<< Previous Next >>

Car Starter

Car Starter
Photo Information
Copyright: John Plumb (JPlumb) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 618 W: 158 N: 896] (2904)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-10-28
Categories: Birds
Camera: Nikon D200, Nikkor AF Micro 105 mm f/2.8
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/180 seconds
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2008-03-13 17:03
Viewed: 6959
Favorites: 2 [view]
Points: 52
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
Imagine you are in your car, and the engine is running, very quietly. So quiet in fact that you forget its running, and you turn the key in the ignition, not once, but two or three times. You grimace, then forget about it. Five minutes later you do it again, only it’s louder this time. You grimace, then forget about it. This happens several times, until you wake up out of your dream and realize it wasn’t you starting the car it was the Red Wattlebird (Anthochaera carunculata) giving you his early morning wake up call. These raucous sounding birds are what first greet many Australians on the southern mainland, first thing in the morning. If there was a contest for the most horrible sounding bird, I would put this one forward. They’re not the most beautiful either. They do have their purpose however. They are honeyeaters, in fact one of the larger ones to be found in Australia, stretched out like this, up to 35 cm long. They feed on nectar, which they obtain by probing flowers with their thin curved bill and their highly developed brush-tipped tongues. The tongue is flicked repeatedly into a flower, the upper mandible then compressing any liquid out when the bill is closed. As well as nectar they will feed on insects, berries and small seed.

Not only do these birds sound nasty, but they can be very aggressive with other birds. They are very territorial, and will chase others from a tree that they have claimed as their own. These birds have a couple of nicknames (other than Car Starter which was my assignment). They have been called Barkingbirds and Gillbirds, for very clear reasons. I am not sure what the red wattle is for, this wasn’t mentioned in any of the literature I reviewed, but it is very distinctive, as can be seen in the shot.

They will raise one or two broods in a breeding season, which extends from July to December. Both sexes may share in the incubation duties, but often the female is left to do this on her own, (I can just hear the chatter over that statement). Both parents feed the two or three young, which leave the nest 15 days after hatching.

Much of this from: http://www.amonline.net.au/factSheets/red_wattlebird.htm and
Sound File from: http://www.birdsinbackyards.net/images/audio/anthochaera-carnunculata.mp3
ID from: Simpson K. and Day N. (2004), Field Guide to the Birds of Australia, Penguin Books, Camberwell

In this shot the bird was feeding on a Grass-tree (Xanthorrhoea glauca), which I’ll talk more of in a future post with a better shot showing the whole plant. There were several of them after this food, and while they took off immediately when I got in position for a shot, they came back to give me several decent opportunities. I shot this at the Canberra Botanical Gardens; normally when I see them in Sydney, they are not quite as bold as this. With the nature of the shot, i.e. the long bird stretched out along the long stalk of the grass-tree, I thought it suited a vertical long post. TN members are invited to have a look.

Workflow for this shot was as follows:
The shoot – shot in Raw with Jpeg reference (105 mm ISO 400 f5.6 1/180)
NEF file adjusted for exposure and shadow, and vignetting
Levels – tweaked manually – slight (disabled on small post)
Curves - adjusted RGB for contrast – s-curve
Dodged and Burned with overlay layer (5-10% opacity white and black)
Added saturation layer +25 to master
Saved as a tiff
for this post cropped for vertical post, resized, reduced noise in background, created a new layer, inversed selection, selectively sharpened, framed and saved as a large post jpeg
For smaller post backed up to the noise reduction stage, reselected on plant and bird, selectively sharpened, disabled levels, framed and saved as a small post jpeg

NinaM, writerscrawlz, timonejoon, rcrick, jusninasirun, jeanpaul, uleko, ellis49, fthsm, Necipp, maurydv, kaustubh10, pauljk, vhemmati, lgfoto, mlines, pierrefonds, Argus, rousettus, smitha has marked this note useful
Only registered TrekNature members may rate photo notes.
Add Critique [Critiquing Guidelines] 
Only registered TrekNature members may write critiques.
ThreadThread Starter Messages Updated
To waylim: If Points Were Only MoneyJPlumb 2 03-14 18:04
You must be logged in to start a discussion.

Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • NinaM Gold Star Critiquer [C: 773 W: 3 N: 1157] (4077)
  • [2008-03-13 17:32]

What a good idea to have framed this picture vertically and what a peculiar bird. Ouf, your description is sensational and I can hardly imagine myself waking up to that sound, even worse, my neighbour who shoots crows because they wake him up... ;-) The bird is beautiful though, I like the long red flapping wings under the chin and it almost looks like a road runner. I am sure that going to Australia is a fantastic trip, seeing all those different animals and plants. Thank you John,


Your notes are very detailed and helpful. While not the prettiest bird, they do have an interesting look about them. The color of their eyes remind me of junior Ospreys before their eyes turn color for good. Nice framing here and good pov. The background works nicely since it brings the subject more into focus.

Hi John

:))) i never heard of this kind of sound, it is funny and very intresting. I like this kind of pics with intresting informations and very nice details and also perfect compositions.perfect.
well done

Hi John,
Brilliant shot mate, the vertical crop is just perfect, amazing detail, stunning colors, really good work, love the LP too, all the best Cheers Rick :)

I hope you get over a hundred points for this, not that you care. Excellent shot. Sharpness, clarity, color brightness, contrast, saturation and ect., technically, everything is perfect. For showing us the very rarely seen bird and flower, earned an extra point from me. Thank you so much for posting. I like the frame, would like to see more of different shots of the same bird and flower. One of my favorite but I won’t mark it, not my habit to do so. Great info too.

  • Great 
  • Mana Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1772 W: 36 N: 5597] (18598)
  • [2008-03-13 21:26]

Hi John,
Wonderful profile shot of this beautiful Red Whattlebird with outstanding details, colours and sharpness on its plumage. Those red gills really look interesting and majestic. What a fantastic perch it is on too! It looks fully stretched trying to suck nectar which process you have described so elaborately. Perfect lighting and DOF with excellent POV and composition. Kudos.

  • Great 
  • Jamesp Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
  • [2008-03-13 23:35]

Hi John

Great POV and framing here - it really emphasises the length of the bird. The flower head really helps the effect. Great detail throughout.


Hello John. I have never seen this bird before and I have never heard of such description of the sound they are making. The note is very well written and it is news to me.
The picture is well cropped in vertical format showing the length of the bird and the texture of the perched subject. I like the sharpness in your bird capture. The vivid details of the plumage is flawless. Well managed depth in keeping the background blurry. What makes it more interesting is the lens that you use without any extension or converter. Hard for me to imagine the closeness that you actually get to the bird. Very well done and I guess birds are more fond with you than me :-)
Best regards. Jusni

Hi John

Je crois que c'est la premiêre fois que je vois ce bel oiseau sur le site.
Comme toujouts tu nous présente des sujets très intéressants, composition et détails mangitiques.
Merci et au revoir...JP

great captuire and great composition, TFS Ori

  • Great 
  • uleko Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 3396 W: 172 N: 3310] (10940)
  • [2008-03-14 6:34]

Hello John,
Superb capture of thie Wattlebird in a fine composition and nicely framed. Very sharp details and beautiful colours. I'd love to hear it even though it's noisy! Good note too!
TFS and regards, Ulla

Hi John.
this is a great LP-version, one of the best so far, pity that
I can't twist my monitor.
Very good sharpness and fine details. well seen in the large version. Lovely colors with nice light and good POV.
Maybe it's a wee bit tight but as we have a limit for LP-version so it's nothing.
Great work.

  • Great 
  • fthsm Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 172 W: 56 N: 512] (3689)
  • [2008-03-14 7:57]

I liked the sounds description :)
Interesting framing, a very detailed photo, I also liked the light. TFS

Hello John,
Very good image. Well composed. Extraordinary bird.

Hello John, a very sharp shot, a creative composition and v. good shot technically. Superb focusing, I've never seen anything like it. Congrats for capturing an unusual shot, well done. tfs Rgds Necip

Splendida immagine, spettacolare composizione, eccellenti dettagli e magnifici colori. Grazie e complimenti. Ciao Maurizio

Hi John,

Nice vertical composition, suits so well with the bird.
You've capture this bird with good sharpness and lovely colours!

Well done!


Hi John,

Very interesting and unusual post! Great idea for vertical composition. The colours great, and the flower-like pattern on the tree trunk is amazing!


Hi John,
Stunning! Love the unusual crop that just works so well on this image. That macro lens has rendered a very sharp image...colour and exposure all handled very well. Great note too!

  • Great 
  • lgfoto Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 194 W: 13 N: 279] (1536)
  • [2008-03-16 14:46]

Lovely composition and excellent details John. Very suitable framing.TFS

  • Great 
  • mlines Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 556 W: 26 N: 668] (3116)
  • [2008-03-18 18:10]

Hi John, One of the best bird photos seen for a while. I especially like the large WS version, your clarity is superb. Amusing notes and great idea to have a link to that site of bird calls. Congratulations. Murray.

  • Great 
  • arfer Gold Star Critiquer [C: 2731 W: 0 N: 0] (0)
  • [2008-03-21 22:52]

Hello John

What a hilarious post,the morning birds can make the biggest pacifist want to go out and buy a gun.We have some here that my wife and I joke about all the time.
Excellent shot with super sharpness and focus.
The colours and lighting are wonderful.


Hi John,

Your note is giging a lot of information about the sound done by the bird. The subject is well framed. The details and colors of the red wattlebird are clear and precise. The light brings out the colors. Have a nice day.


  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2008-04-01 2:38]

Hello John,
This is an amazing capture of the Red Wattlebird for its sharpness, pose on the flowers, POV and composition in a great vertical framing.
We had many opportunities to photograph this bird but non were as successful as this shot and for that reason it's going into my favourites! Thank you!

Hello John
a long and narrow presentation great for both of long and thiny bird and flower. Great composition. sharp details perfect. Splendid colors, great timing, POV and eye contact. I like this shot very much. Thanks for showing us. best wishes

  • Great 
  • smitha Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 348 W: 73 N: 1165] (4409)
  • [2008-04-19 10:31]

Hello John.
A beautiful and new(for me) species presented in a fantastic composition.I liked the vertical crop.Excellent POV and DOF.Very sharp and good details of the plumage.The pose you have captured of the bird feasting itself to the honey in the flower is excellent.
Thanks for the share,
By he way excellent notes too, John. I liked your name for the bird.:)
After listening to its call in the link you have provided, I think that name is very apt.

Calibration Check