AE 487 – WWP: What a Day! Photography Update
Badabing, badaboom! (It’s) time for another Driving with Pete episode. So, it be Walking with Pete except I have just finished walking around and I have to go grab Kel. So, just let me reverse up. Reverse, reverse, reverse. Do a U-ie. Do U-turn. U-ie, U-ie, U-ie. And it’s time to drive into Canberra and I’m early. I’m early. (I) thought I was going to be late. I normally have to grab Kel at about 3 o’clock and it is 2:20 at the moment, and I was taking photos out in the back of this sanctuary, reserve. It’d be a reserve. So, it’s a nature reserve, Mulligan’s Flat, Mulligan’s Flat Reserve.
So, this is in… It’s near Bonner, which is a suburb in Canberra, and this is the place that I’ve been going a heap recently in order to practice photography, and get a load of photos of kangaroos and echidnas, birds, all kinds of stuff. It’s been amazing. And today, was no different. Today was absolutely awesome.
So, I finished work. I was doing my podcast stuff. I released an interview today. Kit was chatting to me about IELTs. So, I put that interview up this morning. And I’m… at the moment, this week at least, I’ve been trying to get everything done by about 12 o’clock. So, I normally start work, I normally get out of bed at about 8:00, 8:20, and I start work downstairs in the kitchen, situate myself at the kitchen table, make a coffee, and then I wait for people to come downstairs, to wake up slowly, although usually two of them, two of the Brazilians that I normally chat with, have already disappeared.
So, but yeah, normally Luma at the moment, one of my housemates’ girlfriends who is with us at the moment, she is normally there. She gets up after me, and then I’ve put myself downstairs so that we can chat and I can practice my Portuguese or, you know, just be social, because I don’t want to be cooped up, ‘cooped up’ like a chicken coop, right. The place where you keep chickens at night. You put them in a coop and that’s where they are locked. If you’re cooped up in English that… that means you’re sort of locked up in a room or you’re in a small confined space for a long period of time, right.
So, I’m always cooped up in the office, in my bedroom, and I don’t really like to be too cooped up for too long. I like to be sociable like to come out chat to people. So, I situate myself downstairs, put my computer on, have my camera gear down there too. Recently, I’ve had my… this new lens I bought two days ago, and if you haven’t checked it out, I made a video about how I saved $100 when I bought this lens and that was using the expressions, ‘What’s the best deal you can give me on this?’ and ‘What’s the best price you can give me on this?’. Okay? So, you can use those expressions when buying things like cameras or cars, or expensive electronic equipment, in particular, you can do it. So, if I were to go to JB Hi-Fi, for instance, I wouldn’t obviously do it if I was just buying a CD, right.
If I’m buying a single seat for 20 dollars they’re not going to give me any money off. But if I were to buy a $5,000 camera and a $2,000 lens and a 100 dollar memory stick or memory card, whatever it is. If you were to say, ‘What’s the best price you can give me on this?’, because you’re spending a significant amount of money they are almost certain to say, ‘I will knock a few hundred bucks off it’ or ‘we’ll knock a thousand dollars off it if you’re spending enough’. You know, normally, they’ll be able to pull off 5 to 10 maybe even 15 percent of the price, because they have the profit margins kind of built in there so that they have room to do that and room to offer deals when someone’s actually wanting to spend a lot of money.
So, I thought I would make a video on that, guys, and some of the comments were really impressive. Someone was saying that they had gone, I think, to Dick Smiths and JB Hi-Fi to get a price for something and one of the places had it really cheap, but they had only found it online, and so they’ve gone to, I think it was, JB, shown the price, and JB matched it, and they saved more than 50 percent. So, that was really crazy. Anyway. I thought that was worth talking about.
But yeah, I bought this new lens and it is 100 to 400 mm. So, anyone who is into cameras knows that the higher the number of millimetres, effectively, the closer you can get to your subject, the thing that you’re photographing, the more zoomed in you’re going to be the higher the number of millimeters on a camera. I’m still learning all this sort of physics of how this works and everything, but in other words, 100 to 400-millimeter lens is a big lens. And finally, it is allowing me to get a lot closer to the animals or to the people or to the architecture and buildings that I want to take photos of.
So, at the moment though, it’s just a matter of getting used to how to use it. Right? So, every time you’re going to it lens, normally it’s got different features, it does different things, it’s got a different depth of field, a different aperture, it can reach a certain range, and you just have to get used to using it, and how much light can get in, and the settings that you have to adjust on your camera. So, I’m trying to do that at the moment and that means finishing work, if I can, by about 12 o’clock in the afternoon, I guess, 12 pm, and then just relaxing for the rest of the day and not stressing out, because I find it easy to get kind of carried away and just keep working all day until late, and forget to give myself a bit of time to relax.
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And this… if you guys have been listening to or know of a guy called Jordan Peterson, he’s a clinical psychologist who has sort of made his way into to famous status recently, because he’s released a book and his message is basically, ‘Get your act together’, meaning be responsible, be the person that you would like yourself to be, etc., and quite often, he talks about designing your day to be the day that you would like to have, you know? Not working your arse off, because you think you need to work your arse off, but designing the day, as in like, organising your schedule so that the day is the day you want, whether that’s getting up and going to work, and then after work, setting aside time to see family or to do a hobby or to watch TV or to cook or to spend time with your partner, your wife, your husband, your boyfriend, your girlfriend. He puts a lot of emphasis on being kind to yourself whilst also kind of being responsible and strict on yourself at the same time, but better organising your life so that you can enjoy it more.
So, I’ve taken that and I’ve tried to sort of apply that to myself this week at least more, in a more in-depth approach where I specifically aim to get a certain number of tasks done as soon as possible in the morning, I try and be efficient, and then I try and relax for the rest of the day, or you know, I might come back and do some more work later on if I feel like, I might have some lessons in the evening if I’m teaching on Skype.
But yeah, and yeah, this week’s been really good. I really enjoyed it, especially, being able to just go and do photography in the afternoons at least once a day and just learn, learn, learn, learn.
I’m trying to be a sponge at the moment. A sponge. One of those things you wash your plates with that when you put it in water, it soaks all the water up. I’m trying to be a sponge, I’m trying to get my brain to be a sponge and soak up all this new information with regards to photography. You know? There’s a lot to learn if you want to become effective. You know, if you want to be a talented photographer, one thing is being able to see the things you want to take photos of and get the composition and places right, but the next thing is being able to use the equipment that you have effectively and efficiently, and that’s the difficult part for me, at least. I tend to have a pretty good eye and can set photos up pretty well, but quite often they are out of focus, they’re underexpose, they’re overexposed, the aperture is wrong. So, we’re working on that has been the sort of difficult, but fun part of photography, and I think that’s why I enjoy it so much, because it’s kind of like an intellectual approach to learning something where I realise I have to sort of pick up all of these details and really study quite a bit. It’s kind of like learning grammar at the start of learning English, right. You sort of need to do that bit at first to get a basic idea of the rules and how to be efficient, and then you can kind of be a bit more relaxed and do what you want to do with the language or with photography, right. So, I’m at that stage at the moment where I’m still learning “the grammar”, in quotation marks, “the grammar” of photography.
Anyway today, I wanted to tell you about today, because I just had an amazing day at Mulligan’s Flat. It was insane. It was insane.
So, I went out there thinking, you know, it’s a windy day, it was just beginning to become overcast. So, prior to going out, the day had been really bright, really blue, lots of sun, not many clouds, but then all of a sudden, the clouds sort of appeared and I was like, oh, no, there’s not going to be any good light if I want to take some photos of some birds. Another thing I’ve just learnt, you need quite good light or the birds, because they move so much, tend to be really blurry quite often. And I had that experience yesterday, the first day that I got to take this lens for a spin, meaning I got to take this lens out and try to use it. I think we get that expression from… “to give something a spin”, that’d be like getting getting a car or a bike for the first time, something with wheels, and spinning the wheels, as in driving it or using it. So, if you hear someone say, “oh, can I give it a spin?”, they may use it for cars and bikes, and things with wheels, but they could also use it for things that don’t have wheels. So, just means to try that thing “to give it a whirl”, “to give it a spin”.
So, what was I talking about? So, yeah, yesterday, I went out and Kel I was taking photos down at Lake… What’s the lake called? The lake in the middle of Canberra. There’s a big lake there. If someone tells me that I goingn to know, but I’ve forgotten that off the top of my head.
So, we went down there were taking photos of loads of birds, or at least I was, Kel was wandering around with some other lenses playing around, but I was specifically trying to photograph things that were moving a lot, so birds, people, kids, bikes, dogs, things just moving around and I was really trying to get my settings correct on the camera. So, I’m trying to get aperture correct so that enough light gets into the camera so that the shutter speed isn’t too low, too slow, so that everything’s blurry, and so that I don’t have to boost what’s called ISO, I-S-O, ISO too high which causes the photo to be grainy, to be really grainy, to be noisy.
And yeah, I hope you guys don’t mind me talking about these sort of technical aspects, because I know that quite a few of you are photographers so learning about this stuff, hopefully, you’ll get a bit of vocab out of this if I talk about the more technical side of it. If you don’t do photography, forgive me, just try and hang in there know and understand what I’m talking about.
But yeah, so you have to play with these three things when you do any kind of photography. You have to play with these three things: Aperture, which is how much light you’re allowing into the camera; Shutter speed, which is how quickly the photo is taken, which again, sort of decides how much light is allowed into the camera based on time. And then; ISO, which is the computer… the computer chip inside the camera boosting or decreasing the sensitivity of the sensor, I think. So it artificially looks like there’s is more or less light based on that.
So, in photography, whenever you’re taking your photo of anything, you have to juggle these three things depending on the light that you’re using, like if it’s really bright, if it’s really dark, if the thing’s moving, if it’s not moving, if you’re taking a photo of the night sky, you have to set these settings for these three things differently in order to capture the photo the way you want to capture it.
So, I’ve been learning and juggling with those three things at the moment and it’s a steep learning curve. There’s a lot you need to learn to actually become effective at it.
And so, yeah, I was going out yesterday with Kel, we were taking photos of all these birds, animals, people, and with the birds, at least, I hadn’t appreciated just how hard it is to get a really sharp photo. “Sharp” we use in photography terminology, “Sharp” like the end of a knife, to mean that all the lines in the photo are really sharp, as in, they’re not fake and blurry lines, everything is crisp, in focus, and sharp.
So, it was really difficult. I took… I think I took about 2 maybe 3000 photos yesterday. We were out for an hour and I had it on burst, burst shoot, so that it takes many photos when you hold your finger down.
And yeah, it was frustrating, because so many of the photos were blurry and dark, and the… I was obviously not setting those three things correctly on aperture, ISO, and shutter speed, so that I would get clear, sharp, crisp photos. And so, previously, on other cameras… on other lensesm rather, using them on my camera. I had sort of gotten the hang of that. It wasn’t too much of a big deal.
But with this new lens, it’s a different lens, it’s big, it’s got different, you know, features to it, or aspects to it, so I have to learn how to change the settings in order to best utilize that lens.
So, yesterday was a nightmare. I got maybe, I think, 200 photos out of 2-3,000, so, you know, 10 percent or less that I liked and I deleted the rest.
So, today. Today, I decided to go out as well. I’m just going to open up Pepsi, I’ve got a drink here. I’m driving in to get Kel, but I’m losing my voice, because I’m talking so much.
So, today I went out and I was hoping to just see some birds at Mulligan’s Flat. You know, there’s lots of kangaroos there. They’re pretty easy to film, but they’re not moving very much. So, they’re kind of, sort of, you know, photography on easy mode. You don’t really do much unless they’re running away from you, or hopping away from you, rather.
So, I was out there and it was really good. I saw some birds… It’s… another thing that I want to talk about. Photography has really opened my eyes to different aspects of the world. So, you just see the world completely different constantly. You see photos that you want to take in your head every time you are looking at scenery or animals or people or buildings. I’m constantly now thinking of how to position things into good composition, to like a position to take a photo, good composition. And it’s weird. Previous to doing photography, my mind it never really been looking at the world that way. So, it is really funny when you learn something a bit different that your brain starts seeing the world differently, starts perceiving the world differently, starts thinking about different things. And this was the same when I did jujitsu, when I started martial arts, all of a sudden, when we were walking around I was always thinking about how big is this guy, how would I subdue this guy if he were to suddenly get violent, you know, when you’re out on a Friday or Saturday night, I’d be constantly thinking if there was loud noises or someone started yelling or making a scene or something, I’d be thinking okay, if push comes to shove and I have to fight this guy, how am I going to do it?
Previous to learning a martial art, I’d never even thought about that. But yeah, after a few years of doing jujitsu that suddenly was always something I was thinking about.
Same with photography, I’m always seeing it. So, yeah, I started noticing things a lot differently. So, today when I went out, and this is the point that I was trying to get to be seeing things differently, it was really funny, because I’ve come, maybe the last three times that I’ve been to Mulligan’s Flat, including today, I’ve seen the same birds in the same place, and this is something that I’d sort of taken for granted. Every time you’re out and about and taking photos, well not taking photos, whatever outside your house, walking around, you see birds, you think, the birds are sort of, I guess, that they move on. They don’t just stay in a sort of localised place, right. You never sort of see the same bird twice unless it has some kind of really distinctive features.
And although today, and this is the funny thing, I had noticed when I first went out there a few days ago this Kookaburra sitting on a sign and then he flew to a tree that was nearby, and then when I went to that tree to try and take a photo of him, he flew to another tree. And today, he was on the same sign, when I walked up to try and get a photo of him, he flew to the same tree, and then when I walked up to that tree, he flew to the same tree again. So, it goes to show just how much these animals are often utilizing the same area in nature, utilizing the same trees, and this is probably something that you guys already know. There’s probably a few photographers there that are like, “No dah, Pete! No shit Sherlock!”. They’re animals and you should know this.
As a biologist, you get taught this, but you never think about it unless you’re actively out there. And it was the same thing with the kangaroos. I keep seeing the same kangaroos now, especially the ones with different scars like the one that I’ve called Gus. There’s this big brown male kangaroo and he has like a scarred eye, one of his ears is ripped up. So, from all fighting, you know, fighting to dominate the mob and have rights to mate with all the females. He’s scarred up, but because of that, he’s one of the only ones I can recognise. And I can find him every day now. So, it just goes to show that these guys are always in the same place.
So, that was one thing that I noticed today. I was really thinking about it, because when I went out there again to Mulligan’s Flat, I saw the same Eastern Rosellas. There’s a pair of them that I see all the time, these pretty parrots that are like green, yellow, red, blue. They’re really beautiful. I saw a pair of Crested Pigeons. These are pigeons that are native to Australia that have like a crest on their head like a little Mohawk, and I saw the same pair of them, or at least what I assume was the same pair, as they were in exactly the same place. I went for a walk and then saw that cockatoo in the same place, ah cockatoo?! Kookaburra*. So, Kookaburra* in the same place. And it was just really funny. Goes to show that all these birds are always in the same location.
So, that was something really funny. I took some photos of these guys. I tried to get some good shots, although, it’s pretty hard to get close to them. And then I decided to walk around. Another thing that I had to sort of learn just recently getting into bird photography over the last, I don’t know, what’s that, maybe two weeks, three weeks, you have to think about what your angle is with regards to the sun pointing at the bird so that you get sunlight hitting the bird as directly as possible so that the bird is crisp and sharp in the photo. I’d never thought about this previously. I hadn’t really taken that many photos of birds, and when I had, I hadn’t paid attention to that aspect. So, I’d learnt that recently and it makes a big difference with regards to getting a sharp photo.
So, I was happy to concentrate on that. Anytime I would see a bird that I would want to photograph today, I had to make sure that I walked towards the sun first, if I wasn’t already with the sun to my back, and then I had to make sure the sun was behind me facing the birds so that when I got a shot, it was nice. And that made a big difference. That was really good. There was one piece of “grammar” that I learnt for photography.
Another thing was, what was the other thing that I was going to say? Obviously, adjusting the settings, I had to play around with those today.
And then, oh yeah! Another thing that I noticed, certain birds have flight distance. So, this is the distance that you can get close to an animal before it flies away or at the point that it runs away or flies away. Right? So, the thing that’s really funny is that some small birds won’t let you get anywhere near them. You’ll get within 20 metres and then fly off. Whereas, some other small birds, you can get really close to them, within five metres, and then they’ll fly off. And it’s the same thing with some of these big birds, like, cockatoos, you can get really close to and they just don’t care. They’ll fly off eventually, but you can usually get within two or three metres of them. The Kookaburra flies off every time I get within about 20 metres of it. Some of these other birds called ‘choughs’, which are these black and white birds that live on the ground and feed together. They’re always hanging out in a big group. They…, I was trying to photograph them today, but they were sort of really difficult to get close to, and they were always on the ground. I wanted them to kind of fly so that I could get some action shots, but they kept sitting on the ground just sort of digging up bugs and grubs and seeds and things to eat. And so, that wasn’t very interesting. I kept getting close, but they would just walk off, they wouldn’t fly off. So, that was really funny.
I saw a hare. That was really cool. A hare is like a really big rabbit, a really big rabbit with long back legs, and this thing, I think, I surprisedm because I didn’t know it was there. I was photographing these chuffs and all of a sudden it ran. This hare took off, it ran, and the cool thing was I had to think about, okay, how do I get close to it? Because it ran off into the distance, maybe 100 metres, and then it stopped. So, I had to think, okay, I want to get close to it. I want to try and get a better photo of it. So, there was a tree between me and the hare, and I had to line the tree up so that the hare couldn’t see me, so I couldn’t see the hair. That tree was between the two of us. And then I walked about 100 metres and I got to this big tree, snuck my head around the side, and got a photo of this hare, which was really cool. And then again, it ran off up the hill and it was sort of like this cat and mouse game of me trying to sort of follow it quietly before it ran off, but eventually it disappeared.
The last thing I wanted to mention, before we finish up, was that there was this really, really cool wallaby. So, this is really funny. After I’d finished chasing that here and I’d gotten to the top of this hill, I had seen these kangaroos in this valley, and I thought, oh, I’ll walk down and see what these kangaroos are doing, and I made a bit of noise, and these kangaroos looked up and were like, what’s going on? So, I thought, oh, I’ll stop and see if they relax. And I sat down and took a look to my right hand side and there was a, I think, it was a red-neck wallaby, either that or a swamp wallaby, because it was actually quite dark. It might have been a swamp wallaby. But it was ‘a wallaby’ is a smaller kind of kangaroo. They’re not… technically, they’re not kangaroos, but they’re similar. They’re called… they’re in the family Macropodidae, which is what… “Macropod” means “big foot”, and it’s what all of those animals like kangaroos and, well, yeah, wallabies, are in.
Anyway, so it was sitting next to me and I sat down, because its head was blocked by a log, by a sort of tree trunk. So, I was like, okay, I’ll sit down. I’ll be quiet and I’ll see how close I can get to this thing, or see how close it comes to me before I can take photos. But it wasn’t doing anything. I sat there for 10 minutes and it just sat still, frozen, didn’t do anything. The kangaroos in the valley, in the gully, were still sort of just, you know, relaxed and eating and had gone back to what they were doing after I’d made all that noise.
This wallaby just sat frozen there. So, time was sort of running out and I had to think about walking back to the car so that I could drive and get Kel, because I had to leave at about 2:30, and I just decided to walk towards the wallaby a little bit to see what it would do, see if it would run off and maybe I’d get a shot or two of its bum as it ran off into the distance.
But the funny thing was, the moment that I did that and I walked up to the wallaby, it saw me and did nothing, and I was kind of like, okay? That’s really weird! Usually, wallabies are more skittish, they’re more afraid of humans, than kangaroos are, and kangaroos would never let me get that close. So, it was very bizarre that this wallaby would allow me to get so close to it. So, I walked up a little closer and it took a few steps, and I thought, oh, okay, here we go. It’s about to bail. It’s about to run off. It’s about to disappear. But it just stopped and then started eating one of the plants in front of it.
So, I spent maybe 10 to 20 minutes just photographing this wallaby walking around in front of me, and I got within three or four metres of it a few times, and it was just really bizarre, because it didn’t… it didn’t really run off that far. It kind of just took one or two steps any time I got too close, and then would just relax again and have another bite of the tree.
So, that was really amazing, really, really amazing. Obviously, there are a lot of people that run around this park and the wallabies and kangaroos and other animals there just used to humans and not as skittish and flighty. They’re not, you know, going to run off really really quickly when they see you.
But that was amazing. So, hopefully, some of those photos turned out okay. But yeah, I wanted to share that with you.
Oh! And I also saw a dead fox a dead fox. So, we have foxes in Australia that are a pest species, and in Mulligan’s Flat you’re not allowed to take your dogs, probably, because there’s obviously kangaroos and animals. But then also, they use 1080 poison. 1080 poison is this really horrible poison that kills predators. I’m not sure if it kills… I think they put it in meat baits. I think it probably kills all mammals, but obviously herbivores don’t eat meat. So, they put it in meat baits and they drop them all over the place in the hope that foxes and cats will eat these baits and die.
But they’re really horrible, because I think they make the animals bleed to death internally. So there’s a bit of a… it’s a bit of a contentious issue in Australia as to whether or not you should be using these poisons to kill these animals. You know, it’s not their fault that they were introduced into Australia and are just trying to make a living killing all the native wildlife, which is not not too good.
Anyway, I saw a dead fox. He did obviously eaten some poison, because it was very young. So, it must have been pretty naive and didn’t realize that poison was what it was. Poor little dude.
And yeah, that was about it. That was my day. So, I was running around, doing photos, haven’t those thoughts, thought I would share them with you and make this Walking with Pete episode whilst I drive in to grab Kel.
And, I guess, also the other news is that I’m about to move back to Melbourne. We are going to move back within the next month. So, that should be really fun. I’m looking forward to being close to family friends and being back in Melbourne. But that is another story for another time.
Anyway, guys, I hope you enjoyed this episode. Hope it wasn’t too long. Hope you got something out of it. I hope you guys who like photography were finding the content interesting in that vocab in here’s really useful, and I’ll show you guys soon. Peace!