The NEW, IMPROVED Madang – Ples Bilong Mi

Posted in Mixed Nuts on November 18th, 2008 by MadDog
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I’ve opened up this ‘free’ WordPress site to preserve what I had before. I may end up moving again.

If you’re a hard-core reader, please stick with me.  I’m not dying. I’m just having a little blog problem.

As a tidbit of information for today, here’s a photo of the Harley being uncrated:

The Harley Comes to Madang

It felt so very weird riding it up Modilon Road.

More to come – stay tuned.

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Posted in Mixed Nuts on November 17th, 2008 by MadDog
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I knew it would happen. I’ve somehow messed things up and now I can’t upload any images.

To top that off, the Harley is arriving in the morning. (not so disgusted about that!)

I hope to be back up and running in a day or so.

Please stay tuned.


Future Olympic Divers

Posted in Humor, Mixed Nuts on November 16th, 2008 by MadDog
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When I came back from diving yesterday, there was the usual mob of neighbour kids playing on our dock. They helped me get my stuff up to the house and then went back to their play.

As soon as I walked back out of the house with my camera, the show began. Pointing a camera at kids playing will always get you some good shots – nowhere more than in Papua New Guinea.

Sheba likes to supervise the playtime. The kids love her because, while she’s big and scary looking compared to the other dogs in the compound, she loves to be around the children and never gets cross with them:

Sheba likes to supervise the diving competition

That’s about all the comment needed for this post. The rest is just happy photos of kids having a good time.Here’s

Esmerelda showing off:

Esmerelda showing off

Walking on the moon:

Walking on the Moon





Falling asleep:

Falling asleep

Big splash:

Big splash

Esmerelda’s potential belly-flop:

Esmerelda's belly-flop

Crazy man:

Crazy man

Having more fun that this would likely be illegal.

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Back to the Market

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Opinions on November 15th, 2008 by MadDog
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When I travel back to North America one of the most common questions I hear is, “What do you eat in Papua New Guinea.” That’s when it’s nice to have photos of the market.

I enjoy going to the market. Sometimes I actually buy things.

Usually, however, it’s to see what’s going one and take some photos.

How about some nice, stinky smoked tuna heads? Or, if you can’t afford a head, maybe a tail will do:Stinky smoked fish at the market in Madang, Papua New GuineaIf you’re making a stew, some carrots will do:Super-orange carrots at the market in Madang, Papua New GuineaThe colours are sumptuous at the market and the light coming through the trees plays wonderful tricks. These tomatoes are every bit as tasty as they look:Sweet, sweet tomatoes at the market in Madang, Papua New GuineaMaybe you’ve never tasted a sugar fruit. They are like passionfruit, but sweeter. The flavour is very yummy and aromatic, but the seeds are very crunchy. The flesh is very . . . I can only think of the word slimy to describe it. The combination of the gooey, slick flesh and the crunchy seeds takes a bit of getting-used-to. Think of bits of broken glass in gelatine:

Sugarfruit at the market in Madang, Papua New Guinea
Here we have sugarcane, bananas, green coconuts, and a big papaya:Sugar cane and bananas at the market in Madang, Papua New GuineaYou only need take a few things to the market for a pleasant hour or so. Take coins and small banknotes – they usually don’t have change. Take your camera. And don’t forget to bring your smile.

You’ll need it.

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Fun in Berlin

Posted in Mixed Nuts on November 14th, 2008 by MadDog
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It’s been a long time since I was a functional American, but the lure of a Wal*Mart was simply too strong to resist:Walmart has invaded BerlinYesssss, kiddies, there is a giant Wal*Mart in Berlin and it is chock full of the same crap that you would find in Berlin, Ohio or Berlin, Indiana, or any of numerous other Berlins in the USA.

As I reminisce about the connection between so many childhood fears of instant annihilation by a nuclear ‘device’, I recall clearly that Berlin was constantly on our minds.

I’m sure that many people lived with a sort of dull background noise of fear for a long, long time, but probably nowhere was it louder than in Cold War America.

So, as I approached the Brandenburg Gate, I was feeling a little emotional:Brandenburg Gate, Berlin - The standard tourist shotThat’s the standard tourist shot.

This one is a little more dramatic, but it doesn’t show the whole thing:The pretty horses on top of the Brandenburg Gate, BerlinI like this one better. It’s the side that nobody ever bothers to notice:The back side of the Brandenburg Gate, BerlinHere’s an interesting marker out in front of the gate that shows exactly where the Wall was:The marker in the street that shows where The Wall was - BerlinAnd, of course, everybody wants a photo of the wall. There are lots of places where you can see old bits of it painted colourfully, but the section that I liked best is the one that you can’t get near – it’s behind a protective barrier for very good reasons:A part of The Wall that you can't get to - BerlinI can remember watching the TV with tears streaming down our faces as we saw Berliners pounding away at the Wall with anything that came to hand.

What a time!

In the American mind the focus of unease was Checkpoint Charlie:Checkpoint Charlie - BerlinThere is an excellent Checkpoint Charlie Museum nearby. I highly recommend it.

And what would a visit to Berlin be without seeing a hopped-up Trabant:The unreliable and terribly smelly Trabant all blinged up - BerlinI don’t remember what this statue was all about, but I do recall that I liked it, so I’ll show it to you:

A beautiful statue in Berlin of a young woman releasing a dove
I didn’t like the distracting scaffolding in the background, so I made it go away:
A beautiful statue in Berlin of a young woman releasing a dove (without the distracting scaffolding)
You can always tell when I’m having an impossible day. I throw a bunch of photos at you with little comment.

It is the thinking and the writing that sometimes take more time than I can give, but I’m not going to cheat myself by skipping a day just because it’s been hectic.

I must do this. It’s becoming an obsession.

Robot blogger.

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The Rule of Thirds

Posted in Photography Tricks on November 13th, 2008 by MadDog
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The ancient Greeks did a lot of thinking. So much thinking, in fact, that much of it still affects nearly every aspect modern life.

The Greeks thought a lot about what was good. They thought about what looked good. Greek mathematicians came up with an idea that they called the Golden Ratio. There’s a lot of fancy maths involved, but we don’t need to be concerned with that.

It boils down to the idea (hugely simplified) that square stuff and round stuff and stuff in the middle of other stuff doesn’t generally look as good as rectangles (especially the Golden Rectangle), odd shapes, and things that are off centre.

The Golden Ratio turns out to be close enough to one-third for our purposes. (Well, actually  about 2/3, but, never mind . . .)

So, how do we put this time-honoured secret of ancient artists of all stripes to work for us in our point-and-shoot camera? As it turns out, it doesn’t make a hill of beans difference what kind of camera you have, because it’s all in your head.

One gets so used to thinking about the Rule of Thirds that it becomes automatic. When I took this photo of a cute little hermit crab this morning, I wasn’t thinking, “Remember the Rule of Thirds.”I just snapped what looked good to me: (Thanks for the identification of the species Coenobita cavipes (juvenile)  from our correspondent ‘Curlz’.)

A little Hermit Crab demonstrating the Rule of ThirdsHowever, as you can see, it does comply:
A little Hermit Crab demonstrating the Rule of Thirds (with lines drawn in) - Jan MessersmithSo, what is  it?

Well, as you can see from the second shot with the lines drawn in (please don’t check the accuracy of my lines, I was guessing), the idea is that the photo will be more interesting if you place an important point of interest (usually the most important) near a point where two lines cross or along one or more of the lines.

Why is  this? Don’t ask me. It just works.

When does it work? Well, almost always:
Some guys demonstrating the Rule of Thirds by pouring cementI could have centred the workmen and the cement truck. It would have been okay.

But, look at how the negative space of the poured cement forces your eyes towards the workmen and the truck. The cement has its own story, but because there’s so much of it there and it’s so uninteresting, it pushes your attention to the real subject of the image.

Here’s another example of when it works nicely:
A young man looking out a window in Florence, Italy demonstrates the Rule of ThirdsThe wall was pretty much the same everywhere. The young man looking out of the window (In Florence, Italy, if you’re wondering) is the focus of our interest. I could have cropped it differently so that the man in the window and the window above were both on intersections. I tried it. I didn’t like it.

In this shot of a blacksmith at a cultural show in Prague, I’m using two of the vertical lines:
A Prague Blacksmith demonstrates the Rule of ThirdsThere are two points of interest here: the blacksmith and the people watching him. To accent the watchers, I blurred everything but the faces that are turned toward the blacksmith. It’s easy to overdo this sort of funny business and I nearly did so here.

Here’s a shot that uses two intersections:

I'm sitting in front of the Elimo Hotel in Eriche, Sicily demonstrating the Rule of Thirds
It was very hot in Sicily that day. I had to have a rest.

Sometimes the Rule of Thirds works even if taken to extremes. The kind of cropping that you see here is extreme:

Friends demonstrating the Rule of Thirds in the Vienna Woods
The shot works. The couple said that it is one of their favourite photos of the two of them together.

I really had no choice. The couple was standing next to some other people. I had to crop very closely on the man to get rid of a beer can in someone else’s hand. It was a misty morning up in the Vienna Woods. I wanted to get the mood of the scene. The couple seemed to be almost intrusive. I took the shot anyway, thinking that I could crop them out later. When I saw it on the screen, I said, “No way.” They look as if they belong there.

It takes a little time to begin to think of composition when taking snapshots, but sometimes it pays.

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Along Came a Spider

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Photography Tricks on November 12th, 2008 by MadDog
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Well, nothing has happened at all concerning moving Madang – Ples Bilong Mi to a new server. It turns out that I’m a complete incompetent. I did my best, but it’s not working. So, we’ll stay put for the time being until I can get somebody smarter to help me.

When I got up this morning, I truly thought the world had caught fire. I stepped into the lounge and ghastly red light was pouring through the front windows – never seen anything like it. I ran to the front of the house and looked out. The entire eastern sky was bright fiery red and it was raining hard.

I ran to get my camera and a towel. By the time I had reached the dock and started to shoot, the show was mostly over, but the sky was still a nice orange colour:Orange Sunrise
Being already wet, I stopped to take this shot:
Water drops on a banana leafNever pass up a chance to shoot water drops.

Next, I went over to my funny little hibiscus patch where there are always several different kinds of bees humming about.

This little fellow was oblivious to me. His tiny hind legs fat with pollen, he gobbled away. Notice the Rule of Thirds again (and on the sunrise shot). It worked beautifully on this shot: (it’s quite nice if you click to enlarge)A busy little bee demonstrating the Rule of Thirds
On my way back to the house, I noticed this small spider. He’s about half the size of a pencil eraser. He was a very cooperative subject, sitting quietly while I jostled the leaf trying to get the right angle. Or maybe he was simply frozen with terror:

Along Came a Spider
I know that I certainly would be. I like the way the light plays with his legs to make spidery looking shadows.

I ran the full-sized image of the little spider through Microsoft’s Photozoom site so that you can see his gorgeous hairy legs:

I wouldn’t stare at the detail for too long.

Other planets couldn’t have things much stranger than our good old Earth.

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