I’m a lover of Photography first, a nature lover second (and a gardener third 😀 ).
Whenever I see vivid colours in landscape (or seascape) images taken in the golden hour or sunset, I often guess that the photographer has exaggerated or over-saturated the colour in post-processing. But I know from personal experience that brilliant colours in the sky, and the subjects it shines upon, can truly be a wondrous sight.
None more so than the image below.
It was taken at sunset while looking over my balcony fence and down a small sideroad to the left in my new(ish) housing estate in the western suburbs of Melbourne. I’ve shared this image before today.
It’s even more impressive on my large 27″ screen.
A month before this, in December 2016, before the large apartment building was built on the cliff in front of my apartment, the horizon was just as beautiful with its ever-changing colour palette.
I no longer spend every evening sitting in my desk chair (or out on my apartment balcony) watching the sun go down as its mostly hidden from view.
I really dislike that new building. I daresay, if and when, they plant some bushes or greenery in the (very) small pockets of earth that are scattered around it, it might be more interesting but in the meantime, I have to keep my block-out roller blinds half-shut to preserve some resemblance of privacy.
I hesitate to put curtains up because then I would miss seeing the birds on my balcony and they are such a joy in Lockdown. The birdsong and sights remind me that despite the pandemic that has restricted our lifestyle, there is still much joy to be found near our own ‘back door’.
Apparently, there is a whole new genre of Birds in Backyards photography since the lockdown, so it’s good to hear some folk are making the most of their time indoors.
Towards the end of last week the weather fined up considerably – definite signs of spring were everywhere from the lush green Barley grass (below), ripe from heavy rain earlier in the week, to tiny buds on bushes.
I was determined to get some sun and fresh air. I’ve been indoors for most of this year and let’s face it, there’s only ‘x’ amount of things you can do when you live in a tiny studio apartment and don’t have the eyesight for reading much or the desire to spend time on the computer. I’ve watched so many series on TV I can tell you what happens with my eyes closed 😀
The image (below), made last year, gives new followers a sense of how close my apartment building is to that patch of trees in the background which denotes Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve (and Wetlands)…….actually – a man-made area in an attempt to re-vegetate up and down the Maribyrnong River.
Here’s a little history from Wikipedia for those interested in the local history. If you’re not interested, just jump to the next image in this post.
The river was initially named Saltwater River by early settlers, due to the tidal nature of its lower reaches. The name Maribyrnong however, is derived from either mirring-gnay-bir-nong which in Woiwurrung, the language of the local Wurundjeri people, is said to mean “I can hear a ringtail possum” or “saltwater river” (Gunung or Gunnung is Woiwurrung for river, as seen in the names of other watercourses in the area, such as; Koonung Creek and Birrarung).
Marriburnong is an alternate spelling listed on a map dated from 1840.
The inner western and north-western suburbs of Melbourne are located in the vicinity of the Maribyrnong River and the river has given its name to the suburb of Maribyrnong and the local government area, the City of Maribyrnong.
The Maribyrnong River valley has been home for the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation for up to 40,000 years. Human remains dated at least 15,000–years–old have been found along the river, with much older signs of human habitation also present.
The first Europeans to explore along the river were the party led by Charles Grimes, Deputy Surveyor-General of New South Wales, in February 1803. John Batman is likely to have explored up the river in early 1835. With the establishment of the colony of Melbourne later that year, sheep runs were soon established by Edmund Davis Fergusson and Michael Solomon in the Avondale and Sunshine areas. On Solomon’s sheep station the ford now near the west end of Canning Street in Avondale Heights soon became known as Solomon’s Ford. This was the lowest crossing on the Saltwater (Maribyrnong) River, and the furthest inland point of tidal influence. Batman is believed to have crossed the river at this point probably in the well worn steps of Aboriginals. It was for many years the only way from Melbourne to Geelong and land west.
During the second half of the 19th century much of Melbourne’s industry was located along the river, and the water became very degraded. With the closure of many industries since the 1960s and 1970s, much river front land has opened up to parkland and highly sought after residential estates.
The tiny dead-end road curves to the right after my building carpark entrance and steeply descends to the lowest apartment building in this relatively new housing estate (built around 2013 I think).
It was close to 4.00pm before I exited my ‘back gate’ on Friday.
I didn’t have to walk far to find signs of Birdlife. I heard a constant stream of tweeting and ‘tjit’ and ‘tzeert’and up popped a New Holland Honeyeater in the white-flowering Tree Lucerne (or Tagasaste).
Fortunately the honeyeater and bush were in shade and the background filled with lots of sunlight.
NEW HOLLAND HONEYEATER and TREE LUCERNE or TAGASASTE (Chamaecytisus proliferus)
Very soon after, another honeyeater popped up to join it, but as they were moving fairly fast over the enormous bush, I could only get a photo of the first one.
I stood and watched them both for several minutes and then was distracted by a couple of male Superb Fairy-wrens on the concrete kerb gutter.
The one on the left (below) was in full breeding colours and the one on the right was flecked with sky-blue on its head and breast. These fairy-wrens, once you have familiarized yourself with their accelerating ‘trill’, (perhaps a bit like the sound of a squeaking mouse), is one sound you can’t miss once heard.
I always know the difference between fairy-wrens and house sparrows on my balcony while I’m lying in bed in the morning.
The Tree Lucerne and Gorse bushes had grown enormously since I last stepped out the back door about 2 months ago. They are both classified as weeds in my Field Guide to Weeds in Australia.
I walked around the curve in the road and stepped up on the pebble pathway leading past the lowest apartment building and stopped to look over the last of the mulched formal landscaping and spotted another fairy-wren a bit closer.
It was standing right next to a lovely white-flowering gum. I couldn’t identify which variety of gum it was due to several similar varieties on Google images. I spent half the weekend trying to find its name.
Behind it was a particularly attractive red-flowering eucalyptus.
I looked over to the nature reserve and then zoomed in on the bare-limbed tree on the right-hand side of the image below.
I couldn’t see any splashes of bright red which might signify another Crimson Rosella which I’d seen same time last year. The images below are from 2019.
I might add this is the only time I’ve seen a Crimson Rosella in my immediate surroundings in the 4 years I’ve lived here, but I’m forever hopeful of seeing another one some time in the future.
I walked over to the low-lying field where 2 large puddles of water must have filled up with recent winter rain. That’s the most water I’ve ever seen in the nearest ‘puddle’.
I walked forward about 20 feet anticipating a very slow walk down to the river (some 7-8 minutes brisk walk to the river). I then stood quite still for some time peering through the long telephoto lens at the chain wire fence marking the start of the nature reserve on the left.
I have often seen Red-browed finches in the area….. on the ground….. or on the fence (in the past).
But the fence was empty last Friday and I continued on.
I walked another 20 feet and scanned the ‘puddle’ on my right. (note: I suspect this raised pathway to the river is to gain access in the event of the river flooding the surrounding area. I read somewhere that a little further downriver it flooded in 2014).
I spotted a pair of Chestnut Teal ducks diving underwater for some tasty tidbits on the puddle floor. The water surface was flecked with some sort of pondweed. At first, I wasn’t sure they were Chestnut Teals as the constant stream of water washing over their heads darkened the bright green head of the male to more of a brown colour.
I eventually captured the pair below as they swam to the other side of the puddle and the male’s green head was a bit more visible.
These ducks nearly always travel in pairs and this was the only way I could identify them as the female in the image above – with the red eye and pale neck – looked a lot like a Grey Teal.
It’s easy to mix up the two species.
After a short while, they finished their meal and clambered up onto the grass and settled down for an afternoon nap.
I was having a bit of trouble holding the heavy long 150-500mm lens steady as my shoulder was not quite over the injury of the previous week, so I hope you’ll excuse the lack of sharp focus.
To be honest, in that brilliant sunlight it was pretty hard to see through the viewfinder so I just tried to focus on the head/neck area as best I could.
Next minute I spotted a White-faced Heron.
I’ve only ever seen one Heron (and one Egret) in this location beside the river, so one might assume it’s the only one living here.
I spent ages trying to get the heron’s eye in focus, but the bird kept moving around, constantly dipping its head in the water searching for something to eat.
Up, down, up, down, step forward, up, down, another step forward, and then turning it’s back to me – it was on the constant move. So much fun to watch and even more fun trying to get the eye/head in focus as it moved.
I was wishing it would stop and pose for a while like this one below in 2016 on the north-east side of Melbourne down by the Yarra River drying its feathers.
or this one in 2017 near my local pond….
I’m rather fond of Herons – White-faced or Nankeen Night Herons in particular (which are supposed to also call this area home). I’ve only seen Nankeen Night herons in the Royal Botanic Gardens or Melbourne Zoo though. I’ve never seen one of these pinkish/terracotta-coloured herons in this area.
Some Nankeen Night Herons from my archives to show you their beautiful Salmon pink cloak of feathers and grey cap (with 2 white feathers erupting from the back of their neck).
NANKEEN NIGHT HERON (Nycticorax caledonicus)
……and back to the local White-faced heron from last Friday below.
Finally, I gave up watching and since my hip was already painful, decided to walk back up the slope and home. Having some new photos to share for a change made me eager to get indoors and download them.
It wasn’t that late, but my side of the river and the steep hill on which the housing estate was built had already cast long shadows on the fields, nature reserve and eastern side of the apartment buildings.
When the sun dips behind the hill, it grows dark very quickly.
It wasn’t quite the golden hour, but the grass, still damp in some places from the previous night’s rain, seemed to reflect the light in such a way as to make any photography hard.
Sometimes I prefer a cloudy sky for photography, so the highlights are not blown out in the glare of the Australian sun.
On Friday, I walked back indoors via the front entrance of the building so I could pick up my mail from the ground floor postboxes.
This was the ‘allowed’ 1 hour of exercise outdoors with a mask on in Melbourne’s current Lockdown – only 73 new COVID cases and 8 deaths in the last 24 hours – very promising that we will end the lockdown in a couple of weeks and start opening up the stores and businesses again. My shopping list is getting longer by the day from light globes, to herb seedlings to clothes and a new desk chair. I also need a few cooking items for my tiny galley kitchen also. I don’t like shopping online. I like to look and try on before I buy.
I didn’t walk more than about 100-150 feet but it was such a joy to feel the hot sun on my face and the wind in my hair on Friday.
…..and although I didn’t take a photo last Friday, the various low-growing bushes of Shrubby Bindweed were visible next to the path and steps, so I’ve included a photo taken last year to end this post.
Last week I got up close & personal with lots of Seagulls. Not quite 101, but there were lots of them.
I love watching seagulls.
I make no excuse for buying several lots of hot fish n chips down next to the pier to warm up in the brisk winter wind and then, when the excess got cold, threw them to the many gulls on the sand to bring them closer to my camera lens.
There’s something about the smell of the sea air and the screech of gulls that makes for a holiday atmosphere (despite the virus restrictions).
On the first short walk of the week, the sun continued to tease me. One minute coming out and warming the temperature up to quite a comfortable level and then, next minute, going behind the clouds and the temperature dropping suddenly to a distinct chill.
The sun had gone behind the clouds so I decided to head for home – only 5 minutes walk away.
Gosh, it must be truly lovely to live near the beach in the summer when there is no waiting for the sun to shine and the screech of gulls is joined by the shrieks and laughter of children and their families.
I wonder what the summer of 2020/2021 will bring this year (in times of so much uncertainty DownUnder)?
I escaped the Lockup…..ehrr….I mean….. Lockdown….and managed a short walk as the Golden Hour approached in the latter part of this afternoon, so I have a series of images when I get around to reviewing them all. So many walkers and cyclists on the river path it was like ‘peak hour’.
In the meantime, the golden hour was just starting to light up the landscape and I caught one shot down near the lake (or large expanse of water running parallel to the river).
Took me 2 hours to do a 20 minute walk, but I always walk slower than a tortoise when I’ve got a camera (or two).
My Room With a View has changed somewhat since the new tall apartment building over the road has now reached its lofty height and is towering over me. I don’t know whether its a Feng Shui sort of thing, but it’s now starting to feel a wee bit oppressive (and I’ve lost my privacy having only a cliff face before which was lovely).
Apart from losing about 2 hours of hot sun on a Summer’s evening (which is actually kind of good 🙂 ), my view of the sun sinking below the horizon has totally gone.
Sure there is some sky colour (left), but I miss the sunsets.
I can’t deny it.
There’s something rather magical about sitting at my desk staring out the window, or standing on my balcony, watching the sun go down.
There’s a saying about slowing down and ‘taking time to smell the roses’
I might suggest, you take the time to watch the sun go down also.
In Melbourne, Australia, we get the most extraordinary sunsets (and sunrises, although I’m rarely up to see those). I’ve travelled through all of the U.K., central Europe and some of South-east Asia in the mid to late 1970s and somehow their sunsets are just not quite the same. It’s not just a change of the horizon shapes and silhouettes, there’s just something unique about the colours in the sky. Maybe its something to do with the hole in the ozone layer above our country. It sure lets in more UV light. I wonder if it lets in more colour too?
The series below was made a few months after I moved to the area on December 14th, 2016, from 7.45pm to 8.33pm.
……..and a short time later…….the end.
The sky is looking a lovely soft pale ‘baby-blue’ today and I just checked the weather report to see if a walk down to the local pond was in order, but it’s going to rain. Not that rain would stop me going out for a short walk, but I always take cameras and my 150-500mm long telephoto lens which aren’t waterproof when going down to the pond, so there’s too much risk of getting it all wet. I also take a hefty dose of painkillers about 45 minutes before I set off for my hip pain (even if my back pain is minimal).
I knew it was going to rain tomorrow but hadn’t noticed that today, Sunday, it was going to rain also.
By the way, all of you around that have been praying for rain, can you tone those prayers down a wee bit. I know you’ve all prayed so hard and so often for us here in Australia recently.
Southern Queensland and northern New South Wales are flooded and the ball of heavy rain is gradually moving down south. Our rain in Victoria has been well received and many farmers are (literally) dancing outdoors in the rain (on the TV news). After 3 years of drought, farmers in some areas are finally getting a taste of the ‘good stuff’.
There are still 70+ bushfires burning in New South Wales, but firefighters are having a chance to backburn some more fire breaks and also some fresher air to breathe. I haven’t checked the news in the last couple of days in regard to my own state of Victoria.
Firefighters have come from all over the world to help us and for that, we will be eternally grateful.
Here’s an update link on the fires which a blogging friend up in Canberra left on her blog. I’ll take the opportunity to upload the link on my own nature blog for you.
PS I’m way behind with blog reading, so rather than waste too much time on the computer today, I think I’ll just start afresh next week.
It’s so easy to get bogged down in the trivial annoyances that we all experience.
At the moment, my ‘bug’ is…..about a week ago, I found I couldn’t LIKE some blogger’s posts or make a COMMENT. Every morning I have to keep logging into WordPress again (and again!) and my usual solutions to this WordPress issue haven’t worked.
So, if I’m following your blog and you haven’t noticed my regular contribution to your blog since Christmas Day, that’s why.
What I find amazing is that there is the occasional blog that I don’t have any problems at all!
I think I instantly lost the feeling of Joy I used to experience every day in the small simple acts of Living in the Moment. There a tiny window of Melancholy I look through each morning this past week, before I get my act together and open the block-out blinds to see the birds.
I experienced Joy briefly this morning watching the House Sparrows splashing around in the saucer of water, but need to find that Joy in the small things again.
I need to make a Shift in my Mindset. This current faulty Mindset is unusual for me as I love my Simple Life.
How about you?
Do you find Joy in your Life?
Do you find pleasure in the simple things or do you need a shot of Modern Technology to make your day complete?
What if…………….all the computers around the world went down in one big giant second?
If you’re feeling the same way at the moment, feel free to pop over to my old Sunset blog and scroll through the archives – always a good way to cheer oneself up.
…..and during that last sunset, this is the scene I saw sitting in my desk chair looking through the lounge floor-to-ceiling windows (below). Of course, this sight of the sunset is gone now that I have a 6 storey apartment building being constructed opposite.
But I need to remind myself that the sunset hasn’t gone. It’s merely hidden from view in 2019.
Inside yourself or outside, you never have to change what you see, only the way you see it.
I seem to have fallen into lethargy in the last couple of weeks which I can’t escape, so rather than leave my nature blog frozen in time, I thought I’d post some random images from the archives with no story and/or minimal words attached.
The following 4 images were made up at my brother’s farm in country Victoria over a period of about 20 minutes from 7.4a.m. to 8.11a.m – 12th February, 2012.
This would have been Daylight Savings Time in the last month of Summer, 2012.
Interesting question. I don’t have the eyesight to do much editing now I’m back to wearing thick glasses. I wore contact lenses for 40 years with the last few years being bi-focal contact lenses. (don’t ask me how bi-focal contact lenses work – they just do – surprisingly).
I don’t like over-saturated colour or over-edited images, but as I can’t really get perfect images outdoors, or even indoors, now, most of my photos need a tiny bit of ‘tweaking’.
I don’t have the time, or the interest, in photo editing.
Most of my early images are a bit dark – probably from living in an old dark un-renovated 1960s apartment for many years. I probably didn’t lighten my poorly exposed images enough.
2. ………AFTER (and on reviewing this image this morning, I decided it was too light, but can’t seem to edit this very old photo and darken the shadows a bit more again).
It’s only now that I live in a modern apartment with floor-to-ceiling windows with superb light that I can see how dark my old images are. I used to be able to ‘fix’ my old images after I updated computers or software, but for some reason, since I got the new iMac in May this year when my old laptop crashed, I can’t seem to revert my old images back to the original to fix some over-editing errors. (of course, all you professional, or serious amateur photographers are going to say I should have shot in ‘raw’, or ‘raw’ and ‘jpeg’, NOT just ‘jpeg’).
(And if you can’t see the difference in the 2 Australian Pelican images you’ve got worse eyesight than me 😀 ).
I used to shoot hundreds and hundreds of images in the one afternoon back in the early years of my photography hobby – 2010 to 2015 – and I found shooting in RAW took up too much room on my memory card and secondly, I wasn’t interested in photo editing anyway.
So I just shot in jpeg as they were quicker to review.
Since I love photography (more than gardening 🙂 ), I do actually used my Apple Mac’s photo-editing software. I don’t proclaim to be a great photographer, but if you’re new to photography and would like to improve your images a wee bit without learning Lightroom, Photoshop and all the zillion other photo editing software packages out there these days, check out your computer’s in-house software.
……..and if you DO have an Apple Mac (for example), just go to the main editing screen and press the AUTO exposure button and the AUTO definition button and you’ll find just those 2 corrections in your basic Apple photo software, might be all you need to improve your images to your satifaction. (Note: I find the AUTO ‘ sharpening’ button can make your images too sharp, but you can always move the sharpening slider manually).
If you think the AUTO button is making your image too light, you can always go to the ‘slider’ under the AUTO button and slide the exposure back a wee bit manually.
In the tree/path image below, I thought the end of the visible path looked a bit crooked so I straightened the image a tiny bit. Just a fraction. Just enough to please my overall vision of a balanced image. The AUTO definition button also made the tree look to be in better focus. (Of course, you can also use the AUTO sharpening button, but I quite like the ‘definition‘ auto button better than the ‘sharpen‘ auto button).
That is, apart from learning to hold the camera perfectly still 😀 (or learning how to use a tripod, monopod, fence, tree or some other object to help you reduce camera movement).
I sometimes crop off a 1/4″, (or more as in the image below), or even a couple of sides. I sometimes touch up or erase some rubbish in the water (with a duck swimming in a pond). I sometimes erase a leaf, or tiny cloud in the sky, if I don’t like it.
2. …………AFTER (I really just wanted to show the beetroot starting to grow, so the rest of the image was superfluous).
Like a painter, or other artist (which I was for a while), I half-close my eyes and stand back from the 27″ screen and if anything stands out too much I might even erase anything that distracts what I want to say with my image.
Admittedly, most of the images on my Nature blog are merely to illustrate a story, not win a photo competition.
But no amount of editing will improve a really bad photo, OR where you chopped a bird’s head off (as you couldn’t see because the sun was in your eyes, below).
In the image(s) below, I was concentrating so hard on getting the duck’s eye in focus, I didn’t realise until I got home and downloaded the day’s shooting, that I’d chopped the bird’s feet off the bottom.
…..and another one of ‘missing feet’
Since I’ve been photographing the Fairy-wrens on my balcony, with my elbows on my desk to steady the heavy long 150-500mm lens, I just aim to catch the little b$%#! within the frame. Forget composition. Forget light. Mostly, I just have to pick the camera up and catch the wren before it flies away. Even changing the camera setting to continuous shooting doesn’t help catch those fast little wrens.
I have deleted dozens/hundreds of shots like the one below. Sometimes, the photo is completely empty of bird-life because I had the shutter speed too slow, or I was too slow in holding the camera still.
Don’t aim for perfection. Aim for an image you like. You don’t always have to have your subject in sharp focus either. Sometimes soft focus is kind of nice too.
If after lots of practice, practice & more practice, reading tutorials or books and studying the work of great Photographers, you still can’t take a photo you like, move on.
You can probably play football or bake a cake better than take a photo.
We all have something we’re good at.
I wish I’d taken up photography as a hobby 45 years ago, but then, I guess I wouldn’t have had the spare time or patience I have today.
I’m a great lover of uplifting (or inspirational) quotes and I read these ones by Steve Jobs & Anna Quindlen recently……
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other people’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
~ Steve Jobs ~
The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.
~ Anna Quindlen ~
I still like Black & White photography the best…… 😀