Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Out of the blocks

I thought I'd start with a few sample photos to give you a feel for the things we see around here and what interests me. I'm not super hot on formal names for flora and fauna but will include these where I can.

Mother Nature
Bush-fires are an ongoing threat down here during these increasingly hot summers. This the view from the end of our place before dawn in January 2013. The fire started 40km away and roared over the hill towards us before the wind sprung up from the right of the picture and blew things to the left. Later in the day, some spot fires started as debris blew over 2km of water but quick helicopter fire bomber actions stopped them.
Far from home but still a natural delight; the Waikato river near Huka Falls in New Zealand on a foggy autumn morning.
Huka Falls rapids captured at 1/8000th of second to freeze every wave and drop in place. It was quite tricky to get the exposure right bu Mr Photoshop helped.
Eastern Water Dragons (genus Physignathus) are common around the lake edge, sunning themselves close to the water for easy escape from predators like Whistling Kites or White-Bellied Sea eagles.

Platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) are not uncommon around here in the rivers. This one just appeared below me one day when I was wandering the banks of the MacAlister River looking for birds. A quick photo and then he was gone.
Rainbow Lorikeets (Tricholossus haemotodus) are plentiful when the flowering gums are out and top up on the Grevillias in our garden, planted there to attract native honeyeaters.

This immature Grey Butcherbird (Cracticus Toquatus) appeared one morning scavenging breadcrumbs from the breakfast we'd just finished on the deck.
Spotted Harriers (Circus assimilis) are one of the 6-7 raptors commonly seen around here, working the paddocks for rodents and other morsels.
Soaring over the nearby East Gippsland hills in my ASH26E sailplane, chasing updrafts from the mountain wave clouds in the distance. The wind, blowing from left to right, produces standing waves (similar to the familiar water waves seen in streams and the photo below), which a glider pilot can ride to great heights. My local record is 22,000 ft (about 6,700 m).
Standing waves in a stream flowing left to right. The waves here are about the height of the "mountain" (ie the weir wall) but atmospheric waves might be 3-5 times the mountain height.
Star trails looking towards the South Celestial Pole. Shot out of my dining room window with an EOS60D with 18mm lens at 1600 ISO, 5 seconds exposure at 2 minute intervals then stacked with StarStax. The blue colours indicate young stars.

The Pointers to the Southern Cross: Alpha (Rigil Kentaurus) and Beta (Hadar) Kentaurus , both double stars, with rich star (more than 3,200 visible) and dust fields in the background. Shot with a Canon EOS60D  mounted on a guided German Equatorial mount, adding 10x2 minute exposures at 55mm, F/5 and 500 ISO and subtracting 11 similar dark frames (to eliminate background camera noise and hot pixels). The field of view (FOV) is about 15x23 degrees.