My apologies for the severe lack of updates this week! My Honours thesis is due in five weeks and it is really kicking my butt (I live and breathe it right now). I’ll have more posts up soon, but in the mean time here’s a quick photo from my trip to Lamington National Park a couple of weekends ago. This weekend I’m heading off to Byron Bay so one day, when I have the time to edit my photos, I’ll have a lot of pictures to share!
After a weekend away to Lamington National Park, mostly technology-free, I’ve been left longing for the rainforest and the clean air as I’ve spent most of this week stuck in my office running data analyses. Also I’m thinking of changing this into just a links list – much more interesting that way. And on a Sunday.
Reads & Links
- I would be lying if I said I never wanted to travel to volunteer. The idea touted by many that you can give back while also receiving is one that makes you feel good in a completely ego-stroking way. This article, Instagramming Africa, is a really good discussion about rising voluntourism.
- Storytelling is one of the oldest human traditions, and these words by author Zadie Smith on storytelling are quite lovely: Sometimes I think my whole professional life has been based on this hunch I had, early on, that many people feel just as muddled as I do, and might be happy to tag along with me on this search for clarity, for precision.
- “At the end of the day, you can’t really exploit a robot the way you can a person.” A really fascinating article by Rob Horning on capitalism and exploitation of the emotional work. With the rise of machines making work previously done by humans easier, faster, and cheaper, Horning argues that a greater emphasis is placed on jobs that require some knowledge of human emotion: being able to read it and display it. Because of this, being able to successfully fake “genuine” human interaction makes you a viable asset. Really interesting read.
- This criticism of the “Do what you love, love what you do” adage is one many people need to hear. “If we believe that working as a Silicon Valley entrepreneur or a museum publicist or a think-tank acolyte is essential to being true to ourselves — in fact, to loving ourselves — what do we believe about the inner lives and hopes of those who clean hotel rooms and stock shelves at big-box stores? The answer is: nothing.” The other argument in this article is how this attitude also works against those in ‘Do what you love’ careers: you end up putting in a lot of work for little money.
- There’s a woman in Italy who dives into the sea to collect silk from oysters, then spins it into golden thread. It’s all true.
One day, once my thesis is complete and I have more spare time than I know how to fill, I am going to trawl through 7+ months of images taken at one of my favourite places in the world, Sundown NP. One day, I’m going to find all the photos I took when the light was too beautiful for me to turn away from. One day, I’m going to post them all online and hope they can capture what I felt as I stood there, day-in/day-out, bathed in the warm glow of the rising sun in the morning and saying goodnight to the hills in the evening. And eventually, one day, I’m going to get back there and take more photographs. But for now, this one image will have to do.
I keep intending to come up with catchy titles for these posts, but then my brain fails me and all I’m left with is the boring (albeit informative), “This week, [date]” format. Anyway, this week has brought forth summer into Queensland, not with a whimper, but with a bang. One day we were sitting comfortably in cardigans; the next, we were sweltering under 28 degree heat and wondering why we continue to live in this place with the burning sun (okay, maybe that last one was just me). At least I’d spent the weekend at my parents’ house in a city on a mountain, so I escaped the heat for a couple of days at least. The onset of summer always makes me think of travel, whether it be that the heat reminds me of south-east Asia (where I have been habitually taking off to every summer for the past few years) or just a need to get away from it, but my trigger finger made me book flights on Monday. Only to Sydney, in January next year, but enough to satiate me for now. Anything to save money for the big trip I have planned for next year…
Reads & Links
- I finished reading Good Omens (by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett) this week, and boy oh boy. Before I’d even finished it had earned itself a place on my ‘will reread’ tier. I don’t know what it was about the book, but some combinations of the characters and the turns-of-phrase had me enthralled from the beginning. Honestly, I could have read 400+ pages just of Crowley and Aziraphale’s adventures around London and been just as satisfied (in fact, does that exist anywhere?).
- Climate change. How bad is it? Not sure, but we can try and make the impact a lot less. And the impact is probably going to be huge – it already is.
- This is an article I read a while ago after I finished reading Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch and went searching for others who disliked the book like I did. Somehow it found it’s way to me again and, a year later, I reread the article and still find it a really interesting discussion on literary criticism, especially by the kinds of people who consider, to paraphrase the Stephen King speech mentioned in the article, being out-of-touch with society a source of pride.
- Buying organic can make you feel good about doing good for the environment, but is it really the best choice? Studying the degree that I do, I’ve always had conflicting views on the organic vs. GMO debate (there’s pros and cons for both, including environmental benefits of growing GMOs, just in case you were wondering), and this article basically confirms that.
- Can we teach science with fiction? I shamelessly copy-pasted the title of that article to start this point, but there’s really no better way to sum it up. The idea of integrating science into fiction books seems such an obvious (and, if taught properly in schools, an easy) one, and such a great way to make science seem less scary and boring and more of what it is – an interesting and fun lifelong pursuit of knowledge! And it’s more creative than you can ever imagine it being.
❝ My advice is very simple; if you want something, work your ass off for it. I try not to tell them, ‘as long as you believe in your dreams it will come true’, because the reality is that you really need to work hard for it. But if you do, it is going to come true. ❞ – Camille Leblanc Bazinet
Photographing at night is something I’ve been trying to learn to do for a long time. I love the way light comes into play even more than during the day, how it isolates and illuminates. It feels more like playing with inclusion rather than exclusion and I find it a really fun challenge to work with pinpricks of light instead of a world flooded with it during the day. Since I’m also not very comfortable shooting with flash, trying to use only the unmovable artificial light found randomly at night is really good practice, I find, for also photographing during the day and looking for ways to make light work best for me and my photographs.
If anyone has any tips for photographing at night (without supplying my own lighting/flash/etc) please let me know!
Back in 2010, I took my first steps on foreign soil in Egypt. A few days later I put my feet in foreign water as we spent a few days sailing down to Nile from Cairo to Luxor on feluccas.
It rained the first afternoon, causing an emergency pull-over on the banks of the river much to our amusement, and we watched the sun set of Cairo city as we danced the night away in a nearby Nubian village.
Eventually the skies cleared and we made it to Luxor, but not before we had a great adventure, dancing on the riverbanks at night, being rocked to sleep by the water, feeling the sting of salty air, and dipping in and out of the Nile to keep ourselves cool.
This week my kangaroo photo made ‘Animal Pictures of the Week’ for the Daily Telegraph (UK) online! I’m pretty sure I talk about this photo a lot (#sorrynotsorry) but it’s an exciting time for me. I also went to see the World Press Photo ’15 exhibition that was in town. Some absolutely amazing shots; the ones below particularly tore at my heart, as did many others. I’ve also been taking in photos from my field mates, who left yesterday to go back to the field without me (since my fieldwork is now finished). Slightly jealous (okay, very jealous). I’ll just be living vicariously through them from now on!
Reads & Links
- What can a pregnant photojournalist cover? Everything. War photojournalist Lynsey Addario writes about her time being pregnant and still taking assignments in risky areas. This was adapted from part of her book, which I am now really keen to get my hands on. Such a great and fascinating read.
- This week I also read a fairly lengthy article on a designer at Apple. It was an overall interesting sort-of insight into how design at Apple works – or, at least, the man behind it. I definitely felt like it was one of those articles that tricks you into thinking you now know a lot more about the inner workings of a big company, when in reality all you got was a few descriptions of the very literal interior of the building. In all honesty, though, they spent a lot of the article praising Ive for his design innovations, and yet my phone battery is currently dead because yet another charger has broken. You all know exactly where it broke, too. I don’t care about having a phone with rounder edges right now if someone could please just fix the damn charger!
- If I Die On Mars… I watched this video a little while ago, but found it again this week and it still holds the same fascination for me as it did when I first saw it. I study behaviour in non-human animals, so it’s not a far reach for psychology to pull me in. Getting an insight into the kind of people who are willing to spend the rest of their lives living on a different, inhospitable planet, and their reasons for wanting to do so, captures my attention immensely.
- Another fun little video that’s been circulating my Facebook newsfeed this week is one of a football player’s ridiculously positive attitude towards the game. Such an uplifting motivational pick-me-up!
❝ Now is the time to get serious about living your ideals. How long can you afford to put off who you really want to be? Your nobler self cannot wait any longer. Put your principles into practice – now. Stop the excuses and the procrastination. This is your life! You aren’t a child anymore. The sooner you set yourself to your spiritual program, the happier you will be. The longer you wait, the more you’ll be vulnerable to mediocrity and feel filled with shame and regret, because you know you are capable of better. From this instant on, vow to stop disappointing yourself. Separate yourself from the mob. Decide to be extraordinary and do what you need to do – now. ❞ – Epictetus, The Art of Living
With the start of my fieldwork for my Honours project in a national park only four hours drive from where I live, I began to realise that there was a serious number of national parks within driving distance of me. I also realised that in my six years of living in south east Queensland I had visited maybe only three of them – this in spite of my prolific love for all things nature and rainforest. This discovery also occurred around the same time that I was going stir crazy, stuck in the same city for weeks at a time. Unsurprisingly, my brain put these facts together and I decided to start making better use of my weekends by using them to get away. So about a month ago I drove back from Sundown and my field work, spent one night in the city (and my new house), and left again the next morning for another national park.
Admittedly, I’ve been to the Bunya Mountains before. Twice, in fact. Both were academic-related trips, though (once for high school biology and once for a university assignments on wallabies), so it was really time I went there purely for leisure. And my parents were going and invited me; I couldn’t say no to that!
I managed to convince my parents to do a quick walk down to a waterfall, but after I got into the rainforest there was really no getting me out, so we split up. I continued around the 4km return track while they headed back to the house to relax and warm up by the fire (it’s winter here: it was rainy and cold, I don’t blame them). The walk didn’t take too long – around two hours total (but I walk fast and stop to take a lot of photos, so times may vary), but the track was very muddy and slippery since it had rained the night before.
I didn’t have time to do that 10km return track (with multiple detours off to look outs and waterfalls), but I want to go back one day and do it! In my now three visits to the Bunya Mountains I’ve never managed to make it there, but I have done the same 4km track each time and I have to say I still love it. If long walks aren’t your thing, there are two smaller tracks (500m and 750m, I think) that don’t take very long and are still quite pretty to walk on. And the path is a bit sturdier.
I was cursing myself for not having binos to watch the birds with, but even without I managed to spot a whip bird, a male satin bowerbird, kookaburras, brush turkeys (of course), and some male superb fairy wrens. I’m not really a birder, but they were just so pretty and fun to listen to!
Confession: I think trees are really cool. Some animal biologists are into reptiles, some insects, some are into birds, some are all about the marine… my biological side-interest is trees. I can’t help it though; they’re just so cool! I mean, oh my god, look at that buttress.
Now I’m just back in the office, but I still have a few local weekends away planned to keep me sane while I finish up my data analysis and writing my thesis so I can graduate (again) and figure out how to do life in the real world!
If anyone has any suggestions for places I need to visit in south east Queensland (especially ones you can’t really find online) please let me know! Does anyone else have a secret (or not so secret) obsession with rainforests?
I’ll admit it: I’m a sucker for funny animal photos. After spending two weeks of each month for seven months at a field site with kangaroos, I have several hundred files worth of amusing kangaroo pictures that I look back at and laugh about. One day I’ll compile them all here for a quick-access-to-funny-photos post to remember them by, but for now here’s some shots of my girl Enid messing around!
(P.S. I mentioned these in last week’s summary post – Enid’s become a little bit popular!)