Another nostalgia hit, folks, mingled with a bit of the usual seaside stomping. Been doing a lot of wandering, mentally speaking, through landscapes of the past and future, steering well clear of the here-and-now when possible.
Never been much good at the zen thing, ‘cept when digging in a garden bed, hauling myself up a trail or maybe squinting through a viewfinder…
I got my Christmas package from Kate a few days ago.
You might call that weird — we prefer to call it “express delivery”. It’s been our long-running joke that hopefully my Christmas present would get here in time for my birthday (in June), but really, I was just glad to have something to look forward to.
Life’s been pretty dull for a long while, and it was great to have the break from my daily routine. I took the box, with its U.S. $54 in stamps (no wonder Kate had to wait — that’s a tank-full of gas) down to the waterfront to open.
The tide was out and it’d been a while since I’d walked the flats, but the sun still had a half-hour of ferocity left in the tank. I sat there in the shade awhile luxuriating in the sea-breeze, enjoying my gifts and the enclosed note, skimming with a shudder of horror through the documents and stuff for my résumé Kate had included.
At last I was ready for the mudflats — except for that Christmas package. My pack was crammed with a laptop and camera gear, so I dug out an old Aldi shopping bag, stuck the box in there, tied my shoes to the pack and clambered down the seawall, swinging my shopping bag and feeling more than just psychologically encumbered.
Progress was necessarily slower than usual, but I was in a pretty good mood. The sand between my toes — nature’s foot massage — and the cool of the estuarine pools were as soothing as ever. I made it the quarter-mile to the ocean’s edge and killed some time watching a guy in a little Calypso catamaran (we had one growing up) doing rough laps across Bramble Bay in the late-afternoon chop.
Ambling north, I stalled here and there — the sun was taking its sweet time hitting the horizon, which is when the magic would happen — keeping an eye on an errant dog of considerable size that circled me a couple of times, mildly agitated, spit stringing from its mouth. A Rhodesian ridgeback-cross whose owner strode into the water leaving the dog to its own business.
A ridgeback killed one of my favourite cats when I lived in Sydney years back, right in his own front yard. Never trusted them since. For this mutt, it was mutual. Dogs often find me scary. It could be the pack, or the sneer I was born with. One of those faces that scares dogs and small children.
The dog, spit flying, bounded into the water after the woman. The sun met the horizon at last beyond the waterfront houses…
..and I turned for the return leg with the fun about to begin.
First stop was some large, sculpted banks that are always studded with dead shells:
Dumped the shopping bag and quickly dug out my NEX with the good lens and the big tripod. For some of the shells, the tripod wasn’t low enough — I didn’t have the GorillaPod — so I had to detach the camera and plant my elbows and knees in the sand:
I always come to life in the half-light, especially in Summer. It’s cool, the colours take on a renewed richness, and suddenly there’s this urgency to move, one eye on the sky and sun, another scanning the foreground for subjects and angles. I suppose I make a pretty crazed-looking figure for that frantic half-hour of action.
I trotted a little way back towards Sandgate, dumping the pack and shopping bag here and there to prop the tripod in choice spots. With the light dissipating by the minute, the tripod came into its own. I could keep the ISO at its minimum and still close down the aperture for a bit of depth of field.
I used to do this with the six-inch-high GorillaPod, but the options in height, not to mention its stability, make the real tripod worth its weight, most of the time.
Somewhere there I noticed the delicious appropriateness of the shopping bag:
I’m increasingly including myself — or my shadow self — in at least one picture on outings lately. Just for the amusement and to add some variety to a well-trodden repertoire:
Plus I like the challenge of setting the 10-second timer, leaping into position and freezing!
Warning: Incoming Nostalgia!
I’m not much of a people-shooter (!) as a rule — they’re usually just distant, anonymous figures in a landscape, which is fine, but I sure miss the supply of live-in models I enjoyed during my six months in the States last year.
Kate, of course…
..with or without her kids…
Once we’d built the gardens in the Spring, I never lacked for subject matter at home. If I was bored with insects or flowers, I could add something mammalian, whether in the form of mini-humanoids…
..or a devastatingly handsome feline if there happened to be one around:
Even the squirrels were photogenic:
Hell, even the vegetables:
Out here on the flats, it’s just me, perhaps a distant dog, a seagull or two that will tolerate me edging closer:
The real stars are the brilliant deep-blue skies of twilight, the reflections of sunset clouds or lights coming on along the foreshore, the rippled sand and especially the foamy, ethereal water of the turning tide as fading light makes longer exposures possible.
Even so, I did intrude into the odd shot as I danced around making the most of the golden hour. These shots range from between half a second to 13 or so:
One last shot before I headed home to try on my new T-shirt. This one is a homage to the ghosts of all the hellish neckties I got rid of just over a year ago. Their time has passed, may they rest in peace!
What an awesome Christmas that was…
~ And that’s all the Goat wrote