VIPER’S BUGLOSS (Echium)

From the archives – 13th October 2016

VIPER’S BUGLOSS, PRIDE OF MADEIRA (Echium)

The washing machine broke down last weekend and it was the washing machine’s fault that I had to get up early this morning.

When the service centre booked me in for today’s service/repair visit I didn’t flinch or protest as the laundry was piling up and I don’t have many clothes these days.

But when the service/repair man rang last night to schedule a 7.30am time-slot on a forecast of a perfect sunny winter day, I shuddered.    It was only when I was eating breakfast that I saw the golden light reflecting off the townhouse windows opposite my balcony that I realised I should have been outside the back gate photographing the sunrise.  I was too late when I went downstairs and out the car park entrance.  The sun had already risen and was doing it’s very best to put a golden spotlight on the landscape.

What a shame I don’t live on the eastern side of the building I thought.   I would have seen the prospect of a sunrise before I’d even dressed for the day.   I would probably have left the camera set up on a tripod with polished lens and settings just perfect for a sharply focused image from my lounge room window.

I looked more to the south and saw the sky had faded into buttermilk (from its brilliant golden hue).  I forgot to check the Sony’s settings and just fired off a few shots regardless (as I was still half asleep).  This resulted in several dirty spots left over from trying to photograph the sky on a recent rainy day.  I had a bit of spot erasing to do before I could upload the images into this post.  To be honest the silhouettes weren’t that sharp in focus either.  I must have been shivering a bit while holding the camera in front of my glasses.

Far into the distance a solitary hot air balloon drifted across the winter sky (and I can now see I missed erasing the spots on the left hand side of this image 🙂 ).

It reminded me of the many dawn skies I had seen from the 3rd floor balcony of my previous apartment on the north-east side of Melbourne.  Back then, it was the sound of Doves on my balcony fence rail that often woke me early in the morning and I chanced upon the sight of such beautiful dawns they took my breath away.  Not only that, the hot air balloons hovered right overhead in that home location.

Here’s a few shots from the archives to refresh long-time follower’s memories.

 

 

 

 

Dawn on a perfect winter day in 2016.

 

I noticed this morning there were small birds everywhere on the trees in front of my current apartment  balcony and despite chirping their very best, the sound would never have awoken me these days, as I haven’t woken at dawn in the 11 months I’ve now lived in this western suburb of Melbourne.

Shame about that as the recent foggy mornings would have cast a ghostly mist in Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve and over the Maribyrnong River just 5 minutes walk down the hill from my current back door and made for some lovely atmospheric images.

Needless to say, after the repair man had left for his next scheduled job, I started nodding off trying to download the images I hurriedly made earlier and eventually, decided to go back to bed as I’d had an unsettled night with only a few hours sleep.

I awoke at midday and after a quick lunch I’ve missed the best part of this Winter’s perfect day no. 3.

Time to set off on a walk in the nearby river path as it’s too late to go further afield (as I’d originally planned last night).

EVERY CLOUD HAS A SILVER LINING……

The sky went a bit dark and gloomy and then came the hail.

But that was 30 minutes ago.

I couldn’t help but be drawn out on to my apartment’s balcony to check out the new sky (but it was, and still is, very cold).

 

PS I think I’ve ‘losing the plot’ as we say in Australia.  I thought I posted this image last night and this morning, I found it still in draft form 🙂

SPRING SUNSET

From the archives – 21st September 2016

It’s been cold, extremely windy and VERY wintery weather in recent days………..just when I thought Winter was coming to an end and Spring might be soon appearing on the horizon.

But still…….not much in the way of real heavy soaking rain this past winter in Melbourne.

Maybe we’ll have record-breaking Spring rain like we had last year?

Who knows.

In the meantime, I’m in hibernation mode and my cameras are gathering dust.

One of the most magical times of day around my area is between 3.30pm and 4.30pm in the afternoon.

Especially in winter when the sun reflects off the clouds like a spotlight.  My side of the river starts to fall into a deep mysterious shade quite early, due to the overlooking cliff-top or hill (depending on where you’re standing).

I plan my walks over to the nearby Pipemakers Park so that I walk home via the pond just as the sun starts to drop low in the winter sky.

Part of Pipemaker’s Park garden ruins back in Autumn which reflects the time of afternoon I visit the area.

It looks more like this in winter and quite stark and more sombre.

It can be hard to see anything much happening at the pond as the brilliant sunlight shines directly into your eyes and the scrubby undergrowth is too thick to walk around to the sides, or back of the pond.  I usually stand in the shade of a large tree and surreptitiously, very slowly, peep around the tree trunk to attempt a photo.  I usually take a photo with my right hand with my left hand shading my brow & eyes, so I can see.

A variety of birds take turns diving into the shiny, murky-looking water surface (throwing a shower of sparkling droplets into the air) and then fly back up to the tall water reeds (or a nearby tree), shaking their feathers very fast to discard the excess water weight.  They make this flight over and over continuously.

The splash they make as they hit the water looks like dozens of diamonds being thrown into the air.  It’s hard to describe this magical scene without some photos, but I’ve only managed to take 2-3 images showing the light, never the fast-flying small birds………until last Monday.

I stood enchanted for about 20 minutes watching what looked like a White-plumed Honeyeater.

I’ve just re-viewed Monday afternoon’s images and I think the photo below might be good enough for you to see it.  It’s a small plain honeyeater with underparts a pale olive-green.  The face is a bit more yellowish and it’s underparts a pale yellowish grey-buff, but the black-bordered long white neck-plume clinches the identification.   You can’t see the white-neck plume in this image very well, so you’ll just have to believe me when I have 100% identified this elusive bird, that I saw this particular day.

(note: they’re a common bird in the area, I just can’t manage to photograph them up in high trees).

If you look carefully in the centre of the frame you can just barely see the bird as it’s the same colour as most of the surrounding leaves.

I’ve cropped the image a wee bit in the next shot.

In the centre of the frame below you can see it backlit. It was moving fast so the bird is a wee bit blurred.

And this poorer shot below shows the bird flicking the droplets of water off.  Again, blurred, (or soft in focus), due to the speed of movement.  I can’t really raise the ISO over 800 on my cameras without getting too much ‘noise’ or grainyness in the image in this type of situation and it’s hard to catch the bird within the frame as it flies up and down from the water so quickly.

I could watch these tiny birds for hours, but the light disappears quickly (and suddenly) like a light globe being turned off behind the high western cliff-top, so not a place to be stuck in without a torch I guess.  I try to leave before this happens.  In Summer, the daylight hours are longer of course.

Capturing these small birds such as the White-plumed Honeyeater, the Red Wattlebird and Reed Warblers in flight, or hitting the water surface, is my current challenge and I’ve always enjoyed a challenge in bird photography (as much as in my working life).

Of course photographing the White-faced Heron in this pond is much easier as it often stands still.

WISHING FOR A SUNNY DAY AT THE BEACH

Melbourne Weather Forecast – Thursday 3rd August, 2017 – cold, fog and a 90% chance of rain.

Hmmmm……

We’d better have some re-runs from the archives again……and I feel like beach images on this chilly Winter Day – (with apologies to the followers who’ve seen them all before).

 

 

 

 

This week I noticed that the Purple Coral Pea is in bloom.

I had already spotted several low-growing bushes opposite my apartment block, but the local council has planted it in various locations between new apartment blocks at the top of my laneway’s steep hill.

I bent over and fired off a few shots on the walk home from the local chemist/pharmacy on Monday.   As the bright sunlight was too harsh, I put my body between the flowers and the sun to create a shadow and the flowers showed up much better.  I only had my Sony ‘mirrorless’ with the 55-210 lens in my shopping bag, but I’ll try and go back with my Canon DSLR and my new(ish) 17-50mm f2.8 lens which will take a much closer and better shot.  I love that DSLR lens, but when I’m in a hurry, I usually grab my lightweight Sony ‘mirrorless’ a6000 on the way out the front door, not a heavy DSLR.

This lovely pea is a vigorous climber growing up to 20 feet so Wikipedia says, but I’ve only seen it growing low on the ground to about 20 inches high.

Wikipedia also says……

Hardenbergia violacea syn. H. monophylla is a species of flowering plant in the pea family Fabaceae, native to Australia from Queensland to Tasmania.[1] It is known in Australia by the common names false sarsaparilla, purple coral pea, happy wanderer, native lilac and waraburra (which comes from the Kattang language).[2] Elsewhere it is also called vine lilac[3] or lilac vine.

It also comes in white, pink and other colours.

 

We’ve had some lovely sunshine in Melbourne last week and again this week (since the gale force winds over the past weekend), but I’ve had so many errands (and other commitments), I’ve had little chance to enjoy it.  Monday,  I walked home along the Maribyrnong River path as the sun got lower in the sky and turned much of the surrounding landscape into gold which is really a wonderful time of the afternoon for Photography.

I noticed a couple of Spotted Turtle-doves on a branch in Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve and (fortunately) had the long 150-500 lens with me.  Initially, they seemed to be half asleep but when I took aim through the viewfinder, one opened its eyes as though it sensed my presence.  Impossible from that distance away, so was probably just coincidence the Dove opened its eyes and stared straight at my camera lens at that moment.

The image below (at 4.15pm as I walked home on Monday) gives you an idea of the pleasant weather we’ve experienced.

Yesterday and today was almost picture-postcard perfect too.

Although in one way,  I’ll be glad if it does rain for the rest of the week as we surely need it in Melbourne at this stage of late Winter.  While my balcony tiles have been wet most mornings when I wake (suggesting overnight rain), my potted plants have needed regular watering by hand again!

We’re having a very dry winter here.

INSECTS

From the archives……..again!  (I’m not doing much new photography at the moment).

I rarely photograph insects, partly because I don’t see them (being short-sighted and only having distance glasses) and partly because I’m so intent on birds or other larger subjects, I don’t look for them (insects).  There’s certainly more than one image in my library where I was photographing a flower and didn’t even notice there was an insect on the flower until I downloaded the day’s shooting on to my large 27″ screen  🙂

It’s always fun to review them though.  Most of the butterflies were shot in the Butterfly House at Melbourne Zoo in or around 2012.

The last image has an interesting story behind it.

It was made with my little Canon Point & Shoot in the early days of my Photography hobby in 2010.  At the time, I thought it was rather good and submitted it to iStock Photos to see if they would take me on as a stock photographer, but of course in my naïvety, I didn’t realise how good you’ve have to be to be a stock photographer and I was rejected.  Also they had too many flower images and that was my main subject in 2010.

The interesting fact was that I found another photo with the same insect and flower with almost the same composition on iStock Photos made by a Swedish(?) photographer.  Now what are the odds of someone on the other side of the world shooting almost the same composition, insect & flower.   I’ve seen many images made by different photographers in landscapes etc, but a subject this small………..amazing.

WINTER ROSE

From the Archives – 13th June 2017

I hate walking along the main road to the nearby Shopping Centre.  (In fact I usually catch a bus, tram or taxi).

It’s so boring.

The roads.

The cars.

The car exhaust fumes.

The traffic sounds.

So back in mid June I set myself a challenge to see how many flowers I could photograph in residential gardens, (or next to footpaths), along the walk.  It worked.  By the time I’d found the last flower on the journey, I had arrived.  And I didn’t even notice how long it took.  Here’s a couple of images I shot along the way.

………and I wasn’t bored one little bit 🙂