Keeping quiet in Canberra

February 2020 to January 2021, Canberra, ACT

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My last local post in January 2020 was Australia Burning, which included images taken in Canberra on one of two days when bushfire smoke meant Canberra had the worst air quality of any city in the world.  Then COVID struck.

There was lockdown in Canberra for a month or two but there have been no local cases since last April, just a handful of incoming people in quarantine hotels.  There are currently no locally-sourced cases in Australia, just a few incoming travellers.  Though many criticisms can be made, State and Federal Governments did fairly well, supporting many people (though with glaring holes) and following medical advice.  State Governments have been prepared to engage lockdowns where necessary and from time to time closing off State borders and isolating localities.  People arriving from overseas have to stay for a fortnight in a quarantine hotel.

Unfortunately, while the Federal Government has been prepared to follow medical advice, it shows no signs of being willing to follow scientific advice on climate change.  Huge areas burned in January and a significant majority of the population want effective action on climate change. If nothing continues to be done, temperatures will continue to rise, fires will become larger and more prevalent, the ecology and wildlife of the country will be devastated and the capacity for agricultural production will greatly decline.

In the meantime though, I have made no overseas trips since 2019 due to COVID and have been keeping fairly quiet.

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Buoys in a small canal at Kingston Foreshore.

In March I joined a Fuji event that allowed you to use various new cameras and lenses. I tried some of these but this image and the next were taken with my X-T2 and 100-400mm lens.

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Reflections in the same canal.

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Roots of a bonsai tree at the National Arboretum.

In June I visited the Bonsai Garden at the Arboretum and took this photo with my Fuji 80mm macro lens.  It is focus-stacked, which means I have taken many images at different points of focus and later combined them with software.

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Succulent in the front garden.

In August I had purchased a Fuji 8-16mm zoom and took some test shots in the front garden, this one and the next one.  The succulents are quite small so it’s almost macro because the lens can focus quite close.  These are also focus-stacked but because I was using a very wide angle lens, that required only a few exposures.

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Small flowers in the front garden.

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Grevillea Macleayana.

I also visited the Australian National Botanic Gardens from time to time, this image and the next four.  The first three were taken in September and the last two in October.

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Telopea Speciosissima.

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Banksia Spinulosa.

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Pimilea Physodes and panorama near the Visitor’s Centrte.

I took this with a circular fisheye lens and it is also focus-stacked, with just two exposures.  The depth of field is amazing, but not quite enough to go from the stamens of the flower (0.1 metres) to infinity in one exposure.

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Grevillea Macleayana.

Another focus-stacked exposure with the Fuji 80mm macro lens.  This one took 70 exposures and I had to wait for it to be still and retake it several times when a breeze came up during the exposure.

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Archie Webb in the Top 12 Challenge.

I have also gone back to table tennis, both socially and competition and this is an image I took in October at the Top 12 Challenge, with the top 12 Canberra players competing for prizes.  Archie is the leading competition player but he did not win this challenge.  Here he is gearing up for a forehand loop.

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ACT Table Tennis Open.

I also took photographs at the ACT Open in November.  Table Tennis is remarkable in that players of very different ages can compete equally.  The far player is Faisal Pirwani and he is returning the ball with his backhand,  He is one of Canberra’s leading players; I do not know the name of the youngster but from his shirt he probably comes from Melbourne.  Some young players can be very good.  We had a couple of players as old as 93 in the Social Seniors Group prior to COVID though they have not returned since.

(The two table tennis shots were taken with a Nikon D850 and 85mm f1.4 and 50mm f1.4 lenses respectively).

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Malua Bay rock pool.

In early January we went for a trip “down the coast” (which means to the south coast of New South Wales, near Canberra).  This image and the next two were taken on that trip.

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Glasshouse Rocks, Narooma.

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At Glasshouse Rocks looking through to Montague Island Lighthouse.

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Kangaroos at an Ainslie pond.

I live backing on to a reserve and a week or so later, we had a long walk to a couple of ponds in that reserve.

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Pond reflections.

Since I am mentioning equipment in this post, the Malua Bay rock pool was taken with the Fuji 80mm macro and the last four with the Fuji 100-400mm.

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Canberra Nature, 2018

February 2018 to February 2019, Canberra, ACT

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In the changeover from one trip to another, here are some local images from the last year.

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There are two groups of images. The first is from a Nikon-sponsored event on Black Mountain Peninsular, late one afternoon.

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No prizes for identifying these birds.  They were cited in the second century AD by Roman poet Juvenal as an example of something that could not exist.  They were originally believed to be a hoax when reported back in Europe by the Dutch in 1697.

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Lake Burley Griffin in the late afternoon light.

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After a while, I mainly focused on semi-abstract details.

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There was a prize of a canvas print for best image of the afternoon.  I won that with this image.

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The remaining images are out the back of where we live, in Canberra Nature Park, or in the case of the first image, in the back yard.

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Kangaroo in the back yard, through the dining room window.

Over many months towards the end of last year there was a severe drought and there was no grass left for the kangaroos on Mount Ainslie.  The kangaroos would come down at night to eat on the roadside grass verges.  At the same time our back fence had disintegrated so we had kangaroos coming in at night as dinner guests.  This is one still there in the morning.

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Kangaroo in Fog.

Before we left on the Uzbekistan trip at the end of September, there were many kangaroos on the mountain and we would often see mobs of twenty or thirty.  One time I counted and we saw one hundred and thirty kangaroos on our half-hour morning walk.  They were under pressure at this time and we found two discarded kangaroo fetuses in our back yard.

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Close up of young kangaroo.

When we came back from the trip there were none, or so it seemed.  They had either found alternative pasture, perhaps beyond the other side of the mountain, or I suspect more likely, there had been a mass starvation event.  Numbers recovered a bit and we now usually see between three and ten kangaroos on our morning walk.

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Big male kangaroo reclining in shade.

Canberra has a controversial annual kangaroo cull.  Kangaroos have greatly increased in number due to clearing of forests with European settlement and there are around fifty million of them in Australia.  The Australian Capital Territory Government says that without a cull there will be greater kangaroo population explosions and crashes, while rare plants are threatened when the kangaroos feel pressured to eat everything in sight.  Animal rights groups are opposed to this and demonstrate against the Government.  If I correctly interpret these events, the Government may have a sensible strategy.

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Cunningham’s Skinks (and background insects).

On our walk every morning we go past a hollow log where a family of Cunningham’s Skinks live.

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If it’s warm enough they come up on top of the log in the sun, perhaps also to catch passing insects.

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This is a small one.

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They are much larger than a garden skink.  They grow to 40 centimetres (16 inches) and are viviparous (give birth to live young).

All of these Cunningham’s Skink shots are focus stacked, in other words, multiple images combined for depth of focus.

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Superb Parrots.

(No, really, that’s what they’re called).

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Superb parrots are a bird of inland New South Wales and Canberra is on the edge of their range.  They are increasing in Canberra but this is partly because they are being pushed out of their normal habitat by climate change and land clearing, and they are classified as vulnerable.

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They prefer to nest in two species of eucalypts, Scribbly Gums and Blakely’s Red Gums with a trunk diameter of 1.1 metres or more, and 95% of their natural woodland environment has been cleared.

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Eastern Bearded Dragon.

At one point in our morning walk there is a dead tree that forms an archway over the path.  I used to sometimes hit my head on it until it settled a bit lower.  One day there was a dragon stretched out on the top though pretty well camouflaged.  I went back for my camera and this image is also focus stacked.

Males grow to about 60 centimetres (24 inches) long and they are diurnal.

 

Mount Ainslie

June 2017 to January 2018, Canberra, ACT

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Although we live in an inner city suburb of Canberra, we are lucky enough to have Mount Ainslie and 10,000 acres of bushland over our back fence.  Consequently, we take a walk up there every morning and sometimes I bring a camera.

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In the winter it can be quite foggy

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… which provides an element of mystery for the morning walks.

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Sometimes there are countless spiderwebs gleaming in the morning light,

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And at any time of the year, there can be interesting patterns on the bark of the eucalypts.

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Not sure what kind of tree this is, but the lichens on their trunks open after rain.

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A few of these images are on our section.  This is the trunk of a small brachychiton rupestris in the back yard.

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Small cactus on the front verandah.

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White rose in the back garden, complete with tiny spider at top right.

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Eastern spinebill just outside my study, through a dirty window.

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Back to the reserve again.  Kookaburra.

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Topknot pigeon on the power line.

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Pied currawong.

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Sulphur-crested cockatoo.

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Grey butcher bird (juvenile).

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Galah.

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Noisy miners.

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Chough’s nest.

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Cunningham’s Skinks.

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Eastern grey kangaroos.

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Echidna, visiting our back yard.

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Blue tongued lizard in back yard path.

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Dragonfly wing, found on the front step.

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Australian National Botanic Gardens

30 October 2017, Canberra, ACT

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These images were taken during a Canberra Photographic Society event at the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra.   You were supposed to use a single focal length – that’s OK, I was using a prime anyway – and when I got there I found there were five themes you were supposed to follow.  I wasn’t much interested in the themes though so I only gave cursory attention to them.  What I was more interested in was attaining maximum image quality using focus stacking where necessary.  In other words, this is where you take multiple images of the same subject at different points of focus and combine them later in processing.  nine of these images are focus-stacked.

Click for larger images.

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Grevillea shuttleworthiana subsp. canarina.

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Anigozanthos manglesii (red and green kangaroo paw).

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Telopea Speciocissima (New South Wales Waratah).

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Wattlebird in Grevillea,

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Grevillea.

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Rock Garden Waterfall,

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Gymea Lilies.

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Water Dragon.

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Melaleuca Styphelioides (Prickly Paperbark).

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Green butterfly on probably a Melaleuca.

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Ducklings.

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Isopogom.

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Callistemon.

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Water dragons.

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Banksia.

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Cyathea Australis.

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Australian Hibiscus, I think..

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