Malcolm Tattersall as writer and photographer

Looking back

What you see depends on where you stand, and if you’re a photographer (as I am) it also depends on whether you have a wide-angle lens or something else.

Standing at the end of my first year of “retirement” (and the word does need scare quotes when applied to me) and looking back through a wide-angle lens I see a series of zones – foreground, middle ground, middle distance, far distance, horizon – each spanning 15 – 20 years.

On the horizon, of course, are my earliest memories; beyond them, nothing but sky.

In the far distance, a rural Victorian childhood: farm life until my early teens and then small-town life; books and music, school, bikes, wandering through the bush. Then an abrupt, challenging, change to life in Melbourne, a much richer and more diverse society; study and work moving from science/engineering to music.

In the middle ground, Townsville: fully engaged in music (teaching, performing and writing) in my work life, with a young family occupying most of the rest of my energy. The foreground, the last fifteen years or so, is not so clearly separated from the middle distance. It has seen me moving, still in Townsville, out of music and back towards books and writing, nature and political engagement, while becoming an empty-nester and downsizer.

And here I stand, looking back.

I wrote a CV for my music site about 2004 and it’s now here (on my recently revised music pages) while that part of my life recedes into the distance.  I wrote another for Green Path ten years ago and updated it recently for Words & Images, and here it is.

Writing and photography

I grew up surrounded by – indeed, immersed in – books and music. The latter became my career while the former remained an essential part of my life.

Writing developed initially as an ancillary to my performing and music teaching. I contributed regularly to The Recorder, the de facto national journal for Early Music, from its first issue in 1984, going on to edit it and to write for many other journals including Sounds Australian and Music Forum. As I realised that I enjoyed writing for its own sake, I gradually took it in other directions.

My interests have always been broad. I have read widely in science (especially its history), religion and philosophy; fantasy and SF; and literary fiction. I find most naturalistic fiction dull but believe that a good children’s book is a good book and enjoy historical fiction, police procedurals and thrillers. All of this made it natural for me to take up reviewing for my local newspaper, the Townsville Bulletin (2004-2011), when time became available. I have also contributed book reviews to LiNQ, Viewpoint, The Australian Rationalist, The Helix and other publications. A little later I became the editor of Waves, a monthly newsletter for the Reef HQ Volunteers Association, a role which ended when I parted company with Reef HQ over Abbot Point in 2014.

In the same transformative period I learned enough coding to create my first personal web site in 2004 and since then I have created and managed sites for others.

Also in that time frame I began to take photography seriously after using a borrowed camera to record a trip to Europe and getting frustrated by its limitations. I now use a Canon DSLR, usually with a 100 mm macro lens for insects and a 400mm zoom lens for birds. The core of my work is wildlife and landscape photography but other subjects attract my attention from time to time.

All the photographs on Green Path, except for one or two very obvious exceptions, are my own. I also have a large collection of wildlife photos, mostly insects and birds, on flickr; a smaller but still growing collection on iNaturalist; and an even larger collection on my hard drive. Additionally, this gallery presents a set of Buddhist-themed photos for sale via Paypal, and several small collections of art photos (still temporarily hosted on Green Path) are here.

Most of my photos are available at larger sizes (higher resolutions) than uploaded to the blog or to flickr, from postcard up to A4 depending on the original. If you wish to use any of them, please contact me.

My enthusiasm for photography synergised with my long-standing interest in the environment to lead to an article for Wildlife Australia Magazine late in 2009 and regular shorter items for Kapok, my local Landcare newsletter. More recently, my photographs have been included in two new CSIRO Field Guides (Spiders and Native Bees) and appear regularly in newsletters and on websites of conservation-related NQ organisations.

At this point I welcome opportunities in writing and photography. If you need someone with my skills, please contact me.

Last updated Febrary 2021

Recent publications

Book reviews are here. Other pieces:

  • Birdwings and Butterfly Vines. Guest post, CDTLI blog, August 2020.
  • Bottlebrush or paperbark? Callistemon or Melaleuca? Guest post, CDTLI blog, Feb 2020.
  • Ringlets on Castle Hill. Kapok, October 2017
  • Swallowtails and Nymphs. Kapok, April 2017
  • Hoverflies. Kapok, December 2016
  • How will climate change affect Townsville’s water security? Guest post, NQCC blog, November 2016
  • A stroll beside Crystal Creek: WQ August field trip. Guest post on WQ blog, August 2016
  • Life in a very small world. Kapok, April 2015
  • Leucauge in North Queensland. Australasian Arachnology, No. 86, September 2015
  • Milkweed Butterflies. Kapok, June 2014
  • Mantis flies. Kapok, October 2013
  • Paper Wasps. Kapok, March 2013
  • How Many Pixels Do You Need?  Metamorphosis Australia, magazine of the Butterfly and Other Invertebrates Club, No. 67, Dec 2012
  • A rift in time: visiting Porcupine Gorge. Wildlife Australia Magazine,  Spring 2012
  • Green and Good: YA fiction with environmental themes. Viewpoint,  Vol 20/2, Winter 2012
  • The Ant Colony. Music Forum,  Vol 18/2 Autumn (Feb) 2012, now here as “A Tropical Abundance — Music in Townsville” which is a far more informative title.
  • Ambush Predators. Kapok, Dec 2011
  • … plus more CD reviews for Music Forum and Music & Vision.
Last updated October 2020