ANZAC Day 2010 – The Celebration

Posted in Madang Happenings on April 30th, 2010 by MadDog
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If there was ever such a thing as a “Just War”, then World War II was probably it. I can’t imagine a sane person who would say that the world would be a better place if the Allied forces had not prevailed. Hundreds of millions of people died in the spasm of ghastly violence that accompanied this tour de force  of human folly. In the wake of war the vanquished inevitably mourn and the victors celebrate. Both regret their dead and honour them for their sacrifices.

I covered the memorial service which commemorated the courage of those who protected us and finally prevailed. To me it seems quite proper that a memorial of courage should also include a celebration of life. Otherwise the sacrifice is cheapened. We did celebrate life and remember the sacrifices on Sunday at Blueblood. Here is Mike Cassell’s Felmara  with Group Captain Tony Behm at the helm and the appropriate array of beauties on the bow:No small craft should take to sea with less exuberance.

My first task upon arrival at Blueblood is to document the beach for posterity. Future scientists will study this series of images for evidence of ancient sea levels:All that you see here may be submerged.

The usual suspects gathered for lunch joined by some new honoured guests:

On the near end in front of Trevor Hattersley is Lt. Colonel Simon Watts on one side and his lovely wife Sue on the other. Down at the end in blue is Group Captain Tony Behm.

The usual after lunch activity is hanging in the water and drinking adequate quantities of delicious Australian red wine while laughing like a convention of comedians:As I seldom get into the water unless I have my diving gear on – I can’t swim very well – I usually end up being the photographer and wine steward. Constant demands rise up, “Bring us our wine!” I sometimes long to reply, “We haven’t had that spirit here since 1969.”

Between my wine runs to keep the revels going, I wander with my camera. I search for “odd shots”. Here’s an example:A perfect hibiscus blossom superimposed on fishing boats with the Kar Kar Island  volcano in the distance.

It’s a sad fact that every good party must end. Here we see Felmara  cruising back to Madang with a load of happy people:And a pensive soul:Karen silhouetted against the setting sun.

I wonder what she’s thinking?

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Madang – The View from Heaven

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Photography Tricks on April 29th, 2010 by MadDog
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Today is my day to try to catch up. I’m behind in some paying work as well as still behind here on Madang – Ples Bilong Mi.  Today is the first day in a week on which I’ll be posting the same day as the post date. Not that it makes much difference to anyone but me. I hate getting behind in my work, because I am fundamentally extremely lazy. It’s all too easy for me to start thinking that I just don’t have enough time, so there are some things to which I’ll never attend. Then I have to be honest with myself and think of how many hours a week I spend staring at TV. I’ve come to think of this as a complete waste of time. Frankly, if I really want down time, I’d rather read. TV is the lazy person’s amusement. It requires absolutely no effort and little imagination. I simply don’t want to spend my life that way any more.

So, with the sermon out of the way, let’s have a look at this morning’s sunrise:Not bad, but not great, either. Maybe I’m getting a little to demanding. After you’ve seen a few thousand here, it’s easy to get picky.

As the title suggests, we’re having aerial shots today courtesy of Sir Peter Barter with whom I hurled through the atmosphere for almost three hours on Tuesday. His Robertson R-11 is a beautiful little machine. I can only imagine what a dream it is to fly. Here is a lovely shot of my home town, Madang:As you can see, the bulk of the town is on a peninsula. To the left (east) is Astrolabe Bay  and to the right is Madang Harbour.

Here is another shot looking north. You can see part of Madang Town and the North Coast:The chain of islands stretching to the horizon is where we do most of our diving.

This a very nice angle from which to view the entire Madang Coast:Madang is on the left. The large island is Kranket,  followed by Leper Island, Little Pig Island  and Pig Island.  These are all local contemporary names, except for Kranket Island,  which is traditional. The others have different names on the nautical charts.

This image covers pretty much the same area, except that you are looking east out over Astrolabe Bay:The fuzzy blue area under the clouds to the right is the mighty Finisterre Mountains. 

I got some very nice shots of some of our favourite dive sites. This is Magic Passage  in the centre and the southern tip of Leper Island  on the right:Kranket Island  is on the left. This is easily the best aerial view that I’ve seen of Magic Passage.

This shot shows an easy month’s worth of daily dives. At the far left is Little Pig Island  with The Eel Garden  to its right. The large mass is Pig Island  with superb diving all around the ocean side. At the bottom is Barracuda Point:

Up the right side clear to the edge of the image is all wonderful diving. The gap in the barrier reef near the top is Rasch Passage,  an excellent dive.

That’s my back yard from the air.

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ANZAC Day 2010 – The Service

Posted in Madang Happenings on April 28th, 2010 by MadDog
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As promised, here is the first installment of the ANZAC Day memorial service and celebrations in Madang. We were blessed with a very nice sunrise. This, however, is not from ANZAC Day, it’s from yesterday morning. I’m still running a day behind, so I may have the sunrises mixed up. I’m working at home today trying to get caught up. Anyway, no matter what day it was, it was beautiful:

They are coming more regularly now that the season is beginning to change from wet to dry.

When I arrived at the Coastwatchers Monument, I immediately went up to the restaurant at the Coastwatchers Hotel to get an image of the structure. It’s too bad about the coconut trees in the way:

Back at the monument, military personnel were preparing the flags of Papua New Guinea, Australia and New Zealand to be raised:
This was just as the sky was beginning to lighten.

There were many dignitaries in attendance. This is Sir Arnold Amet:

Group Captain Tony Behn delivered a moving address:
As did Lt. Colonel Simon Watts:
Here Sir Peter Barter retreats after placing a wreath at the base of the monument:
And the monument stood tall and proud in the colours of the rising sun:
As you may notice, I’m not spouting the usual prose. It was a solemn occasion and my comments seem superfluous. I was so busy taking pictures that I didn’t really absorb the intensity of the event until later, when I began to think of my own father who fought here during WWII.

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Hanging Out the Door

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Under the Sea on April 27th, 2010 by MadDog
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I am now officially so far behind that I will never catch up. Yesterday had a three hour chunk removed from my plans when I went out on Sir Peter Barter’s Robertson R-44 helicopter and spent a literally hair raising period of time hanging out of the door. I’ve always had a sort of fetish about sitting in the open door of a helicopter with my feet hanging over the side. It’s so close to the edge, right where I like to walk. I spent many hours sitting in the open door of a Hotel model Huey when I wasn’t piloting.

At one point I let the wind get under my headphones. That was a mistake. In a flash they were clunking against the rear window on the end of the cord. I reeled them in and mumbled, “That’s not good.” into the microphone. Honestly, I couldn’t think of anything else to say. Though the trip put me further behind in my work schedule, I got 480 images for the grist mill of Madang – Ples Bilong Mi.

Those will dribble in as they fit with the plans of my wandering Muse. Today I’ll show you this pretty shot of the far north end of Madang with Kranket, Leper, Little Pig and Pig Islands  stretching up the coast:I have a few rather sensitive images also – things that some folks hereabout, I’ll let you guess who, might not want you to see. I’ll just have to see if my waning testosterone level allows me to display them.

In the meantime, let’s go to the fish market:This should be starting to look familiar by now, since I’ve shown it many times. It’s the wonderful fluorescent Magnificent Anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor)  hosting Spinecheek Anemonefish (Amphiprion biaculatus)  at Planet Rock.  Put “spinecheek” in the search box to see plenty of these wonderful fish.

Since I’m feeling a little frayed around the edges – up until 01:30 last night and had just one too many glasses of red, I’ll tickle myself back out of my temporary coma with some brightly coloured feathers:That one was a Comanthina schlegeli.  I can’t find species names for most of them. It has a lot to do with counting legs and arms. Since the creatures are so incredibly delicate and stick to you like super glue, I don’t care to destroy them just to figure out what the Latin name is. Let the guys in the white lab coats take care of that.

Here’s a very pretty one which I can’t identify:It’s curled up very neatly.

This is the feather star equivalent of The Mall:

Everybody wants to go to “The Mall”, especially in small towns. “Oh, let’s go to the city to The Mall!” The kiddies shriek, “The Mall, The Mall. Oh, yes! Take us to The Mall!” Personally, I don’t get it. I avoid the places like the plague unless I need something which I can’t purhase somewhere else. The main problem is that I nearly always get lost and end up wandering from door to door looking out into the parking lot to see if I can remember if it’s the one where I left my car. I once took a cab to a mall, just to avoid that trauma. I experience a mild form of panic when this happens. I worry that I may have had a mini-stroke. It’s hard to know what to do. Go to the security goofs and admit that I can’t find my car? I’d nearly rather slit my wrists in the central fountain and go out with a bang. They could  decide that I might be a danger to myself or some unspecified “others” and bang me up in the slammer while The Suits figure out what to do with me.

Oh, sorry, I’m running on again. The brakes went completely out on our truck today. The timing was unfortunate, as I was blasting up Modilon Road at about 80 kliks per with my hair on fire. It’s such  a weird feeling when you shove that pedal and it just glides all the way to the floor with as much resistance as I could offer to Raquel Welch. With some fancy clutching and shifting I managed to get it creeping back to the office. They towed it away an hour ago. I had just put the “For Sale” signs out yesterday. If figures.

Alright, enough! Have a look at this:

Dig that hair, man. It looks as if Kate and the Feather Star are in a fierce competition. “Hah! My hair’s bigger than yours!”

Okay, I’m finished now. You can go back to work.

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Photgraphing the Photographer

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Under the Sea on April 26th, 2010 by MadDog
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ANZAC Day has past now, and I’m into the work week with a fury. Well, a flutter, anyway. I’m so far behind that some things are simply getting put into the If I Ever Get Around To It tray. My situation report this morning will be terse, but I do have some nice snaps for your amusement.

I’ll begin by showing you my distressingly flabby triceps. As I was shooting a very nice sunset on Trevor Hattersley’s Lyin’ Dog,  I kept noticing flashes coming from behind me. I took little notice, since everybody was ohhhing  and ahhhhing  at the pretty colours. I assumed it was someone who did not know enough to turn their flash off. Little did I suspect that I was the subject and the cameraman knew exactly what he was doing. Witness the work of Lt. Colonel Simon Watts:Thanks for sending that along, Simon. It will help me to get back to hitting the weights a couple of times a day.

Once in a great while, I get a shot that drops my jaw. So much is up to luck. You can do it perfectly ten times and only one will be good. A hundred times and maybe you’ll say, “Oh, that’s really nice.” Give it a thousand times and you might get something like this:When the colours are so ethereal that it looks fake . . . no, painterly,  then I feel as if I’ve been somehow blessed. It is, of course, a Spinecheek Anemonefish (Amphiprion biaculatus).  There are presently two of them living in a Bulb Anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor)  with incredible pigmentation at Planet Rock.  I’ve been shooting this same anemone for at least fifteen years. I visit it every time I dive at Planet Rock.  I’ve shown it to hundreds of divers. It’ my  anemone. I’ve made it the most famous Anemone in Madang, so it owes me.

Bulb Anemones, like some other anemones, can display an almost unreal range of colours as you can see from the one in this post.

This is what happens when you stack beauty on beauty. Kate and I were the only divers on Saturday, so we had Planet Rock  all to ourselves. Here a lazy Blue Plastic Toy Starfish (Linckia laevigata)  lounges atop an ancient coral bomie wearing a feather star for a cap while Kate provides the real eye candy:

Lots of blue there.

Since I’ve gotten started with blue, we’ll just keep that theme. Here’s an unfortunately motion-blurred shot of a Pink Anemonefish (Amphiprion perideraion)  in a Magnificent Anemone (Heteractis magnifica):The tentacles of this anemone were absurdly blue. I don’t think that I’ve seen one this bright, though there are several other colours which reach this level of saturation. Witness the wonderful green-tentacled Magnificent Anemone here.

What this shot lacks in quality, it makes up for in blueness. It’s a school of Fusiliers of some kind racing past me:We like to say that diving in Madang is very much the same as diving in a huge aquarium. We seldom have to deal with fussy weather or big seas. The water is not always crystalline, but the quantity and the wonderful nearness  of the sea life makes up for the less than perfect visibility.

Not even Paradise is perfect. We don’t care. It’s close enough for us.

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I Shall Now Tease You

Posted in At Sea, Madang Happenings, Mixed Nuts, Under the Sea on April 25th, 2010 by MadDog
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It’s no trick at all to figure out when I’m completely stuck for a title for a post. It makes even less sense than usual. Though I am  going to tease you today concerning some amusing posts which I will have coming up in the next week, don’t get your hopes up too much. No, the war in the Big A is not over, nor are any others that I know of. Aliens have not landed to my knowledge, but I’m still hoping. The only interesting news is that we absolutely must buy a new car. Eunie has now “mentioned” for some time how nice it would be if we had a car from which the fenders were not falling off and I’m becoming more and more inclined to agree with her. On an insane whim we stopped off at Coastal Automotive to see, perchance to dream, if there was anything remotely within our price range. Well, there was a red Nissan Twin Cab ute there which is like the younger sister of the one we drive at present. Since Eunie will resolutely not  drive anything but a red car, my fate was sealed.

I reckon that if we sell all of our PNG stocks, get a good price for the rust bucket and I can remember where I buried the cash in the back yard, we’ll be only about K10,000 short. We decided two years ago that we would never again borrow money for anything. Eunie won’t let me sell the Harley, bless her heart. So, we’ll fall on the mercy of our corporate account for a couple of months and pray for a miracle. All that just to work up to this sunrise, which is a lulu:No, we’re not to the teasing yet, though I will have some very nice underwater shots over the next few days.

This image is in support of my philosophical sermon for today which  is titled, No Matter How Bad Something Is, If You Can Practice Utter Denial, You Can Probably Make It Better.  This is the same advice which I give when poor desperate wretches come to me for marriage counselling. This proably explains why my success rate is so patheically low. When I snapped this image as a Vlaming’s Unicornfish (Naso vlamingii)  darted past me, I thought that it was a complete waste of valuable pixels: However, when I saw the image on the screen, all washed out and motion-blurred, something snapped in my mind, an all too often occurrence, and I denied utterly the possibility that the image had no merit whatsoever. So, kiddies, what do we do when this happens?  (All together now . . .) We make ART! In a mere five minutes I created something. What it is, I cannot say. However it is distinctly more than it started out. I appears vaguely as if it is a rocket-propelled fish. Hurrah! NASA, eat your heart out!

Since we’re in fail mode, I’ll underwhelm you with this excruciatingly ordinary, plain Jane starfish. Honestly, if I were a starfish so devoid of charm as this one, I’d simply hide under a rock and await the Rapture:Hmmm . . . that’s more or less what I’m doing now. Oh, well.

Still no major tease, so don’t get confused. I didn’t have time the other day to work on these two panoramas which I shot on Orion.  This is, as you might well imagine, is The Library:There’s Justin Friend lecturing my gorgeous, platinum blonde wife, Eunie.

And, this is one third of the stunning spiral staircase wrapped around the elevator in the central “Light Well” of the ship:Pretty flash, eh?

Okay, now I’ll deliver The Big Tease. Don’t get too excited, because if you’re not an Australian, New Zealander or Papua New Guinean, you may not begin to quiver with anticipation. Sunday morning was ANZAC Day. I’ll trouble you to look it up if you don’t know what it means. Let me just tell you, however, that here it is a big deal indeed:I could never be mistaken for a war enthusiast. To me it seems to be the stupidest thing that humans have ever dreamed up. Nobody has yet explained to me why we have to keep doing it. However, in this part of the world, as in others, naked aggression made war unavoidable. It was about defending against the rape and murder of entire cultures.

People here are rightly proud of the part that they played in defending themselves against seemingly overwhelming odds. Eunie and I felt privileged to be invited to participate. I’ll probably do a two-part post on the ANZAC Day memorial and following festivities during the next week.

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Water Comes Down – Water Goes Up

Posted in Guest Shots, Mixed Nuts on April 24th, 2010 by MadDog
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I have some very amusing images from two dear friends who are guest shooters today and a couple of shots of my own. I very much enjoy featuring images from friends. I hope that I’ve given enough encouragement to readers to send me images which have spoken to them. If not, I’m issuing the invitation once again. I started this as a source of eclectic amusement and information. There is much here about Madang and our lives and interests. However, our many readers have much to contribute also. The more participation that we have, the more interesting Madang – Ples Bilong Mi  will become.

Our first shot today comes from our Hamilton, Ontario friend, Ron Barrons. Ron said that his wife treated him to a visit to Niagara Falls recently. One can only speculate what prompted that generosity. Anyway, Ron captured this stunning image of the falls through the window of their hotel room:Now, I don’t want to take anything away from the beauty of this picture. Great job, Ron. Makes me drool. However, I’m picturing Brenda’s face as Ron fiddles with his tripod and his f-stops and his shutter speed while she re-thinks the whole idea. Ron, I can only pray that you did not ask her to carry your tripod. Women hate  that! There’s an old photographers’ joke that goes like this:  A life-long English amateur photographer dies. At his funeral his wife is overheard to say, “Ah, well, it’s a pity he’s gone, but at least I don’t have to carry his bloody tripod any more.”

Here’s a lovely shot from the lovely Tracey Lee. It’s a waterspout shot at Honiara in 2006:There’s some pretty furious action there at the base. We had another waterspout from Trevor Hattersley just the other day. Nice one, Tracey!

And, now that we’ve disposed of the title of this post, we’ll move on to this crisp shot of Old Fort Niagara again by Ron Barrons:Fort Niagara is the oldest surviving building in the Great Lakes area, having been erected in 1726. It is also the oldest continuously occupied military site in North America. This looks like a long telephoto shot to me. I got images of parts of the fort area from the same spot with my Olympus SP-590UZ the last time I was up there. I nearly froze my bum off.

This morning the southern sky was wonderfully back lighting Kar Kar Island.  I had to get up on the top of the roof of my truck to get this shot. It would have been better from the top of my house, but I was to wobbly at that time of the morning for ladders:Whenever there is a lot of news about volcanoes, such as the current fracas in Iceland, we all cast wary eyes toward Kar Kar Island. It’s listed as one of the most potentially dangerous volcanoes in the world and it by no means dormant. It rumbles and smoked regularly. There was a recent report that it has erupted, but that turned out to be a false alarm.

Last for today, but my no means least, are the Two Eunice Messersmiths:The larger model on the left is my gorgeous wife. The little one in the middle is also Eunice Messersmith. Her mom, Maureen, was raised in our house by her mom, Juli who has been our haus meri  and general manager of the house for over twenty years. Juli is sort of like a daughter to us, so Little Eunice Messersmith is like a great-granddaughter. Juli came into the office to show us Little Eunice’s birth certificate, a document which few Papua New Guineans even possess. It says right there that her name is Eunice Messersmith. Go figure!

I like her very stylish pink shades. She’s gonna be trouble!

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