Abstract photography

‘Photography’ means ‘writing with light’ and that’s what we do with the camera – write or (better) draw on the film or sensor with the light coming through the lens. There’s nothing to say the picture must be realistic or even representational, and these few don’t try to be.

swirls of colour on dark background
Gesture 1
swirls of colour on dark background
Gesture 2
bars of colour on dark background
Gesture 3

Sitting on Picnic Bay beach on Magnetic Island on Sunday evening I liked the lights of Townsville across the bay. My camera told me it wanted a very long exposure to capture them – four or five seconds – so I thought I would make a virtue of necessity  and move the camera around deliberately while the shutter was open. Two different gestures with the camera produced the first two images.

On the ferry approaching the brightly-lit docks a little later I did the same sort of thing with a rather shorter exposure to produce the third image above.

Is it art? Who cares?

Surely the better question is, “Do I like it?”

And each of us must answer for ourselves.

Wasp in flight

Wasp, Delta arcuata, in flight
Mud-dauber wasp, Delta arcuata , in flight

This post is by way of an apology to Canon, who made my new telephoto lens. I said a week ago that its image stabilisation was useful but I did underestimate its benefit.
This photo was taken at 1/80 sec, f8.0 and a focal length of 260 mm (nearly full zoom).

The wasp? Delta arcuata, one of our common mud-daubers. Adults stock their nests with caterpillars for their larvae but are vegetarian themselves, feeding on nectar. Many people are frightened of them, but unnecessarily: they can sting but are not at all aggressive.

Strand Ephemera

The city council runs a biennial art show on our beachfront, the Strand, and it is always worth visiting. I mentioned it here a week ago but it deserves more notice than that so here are some of my photos of it. As usual, clicking on a small image will take you to a bigger one.

Anemone on rock face
Erica Gray: Rock Anemone

If you started at the Rockpool end of the Strand, this giant fabric anemone is one of the first artworks you would have seen.

Around the other side of the Rockpool, there was a series of playful reo-rod and wire sculptures, a little more than life-size. From there on, it was a matter of looking on the beach, up in the trees and on the lawns all the way down to the park behind Tobruk Pool.

Wire sculptures
Aden MacLeod: People Watching People in the Spirit
Giant crayons
Bogdanis and Hynes: Colours of the Strand
Red and white ceramic mushrooms
Jean Downes: Mushrooming
Fabric figure of child on a swing
Fibres and Fabrics Association: I Remember When















The Fibres and Fabrics group had several groups of figures in trees along the Strand, taking their theme and title from the days when children were encouraged to get outdoors and risk a few bumps and scrapes. I first saw them just on dusk …

Fabric figues on tree branch
Fibres and Fabrics: I Remember When

Artists’ responses to the word ‘Ephemera’ and the location varied widely, from taking little notice of either, through to the use of fragile and/or recycled materials and taking the environment as subject matter. One of the most ephemeral works in the show was one which also appealed to me because of my interest in meditation, the zen garden created by Helena Rador-Gibson and a team of helpers. A new pattern was raked into the sand each afternoon; it was gone again before long, of course.

Raked sand and Magnetic Island
Helena Rador-Gibson: Zen Ephemera

There were 36 artworks in the show, so there are many yet to see. Perc Tucker Gallery ran a photographic competition in association with the event and they have put entries to it on Flickr, here. Bon appetit!

Rainbow bee-eater

Rainbow Bee-eater perched on power line
Rainbow Bee-eater, Merops ornatus

The Rainbow Bee-eater is a beautiful bird whose closest relations in Australia are Kingfishers and Kookaburras. (There are other bee-eaters overseas, but not here.) It is rather smaller than the Kookaburra but has similarly predatory habits – as its name suggests, it specialises in flying insects, which it takes on the wing.

I have seen them quite often in parklands near home but this, the first good photo I have obtained, was taken from my front gate; the bird was perching on our power line to eat his prey. (I saw him spit out the crackly bits afterwards, too, but just missed the shot!)

When I uploaded my picture of the Brown Honeyeater I mentioned the need for longer lenses for bird photography, and this and my recent Flying Fox photos are proof – taken with a borrowed 50-250 zoom lens, they show much more detail than I could have obtained with my 100mm lens.

More about bee-eaters: Birds in Backyards or Wikipedia.

Afterword: Well, I posted the above on Saturday morning and then decided to go down to Pallarenda and the Town Common because it was far too nice a day to spend indoors. While I was walking back along the track through the Common late in the afternoon I saw another Bee-eater fly in to perch in a tree ahead of me. He was kind enough to stay for his portrait, too. It was already a good day, but that made it even better.