I spent much of the weekend carrying the camera. Reviewing the haul of images I realised that the only interesting ones had been taken during three very short periods.
The first set almost didn’t happen. I’d arrived at Lake Illawarra just a couple of moments before sunset. A trio of Little Egrets were dancing around the shallows in pursuit of fish and shrimp. The sunset reflected off the water and combined with the backdrop of dry rushes to paint the scene in shades of red.
As the sun dropped below escarpment the surface of the water turned black, further emphasising the starkly white plumage of the egrets.
It is always tricky to get the exposure right when photographing a white subject. After years of mucking around with exposure compensation I now rely upon spot exposure for white or light coloured subjects. A moment later the trio headed around the rushes and disappeared out of sight.
The second ‘moment’ happened the following morning while walking around Kiama harbour. Silhouetted against the rising sun were two long fins. I climbed around the rocks to get out of the direct line with the sun, at which point it become obvious it was two fur seals bobbing on the surface. Both held a flipper out of the water to lose a little excess heat. Shooting towards the sun meant that all I could capture was the silhouette of the seals, their bodies without any colour or texture. What was in sharp focus was the outline of the flippers. The edges were surprisingly irregular, the flesh scalloped between the finger bones.
I could hear people oohing and aahing as whales rounded Kiama headland. It was a large pod, at least six Humpback Whales. They were boisterous, breaching, slapping pectorals against the surface and jostling one another. Maybe a group of males honing their combative skills as they swam towards the breeding grounds. Unfortunately they had already passed the headland, so the view was mostly of their departing tails.
Bass Point, one of the easternmost points on the NSW coast, is a few kilometres to the north of Kiama. I mentally tallied the drive and walk and decided that I could beat the whales to the point. Forty minutes later I was pleased to discover that my calculations were spot on, arriving at Bass Point to find the big pod about a kilometre to the south.
The approaching whales were breaching and flailing around with their pectoral fins.
They became more subdued as they got closer, turned through a right angle and swam along the southern flank of Bass Point. The pod kept in tight contact until they rounded the end of the point after which they spread further apart. Perhaps the protruding shoreline had made them a little nervous.
The situations I’ve described above weren’t the only times I saw waterbirds, seals or whales over the weekend. What they had in common was the combination of interesting wildlife behaviour with conditions, particularly the direction and intensity of light, that made for good photography .
Now to work on figuring out when such conditions are most likely to occur.
Odds and sods