Watch the video here!
AE 478 – Use This ENGLISH PHRASE to SAVE $100s-$1000s
Just on the morning coffee run one, but one of these is almond, an almond cap, and I’ve forgotten which one. Damn it!
What’s going on, guys? (I) wanted to make a little video, a quick one for you. I wonder if you know what I am going to say and what this expression is or what this phrase is, right. So, as you will or will not know, may or may not know, I recently got into photography, right. So, I’ve been taking a lot of photos, but it’s required me to obviously buy a lot of gear. Well, a lot, some gear, right.
So, as you’ll know too with photography gear tends to be pretty expensive. You know, hundreds, thousands of dollars, usually, and it occurred to me the other day when I went to Ted’s, if you guys come to Australia, this is a great company to get camera gear from. I went to Ted’s and I was after a new lens. It is the Tamron 100 to 400 lens. Not that that’s probably relevant to many of you. But I want to get closer to animals, right? So, on a side note, this lens isn’t too bad, but it’s just not getting close enough to the action. When I want to take photos of animals and birds and stuff, it’s just not getting close enough. Anyway.
So, I went in there and was asking if they had the lens in stock, and they didn’t unfortunately. So, they didn’t have it at that store. They had it at another one. But I used a phrase which saved me a hundred dollars and I wanted to teach you this phrase or a variation of this phrase today, because I think you guys can use this in many different situations all over the place in Australia and the English-speaking world to save yourselves potentially hundreds, maybe thousands of dollars, okay.
So, it’s a pretty simple phrase. The phrase is “what’s the best deal you can give me on something?”. Alright so, “What’s the best deal…? What’s the best price…?”. You could use either of those words. “What’s the best deal you can give me on something?”. “What’s the best price you can give me on something?”. Okay?
So, imagine that I’ve gone into a store and I want to buy this camera and it is $2000. If I just go in there and say, I want that camera. Can I pay for it? They’re not going to give you any discount. They’re not going to give you money off. You’ve asked to buy the thing. They’ll say, this is how much it is. If you agree to that, they’re not going to say, Would you like to save $200? They’re going to take your money. Right? Fair enough.
If you go in, though however, and you say to them, “What’s the best price you can give me on this camera?”. “What’s the best price you can give me for this camera, on this camera?”. “What’s the best deal you can give me on this camera or for this camera?”. You can use either of those, on or for. “What’s the best deal you can give me?”. They’re going to instantly think, okay, we can probably discount it a little bit. Okay, I’ll give you 5%-10% off the price, especially, if they have the ability to do that. That’s how you save that money.
Worst case scenario, they’re going to say, sorry, that’s the best price I can give you, in which case you’ve lost nothing. You buy the thing for how much it was in the first place, right. You didn’t lose anything.
However, what happened with me yesterday was that I went in to get a lens that was $1000, actually, it was $1200, $1199. And I just said to him, as an instinctual kind of thing, “What’s the best price you can give me on it?”. And he just said, oh, let me have a look, went over to the computer, typed in some stuff, and I saved 100 bucks. He took a hundred dollars off the lens, although unfortunately, he didn’t have it in store that day and I have to go in and get it.
But it sold me 100 bucks. That’s a hundred bucks I could use on anything else. I could put it towards more gear. I could buy beer with that. I could buy textbooks to learn Portuguese with that $100. The point is though if you don’t ask, the answer is going to be “No.”, you know, in all those situations. If you don’t ask, there’s not going to be a discount.
So, a really good phrase to use in these sorts of situations where you are buying things that are hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars from places like camera stores, like car dealerships. It’s got to be certain places, right. There certain places you can go and they will never discount the food, the product, that you’re buying, whatever it is. If you go to Woolworths, if you go to Coles, a supermarket here, and you say, “What’s the best price you can give me?”, they’ll say, that’s the price, mate. But with goods like this, cameras, usually, machinery, appliances, cars, renting places. You know, if you want to rent a house, you could probably use that line, and they might be able to take the rent down if there’s not very much competition for it. If you’re renting a hotel or a motel room, you could say, “What’s the best deal you can give me on this thing?”. If you’re buying flights to another country, “What’s the best deal you can give me on this flight?”.
So, all those kinds of things, you can just use this single phrase, “What’s the best deal you can give me on this thing?” or “What’s the best price you can give me on this thing?”, and it’s going to save you potentially hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars, guys.
So, yeah, I want you… That’s your task. Okay? Next time you buy something like a camera, I want you to use this phrase, okay. That is the challenge. And I want you to go down in the comments and tell me how it went. That is your challenge, though. Next time you buy something that’s expensive like that I want you to say, “What’s the best deal you can give me on this thing?”, “What’s the best price you can give me for this thing?”, and I want you to tell me how it goes, because worst case scenario, they’re going to say, that is the best price. Sorry, I can’t bring it down anymore. Best case scenario they’re going to say, ah, well, seeing as you asked, I’ll knock off 5%, I’ll knock off 10% and I’ll give you a discount.
So, go and do that, guys, and let me know how it goes. I’m going to enjoy the rest of my coffee maybe go shoot a few photos of some of these birds around here. Whoops! And I’ll chat to you in the next episode.
Hope you enjoy it. Peace!
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By pete — 10 months ago
AE 420 – Interview: Bird & Bush Photography in Australia with Ian Smissen
G’day, guys! Welcome to this episode of Aussie English. I’m Pete, your host, and this is Aussie English, The Aussie English Podcast, the number one podcast for anyone and everyone wanting to learn Australian English. Whether you want to learn to understand Australian English and the various accents that you’ll hear Down Under here in Australia or whether you actually want to sound like an Australian, this is the podcast for you, guys. Okay.
And today, is another interview episode. And the whole point of these interview episodes is to expose you to different Aussies using different accents, different vocab, different expressions, talking about all kinds of different topics, life experiences, all that sort of stuff, to give you something interesting to listen to whilst also hearing different accents. That’s the whole point of these interview episodes.
And today is no exception. So, today, I have the pleasure again of interviewing my dad, Ian Smissen. He was kind enough to come on the podcast whilst we were driving home from, I believe it was the station. So, I think when this was recorded, I had got a train from Melbourne down to Geelong, and dad had picked me up from the Geelong Station, and then driven me home to Ocean Grove where we live, and I decided maybe I can interview him on the trip home. So, he was kind enough to say yes.
And, today’s a really awesome interview where we chat all about photography. So, my dad is an avid photographer. He loves his photography. He’s been doing it for years now as a hobby, and his… I guess, the main two passions when it comes to photography are landscape photography and birdwatching photography. So, he loves to get out there and take photos of the scenery around him wherever he is in the world, and he also loves to take photos of birds.
So, anyway, we’ll get into this in the interview, chat a bit about his experiences doing this, how he got into it, how many birds he’s photographed in Australia, and some spots that he recommends that you go, especially, if you’re down in Victoria.
So, remember guys, before we get into this interview too, if you want to study this interview in depth, make sure that you sign up to the Aussie English Classroom. It’s a dollar for your first month. And there are all of the more recent interviews in there with a special listening comprehension quiz, we go through vocab in depth, we go through the expressions that are used in a 5-10-minute excerpt from each of these interviews. So, this is the best way to really get down and dig in, study these interviews in depth, particularly, if you’re wanting to better understand Australian accents. Remember, to give that a go.
Anyway guys, let’s get into it. Thanks again dad for being on the podcast. It was an absolute pleasure. I give you my dad, Ian Smissen, chatting about bird and bush photography in Australia. Let’s go.
Let’s give this a go. Back again. Welcome to the podcast, Dad.
Hey, welcome back, everyone. Good to be here.
This time I’m giving a different mic set up a go. So, I don’t have to hold the mic and move it back and forth. So, we’ll see how it goes. Fingers crossed, fingers crossed!
But I thought we could chat a little bit about bird photography and just the wildlife in Australia, the bird wildlife in Australia. So, I guess, first, you were talking about in the previous podcast getting into landscape photography. How did you get into landscape photography and bird photography? Was it one before the other? And what are the main differences between the two?
Yeah, well, there’s a few questions to start with. Look, I started… obviously, when I started off with… in photography as a kid with a little sort of instamatic camera. You couldn’t really go photographing birds with those, unless you could get right up close to seagull on the beach or something, but most birds you couldn’t get anywhere near and they’re wide angle or poor quality lenses. So, I really just started photographing whatever I saw when I was a kid. I didn’t think of myself as a landscape photographer, or a cityscape, or a street photographer, or whatever, I’d just point and click.
I think we’ve all gone through that stage at some point.
Exactly! But once I started to take photography more seriously, and bought myself an SLR camera back in the 1970s, I really did it mostly because I was working as a research marine biologist at the time and I wanted to be photographing the things that I was doing and the things I was seeing.
What were you studying, though?
I was studying the invertebrate life on rocky shores. So, mussels, barnacles, little snails, those sort of things.
So, they’re obviously tie in pretty closely with birds.
Well, something birds eat them.
That’s fair. That’s fair.
Some birds do.
And so, then… And so, that was really just, yeah, with the standard lens and taking, you know, shots of what I could see and the places that I was at. So, that was really sort of location photography, rather than landscape photography. And then, that sort of moulded into it. And then, I was also interested in birds, as a bird watcher, and as a biologist, I started to get more interested in birds and spent more time watching those.
So, I bought a long lens, pretty crappy one at the time, but it was all I could afford and sort of worked, at least it would… you could… It was really just like a telescope. (It) didn’t have any complex lenses in it. It was really just a big lens on the end of a long tube. But that enabled me to start to photograph birds, at least be able to identify them. So, they weren’t great artistic photographs of the birds.
So, why is it that birds are such a big thing to be photographed? You don’t have people really going out there being like, “I am a lizard photographer!” or “I’m a whale photographer!” as much.
I do know… “as much”… I do know a guy, and you probably know him too, he used to work for the CSIRO and did some work with the museum and things as a reptile and amphibian photographer. That’s what he specialised in. It wasn’t everything he shot. But you’re right, birds seem to be the thing that attract people, and again…
And it seems funny, though, because birds are the ones that it seems like everyone can do, but everything else like lizards or any kind of frog or whales that’s a lot more niche, despite them being, you know, just another group of animals that you would think would be as appealing or not as birds.
Yeah, I think it probably comes from… I don’t think people start off being bird photographers. I think people start off as bird watchers and start to photograph them so that they can identify them and record what they were seeing, and then start to get more interested in the photographic side of it. That’s certainly where I came from, and a lot of my friends in the sort of bird photography and the bird watching world seem to tie those two things together.
Is it also that they’re just the most conspicuous animals?
You don’t find, as you say, you don’t find people, you know, who came as their hobby as being a lizard watcher or a mammal watcher, and go out, you know, looking for mammals or lizards or so on.
Because there’s so much more cryptic and hard to find.
They’re cryptic, they’re hard to find, and there aren’t as many of them. There’s only a couple of hundred mammals species in Australia and most of those are small and nocturnal and they’re hard to find.
But to be fair there’s a shit load of reptiles.
There are shit loads of reptiles, but again, they’re hard to find as well. And look, most of the lizards are hard to identify. You actually have to get them in the hand often and start identifying them with a different scale patterns and all sort of things.
Whereas most birds, not all, but most birds are identifiable just by sight. You can look at something 50 metres away and identify what species it is. And they’re also pretty. A lot of birds are pretty, and so they’re attractive. There’s a lot of different species. There’s more than 800 species in Australia. Nearly 10 thousand species around the world.
Yeah, that’s pretty crazy.
And they fly! And so, there are around, you know, they fly around, most of them fly. So…
So, what, of that Australia has 10 percent or close to 10 percent, eight percent…?
I think it’s about 8-9 percent of the world’s bird species.
I think about 50 percent of the world’s bird species occur in Central-South America, Central and South America, because of the jungles on the Amazon side and the rainforests, cloud forests and things, up in the Andes are just so diverse.
Well, they’re such a complex environment.
Yeah, I think Ecuador, which is about a third of the size of the state of Victoria, has a thousand bird species, and about 200 or 300 of those are indigenous. They’re only found in tiny little places.
So, they obviously have a really, really small pockets where their population exists.
And, you know, if you’re going searching for birds in forests, then that’s actually quite hard, but most places in Australia, you can find birds just by walking down the street. You know, if you sit in your backyard, and you go and sit in our backyard when we get home, if you sat there for two or three hours, you’d see 15-20 species of birds.
And so that’s what makes it, I think, seductive as a hobby.
Yeah. You can’t just sit there and see that many whales, or lizards. (….) bugs, right? You’d notice.
Exactly. Yes, that’s right. So, yeah and look the other one that people, you know, used to do, not many people are now, is that people used to look at butterflies.
Yeah, it’s true.
For the same reason, yeah, yeah in season you go out somewhere where there’s lots of flowering plants, there’ll be butterflies around, and they’re easy to see, they’re obviously different colours, they’re entertaining and they fly.
So, that was one of those weird things that I noticed when we were in… I was in Indonesia in 2012 doing field work and I think we were on Sulawesi, and I think the weird thing was when we heard there were some Japanese people hunting butterflies in the rainforest there. And you were just like… that was just the last thing I was expecting hear. You know, I could imagine anything else about, you know bird, photography or fishing, but it was some Japanese guys looking for butterflies for their collection.
Butterflies seems to be one of those things, yeah. You know, people also collect beetles, but there are probably a million species of beetles in the world, half of which have been unfound, undescribed.
That’s almost like starting like a stamp collector today, right?
Yeah, exactly. So, that’s a…that’s a sort of hyper challenge when you think of that.
That’s life on hard mode. Just to make things easy.
There are people who have seen eight thousand species of birds in the world.
Yeah, it’s crazy.
How do they get to that point, though?
Well, they spend their life travelling around going to various places in the world where there are high densities of birds, and, usually, hiring specialist guides who can find 100 species in a day, or more, and they just go through and check them off.
So, it’s a bit of an ego trip by that point, is it?
I think some of it is, and there’ve been some… some interesting books and movies and things made around that whole sort of culture of bird watching and twitching, rather than bird watching. That sort of…
What’s the difference between those two?
Well, so that… “twitching” is really where… you know, and it’s a nickname given to… and often somewhat pejoratively.
Yeah, ’cause see I know this, I’ve heard this term, but I don’t get the distinction between that and bird watching.
Really, well, if you look at it and say, alright, generally, a bird watcher is somebody who enjoys going out and watching birds.
Actually watching them or taking photos?
Actually watching them, maybe taking photographs of them, but just going out and going for a walk in the bush and watching or photographing birds.
It’s the experience, it’s the vibe.
Exactly, right. As a wildlife photographer who I followed online for a long time says, “it’s not all about the photography, it’s about the wildlife experience”.
Fishing with a camera.
Yeah, exactly. Whereas, twitching is much more around ticking off species that you’ve seen. And so, there are some fanatical people who… and there’s a species of bird that has arrived on the central coast of New South Wales in the last couple of weeks, the Aleutian tern.
That’s right, I think I heard this.
The Aleutian Tern.
It’s only, I think, the second time it’s ever been recorded in Australia.
Where does it come from?
It comes from the Aleutian Islands up near… in Alaska.
So, it’s an Alaskan species, but what they do…
Yeah, they do… Well, not necessarily migratory. They do migrate up and down the coast of North America, but they tend to be trans-Pacific as well. They’ll fly in these sort of big circles and figure eights around the Pacific, and obviously a few of them end up coming a lot further south.
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Is that by accident or they’re actively trying…?
Maybe by accident it may just be that they get a little bit off course and then just decide, “Oh, I’m going to keep going until I hit land.”. Who knows how to actually navigate? And particularly if they get caught in a storm, the storm blows them off course. How do they get back on track or those sort of things?
I mean this is a process of colonisation speciation, guys.
This is how new species are created, but those terns, get stuck in Australia…
…the next million years.
They probably won’t in this case because these birds are highly mobile and they are migratory, they’ll be here maybe for a few days, a few weeks, maybe the summer, but certainly by the end of summer, they’ll be gone. They’ll have flown back to Alaska.
It’s easy to avoid being lost when you’ve got your own onboard GPS, right?
Your own onboard GPS and your own inboard flight system. You can just take off and fly, providing you’ve got enough food on board or you can stop in enough places.
And you can get that in the ocean, right?
And terns are fishing birds so they can catch fish wherever they like.
So, yeah. So these birds have arrived in central New South Wales in the last few days, or few weeks, and there’s several people I know who have flown to Sydney and picked up a car and driven to the place where they’ve been, just so they can see them, so I can tick them off.
I can understand that to some extent, if it’s that kind of a rare thing.
It’s a collecting thing. It’s that, you know, if I’d seen 800 species of birds in Australia and there was another one that I hadn’t seen, I’d be off to get it. Sometimes, you could think of it as ego, you know, how many have I seen? and, you know, what’s your bird list like? I’ve already seen six hundred. Oh, I’ve seen seven hundred!
So, what is your bird list like, dad?
My bird list isn’t even six hundred in Australia.
“Isn’t even”, guys. Isn’t even six hundred.
It’s over five hundred.
About four hundred of those have been photographed, but…
So, you’ve seen or you’ve photograph potentially more than half of the bird species that exist in all of Australia.
That’s pretty crazy. Well, yeah, but again, I haven’t deliberately gone out to try and do that. I just go to a range of different…
So, it could be easier if you’re putting more effort, huh?
I go to a range of different places and locations and go out and photograph, and I often photograph birds.
Almost by accident, rather than intent, I will start to pick up new species. So… but you know, there’s a friend, acquaintance of mine who did a drive around Australia one year, took him about, I think it was eight or nine months, just to see how many bird species he could photograph in one trip around Australia, and he got over five hundred.
Just in eight months, just driving around Australia.
So, when does it start getting difficult, though? Because I imagine that as you get to four, five, six hundred that’s relatively easy related to the last portion, it must get exponentially harder with the last hundred or fifty or something…
It obviously does, and at five hundred, all I really have to do is go to Northern Australia, and I… you know, North Queensland…
The Northern Territory, Western Australia.
…Where I have been and I’ve seen a lot, but Northern Territory, Western Australia, do more travels around the Outback of Australia and I’d pick up more, but it gets to be challenging once you’ve ticked off all the common ones, or the ones that are relatively easy to find.
And then you get the rare ones, but also the vagrants, the things that come once every 10 years to Australia. They’re not here on a regular basis.
So, they’re still included, though, as Australian birds?
Anything that has ever been seen on Australian territory is included on that, The Great List. Some people exclude the offshore islands. They’ll include things like, obviously, Tasmania, it’s a state, but they’ll include things like the coral islands around the Great Barrier Reef and things.
What about The Torres Strait Islands or…?
But not go out to The Torres Strait Islands or to Christmas Island or the Cocos and Keeling Islands, The Abrolhos Islands off Western Australia, and so on. So, it’s more mainland stuff, but ultimately, the Cocos and Keeling Islands are a territory of Australia. So, if a bird is seen there, and they have a number of birds there that are indigenous, you can’t see them anywhere else. So, and certainly nowhere else in Australia.
So, what makes a difficult bird to photograph? What are those species that are really difficult and why are they difficult? Is it that they have really small areas or populations, sort of, distributions?
Well, it depends on…difficult to find is one thing.
Difficult to see, when you do find them, so in forests, for instance, it’s actually quite difficult to see birds. You know that they’re there, you can hear them, and I can see flashes of them in the trees, but often they’re high up in the leaves so that you can’t see them. Now, if you want to take your photography seriously, people end up building platforms in trees with great long ladders or ropes and sitting on the platform for three days waiting to get a, you know, photograph of the bird at their level, rather than trying to shoot up through the trees with the sun lit behind you.
Getting a photo of their bum.
Getting a photograph… yeah, here’s a, you know, a bird’s bum flying in the other direction, and all it is is a silhouette of a blur.
Yeah, but then there are birds that are just hard to photograph, because of other forms of the environment, there’s lots of seabirds. Small sea birds are quite difficult to photograph. First, because they’re small, but secondly, you’ve got to be in a moving boat to get out there. So, you get on a small boat, you go 30, 40, 50 kilometres offshore, and you’re sitting there in a rocking boat in the swell, and you’re trying to handhold the camera and photograph a tiny little bird that’s 20, 30, 40 metres away.
And the lens is big enough to kill a bear.
Yeah, yeah exactly. So, that becomes quite a bit of a challenge, but it’s quite entertaining. It’s entertaining because you can see them and identify them just by eye, but actually pointing a camera at them and going click and getting them in focus and in your frame.
If you managed to get a good photo. Otherwise, it’s just frustrating.
Well, it’s entertaining while you do it. It’s more entertaining when you get back and put them on the computer.
It’s kind of like… It’s entertaining to go fishing. assuming you can get the fish that you catch onto the boat. If it escapes, that tends to be pretty frustrating.
Or you don’t catch anything at all.
Yeah. Crazy, crazy.
So, what about what are the most difficult birds to photograph in Australia? I remember hearing that the previously thought to be extinct Night Parrot was recently rediscovered, and the person who rediscovered them has not released where he’s seen them for the obvious reason of not wanting them to be hunted down or something.
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So, yeah, there are obviously the rare species are very difficult because, firstly, you’ve got to be able to find them, and there’s things like the Night Parrot that was believed to be extinct.
And the crazy thing about them, to just add, is the fact that they’re this beautiful green parrot that is not only nocturnal, so only is found out active at night, it is found on the ground. It doesn’t fly around.
It’s a grass parrot and it’s green and it lives in grass and comes out at night and nobody knows where they are.
That’s Australia’s version of looking for a polar bear in a snow storm.
Exactly, at least polar bears will open their mouth when they get close to you.
So, yeah, that can be… obviously, there’s that rarity challenge, but then there are the ones that are relatively common, but lots of little small Passerine birds, perching birds, songbirds, even if they’re common, they’re often in shrubs, in the brush, that’s difficult to actually get to see. You can… by eye you can identify them, because you can see them flitting around and you can hear the calling things, but getting a camera to focus through the branches of the shrubs on a tiny little brown bird that’s, you know, smaller than the size of your fist.
And it only smiles for like a second, right?
Exactly, and they’re usually looking the other way.
So, yeah. What got you, I guess, into bird photography over landscape photography? Or are you shifting back now?
I’m probably spending more time on landscape photography now.
But you did originally start with birds, or at least more actively on…
I was doing a lot more actively on birds for a while when I was, you know… it’s sort of just a different… just speaking of birds with geese in the pond there.
Geese out here in the pond, non-native birds, though, they’re pretty boring to photograph.
Yes, they’re domestic geese.
And they’d probably attack you if you went there.
Probably. They derive from the Greylag goose, which is a European goose common in Britain, or it used to be common, but not that common anymore.
I don’t know, I’ve never eaten goose.
You can eat it, but it’ll taste like shit.
Yeah, exactly. Just like goannas.
So, what… I guess, what’s it like too, if you are a photographer listening to this podcast, what are the kinds of equipment you need, and is there a way of being able to do both with the same equipment, or do you really have to get kitted out with a crap load of unique stuff landscape and a crap load of unique stuff bird photography?
Well, you can… depending on what type of landscape photography you want to do, you can do it with any lens you like. Obviously, if you’re using the same lens that using the bird photography, a long lens, a 400, 500, 600 mil lens, then you’re going to be taking pictures of very little bits of the landscape, but, you know, any lens you can take landscape photographs with. Bird photography, though, if you want to be shooting birds, not full frame necessarily, but in frame, so they’re the obvious subject, you need long lenses, because you can’t get close enough to them. And the irony is that the smaller the bird, the closer that you can actually get, but relatively, they’re still small in the frame.
They’re still the same size in the frame.
Exactly, you know, so there’s something about… you know, very large birds will have a much longer flight distance, it’s called, where if you’re approaching a bird, they’ll be perfectly happy if you are within 50 metres of them, but you get to 40 metres of them and they’ll take off.
And so, you know, large birds tend to have longer flight distances. Who knows why, but they tend to. You’re not going to find too many… other than eagles that are eating carrion it on the side of a road. You’re not going to get very close to a Wedged-tail eagle, for instance. You know, even if it’s sitting in a tree, you get within 50 metres of it it’ll fly away. Whereas, some little wrens and things, you can get to within five metres, just walk up and get within five metres, and they seem to care less.
So, what makes a good photo of a bird and what makes a good photo of a landscape? What are you looking for as you’re looking down the barrel or the lens rather of the camera? What makes a good bird photo to start?
Well, bird photos… it depends what you’re trying to do. If you’re trying to get a good identification shot, that is, you know, it’s a clearly identifiable as a particular species, then you often want it, you know, side-on with the light in the right place, so that you’re showing off all of the key features, the feathers, the different colour in the plumage, all that sort of stuff. If you want a more artistic shot, that is you’re not taking a photograph to say, “hey, this is a rainbow lorikeet”, but you want a picture of a rainbow lorikeet in its natural habitat, then it’s more about getting that balance between showing the habitat it’s in, showing, you know, the leaves and the trees, or the flowers that it’s eating from, and those sort of things, rather than just… you know, people often criticise bird photography as being another bird on a stick, you know, where you’ve just got, you know, it’s a pretty photograph, it’s a pretty bird, but it’s just another photograph of a bird sitting on a branch. Whereas, if you get a bird that’s actually doing something, if it’s active, if it’s preening or you’ve got two birds and they’re interacting.
So, you’re bringing the biology into the photos.
Exactly, you’re trying to show how and where the bird lives. I think that can make a much more interesting photograph. But there are some times where, for instance, I’ve actually just been going through some photographs of hummingbirds that I took a couple of years ago in Ecuador, and hummingbirds, you can forget trying to frame where they are in the environment everything else, you just try to keep them in the frame and hope that you can go click at the right time and you focus on.
It’s like trying to photograph a bee, right?
Yeah, exactly. They’re quick and they’re tiny and they’re usually in forests so it’s dark. But, for those, mostly what you’re trying to do is just to show off how pretty the birds are. And so, it really doesn’t matter, you know, whether you’ve got it in there. But again, the background… and the thing that a lot of people don’t take much notice of when they’re photographing either close-ups, things like flowers or then they’re photographing birds, they don’t take much notice of the background, ’cause they’re so concentrated on what they’re actually photographing, the subject, and when they look at the photograph later they get it back and go, “That’s crappy. There’s a stink coming out of its head” or “The background is not blurred enough”, you know, “There’s bright sunshine in the background”, and those sort of things. So, often you really have to spend time trying to move around to get the photographs so that you’ve got a good background, whether it’s a background that you’re deliberately showing some detail, like flowers and leaves and those sort of things, to show where the bird lives, or whether you want to completely blur it out so that you have no distraction and all you’re looking at is the bird.
Do you want just to keep going down and we keep talking for a bit, if that alright?
Oh, I’ll go this way.
What about landscape photography Dad? What makes a good photo of a landscape shot? I guess it depends on what you’re taking a photograph of? Are there certain rules that you try to apply?
No rules so much, I mean… any photograph, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a photograph of a bird or a photograph or a landscape or photograph of your child or your dog playing in the backyard, it’s about capturing the moment. So, that’s about light. What’s the light doing on the subject and in the background? Is there a moment? That, you know, if you’re photographing birds or children or pets or those sort of things, you want to catch them doing something interesting, not just posing for a shot.
Because then you’re human twitcher.
He was here, tick!
Yeah, tick! I’ve got another person. Six and a half billion to go.
Dad, you’re 500 million of them down. That’s pretty impressive.
And the other… and then, the next thing is actually a composition that works so that the aesthetic appeal of the photograph is going to work independently of the subject so that when you’re looking at it, you go, “Alright, that’s nice”, your eye gets… sort of moves around the image nicely and doesn’t get distracted by things on the edge or, you know, really bright objects that aren’t really supposed to be there, but you can get them out of the photograph, and those sort of things. So, it’s all about that.
So, where are the best places for people listening to this podcast who are travelling around Australia or who live here and the interest in photography of birds or of landscape or both, where are some places that you would suggest they must visit if you had to give them, you know, one or two vacations in Australia?
Yeah, well, look, you know…. bird photography is a challenging one, because there are lots and lots of different places, but they all have their own challenges. So, the best thing to do, if you’re looking for places to photograph birds in Australia, is to contact the local Birdlife Australia groups who will tell you, you know, people will tell you where the best places are locally. There’s lots of websites out there with really good spots to find birds and those sort of things, and there’s books that aren’t terribly expensive about where to find birds, and that way you can find A. where you’re going so you don’t have to travel halfway across the country to get to a little particular place that somebody said is the best place to go to shoot Night Parrots, but you never going to see it not parrot, as opposed to going up to, you know, somewhere in a rainforest that you’re going to see 50 species in an hour.
And then, from a landscape point of view, it really… you know, I always used the line when I’m talking to people about landscape photographs is that “You can take a good photograph wherever you are”.
But if you’re looking for…rather than taking an image, an artistic landscape image, which you can take anywhere, if you’re looking to take images of beautiful places, then again, it depends where you are. If you’re in Victoria, where we live, I’d thoroughly recommend the Great Ocean Road. There’s a whole lot of places to stop off and take photographs wherever you are. And there’s also, in addition to the seascapes that you can shoot, there’s also Otway Ranges, so the mountain range just inland from the Great Ocean Road that has lots of forest and waterfalls all over the place.
They’re always worth looking for a place to shoot.
I think you’ve spent a lot of time there over the years.
I have spent a lot of time there over the years. But either, obviously as an intertidal marine biologist a long time ago, I’m a bit biased towards coastlines and seascapes. But there’re also lots of places up in the mountains where there’s good alpine views and you can get those really sort of long shots of eucalypt covered mountain ranges that just couldn’t to get bluer and bluer as they get off into the distance.
If you’re in Sydney, then the Sydney beaches are really good, but the Blue Mountains, you know, just a couple of hours travel out of the city of Sydney. The Blue Mountains are one of the most spectacular places in Australia, you know, easy to photograph, easy to see, and lots of places are easily accessible for a tourist, but if you want to walk, you can go on sort of all day bush walks through, you know, valleys and things, and get some really interesting shots there too.
Brilliant. Well, thanks so much for coming on the podcast, Dad. You’ve got a blog and a YouTube channel for both bird photography and landscape photography respectively. How can people find those?
Well, look the easiest place is, and, you know, ironic that you ask that, because I’ve spent most of today doing the final preparation on a photography website. So, look for IanSmissenPhotography.com and that should be up sometime the next few days, hopefully before Christmas Day, which is only three days away now.
Brilliant! Thanks, Dad! See you, guys!
Alright guys, so that was the interview for today. (A) big thanks to my dad again. Remember that you can check him out at IanSmissenPhotography.com . There will be a link in the transcript. If you want to get the free downloads for this episode, remember to go over to TheAussieEnglishPodcast.com . I’m sure you’ll find a link wherever it is that you’re listening to this, whether it’s on the website or via your podcast app. There should be a link there, you click it, go across to the website, and you can download the transcript and the MP3 for this episode for free, and you can also read it on the website whilst you’re listening.
And remember, also if you want to study this interview in depth, make sure that you sign up to The Aussie English Classroom. Get in there, get into the Interviews In Depth course. Complete this course lesson by lesson with all the different guests that we’ve had. Go through the quizzes, learn the vocab, learn the expressions, and also most importantly, learn to understand these different Aussie accents.
Anyway, as usual guys, it has been an absolute pleasure to be here chatting to you today. I hope you have an amazing day and I look forward to bringing you more or some interviews in the near future. See ya guys!
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By pete — 1 year ago
Learn Australian English in this expression episode of The Aussie English Podcast where I teach you to use the expression NOT WORTH A ZACK.
AE 370 – Expression: Not Worth A Zack
Man. Let’s just get this started. How is it going, guys? I… I have just got home and I have had way too much coffee, but I thought you know what it is time to do this week’s podcast episode. So, I just got on Facebook Live. I put up all the podcast… freaking hell! I’ve been saying podcasts instead of postcards for the last hour.
So, anyway. Ok. This is what this is an episode that’s going to be full of bloopers. I have that feeling already. I have that feeling already. So, I got back, my parents just dropped me off. My folks dropped me off. (I) spent the weekend down at their place… the weekend, I guess, the week*. It’s only Saturday now. But, I have just gotten back to Melbourne. So, I’m back in my house.
I got five postcards from you amazing listeners. So, thank you so much to all of you guys. I did a Facebook Live lesson and I put them on the wall. So, they are now up behind me. Next time on live videos hopefully you can spot the postcards that you sent me. Thank you so much guys.
Send your postcards to: PO Box 597 Ocean Grove, 3226, Victoria, Australia
I have a few more announcements for you guys. I have a few more announcements.
First and foremost, I’m an uncle. I am an uncle. So, I became an uncle on Wednesday. My sister has had a beautiful baby girl. The baby was in breech. So, that means that it wasn’t sitting the right way around with its head facing down inside of my sister’s stomach to be born properly by a natural birth. So, instead of a natural birth my sister had to have a Caesarean, what we call a C-section, Cesarean section, where she was opened up, I guess, booked in, cut open, and they pull the baby out, and they sew back up, and she doesn’t have to go through labour.
Anyway, everything went amazingly well, and I am now the proud uncle of a beautiful baby girl named Isabel Anne Smissen. So, welcome to the world Isabel, and congratulations to my sister Annika and her partner Rory, as well as my parents. They are incredibly stoked. They are grandparents for the first time. They couldn’t stop looking at this beautiful little baby. And it kind of blew my mind quite a bit. So, it‘s ruffled my feathers a little bit, and made me a little envious and looking forward to the day in the near or far future when I have children as well. But it‘s a long road I’m sure before that happens for me, but we’ll see. We’ll see. I can imagine it can be life-changing. So, that’s the first announcement. I’m an uncle.
The second one is that I handed in, I submitted, my PhD for the final frickin’ time, guys, for the final time. Hopefully, my supervisors and the chair of my doctorate committee, the person in charge of organising my supervisors, gives me the thumbs up, gives me the green light, gives me the go ahead, on uploading the PhD to the university’s library and being done, being finished, for it to be kaput, all over, done and dusted, and I can just move on to bigger and better things. Just focus on the podcast and serve you guys as best I can at Aussie English, because this has become my passion. Despite having spent probably the last 11 or 12 years at university, yeah, 12 years at university. After all of that, it‘s led me down this road to here, to doing what I am currently doing, with Aussie English and this’s… to be honest this is where I see my future.
So, as always thank you to you guys. You are the ones who make this possible. The listeners, the ones who are in The Aussie English Classroom, those of you who have bought the course, and those of you on Patreon who have donated money kindly every month to The Aussie English Podcast. You guys are the ones who keep the wheels turning. You keep the lights on for me at home. You pay my bills. You pay my rent. You pay for the food that goes on my table. So, I can’t thank you enough. Honestly, guys, thank you so much for your support. It really… it really means the world to me. (I’m) getting a bit choked up.
Aside from that, the website has been redesigned. It’s still going through a few little changes. I‘m still tinkering away with the website. I’m trying to make it look a bit nicer. But the basic format has now changed. I’m sure a lot of you have noticed. If you haven’t noticed go over to TheAussieEnglishPodcast.com, the website, or just search Aussie English, it’ll come up in google, and get on there and have a tinker, have a little look. Let me know what you think. Have you found any bugs, any problems with it? Just give me some feedback. Do you like it? What could I improve? Because at the end of the day, ultimately, it’s there to serve you guys. It’s there to be as useful as possible for you guys learning English. So, yeah give me some feedback.
Let’s get into it though, guys. Today’s expression is “not worth as zack”, for something to “not be worth as zack”. Ok?
So, before we get into that one though, as usual, I’ve got a joke for you guys. I’ve got a joke. It’s a little bit crass, but it’s not too bad. It’s not too bad. And it’s a good joke, I think, because it kind of illustrates Australian humour. It’ll give you a sense of how we often take the mickey out of ourselves. And to take the mickey out of something or someone is to poke fun at someone or something, to make fun of. So, to make light of something, to joke about something. So, I like taking the mickey, like Mickey Mouse, mickey, I like taking the mickey out of myself, and Australians love taking the mickey out of themselves.
Ok, so the joke. Why wasn’t Jesus born in Australia? Why wasn’t Jesus born in Australia? Because nobody could find three wise men or a virgin. Do you get it, guys? No one could find three wise men or a virgin. So, it’s making fun of Australians saying that none of us are smart and that none of us are virgins. OK? So, that’s today’s joke. Why wasn’t Jesus born in Australia? Because no one could find three wise men or a virgin.
So, today’s expression, guys, is not worth as zack, for something to not be worth a zack. This one was suggested by Karina. So, good job Karina. She suggested this in The Aussie English Virtual Classroom, guys. It’s the Facebook group that you can come in and interact with everyone. There’s daily videos that people upload to practice their English. And on Mondays, I get you guys to suggest expressions and then vote on these expressions for me to do the weekend’s podcast on. So, Karina, good job, mate. To not be worth zack, not worth zack.
So, as usual, let’s go through the words in this expression.
“Not“. I’m sure all of you guys are going to know the word “not”, n-o-t. This is a particle that negates an auxiliary verb. Ok? So, a helping verb. I am not going there. I am not going there. I would not go there. I wouldn’t go there. So, it negates it. I am going. I’m not going. I would go. I wouldn’t go. So, that’s “not”.
“Worth“. for something to be worth something worth. Means the equivalent in value to the sum or item specified. Ok? So, that’s a complicated way of saying, the value of something. Ok? So, my computer is worth seven dollars. My word is worth… it’s invaluable. It’s worth a lot. Ok? So, my car’s worth ten thousand dollars. It’s the value of something.
“A zack“, “a zack”. So, this was an interesting one. I had to look this up, because, to be honest, I have never used this expression. I’ve heard it, but I’ve never used it. So, “a zack”, it turns out, is slang for a sixpence or what was called a six penny. So, this is back when we use the imperial system for money in Australia. So, some of you might know, some of you may not know, our money originally came from Britain. So, Australia’s a Britain colony. We were colonised by the British back in 1770, I believe, by Captain Cook. And as a result, the money and the measurements that were used in Australia were the imperial system. Ok? So, anyway, we had pounds, we had shillings, and we had pennies, and a sixpence, which was about five cents, was nicknamed “a zack”. I don’t know why, but it was nicknamed “a zack”. So, if something wasn’t worth a zack, it wasn’t worth very much. It wasn’t worth five cents. It wasn’t worth sixpence. It wasn’t worth a six penny in the imperial monetary system.
So, let’s define the expression, guys. So, if something isn’t worth a zack, it’s not worth zack, it’s worthless, it’s not worth any, or we could say, it’s worth bugger all. So, that’s an Australian expression, to be worth bugger all. And that just means it’s not worth anything, it’s worthless.
So, we’ve sort of gone over the origin of the expression “a zack”. It’s from the 1700s. And when I looked this up, the usage of the term “zack” for a slang term for a sixpence actually dropped off in the 1800s, guys. So, this is a really old slang term, but obviously it’s been maintained in the expression “to not be worth a zack”. And so, it’s funny how the meaning of “zack” has kind of disappeared and people have forgotten it, despite continuing to potentially use the expression “not be worth a zack“. So, yeah, not worth a zack.
Let’s go through some examples as usual, guys, of how to use the expression “to not be worth a zack”.
So, imagine you’ve got a mate who makes a promise. He gives you his word that he’s going to do something. I promise I’ll do this. I give you my word I’ll do it. But then he breaks his promise or he goes back on his word. So, you could say his word isn’t worth a zack. His promises aren’t worth a zack. They’re worthless. They’re worth bugger all.
Example number two. So, you want to buy a house, and you go somewhere and they say… you know, you go to an auction, and the auction gets up to a really ridiculous price, and the house is a real run down old house that’s not worth much at all. It looks atrocious. It looks awful. But they want a million dollars for this house. You could say, yeah, we want it, but to be honest, it‘s not worth it a zack. It‘s not worth a zack. This house is so run down and old it‘s not worth it a zack, let alone worth the million dollars that you would like for this house. It‘s not worth a zack.
The third example is, imagine you want to get some wine. Ok? I’m a fan of red wine, maybe like white wine, but you go to a bottle-o ago by some booze, to get some grog, so some alcoholic drinks, some alcoholic beverages. You want to get some wine. So, you go there and you say, I‘m after some Australian wine. I want some Penfolds. Penfolds is an amazing Australian brand of red wine. I think it tends to be just red wine, and it’s from the 1840s. They were established in the 1840s. So, the company’s something like 170 years old. But these guys are from the Barossa Valley in South Australia, and they would be Australia’s most famous brand of red wine. But say you’re after some Penfolds, and the place doesn’t have any or the vintages of Penfolds that it has, and “vintage” as in the year that that bottle of wine or that wine was bottled, say they’ve got the wrong one or they don’t have Penfolds at all, you could say, well, I don’t want any other wine but Penfolds from the Barossa Valley. Anything else isn’t worth a zack. Or maybe it’s the vintages that they have, and they’re atrocious, awful, cheap vintages that you hate. You could say, these ones aren’t worth zack. They’re not worth five cents. They’re worthless. They’re worth bugger all.
Alright, guys. Hopefully, you understand the expression “to not be worth a zack“. And I definitely challenge you guys to go out there and use this expression with some Australians, and see if they know it. You might find some Aussies who know this expression and who probably love hearing you say it, you know? It‘ll put a smile on their face. It’ll make them grin.
So, as usual guys, let’s go through a listen and repeat exercise where you guys get to practice your pronunciation. Try and say things exactly as I say them to work on your Australian pronunciation to get that Aussie accent happening. Let’s do it, guys. So, listen and repeat after me.
Listen & Repeat:
Not worth a zack.
Not worth a zack.
Not worth a zack.
Not worth a zack.
Not worth a zack.
I’m not worth a zack.
She’s not worth a zack.
He’s not worth a zack.
You’re not worth a zack.
We’re not worth a zack.
They’re not worth a zack.
It’s not worth a zack.
That’s it guys. Good job. And remember to sign up to The Aussie English Classroom if you want more in-depth exercises like this to practice your Aussie pronunciation and learn to speak Australian English just like me.
So, let’s go through an Australian fact, guys, and this ties in with “a zack”, so a sixpence or a six penny from the 1700s and 1800s. So, the Aussie fact for today is that Australia’s British colony obviously used the imperial system. So, we used pounds, shillings, and pence for our money. We used feet and inches and miles for measuring length or distances. And we used things like ounces for measuring the weight of something. Ok? So, this was like Americans use today, at least, in terms of feet, inches, miles, and ounces. They use dollars for their money, obviously. But yeah, we use this, and we used it up until the 14th of February 1966. So, my parents lived through a time where there were pounds, shillings, pence, feet, inches, miles, and ounces used as a measurement system in Australia. And in the 1960s, they switched the currency and these measurements from the imperial system to the metric system, so a decimal system, where the measurements are all relative to the number 10.
And so, the interesting thing here is that when they wanted to convert these they had to do a massive ad campaign, a massive ad campaign on TV, on the radio, to inform everyone that on the 14th of February 1966 the money was going to change over, that everything was going to change over. And so, for a period of time, and I was talking to my mum about this earlier this week, you could pay for things with pounds, shillings, and pence as well as dollars and cents. So, both currencies were being used at the same time in Australia for a period whilst this conversion was taking place. Anyway, there’s a really interesting jingle. So, the song from the ad, “a jingle” we call it. That catchy tune that are quite often really short, you know, 30 seconds. It’s used in this ad. I’m going to play it after this so that you can have a quick listen to the start of this jingle, and I‘ll also link the ad so that you can go and check it out. Anyway, that’s today’s fact. The currency changed over on the 14th of February 1966 from pounds, shillings, and pence to dollars and cents.
In come the dollars, in come the cents, to replace the pounds and the shillings and the pence. Be prepared folks when the coins begin to mix on the 14th of Feburary 1966.
Who are you?
I’m Dollar Bill, and I’ve come to tell everyone that decimal currency will be here from the 14th of February 1966.
What is decimal currency?
Decimal currency is simply a money system worked out in multiples of 10. The base unit is a dollar made up of 100 cents.
Anyway, guys, a few little announcements. Make sure you sign up for The Aussie English Classroom, guys, if you want all the bonus content for today’s episode. So, I’m redoing the website at the moment. It might look a little rough, but I’m working on it. And the new classroom, the reason that I’m redesigning the website is so that you can now do these all online. You can consume the material there. You get bonus exercises. You get vocab lists for every episode with all the tricky vocab defined as well as some writing exercises. You get the listening comprehension exercise. You get the phrasal verb substitution exercise to speak out loud and practice using phrases verbs in place of their synonyms, so different kinds of verbs. This is a great exercise to practice your pronunciation as well as expand your vocab and you’re speaking out loud. So, I think it’s a really good way of hitting all of these goals at once. Ok? After that we have an Aussie slang exercise where you learn Aussie slang and you can write it out in sentences. So, it’s a writing exercise as well. There’s a pronunciation exercise after that to practice a certain aspect of Aussie pronunciation. So, this exercise is specifically for things like a consonant sound or a vowel sound, something tricky that we can hone in on that we can focus on and really nail one week at a time, we change and up each week. After that is the connected speech, rhythm, or intonation exercise where we focus on an aspect of how Aussies speak whether it’s connected speech, how they connect the words, the rhythm that they speak with, or the intonation that they use at the ends of sentences. So, you’ll notice that I went the ends of sentences. My voice went up. And then the very last one is a little grammar exercise, and it’s a listen and repeat exercise as well, or it’s a written exercise.
Anyway, that’s a little view of all the different exercises that I build into each of these expression episodes, guys. There’re seven exercises that you can go through. You can use them as writing exercises. You can use them as listen and repeat MP3 audio exercises to practice speaking as well, or instead, if you don’t like writing. But the whole reason I’ve designed it this way is to help you learn Australian English just like a native.
Anyway, The Aussie English Classroom‘s being read done so that you can do this all on your phone. You can do it all online on your computer if you choose. And now each class is going to be like a mini course where you get points for completing certain parts. Where you get badges. So, you get little completion awards. You can interact with others. You can comment on things. You can message them. You can make friends on there, and you can chat to me on there as well.
Anyway guys, this’s been a really long episode. I hope you enjoy it. As always, if you want to give me some feedback, you can reach me on Facebook on The Aussie English Facebook page, you can send me a message. Make sure you jump on The Aussie English Classroom and give it a look as well. I know it’s going to help you upgrade your Australian English. And you can try it for one month for a dollar. Ok? So, you’ve got nothing to lose, guys. Give it a go. And with that, I hope you guys have an amazing week and I chat to you soon. See you guys.
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By pete — 2 years ago
Today I learned that the cute and cuddly platypus is venomous!
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