Posts Tagged ‘photography’

Canberra’s Cockatoos

May 14, 2014

I wanted a good photo of a cockatoo.  They are almost my favourite birds – especially in Canberra.  When I say that, I am reminded of a lecturer at the University of Warwick who began every seminar with: ‘Ahh. [name of play for that week] My favourite play!’  It took some months for us to tumble to him, but it was an excellent way to start a seminar.  So – cockatoos are my favourite birds.  And magpies.  And kurrawongs. And of course kookaburras.  Let’s not forget crows, either:  they are really wonderful.

Oh heck!  shall I start again?  I wanted  a  photo of a cockie – I just did.  OK?

It should be easy in Canberra, where they flock by the score and salute the evening with raucous joy.  Maybe in my next life I can be a cockatoo: I could float through Canberra, screaming greetings, and perching in the tall trees with all the roosting crowd.

Captain Cook Crescent was overcast and grey, darkening already towards four-thirty in the afternoon.  I would have to be quick to get a photo.

Captain Cook Crescent leads out of Manuka

Captain Cook Crescent leads out of Manuka

The birds had gone quiet.  Oddly, today there were  few cockies around.  One or two scudded away from high in the tall trees.

This one was moving off rapidly to the north – towards wherever the sun might have gone.

flying alone

flying alone

The light darkened unnaturally quickly.  My eyesight felt dim and the air dense: somehow curdling not just in the sky, but all around me.

another loner

another loner

Actually, I think this one might be a photo of a cockie that has moved briskly out of shot. Wow! I thought.  I’d forgotten how early it gets dark in Canberra in the Autumn. Winter will be here soon.  I may have to try tomorrow, a bit earlier in the day.

dusk, and the grey darkens

dusk, and the grey darkens

 

Fed up with impossible cockies, what is there left to photograph?  My first ever selfie?

They are really hard – you can’t just point and click. I tried smiling.

worse and worse

worse and worse

I look like my father – and this is the better of the two.

I’d given up on the cockatoos by now and was just photographing any old thing that came along. Here’s a doggo – the only one available on my walk.

Just after I took the photo he decided to do his duty and bark at me.

Just after I took the photo he decided to do his duty and bark at me.

A thriving protea loomed out of the dimness.

A thriving protea loomed out of the dimness.

Then: a clear view of a cockatoo perched in a tree, in the middle of the central reservation.  Relief for me, but quite far up and still a dimmish shot against the slurry of grey.

2014-04-29 07.42.14

 

Are two poor photos twice as good as one, or just twice as bad?

 

It lingered there long enough for me to get a second poor photo.

It lingered there long enough for me to get a second poor photo.

 

Finally – back to Annabel’s charming house.  In the gathering dusk of my point-and-click even this looks somehow sinister and buried in the wood, like a cottage in a fairy tale.

A classic early Canberran build - originally for a civil servant - and largely unchanged over the years.

A classic early Canberran build – originally for a civil servant – and largely unchanged over the years.

 

Annabel arrived a while later, after dark.  I was chopping up vegetables for ratatouille (my signature safe dish when cooking for a host).

“Did you see the eclipse?” she asked. “About four thirty?”

as far as I know, Gerhard Richter is still alive and working

November 8, 2010

In Edge of the Orison, Iain Sinclair tells us that “Gerhard Richter kept photographs, potential art works for years . . . under the heading of ‘unfinished business’.”  p.166

 I feel apologetic about mentioning (death) – but I know now that it is my subject.  [Significantly, though, when I was drafting this piece I forgot to write the very word that I am always writing, always thinking.  There was an insertion, which typing doesn’t quite show.]

The students saw through me – they smelt me out, all right.  She’s always talking about death, Alice complained.  (Am I?  I hadn’t noticed.  No more than anyone, surely.  No more than normal.)  But that defence won’t wash.  They saw that this was all there is for me: all that’s real.  How did they sense that this is the one topic that holds firm, that holds in three dimensions, while all the others fade and dissolve away?  The only topic with lively intensity.  They felt it perhaps through that dynamic – a magnetism that draws, and draws on, over and over, powerfully returning always.  

How could Richter have the gall to keep things?  To mature ideas?  What confidence, what effrontery in the face of death and its sudden, arbitrary strike.

How dare we believe that we will live to be old?  How behave as if we are not about to leave?  How can we ever not be dying?


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