Monochromes from Khiva (Part 1)

28 September 2018, Khiva, Uzbekistan.

Links go to colour posts (for more information and context). If an image does not have a link, the preceding one applies.

Click on any image to see it larger.

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Architecture, Black and White, Khiva, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

City walls.

Kukhna Ark, Khiva.

. Architecture, Black and White, Khiva, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

The door to our accommodation, the Mohammed Amin Khan Madrassah.

. Architecture, Black and White, Khiva, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Mohammed Amin Khan Madrassah.

. Architecture, Black and White, Khiva, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Tura Murad Minaret.

Kukhna Ark, Khiva, Part 2.

.Architecture, Black and White, Khiva, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Looking towards the Kalta Minor.

. Architecture, Black and White, Khiva, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Open courtyard with the Kuhkna Ark on the right.

Kukhna Ark, Khiva.

. Architecture, Black and White, Khiva, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Door just inside the Ark.

. Architecture, Black and White, Khiva, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Summer Mosque.

. Architecture, Black and White, Khiva, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Summer Mosque Ceiling.

. Architecture, Black and White, Khiva, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Mohammed Amin Khan Madrassah

(Colour image not in a previous post).

. Architecture, Black and White, Khiva, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Islam Khoja Minaret & the Pakhlavan Mahmud Mausoleum.

. Architecture, Black and White, Khiva, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Crenulated city walls.

. Architecture, Black and White, Khiva, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Ceramic tiles near the top of the Kalta Minor.

Kukhna Ark, Khiva, Part 2.

. Architecture, Black and White, Khiva, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Minaret, name unknown.

. Architecture, Black and White, Khiva, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

View from walls of Kukhna Ark.

. Architecture, Black and White, Khiva, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Muhammad Rahim-khan Madrasah and the Tura Murad Minaret.

. Architecture, Black and White, Khiva, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

View of minaret from top of Kukhna Ark.

. Architecture, Black and White, Khiva, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Inside Kukhna Ark, Kalta Minor in the background.

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Architecture, Black and White, Khiva, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Khurinish Khana or Throne room.

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Architecture, Black and White, Khiva, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Door, unknown location.

. Architecture, Black and White, Khiva, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Detail as viewed from the top of Kukhna Ark, perhaps at the top of a Madrassah.

(Colour image not in a previous post).

. Architecture, Black and White, Khiva, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Detail as viewed from the top of Kukhna Ark, perhaps at the top of the entrance arch of a Madrassah.

. Architecture, Black and White, Khiva, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Top of Kukhna Ark walls.

. Architecture, Black and White, Khiva, Landscape, Monochrome, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Uzbekistan

Wedding couple atop Kukhna Ark.

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This post is the second of a short series of monochromes from Uzbekistan.  They are interspersed with local posts.  The previous one is here, two posts back.  The next one is here, two posts on.

Locked Down in Canberra (Wildlife)

24 August to 24 September 2021, Canberra, ACT

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Currently we are in lockdown in Canberra with small levels of COVID at large while Victoria and NSW are also in lockdown with much larger COVID levels.   Hospitals and ambulance services in NSW and Victoria are already over capacity.  Current caseload indicates this will get worse and opening up prematurely for political reasons rather than health advice will not help.   Levels are much higher in NSW and Victoria probably due to flouting of the restrictions there including demonstrations and football final celebrations.  We are in this situation primarily due to the failure of the Federal Government to obtain timely vaccination supplies, set up quarantine centres and financially support the more vulnerable in the population (whereas large businesses are not required to repay hundreds of millions of dollars of excess payments).   Also because the NSW failed to lock down at the first Deltas case and instead waited 10 days.

The one hopeful factor is that vaccination is rapidly increasing.  Fully vaccinated people can still get COVID but they are less infectious, far less likely to have to go to hospital and then less likely to get long COVID.  In the ACT as of yesterday, we have 89.2% receiving the first dose and 60.9% fully vaccinated.

So in the meanwhile, as I said, we are in lockdown.  We mainly stay at home and currently we can leave to exercise for two hours a day in our local area.  This is slowly easing starting from the end of the week.  I am lucky to live at the edge of a nature reserve so I have been going out and photographing on many days.  Here are a selection of wildlife images from that.

I will continue making such posts midweek during lockdown though it may not be every week.

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Australia, Australian Wood Ducks, Birds, Canberra, Cockatoo, Cunningham's Skink, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Little Corella, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Eastern grey kangaroos.

. Australia, Australian Wood Ducks, Birds, Canberra, Cockatoo, Cunningham's Skink, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Little Corella, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Grey fantail.

. Australia, Australian Wood Ducks, Birds, Canberra, Cockatoo, Cunningham's Skink, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Little Corella, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Eastern grey kangaroo.

. Australia, Australian Wood Ducks, Birds, Canberra, Cockatoo, Cunningham's Skink, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Little Corella, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Eastern grey kangaroos.

. Australia, Australian Wood Ducks, Birds, Canberra, Cockatoo, Cunningham's Skink, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Little Corella, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Australian Magpie.

. Australia, Australian Wood Ducks, Birds, Canberra, Cockatoo, Cunningham's Skink, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Little Corella, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Eastern grey kangaroo.

. Australia, Australian Wood Ducks, Birds, Canberra, Cockatoo, Cunningham's Skink, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Little Corella, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Sulphur-crested Cockatoos.

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Australia, Australian Wood Ducks, Birds, Canberra, Cockatoo, Cunningham's Skink, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Little Corella, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife
Little Corella (rare in Canberra).

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Australia, Australian Wood Ducks, Birds, Canberra, Cockatoo, Cunningham's Skink, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Little Corella, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife
Common Bronzewing (though not common for me).

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Australia, Australian Wood Ducks, Birds, Canberra, Cockatoo, Cunningham's Skink, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Little Corella, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Female Blue Wren.

. Australia, Australian Wood Ducks, Birds, Canberra, Cockatoo, Cunningham's Skink, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Little Corella, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Pied Currawang.

. Australia, Australian Wood Ducks, Birds, Canberra, Cockatoo, Cunningham's Skink, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Little Corella, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Chough.

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Australian Wood Ducks

. Australia, Australian Wood Ducks, Birds, Canberra, Cockatoo, Cunningham's Skink, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Little Corella, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

An Australian Wood Duck performing for me.

. Australia, Australian Wood Ducks, Birds, Canberra, Cockatoo, Cunningham's Skink, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Little Corella, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife .

.Australia, Australian Wood Ducks, Birds, Canberra, Cockatoo, Cunningham's Skink, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Little Corella, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife .

.Australia, Australian Wood Ducks, Birds, Canberra, Cockatoo, Cunningham's Skink, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Little Corella, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Kookaburras.

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.Australia, Australian Wood Ducks, Birds, Canberra, Cockatoo, Cunningham's Skink, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Little Corella, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Crimson Rosellas.

. Australia, Australian Wood Ducks, Birds, Canberra, Cockatoo, Cunningham's Skink, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Little Corella, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife .

Australia, Australian Wood Ducks, Birds, Canberra, Cockatoo, Cunningham's Skink, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Little Corella, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Australian Wood Ducks.

. Australia, Australian Wood Ducks, Birds, Canberra, Cockatoo, Cunningham's Skink, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Little Corella, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife .

.Australia, Australian Wood Ducks, Birds, Canberra, Cockatoo, Cunningham's Skink, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Little Corella, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Cunningham’s Skinks.

. Australia, Australian Wood Ducks, Birds, Canberra, Cockatoo, Cunningham's Skink, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Little Corella, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Galah.

. Australia, Australian Wood Ducks, Birds, Canberra, Cockatoo, Cunningham's Skink, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Little Corella, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Peewee or Magpie-Lark.

. Australia, Australian Wood Ducks, Birds, Canberra, Cockatoo, Cunningham's Skink, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Little Corella, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Eastern Rosellas courting…

. Australia, Australian Wood Ducks, Birds, Canberra, Cockatoo, Cunningham's Skink, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Little Corella, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife .

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Australia, Australian Wood Ducks, Birds, Canberra, Cockatoo, Cunningham's Skink, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Little Corella, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife .

. Australia, Australian Wood Ducks, Birds, Canberra, Cockatoo, Cunningham's Skink, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Little Corella, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife .

.Australia, Australian Wood Ducks, Birds, Canberra, Cockatoo, Cunningham's Skink, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Little Corella, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife .

.Australia, Australian Wood Ducks, Birds, Canberra, Cockatoo, Cunningham's Skink, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Little Corella, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife

Galahs pairing up…

.Australia, Australian Wood Ducks, Birds, Canberra, Cockatoo, Cunningham's Skink, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Little Corella, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife .

. Australia, Australian Wood Ducks, Birds, Canberra, Cockatoo, Cunningham's Skink, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Little Corella, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife .

.Australia, Australian Wood Ducks, Birds, Canberra, Cockatoo, Cunningham's Skink, Eastern Rosellas, Galahs, Kangaroos, Kookaburras, Little Corella, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Travel, Wildlife .

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This post is the first of a short series of images from Lockdown in Canberra.  The next one is here, two posts on.  They are interspersed with Uzbek monochrome posts.

Monochromes from Tashkent

27 September 2018, Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

All images are from my previous (colour) post on Tashkent, where you may find more information and context.

Click on any image to see it larger.

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Architecture, Black and White, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

Cupola ceiling, Khast-Imam complex.

. Architecture, Black and White, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

Muyi Muborak Madrasah on the right and Abdulla Murodxo’jayev Mosque behind.

. Architecture, Black and White, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

A dome of Barakh-khan Madrasah.

. Architecture, Black and White, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

Minaret beside Abdulla Murodxo’jayev Mosque.

. Architecture, Black and White, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

Chor-Su Bazaar.

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Tashkent’s metro.

. Architecture, Black and White, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan .

.Architecture, Black and White, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

Leaving Tashkent’s metro.

. Architecture, Black and White, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan .

.Architecture, Black and White, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

Museum of Applied Arts.

. Architecture, Black and White, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan .

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Architecture, Black and White, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan .

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Architecture, Black and White, Landscape, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

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Monochrome has a long tradition in photography.  Since you are working with tonal relationships rather than colour, there is a different range of possibilities and many images work better in mono than colour.  In the days of film, when shooting black and white, you put colour filters over the lens for different renditions though you only saw the effect when the film was processed.  These days with Digital, if you are using a mirrorless camera you can see a monochrome image as you shoot, including the effect of filters.  But assuming you are shooting RAW, you still end up with a colour image that you need to convert.  This is an advantage though, as you have far more possibilities and control than in the days of film.

Just as you can have a fully automated phone or camera and just press a button for a JPEG image, some may associate monochrome conversion with just selecting a software option for black and white.  This may work sometimes and what matters is the result, not how you got there, but for me chasing a quality image requires much more.  Once I used various Photoshop methods for mono conversion, then I came to use Nik Silver Efex Pro.  I’ve never been much enamoured of Lightroom for this though it has probably improved with the new colour grading options and I do use it for quick proofs to identify suitable images.  These days I use Capture One, which to my mind offers much more control over the colours to convert, regional tonality and the various kinds of sharpening. 

The end point for photography and especially monochrome images has always been the print.  There’s a whole different level of quality that is not available in a digital image , especially a web image.  Still, this is what we have and most of these images will never be printed.

This is the first of probably seven posts on mono conversions of Uzbek images.  However, I’m currently in COVID lockdown and have been going out each day and taking photographs of the local fauna and of macro landscapes.  So I’m expecting to make two posts a week for at least two or three weeks, with midweek posts of local images.

The next mono Uzbek post is here, two posts on.

 

State Museum of Arts,Tashkent

Tashkent, Uzbekistan, 6 October 2018.

(Click on any image to see it in a larger size.)

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On our last day in Tashkent we had some spare time before catching the plane and chose to visit the State Museum of Arts.

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Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Reconstructed face of Neanderthal boy, Teshiktash Cave, Surkhandaraya region.

There was also a Neanderthal skull, 100,000 years old, from the same location.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Flint tools from 4th Millennium BC, Bukhara region.

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Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Rock carvings, 3rd Millennium BC.

.Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Jar handle in the form of a goat, 5th to 4th millennium BC.

This image and the next two are images of objects from the Amudarya Treasure.  The originals are gold but these are replicas.  In 1880, Captain F.C. Burton happened upon some Afghan merchants being attacked by bandits in the roads of what is now Northern Pakistan, and drove off the bandits.  One of the merchants later showed Burton some items he had and Burton was most intrigued so purchased one.  Burton later showed it to Major General Sir Alexander Cunningham, Director General of the Archaeological Survey of India, whose jaw hit the floor.  Cunningham correctly identified it  as a a fine example of Achæmenid Persian metalwork, from a period when the Achæmenid Emprire stretched from Egypt to the Indus Valley.  Together with Sir Augustus Wollaston Franks, a curator of the British Museum, Cunningham scoured the markets of Pakistan and Northern India for several months and succeeded in purchasing 170 items from the hoard.  They are now in the British Museum.  The treasure had been found on the northern bank of the Amyu Darya River (the Oxus in Classical times), in what is now Tajikistan.

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Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Priest, 5th to 4th millennium BC.

.Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Bracelet with Griffins, , 5th to 4th millennium BC.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Ancient individual with Central Asian headgear (didn’t record the label for this one).

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Coins of Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, 3rd to 2nd centuries BC.

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Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Solar Deity, 1st to 2nd centuries AD, Fayaztepa, Old Termez, Southern Uzbekistan.

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Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Buddha with monks, 1st to 3rd century AD.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Cover from reliquary vessel, 3rd to 4th centuries AD, Kara-Tepa, Old Termez, Southern Uzbekistan.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Hunting scene, mural painting, 7th century AD, Varakhsha, Ancient Sogdian city near Bukhara.

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This is a copy of one of the world’s oldest Korans.  We saw the original at the start of the trip in Barakh-khan Madrasah (in Tashkent).  Photography is not permitted of the original one.  In either case, it is huge.  The original supposedly dates back to the 630s but testing indicates an early 8th to early 9th century date.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Glazed ceramic, Samarkand, 10th century.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Glazed ceramic, Samarkand, 11th century.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Ceramic dish, 10th to 12th Centuries.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Glazed ceramic, Samarkand, 12th century.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Armour of one of Timur’s soldiers, 14th to 15th centuries.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Glazed ceramic, Samarkand, 15th to 16th centuries.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Chain mail armour, shield and sword, Bukhara, 18th to 19th centuries.

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Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Embassy from Khiva, in Tashkent, early 19th century.

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Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Nineteenth century door from Khiva.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Nineteenth century door from Bukhara.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Nineteenth century door from Tashkent.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Military uniform, Bukhara, 1861-1865.

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Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Siege of Samarkand, 1868.

Russia occupied Samarkand in 1868, which had been held by Bukhara.  The Russian army then left to pursue the Bukharan army, leaving a small force behind to hold Samarkand.  A combined Bukharan/ Kokand force then laid siege to Samarkand.  This is what is shown here.  The besiegers withdrew when the main Russian force returned.

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Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

“Bazaar in Samakand”, 1897.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

“Bibikhonum Square”, Samarkand. 

(See here for my post on its restored appearance).

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

“The street of a Central Asian city”, 1896.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Decorative embroidery, late nineteenth century, Tashkent.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Saddle, Namangan, Ferghana Valley, late 19th century.

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Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Emir’s horse-blanket, 1911-1912.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Jewellery, early 20th century.

. Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan. .

Archaeology, Art, Ceramics, History, Landscape, Photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan.

Gidjak and Rubab (traditional instruments), 1978.

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That was the last post on Uzbekistan, apart from monochrome conversion posts to follow.  Particular thanks to Advantour who organised a wonderful custom tour for us at a reasonable price.  There have been 22 posts with 600 images and 15,000 words.  I have updated the index of posts in the Trip Itinerary.

Samarkand to Tashkent

Samarkand to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, 5 October 2018.

(Click on any image to see it in a larger size.)

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We are en route from Samarkand back to Tashkent, where we catch a plane to Istanbul.  These images are all taken from a moving car.  Some are less than technically perfect, but still included for a feel of the journey.

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Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

There were a few military vehicles on the road.  I wouldn’t have taken a photo like this in Ladakh, not that far from the Chinese border, but felt safe to do so here.

. Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

Fruit for sale on the side of the road.

. Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan .

. Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

The truck looks overloaded but perhaps the load is not all that heavy.

. Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

A variety of products for sale on the way.

. Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan .

.Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

I’m not able to translate the signs.

. Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

Stork nests on a telegraph pole.

. Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

Roadside cattle.

. Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

It seems the products are delivered by trucks – or, maybe, a donkey and cart.

. Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

Many people must still be pursuing largely traditional lives because some of the vehicles on the road are less than high tech.

. Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan .

.Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

He’s carrying a pole; it’s not to beat the donkey.

. Landscape, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Tashkent, Travel, Uzbekistan

This car wasn’t moving very fast either.

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Ulugh Beg and Afrasiab, Samarkand

Samarkand, Uzbekistan, 4 October 2018.

(Click on any image to see it in a larger size.)

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This post is from out last day in Samarkand.

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Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Young woman extracting strips of bark from branches of young mulberry trees.

We visited a traditional paper mill in the village of Koni Ghil, just outside Samarkand.  Paper making in Samarkand dates back to 751AD when the Abbasid general Abu Muslim defeated a Tang Dynasty army with the aid of the Tibetan Empire and the defection of Karluk mercenaries who were over half of the Tang army.   They took many prisoners, some of whom then introduced paper making to the region.  This replaced the use of papyrus and became an export industry to the rest of the Arab world.  The paper-making tradition was lost following the Russian takeover in the nineteenth century and it has been recently recreated. 

(China retreated from the region soon after the Battle of Talas but not due to that, rather due to the An Lushan Rebellion which started in 755.)

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

The strips of bark are next boiled for four or five hours.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

They are then pounded to a pulp by a trip-hammer powered by this water mill.  Then they are pressed and dried and finally polished with an agate stone for a smooth finish.

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A local woman welcoming us to the small museum for the Ulugh Beg Observatory.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Inside the museum, a model of the observatory built by Ulugh Beg in the 1420s.

At the top front of the building is the viewing hole of the astrolabe inside.  The smaller structure on top of the building appears to be a sextant able to rotate, for less precise observations at flexible angles. 

The site is close to the ancient city of Afrasiab (prior to the existence of Samarkand).  There was another observatory here as early as 840AD, of which no trace remains.  Although Afrasiab was the capital of the Sogdians, in the ninth century they had been taken over by the Samanids, based in Bukhara, who featured in a brief renaissance of science and culture, unmatched in the world at that time.  

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Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Inside this 13th century building was a meridional arc, or astrolabe, aligned north-south, for celestial measurements.  Since they took measurements using 60 degrees instead of the full 90 degrees available, it is also a sextant.  This is clearly not a working model because there is no viewing hole to the sky at the top.  I presume the little vertical windows on the back wall are for viewing the angle cast by the sun.  The rest of the building was rooms for scientists to confer and calculate, maybe even some to sleep in.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

The astrolabe as it survives.

In 1908 Russian Archaeologist Vyatkin discovered the location of the Observatory and excavated the remains.  In particular, he  uncovered the below-ground part of the massive astrolabe, as shown here.  Only the foundations remain of the rest of the building.

As well as being Lord of Transoxiana from 1409 to 1447, Ulugh Beg was a scientist and imported the best scientists available for the observatory. It could accurately measure the length of the year, the local time of noon each day, the altitude of a star and other planets, the period of planets, and eclipses. They estimated the length of the year more accurately than Copernicus subsequently did and the axial tilt of the earth as accurately as modern measurements.  They constructed an atlas of over 1,000 stars, Zij-i-Sultani, the first to be published since Ptolomey and including those stars but with more accurate measurements.  The atlas also included a sine table accurate to six places from 0 to 87 degrees, and to 11 places from 87 to 90 degrees.  The atlas survived for posterity because when the observatory was destroyed, scientist Ali Kushji fled to Constantinople and published it.  It was in use until the nineteenth century.

Ulugh Beg became Emperor when his father died in 1447, but only for two years of turmoil until he was deposed and then murdered by one of his sons.  The observatory was then destroyed by religious fanatics and the scientists fled.  

“Religions dissipate like fog, kingdoms vanish, but the works of scientists remain for eternity” – Ulugh Beg.

.Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

This is a view from outside.  The big black tube is the top of what remains of the astrolabe.  Perhaps that gives you a better idea of the scale of it.

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Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

… as does the view from here.  This also gives a sense of how high the arc of the original version would have climbed to reach the top of the third floor.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

A short distance away, we are near the Mausoleum of the Prophet Daniel (as in Daniel and the lions), sacred to Moslems, Jews and Christians.  Inside, the tomb is eighteen metres long because Daniel is supposed to be still growing inside it.  There are also other tombs of Daniel in seven other countries.  There was no-one stopping me taking photos inside but notwithstanding my religious cynicism, I did not do so because it was clearly a place of veneration for other people there.

Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

The tomb of Daniel is in the background to the right.  However, the line of hills in the background is the edge of the location of the ancient city of Afrasiab.  This was the capital city of the Sogdians, from the sixth century BC to 1220 AD when Genghis Khan razed it, though they were not independent for all of that period. 

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Three hunters, probably Scythians, with horses and lions or leopards.

We next visited the Afrosiab Museum, a short distance from the Mausoleum of Daniel.  Russian archaeologists discovered Afrasiab in the 1880s and the museum includes some of their finds.  It also includes some seventh century murals from the royal palace, discovered in 1965 when building a road. They are from the time of King Varkhuman, and painted between 648 and 651, or shortly after 658.  He ruled a multicultural entity and was nominally a vassal to China but his polity did not last long as his palace was destroyed by the Arab general Sa’id Ibn Ithman between 675 and 677 CE and after that there were no kings of Samarkand.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Here we see ossuaries and skulls, from the sixth to the eighth centuries.  Some of the skulls exhibit cranial deformations that I had previously associated only with the Maya, but that I discover were performed in many cultures.  This practice was brought to Sogdia by the Yuezhi, who were driven out of China and established the Kushan Empire in Central Asia and India in the early first century.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Fresco showing the the arrival of a king and a princess to a country church or the arrival of a royal bride.  There are details from this fresco in the next four images.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

In most of these human representations, the eyes may have been later gouged out by Islamic Arabs.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Birds (swans?), possibly for sacrifice.

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Detail of camel saddle.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Part of the saddle of the elephant.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Ambassadors from Chaganian (south of Afrasiab, central figure) and Chach (modern Tashkent).

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Turkish (Turkic?) dignitaries, one of them is labeled as coming from Argi (Karashahr in modern Xinjiang).

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Left hand group: Tang Dynasty emissaries carrying silk and a string of silkworm cocoons;

Right hand group:  Sogdian chamberlains and interpreter introduce Tibetan messengers.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Women on boats, probably local Turkic aristocrats copying the fashions of women in Tang China.

Tang Dynasty China was a major force in Central Asia during this period and Sogdia may have shared a border with them at this time (the border fluctuated).

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan .

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.Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

A duck – a sacred bird of the Zoroastrians.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Model of eleventh century kiln.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Ceramic plate from 10th to 12th century.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

We are away from the museum now and still had some spare time so we headed for a small mosque in the country.  I do not know the name of the village.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

The minaret of the mosque.  I could remove the wires, but they were there.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Some kind of restoration exercise in the grounds of the mosque.  I do not remember the details.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

This is the mosque and we are definitely not in the city.  It was small and unassuming and the locals, who were not expecting us, were polite and friendly.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

Later in the evening, since we were staying very close to it, I decided to go back for some night-time exposures of Gur Emir, Timur’s Mausoleum.

. Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

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Afrasiab Museum, Ak Saray Mausoleum, Archaeology, Architecture, History, Landscape, Paper Making, Photography, Samarkand, Street photography, Travel, Ulugh Beg Observatory, Uzbekistan

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Lockdown is for the Birds

Brisbane, Queensland, 1 to 6 August 2021.

(Click on any image to see it in a larger size.).
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 Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

Butcher Bird.

At the end of the last post, we had stopped off in Brisbane for a couple of days en route to a photographic tour in North Queensland, when our progress was arrested by a sudden seven-day lockdown.  So we spent the next seven days with our friends Jim and Milena in their new home, and with the birds that either visited or lived there.

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The same Butcher Bird from the verandah (also then next two images).

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. Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife .

.  Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

Back inside, with Percy and Polly (Rainbow Lorikeets) and Milena.  One of the lorikeets is interested in learning how to use the coffee machine.

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The other, not so much.

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On the verandah again, two Kookaburras.

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Juvenile Magpie soaring up for food.  this one has a damaged foot.

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Juvenile Magpie on the rail (the adults are black rather than grey).

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The Australian Magpie is not related to the Eurasian Magpie.  It is related to the Butcherbird, though.

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Kookaburra.

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Though we were in a city, we were able to go for a brief walk in a forest nearby.

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Inside with the lorikeets again.

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 Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

They are very fast inside the house and challenging to photograph.

Ironically, I had brought a Nikon D850 and 300mm f2.8 lens (plus teleconverters), specifically for photographing birds in flight, mainly from various bird hides I expected to encounter.  I did not anticipate the my BIF photography would be indoors.

These indoor images were all taken with a Fujifilm X-E4 and a 27mm f2.8 lens (40mm full frame equivalent), heavily croppped.  I couldn’t predict when and where they were going to fly I needed loose compositions.  They are all on 1/2,000 sec because the lorikeets are very quick and light levels were quite low so they are all on high ISOs, more that two thirds on 6400 or 12,800.  As well as that, this was a new camera and when I had set up Custom Quick Menus, I hadn’t realised that as well as the values on the Quick Menus, there were also many other values I needed to set or they would revert to the original camera defaults.  This meant I was shooting JPEG instead of RAW so many of the images are lacking highlight or shadow detail.

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This might represent an interesting lorikeet decal on the splashback except that it was a bit too transient for full appreciation at the time.

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Lorikeet and Jools.

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Percy and Polly powering past.

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Also a Budgie, even more elusive on the wing.

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… and here playing hide-and-seek.

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Back on the balcony, an adult Magpie in midair leaping for food, plus a Butcher Bird.

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  … Coming in to land ….

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Magpie pair.

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Again, a lorikeet as an interior decoration….

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. Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife .

. Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife .

. Australia, Brisbane, Butcher Bird, Kookaburras, Landscape, Magpie, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Rainbow Lorikeets, Travel, Wildlife

Jim with Percy and Polly.

It was difficult to find lockdown information at this time as the Queensland Government told people not to ring them and if you did, you could wait for a long time and then drop out.  Eventually, we worked out that we were free to fly back to the ACT, even while the lockdown continued in Brisbane.  Jools did so first, I did so after receiving an email from the ACT Government advising against further travel. 

Now Queensland is out of lockdown and we are in lockdown in Canberra.  The main problem is New South Wales, which failed to lockdown for ten days after their first case and is now spiralling out of control with over a thousand cases per day.  (That won’t sound high if you live in Montenegro, Malaysia or Miami but is the highest we have seen in Australasia).  (The other problem is the low vaccination rate, due to the incompetence of the Federal Government).  Fortunately it doesn’t seem too bad in the ACT and we may be out of lockdown in a couple of weeks, though the situation remains precarious.

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Digital Photography

 I gave some of my old cameras and lenses to a friend who was a professional photographer in the film era but lost his equipment through fire and theft and has not photographed for many years.  So this is a brief summary of what has changed.  Hopefully it will be of interest to others as well.

This article doesn’t include an introduction to Photography.  You can find one here.

Digital photography is far more accessible than film was.  It is simple and cheap if you just buy a camera with a kit lens and set it on Program mode (or use a phone), blast away, and upload JPEGs to Facebook .  But to do it seriously is both much more complex and much more expensive than it used to be.

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Carillon, Canberra 1988, Part of French contribution to Bicentennial, 5×4 film.

(Click on any image to see it in a larger size.).
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Index

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Exposure

Red crested cranes in river before dawn, Hokkaido, 2012.

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In the film days, you used a film which was a given ISO (originally called ASA) and now you can select an ISO for each shot.  But there’s more to it than that:

You can shoot JPEG or RAW (or both).  JPEG has your settings baked into the image and you degrade it if you later edit it.  Photojournalists may shoot JPEG so they can quickly deliver final images to their editor but for most people in most situations, shooting RAW is preferable.  JPEG has a limited gamut (sRGB) whereas RAW captures what the camera can (approximately LAB gamut).  This implies processing and more on that later.

Film had a rounded shoulder in its transition from highlight detail to overexposure, or from shadow detail to underexposure, but for digital, the transition is much more abrupt, so you need to be more careful about overexposure in particular.

The histogram is an invaluable aid to exposure.  It shows the tones, shadow to highlight, left to right in a box.  The shape of the histogram can vary but a line on the right edge is overexposure; a line on the left edge is underexposure.  Usually you want to avoid that but sometimes underexposure doesn’t matter and sometimes specular highlights make the right edge of the histogram irrelevant (eg live music).

In general you want to expose to the right – in other words, not have any blank space on the right of the histogram.  This is because detail captured decreases exponentially from the right of the histogram to the left.  In other words, the detail is in the highlights, not the shadows.  There’s a complication here though because the histogram on the back of the camera shows an sRGB image but as long as you’re shooting RAW you have something like an extra two-thirds of a stop of highlight detail available.  (It is a good idea to set the camera histogram to show aRGB but it still doesn’t make much difference).

You can also set the camera to bracket exposures where the contrast range may be too wide for a single exposure, and combine them later in processing if required.  Three exposures two stops apart is perhaps a good place to start for this.  I often leave the camera set for exposure bracketing when shooting landscapes on the fly because I may not pick when I actually need to bracket.  In many cases I may find it was not necessary so I delete unwanted images.  Others may prefer to be more economical in their culling and shoot single images where possible.

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Shutter

Cape Nelson 1987, Arca-Swiss 5×4″,90mm Linhof Angulon, f6.8, 4 hours, Fujichrome 50

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With film, the rule of thumb for minimum hand-held shutter speed was the reciprocal of the focal length (eg 1/100 sec  for 100mm lens).  The greater acuity of digital means you may need to add a stop or two (eg 1/200 or 1/400).  This changes again with more modern lenses and bodies with image stabilisation (vibration reduction).  It varies by individual though so the best way to understand what shutter speeds you can hand hold at is to do tests by focal length.

With DSLRs (apart from very cheap ones where this may not be available), for maximum sharpness in landscape images, you should use a tripod and lock the mirror up and use a remote release (or the self-timer).  Or even better, you can use live view which focuses directly onto the sensor with the mirror up.  (… though there are some limitations in the early implementation of this in the Nikon D3 for which this is written so that it may be advantageous to use the self-timer).

Mirrorless cameras of course do not have a mirror to flip but there can still be shutter slap to reduce sharpness.  This can be avoided by using electronic shutter except for artificial light or some cases of marked subject movement.

One of the few advantages of film was with star trails because you can hold the shutter open as long as you like (8 hours was the longest I did).  With digital cameras you are limited by battery often to 30 minutes to an hour, though with the phenomenal battery of the Nikon D3 this may be as much as 6 hours (I tested but don’t remember my findings clearly).

Nightscapes with stars in focus weren’t common in days of film (or maybe I just wasn’t aware).  For a starting point on exposure and shutter speed, refer the NPS Rule.  Phone app PhotoPills can do NPS calculations and also display where the Milky Way will be on the view through your phone.

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Filters

Lake Hume, 2006 (6×17 Film)

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There was much more use of filters in the days of film.  This included skylight filters and coloured gels (for commercial portrait photographers) to modify the colour balance of the film.  This is no longer required because you can either do it in camera or in post-processing.

UV filter are not required in most circumstances.  They don’t really protect lenses (though lens hoods do) and can accentuate flare.  The exception when they can be useful is for sea spray and desert sand storms.

Polarising filters are not much required in general landscape photography any more.  They can overpower skies and you can adjust those in post-processing.  They still have their uses though for dealing with reflections in water and for enhancing colour in forests, especially wet ones.  For DSLRs you need circular polarisers though instead of the old linear ones, though linear ones are fine for mirrorless cameras.

Apart from polarising filters, the most likely filters to use these days are neutral density filters, so you can get a daylight exposure of say five minutes for smooth clouds and water surfaces.  You may also need a dark cloth over the camera to prevent light leaks.  This can look impressive and I do it occasionally though I also find it a fashion trend tending to a bit of a cliché and generally prefer to do my long exposures without filters after dark.

When shooting black and white film, filters translated the colours in different ways.  You can still do that if you are using a Leica Monochrom or when using inbuilt filters while shooting JPEG in mono, but there is little point if you are shooting RAW.  You end up with a colour image and while you can still apply mono camera settings to it, you have much greater power for monochrome conversion in post-production.  It can be useful though sometimes to set your camera for a mono display to aid your composition even if your objective is not monochrome.

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Other Camera Operations

Bearded Dragon, Mt Ainslie, Canberra, 2019 (focus stacked)

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I have already mentioned automated exposure bracketing. 

You can also generate panoramas either hand-held (for distant panoramas) or on a tripod with varying degrees of complexity and expense for additional equipment. This requires separate exposures and overlapping by about 20%.

Another option is focus bracketing – combining multiple exposures at different point of focus to get a greater depth of focus than would be possible in a single exposure, especially but not exclusively for macro.  Stopping down to f8 or f11 helps.  On older cameras like the Nikon D3 you have to set the focus manually but many more recent models have various forms of semi-automatic focus bracketing.

All these operations require post processing, and I will cover that under the Processing section.

There is also the option for time lapse photography and video but since I have not done these I will do no more than mention them.

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Lens Calibration

Deception Island, 2011.

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DSLRs have a sensor that records the image and another sensor for autofocus.  If the two get out of whack for a particular lens and camera, the lens may be consistently front-focusing or back-focusing. 

Your camera may be able to record correction values for each lens.  This will not be the case though if you have a lower-range model and most cameras can only record one value for a zoom lens.  You determine those values with a testing utility.  I use FoCal; others may consider Lens Align simpler and cheaper.  Some people don’t bother.  It’s not an issue for mirrorless cameras (or when using live view on a DSLR).

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Tripods and Monopods

19 Twenty at the Abbey, Canberra, 2020.

Compared to the film days, tripods can now be carbon fibre as well as aluminium (or wood).  Aluminium tripods are cheaper but carbon fibre ones are the way to go where possible because they are lighter, more durable and more vigration resistant. Cheap tripods are still counter-productive but I suspect they’re not quite as rickety as they used to be.

For a detailed review of tripods and monopods, see this site.

Also here is a review of a new version of my favourite ball head, from Acratech.  Its open design makes it ideal for outdoors, beause it is easy to clean and doesn’t get grit around the ball.

 

Planning

Crested Tern, Montague Island, 2019.

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You can use applications to plan landscape excursions.  For example, The Photographer’s Ephemeris allows you to see the hours of different measures of twilight at a particular date and location, and you can even determine when the sun will peek out over a mountain at sunrise to illuminate your subject.  (The latter capacity does take time and dedication though).  I’ve already mentioned the phone application PhotoPills.

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Processing

Verraux’s Sifaka, Madagascar, 2015 (IR)

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If you are planning to shoot JPEG-only, with all the shortcomings that entails, you will still need an basic photo editor/ image database such as ACDSee Pro.

Most people will want to shoot RAW and that implies post-processing with a RAW processor and a pixel-level image editor.    In general I recommend the Adobe Photographic Plan for $14.29 per month.  This is primarily the desktop-based Lightroom Classic plus Photoshop and includes various capacities for processing on the web including on phones or iPads.  I often use FastRawViewer for the initial cull; it is quite cheap and the only way to get an accurate histogram of a RAW file.  Lightroom Classic is a very good RAW Processor, an excellent image database, very good for printing and has many other capabilities that alternatives do not.  It is also very good for very quick adjustments.

Note that image selection requires some processing including exposure correction and perhaps some cropping.  Lightroom‘s Auto Tone gives a very quick starting point.

However, I also use Capture One and often edit in that.  It is a superior editor, particularly for layers, masking and control of colours but is not as good as an image database and does not have many of the capabilities of Lightroom.  The learning curve is steeper than Lightroom though. You can buy it subscription of stand alone and it costs a little more than the Adobe Photography Plan.

Other alternatives for RAW processing are Luminar, On One Photo Pro and DxO PhotoLab.  I haven’t used any of them but according to reports I have read, Luminar and On One are not really options but DxO might be.  If you’re not subscribing to Adobe, you still need a pixel based editor which is likely to be Affinity Photo.  It is quite cheap and capable though not as powerful and Photoshop.  For example, only Photoshop has the capacity to invent missing data using content aware fill.

It requires care to make a choice of RAW processor though because if you change your mind your capability to export processed files to another application will be very limited.

I also sometimes use TK Actions which operates inside Photoshop to adjust images using luminosity masking, in other words, particular tonal ranges of an image.  This can be very powerful but is extremely complex and requires experience in Photoshop.

You can do mono conversions in Lightroom or Photoshop but Nik Silver Efex Pro is more powerful and I find Capture One is better again.

There is a variety of ways to do HDR processing which can be quite realistic, not the garish results that Photomatix used to champion.  The easiest way is in LightroomPhotoshop is a bit more accurate, especially if you have registration issues or moving objects between the frames.  There are also various manual ways to do it in Photoshop and there are various third party applications, of which I occasionally use SNS-HDR.

Panoramas you can also do in Lightroom or Photoshop.  My favourite utility is AutoPano Giga but it was bought out by GoPro and closed down, so you can’t buy it any more.  The best high-range utility is now probably PTGui though there are many other simpler ones.

You can process focus stacks in Photoshop (though not in Lightroom) and the main third party programs are Helicon Focus and Zerene Stacker which usually work better than Photoshop unless you have registration issues (eg from shooting hand-held).  I prefer Zerene Stacker as it has better editing capabilities.

I have much more detail in A RAW workflow … and Alternatives.

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Computers

Moai, Ranu Raraku, Easter Island, 2011.

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Assuming we are talking desktop computer, the main requirements for an up-to-date machine are lots of RAM (at least 16GB), adequate storage and processing on M.2 NVMe SSDs. 

Photographic monitors are important especially if you intend printing or to have images printed.  Eizo are the best, NEC nearly as good and somewhat cheaper (though Image Science no longer recommends them because NEC Australia does not guarantee against dead pixels) and some Benq monitors are good and more affordable.  All other monitors are likely to be a compromise.  Large monitors are good; 4K is not necessary.

Backup is also important.  You should have three copies of your images, including a remote copy which can be in the Cloud.

I have written a few articles on these matters:

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Printing

Aboriginal concert, Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies, 1984?, IR colour film plus sabbatier effect.

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Digital printing has greatly improved since the days of the fume room.  You don’t need to dodge and burn each print, you do that to the image before you print it and then when you get it right it’s repeatable.

(There is one minor annoyance in terminology though.  Dodging in Photoshop is making parts lighter whereas burning is making parts darker.  That’s because the early Photoshop designers were black and white printers, which is a negative to positive process.  When printing Cibachrome it was the other way round.  Dodging made parts darker whereas burning made parts brighter.  Printing from slides was a positive to positive process.  And so is digital processing, so the terminology is the wrong way around.)

There is also a great variety of papers with a wide range of effects, quite unlike the limited range for black and white let alone colour in the film era.

You don’t get good quality prints from Harvey Norman, Office Works or similar places and custom prints are not cheap.  Even if you intend to mainly get prints made by a custom printer, it may be worthwhile to also do your own, especially if you will print more than a few.  Then you will have a better understanding of preparing images for printing on different papers and after all, arguably, if you get someone else to make your prints, they aren’t entirely your own work.

I have also written a range of articles on printing:

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Comments

Pimilea Physodes, Australian National Botanic Gardens, 2020.

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Your comments are welcome. 

  • Have I missed something? 
  • Do you have a different point of view?
  • Would you like more information on something?

At the water’s edge

Brisbane, Queensland, 31 July 2021.

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We are on our second day in Brisbane, staying with friends, en route to Northern Queensland, or so we thought.

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Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

Though inside Brisbane, we are on a scenic drive that goes in part through a national park, and we are looking down some distance at a house on farmland.  It appears to be the mansion of a drug baron.  Perhaps a nineteenth century drug baron.  Probably opium, in that case.

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Near the road, we noticed this compact granny flat.  Specially adapted for natural air conditioning.

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And in the distance there are these massive ancient megaliths.  Some of them may be more than a hundred feet high.  How they carried the stones there is a mystery.

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It’s not fire season yet so this was presumably burning off.  These days severe bush fires can occur even in winter though.

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We proceeded on to Wynnum, where we visited a cafe and then wandered out onto the pier.  Beside the pier, this I believe is a gazebo martin (though usually known as a tree martin).  I tried to get them in flight as a test of camera settings for that purpose but they are very fast and I did not succeed.

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Wynnum pier.  The martins were building a nest in the roof of the right-hand gazebo.

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Next we visited the nearby East Coast Marina and I photographed some of the yachts sailing around and in or out of the marina, from the end of a pier.

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Also, a couple of dragon boats.  Going out…

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…then coming back in.

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Small yacht returning to the marina.

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Two launches and a yacht coming out.

The red sign at the left is not blank on purpose for the benefit of people who cannot read, rather it is a marker for the dredged channel.  The water can be otherwise quite shallow around here.

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A launch and a windsurfer exploring the possibility of flight.

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I think the same windsurfer.

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A small flotilla of launches coming in on the channel. 

You can see the channel marker in the mid background (in itself an indication the water is not as deep as it may seem).

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There was a parasurfer there as well.

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We are now around behind the marina and a paddle-boarder is proceeding out.  He may not require as large a mooring as those catamarans.

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The boat at front in the middle is an old pearling lugger with a Maori name, which may indicate it was used by Maori divers.

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We are now a bit further south at Cleveland Point.  There are a number of cormorants on this tree.

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With a slightly different angle, I am now shooting into the sun.  It is still a colour image but the extreme contrast has wiped out the colour.

. Australia, Brisbane, Landscape, Nature, Photography, Queensland, Reflections, Skywalk, Travel, Wildlife, Yachts

This is the old Cleveland Point Lighthouse, no longer in use.  It has an unusual design and was built in 1865.  It is a State lighthouse for local navigation so was not amongst the Commonwealth lighthouses I photographed in 1987 (Lighthouses tab, at top of page).

Half an hour after I took this photo, Brisbane went into a sudden COVID lockdown for at least seven days.  We worked that out later when we drove past a pub that had no patrons.  No flight for us to North Queensland early morning the day after next.

Fortunately, we were able to stay with our friends for the duration.  The lockdown did end after seven days but then there was a North Queensland lockdown for another three days.  That also ended after the three days and I would have waited and kept on going but I received a letter from the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) Government advising against further travel.  The problem was New South Wales where COVID was out of control by Australian standards because the NSW Government waited for 10 days before locking down.  Had I kept going I risked an ACT lockdown and either having difficulty returning or returning to 14-day hotel quarantine (as opposed to the much more benign home quarantine).

 

So after five days, I abandoned the North Queensland trip and returned to Canberra.

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Meanwhile, we stopped for the sunset at a beach a bit further south near Victoria Point.

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… as the light slowly receded.

MacLeay Island in the background and South Stradbroke Island beyond that.

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An obliging pelican swam up and posed for me.

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The light was getting very low and although I was using a lens with good image stabilisation, that does not compensate for subject movement and I underestimated what shutter speed I needed so the pelican in this image is not actually in focus.  (I decided to show it anyway because of the feel and the colour).

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A last image in the gathering doom….

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Then when we got back home, I went to change lenses on my cameras for more compact storage and discovered I was missing a lens – actually the new lens from my recent post on Setting Up the X-E4.  It had fallen out of my bag.

Clearly it wouldn’t be there the next morning so notwithstanding the lockdown, I went back to try to find it.  I thought it had probably fallen out of the bag when I bent down to take a photo using a small post as support. 

When we got back to where we had been, I immediately saw it on the road where the car had been parked.  It had fallen out when I got the bag out of the car, about eighteen inches to two feet.  Fortunately I hadn’t run over it.  It was unmarked, had no apparent ill effects and still worked fine including autofocus.  (Phew!)

Mount Tamborine

Brisbane, Queensland, 30 July 2021.

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Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

Just before dawn, we headed off on our flight from Canberra to Brisbane, the first step of our journey to North Queensland.

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… though as it turned out, we would not get to North Queensland, rather turned back due to COVID lockdowns.

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We met up with our friends Jim and Milena, and later headed for Mount Tamborine.  This is a view looking inland over the plains.

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… and over farmland.

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The weather seems to have been changing considerably and is not quite how I remember it, though perhaps that is the infrared sensor and processing.

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Infrared, Landscape, Mount Tambourine, Nature, Photography, Rainforest, Skywalk, Travel, Wilderness, Wildlife

We stopped at a cafe for lunch.

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And then we headed for the Mount Tamborine Skywalk, so the remaining images are from there.

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The bunga bunga pines are towering over the rest. 

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Eastern yellow robin (male).

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These two images looking straight down at some distance.

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