"To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place. . . I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them." – Elliott Erwin (Documentary photographer)
Note: The series of images below were made travelling home in a bus from South Melbourne. As I was sitting in the front seat I made random shots along the way on a very dark night and, at a guess, I would say I had the Sony a6000 ‘mirrorless’ on the Intelligent Auto setting as it takes great dusk and sunset images and I thought it had the best chance of capturing something.
In fact, capturing anything at all (was my aim).
I ended up with the camera automatically going up to a very high ISO and heaps of noise (or graininess) in the images.
I also ended up with many blurred images when the bus hit a bump in the road. By the time I arrived home, I’d learned how many bumps and ‘potholes’ there actually were in some urban roads around Melbourne 😀
I’ve never shared them before as I thought ‘the noise’ reduced the quality and they were just not good enough (to share), but now, as I review them in June 2021, I love them for the moodiness they convey – almost looking like paintings, rather than photos.
In the image below, the bus had stopped at a red light and I managed to get a sharper focus on the shop window (with the trees and setting sun reflecting on the bus door window).
The images below were made as I left the centre of Melbourn’s CBD (central business district) and passed closer to Port Melbourne, eventually crossing the Maribyrnong River into the inner western suburbs and my home location.
While all of us amateur (and professional?) photographers like sharply focused images, perhaps soft focus is just as good in storytelling.
Life isn’t perfect and we all have our problems and unique stories to share.
What’s the origin of the phrase ‘Birds of a feather flock together’?
This proverb has been in use since at least the mid 16th century. In 1545 William Turner used a version of it in his papist satireThe Rescuing of Romish Fox:
“Byrdes of on kynde and color flok and flye allwayes together.”
The first known citation in print of the currently used English version of the phrase appeared in 1599, inThe Dictionarie in Spanish and English, which was compiled by the English lexicographer John Minsheu:
Birdes of a feather will flocke togither.
The phrase also appears in Benjamin Jowett’s 1856 translation of Plato’sRepublic. Clearly, if it were present in the original Greek text then, at around 380BC, Plato’s work would be a much earlier reference to it. What appears in Jowett’s version is:
Men of my age flock together; we are birds of a feather, as the old proverb says.
Plato’s text can be translated in other ways and it is safe to say it was Jowett in 1856, not Plato in 380BC, that considered the phrase to be old. The lack of any citation of it in English prior to the 16th century does tend to suggest that its literal translation wasn’t present inThe Republic– a text that was widely read by English scholars of the classics well before the 16th century.
Seagulls down at Altona Beach (on the western side of Port Phillip Bay – the bay on which the city of Melbourne was first settled in 1835).
The river behind my apartment block – the Maribyrnong River – was first explored in 1805……much earlier
For a change, I thought I’d do a post on each of the 100+ Australian birds I’ve photographed and identified over the last 10 years.
When I first spotted a Nankeen Night Heron on the bank of the Ornamental Lake in Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens I was thrilled as I thought it was a rare bird.
It was early in my photography hobby and I’d never seen such a beautiful bird. I seem to have lost that first image in a computer crash, but I’ve got plenty more photos taken over the years.
Over many months (and years) I discovered they were common, especially in winter on the large island in the middle of the Ornamental Lake when the trees are leafless and the winter sun shines directly on the bare limbs.
There’s supposed to be Nankeen Night Herons in the Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve behind my apartment building (above in the lower left – photographed from the 5th floor) and somewhere in the parkland up and down the Maribyrnong River near my home (below) but I’ve never seen one since living in the area over the last 4 1/2 years.
I hope the image below is helpful for overseas followers to appreciate that I’m no longer living close to the city (of Melbourne) which is partly why I rarely go into the city these days and certainly never do street photography.
The images below are a mixture of photos made in the landscaping of Melbourne Zoo as well as at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne.
This rather poor image (below) shows what I call the Heron tree in the Ornamental Lake. The tree is dead and can be covered in 20+ Nankeen Night Herons warming up their feathers in the winter sunshine.
I’ve always been fascinated by the two slim white feathers adorning the ‘neck’ of the heron. Why did Mother Nature put those feathers on the adult bird? (I haven’t yet asked Mr Google that question).
I was kneeling down about 3-4 feet from the heron when I took these photos in the Zoo restaurant courtyard (next to the Japanese Garden).
NANKEEN NIGHT HERON (Nycticorax caledonicus)
The next minute the heron turned and started walking straight towards me and I had to stand up and move away from its path.
This heron was photographed on a small island adjoining the main lake in the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Apologies to the long-time followers who followed my old nature blog and will have seen these images several times before.
…..Talking of Ginger Lilies in the last post, I just came across another image I shot on the 28th April 2012 in Melbourne Zoo’s landscaping.
This image has no lens data in my photo library so that must have disappeared in one of my computer crashes? Obviously cropped to a square format, it’s a shot to be proud of early in my photography hobby. Either side of it in my photo library is the data showing it was probably shot with my first Canon DSLR and 18-200mm f3.5 – 5.6 IS lens.
Eventually, this much-used general-purpose lens died from overuse after about 100,000 photos. Now that….lens…..was real value for money.
I bought an 18-200mm Sony lens to go with my Sony a6000 ‘mirrorless’ camera on 24th February 2015, but it also died – this time in a fall in Melbourne Cemetery 26th June – 4 months after purchase.
…..and how do I know the exact dates you may well ask. Well, I took a photo of the Sony boxes when I bought the camera and took a selfie of the gash from hairline to eyebrow when I tripped over a marble tombstone and ‘killed’ the Sony lens in Melbourne Cemetery.
If you’re new to photography and can only afford one lens to pair with your new DSLR, I can highly recommend an 18-200mm lens. It’s good for close-ups, good for landscapes and gets you pretty close to a bird up in a tree.
I took so many photos in the early years of my photography hobby, I just have to view an image in my photo library and I can see where I was and what I was doing on that day – better than a diary.
I had an hour to spare on arriving at my appointment in East Melbourne on Monday 24th May. I’ve been trying to find the names of 2 (common) flowers to no avail, so I decided to just share my photos anyway (minus those 2 common flowers).
The Fitzroy Gardens, located in East Melbourne, was named after Sir Charles Augustus Fitzroy (1796-1858), Governor of New South Wales (1846-1851) and Governor-General of the Australian Colonies (1851-1855).
The heritage-listed Fitzroy Gardens were originally set aside as a reserve in 1848. The landscape is diverse and layered, following a classic Victorian-era design. There are extensive lawns and pathways lined with mature elm trees, plus a framework of garden structures and floral displays across the 26 hectares.
(Note: the Royal Botanic Gardens to the south-east of Melbourne’s CBD are 55 hectares and go back to 1846 and are far more interesting in my view).
Star attractions are the historic Cooks’ Cottage and the Spanish mission-style Conservatory with its magnificent floral displays. I managed to find some images from The Conservatory in my archives to illustrate this post even though I didn’t visit The Conservatory on this occasion. There are 5 seasonal displays per year – the four seasons and one extra. Best to ring first before visiting The Observatory from a tourist point of view, as I got caught out one year making the long walk from the bus stop and finding The Observatory closed while they changed the display from one season to the next.
Other points of interest include a miniature Tudor village, the Fairies’ Tree carved sculpture, myriad fountains and statues, and the Scarred Tree.
The Gardens have a long history of over 150 years, few other capital cities can boast such a significant garden so close to the City’s centre.
My appointment was in the nearby Grey Street and so my short walk included the Grey Street Fountain – a rather unimaginative name in my view.
The brilliant sunshine threw many flowers into over-exposure mode as I started my short walk and I couldn’t see through the viewfinder well enough to make some well-composed shots.
I quickly changed the target and photographed flowers in the shade.
There weren’t many.
The wind was also a factor as all you flower photographers will know and it (the wind) is not our friend when it comes to photographing delicate blooms or grasses.
There were not many flowers in flower this close to winter, so I quickly restricted my walk to about 100feet and then turned and walked back to the side street again. The only 2 birds in sight, were a pair of Australian Wood Ducks (Chenonetta jubata) atop a couple of rocks in the Grey Street Fountain pond.
First I captured some Cassava (Yucca) backlit by the sun. I know this plant more by the name of Yucca (and have 2 really beautiful specimens at the top of my steep road near my home).
Then a lovely fresh bloom of this Fuchsia , (swinging in the wind so not sharp focus).
The Agapanthus was at just the right opening stage for fresh blooms…..
And below, one of only 2 white Angel’s Trumpet flowers not brown and dying.
ANGEL’S TRUMPET (Brugmansia)
ANGEL’S TRUMPET (Brugmansia)
ANGEL’S TRUMPET (Brugmansia)
There were winter-flowering Salvia and Sea lavender (or Statice) budding and showing a few scant flowers but my photos were poor and not worth sharing.
This week it’s back to a cold Antarctic chill, with strong winds and very chilly mornings. Rain all day and/or overcast skies and rain showers will dominate the week.
We sit silently and watch the world around us. This has taken a lifetime to learn. It seems only the old are able to sit next to one another and not say anything and still feel content. The young, brash and impatient, must always break the silence. It is a waste, for silence is pure. Silence is holy. It draws people together because only those who are comfortable with each other can sit without speaking. This is the great paradox.
…….and one of my favourite images from St Kilda beach/Boat Marina/Esplanade (below). I’ve actually got better images in my photo library to illustrate this quote, but the image below always begs for public viewing whenever I scan my archives. I don’t know exactly why it’s a favourite image, it just is.
……and a few more images around St Kilda made on the same day.
March 2, 2021. St Kilda finally has a ‘village bell’ ringing out, more than 80 years after the distinctive Catani Memorial Clock Tower appeared on the foreshore.
The digital chimes, turned on by Port Phillip Council today, replicate the solemn tones of a classic clock tower bell. In a further nod to the past, the chimes were installed by the same company responsible for activating the clock face and mechanism in 1932.
Following extensive community consultation with nearby residents and traders, the chimes will sound on the hour from 8 am to 10 pm on weekdays and 9 am to 10 pm on weekends. Carlo Catani, who died in 1918, set the design principles for the St Kilda foreshore to be a cosmopolitan Mediterranean-style entertainment and promenading park scape.
His vision included a prominent public clock tower as the centrepiece, and a tower was delivered posthumously after a design competition in 1930 – but without a bell.
Digital chimes have many advantages, including easy to control sound and directional settings.
Mayor Louise Crawford said the chimes provide a moment of stillness and a sense of community as residents and visitors go about their daily life.
“This project represents a great combination of the old and the new, fully in keeping with St Kilda’s reputation as a unique destination. The chimes will able to be heard nearby on Victoria’s most popular beach,” Cr Crawford said.
ext to ST KILDA PIER (with the city of Melbourne in the background)
At the St Kilda Sea Baths you can experience the pleasure of bathing in water that has been derived directly from the sea and heated to a soothing temperature.
The facilities at the St Kilda Sea Baths include a heated 25 metre seawater pool, hydrotherapy spa pool, unisex aromatherapy steam room and a lounge area offering magnificent views of the bay.
The seawater pool will help stimulate your senses and relax your mind. The buoyancy and healing properties of the natural seawater will go to work to help relieve muscle soreness, injuries and skin aliments, as well as restoring your energy and wellbeing.
Take a relaxing swim, participate in a water aerobics class, de-stress in the steam room or float in the hydrotherapy spa. The St Kilda Sea Baths has something to offer everyone.
When I lived on the southeast side of Melbourne pre-April 2015, this beach and pier were some of my regular photography locations. I must have hundreds of images taken over 2010-2015.
A great location to practice landscapes, seascapes and of course, just sitting/relaxing and people watching. Oh, and the hot Fish n Chips from the iconic kiosk at the end of the pier were among the best I have eaten, as were the ‘boxed’ meal from the nearby cafe/restaurant (on the shore next to the esplanade).
……a little more information about St Kilda from Wikipaedia follows for those interested. I have unashamedly cut & paste straight from the internet to save time/energy.
St Kilda was named by Charles La Trobe, then superintendent of the Port Phillip District, after a schooner, Lady of St Kilda, which moored at the main beach for much of 1841. Later in the Victorian era, St Kilda became a favoured suburb of Melbourne’s elite, and many palatial mansions and grand terraces were constructed along its hills and waterfront. After the turn of the century, the St Kilda foreshore became Melbourne’s favoured playground, with electric tram lines linking the suburbs to the seaside amusement rides, ballrooms, cinemas and cafes, and crowds flocked to St Kilda Beach. Many of the mansions and grand terraces became guest houses, and gardens were filled in with apartment buildings, making St Kilda the most densely populated suburb in Melbourne.
After World War II, St Kilda became Melbourne’s red-light district, and the guest houses became low-cost rooming houses. By the late 1960s, St Kilda had developed a culture of bohemianism, attracting prominent artists and musicians, including those in the punk and LGBT subcultures. While some of these groups still maintain a presence in St Kilda, since the 2000s the district has experienced rapid gentrification, pushing many lower socio-economic groups out to other areas, with the suburb again being sought after by the wealthy.