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The return of the Picture Postcard

October 31, 2014  •  8 Comments

The making of the image 'Sunbathers' Welcome back!

After an absence of 21 months, the Picture Postcard is back in cyberprint—thanks to me now having the time I need to do it justice. On the cusp of an exciting new chapter, I will soon retire and do what I am meant to do: practising; learning; presenting; writing; teaching; a truly photographic life.

From now on, the Picture Postcard exists in the form of this blog annexed to my website. Posts will be brief, more accessible on a range of devices, and more regular.

The style of content will be similar to the old Picture Postcard but more interactive and, I hope, more useful for those who share a passion for photography. Video and sound will play a role in the new delivery, as they do in my presentations and workshops.

Let's get started!

Why so passionate about photography?

It teaches me to see. When you're a photographer you see the world in a different way. You notice things that go unnoticed by others. How do I know this? Because I've heard non-photographers remarking so often: "How did you see that?"; "Why didn't I see that?"; when looking at serious photographers' photographs.

I look, I see, I feel. That's a part of me—the way I feel about things that I see in the world around me: nature; drama; beauty; horror; harmony; rhythm; pathos; design; name a few. Through photography I have a chance to show other people how I feel about stuff. That's both exciting and fulfilling; reason enough to be passionate.

Dorothea Lange said "The camera is an instrument that teaches people to see without a camera." That might sound like an abstruse or flippant comment. It's so simple but true.

As a photographer, I look at the world around me with what I like to call rectangular intent...even when I'm not carrying a camera. It's what happens when you become addicted to this art. There's something wonderful about excising a snippet of the scene beheld and enclosing it in a rectangle, the bounds of a photographic study. By doing so we are saying to those who would look at the photograph, "This is what engaged my eye and heart when I was there. Above all else, this is how I saw it—what I kept of the experience".

To photograph is to confer importance—Susan Sontag

It's as simple as that.

Mortal elegance

We arrived at the Wilson River Nature Reserve at 09:00 in the morning, a group of friends in photography. Laid before us was a rainforest habitat, a crystal river, and the prospect of a day to explore it with our eyes and imaginations.

Agreeing to meet back at the picnic area at noon for lunch and discussion, we each went our own ways.

I walked across a rustic timber bridge and into the shade of the trackless forest, keeping the tumbling river within earshot. I knew the water, always full of promise, would draw me like a magnet as usual, but determined first to explore the damp forest margin as I headed upstream. It's too easy to fall into the trap of repeating what comes easily.

I hadn't gone far when I discovered a story. Up ahead, a glimpse of red among the greens and browns caught my eye. Soon I was standing over a bedraggled smatter of red and blue feathers and grey down pasted on earth and a rotting log; the grounded remains of a crimson rosella (Platycercus elegans) known to bushmen as the mountain lowry. Even after death I felt that the scant remains of its vivid feathers were living up to its Latin name.

What had killed it? Because of the habitat, my guess was a grey goshawk (Accipiter novaehollandiae), an agile raptor with powerful legs and talons and short wings for manoeuvrability among the trees and vines of forest. I imagined the rosella's alarm call, a short chase, the flurry of feathers, and the piercing vice grip—then silence.

Mortal elegance1s · f8 · 100mm · ISO 100 · tripod · reflected flash

  • Added flash reflected off a white cloth draped over nearby palms. Light reflected from a large surface has a softer quality than the harsh blast from the flash's small window. This subject needed a soft touch.
  • Brushed away some debris using Adobe Lightroom spot removal tool. The undertaker prepares a corpse to look its best for a funeral!
  • Variations produced in Lightroom & Photoshop

Paint the flying spirit of the bird rather than its feathers—Robert Henri

View on'Sunbathers'

View 'Sunbathers' on


Phillipa, I'd be delighted for you to quote me (from PP 15 Nov 2014 - 'How's the serenity'). Artists unite! It's available on a T-shirt along with some other favourites I've collected and my motto 'If it moves you, shoot it!' :-)
Phillipa Frederiksen(non-registered)
I LOVE your comment "Of course I Photoshopped it, I'm an Artist". Can I quote this?
Am sick of people suspiciously looking at my work and asking the obvious!
Thanks for your feedback, Brenda, Dan, Robert, Kellie and Paula. It feels good to be back. Onward! :-)
Paula Ramien(non-registered)
What a lovely start to November. As always I love your work and look forward to seeing more of it. I am sure you are not retiring but transitioning to a new stage of life. Thank you and good luck with it all...
Kellie Lane(non-registered)
WOW I love the photo Sunbathers, I love the commentary, I love the process, the ideas and sharing how you come about the final image. Thanks. I'm so happy you are back!!
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