Keep Calm


This last few months have been particularly difficult in the light of climate change induced bushfires here in Australia and now the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID 19). It would in the light of compulsory lockdowns, quarantines and restrictions on social gatherings and travel easy to be filled with dread and let feelings of hopelessness pervade our lives. I myself have had further restrictions imposed as I’m in the process of recovering from spinal surgery and am fighting off the temptation of feeling sorry for myself and collapsing in a heap.

There is an antidote to this. Firstly instead of just being passive and feeding our psyches with all the negative news we can find in the media endeavour to do something creative. Creativity is important, it feeds the soul, gives a sense of achievement and allows you to express yourself. All of this has a positive effect on your psychological well being. It doesn’t matter what it is – paint, draw, knit, cook, write, photograph, sing. Although singing could be problematic depending upon your living arrangements and how well you can sing. My partner has issued me with an ultimatum; if I sing Bohemian Rhapsody at full volume in my usual tone deaf manner then lockdown or not I will be looking for alternative accommodation which I think is a little harsh. Secondly reconnect with nature. This one could be a bit hard depending on what the local authorities are imposing, but it can be done. If confined to the house take time out in the garden, encourage wildlife to come into the garden and watch them. Plant things and watch them grow. If possible go a walk in the park or woods (maintaining correct social distancing of course), go bird watching, fungi spotting it doesn’t really matter. Bonus points if you can combine this with doing some creative as this will allow you to enter a flow state. Sounds poncey but “it is the mental state in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by the complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting transformation in one’s sense of time” (Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, 1975). The benefits of this are that intense and focused concentration on the present moment that you become so totally engrossed in the experience to the extent that other needs or concerns become negligible and this makes you feel in control over a situation. Do this a few times a week and your mood will lift.

I’ve taken my own advice this week. As I said I’ve been laid up at home and not doing much so I hauled my carcass down to the Avon River a couple of times to photograph some birds in the dawn light. It was well worth it. Stalking birds and photographing them required too much concentration and I was able to forget about my own circumstances and the worries of the world and just enjoy being in the moment. It was so enjoyable that I’m going to get out and do some more over the next week.

 

Red-cap Dawn by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Red-capped Robin (Petroica goodenovii) in the dawn light. York, Western Australia. Olympus OM-D E-M1 with Panasonic Leica DG 100-400/F4.0-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/500 sec, f6.3 at ISO 1600.

 

Great Egret by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
A great egret (Ardea alba) hunting in the early morning light on the bank of the Avon River in York, Western Australia. Canon EOS 6d with Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/1000 sec, f7.1 at ISO 800.

 

Rufous Whistler by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
A male Rufous Whistler (Pachycephala rufiventris). York, Western Australia. Canon EOS 6d with Sigma 150-600mm lens. Exposure: 1/1000 sec, f6.3 at ISO 2000.

 

Right that’s me done I’m off to try and bake a lumberjack cake.

Spring Is Springing

Red Capped Robin by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Red Capped Robin, Petroica goodenovi, Avon Walk Trail, York, Western Australia. Panasonic G85 with Panasonic Leica 100-400mm f4-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/500 sec, f6.3 at ISO 1000 with -2/3 stop exposure compensation.

 

Tomorrow here in Western Australia is the first day of spring. I don’t think Mother Nature got the memo as the bush around York sprung into life a couple of weeks ago. Flowers are bursting into bloom and the birds are in a frenzy of nest building and dancing around trying to attract mates. This means that I have also sprung into action trying to document as much of thais activity as possible. The cameras are working over time.

 

Common Donkey Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
The unusual lutea or “yellow” form of the common donkey orchid (Diuris corymbosa). Talbot Hall, Western Australia. Canon EOS 6d with Canon EF 100mm f2.8 IS L macro lens. Exposure: 1/800 sec, f8 at ISO 400.

 

Green Spider Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Green Spider Orchid, also known as the Fringed Mantis Orchid (Caladenia falcata). Talbot Hall, Western Australia. Canon EOS 6d with Canon EF100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens. Exposure: 1/160 sec, f5.6 at ISO 400.

 

White Spider Orchids by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
White Spider Orchids, Caladenia longicauda, Wambyn Reserve, Western Australia. Canon EOS 6D with Canon EF100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens. Exposure: aperture priority with off camera flash 1/50 sec, f11 at ISO 100 with -1 stop exposure compensation.

 

Winter Donkey Orchid by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Winter Donkey Orchid, Diuris brumalis, Wambyn Reserve, Western Australia. Canon EOS 6d with Canon EF100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM lens. Exposure: 1/25 sec, f8 at ISO 100.

 

Brown Honeyeater by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Brown Honeyeater, Lichmera indistincta, Avon Walk Trail, York, Western Australia. Panasonic G85 with Panasonic LEICA DG 100-400/F4.0-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/500 sec, f13 at ISO 200 with -2/3 stop exposure compensation.

 

Western Whistler by Paul Amyes on 500px.com
Female Western Whistler, Pachycephala occidentalis,, Avon Walk Trail, York, Western Australia. Panasonic G85 with Panasonic LEICA DG 100-400/F4.0-6.3 lens. Exposure: 1/500 sec, f11 at ISO 200.