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31 January 2013

Bored, bored, bored, and a little bit of trivia

It's true..  Bookwork does bore me stupid.  And makes me prone to finding any excuse to taking my eyes off it for a moment.  

I'm entering an invoice for an expense in Melbourne, which was from a largish shopping centre called Northland...  It was pointed out to me (somewhat affectionately?? or were they laughing at me? who would know these days, I don't know right from wrong at present!) that my calling it Northlands was incorrect, and that it's name was actually Northland.  

Which reminded me of driving back from my little beach visit with the Famous Pony last Thursday (this is before I ended up hopelessly lost, disoriented and crying), and noticing a similarly sized shopping centre (on the Nepean Highway???) called Southland.  I hope you note that I have called it by its correct name this time instead of what I naturally wanted to call it, which was Southlands..  Am I correct in wondering whether these two shopping centres are brother and sister?  I did actually specifically take note of the fact that there was no S on the end of the word Southland.  Good job???  

Just a little bit of trivia??  Ok!  I'm buggerising about.  I am feeling low and flat today, so bookwork isn't much fun on a day such as today, particularly as I opened the dreaded letter called "House Inspection" which is for Monday week.  There are times when I HATE this renting situation, because as as an actual home owner, it's no fun.  

This means, alas and woe, that I will have to to urgently tackle the situation of the lawns, again, and clean windows and cobwebs, as well as everything else.  And that is a truly depressing prospect..

Fed up with bookwork, time to take the kids to the pool....

On being paid!

It has to be said that one of the most frustrating aspects of small business is that of actually getting paid.  Particularly when you've gone to the trouble of doing the shoot, which can involve long hours in the car, in all sorts of weather (including pouring rain!!!) and trying to cajole sometimes a temperamental and contrary thoroughbred to do as I ask!  And when polite emails are either ignored altogether, or promises made to pay the bill that never happen, it's just plain infuriating!!  I'm again sitting down, after a couple of unsuccessful attempts, to tackle the growing pile of bookwork.  So I'll divert momentarily, to gaze upon a photograph of my adored and precious Pony, and then take a deep breath, and start again!

ps - NO!  This image wasn't taken in 2012, it was taken 24 January 2013, and I just can't remember yet how to redo the watermark with 2013 in it!  I am working up to that one!

The Famous Pony Black Caviar at sunrise at our favourite spot together, the beach.

30 January 2013

Moving on, and keeping house

My laptop has been groaning and staggering along for at least the last 12 months.  It is fast approaching terminal status.  The financial pressures of the last 12 months, and having to come up with an exorbitant amount of rent each week has meant that it's replacement has been well and truly delayed, and I wish I could say that an order for a new model had already been placed.  It hasn't, and we may well need to stagger along for a little while longer.  But I am trying to keep myself busy and absorbed and so while bookwork bores me rigid, and hopelessly stupid, that is what I am trying to tackle, as well as tidying up disks and files. 

These are some more images I took on a recent commission to Arrowfield Stud.  This is the great champion stallion Redoute's Choice.  He is magnificent, and he has joined the reverse shuttle, and is standing his first Northern Hemisphere season at the Aga Khan's Haras de Bonneval Stud in France.  We are all so proud of him.  

29 January 2013

Of last hurrahs, and final portraits

I often wonder if love is a bit like life.  It is a strong emotion, that can withstand many obstacles and all sorts of wrongs.  Yet there will come a time when something pushes your love for something, or someone, beyond the boundaries that can be maintained and causes it to break.  I think life is much the same.

This was a final portrait of Arrowfield Stud's beautiful young stallion Beneteau (Redoute's Choice - Slice of Paradise).  He was put down, due to a neurological problem, on 9 January 2013.  I photographed him for the last time in early December 2012.  I always liked the horse, and had photographed him since he went through the Inglis Easter Yearling Sale.  I felt his loss keenly as well.  These images would effectively be the last ones taken of him.  He had left lovely foals too.

28 January 2013

Nelly's Beach

I'm in a little reflective mood this evening, and perhaps because I've only just revisted one of my favourite spots in Melbourne where I normally go with the Famous Pony, my mind wandered back to Blue Diamond Stakes Day 2012.  

The day had started off ok, but a killer heatwave led to the day deteriorating rapidly. At the end of the day, I drove myself down to the beach that Nelly swims at.  It was different to driving there in the pre-dawn darkness, and as with the other morning when I was also flustered and hopeless, I got lost.

These were the images I took that evening, on Saturday 25 February 2012, as the sun set at Nelly's Beach.  After I took them I put my camera under my towel and had a short swim (not in very deep, I am scared of sharks!).  After my swim I sat on the sand, for some reason shivering despite the oppressive heat, for the next half an hour before driving home in the dark to my sister's house.

The Blue Diamond race series for 2013 has just commenced, and we saw and I photographed a terrific little chestnut filly from Adelaide win the Fillies Preview race last Saturday.  She could well go all the way.

Miracles of Life (Not a Single Doubt - Dazzling Gazelle)

1234, tell me that you love me more..... Black Caviar is on her way back

Black Caviar, my Famous Pony, has taken us all on a long and winding road.  I've been following her career since 2010, and she is intertwined now with various life events and miraculous moments along the way.  She's paved the way for wonderful new friendships, opened doors, and been close to not just my heart as we followed her along.

She is preparing for her racetrack return on 16 February 2013, in the G1 Black Caviar Lightning Stakes at Flemington Racecourse.  She has won the race the past 2 years and the VRC renamed the race in her honour last year.  She is a special Pony, and is precious to me.

The video is also available on my Facebook Page here:

It actually comes up a better size there.  Enjoy..

On being home

I'm sitting back at home in my lounge room in Canberra, after returning home from a week in Melbourne.  My kids came home last night, and it was wonderful to see them.  They are still asleep, and I have to use these opportunities while I can, because they have been starved of using a computer for over 2 weeks, and are asking at every chance "when can I have a turn on the computer?"  My kitten Maxie is glued to my lap and slept with me last night.  He's had lots of his crazy kitteh modes though since we came home and the water spray bottle had to be used a lot.

Black Caviar at Sunrise.  Thursday 24 January 2013.
I still feel acutely dislocated as I adjust to the loss of a person who was my best and trusted friend. I shared everything with this person, they got all my news before anybody else did, and their voice at the other end of the phone was always such a nice surprise.

There is an expectation that we will be friends again down the track, but I wonder, particularly when I am at a low ebb, and it feels particularly painful, whether some hurts just go too deep?  Is it possible?  Can you be friends when one of you decides that they feel better again? Worse, how can any friendship, let alone such a close one, ever recover from one of you being completely excluded and isolated during an event such as that which is going on now?  A phone call, or something, may have saved it, but left like this it is hemorrhaging.  There comes a time when you simply must ask yourself, in a relationship/friendship, how do you tell when enough is enough???  I  unfortunately accepted for too long not rating anywhere near where I deserved relative to certain others.  I never envisaged this.  It is, indeed, brutal, and I don't know what to think or what to feel anymore. 

On a brighter note I did finally receive, while I was away, a very important book project began working on, and waiting to receive, since before Christmas.  It was supposed to be a special Christmas present for a very important person.  I'd spent long hours on the book at the very start of December, in an effort to get it delivered before Christmas.  Then, in a mean twist of fate, the book (according to the shipping details of the consignment number anyway!) did actually arrive 2 days before Christmas and delivery was attempted.  However delivery was done, only to a wrong address.  The recipients must have thought "what a great present" and kept it for themselves.  We certainly never received it! The replacement book finally arrived while I was away and I love the quality!  And it truly does lay flat!!!!

The other bit of good news from today is that my children will be able to come to Melbourne to see the Famous Pony Black Caviar race at Flemington in the G1 Lightning Stakes on February 16.  That's an exciting thing for us all.  Now I just have to grapple with the issue of airfares.  It would have been better to have been able to make the decision weeks ago, but we will make the best of the situation  as it stands.

27 January 2013

Vale William Stephen (Bill) Tindale. 23 January 2013.

William Stephen (Bill) Tindale was a former newspaper photographer and then picture editor, and the Tindale family was a little bit synonymous with news photography in Melbourne.  He died early on Wednesday 23 January 2013.  He was 84 years old.  I knew his youngest son Darren Tindale pretty well.

It must be said that I can take a few attempts and a day or two to fully finish a post. I'm trying not to spend too much time on this one. Not because I think Bill wasn't worthy of the effort but because my energy needs to be redirected somewhat.  I think it's finished now.  And ok, it's now taken 3 days....

I liked Bill Tindale, even though sadly he was nearing the end of his life when I finally got to meet him.  Darren took me to meet him for the first time on 26 October 2012, which is almost 3 months before he died, then again during the first half of November .  His wit was still keen, and his eyes were still sharp.  I think Bill would have been fun and engaging, and I would have had things in common with him, and probably lots to talk and probably argue about with Bill.  I don't doubt that we could have grown close.  And of course, there would have been loads to learn from him.  Bill obviously liked pretty things.  He commented a number of times about my hair and eyes being pretty, and those sharp eyes also picked out the Special Pony Charm which he asked about.  Darren explained its significance to him.  We didn't think he'd remembered our visit, but on a later visit he asked a question which indicated he did have some recall of meeting me.  There were a couple of photographers talking about Bill's death in the Press Room at Caulfield on Saturday, so his memory had not disappeared from the world of press photography. 

This image of Bill Tindale was taken in 1961 and lives in the Victorian State Library.  I don't have a larger version.
Bill Tindale, and his son, and my friend, Darren Tindale.  I took this picture on 26 October 2012, which was the first day I met Bill .  Everyone who saw it this loved this image.  Two great photographers together.  I thought that they were keenly alike, which was probably why I liked Bill so much.  I agree that quality wise it's not up to my usual standards, but then snobs like me all know that iPhones are NOT real cameras!

I am not sure whether I have any examples of Bill's photographic work. One of a photographer's great legacies are the images they leave behind. If you are lucky, as a photographer, you can be responsible for creating 'defining images' of your subjects.

About a month ago I  sat down, cross legged, on my floor and went through all my racing books trying to find some of his photographs. But I came up empty handed, leading to cursing and muttering about stupid and disrespectful book editors, who had an infuriating habit of crediting a writer but not the photographer in a book!! We photographers, quite rightly, think this was bollocks!  Thankfully this practice is no longer as common due to changes in copyright law.  I always maintain that, unless you are Les Carlyon, it is the images you remember about a particular subject before you remember the words, and that photographs and photographers are important!  Well, that is, unless you are Martin Luther King ("I have a Dream") or John Fitzergerald Kennedy ("Ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man") whose words are part of folklore!  There is the image Bill took of Light Fingers and her 1973 foal, which I refer to later in this post, that I have seen.  We put a laminated copy on Bill's room door on the Nursing Home, but I have no copy, and apparently it has vanished.

Bill was responsible for some famous images of a mud splattered Van Der Hum returning to scale after winning the 1976 Melbourne Cup.  Apparently the one of Bob Skelton after winning the race was one of Bill's favourites.  Flemington was of course famously flooded on Cup Day 1976, and Bill kept a camera and 35mm lens dry for the cup. 

Having received confirmation that it was indeed Van Der Hum, I executed another raid through my library of horse racing books, again sitting cross legged on my lounge room floor with my cup of tea next to me (braving the mad kitty), and again, went searching for this image.  Again, no stupid photo credits.  But I am wondering whether this is Bill Tindale's photograph.  It looks to me like it is taken in the right spot?

Van Der Hum returning to scale. We think that there is a better than even chance that Bill Tindale took this, but we aren't 100% sure.
Bob Skelton after unsaddling Van Der Hum.  This is definitely Bill Tindale's image

I found these images in my book called "The Melbourne Cup:  1861-2000", by Maurice Cavanough, with Rhett Kirkwood and Brian Meldrum.  Brian worked with Bill, and later Darren, in his role as racing writer for the Sun News Pictorial and later Managing Editor - Racing at the Herald and Weekly Times.  Kirkwood and Meldrum completed the book after Cavanagh's death in July 2001, before the book went to print. The book credits do say the photographs are from the HWT.  Ironically, if this is indeed the book that I have located one of Bill Tindale's favourite photographs from, it was the earlier versions of Cavanagh's Melbourne Cup bibles that drew me in to horse racing so thoroughly.  My uncle Murray owned both the Caulfield and Melbourne Cup books.  I used to read them from cover to cover, then start over again!  I think he ended up giving me his copies.

"The rain held off until 2.10pm, a half hour before the scheduled starting time of the Cup.  A deceptively light few spots of rain heralded the extraordinary storm that descended on Flemington at 2.15pm.  First came flashes of zigzag lightning, followed a few seconds later by thunder of Wagnerian intensity.  Then it seemed that all heaven - or hell - broke loose  The clouds seemed to sit on top of the grandstand, nd the rain cascaded down with a force and volume rarely seen outside the tropic zones; and not often there.  Still to the accompaniment of lightning and thunder, the rain fell left to right, right to left, and it times it billowed in circles.  Mention has been made to the instant swimming pools which were formed on Flemington's Law.  There were similar pools in the betting ring, several metres wide and in places half a metre deep. At 2.26pm the course announced informed those who could hear him that the Stewards had postponed the start of the Cup to a time to be decided.  Almost as soon as this announcement was made, the rain began to ease.   The starting gates opened at 2.47 precisely"
We photographers often joke that our journalist mates are Great Big Pansies!!!!  Because when the heavens open they get to watch the race under shelter.  We photographers though, MUST be made out of tougher stuff, and our job is to capture the moment for the record books and for the public record.  Darren and I photographed in similar conditions on Derby Day, where the rain was torrential for over 4 hours.  Working in conditions like this is tough and arduous, what's even tougher though, is still managing to produce the goods when the weather god is being utterly bloody.  Only another photographer would understand this pressure.  Perhaps it is why we bond together a little bit?  So I included that text (a little bit abridged with just what I needed) to show the conditions that Bill worked under.  I like to hope that the images I found this morning are his.

I often wonder if I have disappointed my own parents by pursuing a career as a photographer, despite my upbringing and university education.  Perhaps they thought I would achieve more?  They are both clever and have significant academic achievements between them.  My Dad is probably the smartest person I know.  He has had a highly distinguished career as General Counsel for CSIRO, and is responsible for the success of the CSIRO Wireless LAN patent defense and lawsuit.  But photography, and horses, is what I loved the best, and for this reason, I could so get and understand a person like Bill.  I think photographers tend to be drawn to each other.  We (well, the good ones are!) speak the same language and our minds think and see in images.  There is a constant viewfinder attached to us.   I guess these are all reasons why it was so important for me to meet Bill.  I kept wishing and hoping he would live longer so I could get to know him better, but he's at peace now which is better for him.   
Bill loved thoroughbred horses and horse racing too, and what's not to like about that!  Even though his mind was prone to wandering when I did finally meet him, we did manage a talk about an image he took of the 1965 Melbourne Cup winner Light Fingers with her 1973 filly foal.  

I'd done a little bit of research on the foal before I got there, but I wasn't sure exactly which one it was, because I'd been told of the story and of courses horses and bloodlines are my thing.  We were pretty sure though that the filly foal of Light Fingers that Bill photographed (I was shown the preserved clipping) was by Galilee's sire Alcimedes (GB), and was foaled in 1973.  I would have only been 5 years old when Bill took that image. That breeding represented the matching of a potential champion, and I of course always get excited about these possibilities.  Although Galilee raced in the same era as Light Fingers (she ran 2nd to him in the 1966 Melbourne Cup), he was was of course a gelding, and therefore not a candidate for her at stud!  So the alternative was of course his sire Alcimedes. Alcimedes also sired the 1971 Melbourne Cup winner Silver Knight and was still current all the way up to 1981, as his sired No Peer, who won the 1981 Turnbull Stakes and was a favourite for the Melbourne Cup himself which was won that year by Just a Dash.

I will not be able to go to the funeral.  It's upsetting.  So this is my little goodbye to someone I thought was pretty ace, and who I'd have loved to have gotten to know a little bit better.  Timing is everything, they say, in life. 

Darren Tindale, on his last day working at the track as a Herald Sun photographer.  I took this image on 8 September 2012 at Flemington Racecourse.

It's in the blood.  Darren Tindale's great image of Saintly dreaming of winning the Melbourne Cup.  Darren took this the day before the 1996 Cup, and a large copy of it hangs in the Flemington Press Room.


Just out of interest, this is the studbook pedigree of Bill's filly who was named Nimble Fingers. 

Bill's Filly
Nimble Fingers (NZ) 1973

 Aust.Id.: 105397mareDate of Birth: 00/00/1973 

 by Alcimedes (GB) 1954
 from Light Fingers (NZ) 1961
Official Australian Stud Book Pedigree

Alycidon (GB) 1945
Donatello II (FR) 1934
Aurora (GB) 1936

Alcimedes (GB) 1954
Foal ref: 33:324

Honey Hill (GB) 1944
Panorama (GB) 1936
Calgary (GB) 1936
Nimble Fingers (NZ) 1973
Foal ref: 23:981

Le Filou (FR) 1946
Vatellor (FR) 1933
Fileuse (FR) 1941

Light Fingers (NZ) 1961
Foal ref: 20:217

Cuddlesome (NZ) 1948
Red Mars (GB) 1941
Fondle (NZ) 1927
Family: 20A


26 January 2013

Going home

I'm at the end of a week in Melbourne.  I fly home tomorrow afternoon, and very sadly, it has been a watershed week.  There was no last minute change.  

Today I spent the day at Caulfield Racecourse, gratefully, among friends.  I didn't get lost on the way there, and after the disaster that was Thursday morning, I was glad about that.

My friend Mark Gatt took these of me on track today.  I have a new delivery to look forward to this coming week, which I will use when the Famous Pony resumes.  I finally ordered it late Monday, in a fit of "I will make my own decisions, and I will no longer be swayed by others", and I'm pleased to have done so.

My friend Mark Gatt took these.  They are ok.

Bron and Gary Wild.  He's a fabulous friend.  He's been great this week.  A special person and friend.
I began the week in Melbourne by immediately taking steps to move on.  Did it work?  Perhaps there was some success, but the events of the week prove that the heart is an obstinate and stubborn beast.  Even though my Dad, on hearing my news of the previous week, and who's advice I treasure and respect, said to me on Monday night that he hadn't been impressed and that the person wasn't smart enough or good enough for me, it's still hard to make your head overrule the heart.  I guess I have always had a failing here.  It is why I continue to get emotionally involved in horses. 

Distressingly, matters were compounded significantly during my week here in Melbourne when the father of a person who was incredibly precious to me died on Wednesday.  My precious friend didn't even bother to tell me his father had died.  A mutual friend of ours thankfully thought I ought to know that Bill had died, and phoned to tell me.  So I called to say how sorry I was even though I was frightened to do so.  I can't say that my call was welcomed and I wasn't encouraged to stay on the phone for long.

It upset me acutely that this person didn't  turn to me at such a time or even tell me himself. That hurt was magnified 1000 fold because he chose to turn to a person who's offered him nothing by way of emotional or any other kind of support over the past couple of years.  That's been my domain over the past almost 18 months.  The person my friend turned to is a person that I simply cannot respect, and she had shown minimal interest in Bill himself over the final couple of years of his life.  But I  knew that this would happen and that she would capitalise upon it, and marginalize me.

I have had some photographic coups this week relating to the Famous Pony Black Caviar, which is a special thing, and I am, as I should be, incredibly grateful.   And I will do well out of it, with my images being run in the major News Ltd newspapers across Australia.  The Herald Sun and The Australian ran 1 image each, the Daily Telegraph ran 4 images, the Adelaide Advertiser ran 1, and the Courier Mail in Brisbane ran 2, which was a great result.  There was another photographer who happened to be at the barriers, but the Herald Sun who put the images into the picture system said mine were far better, and so mine were chosen for all the print editions and online as well.  My friends and family were so proud.  One friend, who has posted me a copy of the Courier Mail, said she still gets goosebumps when she sees my name in print.  I guess I do too, and I never take it for granted.

Last week I also had what was, touch wood, a successful meeting about an incredibly important photo publication.  I cannot say anything publicly yet, but should it all go ahead as intended it will be prestigious, and I will be proud of it.  I wish someone had been interested enough to ask about it, but it didn't happen. 

In another development, I took a deep breath, and pushed aside my initial dislike by finally joining the world of Twitter.  I still don't understand it fully.  And am probably making mistakes.  But I am touched by the fact that in a few short days there is over 130 people following me, and they all think that my images are something special.  My Facebook Page is doing well also, and that's nice thing, and again, I am grateful for all those people who like and keep coming back to see the photographs.  I love the way my followers now all refer to Black Caviar as The Pony.  She will always be my Famous Pony to me.  She is precious to me.  

Black Caviar at the beach on Thursday.  I am lucky to have her and to be able to photograph her in settings such as this.  I know that I am privileged, and I am grateful.  She is precious to me.
Miracles of Life winning the Blue Diamond Preview (Fillies) today at Caulfield.  I think this is a special filly!  She's by one of "My Boys", Not a Single Doubt, who stands at Arrowfield Stud.  Ok, so she blinked, and I'm not clever enough in Photoshop to hide it.  But I included it because I love the extension she gives in the foreleg.  She just exploded away and it was very exciting.