Apple iPhone is birdsong to my ears

by Naomi on August 25, 2010

in Blogging, Wildlife

This blogging world is super cool. What a great way to discover new things and interact with awesome people around the world. Last week, we were horrified to learn about the fatbooth iPhone app, which appallingly adds weight to an ordinary mug shot. This was thanks to an excellent post by Agrigirl: It’s Only Funny Until Someone Gets Hurt. Take a look – honestly, seeing is believing! Tammy mentioned more apps, inspiring me to investigate and, quite frankly, take my iPhone more seriously πŸ™‚

My number one app, though, is Sasol eBirds. Dave, being my personal techno-wiz, loaded it for me (if it weren’t for him, I’d have an ancient Nokia). So, if I’m feeling like a bush fix in the middle of Jo’burg, I simply tap in, close my eyes and listen to a few calls. Within a virtual moment, I’m lounging in the luxury of the African wild. Of course, when literally there, we have the bonus of identifying birds and reading all about them.

Or even engaging in conversation, such as recently at Welgevonden. A Mocking Cliff-chat (impressive bird knowledge courtesy of our friends who are accomplished birders) took a shine to the lodge bar. Whipping out the iPhones, we returned its warbling (“loud, melodious mixture of mimicked bird song”). It’s so delightful that I’m going to share it with you – via my iPhone, Sasol eBirds app, and WordPress’ brilliant Post by Voice feature πŸ™‚

First, though, I’ve included a photo above, and here are two more of birds that have my all-time favourite calls. These are the Woodland Kingfisher, abundant in the Waterberg during summer:

WOODLAND KINGFISHER - Welgevonden Game Reserve, Waterberg, South Africa

. . . and the African Fish Eagle. It occurs here in South Africa, but is a more common resident of the Okavango Delta in Botswana:

FISH EAGLE TAKING OFF - Khwai River, Okavango Delta, Botswana

Now, for the audio of all three . . . ENJOY!

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

cindy August 25, 2010 at 6:05 pm

I imagine the forren visitors will just love listening to this. I worked on the Distell advertising account on their Fish Eagle brandy and the sound of that bird will always bring special memories to mind.
Lovely post Naomi, well done on mastering the audio post thingy … I am a bit scared to try it.
(I recently rang a friend and the domestic answered. I left my phone number and the woman said “Ek sal se sy moet die baas terug bel …” Evidently, I sound like a man!)

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Naomi August 25, 2010 at 7:37 pm

Thanks, Cin…LOL! I’m sure you don’t sound like a man, and it would be cool to hear your voice on your blog πŸ™‚

Never heard of Fish Eagle brandy (much prefer wine πŸ™‚ ) so googled it quickly. That must’ve been a great account to work on, and yes, unforgettable!

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nrhatch August 25, 2010 at 10:19 pm

This forrener enjoyed the audio! Thanks, Naomi.

I agree with Cin ~ this is a marvelous use of an audio post. And I love the way you sound.

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Naomi August 27, 2010 at 2:43 pm

Thank you, Nancy, you’re a honey! It would be lovely to hear you too πŸ™‚

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Paula August 25, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Oh, Naomi! The pleasures of your site! I am filled with awe, and I confess some envy for the talent of both you and Dave! Tell me please what sort of camera Dave uses. Since I am so limited (only a point and shoot – remember, I’m a beginner!) – I am interested in knowing what my next camera purchase should be. It will definitely be an SLR because I want some quality telephoto capabilities. How on earth does he get his bird pics? I have been totally unable to get close enough to catch anything but a blur, even though I have tons of patience and am willing to wait them out. Birds are my next big photography project (after butterflies, which have been much more accommodating!), but I’m afraid I will have to wait for better equipment, even though I should not use that as my excuse. I’m hoping time will improve my skills. (I just started this past April).

Your wonderful site inspires me – both in writing and photography. I also confess to being a dedicated fan of Alexander McCall Smith and his wonderful Botswana-set tales about Mma Precious Ramotswe and her #1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. It gives me vicarious pleasure to read of this beautiful country, and to read your own stories and see the pictures of the continent I have dreamed for a lifetime of visiting!

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for giving me such immense pleasure, and I am humbled that you have been so kind in visiting mine! Any advice is always appreciated. BTW – you can do my next profile pic! (Unfortunately, I am about as far from being photogenic as it is possible to be!)

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Naomi August 25, 2010 at 8:02 pm

Thanks so much for such a wonderful comment, Paula! You’re a darling, and talented yourself! Please bear in mind that we’ve been shooting, and building up the photographic arsenal, for many years πŸ™‚

Dave uses a Nikon D3. He has astonishingly steady hands, particularly with action shots. Leaves me speechless sometimes, knowing exactly how hard it is. Having been a professional motorbike racer, his reflexes are honed, and he has great upper-body strength, which is all part of it πŸ™‚

His advice on equipment is to buy the best you can afford, but warns that it’s a very expensive hobby! It’s all in the glass, so top quality lenses are essential. Depending on your budget, the D300s is excellent. That’s what I mostly shoot with, as it’s smaller and lighter than the D3. He reckons your best zoom lens, again if you can afford it, is the Nikon 80 – 400mm. There are many less expensive options, of course, and Canon is great too. We just happen to be die hard Nikon people πŸ™‚

Thanks for mentioning Alexander McCall Smith’s stories, which I’ll look out for. This is a stunning place to visit, so I hope you get here one day. I would gladly do your profile pic, if only we could manage that via optic fibre, LOL. I have total confidence that it would be beautiful!!

We’re presssed for time right now – going on a Photoshop skills course tomorrow (also highly recommended), so I’ll visit your lovely site again ASAP!

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Paula August 25, 2010 at 8:34 pm

Rather than purchase Photoshop, my brother recommended to me an excellent (FREE download) clone called GIMP 2.0. So far it is beyond my ken to understand, so probably doing some sort of “hands on” course would be helpful, which I will definitely look for.

If I can’t get to Africa, perhaps you could come visit the beautiful Smoky Mountains here in western North Carolina? You are invited to stay with us and enjoy some of the incredible beauty of this part of the world!

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Naomi August 25, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Thank you, Paula! We have wonderful friends and work associates in North Carolina (at Hills of Africa Travel), so you just never know πŸ™‚ We went skiing in Breckenridge a couple of years ago and loved the USA. It’s definitely on the list to visit again.

I’ve never heard of GIMP, but it sounds brilliant, especially if it’s free! Thanks for mentioning it & have a fabulous rest of your day πŸ™‚

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nrhatch August 25, 2010 at 10:24 pm

I love Alexander McCall Smith’s stories of Precious and her detective agency! He also wrote one set in Scotland which was quite lovely.

I also love the Great Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Parkway! Beautiful vistas.

What a wonderful world . . . when we keep our eyes open long enough to notice its enchanting beauty.

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Naomi August 27, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Must definitely put those on my list…both the books and the place!

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souldipper August 26, 2010 at 9:00 am

Thanks, Naomi, for putting all of that together. Thinking of birds in the world, their wide spectrum of colour and beauty is only the beginning. How can those millions of tiny beaks give so many varied and awe-inspiring sounds with a simple, little puff of air?

My friend from California studied Photoshop. He just showed me some of the work he has done, using Photoshop, on photos I sent him. They now look amazingly better – with clarity and colour. However, how do I deal with my purist attitude? Is it an issue with you? Perhaps I need to shake up my teckie ‘tartiness’!

The wife of a very well know Canadian Artist, Robert Bateman, whose name is Birgid, is a tremendous photographer: http://www.birgitbateman.com/ While looking at one of her photos of fish in a barrel in Thailand, I was shocked that it appeared to be a painting. It was not printed with a giclee technique. Thankfully, she came up beside me and I was able to boldly ask if this was a Photoshop technique. “Heaven’s no!” she declared. We pledged to remain pure.

I’m certain I would modify my pledge if I was to take the Photoshop course and knew how to use it to advantage. Perhaps I’m even a little fearful I would renege and say, “What’s the difference? It’s either in camera or in the presentation.”

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Naomi August 27, 2010 at 3:06 pm

In awe of birds too, Amy, thanks for your lovely comment πŸ™‚

As for the Eternal Question…one thing seems generally agreed upon: a poor image will never become a brilliant one, no matter the amount of processing. So the critical thing is still to capture the best shot you can. Personally, I believe Photoshop has a rightful place in the digital process. Pretty much any image can be enhanced with a little tweaking, subtly done. That’s the nature of the format. So really, why not? Unless you’re participating in a purist competition of sorts. There are of course creatives who lift this to the level of art, and I take my hat off to them. We were in lectures with just such a bunch yesterday. Some of the possible effects are simply mind-blowing. Dave and I tend to do minimal retouching, but they got us questioning if it’s time to be more adventurous, even if only for the fun of it!

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souldipper August 28, 2010 at 7:12 am

I will enjoy watching the process unfold. Very fascinating. Harv told me today that the fact that I use Picasa has me on the road to improving already. And I am going to peek at Gimp 2.0. XO

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Naomi August 28, 2010 at 10:23 am

Awesome, Amy. I’m sure you’ll get into this . . . onward and upward πŸ™‚

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Paula August 28, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Picasa has been fine for me, so far, but I am beginning to get a bit frustrated with it, if not also with my own photos! I am starting to work with GIMP 2.0, but I still find the “do you know your ass from your lens?” question a bit hard to answer! πŸ˜€

Next question – do you use alRAW images, or do you opt for JPG. It is much easier to transmit and send JPG’s, but my understanding is that you have much more control over your photo with RAW, as JPG gives your camera most of the control. I also understand that you must have special software for transposing RAW to JPG format after manipulating your photo. (Are all digital cameras, SLR’s as well as point and shoot, capable of shooting in the RAW format?)

I believe that there is room for both the purists and the manipulators (of which so far I definitely am!). Art is an expression of your own vision. For visual artists, that means that however you get your idea on canvas or photopaper is representative of the creative process. I don’t see it as “cheating,” I see it as an extension of an artist’s tools, and the better the artist, the better s/he employs those tools.

I’m dreaming. . .(some of that dream is coming up with the US$4,000+ it would take to get a new Nikon D3!)

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Naomi August 28, 2010 at 6:48 pm

LOL…thanks for all that input, Paula! Good luck with GIMP – I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it soon, and keep on visualizing that D3! You will love it! I’m totally with you on the whole art concept. Whatever works for the artist πŸ™‚

Dave’s not here for techie reference right now, but as far as I know most (not all) non-DSLR cameras don’t accomodate the RAW format. This may be partly because of the software required to capture and convert to the more usable JPEG’s. Dave mainly shoots in RAW, because it’s higher resolution and yes, you do have greater control over the image, in terms of manipulation as well as output formats. Adobe revealed the other day that their new software does some very nifty stuff on JPEG’s too, though, as of the latest version.

But it all depends on your requirements and preferences. I shoot JPEG in studio because the files process much faster, so the images appear almost in real-time onto the computer screen for models to view and select. Also, for the type of shoots I’m doing, the images won’t be printed to bill-board size. For professional advertising work, RAW is best. As far as general photography goes, JPEG is usually fine, as long as you get your camera settings right. This saves a lot of processing and conversion time, which is always cool.

Either way, thanks for all the conversation about photography. It’s wonderful to share the passion!!

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