Patterns of the Sea

Posted in Under the Sea on May 31st, 2009 by MadDog
No Gravatar

I like to fancy myself as a visual aritst. We all like to dream, don’t we? As I sit here in Chatham, Illinois I’m dreaming of home and the fantastic patterns of the sea. So, to soothe my homesickness, I’ve been rumaging through my thousands of underwater images for a few that I’ve not yet properly digested (in other words, I’ve not bashed them into submission with Photoshop).

I’ll now unload a few of them on you to see if I can get you dreaming of the sea.

This is commonly called Brain Coral. I don’t particularly enjoy calling it that, but I don’t have my references here and I’m too bone lazy to research the proper taxonomic names over the internet. A book is much easier:

Coral Pattern
I very much like the pattern and colours in this image, again of coral. I use an image similar to this as a screen saver. Grab it and use it if you like:

Coral Pattern

I have another post specifically about ocean patterns here. You might enjoy it. This image is of what is commonly called Solitary Coral, or, if you please, Mushroom Coral:

Coral Pattern

I don’t remember even the common name for this coral, but I like it nevertheless. Another nice Windows backgound or screen saver:

Coral PatternThe image above reminds me more of flowers than coral.

Here is another completely different sort of coral:

Coral PatternI’m not sure what to say about this one. It appears a bit intestinal, eh?

Coral PatternMany corals are brightly coloured. Here I see flowers again:

Coral Pattern

Now I’ll leave you with a puzzle. I cannot figure out what this is. It is growing on a branch of Balck Coral. It measures only about 2cm. Anybody out there have an idea?

What IS it?
Tomorrow is a final family day and then we are off to Sedona, Arizona to visit an old friend. I’ll also be getting my ‘dream tattoo‘.

I don’t mind the pain. You have to earn your tattoos. It will be my final tattoo, however, so I want it to be a genuine work of art. Wish me luck.

Tags: ,

Springfield Illinois – Land of Lincoln

Posted in On Tthe Road on May 30th, 2009 by MadDog
No Gravatar

In the nearly three decades that I’ve been an expatriate I’ve observed that people who have lived for many years away from their country of birth seem to fall into two categories. There are those who never cease to long for the ‘mother land’ and revere it. Others develop a cynical and hypercritical attitude concerning the land of their birth. I suppose I fall somewhere in between.

I do revere the memory of the land in which I was nurtured and still believe in its fundamental founding principles. However, mine is a fantasy of longing for a time long past when every social issue was not coloured in indiscernable shades of grey. Nothing seems clear. Few serious social issues seem solvable.

Of course, real Americans don’t run off for decades to a distant land and hurl dissent from a safe distance. That’s why I don’t lay claim to being a functional American any more. If I lived there, I’d be a noisy participant. Since I don’t live there, I try to hold my tongue.

Still, even through my cynicism and fear for the future, I am occasionally stirred by representations of greatness from the past. One place where you can find that in abundance is in Springfield Illinois.

I’ll not say a lot more. I’ll let you look at the images to see if any of them speak to you.

Here are the steps of the old court house where Abraham Lincoln delivered his great “A Nation Divided” speech and Barack Obama announced his candidacy for the Presidency:

The courthouse steps where Lincoln and Obama announced their candidacy for President
This is a gallery of some of the photos that I took today as Eunie and I wandered around the centre of Springfield:
I would like to mention that Eunie told me that when she was a kid in Springfield, practically nobody knew that the building on the corner was Lincoln’s law office.

I can’t leave without making a tongue-in-cheek political statement with this image:

The Capital building in Springfield, Illinois - and yes, this is a political statement
It is a shot of the Capital Building in Springfield. I was amused by the juxtaposition of the One Way sign and the ediface of political rule. Please note the obvious. The arrow is pointing left.

Tags: , ,

Another Nerdy Post – PhotoSynth Revisited.

Posted in Photography Tricks on May 29th, 2009 by MadDog
No Gravatar

I’m going unload another test on you. I discovered, to my horror,  that all of the nifty zoomy images that I’ve done with Microsoft PhotoZoom, which died, and DeepZoom, which took over the stinking corpse of Photozoom and resurrected it in a glorious new body, will die yet again on 31 December. Phooey! That’s the reward you get for helping these clowns develop their software – they dump you and say, “Uuuuh, sorry dude. Yer stuff’s gonna go poof!”

Anyway, I’m trying to figure out if I can fake PhotoSynth into thinking that it’s Photozoom. The details are boring, so maybe you should just skip to the test image. PhotoSynth insists that you load at least three images. That’s because of its fantastic ability to make multiple images do a mutual Vulcan Mind Meld and glom themselves into one zoomable, panable montage. Fantastic!

So, what I did was load the same image under three different file names. It didn’t complain and I seem to have the same results as if I’d done it with the soon to be demised DeepZoom.

Anyway, here’s my first try at faking out Photosynth:

How do you like it? The photo itself is pitiful. I just walked out in the street in front of my Brother-in-law’s house and shot.

UPDATE:   I got bored waiting for the DHL guy to show up so I went out on the freezing patio and shot 23 exposures to show you how nicely PhotoSynth is working. I can’t wait to do it for a “Walk in the Woods”.

Here’s the patio scene:

Cool, eh?

Tags: , ,

Microsoft PhotoZoom is Now DeepZoom

Posted in Mixed Nuts on May 28th, 2009 by MadDog
No Gravatar

Sorry to unload a nerdy post on you today, but I’ve been housecleaning and I need to tidy up a loose end so that I can feel that I’m finished.

Long time readers will remember that I was once a Microsoft Photozoom fan. It’s a cool way to put your photos on a web site in a way that viewers can zoom in on the details, pan around, and see them easily in full-screen mode.

Anyway, with no notice to users, suddenly PhotoZoom didn’t work any more. I don’t know what happened, and I don’t care, but I notice that it’s now back under a different name.

So, I had to go back to my seven posts that used it and change the links. It wasn’t too difficult, but I don’t know why it couldn’t have been done automatically somehow. I’d hate to be someone who had hundreds of links to it.

So, here are the seven posts that had zoomable photos:

PhotoZoom – The Next Cool Thing

Along Came a Spider

Giant Green Fly

Today’s Inverterbrates

New Panoramas

A Trip to the Supermarket

North Contender in the Dark

You’ll have to install Microsoft Silverlight if you don’t already have it. You may as well get it over with, as more and more web stuff is going to be using it.

Tags: ,

Swimming with Baracuda

Posted in Dangerous, Under the Sea on May 27th, 2009 by MadDog
No Gravatar

I’m getting homesick, so I’ll take a break from the On the Road category today.

Back in June of 2008 I had the golden opportunity to swim at Planet Rock near my home in Madang, Papua New Guinea among hundreds of Pickhandle Barracuda (or Blackfin Barracuda, as you please). Local names are useless for identifying fish. The taxonomic name is Sphyraena qenie.

Here is what I saw as I approached from below the circling school:

Pickhandle Barracuda (Sphyraena qenie) - coming up below the shcoolAs I approach I move around to the side so that they can see me. You don’t want to surprise them. If they can see you and get used to your presence for a minute or two, they will let you swim with them:

Pickhandle Barracuda (Sphyraena qenie) - coming around to the sideI move around just under them to get inside the circle and the slowly approach them:

Pickhandle Barracuda (Sphyraena qenie) - getting in closeNow I try to nudge my way into the stream of toothy, metre long underwater missiles. As long as I don’t spook them, I’m okay. This looks dangerous and it is  a genuine adrenaline rush, but I’ve never heard of anybody around here being harmed by these barracuda:

Pickhandle Barracuda (Sphyraena qenie) - trying to be a barracudaAnd now, my friends, I’m experiencing a joy that few have shared. I’m swimming with the barracuda! In fact, I feel very much like a barracuda:

Pickhandle Barracuda (Sphyraena qenie) - I'm a barracuda! Whoopie!I hope that you enjoyed seeing this one ten thousandth as much as I enjoyed doing it.

Tags: , ,

The Monument to Workers – Hamilton, Ontario

Posted in On Tthe Road on May 26th, 2009 by MadDog
No Gravatar

I haven’t done a blessed thing since I arrived in Chatham, Illinois except eat (too much), sleep, and fool around on the computer (mostly on Facebook – it’s a stone gas, man!). So, for images, I’m going back to Hamilton, Ontario to show you a most unusual monument.

Its called the Monument to Workers. It’s located at Hamilton City Hall (Main W. and Bay Street):

Monument to Workers, Hamilton City Hall (Main W. and Bay Street)
I imagine that you can see, even without clicking to enlarge, that the figure has no head. Therein lies the interesting bit.

Of course, the monument itself is  of interest to the community. Hamilton is a steel makin’ town and has plenty of other hazardous industry. Workers die every year in Hamilton factories and many more are injured. As I was photographing, a guy rode up on a bicycle to chat with Eunie. He said that he had worked in a steel mill and had once stood beside a fellow worker and watched in horror as the man lost an arm. That’s pretty gruesome. Nobody can argue that dead and injured workers don’t deserve a fitting memorial.

What is of interest to an outside observer is why the figure has no head. It flies in the face of logic. Nobody we asked knew why. I’ve Googled it until I was blue in the face and found only this, which provides no explanation.

I don’t want to get into gory speculation, but I am puzzled. The first and most obvious question is how is the figure is hanging onto the wall without a head. Then there is the curious presence of the hook-like appendage between the shoulders. Eunie says it’s a halo. I’m not buying that. Why did the artist choose to depict it in this manner? Nobody seems to know.

I mean no disrespect whatsoever by bringing this up. I think that the monument is a marvellous idea. Casualties of our industries are seldom memorialised in such a powerful manner. I applaud it and am touched by it.

Yet, the puzzle remains.

If anybody out there knows the answer, please comment so that we may all understand.

Tags: ,

George Webster – RIP

Posted in On Tthe Road on May 25th, 2009 by MadDog
No Gravatar

I gave you some images of Hamilton, Ontario waterfalls the other day. I’ve done one post today, but I can’t sleep, so I’ll lay another one on you.

As we were waterfall hunting, our friend Ron Barrons pointed out an interesting tombstone. It’s where George Webster was laid to rest. Webster’s Falls was named for him:

George Webster's tombstone - Hamilton, Ontario
Here is an image of the falls, in case you’ve forgotten what it looks lke:

I couldn’t find anything on the web about him except that he has a lot of local things named after him.

What captured my interest is the inscription on his tombstone:

Come near my friends and cast an eye.
Then go your way prepared to die.
Learn here your doom, and know you must
One day like me be turned to dust.

A loving husband, a dutiful son, and affectionate brother.

Well, there you go.

Tags: , ,