at the start of the year).  See it as a challenge – as to the creative or innovative ways you can live your life in this difficult time.

Learn to cook.   From scratch.

Make some soup.   Butternut pumpkin is my favourite.

But Spinach (or Spinach & Watercress) comes a close second.

Seriously, making soup from scratch is really easy.

Try making your own bread.   (OK, so I didn’t make the bread, but uploaded the image from my food photography folder, but I suppose I COULD…..if I wanted to).

Take up meditation.

Catch up on some sleep – you’d be surprised how much better you feel with plenty of deep,  restful, restorative sleep.

Turn off the computer or TV at least one hour before bed, preferably longer.   Listen to some calming music instead of your usual loud beat.   Read all the books you’ve always promised yourself you’ll read….one day.



OR re-read all the books you’ve already read…..

 Study a new language online.   Take a yoga class online.

Take some time out to just sit and be in the moment.  Sit outside and breathe deeply and slowly for 10-15 minutes (assuming you don’t live in a polluted city).

Look up to the sky (instead of down) and enjoy the sunset (or sunrise).

Go on a ‘virtual’ adventure.   Follow some travel blogs and sail down the Nile.   Climb a virtual mountain and plant a flag at the top of Mount Everest.


For the time being, stop being complacent and start living Mindfully.   Think about how you’d feel if you gave the virus to family and close friends.   Think about how you’d feel if you were responsible for their demise after terrible suffering in ICU (or worse, at home on their own with no one to notice their absence in the community).

A ex-nursing friend made the comment on her facebook page.   “If you think wearing a mask is uncomfortable, try being on a ventilator in an ICU unit.”

….and if you live in the country in an isolated area, start feeling blessed and grateful that you don’t live close to anyone and can live your life as you’ve done before the Virus.

If the Virus disappears, it will be easy to return to the old way of living, but in the meantime, consider your mindset and review your actions now, not tomorrow or next week/month/year……now.

Right Now Is the Time to Be Kind.
You cannot do a kindness too soon,
for you never know
how soon it will be too late.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Be kind to yourself and those around you.  Be polite and considerate of the elderly and those at high risk or disabled.   If you’re healthy, pause to give others a place in the queue, especially if they’re mothers forced to take babies and young toddlers to the supermarket (and their young are fractious).   It won’t hurt to step back a pace and let someone else into the queue before you.

Respect the police, the army, health-care professionals, security staff, delivery drivers and shop servers etc – they are only doing their job.   Don’t take it too personally if you are given directions you don’t like.

Don’t be rude and aggressive.

Treat others as you would like to be treated.

…..and if you’re bored, suck a straw and ‘deal with it’.  

If the zoo animals can cope with being in one space every day, why can’t you?   😀

Smile, wave, slow down when out in the car or in public.

Say thank you and smile to the person who stocks the supermarket shelves, delivers your post or makes a difference in your life.  Don’t glare or show unkind gestures to others in public at this difficult time.   It only degrades and makes your own appearance ugly.

Show some sympathy for those who have lost their jobs, their homes (and possibly struggling with mental health issues).

Show some patience and understanding for those who are fearful and stressed.

We are all unique and react to difficult situations in different ways.    What stresses me may not affect you at all (and vice versa).

When life’s problems seem overwhelming,
look around and see what other people are coping with.
You may consider yourself fortunate.

~ Ann Landers ~


The best way to capture moments is to pay attention.  This is how we cultivate mindfulness.

Jon Kabat-Zinn

I only had a short telephoto lens on Friday, so couldn’t zoom in closer.

The city, ‘lit up in golden light’, is a spectacular sight from my western suburb on a clear winter day.

Next time I’ll try and carry my long telephoto lens in my shopping trolley instead of the lightest camera & lens……….depending on how much shopping I’m doing of course   🙂


This out-of-focus shot of the city I made the same time last year gives you a sense of what Friday’s image might have been.   I was waiting at the local shopping centre bus stop and  couldn’t resist a shot even though I obviously failed to pay attention to the camera settings & got the tennis court fence in focus instead of the city centre.


I have a large folder of quotes which I read from time to time.  Most of them are uplifting or inspirational and remind me to ‘keep on, keeping on.’   I keep adding to the file whenever I come across a new one (quote) I like.

Inside yourself or outside,
you never have to change what you see,
only the way you see it.

Thaddeus Golas

This quote (above) reminded me not to forget why I loved this image of an Australian Pelican at Melbourne Zoo – made on 1st August 2012 (below).

In hindsight, now, 8 years later, I can see the outline/detail of the bird’s feathers is soft in focus and these days it just wouldn’t be worth keeping (by today’s photography standards I have acquired).

But the reality is that I loved the reflection and colours in the foreground/background and it was one of the first Australian Pelican images  I took, so I try not to be so critical, but keep my eyes open to why I love bird photography in general.

I keep it because it reminds me of how much fun I had/have doing bird photography and that joy is well worth keeping in my life today.

It’s also a reminder that we don’t have to be perfect in our various creative pursuits whether it be painting, pottery, drawing, craftworks etc.   We just have to enjoy it in that very moment of creation and open our eyes to the pleasure in doing what we love.

NORFOLK ISLAND PINES (Araucaria heterophylla) – ALTONA

I fully intended to get back to posting daily since I returned to my old riverside apartment, but got caught up in lockdown restrictions and tedious emailing/phoning back and forth trying to organize food supplies and medical appointments, so am a bit slow off the mark (so to speak).  Seems some of our restrictions are tighter than earlier this year in Melbourne.

When I was living down at the beachside suburb of Altona for 8 days recently, I did 3 very short walks ‘around the block’ (taking in the shops, supermarket, pier, beach etc).   I admit the Fish n Chip shop(s) featured heavily on those walks.   After all, there’s no place to indulge in my love of hot Fish n Chips (and Calamari) than the rare times I’ve gone down to various beaches to do some photography in the last 10 years.

When I was a small child these hot, salty treats were wrapped up in recycled newspaper (which is now banned I might add – has to be clean, new butcher’s paper mostly, but cardboard takeaway boxes do feature at some beaches).   They rarely featured on the menu in our household when we were young as our diet mainly came from what my Mother grew in her large veggie garden.

Now, as an adult, I only buy them when down at the beach and they have to be really, really crisp and light and super fresh and piping hot.   (Nothing is worse than cold, soggy fish n chips – except to throw to the seagulls to entice them closer to my camera lens).

I usually ended up with 3 times as many hot chips than I could eat on those short walks though.  A few times the seagulls came so close to where I was standing at Altona Beach I thought they were going to ‘wrestle me to the ground’  (to steal the remaining chips).

I think that might have been the closest encounter I’ve ever had with Seagulls.

One of the lovely aspects of my short walks were the beautiful line of Norfolk Island Pines planted along the esplanade.

Historically, they were significant in demonstrating the improvements to the foreshore in the 1950s due to the popularity of the area in the postwar period.

The tall trees cast long shadows on the sand at certain times of the day and I, for one, love their attractive shape and foliage.  I was really taken with the efforts of the local council to plant further trees in more recent times to ‘fill the gaps’.

I couldn’t help but wonder exactly how far this row of pines extended.   They seemed to go on as far as the eye could see.