Sunday, April 24, 2016

Birds in Australia

Not being "birders" Susan and I just enjoyed seeing species we'd not seen before. These pictures come from Cleland Wildlife Park near Adelaide, the Alice Springs Desert Park (where trained birds take turns swooping through an open-air theater), a national park near Melbourne, and the Alice Springs Telegraph Station Historical Reserve. Apologies for not being able to identify each of these. If you know them, please add a comment. Thanks!


Rainbow Lorikeet
Australian Bustard

Barn Owl

Wedge-tailed Eagle


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Sydney Opera House

If kangaroos and koala are the most recognizable fauna of Australia, surely the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge are that city's architectural icons. We first came upon the opera house after dark and were wowed. In the daylight it is equally stunning. I had planned to have a single post about art and architecture, but the opera house is too photogenic for that. It deserves its own post, and here it is.

There's so much to love about this building. Its site on a point of land in sparkling Sydney Harbor shows it off beautifully. The design is unlike anything else. I was surprised to learn that the distinctive curved forms are all segments of a sphere, the choice of which (according to the information video) greatly simplified design and construction. And the appearance of those shapes vary endlessly as the point of view changes. It is a masterpiece.

Sydney Opera House, from Sydney Harbor
Sydney Opera House, from Circular Quay

Detail of exterior, from east

Detail of exterior, from west

Interior detail of precast ribs and windows

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Fauna of Australia

Susan and I spent March 2016 in Australia and New Zealand. We had never traveled south of the equator. It's about as far away from our home in Maryland as you can get. Given the distance and logistics, we opted for a tour with Overseas Adventure Travel and were very pleased with the tour, the tour leaders, and the wonderful group with which we traveled.

In spite of an ominous email from Nikon, I took my D750, Tamron 24-70mm, and Nikkor 70-200mm. I had a few glitches with the D750 but no show-stoppers. In fact I needed to buy more memory cards and came home with an absurd 3,400 images.

But I have no regrets. Both countries are fascinating, diverse, could I not shoot lavishly in such places? And though we'd love to return someday, one never knows. So I shot a helluva lot.

The downside, of course, is that it all must be reviewed and edited. I'm eager to see and share the shots I like but not that keen on spending hours in front of the desktop. I've decided to add images to this blog in topical groups, beginning with some of the animals we saw in Australia. That is a huge topic by itself. There are scads of iconic and unique animals, and the country is about the size of the lower 48 US states. In other words, this is but a tiny sample of what's there.

Koala are among the iconic Australian fauna. We were fortunate not only to see several, but also to witness a territorial dispute between two males. Our guide told us at the start of our walk that we'd probably see a koala, but we'd be lucky to see one, say, scratch its ear. They are normally quite lethargic and solitary. Viewing the dispute was therefore an extremely lucky occurrence...our guide was ecstatic.

Young male Koala

Young and older males disputing territory

Koala are normally solitary

In the same national park were Eastern Grey kangaroo. We stalked them quietly, our guide explaining that they become more relaxed after they have eyed us for a while. We were surprised at how large the males are: over six feet tall when standing and quite muscular in appearance. And we again were lucky that a mob of about 20 came into view.

Mob of 'roos

Eastern Grey Kangaroo

I'll post some bird photos in the the next installment. As always, your comments are most welcome.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

OT - camera problems

My father was a great believer in Murphy's Law (whatever can go wrong, will go wrong). I can't count the times I heard him say, in response to some problem, "That's ole Murphy at work!"

We recently returned from a month-long trip to Australia and New Zealand. It was our first foray south of the equator. Needless to say, a lot of preparation was involved. I practiced with both lenses I planned to take, packed and repacked my gear, and agonized over what else to carry or leave behind.

Taking the Nikon D750 was never in doubt. It's my only camera (besides the iPhone 5s), and a big reason for travelling to that part of the world was to capture some of the incredible landscapes. Imagine my surprise and consternation when, two days before we left, Nikon sent me an email saying my D750 might be prone to a shutter problem discovered in July 2015 (here's the technical advisory). Just send it back and we'll fix it and return it in two weeks or so, says Nikon. Murphy at work again.

I hadn't seen any evidence of the shutter problem (shading of a portion of images) and I didn't have time to rent another camera, so I crossed my fingers and set off with the D750. Back home, none of the images I've reviewed so far show any shutter issues, so it seems I dodged that bullet.

But Murphy wasn't done yet. During the trip the D750 locked up three or four times. An "Err" message appeared in the control panel and none of the controls worked. I had to remove the battery for 30 seconds or so, then put it back, to restore operation. And of course Murphy made sure it happened at least once while I was trying to shoot in a hurry and therefore made me miss some shots.

I've had camera problems before but, really, very few. My brand-new Pentax K-5 had obvious optical problems right out of the box; Pentax swapped it for another that I used for years with no problems. My venerable Canon Rebel never had a problem so far as I can remember. It's disappointing, then, to have the rather expensive D750 throw one actual and one potential problem at me in the space of a month. It's now on its way to Nikon. Let's hope they can fix it, and declare a long-lasting truce with Murphy.

[Update: I got the D750 back and all seems OK. The only glitch, which took a few days to discover, is that the time and date had been reset to sometime in 2014. That confused me and my Lightroom catalog until I figured it out. If you've sent a camera in for service, you might want to check that before you do a lot of shooting.]