As I mentioned last post, it is as dry as a chip here at the moment, so for wildlife, water is pretty scarce! I have friends who are part of a wildlife rescue network here in the Whitsundays. As they have an interest in birds, often when I visit they have birds that they are attempting to nurse back to health before release back to the wild. Mostly they are successful but unfortunately there a times when they are not.
Around their home they have some birdbaths that the local avian population take full advantage of to cool down and have a drink during the early morning and late afternoon. After seeing a great image years ago of a Kestrel coming to roost in a tree taken with the aid of fill flash, I wanted to have a crack at a similar image with off camera flash. Not as easy as it looks , you need to have lightning fast reflexes to catch them as they land or take flight! Still, I managed to to capture a few nice images of two Australian Icon birds as well as a few shots with tail feathers exiting the frame!
The Sulphur Crested Cockatoo is the raucous clown of the bush and was a pleasant surprise. He didn’t appreciate the flash going off and you could see him visibly start every time I tripped the shutter!
Both are wild birds and were not harmed in the making of this blog post!
Canon 5D II, 580 EX II off camera flash, Manual mode, triggered by Yongnuo RF-603 remote triggers
Over here in Queensland it is as dry as a chip! No decent rain for a few months and it looks like being a hot,dry summer. I am hoping for some wet season rain just to green things up and give the streams & waterfalls a much needed flush out! Sitting on the cusp between La Niná and El Ninó conditions means the chance of good flooding rains is not great.
This is an image I have had on file for quite a long time. I have always passed it mover for more “conventional’ looking stream images. although I have always liked the lighting in the image. Going through my archive the other day for some new calendar images, I looked at this and thought “Why not!”
After very little post processing,here is the result.
At the moment this spot has no water flowing down it, bring on the rain I say!
Work commitments have kept me away from anything photographic over the last couple of weeks which is getting frustrating as I have recently purchased a new Canon Tilt-shift lens AND a Canon 5DMk11 which have both been sitting idle! I am raring to get out and really put them to work!
In the meantime, this shot is from one of my early forays with the Tilt- Shift Lens down to Conway Beach. I was just testing the lens out to see how it worked, when I noticed this little scene.
As the tide recedes, Soldier Crabs start cleaning out their burrows by rolling sand into balls and moving them away from their holes. Lower down the beach there are millions upon millions of these burrows and sandballs! This little guy was obviously not one to move with the crowd. This seemed like a good test for the Tilt- Shift lens so I got the camera about 12-15 inches from the burrow, shifted the lens down for perspective and then applied about 6 degrees of tilt to bring the foreground and background into the same plane of focus.
Unfortunately he wouldn’t show his face but the juxtaposition of the the burrow & sandballs with the smooth sand looks kind of cool! At full size, the image is sharp from foreground to horizon. These are a very versatile lens!
For all of you out there who have been to the Kimberley and love it,this is a link to a news article on ABC Lateline that is worth looking at!
It seems like ages since I posted any images of the beautiful Whitsunday Islands which unfortunately I don’t get out to very often these days! This is an image of Hill Inlet which is at the Northern end of Whitehaven Beach. I shot this quite a while ago and it is one of my favourites of this magnificent place!
As you can see, it’s quite a low tide which was not ideal for the great aqua shades you get in the water when the tide is higher. You can see some of it on the left of the image, but what attracted me was this Hoop Pine sapling growing out of a cleft in the rock and despite the odds doing quite nicely! Not a bad place to put down roots!
Went for a wander through the rainforest yesterday, also got a reminder about why it is called rainforest….. about as far away from the car as it was possible to be!
Love going on that particular walk because it is never the same, there is always something new to see. It also challenges me photographically. There are some magnificent Strangler Figs that I want to photograph, I walk around them,marvelling at their forms and complex shapes. But I walk on without taking a picture because any photo I take won’t capture their essence. One day, the pieces will fall into place and I will get an image that distills them within a rectangular frame.
One thing that always strikes me about rainforest is that it is a battleground and one of the biggest prizes is sunlight. Every plant needs sunlight for survival and growth.This image is my interpretation of the importance on sunlight to the rainforest, hope you like it!
As mentioned in my last post, I didn’t have too many opportunites to pull out the camera gear while I was on Orpheus Is.
But there was a corner of the bay that I visited whenever I could. The mangrove plants there had an amazing root structure that I have seen nowhere else in my travels.
Mangroves are an amazing plant that rely on salt water for their very existence. Once established, they send roots down to ground level unlike most plants and these root systems can spread for many metres from the parent tree. It was the root systems on theses fledgling mangrove trees that attracted my attention
These root systems will support the plant through anything nature can throw at it as well as shelter all sorts of marine creatures during their juvenile years. They also shelter the coast line from severe wave action during cyclones.
Yet most people consider these very important plants as worthless mosquito-ridden swamps that are best removed for reclaiming land for canal estates etc!
No mangroves = no seafood + severe coastal erosion.
Pretty simple equation really isn’t it!
Recently, I spent 3 weeks working at the Orpheus Island Research Centre situated just off the Nth. Queensland coast. It is a University Research Centre,that hosts marine researchers from all over the world, studying all sorts of things from the effects of climate change on the Great Barrrier Reef to the amount of fishing gear left behind by fishermen amateur and professsional.
Incidentally, this is also where Les Walkling conducts a yearly photographic workshop and I got the chance to see some of the images produced by Les, very nice indeed! Unfortunately, due to work hours and inclement weather,(I think I saw 4 days of sun in all the time I was there!) photographic opportunities were scarce.
This is a storm that came roaring across from the mainland on my first night!
Amazingly, it veered and went around us!
The processing of this image was done in LR3 and Nik Colour Effex 4 which has a neat little process called Detail Extracter, does amazing things with cloudy skies!
While I was staying with the Ellis Brothers, I thought I would take the opportunity to visit one of my favourite places. Many people walk past these falls without knowing it as the track is not marked and is fairly overgrown in places.
First time I had been here in about 10 years and I had always wanted to get some newer images of the place.Situated on the Pencil Pine Ck which is the Northern boundary of the National Park, it is a special little spot that has always filled me with a sense of what wilderness is all about!
Unfortunately whenever I am doing a bit of exploring up in the high country I come across scenes like this all too often!
They remind me of old battle scenes similar to what would have been seen after the bloody battles on the Western Front during WW1 where whole towns were wiped off the map. These places where swathes of forest are literally obliterated are usually in areas where not too many tourists are found, out of sight,out of mind.
Ever since I was a boy growing up in Tasmania in the late ’60s I have seen this happening. I hated it then, I hate it now! It just seems so wasteful and pointless.
Tasmania is one of the most naturally beautiful places on earth and yet the government and some of the population seem fixated on trying to ruin that beauty, either by building Hydro-Electric dams to supply electricity for industry or clear-felling forests to sell overseas for woodchips! Even some of the old foresters and sawmillers are aghast at what is happening.
While this is a deplorable state of affairs, there are a lot of people in Tasmania that are employed directly or indirectly in forestry, many of them ar second ,third and even fourth generation forestry workers,millers etc. While it would be nice to stop logging immediately, throwing all these people out of work is not too intelligent either. Therein lies the dilemma. You can hardly say to a 45yo man who probably left school at 15 and has worked in the industry all his working life that he could re-train to do something in the tourism industry, the first sound you would hear is a chainsaw as he chases you out of his yard for being so bloody stupid!
Plantation timber will help take up the slack to some extent but they are rapidly taking over prime farming land as farmers sell their farms because their children don’t see much of a future in agriculture. Tasmania already has an exodus of young people heading to the mainland searching for better opportunities.
Unfortunately,it will take time to phase out the most destructive aspects of the forestry industry. In the meantime they will seeking to get the most out of it possible.Thankfully there are organisations keeping a close eye on them.
Walking around the coastline of Western Tasmania, you notice a lot of Bull Kelp washed up onto the shore. Considering that Kelp anchors itself to rocks often in deeper water,you start to realise the power and ferocity of some of the storm driven seas that frequent this part of the world.
I think this image best captures the raw wildness of the Tasmanian West Coast for me!
This image was taken as I was walking out from Liffey Falls featured in the last post. This is a beautiful little spot with pristine examples of Myrtle Beech, Sassafrass & Man Ferns. Luckily this in a reserve but not too far away logging still continues!
Of all the forests and bushlands I have wandered through over the years, I think the type of forest that gives me the greatest pleasure would be the Myrtle Beech forests of Tasmania.
To me, they are places of magic and mystery. Cool damp forests mostly found along alpine streams, the only sounds you hear are the burbling of the stream or the occasional thump as a wallaby scoots off into the brush.
The colour palette here is a lush emerald green as nearly everything is covered in a variety of mosses and lichens. Looking about, I nearly expect to see elves and faeries to be perched on a log looking at me quizzically.
Photographically, they are a delight, you could spend all day in one of these places and travel no more than 100 metres. Sunbeams,mist and the sheer variety of colour, texture and shape will engage your senses for hours!
Shot near Pencil Pine Creek on the edge of the Cradle Mt- Lake St. Clair Nat. Park.
This image was shot in the Highland area of Tasmania. Pencil Pines are a species related to Huon & King William (King Billy) Pines and are a remnant of Gondwanwa. Found only in Tasmania and Parts of S.America they are a slow growing tree. This one could be up to 500yrs old.
Endemic to Alpine regions they endure some of the harshest winter conditions you could find in Australia but are susceptible to fire.
I love the twisted textures that these hardy trees exhibit ant that is what caught my eye with this image.
Once upon a time, many millions of years ago, in an insignificant galaxy on the far flung edges of the universe, a small planet was formed.
Known today by it’s inhabitants as Earth, (which is ironic as it is 75% water) by an incredible set of fortuitous circumstances this small planet was able to support life which slowly evolved into an amazing variety of species, from the smallest single cell organism to the majestic Blue Whale.
One of the fortuitous circumstances that enables this small planet to support this myriad of life forms is that it has an atmosphere that has 21% oxygen which is essential to life!
By far the most successful species to evolve on earth is Homo Sapiens commonly known as Humans or Mankind. Some of these humans believe that the planet and all life on it was made in 6 days by an all powerful Being called God/Jehova/Allah/Rainbow Serpent and the list goes on depending on where they live! But an observant fellow by the name of Charles Darwin figured that all species had evolved over the millenia to adapt to their environment and that takes a bit longer than 6 days! But I digress…
Because they have a relatively large brain, humans adapted and prospered and went from living in caves and hunting food to building their own collection of caves called cities and growing and even manufacturing their food. Along the way they went from trading goods and services to using an intermediary form of trade called Money. Soon the accumulation of Money and power became the object of trade and now 90% of the worlds wealth is owned and controlled by less than 10& of the worlds population thereby subjecting the vast majority of the worlds population to powerless poverty.
While Mankind was slowly figuring this all out, the planet Earth was was just doing it’s thing, which was to revolve,rotate and generally keep things in balance so all these species could survive. Along the way there was the odd Ice Age and warming event along with earthquakes, volcanoes,asteroids and the odd hurricane and Magnetic field shift just to spice things up a bit. This has been happening ever since the planet was formed which was a long, long time before Homo Sapiens appeared on the scene!
Ice Ages and Warming Events that happen over timescales of millenia which humans are just starting to fully understand but in their short sightedness they only just started to record some of these facts and so are constantly playing catch-up!
After 4-5,000 years of what humans like to call Civilisation, a man discovered that if you burnt stuff to boil water in a machine you could use steam to do work! Thus began the Industrial Revolution. Humans also dicovered that wood and more especially coal, gas and an even better substance called oil was plentiful and was really good for powering industry. Gleefully they made more machines and factories to make more stuff to sell and therefore made lot’s of money. As they were doing this they were were extracting resources that took millions of years to form and as a by-product of all this frenetic activity they were poisoning the environment and atmosphere of the Earth which is the only place within thousands of lightyears that will sustain life as humans know it!
Around 150 yrs after the start of the Industrial Revolution a group of people called Environmentalists began to point out that all this pollution of the waterways, oceans and the atmosphere was probably not too good for all the species that live on Earth and it was probably a good idea to try and do something about it before it was too late. This annoyed a lot of the Industrialists who now had to spend money on Clean-ups and abatement schemes but eventually most realised that it was in everybodies best interest if they complied or at least looked like they were complying.
In a rare show of collaboration Earth’s Governments got together to ban a group of chemicals called CFCs which had been proven to contribute to a large hole in the Ozone layer of the atmoshphere. This hole was letting in a lot of extra UV rays from the sun which was threatening to fry everybody in the Southern Hemisphere. Magically, the hole reverted to it’s normal size once those chemicals were banned!
And so to the present day……………
Trawling through some of my early files, I came across these three early attempts at some Photoshop selective colour techniques.
While they wouldn’t win any prizes, I thought i would jump on the ‘ältered landscapes’ wagon for a bit. I always love seeing a plant growing where they have no business being! it always delights me to think that no matter how much we try to tame the natural world and smother it with ashphalt, concrete or any other atrocities such as poison, nature will have the last say!
These images are my little commentary on that theme.
I’m off sailing for a week, see you all soon!
This image is of a spot just above Cedar Ck. Falls here on the Whitsunday mainland. About 10 ft behind me is a 15m drop. For most of the summer this little spot has been a raging torrent due to a very active wet season and it was only the other day I could finally get into here.
Looking around and seeing where the water level was in full flood, it would have been pretty awesome to see, but you would need a helicopter to access it.
If it doesn’t rain again in the next couple of weeks this will probably dry up, so this is about the optimum waterflow for photography purposes.
Hope everybody has a safe and happy Easter!
(After a suggestion by Tony Middleton, a cropped version of the image has been inserted)
Just looking through my files and I found this image of the same tree but with a looming storm in the background. Whatever the conditions, that tree seems to draw your attention and to me both images are quintessentially Australian!
Well,finally the sunshine has returned and looks like it might stay for a while. The ground is soggy and the roads are a mess,hopefully everything will dry out and we can all enjoy some nice weather for a change!
Yesterday I went for a drive out to Lake Proserpine with the idea of getting a couple of shots of the water coming over the spillway. Couldn’t get near it because of fences and gates, so I went for a drive along one of the access roads to cattle properties that border the lake.
I came across this stand of eucalypts and I was taken by the shape of the big white one in the center of the image. Love the way it seems to glow against the surrounding forest.
Thankfully there is still a lot of this type of forest in the area. If we keep destroying forests worldwide, one of the best ways of removing carbon from the atmosphere and producing the oxygen that we all need will be lost!
Wandering through the rainforest is something I like to do occasionally, the peace and quiet always seems to recharge my batteries! When you start looking closely you realise that the peace and quiet masks a struggle for survival that is incessant and sometimes downright nasty.
Sunlight is the name of the game in the rainforest, just about every plant is trying to get as much as it can of a limited resource. Many types of plant like the Strangler Fig will use any means to get to the sun in some cases killing another tree in the process.
Large rocks split apart by the tenacious roots of a tree that is looking for nutrients is a common sight.
Because rain forest is often situated in mountainous areas, larger trees require a root system that will give extra support , so the convoluted buttress root system is favoured by larger trees like Tulip Oak.
Taking a camera into the rainforest is often frustrating as you try to capture the myriad of textures,shapes and colours surrounding you. Light levels are usually low, so a tripod is an absolute. Trying to pluck some order from the chaos surrounding you is sometimes difficult but I usually find if you slow down and start looking for the details you usually find some great images.
Be prepared to spend a lot longer in the forest than you originally planned! Oh, and don’t forget the repellant!
This is the first shot taken on the same afternoon as my previous post. I love the contrast between the seeming order of the sand ripples in the foreground and the chaos in the clouds above. Kind of a metaphor for life, the universe and everything. Our very orderly solar system was created from chaos, the sand ripples were created by the chaos of the waves which in turn were created by the wind which is reflected by the chaotic clouds.
Anyway, I hope you like it!
The Kimberley, an ancient, timeless land where man’s influence is so far, fairly minimal. That could change in the future if the gas,mining companies and government have their way! Like the Tasmanian SW this is an area that should be left as a wilderness, free of ugly gas plants, disfiguring mining operations and the like.
Traveling through the Kimberley by sea you get a good sense of how insignificant you really are and you get a feeling that the land is watching you,impassively,waiting for you to make a mistake.
On most days during the dry the landscape is a magnificent palette of colour, dominated by the ochre colours of the sandstone of which the area is comprised. Contrasting with the blues of the sea and endless sky as well as the greens of the post-wet season greenery it’s easy to fill a memory card pretty quickly.
But on the rare occasion when a thunderstorm rolls across the landscape, it seems to take on a more primitive & malevolent feeling. You almost expect a dinosaur to make an appearance somewhere and indeed there are dinosaurs around in the form of crocodiles.
This is my attempt to communicate that feeling you get.
Well, it looks like I may have spoken a bit prematurely in my last post! As I type this, TC Anthony is making a beeline towards the Nth Queensland Coast and is forecast to cross the coast somewhere north of Bowen as a Cat 2 system, sometime early tomorrow morning.
Airlie Beach, being on the southern side of the cyclone will cop some wild weather tonight and we are expecting some heavy rain over the next few days!
Of more concern is another system forming near Vanuatu which is expected to move west and impact the Queensland Coast as a Cat 4 or 5 system later in the week.
After Cyclone Ului last year people are a little more switched on and have been stocking up with supplies and fuel. Not sure what use a car load of fuel will be when the roads are likely to be impassable?
Also, the SW of West Australia is still under threat from TC Bianca which thankfully seems to be weakening. That is one out of the box as it is extremely rare for a cyclone to be that far south! Anyway, hope you guys over there don’t cop it too badly.
Here we go again!
While most people here in Central Queensland are heartily sick of all the wet weather we have had over the last couple of months and just want it to go away for a while, a few species thrive in these sort of conditions.
Canetoads,frogs and ducks love this type of weather as well as fungi. Walking around the rainforest you will come across plenty of different types of fungi making the most of the wet conditions and they create a real splash of colour amongst all the greenery.
Why was the mushroom invited to all the parties?
He was a real fun guy!
PS. After a suggestion by Mark Stothard the second image has been altered.