Underwater Variety Pack

Posted in Under the Sea on March 31st, 2009 by MadDog
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I spent the day wrestling a herd of piggish computers in the mud-hole of DHCP and DNS problems. It’s fixed now, but I feel all stinky from the smell of fear (you IT guys know what I’m talking about – when nobody at the office smiles at you UNTIL YOU MAKE IT WORK AGAIN).  Please, somebody, anybody . . . take my job!

So, I’ll relax for a few minutes and show you some fishy stuff.

There are lots of pretty starfish. But, there are few large pretty starfish. This is one of them. Behold Choriaster granulatus:

Starfish (Choriaster granulatus)

The specimen above was about 25cm across.

This blue giant is a Hump Headed Parrotfish (Bulbometopon muricatum):

Hump Headed Parrotfish (Bulbometopon muricatum)

It’s very difficult to get close to them. This was an exceedingly lucky shot. I swam as fast as I could to get close to it quickly as it glided along slowly. Suddenly, it turned, possibly to get a better look at me. I snapped. The big blue fellow hustled away down the slope and was out of sight in a couple of seconds. They eat coral. We sometimes see big groups (up to maybe 20) swimming around chomping on the hard coral. The front of the head is very bony and the teeth are like giant concrete dentures.

This floppy thing is a Magnificent Anemone (Heteractis magnifica). It has become detached by the surge of the waves on the top of the reef. It’s not a problem for the creature. When the waves settle down, it will spread out and reattach itself. If you click to enlarge you can see the little sucker thingies on the underside that fix themselves to the rocks. There are two Clark’s Anemonefish (Amphiprion clarkii) living in this anemone. I’ve featured many kinds of Anemonefish here on Madang – Ples Bilong Mi.

Magnificent Anemone (Heteractis magnifica)

Finally, we have this shy horror, the Giant Moray Eel (Gymnothorax javanicus).

Moray Eel (Gymnothorax javanicus)

I love to see the look on a diver’s face when he first sees one of these. It’s really too funny for words.

So, I won’t try.

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The Elemental Incremental Sunrise

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Opinions on March 30th, 2009 by MadDog
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The alarm rang at 05:30 this morning. What a drag! Eunie had to get up to go the airport for something. I poked my head out of the front door. Hmmmm . . . First time in a week that the sky was clear in the East at this time of morning. I grabbed by camera and tripod and staggered down to the edge of the harbour about 10 metres from my front door.

This shot, taken at about 05:45 needed a ten second exposure. That’s why the water looks so glassy:

05:45 Sunrise at my house in Madang, Papua New Guinea

You can clearly see the lights of town. The sky appears almost completely blue, because the sun’s light is only striking the upper layers of the atmosphere, which is relatively clear of dust and other nasty stuff that causes the red colours.

At about 06:00 things were beginning to change. This exposure was less than a second, so you can see wavelets on the water. Also, since the sky is much brighter, you can barely see the remaining lights in town. The sun’s rays are coming into the lower atmosphere now, not quite at cloud top level, but low enough to pick up red-scattering dust close to the horizon:

06:00 Sunrise at my house in Madang, Papua New Guinea

Now, at about 06:15 the sun is beginning to catch local clouds and light them up. Light is coming straight through the troposphere, where most of the dust is, so we’re getting as much red as we’re going to get:

06:15 Sunrise at my house in Madang, Papua New Guinea

All three images appear to be about the same brightness. However the actual light available in the first shot, during which I could barely see a bluish glow in the sky, is probably several hundred times dimmer than in the third one, which was nearly as bright as day. I can tell that from the shutter speeds. They ranged from 10 seconds down to about a tenth of a second. If my rusty old memory serves to do the numbers that’s about 8 f  stops which come out to something like 250 times more light on the third shot than the first. (No, wait. Forget that. I remember now – it’s a logarithmic  scale. There was probably several thousand times more light for the last shot than the first. This is what modern digital cameras do to you. They make you forget the fundamentals. Just twiddle the knobs and buttons until it looks okay on the little screen.)

If I’ve got it wrong, leave a comment. I love to be publicly humiliated. I’m funny that way.

It never fails to amaze me what one can learn from simple observations of the world around us. The beauty is a bonus.

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Mystery Object of the Month

Posted in At Sea, Humor, Mixed Nuts, Photography Tricks on March 29th, 2009 by MadDog
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Oh, the sky was looking mighty fine when I got up this morning. Made me feel nearly human:

Sunrise Panorama

But, let’s get down to business. I told you before that I was invited on an Australian warship after taking a couple of sailors out fishing. I took only one photo while on board. In one of the main control rooms where the ship’s technicians hang out, there were two little stainless steel objects attached to a railing on the ceiling of the compartment. I asked about the curious devices and was told that they are little floats with magnets on the end. They float in a fluid filled chamber close to a sensor and the position of the magnet indicates the level of the fluid. Clever, eh?

Mystery objects found aboard an Australian warship

But, that’s not the interesting part. When not busy doing their normal work, they are put to another very important task involving the morale of the entire crew. When two spares are hung side-by-side as you see here, the configuration takes on a  special title. I wonder if you can guess what they are called. Sorry, there is no prize for the correct answer. It’s too easy to just examine the file name when you look at the bottom of your browser while your mouse is hovering over the photo. Personally, I think it is very funny. Your mileage may differ.

We have plenty of these flowers in my garden. I think they are some kind of daisy. I do particularly like the colour. Only yesterday, I showed you a white blossom that was just beginning to open.

Magenta daisy

By the way, these are the “Harmonious Daisies” that we planted in anticipation of the visitation of Swami Monty.

As I sat on the steps leading up to my veranda this morning, looking around for tasty fodder for my camera, I spotted this grumpy crab sitting on a Pandanus leaf. It’s usually difficult to get close to them. They are quite skittish. This one held fast while I captured him for you:

Grumpy looking crab on a Pandanus leaf

The detail on the crab is pretty nice, if you care to click to enlarge.

This shot is actually my favourite of the day. I like ants – as long as they stay out of the house. They are so inspiring. Busy, busy, busy.

Nevertheless, they always have time for romance. I’ve written about ants falling in love before:

When ants fall in love

I’ve also warned the world about the hideous plot by the Ant Body Snatchers to steal all of our precious ants. As if that’s not enough (you can never do enough for ants – nag, nag, nag), I’ve told you about Muli Ants and the effects of Weird Gravity.

After all, who would you rather have cleaning up after you, ants, or cockroaches?

For my parting shot, let me inform you that there is someone (Jungle John) who actually holds the Guiness World Record for lying with live cockroaches.

Yes, kiddies, it is sadly true. He is also one the few human beings to be eaten by a balloon and survive.

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A Little Garden Magic

Posted in My Garden on March 28th, 2009 by MadDog
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My garden was a pleasant place this morning. the light was subdued. This pumpkin flower, as big as my hand, stood out as brightly as the sun:

Pumpkin Flower

It rained just before dawn – not unusual this time of year – and this reproductive gear of a hibiscus flower was dripping wet:

Hibiscus reproductive gear
I have a compulsion to take photos of water droplets. On this Pandanus leaf, you can see the reflection of my camera in the larger drops on the left:

Water Drops on Pandanus leaf

These checker board winged flies are crazy about these yellow flowers:

Checkerboard wing flies on a yellow flower

Flies and bees are always interesting subjects – if you can get them to hold still.

A daisy bud just broke open this morning. It looks strangely like something fancy that you might find on your plate in a very expensive restaurant. In the unfocused background, you can see how the blossom will look when it unfurls:

Daisy bud

Other gardens entice me. Nevertheless, though my garden is so small, I’m always amazed that every day that I explore it I find something new.

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Astounding Port Moresby Sky

Posted in Mixed Nuts on March 27th, 2009 by MadDog
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Eunie came back from Port Moresby yesterday morning with a present for me from Rich Jones. It’s nice to have friends who know what you like. This, I like:Astounding sky shot by Rich JonesI’ve seen some good sky shots and I’ve taken a few myself, but I’d have to put this in the top ten. Rich, you know your way around a camera.

Rich referred to J. M. W. Turner as the ‘look’. I agree. To prove it, here’s a Turner:
A painting by J. M. W. TurnerEnough said.

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Permission to Come Aboard

Posted in At Sea, Photography Tricks on March 26th, 2009 by MadDog
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Eunie was in Port Moresby last night. I fell asleep at about 20:30 and woke up wide-eyed and bushy-tailed at about 01:30. Not being inclined to stay up the rest of the night, I took 5mg of good ol’ vallium and went outside with may camera and tripod to wait for the pill to knock me out.

The night was clear and calm. Everything seemed all sparkly and bright. Faded Glory looked peaceful sitting at the end of her dock. I took her picture:

Faded Glory sleeps at her berth

It took a fifteen second exposure to get this shot. It required very little processing with Photoshop to clean it up. I next turned my attention to a container ship across the harbour from our house:

A ship across the harbour from our house

Having gotten a solid night’s sleep, I picked Eunie up at the airport. On our way the the office, I spotted a familiar ship out on Astrolabe Bay:

Royal Australian Navy Survey Ship (before Photoshopping)

The photo above is what came out of my camera – a Canon G9 shooting in the RAW mode. It’s interesting compositionally – I used the Rule of Thirds – but otherwise, it stinks. It’s flat and lifeless. With Photoshop CS4 and about 10 minutes stolen from my work day I had this:

Royal Australian Navy Survey Ship (Photoshopped)

Ahhhh, much better!

The ship is one of two Royal Australian Navy Survey Vessels that have come up here to do detailed charting and data collection in Astrolabe Bay. I took a couple of sailors from one of the ships out fishing a week or so ago and they invited me aboard that evening for the grand tour. Check out the HMAS Mellville. We get a surprising number of interesting ships in our harbour.

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Stop That Praying!

Posted in Mixed Nuts on March 25th, 2009 by MadDog
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I hadn’t hopped over to Lower Ramu Bible Translation Ministry for a few days.  Look what I missed!

You’re a guy looking for a wife and your sister is looking for a husband (possibly desperately)? We have the answer to your problem – Sister Exchange!  (No, dudes, you can’t use this to trade your pesky sister for a nicer one.)

Those Tarzan movies show fantastic communication by drum signals. Is it true? How does it work?

And, my favourite, the hideously self-righteous and notoriously pushy European Union wants Papua New Guineans to STOP PRAYING, at least when the EU is listening. Whether you are a believer or not, you’ll laugh out loud at the irony in this article.

If you are wondering about the strange missionary from the Lower Ramu River, here’s a shot of him cleaning the bottom of his 30 foot sail boat, Stap Isi, on which he, his wife Kathy, and the ship’s cat, Dory, sailed all the way from Moline, Illinois, down the Mississippi River, and across the Pacific Ocean   to get back to work:

Kyle Harris - my boss's boss

Now that’s a commute!

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