Becoming Hirsute and Bad Pictures of Tennis

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Photography Tricks on December 15th, 2010 by MadDog
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Well, the last few days have been a weird circus of nearly surreal events. I’ll tell you a little about it as I go along.

First, I’ll tell you a story about a family dealing with an all too familiar tragedy, a child with a serious health problem. This came to my attention when my son sent me an email about the Brand family. Hans tells the story better than I could:

Thought you might get a kick out of the attached. Some friends of mine at church, the Brand family, have a son, Caleb, who has leukemia. On sort of a spur of the moment thing, I announced to my co-workers that for $50 a month donated to MacKids (the MacMaster Children’s Hospital Foundation) on his behalf (it’s where he is receiving treatment) I would allow my hair to grow uncut until the money stopped coming, and for another $50 a month I’d do the same for the beard. Apparently my co-workers want to work with a guy who looks like a crazy homeless person, because $400 in donations later I now find myself committed to at least six months of no hair cuts and two months of beard growth, and I expect that more money will be ponied up when the expiry date for the beard arrives.

I decided to try to take a photo of myself every morning as long as the money is flowing, so that I could have a record of it. The attached is the result so far.

And here is the animated image: (I could not figure out how to prevent its constant repetition, so don’t stare at it too long.)

Hans Messersmith becoming hirsuit

Those of you who do not know my son will not appreciate the humour. Hans is as stable and dependable as the Rock of Gibraltar. There has been nary a hint of bother from him since he was born. He does, however, break occasionally into the mode of spontaneous goofiness, usually in a good cause. While being exceedingly proper, he exhibits a profound suspicion of up-tight propriety. This foray into the wacky world of on-the-edge symbiosis of in your face humour and sober consideration of  social responsibility is just what I have always expected of him. I like to think that he got just the right mix of genes from his parents.

If you would like to read more try The Brand Family blog.

My depression has worsened, something which I expect is probably temporary. The whole seemingly endless mood is clearly reaction depression and I’m sure that it will remain variable. I know this, because the worse things get, the worse I feel. To lighten things up a bit I went to the Madang Country Club last evening to watch the tennis semi-finals. I know nearly all of the people on the teams. Some of them have been close friends for decades. I had intentions of taking some great action shots. I failed miserably. So, I’ll take great pleasure in showing you some really bad images of rather good tennis players and tell you where I went wrong. Here is Trevor Hattersley serving (no comment):

If you look carefully you can see the yellow tennis ball blasting its way off the racket. You’ll find it by following the trunk of the coconut tree.

I’ve pledged myself to avoid anti-depressants if I possibly can. I will get though this, given time. When I work my way up to full, healthy functionality I don’t want to find myself dependent on pills to keep me level. That would mean that I have simply replaced one problem with another.

While there are several reasons for my current setback, some of them I cannot discuss, because it would be an infringement on the privacy of others. I’ll leave that alone and simply say that we’ve had yet another fresh onslaught in the area of health. If you need to know, you already do. If you are the praying kind, our little mob of survivors could certainly use some non-specific petitions for our welfare.

My photographic problem was twofold. Neither had a solution. First, there was not enough light. Then there was the problem of a relatively inexpensive camera. If you care to spend enough, light is not a problem. You will undoubtedly note that the pictures are motion blurred:

That is a motion-blurred Pancal Michon dodging a sizzling return.

If you have enough bread for a full-frame sensor camera (a few thousand bucks), you’ll get a huge area to catch the photons. ISO numbers can run up into the thousands. The most I can squeeze out of my Canon G11 is about 800. With the light level which I had, that worked out to a shutter speed of about 1/40 of a second. That’s way too slow to stop tennis action.

Have a look at the extreme motion blur in this shot of Trevor. The image is useful only for illustrating how not to do it:

In that image we have the double curse of motion of the subject and motion of the camera itself, which shows up most clearly in the streaked surface of the court.

An extremely annoying beast having to do with the sale of my house back in Indiana  popped up its gnarly head today. Do to a miss-addressed email presenting me with an important document which I had to sign and return as an original, I had to do some serious juggling. It seems that the rest of the world has these magical things called, Over-Night and Two Day delivery options. Well, that is just not going to happen from Papua New Guinea. If you are flying your own body by commercial air from Madang to Indianapolis it takes the better part of three days. That’s with good connections.

So, at the last minute, as I was getting ready to go to DHL and spend a small fortune in the hope that the document would arrive before the closing date, I remembered that a friend was flying to the USA today and I had already given her one document to mail for me when she arrives so that it would get there on time. I don’t know what corner my brain was hiding it, but there wasn’t much light there. I do have some hope now that the closing will go off as planned and I will start out 2011 with one less piece of excess baggage.

What do you do with a totally useless image?  Turn it into art:

Massaging it with the Photoshop Poster Edges filter makes it slightly less nauseous.

I know that my responses to unfavourable developments seem to be over-reactions. I get comments, sometimes a little hurtful. I know that I’ve always been a drama queen. It’s in my blood. There is absolutely nothing I can do about that and I’ve learned to live with it. But I have  had a grand piano dropped on my head from a great height. I expect to be ultra-sensitive and more than a little paranoid. I think that I have some reason to be so. The sequence of events over the last few months is simply too outrageous to allow me to be calm and collected.

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