Thursday, March 30, 2006

All the stories

I have realized that it is about time I put all the links to the picture stories in one place. Fuzzball kindly did it for me, but I should do it here as well. I'll stick them all in this post, and later (when I am REALLY procrastinating, probably the day before classes start) I'll stick them in a sidebar. (I have to remember how to make a sidebar, first.)

So, here they are, starting from the embryo of the idea that started it all:

Bird Story.

There was something about the feet on the bird in that last picture that inspired me. Bird feet have that effect on me. They are unbearably cute, all spindly and vulnerable. When I see pigeons with a foot missing (why do so many pigeons have a foot missing? What happens to pigeons' missing feet? Where do they end up?) this feeling intensifies. When I saw a big blue heron with spindly feet (even though they look like quite TOUGH spindly feet), I felt all protective and concerned. This story started from the last picture. The heron did not want to get its precious, spindly, vulnerable feet wet. The egret admiring itself in the water provided a kick-off for the punchline (if you can call it that).

The second story, Bad Hair Day, started from the picture of the gull facing the wrong way and getting its feathers ruffled. This picture made me laugh. (It also made me think of ice cream, but that's probably just me.) The pictures I took the same day of the egret were not beautiful, as egrets usually are. In every shot it looked pissed off, and its feathers were all messy. Damn! I thought. I didn't get ANY good pictures of the egret. It was having a bad hair day.

And there it was. The bad hair day story.

Duck Olympics was the only story in which the pictures were taken on different days, although they were taken the same week. I had the ducks racing - I'd taken those on a Monday on my way to work. I looked at the shots and thought it looked like the motorboat races you see on Japanese TV, or perhaps a triathlon. But I didn't think they were blogworthy pictures. The ducks were too far away, although I was rather pleased at how clearly the carp showed.

A couple of days later the ducks were congregating at a certain point on the river, and had found something worth diving for, apparently. They were diving like mad. I thought it looked pretty funny how sometimes they dived at exactly the same time. Synchronised diving! I thought, and kept taking pictures. When I got home I found I'd caught some diving together (yes, I often don't notice until I get home what I have pictures of). I looked at the pictures, remembered the race on Monday, and the Duck Olympics were born. The gulls just happened to be there.

Sometimes I only know what's going on after the event.

Duck Olympics (cont) was obvious, once I'd figured out what was going on. I took a bunch of pictures of the crow, which was sitting on the fence alongside the river and calling and calling and CALLING. It just didn't let up, and it obviously was saying something terrifically important. If anybody has a use for another dozen or so pictures of a crow with its beak open, you're welcome to them. I've never seen a crow get so hysterical.

I didn't see what the egret had caught until I got the pictures blown up on the computer. I knew it had caught something, but didn't know what. Then I had to reconcile the egret catching something with the idea of DUCK Olympics. An egret isn't a duck! But in the end, that WAS the story. Egrets want medals, too.

(I still don't know what the duck caught but it wasn't nice, judging by his partner's reaction.)

Evolution was a no-brainer. I mean, really! There was the crow, cleaning up. (Actually it was dragging the plastic bag OUT, not IN, which is probably why it was cursing - but never mind! I reversed the pictures. Poetic licence.) I really thought I had seen a carp. It seemed to be a HUGE carp, which is why I was so surprised. I really did follow it, and really was surprised. And the bird really did levitate, apparently. It was a little further away than the story makes it seem, and I didn't SEE that it had levitated until I got home and looked at the pictures on the computer, but still. I wish I had a closer shot of it doing that, because it made me laugh. If I try to print that it will be ridiculously pixelated. It was too far away.

The bright orange teeth had to be the most surprising thing. I had never seen anything like it. It was kind of disappointing to discover that I had photographed a common pest and not some rare species. The other surprising thing is that after all my stalking carefully after it and so on an old man came up to the fence beside me and told me it had been hanging around the river for a month or so. Then he CALLED it. And it CAME.

So much for being a wild animal photographer. The bloody thing was TAME.

Intelligent Design followed on naturally after Evolution, and was the result of trying to take pictures after my last class when the light was fading, on a day when it had been raining. I do not know how to take photographs in bad light, and my hair goes silly on rainy days. All of the photos are crap. But I think the birds (and the coypu) had been reading the newspapers - that was when the whole teaching-ID-at-school thing was blowing up in the US. They really took it to heart.

Miracle was the result of my first foray down to the big river, which I hadn't visited in years. I had seen some cormorants down at the little river (and tried, and failed, to photograph them), but hadn't known that they congregated at the big river. Nor did I realize how many birds were down there. They seem to gather where the river meets the sea. What do you call that part of the river, the tidal area? I can't see the sea from there, but I can smell it.

The cat was up inside the bridge making a lot of echo-ey noises, and I stopped when I heard it, trying to figure out where it was. After I'd taken a few pictures I rode under the bridge and when I stopped to look back, there was the cat again. Except that this time it had a tail, and I was pretty sure that it didn't have a tail before. It wasn't until I got home and checked out my pictures that I could confirm this. Then everything else I'd photographed along the river that day made sense.

The Sinking Problem has my favourite ending. This is because the story was perfectly clear from the pictures I'd taken that day until I got to the ending. I didn't know how it was going to end. I also had a picture of the dog (which had really come up behind me and nuzzled my hand), and wanted to use it. It was a very cuddly dog.

I ate dinner, came back to my computer, looked at the dog picture, and it was clear to me that my story did not need an ending. It needed a dog. That was all. Who needs an ending when they can have a dog?

The Dance is perhaps my favourite story. At least it has my favourite line ("... the heron's head exploded"). When I looked at the pictures the story wrote itself - and not only that, it made me laugh while I was writing it. In practically every picture I'd taken the heron looked utterly bizarre. Professional nature photographers take pictures of animals and birds looking natural and beautiful (and how more beautiful can you get than a heron, for goodness' sakes?), but when I take photos they seem to make an effort to look as strangely deformed as possible. Do professional nature photographers edit a lot, or is it only me that the animals do this to?

The Diving Lesson was also obvious when I looked at the pictures. It was such a STRANGE place for the cormorant to be diving, and why was the egret there? I only had to think for a moment to understand what was going on.

In The Contest I wasn't quite sure what was going on at first. Why were all the birds looking the same way? What were the gulls diving for? Why were the fish jumping? Why did the heron look so mad? Why was the egret embarrassed?

The wee dog explained it all, at length. I had to interpret it from doggie language, though.

The Game was another obvious one. I thought I had no interesting pictures that day. The heron was washing, and the gulls were watching. It wasn't until I got home that I understood what the gulls were REALLY up to. They were sneaky about it, but it was pretty clear when I looked at the pictures.

So, there you have it. All the stories in one post. I don't know if I'll have time to get to the big river again before classes start, and whether there will be more stories or not. I'm sure they are happening, but I might not be able to find time to record what is happening.

But I'll do my best.

Addendum: Q.E.D. has now been added. This was a last desperate attempt to pretend classes weren't starting in under a week.

Addendum 2: Conversion, Motherhood and Manners have been added.


Anonymous said...

I read them over again, and they're still as great! =)

btw, the last one, 'The Game', is incorrectly linked to 'The Diving Lesson'. ;)

Bill C said...

Nicely done. And these commentaries enhance the posts; I like getting this kind of behind-the-camera look.

Now I know where to send people when recommending a visit here.

Badaunt said...

Fallensnow: THANK YOU. I've fixed it. I've also added in The Contest, which I'd somehow managed to miss entirely.

Fuzzball said...

ACK! There are two that I missed! I will add them immediately. ;)

Bart Treuren said...

i like it when somebody shouts duck and everybody hits the floor, you hear a sniggered quack in the background :P

kenju said...

Thanks for putting all the links in the same post. I am sure to read them again and again; they always bring a smile.

Katy said...

I'm so excited every time I see one of your stories--they make me laugh out loud. Thank you!

Also, if you put them into a book and got it published, I would buy it. I think lots of other people would too.