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  • Eastern Curlew

    Eastern Curlew.   Photographer: Peter Bennet

  • Malleefowl

    Malleefowl.   Photographer: Mal Carnegie

  • Rock Parrot

    Rock Parrot.   Photographer: Judy Leitch

  • Blue-faced Honeyeater

    Blue-faced Honeyeater.   Photographer: Con Boekel

  • Pied Cormorant

    Pied Cormorant.   Photographer: Ian Wilson

With the relative ease of access to birds in our populated environs, this category enjoyed a bumper number of entries.  Gardens, walkways, rooftops, parks, feeder trays and even signposts were fair game for our enterprising entrants in this competition category in an attempt to grab a pic to match the topic.  The competitive spirit was fierce and it was a group of well constructed, sharply focused images that made the final group for this category.

I screened this group of images based on how closely they visually related to the topic, and how our photographers brought this interaction to their image.  Unfortunately, many of the images put forward were ambiguous to the topic, and whilst very good images, they did not tie strongly enough to the topic.  There were, however, some clever and also poignant compositions; ones that gave me a laugh and others a disappointing shake of the head because of what the image captured.

Winner: Grey Teal - Con Boekel (Image ID 27609)

This image has, to my mind absolutely nailed the brief, and then some.  Unfortunately it also brings with it some unpleasant home truths about our lack of respect for our environment.  In showing us a bird in an urban environment, resting in a stormwater culvert, this image has also given us an insight into what is occurring in these drainage waterways, and the impact that humans are having on our environment and our wildlife.  The soft muted colours in this image, the dried patina of mud and dirt, indicates that the detritus is not new, and the muted colours combine sensitively with the colour of the bird.  But the red eye is literally the jewel in the crown.  Compositionally creative, with the bird not the largest or most prominent object in the image.  Congratulations on your vision.

Grey Teal

Highly Commended: Black-shouldered Kite - Georgina Steytler (Image ID 27548)

A wonderful depiction of an “aerial” assault (sorry!).  It’s not the usual bird that you might expect to find sitting atop your television antenna.  Particularly a bird whose habitat is more inclined to be grasslands, farmlands or other areas that harbour mobile rodents.  The aggressive demeanour of the facing bird in seeing off the other is just wonderful, especially the bird’s red eye and fully outstretched wings.  I’ll not see these in my cityscape but I’m very keen to see them in yours!  Great shot.

Black-shouldered Kite

Highly Commended: Jacky Winter - Tim Van Leeuwin (Image ID 27591)

A poignant reminder that our wildlife is also suffering from a lack of readily available water.  In particular the little bush birds, who are easy prey down by the larger rivers where they have to run the gauntlet in raptor territory.  Sitting here in “suburbia”, you get the sense that he is waiting and hoping for a dribble of water.  I personally am usually partial to strong colour in my images, but I really like this subdued colour palette.  It’s smooth, and it transitions around the image very tastefully in grey and tan.  The sharp focus of all the elements are in stark contrast to the non-distracting background, which delivers laser focus 100% on the bird and tap.

Jacky Winter

Commended: Satin Bowerbird - Glenn Pure (Image ID 27485)

A judicious crop, with no loss of resolution and crispness/sharpness in the feathers.  The blue eye is a strong draw, and with the lolly wrapper and yellow feather in its beak it’s obvious that the city refuse is a ready source of pretty collectables for its bower.  Nice job cropping and leading the image in from one side whilst the subject diminishes in size past the centre.

Satin Bowerbird

Commended: Olive-backed Sunbird - Simon Foale (Image ID 27637)

Nicely caught in the act of opportunistically harvesting nesting material from a backyard clothesline.  We know how fast Sunbirds are and how they just won’t stay still.  The creamy green background tones show off the white strands of nylon rope nicely.  And the upside down attitude adds delightfully to the “you’ve been sprung” demeanour.  The wispy threads of stolen rope clearly show that our birds are using anything they can get their beaks on to use for nest building, and these city birds are adapting to what materials are at hand.

Olive-backed Sunbird

Commended: Gang-gang Cockatoo - Athena Georgiou (Image ID 27475)

A chance opportunity caught perfectly, and this is another image that lends itself to a range of different captions.  The matching red of subject and sign is wonderful and this image obviously also meets the brief brilliantly.

Gang-gang Cockatoo

 

With so many really good images to judge this time, and I was enjoying them so much, I've taken a little liberty and included something a bit different in the judging of this category, just this once.  I have added a special award for this competition only, entitled the Spectacular Gallery Award, for a set of three images that I found very engaging for a variety of reasons, all from the same photographer.  This photographer may or may not have immediately realized what was captured when taking these images, nor how much depth of feeling and engagement his images have; but to me they showed an ability and sensitivity from the image maker in how an image can often tell a story.  Goodness knows we spend enough time waiting for our birds to come out to play, that we have the time to dream up a “What might happen next?” scenario.  Create the pantomine image in your mind and sometimes it can come to pass.  Sometimes the story is completely told in the image, sometimes it’s an artistic account of a scene and sometimes it’s a whimsical unfolding tale, yet to be determined.  The Spectacular Gallery Award goes to Gary Dunnett, for these images:

Pied Cormorant

 Silver Gull

Australian Raven

The first of these images (Image ID 27655) made me laugh, and I enjoyed thinking of numerous captions that could be ascribed to it.  The second image (Image ID 27653) I found breathtaking in its design and textural beauty; and the third (Image ID 27652) was a sensitive urban image that caused me to think more compassionately about a harsh bird that is widely disliked, but when placed in a softer visual context made me wonder if we are not overly tough on this creature and the purpose it serves.  Drum roll, please!

If we are creating images that make others think, then we have achieved the highest accolade an artist can hope for.  Well done, Gary.

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