The Last Fish

Posted in At Sea, Photography Tricks on April 14th, 2009 by MadDog
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The Game Fishing Association of Papua New Guinea 2009 Titles are over now. I enjoyed going over the The Madang Club each evening to take photos for the Madang Game Fishing Club, but I am, as are not a few others, breathing a sigh of relief that it’s all over for another four years. They rotate the host club of the Titles around so that nobody has to host it more than once every four years.

The last image that I want to show you from the competition is this beautiful sailfish. I have never seen one in the water. I’ve been told that the colours are so fantastic that they appear unreal – as if it were some kind of incredible neon sign. Immediately upon being removed from the water, the colours begin to fade as the fish dies. It’s sad:

A beautiful sailfish
I should say that it is sad for the fish. Obviously the fishermen are happy with their catch. We have lived off the sea from the time the first human walked for the first time to a beach, picked up a bivalve, smashed it open, and found something tasty inside.

On to other matters.

If you are a regular reader you know that I am a sky freak. Just about any place on earth you can stand in one place, practising a little patience, and you will be rewarded by the sky with relief from boredom. The sky is a forever movie. It’s never the same scene twice.  Here is a stormy morning in Madang. About fifteen minutes later it was bucketing down rain:

Stormy morning panorama in Madang, Papua New Guinea

The image above is a stitch-up of five exposures and covers a viewing angle of about 160°. It is ridiculously simple to take these panoramic shots. Most new digital cameras have a special mode to help you line them up. There are a variety of programs, some of them free, that will stitch the individual images together smoothly so that it appears that the image was captured with one exposure. The advantage is, of course, that it is the only way that you can get such a wide field of view in one image. For instance, have a look at these panoramic shots of Prague and Budapest. You may want to click on the panoramas to feel the full effect.

I categorise this next one under “happy accidents.” If you are a photographer, you will recognise that it is a very long exposure. The primary clue is the appearance of the water. Long exposures give the water that “fuzzy mirror” look. This was a fifteen second exposure. The long exposure cancels out all the little sparkles from many, many wave reflections and blends them all together so that they appear smooth, while fixed features on the land remain sharp:

Long exposure sunrise with Air Niugini plane on approach

The shot above would be unremarkable except for the rumble that I heard immediately after I pushed the shutter release. At that point I noticed the Air Niugini flight coming in on its crosswind leg and getting ready for its turn to approach the runway on my left. If you click to enlarge you will see the tracks left by the lights of the plane and the little blips where the strobes were firing.

Here is another fifteen second exposure that I grabbed earlier on the same morning. I’m tossing it in just because I like the magenta tones and the stars around the lights. You get these star patterns when you have the iris of your camera nearly closed. I had stopped mine down to f8 and added a neutral density filter so that I could get the long exposure time at 80 ISO. Sorry about all the geeky details, but some out there might be interested.

Magenta Sunrise

In olden times, any serious photographer would include all of the information about an exposure in the details of the image. The information would include the camera make an model, the lens used, the opening of the lens (the f  stop), the shutter speed, the maker and type of film, the speed of film, the type developer and other chemicals used to process the film, the type of projector used to print the exposure, the lens of the projector, the f stop and time of the exposure, the type of paper used, its speed, chemicals used to develop the print, any tiltage, burning or dodging used in the exposure, and probably a half dozen other items that I’ve forgotten.

All that was before digital. It’s much easier now.

I leave you today with an interpretation. Taking photographs is only half the fun. Improving Mother Nature’s handiwork is the other bit. Here is my interpretation of a sunrise panorama that I captured last week:

A blazing sunriseI call it Heaven’s Gate.

Pretty corny, eh?

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