Fifteen Minutes of Fame. July 2020

Thanks to David Norris (31 Aug)

The Butchers Perch

Isolation has been a pain in the ISO, I’m lucky compared to some, I’ve been busy with a variety of activities. One activity has been photographing some of the backyard birdlife.  

Even the most common birds have become subjects of interest. Their habits and behaviours have become quite interesting. The pending springtime activities have created quite a ruckus. 

At this point, I’ll do the suggesting and suggest “I need to get a life”. I never thought I’d be that person watching the local birds and finding it interesting, nonetheless, I have. It’s become my life in lockdown and I’m sure there are others in similar situations.

I’ve been watching and planning all manner of ways to shoot these sometimes shy critters. To be fair some are easier targets than others. The local flirtatious blackbirds are just metres from the kitchen window and proudly showing off to each other, their easy targets whilst they’re distracted. 

The Wattlebirds are a bit further off and higher in the trees but I have managed a few nice shots with some patience. I swear the neighbours think I’m nuts.  

Then there are the Doves, one sits low in a tree and thinks I can’t see him. This guy is so regular that I pruned the tree a little to remove the distracting branch just in front of him. When the sun is just right the shadows and filtered light is beautiful.

However, it’s the shy Butcher birds that fascinate me the most. This one isn’t as regular as other birds so I have to be pretty vigilant in my observations. Whenever when I step outside I need to be mindful that he/she might be around. The camera is usually handy just in case I need it. I noticed one particular location that suits he/she and me really well, it frames the bird well with a lovely background as you can see. It won’t be long and I won’t see this spot anymore with new spring growth on its way.

I don’t deliberately feed the birds but they do manage a few scraps from the chickens in my backyard.

I’m thankful for my cropped sensor (1.5) camera with a 200mm lens and 2X convertor. Effectively giving me 200 x 2 x 1.5 = 600mm.

Shooting anything at less than 1/600sec is a struggle but not unachievable. Low light is challenging, increasing the camera’s ISO is a must.  The featured image is shoot handheld at F/5.6, 1/400sec, ISO 1000 at effectively 600mm focal length and only a small amount of cropping.

I really enjoy the post-production, bring out the detail of the bird, balancing the natural colour and adding a little creative licence to the final product.  

The Butcher’s Perch





Thanks to Helen Marriot

A new bird project

Helen Marriott  

Although I have minimal experience in photographing birds, when a Crimson Rosella visited my backyard in late February to feast on the Sunflowers growing in my vegetable patch, I grabbed my Olympus OMD EM1(Micro Four Thirds) camera and did the best I could to take some images through a dirty window using a telephoto lens at 150mm (300mm equivalent) (Agg2).  

My next opportunity came near the end of April when I observed another Crimson Rosella (or the same one?) on some dried Sunflower plants a little further away.  I shot as much as I could at the same focal length, again pressed up against the window (which was cleaned after my first experience). Many shots were filled with blurred obstructions in the foreground, which seemed unavoidable at the time. With heavy cropping and strong vignetting, one of the images was entered into Agg3 (included here). Subsequently, I pulled out the old Sunflower plants in that area with the aim of forcing any birds closer to the house next time and also removed other obstructing objects.

I had to wait another month before being rewarded. I had noticed in April that the Crimson Rosella deliberately broke off the top of a Sunflower branch with a seed head, which it feasted upon before repeating the action. I was able to study the bird’s behaviour much more closely in May and, using both single shots and continuous shooting, captured hundreds of images on the three visits the bird made in the later afternoons over a period of four days. On these occasions, it engaged in the same behaviour which I had observed the previous month. 

I assume it was the same bird because of its habit of moving up, down or along an old, dried branch before breaking off the top piece with a seed head using its beak, and then holding it firmly in one foot until it had polished off all or most of the seeds, before moving on to the next one. This action was repeated over and over again. I have never observed any other birds engage in this same behaviour in my garden.  In total, I managed to obtain a variety of shots of the bird’s behaviour, but the images I most love are those showing the bird holding the seed head and consuming the seeds.  

In terms of planning for next year’s bird visits: I will employ Olympus’s Pro-Capture function to capture critical moments prior to fully pressing the shutter button as well as video record some sequences of action. I probably will continue to shoot from inside when I spot an opportunity, as this seems to offer the best angle for shooting and is practical from a timing perspective. I’d prefer to use a tripod but I like the flexibility of shooting hand-held in this situation and, in conjunction with Olympus’s good image stabilization, this seems to be OK. 

I must also sow more Sunflower seeds in the coming months and hope that many more birds visit these plants again in the future. I will also have to try to keep the back windows clean…. Any more advice from bird photographers in the club will be greatly appreciated.  

“Loving my feast”


Thanks to Phil Mitchell.

Run For Your Life
My wife, Kirsty, and I love to travel. We love to see remote untouched places, and wildlife in its natural habitat. We have been fortunate to be able to make some amazing journeys around the world.
In 2016 we travelled to Svalbard and the Arctic circle with Lindblad, cruising on the National Geographic Explorer. After boarding the ship, and getting settled in, we set sail north towards the Arctic pack ice in search of wildlife, notably polar bears.
Around 10 pm I decided to turn in and get some rest, while Kirsty headed to the bridge to keep a look out with the crew – this is something of a standing joke on our trips, as everything seems to happen when I go to bed. True to form my head had barely hit the pillow when the announcement was made that polar bears had been sighted.
I raced to get back into all the layers of clothing, got the camera ready and bolted up to the bridge to see what was happening. The crew had spotted three bears and we were inching our way towards them for a closer look. As we approached we saw a mother and two cubs wandering on the pack ice. The cubs were having a great time playing together. Eventually, we were able to get quite close to the three as they settled down to take a nap.
Even though it was nearly 11 pm it was still very light as we were in mid-summer with 24 hours of daylight.
As we all marvelled at our luck in finding the bears so early in our trip, our captain noticed a very large male bear approaching from the other side of the ship (we were wedged into the pack ice). He had likely been tracking the trail of the mother bear in search of a mate. The captain realised our ship was blocking the mother bear from smelling the male and was thus putting them all in grave danger. A male bear will kill the cubs in order for the female to go back on heat.
The captain quickly started reversing out of the ice, and within a few minutes the mother and cubs awoke sniffing the air. Once they smelled the male they all jumped up and started running away. I had moved down to a lower deck and had a great position on the side of the ship facing the bears so I was able to capture this image of the mother and her two cubs hightailing it away from the male bear. If you’re wondering where the second cub is, count the legs on the mother bear.
Once the bears were away, our captain moved the ship forward to partially block the male’s passage, as no-one wanted to see our three bears get caught. We were then treated to a show with the big male walking around the ship, having a good look at us.
This image is one of my all-time favourites, for the drama and the memories it brings me of this wonderful trip.
I’m also especially proud of this image as, in 2017, it received 3rd place at VAPS, and a merit award at APSCON.

Run for your life.


Thanks to Mike and Kay Wharton

Mt Oberon Mist
Kay and I have a great affinity with Wilsons Promontory.  We had a beach house for many years at Sandy Point & were very regular visitors to The Prom, walking most of the tracks  & camping there on many occasions.
 In July 2009, we decided to book a cabin for 3-4 days to revisit this much-loved area & were looking forward to some pleasant winter days that you can experience down there. However, Kay was quite ill with some sort of bug, so I ventured out on my own quite a bit, before eventually deciding to leave as Kay wasn’t getting any better. 
On our last afternoon there, I decided to walk up to the top of Mt Oberon, having done this often times before. The weather was nice & the climb up was uneventful, until I got closer to the top where the track turns to the south…..cold winds & rain descended on me & I managed to get two shots of the summit before I put my camera away & headed off down the 3.4 km of track back to my car. It rained all the way back & when I got to the car I was very wet & very cold!! BUT, I had a couple of magic shots! What you do for a good photo!!!
This photo then won the Black & White Print of the Year in 2009. I named the print “Mt Oberon Mist”

Mt Oberon Mist


Thanks to Rosie Appleton

Sunrise at Mt Fitz Roy

What can I say… This was the most grueling hike I have ever done complete with full camera backpack and tripod (and only a spare change of underwear and socks)!  

I started the day before in the town of El Chalten within the Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina’s Santa Cruz province.  It was a drizzly day and my guide turned up at the hotel that I was staying at and off we went!  Just the two of us, his English was sketchy and my Spanish non-existent!  Haha!   It took a good part of the day to get to our private campsite (11km) mostly because of the weather but we weren’t in any hurry and there was a delicious hot chocolate awaiting us when we got to camp.  It was a lovely little spot with just me, my guide and the cook!!   The rest of the afternoon I spent just wandering around and taking photos of the river and Mt Fitz Roy (and with hindsight maybe just staying here and capturing the sunrise would have been pretty cool).  Dinner was had and it was pretty cold and drizzly again so I tucked myself up in my little tent and tried to sleep!  It was freezing and so uncomfortable but I must have slept…

We were up early, REALLY early as sunrise was going to be around 7:30 am.  We left camp after a quick bite to eat and a few quick pics of the mountain with the sky clear as a bell and the snow glowing in the moonlight (again, that hindsight…).

The last bit of this trek up to Laguna de Los Tres and our sunrise vantage point was “only” 1km so I thought that wasn’t too bad… but it had an elevation of 400m STRAIGHT UP!!  OH WOW!!!  We gave ourselves two hours to get there and we only just got to the viewing point as the sun was hitting the top of the mountain… I didn’t have time to set anything up, I had two cameras with me and I had intended to do a time-lapse… all that was forgotten!!   

As the light of the sun rolled down the mountain the colour was spectacular, a bit of cloud would have set it right off but I was happy, I was ecstatic!  I had made it up to this place that I had pictured and I had achieved something that was going to live in my memory forever, for all the right and the wrong reasons!!   There were others there at this gorgeous viewing point but they had left town just after midnight and trekked the whole way in the dark, not my idea of fun!

The time came to leave and I didn’t think what it would be like to DESCEND from such a place… oh my… my feet, my poor toes were jammed into the ends of my boots and by the time we reached the valley below they were numb and it took months for them to feel right again and still now give me grief from time to time, but I did it!   

This had been my first real solo adventure where I had gone so far out of my comfort zone I didn’t think I’d ever return, LOL… if ever you get the chance to do something for YOU, for your SOUL… just do it xxx


Thanks to Laurie Higgins.

Feathered Fortress

This image was taken twenty-four to forty-eight hours after hatching 0n 14/07/ 2020. I have been watching the nest for about four weeks.

 I started to Photograph the Waterbirds on the lake at lakeside Pakenham when Glenda and I moved here in January 2019. Last August two of the swans began to build a nest, five cygnets hatched. The female was killed by a dog. The male looked after all the cygnets as they grew up. He did a great job keeping them alive. 

I had decided to photograph the cygnets from the moment they hatched watching and photographing the male swan protect his young till they were fully grown.

This year I set myself a project to photograph a new nest of swans. Seven eggs were laid and in the middle of July, five cygnets were hatched. A day later whilst I photographed them one poked its head out from under a wing. I thought, just like a youngster to take a peek at the world, from the feathered fortress.

 After having two back operations this project has given me something to focus on. The main exercise was to walk as much as possible, and with these Covid19 lockdowns most of my time is spent walking around the lake and wetlands nearby, of course, I take my camera with me.

I used my Pentax K5 with a sigma 100-300 Lens.  Exp, 1/250s, Ap, F11, ISO  800


Thanks to Linda Richmond.

Total Solar Eclipse

This image is not perfect but it is a memory and experience I will never forget and hopefully, will get to see more of them

I went to Denver, Colorado to view a total solar eclipse with other members from my astronomy club.

Eclipse morning (21/8/2017) arrived in Denver, to darkness. Our group of six met as planned, at 3:15 am, in order to be some of the first passengers onto the coaches for the planned departure at 4 am sharp and arrived at the private property at 9:45.  I was in the middle of a private field in Douglas, Wyoming with hundreds of other people from around the world. As the shadow fell across the field, the air turned chill and it was very quiet and it was quite surreal.  Now was the time to make sure I was ready to take photos of the partial phases and then totality

The moon’s umbral shadow swept across continental USA touching the ground, firstly in Oregon and lastly over South Carolina. Hundreds of millions of people would, therefore, be immersed in the moon’s penumbral shadow that day.

At 11:45 am the site was plunged into darkness (about as dark as the illumination provided by a full moon), to find the round, blackest of black, disk of the moon surrounded by the brightest and purest white band of the inner corona spreading out into three beautiful streamers that penetrated the navy-blue sky; an outer corona typical of one near solar minimum. Venus shone brightly to the west. Through binoculars several small, radiantly red, prominences, in spectacular contrast, were visible.  Totality was met with loud cheering from approx… 900 people on the field and it was very emotional and even brought tears to my eyes and still does to this day when I remember it.

Camera details: Canon 500D and the exposure details are 1/4sec; f/11; ISO 100.  The eclipse lasted a mere 2m 29s.

Now to pack up and go back to Denver. Traffic south on the I-25 was truly horrendous and bumper-to-bumper for hour after hour. We were in good spirits and accepting of what we were a part of. To entertain us a generous passenger bought a DVD at a meal stop, a kindness that was appreciated by all on board. We arrived back at the hotel at 1:55 am the next day – a nominal four-hour journey had taken over twelve hours to complete. It had been a very long day – sleep came very easily that night!


Thanks to Ray Chatterton.

This old photo is my favourite bird photo. It was taken at a private property at Separation Creek near Wye River on the Great Ocean Road. The creek through the property attracted a lot of birdlife. We would take the caravan down there to stay for 4 our 5 weeks and I would spend every day just sitting on a chair near the creek or later in a bird hide. I had just bought a first-generation Tamron 150-600mm lens to go with my Canon 70D that had 20 megapixels. I spotted a thornbill in the scrub. I used an iPad together with an App that had the bird calls recorded. I sat the iPad in a large metal dish to help focus the sound of the call towards the scrub. This would only work for 2-3 days then the birds would stop coming. When the scrub is in deep shadow I would use a flash together with a sync speed of 1/200 second. I would close down the lens to ƒ8 for extra sharpness and so I had to use an ISO of 1600. The shot was the first of that trip and the best. Metadata shows the time was 8:37 am and the focal length of the lens was 375mm. The photo did well in competition and was named “Poised”.

Poised – Ray Chatterton


Sample of Fifteen Minutes of Fame. Barry Povey

Tree with a Story. Braeside Park. Braeside. Melbourne.

1/250 second, f4, ISO 1600. 50 mm, EF 24-105 mm lens. Raw file. 4480 x 6720. Canon EOS R camera. Handheld.

I have always enjoyed finding an interesting tree. I grew up in the country and was surrounded by the Australian bush. I look at a tree with “character” and ponder over what it is ‘thinking”. It has been around for many years. It cannot go anywhere so what has it “seen” moving in its vicinity? Animals, people, events! Does it have feelings? What stories can it tell? Perhaps its stories are really my stories.

It was pleasing to look into the scrub on a foggy morning and compose this image. It was a little lighter than its surroundings and had a presence. Processing in Lightroom was basic in this case. No change to Highlights, Shadows, Whites, or Blacks. A little increase in saturation in spots via the Brush tool. A light dodging (lightening) via the Brush tool near the centre. A light vignette. Exported from Lightroom as a jpeg and resized for the web. 1080 pixels high. 

A tree with a story.