Farewell Old Friend

Sad to say, Thomas Jefferson, old and faithful friend and companion of thirteen years, was laid to rest on May 3, 2012. Tom's hips had troubled him for some time and on this Thursday when I arrived home to find he had been unable to move all day, it was painfully apparent that the last and most honorable thing I had left to do for my dear friend was to help him on his way.

Rest well Tom. You are loved now as you were in life,
missed sorely by Tessa, George, Missy, Bronwyn and me.

Labor Day Weekend 2011

Phew, look at the date on that last post. And if you think that's a long time ago, imagine how my camera felt when it was taken out of its bag for the first time in about three years. Surprised? And I was surprised, too, because the battery was still charged. Good on ya Nikon!

My friend, Robin of Redbook Photography, invited me to join him on the June long weekend when he took photos at a belly dancing event. Thrilled at being given the opportunity to try low light photography, I eagerly accepted. Robin advised me that each routine incorporated momentary pauses in movement that would let me get an in-focus shot, but that the pauses are hard to pick. And with the camera set to manual, I would have to be patient to get it right.

No, patience is NOT my middle name. And of the three hundred odd photos I took that night, not too many came out focussed. Here are a few of the pictures that made my pick list.

Camera settings were ISO1600, f5.6 at 1/60th sec on a Nikon D70 with 70 ~ 300mm zoom lens at various focal lengths.

They are all family

In September 1999 we welcomed Thomas Jefferson into our family.  Tom came to us as a bundle of fluff from a local Bunbury pet store, and he was beautiful.  Still is.  He has a tremendously friendly, "Can I put my head in your lap, I wanna be petted" personality, and everyone loves him.

That's Tom on the left.  Tom was born on July 14, 1999.

Very soon we realised that Tom needed a friend, so in the late October we went to some Perth Border Collie breeders looking for a partner, and came home with Tessa, or Contessa Maria, or Tessa Marie.  The length of the name depends only on the depth of sh*t she is in at the time.

Yup, Tess is the energetic one, the one that gets over the fence, the one that gets to the ball the quickest, or gives Tom a hard time if he is given a head start and has the ball.  Tess is the one that will find water if you are out for a quiet walk, and go in it to her belly.  And Tessa is the one that will get into a fight if she thinks another dog is coming between her and her master (family).

Born on July 28, Tess was quite an ugly puppy with a long nose, ungainly build with long legs, and the lack of balance in her colouring just seemed to emphasise the strangeness of it all.  But, as ugly as she was as a gangly pup, she grew into a beautiful dog with a fantastic nature, and she is the perfect balance to Tom.  And both of them are too intelligent for their own good.

Tess and Tom had their first litter of pups in 2000 while we were living in Eaton.  That is a story all of its own.  There were six pups, three black and white (standard) and three grey and white (blues).  Two of the blues and one of the standards are still in the family.

And the proud young parents went on to have another two litters with five pups each time.

Pilbara, Western Australia

The north west area of Western Australia, known as the Pilbara, holds many fascinating places to see.  And no matter where you go, the trade mark red dust is everywhere, and gets everywhere through luggage and car.

The Karijini is made up of numerous gorges, including Hamersley Gorge, Dales Gorge, Wittenoom Gorge and surrounding areas. 

The pools at the bottom of the Dales Gorge are great for swimming, although the water is surprisingly cold considering the heat of the day when you get out of your car or off the bus at the top car park.  From the car park to the bottom is a long walk down, and the pools are very cold.

Walk further up from the main pools and you come to a lovely spot known as Fern Pool. 

The rock walls are draped with Maiden Hair Fern, and at the head of the pool are the falls.

Up to and during the 1960s the town of Wittenoom produced asbestos, but the mining was closed down with the realisation that asbestos caused mesothelioma.  The mines closed down, and over the years the town has been nearly wiped out as buildings have been allowed to fall into ruin, or where the council have bulldozed them off the map.  Combined efforts of state, federal and local governments are attempting to relegate the existence of Wittenoom to history books and fading memories, with the eventual disappearance of even these old road signs to show that the town was ever there.

Unlike Wittenoom, Cossack is a town that, although it was dead in the 1960s, is growing again as a tourist location.  When we first visited Cossack in 1969, the Court House was dilapidated, as were the other buildings, and the only resident in the town was a single free-spirited person with the foresight to want to keep the town alive.  Now that heritage plays a more important role in the minds of many Australians, Cossack has come back to life, and beautiful buildings such as this can still be visited.

Augusta WA

February weather in Augusta can be very unpredictable.  In fact, any time of the year on the south west tip of Western Australia can be interesting with sudden changes in the weather, and the ripper storms that come belting across with the Roaring 40s.

Most often when given the choice of when to go on holidays, I will choose the time when inclement weather can be expected.  Not only because there are no crowds, but because the scenery takes on a totally different character, the mood of the places changes from that which is normally used to "sell" the place to which we are going.

Looking west from the ruins of the Augusta jetty showed the remains of a storm that had kept us in the comfort of our hotel unit all the previous day.  But as soon as we could, we were back out enjoying the changes, watching how the local fishermen went out to sea regardless, and finding new vantage points to take some photographs.  While the weather looks rough in this photograph, it doesn't show the strength of the wind just around the bend, other side of the dunes.

And the next day, a few kilometres around the bay, all was calm and clear.

The Pardalote

This little bird is called a Pardalote (or Spotted Pardalote).  He had dug his tunnel in the embankment at the front of my carport and busied himself bringing bits and pieces in for the nest.  As I pulled the car into the carport each day, the Pardalote sat and watched, unfazed by how close I was.  Then, one day when I was working in the garage next door, the Pardalote came in and sat on the end of a piece of timber I was working on; only about 600mm from where I stood.

He had obviously become used to me being around, and wasn't worried at all.  I took advantage of this and set up the camera in the carport, and was able to get a series of photos of him coming and going to the nest with his "makings".
This photograph has been manipulated to take most of the colour out of the background, except for the green in the leaf, and the rich colours of the bird himself.  Just getting familiar with a few of the Photoshop functions, but there is a world of fun to be had with this program, and the one I use now, the baby brother Photoshop Elements.

Ron's Art Collection

My Uncle Ron is a collector.  He is also truly quite amazing in his outlook on life and what we do with the things in our own back yard.

Ron can see art in anything, and can turn anything into a work of art.  I have seen a tree stump carted back to Ron's farm, turned upside down with the roots sticking out like unruly hair.  This was converted into a planter.  The impact was quite remarkable.  But then, such things have to be viewed with an entirely different attitude toward what constitutes art.

In a recent visit to Ron's I took a few photos of farming implements and bits of machinery that are lying around.  And there really is a lot lying around.  But ask Ron what he has in his collection and I'm quite sure that he will tell you, after a bit of thought, where it is, where he got it from, and what his intentions were for how he was going to use it.

To most eyes it would look like a collection of unused junk.  To Ron it is possibilities, potential, and pleasure.

For me with a camera, I was able to close out most of the background and make the pictures that I saw as art.  A different approach, but one that wouldn't have been possible if the items I snapped had been in a different setting.  When looking at his yard, I am sure Ron sees each individual item, not just a massive collection of bits and pieces.

Art truly is in the eye of the beholder.

Avon Descent - 2008

The starting stretch of the 2008 Avon Descent, Northam, Western Australia.  I will leave the photographs to tell the story.

Perth's First Air Race

In November 2006 Perth held its first RedBull Air Race over the Swan River.  The crowd was amazing to see for this first event of its kind, and along both banks of the river eyes were riveted on the display.

The old foreshore airstrip, long used as sports fields, came to life again with short take-off and landings going on every few minutes.  Those with vantage points from the apartments and hotel units along Terrace Road were particularly fortunate, as they could watch the activities on the air strip, plus a direct view of the circuit.

And although the wait seemed interminable, the show put on by the military aircraft prior to the races was spectacular.

Well done, Perth.  But you will have to work hard at keeping these races being held in WA.  We have lost other events to other states, such as the Rally Australia, and I have no doubt the air races will be hotly contested, too, in years to come.

First, but not the last

I'm not a great fan of the traditional photo album where we all have to sit around and listen to long winded explanations of "This is a photo of granma's false teeth I took when I was six."  Interesting and amusing to the teller, boring as pig droppings to the rest.

I do, however, like photos, whether in an album or on a web page, to have an accompanying description.  And as I have for ages wondered how to make my photos available for general viewing without the boring as PS aspect, these blog pages present the ideal opportunity.  I'm not a photographer, not an amateur, and these photos are not for sale.  Enjoy them, or if they bore you, go to another page.  Regardless, the welcome mat is out.

My one and only commercial effort was this postcard, put together to fill a gap in cards promoting local attractions and events.  The cards sold well at the Donnybrook Post Office, but I couldn't print them economically enough to sell them at a reasonable price.  Unfortunately, personal events overtook the project and it fell in a heap in mid 2007.
All the images in this compilation were taken in the Donnybrook region in late 2004, early 2005, most in the small space of state forest at the back of where I live.