You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Posted in At Sea, Humor, Photography Tricks on August 31st, 2008 by MadDog
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A few nights ago we were out on Faded Glory for an evening of relaxation and recuperation.

I was taking photos of the sunset. I must have thousands of sunset and sunrise photos. It’s an obsession. I can’t stop doing it. Thank the merciful Lord that film is dead. Digital has saved the family fortune which would otherwise have been blown on thousands of rolls of film which would have been developed, printed, scanned into a computer and left invisible (mostly) to the rest of humanity.

With digital, I still have thousands of photos that nobody will ever see (like my short stories and poetry), but I have avoided the ruinous expense of all that film!

Anyway, that’s not what I want to rave about today.

Tristan Clements of World Vision is a young photographer with great eyes and a quirky imagination. While I was snapping away earnestly attempting to get the penultimate sunset shot – one that National Geographic would beg from me – Tristan stole the evening!

I kept seeing a camera flashing somewhere behind me and I thought that the kids (I call them kids because everybody but me looks about eighteen) were fooling around in the near dark snapping embarrassing pics to email around to their friends.

But no. Tristan was taking photos of me taking photos. Finally, when I wouldn’t pose just right he said, “Hold your camera up like this!”
And this is what happened:

The amazing sunset shot 

It’s the coolest sunset photo that I think I’ve ever seen and I didn’t get it!.

If you want to see some of Tristan’s excellent photography, go to his Flickr thingie here.

Oh, well.

All this reminds me of the other time when I felt I’d missed the boat, photographically speaking.

For months and months I submitted my UW fish Photos to the website’s photo contest.

Some of my photos got good reviews, but there was one that everybody raved about. I had only entered it into the contest for fun in another category.

You know what? I won second prize (a chintzy little silver medal) for 2005’s best above-the-water photo for this: 

Shiny Sunglasses

Some of you may recognise Amanda Watson’s reflection in the lenses.

Reminds me of the old Stones song, You Can’t Always Get What You Want.

I try all the time. I usually get what I need.

Night Sneaks Up on Faded Glory

Posted in At Sea on August 30th, 2008 by MadDog
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Wednesday evening we went out on Faded Glory for some glorious down-time in the clear, dark waters near Pig Island.

Among the passengers was the usual mob of NGO volunteers.

Arriving at our anchorage we were treated to yet another irrationally beautiful Madang sunset: 

Yet another Madang sunset

Yes, that is exactly how it looked. Ask anyone who has seen a good one.

Michael Wolfe wanted to do a final dive before leaving Madang. Nobody else was in the mood, so we let him potter around close to the boat on his first solo night dive.

Here’s Mike showing his usual enthusiasm: 

Mike is never short of glee

Here is a photo of Faded Glory when she was much prettier: 

Faded Glory before she faded so badly

She is truly faded now – her brilliant yellow is now a sort of mouldy mushroomy beige.

But she’s a goer!

A Sleeping Beauty

Posted in Mixed Nuts on August 29th, 2008 by MadDog
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The evening routine is comfortable.

Arriving home, my first duty is to mix a gin and tonic (a strictly medicinal traditional anti-malarial) for Eunie who then heads to the boudoir for her evening nap.

I sit in my favourite chair with as SP Export Lager and a cheap cigar to read and pet our dog Sheba.

Travails of the day are forgotten as we unwind and recuperate.

Yesterday evening I saw Eunie in her repose and my camera called out to me.

Here is what I saw: 

A Sleeping Beauty

Having absorbed her medicine, she usually watches TV until she falls gently into slumber with her little thumb still planted firmly on the channel button. Worries recess. Peace is restored.

I married a beautiful woman when she was twenty. Forty-four years later she is still beautiful.

I’m the luckiest guy on the planet.

Office Addition Project – Second Report

Posted in Mixed Nuts, PBT Happenings on August 28th, 2008 by MadDog
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It has been a little over a week since the first progress report on our new Publishing and Training (Office Extension) addition. As project manager, I’m very happy with the accomplishments of the fellows from Lae Builders.

No point in being chatty about this – let’s get to the photos.

Last week we saw the site preparations and digging the footing trenches. Here we see that the fellows have poured the footing, compacted the soil, laid the edge blocks, and put down the iron matting. I’m not a builder so I’m probably not using the right language, but the photo tells it all:

Preparing the foundation 

The next day the cement truck arrived. It was a very busy time. The truck is small, as you can see. I think it took three or four loads to pour the slab:

Pouring the slab

 After they levelled it out, they got out their handy rotary trowel machine and smoothed it off very nicely:

A nice smooth job

 This is how it looked this morning. They already have three courses of blocks laid. They delivered the rest of the blocks this morning, so I expect that by next week’s report, it is going to look much different:

It’s going up!

 Hey, we’re getting a building built here! It’s amazing what can happen when you quit talking about something and just DO IT!

If you got this link in an email and you haven’t seen our first report, you can find it here.

The Things I Do For Money

Posted in At Sea, Dangerous on August 27th, 2008 by MadDog
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This morning I did something totally out of character for me. I got up at 05:15. That’s remarkable by itself. What makes it stranger yet is that I got up that early to take a single photograph.

I needed a photo of the Coastwatchers Monument for a magazine article that’s due tomorrow. But, I did not want the standard Coastwatchers Monument snap. I wanted something different.

Man, did I get different.

As I cruised past the Madang Resort Hotel, I took this shot. The sun was up just enough to give the sky a little colour, but the lights were still on. It took a lot of work to massage this one into life, but it was worth it – very moody – just the way I like it:

The Madang Resort Hotel at Dawn

 Heading out into Astrolabe Bay, I could see that the sea was a bit more rambunctious than I had hoped for. In fact, I was having a wonderful time just hanging onto the boat with one hand while shooting with the other. I must have taken about 300 shots.

Here’s one that I like. You can see that the sea is a bit bumpy. Look carefully (click to enlarge) and you will see a rainbow circling the sun. I like the combination of the moody wine-dark sea and the cheeriness of the rising sun playing with the clouds:

Astrolabe Bay Sunrise 

All this fussing around was just to get this shot:

Coastwatchers Monument at Dawn

 It is a bit different from the stock Coastwatchers Monument photo.

I finally had to back off from the confused waves close to the rocks. I was being knocked around so much that it was getting uncomfortable. Little Faded Glory is only about seven metres long. She’s a game little tinnie, but I’d had enough bruises for one day.

Oh, my aching shoulder.

Not a Significant Thought In My Head

Posted in My Garden, Photography Tricks on August 26th, 2008 by MadDog
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Roaming around in my garden this morning, I was lured into my back yard by the warm sun oozing lazily around between the house and the big mango tree. I don’t go around back much – that’s haus meri territory. I’m not really allowed back there.

Here’s the mango tree that is responsible for waking me thousands of times during the night when a half-kilo mango falls from five metres onto our iron roof (THUMP!): 

The big mango tree out back

I turned around to walk back to the house and spied something that nearly made me jump out of my skin. I had no idea that there was a blue variety of hibiscus. The sun was lighting it from behind, so it looked like a bit of bright sky transplanted into my garden: 

A blue hibiscus (not)

Okay, okay, I’m lying. There may be blue hibiscus somewhere. I just don’t remember seeing any.

I was a little bored this morning and didn’t seem to have a significant thought in my head, so I did what relaxes me most. As the Mythbusters guy, Adam Savage, says, “I reject your reality and substitute my own.”

I decided to try to make a convincing Photoshop fake of this: 

The real hibiscus

As you may gather, that is the original hibiscus.

Were you convinced at all? Just a little?

A Nasty Customer and Fancy Pants

Posted in Under the Sea on August 25th, 2008 by MadDog
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Rasch Passage was calm and beautiful on Saturday. We dived there, took some surface time to enjoy the fine weather, and then went over to Wongat Island to dive the Green Dragon B-25 bomber.

At Rasch Passage, we were greeted immediately by a large school of Blue and Yellow Fusiliers (Caesio teres). These smallish fish (a little bigger than your hand) always travel in schools and seem attracted to divers. This mob swam around me several times before becoming bored:

Blue and Yellow Fusiliers

I caught a shot of three buddies finning ahead of me against the background of sky. The photo looked hopeless because of the slightly murky water, but I Photoshopped it unmercifully until I came up with something I call “The Alien Divers”:

Alien Divers

Over at Wongat Island, photos of the bomber proved to be too boring. I’ve taken about a gozillion shots of it and I’m a little tired. I did manage this nice, clear shot of the twin .50 Browning machineguns in the dorsal turret:

The twin .50 Browning M2s on the dorsal turret of the B-25

The water around the bomber was much clearer than it usually is. We could see nearly the entire fuselage.

You can usually find ribbon eels (Rhinomuraena quaesita) under the wings of the bomber. This one is a male. The juveniles are coal black with a white stripe where the yellow is on the adult. They wave about in the sluggish current catching food as it floats near them:

Ribbon Eel

In the coral at the tail section, I caught this Humpnose Bigeye Bream (sub-adult Monotaxis grandoculis). I don’t use flash underwater unless I can’t get by without it. In this case, it worked out better with flash:

 Humpnose Bigeye Bream

More exotic creatures awaited us as we made our way back up the reef to the mooring line. I caught this mantis shrimp (Odontodactylus scyallarus) in the open – a rare occurrence. He was foraging when he saw me and immediately ducked into a burrow. I crept up close and held my breath until I was getting dizzy. Finally, he stuck his head out long enough for me to get this shot:

Mantis Shrimp

Mantis shrimp are strange creatures. They kill fish by punching them with their ‘fists’ – modified legs that are either like boxing gloves or clubs with spears attached. This picture is the same species that I once had in an aquarium. I used to feed it bits of frozen chicken. I once was showing off to some friends and decided to ‘hand feed’ instead of just dropping it into the tank. This was a huge mistake. The little creep speared my thumb. The hole was deep and pumped an astonishing amount of blood into the tank. I had to change the water.

Hermit crabs are so common that you could fill a hard disk quickly with photos of the little furry-legged fellows. This one deserves a little space because of the sheer cheek of its gaudy legs:

Hermit Crab

I’d love to have a pair of trousers with that pattern and colour. I’d wear them the next time I visit my therapist. I know just what she’d say. “How are those trousers working for you?”