Black-Cockatoos Visit my Backyard

Black-Cockatoos

We have a dead tree in our backyard which Andy has threatened a number of times to cut down “it’s jarrah, good firewood” he says, but I won’t let him.  “It’s the Cockie tree” I say to him.  Sometimes we have the odd Galah land there and a couple of other species but it’s by far utilised the most by the Forest Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos.  They sit there and shriek, preen and mate (as I witnessed for the first time yesterday).  They also roost for many months of the year in the Red Gums just beyond our fence line.  Our area is full of Red Gums or Marri trees which grow these big nuts, we call them honky nuts, anyway, the Black Cockatoos love them.  As do the Red Capped Parrots and the Ringneck Parrots (28’s).  

The birds discard the nuts after eating the large seed from inside, by discard I mean throw on the ground for us to trip and slip on.  We’ve even had one put a hole through one of our front windows when Andy was mowing.  At the moment it must be peak honky nut season as our driveway is just a layer of honky nuts.  

Forest Red-Tailed Black-Cockatoos

I believe that the subspecies that can be found here are listed as vulnerable.  This is due to destruction of woodlands and forests and also competition for nesting hollows.  These birds spend a lot of time in our neck of the woods.  A good supply of food and nesting hollows in the old trees keep them coming back year after year.  For more information on these birds head on over to the WA Museum website.

Black-Cockatoos visit my Backyard

Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red-tailed Black-CockatoosRed-tailed Black-Cockatoos

 

 

White-tailed Black-Cockatoos

Baudin’s Black-Cockatoos AKA Long-billed Black-Cockatoos

These beautiful birds have started to visit our backyard over the last week or two.  The way I see it, that means there’s good news and bad news.  The good news is that I get to see them daily.  Then the bad news.  They must have lost more of their habitat/food source and they have to venture further afield.  More info here.

 

Boudin's Black-Cockatoo

Female

Boudin's Black-Cockatoo

Male

 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

White-tailed Black-Cockatoos

Baudin’s Black-Cockatoos AKA Long-billed Black-Cockatoos
Carnaby’s Black-Cockatoos AKA Short-billed Black-Cockatoo

While the Carnaby’s are so very similar to the Baudin’s their beaks are the decider.  The Carnaby’s is wider and shorter tipped.  They also are listed as Endangered.   I usually find it hard to tell them apart unless they are in flocks together.  There’s  some images and more info at this link.  I’ve only just realised that I don’t yet have a photo of a Carnaby, I’ll have to rectify that very soon.

 

Honky nuts on a Red Gum Tree

 

Thanks for stopping by, if you’d like to see more of my bird images please click here.

 

 

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Click West 2017

The Big Night

An annual event that I attend in Perth is the WAPF’s Canon Click West.  A great competition for members of West Australian camera clubs with fantastic prizes.  This year, for the 2nd year in a row I was fortunate enough to have an image selected as a finalist in the Natural Portraiture category.  My “Fire Starter” image was taken on my trip to Namibia last year and is a favourite of mine.

Here’s a link to the finalists in all categories Canon Click West.  Much to my surprise this year, I also made it into the top 10 for the portfolio prize.  Although I only had one entry make the top 10, my other three images obviously rated high enough in their categories to get me through.  This was the one to win, a Kimberley cruise with Kimberley Expeditions, congratulations to Marie Kingsley for taking out this award.

Natural Portraiture

Natural Light Portraiture

Landscape

Australasian Landscape

Fungi

Macro/close Up

Maritime

Maritime


Weekend Events

Included for the first time this year was a weekend of events including photo walks and workshops.  They covered topics like printing, Eizo monitors, making photo books, speed lights and the list goes on.

I stayed in Perth overnight and just attended the Melville Camera Club hosted walk around the Heathcote Cultural Precinct for sunrise on the Saturday morning.  We didn’t have the spectacular colour that we’d had earlier in the week but it was still nice to be out.

Sunrise on the river

 

 

52 x 2 Journal

I can’t believe that it’s been 6 months since by last blog post. Where has this time gone I wonder, I’ll not leave it so long next time.

Ok, so my excuse is that I’m doing a 52 x 2 in a journal, I think that that’s the limit for me and putting words down on paper (or online). For the uninitiated 52 x 2 means I’m taking 2 images a week for 52 weeks, printing them and sticking them in a photo journal and writing a little story about the image. One image needs to be black and white (mono) and the other in colour. After I’ve selected my two images of the week I then take a photo with my iPhone.  Editing is carried out in Snapseed and then posted on Instagram. Click here if you’d like to take a look at my progress so far.

Coming up with the idea of starting this 52 x 2 journal came to me just before the new year.  I had purchased the journal months before but put it aside as too hard, then as happens around New Year and “New Year Resolution” time I had the bright idea of what I was going to do with this neat little photo book.  The main purpose was to help me polish up on my writing skills, which have just disappeared over the years. I’m often a couple of weeks behind in the writing department, which just goes to show that it’s not one of my favourite pastimes. I’ll keep plugging away at it though.

Here’s a couple of weeks to give you an idea.

52×2 Wk20

52×2 Wk14

52×2 Wk15

1st Place 11th Annual B&W Spider Awards

My Story

Back in January 2016 I entered two images into the 11th Annual B&W Spider Awards and then thought no more about them.  That is until early November when I actually sat down to read one of the many emails that they have sent to me.  You know how it is, closing soon, enter now before it's too late etc.  Anyway this email was to congratulate me for taking out 1st Place in the Architecture category.  To say I was delighted was an understatement but I guess I was more shocked than anything.  An international competition that attracts many thousands of entries and I come out a winner!!!

Many thanks to the organisers and judges from the Black & White Spider Awards for this recognition.  Below is the press release that they write up for us winners and the nominees.  I dare say, this'll be the only place that the press release will be used.  Here's a link to the winners gallery.

This image was taken from the rooftop bar of The Grand Hotel in Saigon at 10pm.  My settings were F11, ISO 100, 8 sec exposure, 75mm focal length.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

11TH ANNUAL BLACK AND WHITE SPIDER AWARDS HONORS PHOTOGRAPHER CHRIS de BLANK FROM AUSTRALIA

LOS ANGELES 11th November 2016 - Amateur photographer Chris de Blank of Australia was presented with the 11th Annual Black and White Spider Awards 1st Place in the category of Architecture at a prestigious Nomination & Winners PhotoShow webcast Saturday, November 5, 2016. 

The live online gala was attended by over 10,500 photography fans around the globe who logged on to watch the climax of the industry's most important event for black and white photography.

11th Annual Jury members included captains of the industry from National Geographic, Washington DC; The Armory Show, New York; TBWA, Paris; Victoria Film Festival, Canada; Aeroplastics Contemporary, Brussels; Studio Hansa, London; Fratelli Alinari, Florence; Australian Centre for Photography; Young & Rubicam, Lima; and Anthem Worldwide/Marque Branding, Sydney who honored Spider Fellows with 627 coveted title awards in 31 categories.

"It is an incredible achievement to be selected among the best from the 7,556 entries we received this year," said Basil O'Brien, the awards Creative Director. "Chris's " A Long Way to the Top", an exceptional image entered in the Architecture category, represents black and white photography at its finest, and we're pleased to present her with the title of 1st Place - Outstanding Achievement".  Jury member Paola Anselmi, interdisciplinary curator and arts writer in Australia added, "As always it was a real treat to be part of the program. Congratulations to all involved and to all the remarkable photographers who gift us new insights into the world and ourselves." "A truly amazing set of entries, so many deserving winners," added Marcel Wijnen, Creative Director at Anthem Worldwide.

BLACK AND WHITE SPIDER AWARDS is the leading international award honoring excellence in black and white photography. This celebrated event shines a spotlight on the best professional and amateur photographers worldwide and honors the finest images with the highest achievements in black and white photography. www.thespiderawards.com

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1st Place 11th Annual B&W Spider Awards

Winner B&W Spider Awards

Desert Elephants Damaraland

Desert Elephants

The Desert Elephants Damaraland were amazing to see.  They are African Bush Elephants that have adapted to survive in the desert, in this case in Namibia.  They are often seen with short damaged tusks as a result of mineral deficient soil and the need to dig up sand and rocks in search for food and water.  I hope you like elephants as this post it I will be sharing my elephant images with you.  The elephants in these photos are feeding on the Camelthorn Acacia (Acacia erioloba) which is a very common tree in these parts and also extremely thorny.  Thorns are between 3-5cm long.

Elephants are very destructive to the environment and will often push over large trees just to get to the new shoots.  As we discovered this also helps the smaller animals that don’t have the same reach so it’s not all bad I guess.

Many elephants in Africa live within reserves but the elephants in the Namib are free to roam and often travel distances up to 60km per day between their favourite feeding grounds and water holes during the dry season.  They can survive without eating as much as other elephants in food-abundant parts of Africa.  They can go without drinking water for up to three days if they need to.  

More info on Desert Elephants here.

Desert Elephants Damaraland

Camel Thorn Tree

Desert Elephants Damaraland

Protective custody

Desert Elephants Damaraland

Mother and calf

Desert Elephants Damaraland

breakfast

Desert Elephants Damaraland

The destruction

Back to the Coast

Back to the Coast

After visiting the sand dunes of Sossusvlei we headed back to the coast and the town of Swakopmund.  This is where the dunes meet the sea at Sandwich Harbour.  The flight in was spectacular as we took the scenic route up the coast and flew over two shipwrecks in the sand dunes and the incredible shapes and patterns of the dunes and ocean (more pics to follow another day).  I went for a walk around town when we first arrived in Swakopmund, bought some bangles from some tribal women that had a little stall set up, walked around the ornate and colourful buildings of German influence.  Our DMC (our Namibian Travel Agent) took our tour group out to dinner to a really popular seafood restaurant called The Tug.  Fabulous food, decor, architecture (just like a tugboat) and service.

4 Wheel Driving

The next morning a few of us went on a 4WD tour to Sandwich Harbour.  We stopped at the salt lakes then drove through the dunes for a while before heading along the beach to our destination.  On the way we stopped by a helicopter that had parked up on the beach.  They were setting up sets for the filming of Transformers 5. We also saw lots of baby seals who had been abandoned by their mothers as they were weak.  Evidently this is a very common occurrence, but as we noticed when we flew in the day before, the number of seals along this part of the coast is massive, so I guess the percentage that are abandoned is relatively small.  We saw lots of birdlife including two types of Flamingos and some migratory waders we see during the summer at home.

 

Black-backed Jackel Walvis Bay

Black-backed Jackal

baby seal Walvis Bay

Baby Seal

Pelican Egret Walvis Bay

Great White Pelican and Little Egret

day-12-swakopmund-to-damaraland-8427

Greater Flamingo

Back to the Coast Salt Lake Walvis Bay

Salt Lake

Back to the Coast Salt Lake Walvis Bay

Salt Lake

The Wonderful Namibian Birds

Namibian Birds – Well how do I start.

Those of you who know me well know that I love to photograph birds.  I didn’t realise that birding would play such an important part in my trip to Namibia, but I was wrong coming home with more than just a handful of species.

There are about 600 birds species native to Namibia.  I think I managed to capture about 10% of these.  Most are just record shots but others I’m very happy with.  You could easily make birding your primary reason for a trip to this Namibia.

I should mention that 90% of these images were taken with a full frame camera and a 70-200mm f2.8 lens with a 1.4x converter attached.  I was resting my camera on the vehicle for most of the photos.  Because I can’t hold the camera steady with much over a 200mm focal length I really need to use a tripod when ever I can.

Bird

Great White Pelican

day-13-damaraland-9049

Ostrich



 

Aka Flying Banana

Yellow-billed Hornbill Aka Flying Banana

Namibian Birds

Kori Bustard

Namibian Birds

Greater Flamingo

 

Sossusvlei – Valley of Dunes

Sossusvlei – Valley of Dunes

Dunes

Sossusvlei would have to be one of the highlights of this trip for me due to the amazing sand dunes (another was Etosha).   The Namib-Naukluft National Park covers an area of nearly 50,000 square kms.  It is one of the largest nature reserves on our planet.  Sossusvlei is located in its southern reaches and is where mountainous sand dunes cloak the Namib Desert.  These are known as star dunes because they are formed by equally strong winds from different directions.   The Sossusvlei dunes are considered to be the world’s highest.

Sossus Dune Lodge

We spent three nights at the Sossus Dune Loge in huts spread out around the base of a mountain, joined by a boardwalk with quite a long walk to reach our rooms.  Our first day here in 46 degree heat wasn’t the most comfortable.  Our rooms although nicely appointed didn’t have air-conditioning,

 Thankfully the next couple of days the temperature dropped to mid to high 30s.  As well as trips to the dunes, we had options of helicopter flights and ballooning.  I did both and will bring you pics in a future post.

Sossusvlei - Valley of Dunes

Dune 44

Sossusvlei - Valley of Dunes

Sossusvlei - Valley of Dunes

Mrs & Mr Ostrich at sunset

Sossus Dune Lodge

Aerial view of our accommodation – Sossus Dune Lodge

Luderitz & Ghost Town Kolmanskop

Luderitz

After a short flight we landed at our next stop, the town of Luderitz located on the coast.  Surrounded by sand dunes and nine kilometres inland from Luderitz is the airport.  I still remember our Cessna 210 landing and seeing the rest of our tour group (from the “caravan”) walking into the terminal.  The mass of sand that was being blown around in the high winds meant that I could only see just their upper torso as their legs were lost.

Our lovely hotel (Ludertiz Nest Hotel) was situated right on the waters edge just out of town.  We spent two nights here which meant we were able to make three visits to Kolmanskop.

Ghost Town Kolmanskop

Kolmanskop is amazing.  The Ghost Town of Kolmanskop is now an abandoned diamond mining town which has been overrun by the sands of the Namib Desert.  In its heyday the town was home to over 300 German prospectors and their children.  Along with about 800 Ovambo labourers which had come from the North.  There were grand residences for the mine manager and other key personnel.  A state of the art hospital, bowling alley, casino, baker, ice factory, slaughterhouse, theatre, clubhouse, and library etc.

The discovery of the first diamond in 1908 brought an influx of fortune seekers to the area.   So began the construction of the buildings between 1908 – 1910, the town peaking during the late 1920s.  Due to dwindling diamond deposits and richer finds to the south, the processing plant was shut down in 1936.  The offices were moved south and the hospital was closed down a few years later, with the the last resident departing the town in 1956.

 

Kolmanskop

Kolmanskop

Kolmanskop
Kolmanskop

Fish River Canyon

And so it begins, a two week landscape photography tour with a couple of my favourite photographers, Christian Fletcher and Nick Rains, and twelve other wonderful photographers who helped make this a very special journey for me. Stunning scenery, wildlife, more stunning scenery, more wildlife and one on one time with Christian and Nick plus the never ending supply of food.

Fish River Canyon

The second largest canyon in the world (the Grand Canyon in Arizona is the largest) is pretty spectacular but I found it rather difficult to photograph.  The enormity of it was overwhelming, so a little help from Nick and Christian was appreciated to get me started.  Individual cottages lined up along the rim of the canyon was our accommodation for the next few nights.

 Our accommodation at Fish River Canyon was in individual cottages lined up along the rim of the canyon.  The cottages branched out either side of the restaurant, reception, deck and pool area.  As the front of the cottages were glass fronted the view was incredible.  A brilliant coloured sunset greeted us on our first evening.  After that night the wind picked up to a howling gale and we quickly found out why there were no internal doors in the room.  They also provided earplugs with the room key for those that had trouble sleeping with wind noise.

Our days here here at the canyon filled with landscape photography, editing and a game drive for those that wished to.  We went looking for the Mountain Zebra.  Unfortunately the Zebra were not to be found but we did come across Springbok and Oryx.  Here’s a couple of pics from this location.

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you enjoy seeing some of my trip to Namibia.

Fish River Canyon

Sunset Fish River Canyon

 

Sunrise Fish River Canyon

Sunrise Fish River Canyon

 

Quiver Tree

Quiver Tree

 

Fish River Canyon