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!
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!
Most afternoons on Orpheus Is.huge rainsqualls would pass between the island and the mainland and often there were some quite cool cloud formations with them.
I shot this image more because of the rain in the distance and when I first looked at it on screen it didn’t really excite me that much. While I was playing around with it, I began to see potential and I finally arrived at what you see here.
As I was looking at this image,phrases began to run through my head like ‘climate change’, ‘sea-level rise’ and ‘extreme weather’!
If Glaciers and Ice-caps continue to melt at the current rate, this could be a depressingly familiar sight to many island nations and coastal communities world-wide, as the sea slowly & insidiously creeps over their land.Unfortunately, now, the option of walking inland to the next higher caves doesn’t exist!
The evidence is there and the scientific community, who study these things continuously are pretty much in agreement that human activity is accelerating the changes faster than would normally happen.
Yet,,Governments and big Multi-Nationals continue to argue,dither and generally do sweet F.A.!!
A couple of worrying signs are that Conservative governments which have just recently been put into power in Victoria & Qld are dismantling and winding back climate change initiatives that were put in place by previous governments because “they cost too much”!
In the meantime it’s full steam ahead for the coal industry, they can’t dig it up and sell it overseas fast enough! Burning huge amounts of coal & other fossil fuels is one of the biggest contributors to climate change, isn’t it??
There is something definately wrong with this picture!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
This image pretty much sums up the weather during the past couple of months over here in Qld. Due to a Lá Nina system in the Pacific it has been the wettest spring over here in years! There have been only about 5 days with any sort of sunshine this month and rainfall records have been broken. God knows what it will be like when the monsoon trough starts coming south!
Welcome to the ‘Wetsundays’.
The sugar cane farmers have taken a hit as well with over 25% of the crop left in the ground until next year as the harvesters can’t get into the soaked paddocks.
Meanwhile the SW corner of WA is crying out for rain. Who’d be a farmer?
I’ve been thinking for a while that considering I live in the Whitsundays on Queensland’s tropical coast, I haven’t been posting many images of the area! While I haven’t been out around the islands for a fair while due to health reasons, I did manage to capture a few images from the area before I was grounded.
This was taken early one morning looking from Langford Spit toward Hook Is.
Here the overnight high tide has washed away all the footprints left by the many visitors the spit gets each day and left it’s own footprint of current induced sand waves. A much nicer design I think!
Sitting out on the patio this morning having my wake-up coffee when I noticed a small spider had built a web close by. Upon closer inspection I was shaking my head in admiration of what this tiny animal engineer had achieved!
The web was about 2m from the ground and was in between a tree and a post with a distance of at least 2m between the anchor points. How it moved between these anchor points at the same time as spinning a gossamer thread with a tensile strength comparable to steel is a marvel of engineering!
All in the hope of trapping an unwary flying insect for dinner.
To get this image was a challenge in itself, constantly changing light and a breeze moving the web in and out of focus. Added to that was the fact that shooting angle and distance were were restricted.
Finishing my coffee and having a think about it, I came up with the solution of spraying the web with a fine water mist to help it stand out from the background and holding an off-camera flash as high as i could reach and slightly behind from the RH side to try and simulate sunlight.
After a few attempts to get the flash exposure right and waiting for a lull in the breeze, I managed to get one that was mostly in focus. The icing on the cake would have been to have a Golden Orb or John’s Cross spider, so I’ll have to work on my spider wrangling skills!
In the meantime, I hope I have done this little engineering feat justice. And we think we are the smartest species in the universe!?
After watching a 60 Minutes Report on the looming battle over the exploitation of The Kimberley for resources, a couple of thoughts went through my head. Colin Barnett, the W.A. Premier and Wayne Bergmann from the Kimberley Land Council, both cited how the proposed Gas Plant at James Price Point would bring enormous opportunities for the for the local indigenous people such as employment, wealth through mining royalties, etc. Would this really be the case though?
I am sure Wayne Bergmann is trying his best on behalf of his people, in Colin Barnett’s case, I seriously doubt it!
Exactly how many jobs would aboriginal people get out of this project considering that the amount of trained personnel amongst the local indigenous community would be fairly small?
Would Woodside be willing to spend all that time and money on training, when they could import trained people from elsewhere to build and operate the plant?
Would all this money that they say will be a boon to the local indigenous community actually help lift them out of the squalor that some of them live in?
I think the more likely scenario will be that many of those jobs will go to outsiders who will descend on the area attracted by the big wages that are common in the resource sector. That in turn will lead to inflated prices for rent, goods and services that will further marginalise a lot of people who live on the edges already. Broome will likely suffer the same sorts of problems that are seen in places like Dampier, Karratha and Port Headland!
The Kimberley Land Council have already been blindsided when Colin Barnett announced the compulsory acquisition of the land for the plant. A couple of days ago Mr Bergmann and other members of the Land Council were in Canberra lobbying against this blatant land grab by the W.A. Government.
This Gas Plant is probably the tip of the iceberg for the Kimberley and is wrong on so many levels, the aboriginal people and the wider community must start thinking of the wider and longer term implications if it is given green light.
In the 60 minutes Report, I think Albert Wiggan came out with the most intelligent rationale against any exploitation of the Kimberley and everybody who loves the Kimberley should keep it in mind!
Haven’t posted for a while as I am recovering from a hip operation that has made it painful to sit at a computer for too long! Good news is that I appear to be mending quickly,thank God!
I was reading a post by Christian Fletcher about the proposed Gas Plant at James Price Point near Broome and in the comments section I came across a scary piece of information found by David Bettini about a proposed copper mine near the Horizontal Falls!
I have spent quite a bit of time at the Horizontal Falls in my day job as a charter vessel skipper, and have driven tourists through the falls many times in all conditions. This image does not show the Falls in full flight as they are very dependant on the range and state of the tide. At maximum flow on the biggest tides of the year (11.5m range) they are an awesome sight with a 3m difference in level in the outer gap and a 5m wall of water in the inner gap. Water speeds reach up to 20 knots with huge whirlpools and turbulence, driving a powerboat through these is to be on the edge of control and very much an adrenalin surge to put it mildly!
The surrounding area in Talbot Bay is an ancient,rugged and unforgiving landscape that will punish any lapse in concentration on land or sea. Huge tides, crocodiles, sharks and a rugged rocky landscape with little fresh water makes it a place to keep your wits about you!
It also has a beauty and grandeur about it that is awe inspiring at times,especially when you look at how the sandstone strata has been pushed, pulled and twisted by unimaginable forces over millions of years.
To really get the best perspective of these forces and how this landscape has been formed flying over it is the best way, a truly unique experience!
The ancient rythms of life hold sway out here and make it a very unique area but unfortunately a mining company can’t see them. What they see is potential profit by changing and perhaps ruining an ancient landscape forever! And the politicians will be all for it if it looks viable.
I seriously hope people fight this and the Gas Plant near Broome tooth and nail and tell those in power that there are some places that are out of bounds!
If you want to see some more of what there is to lose, check out this brilliant video by Michael Fletcher!
Yesterday I went for a drive out to Cedar Ck. Falls and as I expected there was no water coming over the falls, but it is a nice little spot to potter around anyway. No people around which made it very peaceful indeed.
Moving around very slippery rocks with a walking stick and a tripod over my shoulder was a bit of a challenge at times,but that’s all part of the fun!
Downstream from the falls there is another creek which was still running and this little eddy caught my eye.
While reviewing it on the screen, I was reminded of a recent news item.
A couple of days ago a yacht made of recycled plastic and water bottles sailed into Sydney after a 4 month crossing of the Pacific. Along the way they sailed into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch which is an oceanic eddy, full of flotsam and jetsam such as plastic bags, bottles, nets etc, but on a much grander scale. It is estimated that this garbage patch covers the area of NSW and VIC. combined which is a lot of rubbish just slowly spinning around in a giant circle!
While plastic is undoubtedly a great modern material, unfortunately a lot of it ends up in our seas and causes lots of problems, but because it is in the sea, out of sight,out of mind!
So, next time you go fishing for example, make sure you put your plastic bait-bags in the bin or take them home with you for disposal instead of leaving them at your fishing spot as many people do because it is too messy to deal with!
This is another image from the same spot but with much more water flow.
Both were shot at 3s @ f8 100ISO.
After reading Mark Stothard’s latest post from Tasmania, I thought I would post a couple of images showing the aftermath of logging operations in the Tasmanian forests.
Once again, not a pretty sight!
The Forestry Department do collect as much seed as possible from the fallen timber and reseed the area but it is never the same and in a lot of cases they put in fast growing hybrid plantation timber which is not far removed from a pine plantation. We all know what “deserts”they are!
The big problem is that in Tasmania, Forestry employs a lot of people directly and indirectly and is one of the major industries, so government understandably are not about to throw a lot of people out of work.
Thanks to the Greens keeping the spotlight well and truly on the devastation that happens in the forests hopefully we will see a day when this portion of the earth’s lungs are safe from the chainsaws and bulldozers.