101 SILVER GULLS

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.

I CAUGHT THE EYE OF THIS GULL STANDING PERFECTLY STILL ON THE PIER FENCE.
IT FLEW DOWN TO THE OLD SEA WALL AND STOOD FACING THE OTHER WAY AND I SILENTLY SEND A MESSAGE ASKING IT TO TURN AROUND AND POSE.
IT HALF TURNED AS THOUGH TO SAY “ARE YOU TALKING TO ME?”
I SILENTLY ASKED THE BIRD TO STAND UP A BIT STRAIGHTER AND IT DID!
BUT THE GULL WASN’T OVERLY KEEN ON STANDING STILL FOR LONG. THE SUN WAS NOT VERY BRIGHT AT THIS TIME OF THE AFTERNOON.
IT PAUSED ONCE OR TWICE STARING OFF INTO THE DISTANCE WHILE ITS COMPANIONS STEADILY WALKED ALONG THE SEA WALL.
ANOTHER SEAGULL STOOD ON THE RAIN-POCKED SAND AND ASKED FOR A PHOTO SO I OBLIGED.
THEN IT TOO FLEW UP TO THE SEA WALL AND PONDERED ITS NEXT STEP.  CAN YOU SEE THE TINY BIT OF BROWN ON ITS WING FEATHERS? THAT’S THE LAST OF ITS JUVENILE BROWN WING FEATHERS SOON TO DISAPPEAR.
A ROCK PIGEON FLEW UP ONTO THE WALL AND PROMPTLY CHASED IT AWAY, ACTUALLY, TOWARDS MY CAMERA.
THEN THEY BOTH TURNED AND STEADILY WALKED AFTER THEIR AVIAN COMPANIONS.
LOOKS LIKE THE OTHER GULLS ARE WAITING FOR THESE 2 TO CATCH UP WITH THEM.
THEN THEY ALL FLEW AWAY LEAVING THE OLD BARE WALL QUIET (UNTIL I THREW SOME MORE COLD CHIPS TOWARDS THE DISTANT BIRDS).

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)?

# A PHOTO A DAY KEEPS THE DOCTOR AWAY – Day 40

NOT from the archives today.

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).

ROOM WITH A VIEW (of the sunset)

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’ 

THIS USED TO BE MY VIEW WHILST SITTING AT MY DESK.

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?

It usually takes some scattered clouds to make a sunset really beautiful.   Here’s a series off my Sunrise, Sunset (and Clouds that Come in between) blog to give new followers an appreciation of what I’m talking about. (That blog has finished now).

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.

FINDING JOY IN ONE’S LIFE

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?

How would you go about your Day?

In the meantime, I came across some sunsets in the archives (which were probably on my Sunset, Sunrise (and Clouds that Come in Between) blog, but I need a re-post to remind myself of what is beautiful in my simple life in retirement.

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.

~ Thaddeus Golas ~

 

COMMON VETCH (Vicia sativa L. ssp. sativa) and TASMAN FLAX LILY (Dianella tasmanica) picked from a nearby field

EARLY MORNING – COUNTRY VICTORIA

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.

Enjoy……..

TO EDIT (or not to Edit)

To Edit (or not to Edit your photos)?

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’.

  1. BEFORE……..

2. ………AFTER

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.

  1.  BEFORE……..
Pacific Black Duck

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).

Pacific Black Duck

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’).

  1. BEFORE……
Australian Pelican

2.   ……….AFTER

Australian Pelican

(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).

  1.   BEFORE…….

2.     …………AFTER

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.

  1.   BEFORE……..

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…… 😀

This shot may not have the sharpest focus, but I love the balance of black, white and grey. I love the light feathers against the dark background AND the dark feathers against the light background.  I like the DOF (Depth of Focus).

 

PRACTICE, PRACTICE & MORE PRACTICE

Now that the new apartment construction (over the road) blocks my view of the sunset, I’ve started focusing more on my view to the right of my apartment balcony.

I just catch a small strip of trees between the building at the top of my road/hill and my own apartment building facade.

Wednesday night I made 3 images of the scene.   Not so much colour – more…… storm clouds.

…….and last night, we moved from the beautiful Spring weather the week before, back to Winter again for the weekend (according to the weather forecast).

So that was the focus of my photography shooting practice yesterday.   I had to stay home anyway as my plant and bags of potting soil were being delivered from the previous day’s outing to the Plant Nursery.

I practice shooting every single day.

You can never get too much practice – whether you’re an amateur photographer like me, or a professional photographer.   If you can’t get outdoors for a nature walk, photograph whatever you can see from your window.

If the weather is terrible, photograph the terrible weather.

Or photograph something indoors – anything, everything – it’s all good practice.

Bunch of lilies in a vase (indoors)

I find shooting photos of anything and everything and uploading them to a large 27″ screen means I can see what compositions ‘work’ and what doesn’t.

16th November 2017

……and last night, I played around with the lounge window reflections at sunset.

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So you see, there is ‘never nothing going on’ (as Dan Millman said in his book/film Way of the Peaceful Warrior).

There are ‘No ordinary Moments’.

There’s always something happening.

**************

At the moment the seedlings are sitting on a large plastic saucer on my lounge room floor, as, after putting them outdoors yesterday to catch the rain, the young plants were blown wildly about by the wind gusts and intermittent rain showers got a bit too heavy, so I bought them indoors for a few days.

Looks like next Tuesday the rain will have dropped off the radar and I have a mild day for Spring planting.

I’m going to try 3 different Tomato varieties this year.

The plant nursery didn’t have any Sweet Basil to plant around my Tomatoes, so I’ll go back to the store in a couple of weeks when the weather has warmed up again and Sweet Basil supplies are in stock.

Besides, I couldn’t decide what size pots to buy for my pot-bound Blueberry (outdoors) and Peace Lily (indoors).

Next visit I might take my camera again.  One of my shots of the plant nursery uploaded to Google Maps has gained a new personal record of 7101 views.  Unfortunately, that shot and a couple of others were lost in the new iMac computer photo library upload failure.

Sigh!