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Tom Oliver: the man, as seen through the eyes of two BirdLife Photography members.



I first met Tom at a Birdlife Photography meeting held in Gluepot.  He came down from Brisbane with his partner Di to appear as one of the guest speakers for the occasion. Brisbane to Gluepot I thought, that's a long way to come. As one of the local Birdlife members observed before his arrival – "he must be bloody enthusiastic" – which isn't a bad summary of him at all.

Some folk have the knack of making you feel like you've known them for years, just minutes after meeting them. So it was with Tom and Di.  Tom's conversation swiftly roamed from: RAW processing techniques (“why would anyone want to throw away all the advantages of RAW processing without a really good reason?”); to the stance one should adopt when using long lenses (“minimise the shock of the shutter release moving up the lens tube by carefully cupping your hand against it"); to what bird pose makes for the most pleasing image. Tom's favourite bird stance was with the bird facing away, but looking back towards the photographer.

Tom would carry his 500 mm lens, carbon tripod, and back pack for miles, just to ensure that he could do justice to any bird that came his way, remarking that "you shouldn't waste your opportunities", which is good advice and not only applies to photography.

Watching Tom talk to people, I found his patience and helpfulness extraordinarily. Enthusiasm is contagious and Tom had plenty of it.  He was pleased to share his thoughts on three aspects of bird photography that deliver fine results. The first – camera craft, this ensures that you capture images which are as sharp as possible.  Secondly – bird craft, this helps to avoid pictures of birds simply reacting to your presence or a played-back bird call. Tom was particularly pleased with shots that showed interesting behaviour and his own pictures along this line are really memorable. Lastly, Tom had a great understanding of the effective use of post-production and promoted this in his column "Improving your image", which was a favourite of mine, as was the man himself.

Vale, Tom. May your enthusiasm and the knowledge that you shared, live on in your award.

Les Peters – South Australia


TO RedwingedParrot


Tom and I joined Birds Queensland at the same time, around 6 years ago.  We met on organised outings and campouts and a few of our own photographic outings.

Tom was keen to help on any aspects of photography.  He taught me simple things like how to stand with my monopod to reduce movement, through to complex post-processing tasks. He took the time to post-process photos that I sent to him and he showed me how to make the most of each image.  I asked many questions that he was only too willing to answer.

At a stall we manned for Birds Queensland at an environmental day, Tom spent a great deal of time with a young birder showing him how to get the best out of his field guide and answering any of his questions.  Tom really had a passion for getting the young involved in birding and bird photography.

The newsletter that he created was full of helpful articles that mostly he produced and his images for critique articles were a particularly useful learning tool.

I know he had more to give and it is our loss that he is no longer with us.

Julie Sarna – Queensland


TO RoyalSpoonbill

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