Aura – It’s All A Blur

Some thoughts on bokeh for this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. This is not a tutorial on bokeh.

I once thought “bokeh” referred to the circles, sometimes sparkly, that you often see in the background of a photo taken with a macro or telephoto lens. I’ve moved on from that and I now like to think of bokeh as the aura surrounding the subject of the photo, the bokeh being that little bit of voodoo magic performed by the camera to blur out the background so that the subject has centre stage. That is purely my artistic view and not a technical definition. I prefer my bokeh soft and calm and not swishy/choppy, but this is easier said than done. The exception to that is when the bokeh is being used for creative effect. If for any reason it is not possible to achieve the effect desired, I would rather take the photo “as is”, and enjoy what I’ve seen. Hence, you will see less than perfect bokeh on my site. Hopefully, the photos will still be interesting.

A messy background, my position and camera shake affected the quality of the bokeh/aura in my photo of this kookaburra below. The bokeh is not to my taste but how could you not love a face like that?

Laughing Kookaburra (Dacelo novaeguineae), Australian National Botanic Gardens

Now for my photography partner’s photo. He was further up the hill than I was and his extra height meant that he was able to access a much nicer background, and hence, lovely bokeh.

Kookaburra – Australian National Botanic Gardens

Look! Even with my little camera, I can still achieve a lovely blurred background if I am lucky to find myself close to my subject and there is a reasonable amount of separation between it and the background.

Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis) in the Canberra suburbs

It is difficult to capture that lovely blurred background effect with fast moving little birds. A really fancy camera or lots of patience is required. I therefore like to see what my little camera can make of plants. Trees in sheltered spots are great for this. The filtered light provides a beautiful tonal calm backdrop to the bark of this Pinus canarienis at Canberra’s Lyndsay Pryor Arboretum. The dark colour of the bark is a result of being burnt in the 2003 bushfires.

Canary Island Pine (Pinus canariensis), Lyndsay Pryor Arboretum, Canberra)

And below, I couldn’t resist the combination of the young eucalyptus leaves against the muted yellow plants in the background (probably paper daisies like those in the foreground), which were themselves set against the darker green of the heavily shaded area in the far back. I wouldn’t classify this as bokeh or an aura, but without my camera to see this stunning plant against the blurred background, it might not have caught my eye so. My botanist son’s best guess is that the tree is a native of Western Australia, Eucalyptus macrocarpa. WA plants are always show stoppers. What do you think, WA readers? Did my son guess right?

Mottlecah (Eucalyptus macrocarpa) tbc – Australian National Botanic Gardens

And, finally, this creamy milk chocolate background is a perfect complement to the fungi growing in fallen timber. Photography can be such a time waster but there are worse things we could be doing.

Thanks for reading this far, everyone. I have a couple more photos of the kookaburra that I will share soon. In the meantime, take care and take photos.

Kind Regards.
Tracy.

Oddly Enough

For the Lens-Artists Photo ChallengesA Special Place and Odds and Ends.

I have been rather quiet over the last few months living my ordinary life in extraordinary times. Ordinary does not mean dull or insignificant. Such is life in these days of extremes. I have spent an inordinate amount of time at my special place, ie. home. It might not be perfect, posh or pristine, but it has everything we need. Every window has a view of the garden and its inhabitants.

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The Changing Seasons – June 2021

Canberra (Australia) – I’m so cold, oh so cold!

I felt anxious and grey during June, perhaps mirroring the inclement winter weather and the times, but here I am, on the eve of July. Soon the wattle will be blooming gold and the landscape will extrude from its current camo coat of green and brown.

I barely managed to pick up the camera but spurred on by my supporters, the crested pigeons, I began. Fluffed up, a crested pigeon warms up in a pocket of sun.

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The Changing Seasons – September 2020

Canberra (Australia) – September keeps us guessing. We smell the spring flowers while we are still Covid-free. This requires a visit or two to the Australian National Botanic Gardens. It has been 80 days since Canberra (the national capital of Australia) has recorded a case of Covid-19. My month is filled with medical appointments, getting in while the going is good. Survivor-guilt sets in. The threat of magpies swooping hangs over our heads.

There is sufficient material for a blog post on each of those topics, so I won’t bore you with the nitty gritty details of my September shenanigans here. I might have to say something in future though about the Prime Minister, who after consulting with the Property Council, has issued an edict that public servants should return to the office (where safe to do so, consistent with Covidsafe plans, blahdeblah) so they can spend their hard-earned dollars on coffee and lunch at CBD cafes. I don’t know how in heck, the PM expects the workforce will transport themselves safely to the office.

Now where was I? That’s right .. the Botanic Gardens. My friend convinced me that we should go out for coffee. So I went out. We went to the gardens. It was lovely but I couldn’t be so rude as to take copious photos, so I went back another day. And then another. We’ve had many grey rainy days, some sunny days too, so many of the photos from the gardens are dark and moody. All the photos in this post come from those visits, so I hope you like flowers and birds, and bearded dragons.

Some Enchanted Garden

Spring in the gardens.
Cacophony of sound.
Air vibrates and rumbles,
zips and whirs.
Colours flash and tantalise,
the smell divine.
Senses say stay a while.
My mind wanders.
A world away.

How green, or black and white, is your garden?

Purple invites a closer look and calms the senses.

Pink delights.

Yellow thrums.

Red is generous and racy.

This September, the world lost some incredible women, champions of gender equality and inclusiveness – Associate Justice of the US Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg; Australian singer-songwriter, Helen Reddy; and former Australian senator and minister, the Honourable Susan Ryan. Ms Ryan is Australia’s equivalent to America’s RBG. Susan Ryan fought for and secured the passage of the Sex Discrimination Act in 1984. She also had significant public roles advocating against age and disability discrimination.

This is my response to The Changing Seasons – September 2020 photo challenge hosted by the lovely Su at Zimmerbitch.  Why not check it out and join in? Su has photos of gannets nesting.

Sing it with me, ladies.

Stay safe, sane and kind, everyone.

Kind Regards.
Tracy.

About The Photos
I dragged my True Love to the Botanic Gardens one weekend. He is still recovering from his Achilles heel tendon tear, so he shuffled along with his camera. He took the photos of the bearded dragon with the purple flowers in the background, the bright yellow “Twistie” like flowers (Twisties are a type of cheese curl, corn-based snack food product), and in fading light, the shenanigans of a pair of gang-gang cockatoos. I took all the other photos.