CATS AND NATIVE BIRDS – WHAT A DELIGHTFUL MIX.

This morning, under the kitchen window,  our resident magpies were bunging on an act  because they hadn’t been given their regular early morning snack of mince meat.

Fortunately for the maggies,  earlier this morning SWMBO had discovered a raw chicken breast that had found its way to the back of the fridge and outlived its use by date by over a week.

Tom and Ginger, our two house cats recoiled immediately they smelt the chicken and it was decided that the magpies, being wild birds and noted for their ability to eat anything meaty would soon demolish it.

Opening the back door, I threw the offending morsel onto the grass. and immediately the magpies descended onto it and began to tear it into small beak sized pieces.

As Tom, Ginger and the magpies peacefully co-exist in our backyard  I wasn’t surprised when Ginger came out and sat at my feet, watching the magpies demolishing the chicken that could have been his.

I ducked back inside, grabbed the camera, whacked on a lens and returned to the backyard. The scene was just as I’d left it, magpies munching and Ginger taking observations.

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GINGER WATCHING PROCEEDINGS

No sooner had I made this image than Ginger decided it was time to get back inside into the warmth of the central heating. I grabbed another image as he began to turn away from the magpies and their chicken snack,

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BORING, I’M GOING BACK INSIDE.

Magpies, crows, pigeons, galahs, sparrows, willy wagtails, sulphur crested cockatoos  and various other native birds frequent our backyard and spend a lot of time on the ground.

In all the years we have had cats, which by the way, are only allowed out of the house during daylight hours, we have never had a instance where the cats have attacked the birds or vice versa.

That’s nature for you.

Hoo roo for now.

 

 

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EASTER SUNDAY ‘DOWN ON THE FARM.’

Yesterday, Easter Sunday, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I went to visit friends at their farm on the outskirts of Canberra, our Nations Capital.

There is nothing more pleasant than sitting with good friends, under a beaut tree, on a wonderful autumn day, surveying the rolling hills and green paddocks, dotted with browsing cattle.

After a relaxing morning it was time for lunch and in usual country style, enough food to feed an army was soon on the table.

Ace, the Staffordshire Terrier was keeping us amused with his usual doggie antics as he smooched for snacks and occasionally succeeded.

I was fully relaxed and munching away when I was totally surprised by the arrival, unannounced, of our hostesse’s best mate, Baxter.

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BAXTER OVER MY SHOULDER, CLOSELY WATCHED BY ACE.
I never heard him approaching and the others around the table gave me no warning. The wide grins on their faces should have alerted me that something was up.

Anyway, I had just enough time to snatch my plate from the table as Baxter, closely watched by Ace, poked his massive head over my shoulder and snatched a few crumbs from the table cloth.

Leaving me, Baxter headed over towards our mate Bill. The two of them know each other very well.

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BAXTER HEADING FOR BILL.
Passing Bill,  Baxter made his way around the table, snatching tit bits as he went.

It was amusing to watch Baxter doing his thing but when he tried to snatch a hot cross bun from the hand of the mother of our hostess, Baxter had done his dash.

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A HOT CROSS BUN BRINGS BAXTER UNDONE.
Leaping to her feet she did her best to move him out of the way. At 17 hands he is no miniature and if he decides to stay put, that’s it.

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THE REMAINS OF THE HOT CROSS BUN
Finally, his  owner slipped a halter over his head, led him away and hitched him to the tree under which we were dining. Our mate Bill had strategically placed himself close to the tree’s trunk and was well in range of hitched up Baxter.

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Baxter took an immdiate likeing to the cap our mate Bill was wearing and did his best to dislodge the cap and when Bill took it off, Baxter started to lick Bill’s hair.

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I THINK BAXTER WAS LOOKING TO ME FOR APPROVAL.
We are going back to the farm in a month’s time for a Hot Pie day. SWMBO has decided to bake some apple pies and out hostess and her mum are going to bake meat, chicken and curry pies for the occasion.

I can’t wait to see the look on Baxter’s face when he tries a curry pie.

My Nikon gear was still in our 4WD but fortunately my iPhone was turned on and handy. What a great job it did recording a few images of Baxter having fun. I should have had the presence of mind to video the lot. I should always remember PPPPPP. If you have studied management you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Hoo roo for now

A FINE TIME FOR BACK YARD MAINTENANCE.

Autumn is now upon us and in theory, garden growth slows to a crawl as it awaits the arrival of spring and summer.This year however, tree and shrub growth have made access to the back and side yards  quite a challenge.

Free access to our back yard is vital as we often park our vehicles there for routine maintenance and general cleaning.

Last week brought the access issue to a head as our Isuzu 4WD needed a total clean out and wash. Without scratching it to bits, I couldn’t get it anywhere near our cleaning spot around the back.

The answer to the problem was obvious. Out with the bush saw and the secateurs and remove the offending foliage and branches.

Little did I realise how much work that entailed. The foliage was so dense on some trees that branches were hanging quite low.  That required me to reluctantly climb a ladder to enable the limbs to be cut off near the trunk.  I know people my age should refrain from climbing ladders but you know what blokes are like, ‘She’ll be right mate,’ is our mantra. Fortunately for me, this time, ‘she’ was right and no disaster ensued.

Gradually the access became clear and by the time the job was completed, two great heaps of greenery stood out the front waiting for me to get them to the Council’s green waste tip.

This morning I discovered a family of Black and White Fantails that we all call Willy Wagtails have moved into the piles. That means I can’t get to the waste tip until these delightful, tiny, active birds move on to somewhere else in the yard.

I should have photographed the access route before I started lopping but forgot to do so.

At least I remembered to photograph the end result and here are three examples taken this morning before the return of the heavy rain.

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TWO HEAPS READY FOR THE GREEN WASTE TIP
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THIS FEMALE WILLY WAGTAIL WAS PERCHING ON A TWIG ON THE EXTREME LEFT OF THE ABOVE IMAGE. FORTUNATELY THE ORIGINAL SIZE OF THE TOP IMAGE WAS ENOUGH FOR ME TO ENLARGE THIS SMALL SECTION.
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THERE IS NOW ENOUGH SPACE BETWEEN THE TREES FOR ACCESS UP THE SIDE OF THE HOUSE.

Later today, weather permitting, I’ll whack a telephoto lens on the camera and try and get some really sharp images of the Willy Wagtails as they flit about the greenery.

Hoo roo for now

THE WONDERS OF MODERN TECHNOLOGY.

My ancient Mac Book Pro (born 2006) finally went bye byes last Sunday.  It’s replacement, an Apple 12.9 inch IPad Pro complete with Apple keyboard and Pencil.

So far the transition from the old to the new has been relatively painless but I’ve got the feeling that in the days ahead the learning curve will be quite a steep one.

To be honest it feels a little odd to be sitting in the lounge room with the newbie sitting on my knee as I type and pretend I’m only 12 years of age as I watch TV, look out the window at the passing parade, converse with SWMBO and retain my train of thought for this epistle.

One thing is for sure though, the operating speed is incredible. No sooner have I typed a sentence that a little reminder pops up on the screen telling me that it’s been saved! No wonder my thought processes seem stationary.

Next on the agenda is working out how to retrieve images from my files to add to my blogs. To that end I’ve downloaded the multi page instruction manual to study in bed.  I don’t feel the least bit guilty  that I should be reading the latest novel set for the April meeting  of our book club. There are another three weeks before the book club cross examination begins and I’ll certainly have a beginners handle on this iPod by then.

The benefits of this little technological wonder are endless. For example, I can sit in bed with the book club novel and  record my thoughts as I turn the pages. Then I can take the iPad to the meeting and dazzle everyone with my grasp of 21st century technology.

However at this point, being at the base of that steep learning curve I’ve referred to, it is probably more prudent for me to make my notes in pencil as per usual and leave this mobile marvel at home until I really do know what I’m talking about.

So there we are, iPad christened in the best possible way, spell checker working a treat and I haven’t missed a single word in NCIS.

Hoo roo for now

 

DOES SIZE REALLY MATTER?

Over the years I thought that I’d become inured to the  Size Really Does Matter mantra.

Take body weight for example.TV adds bombard the senses with messages about the benefits of reducing body weight. Magazines continue with the ‘rid yourself of that extra weight’ mantra and for heavens sake, don’t mention the visit to your GP where hopping on the scales overrides the bedside manner protocol.

This preoccupation with size now permeates the world of cameras and all of their associated gadgetry.

Light weight carbon fibre tripods are now de rigour if you are walking more than 100 metres to your viewpoint. Camera bag makers now promote light weight waterproof fabrics for their products complete with waterproof zippers constructed from man made light weight composite material. The lighter bags are also larger, thus  enabling you to carry more gear. Makes sense doesn’t it?

It’s hard to imagine how photographers of yesteryear managed to even make a single image when loaded down with their glass plate apparatus, massive wooden tripods and walking great distances to find a favourable landscape view point.

This preoccupation with size in truly invasive. Recently a mate confided in me that traipsing around the bush carrying his Nikon D700,  a bevy of lenses together with an aluminium shafted tripod  whilst searching for that ‘wow factor’ landscape was becoming quite onerous because of the weight factor.

The answer to the problem was, he suggested, adopting a mirror less high spec camera body and associated lenses, together with a modern light weight tripod with a decent ball head, not to mention a new lightweight camera back pack.

I was sceptical because it wasn’t the first time he had tried to lure me into a long discourse on the magnificence of Nikon’s full frame camera bodies and the magic optics of Nikon lenses.

A day or so later my inbox was full of outstanding  images made by my mate using his brand spanking new, top of the line mirrorless Sony  and a range of their lenses.

In his follow up phone call I learned that excessive weight was no longer a concern. Minus the tripod, hand held was much more stable, and, putting on and talking off the camera bag was no longer a back breaking task.

I had no comeback, especially when I considered the weight of my current Nikon kit that felt as if I was going on a ten day unsupported walk in the Andes.

Then it struck me. I’d been down the same road years ago when using a medium  format camera was considered to be the camera of choice. I’d totally forgotten how heavy my  Mamiya RB67 and it’s three lenses are and how I suffered carting the outfit on field trips.

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LIGHT WEIGHT? ONLY 2,700 GRAMS!
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ROBUST, GREAT OPTICS, BULKY.

I had answered that problem by moving over to a Nikon F5 and a range of Nikkor lenses and consigning the Mamiya and its kit to the bottom of a cupboard. The F5 was less than half the weight of the Mamiya.

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MY INDESTRUCTIBLE NIKON F5. THE BEST 35MM FILM CAMERA I’VE EVER USED. ONLY 1210 GRAMS.

That was way back in 2002, fifteen  years ago. How time flies and how much has changed in the camera weight and size department since then.

Now that digital imaging is the way to go, my F5  has joined the Mamiya in the cupboard, replaced by  Nikon’s DSLRs with their expansive and expensive range of DX and FX lenses.

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AT 36.5 MP THIS IS THE MOST POWERFUL DIGITAL NIKON TO DATE. ONLY 988 GRAMS.

Now the current top end Nikon bodies can’t be classified as light weights. When coupled with  large lens, take for example the Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8 lens, the weight can become a challenge, particularly for hand holding during  a day long shoot.

Like most photographers I rarely leave home without a camera and these days, when  purely opportunistic photography is the aim and  maximum printable image size is not a consideration I leave the big boys at home; replaced by a light weight camera which is quite adequate for the majority of my recreational shooting.

My choices are:

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PANASONIC LUMIX. A GREAT CAMERA, FULLY ADJUSTABLE WITH A VERSATILE  LEICA LENS.ONLY 298 GRAMS.
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GREAT FOR STREET PHOTOGRAPHY IN TRUE LEICA TRADITION. ONLY 289 GRAMS

And, when I want to get adventurous or totally unobtrusive, my camera of choice is the GoPro Hero Black.

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THIS TINY DIGITAL WONDER DOES EVERYTHING EXCEEDINGLY WELL. ONLY 116 GRAMS.

So there you have the absolute truth. Yes, Size (note the capital) does matter. In the case of cameras, it’s weight that matters usually, not dimensions.

My multiple downsizing shows how I’m not, as I thought,  inured to the “Size Does Matter’ mantra. I’ve been kidding myself all these years.

Just for the record, here again are the cameras’ weights for your consideration:

MAMIYA RB 67                                                      2700 GRAMS

NIKON F5                                                                 1210 GRAMS

NIKON D810                                                             988 GRAMS

PANASONIC LUMIX DMC-LX100                       298 GRAMS

LEICA D-LUX6                                                          289 GRAMS

GOPRO HERO BLACK 5                                           116 GRAMS.

I rest my case.

Hoo roo for now.

HAVING FUN WITH COMPUTERS.

Commencing in late May, after much cajoling I’ll be running a short photography course through the auspicies of the local U3A (University of the Third Age) for oldies of my vintage.

From talking to many of the people who are interested in attending (it’s free) it’s apparent that the camera setting ‘P’ is the setting of choice, where their camera offers a choice that is. When I jokingly tell them that ‘P’ stands for Professional, only a few have managed a chuckle.

Point and shoots , phones and tablets are the predominent capture gadgets in use by the target group and that is in keeping with the current photographic digital phenonema.

Accordingly, the course won’t be particularly technical. For example, we won’t be delving into camera operating systems, Bayer arrays or the typical Nikon-V-Canon-V-Sony-V-Panasonic-V-Olympus -V- Leica or Hasselbald argy bargy.

Where appropriate, camera settings such as shutter speeds, aperture, white balance and  ISO will be explained.

Whether attendees use DSLR’s, mirrorless cameras, point and shoots, phones, tablets or  any other image recording devices, the objective is for them to know how to have fun with their device and produce images for their own target audience.

I’ve always liked using audio visual presentations to convey information to groups and to that end, I’d prepared a PDF for the first day’s session titled ‘What Makes A Good Photo.’

Now finally, that brings me to my blog’s title, ‘Having Fun With Computers.’

Back in 2006 I  bought a top of the range  Apple 15 inch MacBook Pro, Core 2 Duo lap top computer and it has served me very well.

Then along came iphones and Ipads and my trusty heavy weight ‘lap top’ was relegated to the cupboard, only to be dragged out occasionally.

After downloading  ‘What Makes A Good Photo’ from my desktop to a CD I learned that I’d need my trusty Mac Book Pro in order to get the PDF onto the large TV screen in the hall where the camera course would be held.

That’s when the fun began. Firstly ,the lap top took forever to fully charge. Then it wouldn’t accept my password. No I hadn’t forgotten it, I’d recorded it in writing.

After multiple attempts with the old password, a new password was required. Easy I thought.  New password entered. Stupid me. An Apple verification code was required. Where was my turned off iphone. Outside in the garage, in the car’s glove box.

By the time I got back inside the time limit had expired on the six numeral verification code.

Through the whole process again. This time, my password selection was too simple. Try again.

Finally, password accepted, verification code entered, great, time to load my CD.

That’s right, it jammed in the Mac Book. By the time I got it out it was, to put in politely, unuseable.

No problem, just download the PDF to another disc. Simple. You think so?

What I failed to realise was that by changing my password on the lap top my ipads, my iphone and my desk tops all need to have their password changed to match the new one.

Finally, late this afternoon, all changes had been made, the desk tops, the ipads, and the phones all done.

Back to the laptop. It will not recognise its new password. It will not accept the fresh CD. It can’t be recognised in my LAN because it is too old.

A quick call to my local independent Apple guru elicited the simple response, “mate, its a vintage machine, forget it, get a new one!’

Unfortunal]tely I haven’t won Lotto so a new MacBook Pro is out of the question.

Luckily my Epson printer operates up to A3 so over the next week or two I’ll print out the important bits of my PDF blurb and peg them up on the cork board in the hall as I waffle on to the course attendees.

Here’s an image of my ‘beloved’ lap top. To paraphrase the old song, from the great western movie, High Noon, ‘ I do not know what fate awaits it, I only know I’ll miss it so.’

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Hoo roo for now.

 

FEATHERED RESIDENTS AT CASA CREAKING BONES.

The Australian Magpie has a bit of a varied reputation, depending on the time of the year and to whom you speak.

In the nesting/breeding season, Magpies become quite territorial and can become aggressive if they feel threatened.

Pedestrians and cyclists in particular seem to ruffle Magpie feathers and the media is often full of stories of Magpies swooping down and allegedly inflicting peck(not of the kissing type) injuries on their unsuspecting victims.

SWMBO and I have both spent years as cyclists and have travelled many thousands of road kilometres and never, never have we had a run in with Magpies.

Here at Casa Creaking Bones over the years we have actively encouraged Magpies to visit our backyard and now, our place is a Magpies playground. They roost in our native trees, shelter on our back verandah in heavy rain and bring their young in to meet us as soon as they leave the nest.

We can move around under their roosting spots at all times, year round and they never move, just delight us with their magical calls and as feathered alarm clocks, they have no Aussie sun rise  equals.

I’ve lost count of the number of Magpie photographs I’ve taken over time, one black and white Magpie look just like another and their antics are almost identical.

Recently I’ve rediscovered the fun you can have with a GoPro camera and today I had a try to capture a regular afternoon Magpie performance at our kitchen window.

By the way, it’s almost impossible to keep the window panes clean as the Magpies and the Sulphur Crested Cockatoos keep rapping on the glass with their beaks to attract our attention when they think a handout might be in the offing.

This arvo the Maggies were right, stale bread hand out time had come around.

I set the little GoPro on Video, mounted it on a Gorilla Pod, pressed the go button and opened the kitchen window to the waiting Magpies.

Have a laugh at what the GoPro recorded.

I normally call ‘Come on’, feed one Maggie and then call,’Next’ but this time around the queue had already formed and my requests were unnecessary.

I’ve not yet mastered the way to polish up the GoPro results, I’ll look into the appropriate software in due course.

You are safe however, there is no way I could ever become a Cecil B or anyone like that and produce a 90 minute documentary on Magpies.

Hoo roo for now