A whole dif­fer­ent world

LifeStyle Wimmera - - INSIDE - By Sarah Scully

Ru­pa­nyup’s Ian Mor­gan likens his love of bird watch­ing to that of a more pop­u­lar Wim­mera past-time – fish­ing. “Some peo­ple are keen on fish­ing, I’m just keen on birds,” he said.

“At least I can see what I’m af­ter most times.

“And, un­like fish­er­man, I don’t tell sto­ries about the ones I missed…”

Ian, 74, started pho­tograph­ing bird wildlife in the mid 1970s, but his fas­ci­na­tion with the sub­ject started at a young age.

“I’ve been in­ter­ested in birds since I was a kid. Don’t ask me why, it’s just one of those things,” he said.

“As a kid I was al­ways fas­ci­nated with get­ting as close to birds as I could, just to get a good look at them.

“I sup­pose photography was just an ex­ten­sion of that, when it’s all said and done.

“I oc­ca­sion­ally take pho­tos of other things if some­thing catches my eye, but about 95 per­cent of my pho­tos are of birds.”

Ian said he liked how pho­to­graphs al­lowed him to see the del­i­cate­ness of a sub­ject.

“Binoc­u­lars don’t do them jus­tice some­times,” he said.

“Some of the feath­er­ing on some of the birds is spec­tac­u­lar.”

Ian has never had for­mal photography train­ing, per­fect­ing his craft through ad­vice from friends and trial and er­ror.

He said he pre­ferred not to com­pli­cate things.

“I stick to the ba­sics when I try to take pho­tos and it usu­ally works out bet­ter than if you muck around too much,” he said.

“Cam­eras are like com­put­ers now. There’s so many things on them and a lot of them don’t make a ma­jor dif­fer­ence any­way.

“You just can’t beat good days to take pho­tos, no mat­ter what. If it is cloudy, some­times you’ll still have a go, be­cause there might be a bird you haven’t seen be­fore and you might not get an­other chance.

“But you can’t beat nice, fine, sunny weather.”

Ian said ad­vances in tech­nol­ogy had changed the game.

“You couldn’t go out and take 1000 pho­tos in a day with a film cam­era, it’s just too ex­pen­sive,” he said.

“Dig­i­tal cam­eras have changed the scene com­pletely.”

Ian said al­though dig­i­tal cam­eras al­lowed him to take more pho­to­graphs, he was still a stick­ler for qual­ity over quan­tity.

“It de­pends on the stan­dard you set for your­self,” he said.

“Some peo­ple are happy with things I wouldn’t be happy with. I’m prob­a­bly a bit fussy.

“I might take 1000 pho­tos on one day and then I don’t think any are any good.

“Then on other days you might get a few pho­tos you’re pleased with.

“It is good to nail it.”

Ian pooled his knowl­edge and skills with his sis­ter and brother-in-law, Ma­ree and Gra­ham Goods, to pro­duce a book, Birds and Plants of the Lit­tle Desert.

He speaks about his ex­pe­ri­ences and show­cases his work dur­ing speak­ing en­gage­ments sev­eral times a year.

Ian said the Wim­mera had 266 recorded bird species.

“It rep­re­sents 30-odd per­cent of all the birds in Aus­tralia. It’s a pretty good ad for the Wim­mera, as far as birds are con­cerned,” he said.

“We’ve got a huge range of habi­tat in the Wim­mera. We’re lucky.”

Ian said his ad­vice to bud­ding bird en­thu­si­asts was sim­ple:

“You’ve got to get out there,” he said. “There’s no point sit­ting in­side or sit­ting in the of­fice.

“You’ve got to be out there look­ing – the more you’re out there the more you’ll see.

“That’s the ad­van­tage of me be­ing a farmer – if I just go down the paddock, some­times I will see some­thing quite in­ter­est­ing.

“Other peo­ple, be­cause they’re not in­ter­ested, wouldn’t take any no­tice.

“If you’re in­ter­ested in birds, then in a sense, you’re bird watch­ing nearly all the time.”

Ian said he had four or five favourite birds he could not re­sist pho­tograph­ing over and over again, in­clud­ing the Ma­jor Mitchell cock­a­too.

He said some of the birds he came across were quite en­gag­ing.

“They be­come in­quis­i­tive and if you sit down qui­etly, it’s amaz­ing how they’ll come over and have a look at you,” he said.

“It’s magic. I’ve al­ways been able to to­tally re­lax when I get out there. It’s a whole dif­fer­ent world.

“Cer­tainly, since I’ve lost my wife Jan­ice, it’s been a big help, be­cause you can just get out there and for­get ev­ery­thing. You can just con­cen­trate on what you’re do­ing.

“Some peo­ple get a bit dis­ap­pointed if they go out and don’t see any­thing, but I never do. It’s part of the deal and part of the ex­pe­ri­ence. If you miss it today, you might get it next time.”

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