A Sequential Sunrise and Guest Shots by Heidi Majano

Posted in Guest Shots, Mixed Nuts on October 31st, 2009 by MadDog
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We haven’t had any guest shots for a few days, so I’m going back to some images left with me by Heidi Majano when she left PNG. But first, since we haven’t had any sequential sunrises for a while, let’s do that.

Out on the boat this morning, I managed to catch the first light:

Sequential Sunrise 1

Keep in mind that the amount of light in this sequence was changing radically. In order to show the same scene that a human would see I had to adjust the exposure a great deal. Our eyes automatically, within limits, adjust scenes so that the appear to be the same brightness. With a camera that has to be done by the circuitry and then in the processing, by the software and user. The three of these should appear equally bright, but the colours will change dramatically:Sequential Sunrise 2

As you can see, the brightness travels up the sky as more of the lower atmosphere is lit by the rising sun. The colours also change. Note that the lights of the town are very bright in comparison with the sky in the first frame and grow successively dimmer as we move toward sunrise.

The interesting thing about these images (each a five exposure series stitched together in Photoshop) is that they were captured during a period of only ten minutes. Sunrises and sunsets (same with the moon) are extremely rapid near the Equator.

Sequential Sunrise 3

The final shot shows the rays of the sun at a low enough angle to light clouds that were not visible before, because they were very thin. They are, however, very reflective.

Now, let me show you Mila is Smiling by Heidi Majano:

Mila is Smiling by Heidi Majano

What can anybody say about that? Photographically, it’s a beautiful job. But the little girl is adorable. She steals the show!

Heidi has a good eye for an image. Check out The Eyes of Heidi Majano. Here’s another one that cracks me up. Keyen is a typical little boy. He hasn’t been exposed to enough to understand danger. What normal adult would pick this thing up and let it crawl up the arm? Not me:

Keyen Brought Home a New Friend by Heidi MajanoAside from being a good shot there is something interesting about this critter. Its head is not where it appears to be at first glance. Are birds fooled by the fake antenna and jaws? I was at first. Maybe I’m a bird-brain. (Many are certain of this.) No, the head is on the left end.

Thanks, Heidi for leaving these with me. I may find a few more from your collection that will end up here.

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Local Newspaper Moves Washington DC to Colombia

Posted in Humor, Mixed Nuts on October 30th, 2009 by MadDog
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This gigantic purple sunrise greeted me this morning. I’ve uploaded a 2400 pixel wide image of it. Click to enlarge and do a “save image as”. Then print it out big enough to stretch completely around your head with a little overlap. Then laminate it. (the lamination can be skipped if you are not worried about durability) Now have someone help you to wrap it around your head and tape the ends together in the back. You will have an amusing hat:Giant Purple SunriseIf there is anybody out there crazy enough to actually do this, please, oh please send us a picture. I promise to post it on Madang – Ples Bilong Mi. Here’s your big chance to become famous. All of your friends will envy you.

The meat and potatoes of today’s post is, of course, the brash move by one of our much-beloved local newspapers* to relocate Washington DC to Colombia**. If you don’t believe me, read this:

Local Newspaper Moves Washington DC to Columbia

In case you are too lazy to read all of it, I’ll quote the salient passage:

Mr. Taylor, who is a native of the district of Colombia in South America, said during a press conference yesterday at the US Embassy in Port Moresby that he was delighted to be in PNG.

Well, no doubt Mr. Taylor is delighted to be in PNG (who wouldn’t be?) However the rest of it raises a couple of amusing queries in my mind. Has the capital of the U. S. of A. actually been removed to Colombia in South America? Or, though more likely, but still highly doubtful, is Mr. Taylor a native of some place in South America called the District of Colombia?

Or, my mischievous mind suggests, is our newspaper simply getting it wrong. I’d hate to think that, since our local newspapers, bless their hearts, have always followed the journalistic profession’s local motto, “All the news that fit to smoke.” (if you’re not a local, you probably won’t get that – never mind)

Here’s  another morning’s sunrise:

Orange Sherbert Sunrise

And yet another shot of the now famous orange lilies:

Orange lilies

Last Sunday, when we came back from Blueblood, I got this shot of a ship tied up at the wharf across from our house:Night Ship

It’s not terribly exciting. So, I exercised my favourite Photoshop artistic filter – Watercolour – and produced this mess:Night Ship Watercolour

Hmmmm . . . still not very exciting.

Tomorrow’s another day.

* I could name the newspaper, but that would be a cheap shot.

** Thanks to reader “werdna” for pointing out that I misspelled the name of the country Colombia as Columbia in my original post. Ironic, eh?

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Back to Nob Nob Mountain

Posted in Mixed Nuts on October 29th, 2009 by MadDog
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A couple of days ago I had to drive a mob of visitors up Nob Nob Mountain.  It’s not really a bother, except the road is a bit scary. It’s just dirt and tight switchbacks and two-hundred metre drop-offs, so it is really no big deal as far as PNG roads go. Nevertheless, when I’m driving it in a van, it’s not my cup of tea.

The view from Nob Nob is fairly spectacular. You can see the entire coast from way over at Saidor on the other side of Astrolabe Bay  to the southeast up to Sek Island  and further to the north. Here’s a shot from the Pacific Orientation Course camp:

View from Pacific Orientation Course grounds on Nob Nob Mountain

I enjoy having a walkabout with my camera whenever I’m at Nob Nob. I never know what I’m going to discover. I was stopped dead in my tracks by these very trippy pink fungi growing on the side of a rotten log:

Trippy pink fungi on Nob Nob Mountain

One can’t help wondering what a little nibble might do. The possibilities are endless, beginning with a psychedelic journey deep into your navel and probably ending with a quick trip to the morgue. On the other hand, it might be an Alice-like experience. I didn’t look underneath to see if they had little labels attached commanding “Eat me!”

This, as any fool can see, is the underside of a fern leaf. What is interesting here is the size and colour of the sori. In case botany was not your favourite subject, I’ll mention that sori are the clumps of sporangia. Does that help? Okay, okay, they are the naughty bits of the fern by which big ferns make little ferns:

Underside of fern leaf on Nob Nob Mountain showing sori (clumps of sporangia)

The spores from the red spots are released into the air to find a suitable place at which to start all over again.

Here is another kind of fern called a Staghorn. You are looking at about half of it. The rest is hidden higher in the tree. The part that you are looking at is about two metres long:

Staghorn Fern on Nob Nob Mountain

If you look at the flappy looking bits at the top you can see that they are completely covered underneath by a solid mass of sporangia.

Enough of ferns. Have some orchids.

Here are some frosty-white ones:

Frosty White Orchids from Nob Nob Mountain

I don’t know the names of any of these. It’s enough strain on my brain to keep up with fish.

The design of this one seems a little overblown to me. I’m not sure what the point is, but I’m suspicious that it has to do with reproduction:

Funky Yellow Orchid from Nob Nob Mountain

It probably goes something like this:

“Hey you! Bug! Look over here. Yeah, baby, I’m hot! Don’t you want to pollinate me? Come on, big fella; you know you want it.”

Sorry for that.

Anyway, I admit that I’m fascinated by orchids. Look at this clown:

Orange Orchid from Nob Nob Mountain

If I were an orchid I’d want to look like that.

Only moreso.

And yes, I would be sticking my purple and white striped tongue out at you.

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If Only You Knew How We BBQ

Posted in Humor, PNG Culture, Under the Sea on October 28th, 2009 by MadDog
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Today’s video clip is a bit of PNG Culture. Since images shout, while words simply whine, I’ll take you directly to The Essential PNG Barbie Preparation Technique:

The process is conceptually simple. One wants to remove any noxious substances from the barbie without destroying the delicate balance of organochemistry that provides the characteristic flavours.

One must first use a sturdy spatula, of a type that I have only seen in Australia and PNG, to de-crudify the barbie. Incidentally, these heavy spatulas double as a venerable weapon. De-crudifying consists of selectively scraping from the barbie bird poo, leaves, toasted geckos, the occasional huge beetle and any other items not deemed to be contributory to the proper seasoning. The scraping may take a while. It usually requires a couple of assistants to . . . er . . . assist  the decision process. Fights have been known to break out.

Next, having first assured that there is a roaring fire, one must use copious amounts of water (sea water, if you’re lucky enough to be close to the beach) to wash off most of the unwanted substances loosened by the scraping. A thorough washing is in order, along with further scraping to further refine the qualities of the cooking surface. This process involves much steam and hot water often erupting in unanticipated ways. Accidental scaldings are displayed as badges of honour.

Finally, and this is the critical stage, more water is applied while simultaneously brooming it off the barbie with a huge broomy sort of tool made of the spines of coconut leaves. The brooms themselves have a story worth a post. They take a long time to make and seem unnecessarily spindly and ineffective to a foreigner. However, just try to get your cleaning lady to use a fancy factory made broom. She will not touch it. It is an affront to her skill and makes a mockery of her trade. The coconut pangel  broom is clearly superior in her mind.

So, having cleaned the barbie, what shall we eat? Well, I can guarantee you it won’t be any of these:

Vagabond Butterflyfish (Chaetodon vagabundus)

That’s the Vagabond Butterflyfish (Chaetodon vagabundus). Don’t ask me why it’s called a vagabond. Sounds a little overly poetic to me.

Let’s have yet another look at an old friend the Spinecheek Anemonefish (Premnas biaculeatus):

Spinecheek Anemonefish (Premnas biaculeatus)

I seem to be embarking on a new career to get the perfect specimen shot of this critter. I’m not going to stop until we can see its scales, which are very fine. Close, but no turkey.

Here’s another one that is a little less common, the Orange Anemonefish (Amphiprion sandaracinos):

Orange Anemonefish (Amphiprion sandaracinos)

I’d say more about the Orange Anemonefish, but I’d have to make it up. No, wait. I do know that it favours a certain species of anemone called Merten’s Carpet Sea Anemone (Stichodactyla mertensii)  which is what you see in the image above.

Finally, here is a teaser for a post to come in a few days. Our dear old friend (not that  old) Trevor Hattersly is about to succumb to marital bliss with his beautiful bride-to-be Karen Simmons. Tuesday night we had a little stag party (no girls popping out of cakes) at the Madang Club. I was suckered into a game of pool the rules of which were so arcane that I hadn’t figured them out until I’d lost all of my pocket money – about K50, to be exact.

Here’s Trevor lining up for a shot:

Trevor Hattersley lining up for a shot

I know  what he’s thinking. “I’m going to take all  of Messersmith’s money!”

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More Stupid Photography Tricks

Posted in Photography Tricks on October 27th, 2009 by MadDog
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I have a big mash-up for you today. Photographers get bored just like normal people, believe it or not. The hobby which has produced, historically, even more geeks than computers is not immune to ennui.

For instance, who gets up at 05:00 almost every morning and sits in the front yard waiting to see if anything interesting will happen:

Today's Sunrise

Me, apparently.

And who, on the way back from the beach when it’s too noisy on the boat to talk and there’s no more beer sticks his $400 camera over the side to snap the frothy goodness of the wake:

Wake spray at night

Me, apparently.

And who, when his adorable wife exclaims in her best teeny-bopper squeak, “Oh, look! A Simpsons Sky!” has to stop the car immediately and take a picture:

A Simpson Sky

Me, apparently.

And who, having taken a picture that is abominably bad, will not stop slaving away with Photoshop until he has taken this:

Canoe watercolour - original

And turned it into this:Canoe watercolour

Me, apparently.

It’s still abominably bad, but at least it’s colourful. If you shop at Woolworths, you can pick up prints like this for $2.99.

As you can probably tell, I’m a little pressed for time today. I have to haul a mob of visitors up Nob Nob Mountain. Not my favourite trip.

At least I’ll have my camera with me.

Pictures tomorrow!

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Ooooo, Yummy Tube Worms for Breakfast

Posted in Under the Sea on October 26th, 2009 by MadDog
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I woke up feeling faintly queasy this morning. Maybe a little too much partying yesterday? Who knows; there are so many bugs here that you could get sick every day of your life with a different one – no repeats! I’ll play the trickster this morning and offer you a breakfast of Tube Worms, specifically, Sabellastarte sanctijosephi: Tube Worm (Sabellastarte sanctijosephi)I don’t know if it is named after St. Joseph (surely there is more than one St. Joseph – hmmm . . . seems there might be five  others) or some person whose surname was Saintjoseph.

Here’s another shot showing the beautiful double-bowl shape of these critters:

Tube Worm (Sabellastarte sanctijosephi)All of these images have excellent detail. Click to enlarge so that you can see the fine, featheryness of the ‘arms’.

Here is another example:

Tube Worm (Sabellastarte sanctijosephi)They are filter feeders, grabbing tasty bits from the water and conducting them down the pipe. In the shot above you can clearly see the tube in which the animal lives. Only the feathery feeding apparatus is exposed. If in the least disturbed, the feathers disappear into the tube faster than you can see.

Premnas biaculeatus,  the Spinecheek Anemonefish is getting to be a regular sight here:

Spinecheek Anemonefish (Premnas biaculeatus)That’s because I’m seeking to capture the definitive specimen shot of this beauty. My theory is that, if I take enough pictures of it, eventually I will have taken the most perfect image of it ever captured. This asssumes, of course, that I’m going to live long enough to manage that trick.

Okay, one more shot for today. This is another frame of a series of a ship coming in to Astrolabe Bay  in the morning sun. I showed you a gloomy image from the series yesterday. Here’s a slightly less gloomy shot:

Sunrise and ShipThe ship look so insignificant on the vast sea. That’s what I was going for in this shot. It’s welcomed safely into port by the rays of the morning sun.

Hmmm . . . waxing rather too poetic this morning.

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Coral All Around

Posted in Under the Sea on October 25th, 2009 by MadDog
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On a dive at a healthy reef, what dominates your view? Well, it’s not fish, let me tell you. It’s coral. Just because it doesn’t move or have garishly bright colours doesn’t mean that it’s not interesting. I’ve had some emails from people who keep live coral in their saltwater tanks. We tried this a few times here with our tanks, but quickly found that it is very risky business. Corals are more difficult to keep alive. If a few polyps die, your entire tank will be dead the next morning.

Still, I like to photograph corals. It’s fun to look for the most representative specimens. What’s more fun is to look for the weird ones.

Here’s what I would call a specimen shot of a Coral (Acropora robusta): 

Coral (Acropora robusta)

As you can see, I’m not going for dazzling beauty or perfect composition. My goal is to show a typical specimen in a typical habitat using my very best efforts to show it as it actually appears to a diver so that other divers and collectors can easily and positively identify the species. That assumes, of course, that I myself have correctly identified it. That’s where the rub comes in and that’s why I’m hoping to get some feedback from readers. I’m 90% positive of the identification of the robusta  above, but the next few are, to one degree or another, doubtful.

Here is a close up of a Favites  species that I can’t identify positively. If reptilian aliens landed on our planet, I imagine that their skin would look like this:

Coral - Alien Skin (Favites sp.) You’ve seen this pattern before here.

I find this one quite pretty, though I’m not positive of the identification? I’m pretty sure,  but not really sure.  How’s that for a scientific identification. Sounds like something a doctor would tell you. I guess it depends on what is wrong with you. If it seems to be not-so-bad, you want really sure.  If it might be fatal, you’ll hope for only pretty sure.  (maybe  would be better or probably not  would be best)

Coral (Lobophyllia hemprichii [young_stage])

Anyway, I’m identifying it as Coral (sure about that), Lobophyllia hemprichii  [young_stage].

This specimen is even prettier, but I’m even less sure about the identification. I think  it might  be a young stage of Pectinia lactuca,  but please don’t quote me on that:Coral (Pectinia lactuca [young stage ?]) [doubtful]

Actually, it looks like a fancy bow tie to me.

All of the shots above look very nice when you click to enlarge them. I’m getting beautiful shots from my Canon G10. I wish I had some extra bread to buy a new G11 with the factory housing. I’ve recommended that combination to several correspondents and I’m hoping to get some images from them soon to show to you.

Let’s step back from the bright colours for a minute for something a little more sombre:

Dull Sky and ShipI nearly deleted this image.

I’m glad that I didn’t.

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