Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Australia's Not-So-Wild Dog

With thoughts of continuing work on a painting I began several months ago, I took advantage of "half-price Wednesday" at Perth Zoo today with hopes of fluking some decent photographs of a dingo or two. A dingo will be the main character in the painting and I have some half-formed ideas about the pose I'd ideally like to depict. It was never going to be easy to secure the perfect photographic reference, but I hoped to be able to pick and choose and combine elements from several photos.

In the middle of a warm Australian day, however, this is the best I could manage. Talking to one of the zoo keepers, it seems this old fellow is fast approaching his use-by date and is slowing down somewhat, although he did make the effort to turn and look at us - perhaps he sensed we were discussing him. Next to his enclosure are promotional shots of him with his sister, who was co-tenant until her recent death, which show them in their prime and posing magnificently. Just the photographs I was looking to take myself!

With the end seemingly imminent, there are plans afoot to replace him with two new animals. The replacements have even been sourced, but until nature takes its course and he shuffles off to wherever it is old dingoes shuffle off to, he'll live out his remaining days in solitude; it's thought that two new frisky arrivals will be too upsetting for him.

In his dotage, it's said he's fussed over by the keepers and is even taken for a walk around the zoo grounds each morning before the gates are opened - at a much slower pace than was once the case.

Without wanting to sound mean-spirited, it's clear that this old guy isn't going to provide the photos I want and that I'll have to venture further afield for some livelier specimens. I can only hope he enjoys his remaining time and laps up the attention he deservedly receives from his keepers for a good while longer.



Candace X. Moore said...

Peter, Could you cobble together an image from freeze frames of a good HD nature documentary on dingos? Is this a reasonable use of another artists' images? Would be interested in your opinion. Best, Candace

Peter Brown said...

Ooh, now there's a juicy can of worms just waiting to be opened Candace!

You mean, is it OK to somehow capture and make use of individual frames from a video when it would clearly be an infringement of copyright to use still photographs taken by someone else without their consent? My immediate reaction is a loud NO, but I hope others will take the bait and weigh in with their opinions.

Whatever the consensus, thanks for stopping by!

Peter Brown said...

I'm off to bed, but having second thoughts on this subject already Candace!

April Jarocka said...

Glad to see you are back in the thinking seat of painters world and back in blogland Peter. It's always good to be in that place where inspiration is germinating. I hope your photos provide you with inspiration for yet another breathtaking wildlife painting.
All the best

john said...

Hello Peter, I look forward to seeing a Dingo painting. How common are Dingos in the wild around Perth? I use other people's photos all the time. In the course of the painting, I make so many changes that the finished painting bears no resemblance to the photos I used. Is that plagerism? Who knows.

Peter Brown said...

Hi April, Thanks for visiting. I'm afraid the harsh realities of life such as the need to pay bills and keep a roof over our heads has interfered with my painting time lately. I hope to be back at it again soon.

Peter Brown said...

John, I'm not sure there are many dingoes close to Perth. The few that have ventured close to the cities are likely to have bred with domestic dogs and pure-bred animals are on the decline as a result.

In pastoral areas, "doggers" are still employed to eradicate dingoes through trapping, shooting and strychnine baiting. It's hard to imagine them disappearing altogether, but their future looks bleak. There is, however, a push in some quarters to conserve the breed and protect the purity of its bloodlines.

As far as using other people's photos goes, I'm still unsure what constitutes copyright infringement. As with so many things in life, when in doubt, let your conscience be your guide!

Sally McLean said...

Welcome back Peter!! Looking forward to seeing more of your works!!

Peter Brown said...

Thanks Sally. Unfortunately - or fortunately - I just scored a two week computing contract in the city (ugh!), so more delays I'm afraid. Alarm clocks, ironed shirts and rush-hour traffic will hopefully jolt me into action afterwards where my art work is concerned!

Erik said...

Hi Peter, bills have to be paid I'm afraid. Back in '94 , waaay back :) I visited Fraser island and saw quite a few dingos there. Maybe you can combine a reference-shoot with a holiday?

Peter Brown said...

Hey Erik, great idea! Why didn't I think of that?

In fact, the zoo keeper I spoke with yesterday remarked that it's the dingo population on Fraser Island which gives hope that a pure strain can be preserved. As an island from which domestic dogs are banned, there's limited opportunity for cross-breeding and dilution of the breed.

Gary Keimig said...

I guess it happens to all of us. I feel for the guy. Everytime I step around these days. At least I should get better.[fingers crossed]looks as though you will have to head for the out back Peter.
Interesting your conversation with the zoo keeper as to purity of species. An ongoing problem in the modern world

Gary Keimig said...

Another comment Peter. As to using copyrighted material. I often will use a number of photos shot from others from my wildlife file on various animals. I first come up with a poor sketch[scribble if you will]then go to my files and pick out various photos that will approximate the scribble I have done using tracing paper overlays touching up, erasing-more tracing paper overlays until I have a semblance of what I have conceived of originally. I know many wildlife artist who do the same thing and don't really see it as an infringement on copyrights? Love to hear others thoughts on the subject.
In so doing one must have knowlege of the animal anatomy, habits, and habitats.

Peter Brown said...

Thanks for the comments Gary. It seems there's a school of thought which says that "borrowing" the photos of others is OK so long as they're changed in the process. I guess it doesn't pay to get too hung up on the subject!

Yes, heading for the outback sounds like a good idea. Ordinarily, we'd be thinking about packing the car and heading north for a month around about now, but partner Sandi has gone "back to school" this year to improve her job prospects. It'll be tough missing out on a trip away, but I'm sure we'll make up for it.