Faking It – or Pretending to Be What You Are Not

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Under the Sea on February 11th, 2011 by MadDog
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I’ll do something a bit different today. This post is actually a magazine article which has not yet been published. I submitted it nearly a year ago, so I don’t think it will find ink. So that it doesn’t go to waste, I’ll use it to bore you today.

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Sea people are adventurers and poets. Sea people are those who paint their lives boldly and joyously stroke by stroke on the vast canvas of Earth’s oceans and fresh waters. Fishermen, sailors, divers and snorkelers, surfers, sailors, merchantmen and marine warriors are all of a breed. They are bound by their love of and respect for the sea. How much great literature and visual art has been born of the relationship between humans and the sea? How can those who share this love of the sea not be inspired to and desirous of expressing their sentiments by the creative work of their minds and hands?

This is all very well and good, providing that one possesses the tiniest quantity of artistic talent. Being able to write a complete sentence and snap a decent photograph are largely demonstrations of technical skills. True artistry, however, mystifies the untalented. One might be capable of drawing water, but little else. Therefore we, the great ungifted masses, have forever been awed by those who are competent to pick up a pencil or brush and create from their mind’s eye a unique vision of the world. It’s a gift which few of us possess.

Therefore, out of sheer jealousy, we are inclined to mimic it. Since the arrival of the digital age, wretches such as us can aspire to play monkey-see-monkey-do and create images which, though utterly bogus, are pretty in a chintzy sort of manner.

Most folk today are familiar with basic image manipulation software. Nearly everybody can download pictures from their camera and play with them. Some of the software which comes with cameras even allows a bit of expression in the way of filters which apply special effects to the images. These are worth playing with to get one’s feet wet.

However, if one is serious about faking it, one must be prepared to step out a bit and trudge up a slight learning curve. I use Photoshop CS4 for all of my work. This is primarily because I work for someone else who wields enough financial clout to purchase it. It is absurdly expensive. One might liken it to the Rolls Royce of photo software. Adobe, the producer of Photoshop clearly states, “If you have to ask how much it costs, then you can’t afford it.” I’m absolutely certain that there must be ten pirate copies of Photoshop running on computers around the world for every copy which has been purchased.

Fortunately, there is an alternative. The GNU Image Manipulation Program, cutely nicknamed GIMP, is very capable and free software which strives to provide much the same power as Photoshop.

No matter which program one is using, the process details will be similar. We won’t go into details here, because our purpose is to show what one can learn to do in a couple of evenings. There are thousands of excellent tutorials available on the World Wide Web without payment which provides step by step instructions for the use of the tools in the software. Much of is learned feels very intuitive and quickly becomes habitual so that one can concentrate on the creative experience instead of the technical details.

Aside from the familiar controls with which most of us are familiar when working with our snapshots; brightness, contrast, colour saturation, hue, there are very many filters available to create effects which provide an almost endless range of possibilities for artistic interpretation of an image. A filter is a bit of software which examines the pixels of an image and then applies a complex mathematical formula to it to modify its appearance. Fortunately, one needs to know absolutely nothing concerning what is going on inside the complexity. There are simple slider controls which provide a way to adjust the actions of each filter. Simple filters can deal with elementary things such as noise (unwanted “static” in the image making it appear as if it were a miss-tuned TV), sharpening edges to make an image appear more focused, and corrections of distortions, such as correcting camera tilt by making the horizon level or correcting the apparent tilt or leaning of buildings.

The real beauty begins to glow when one begins to apply the artistic filters. There are dozens of them with names such as watercolour, poster edges, dry brush, fresco, paint daubs and palette knife. One can even apply filters upon filters to achieve genuinely wild effects. The trick is to learn when the fiddling has gone too far. Both programs mentioned above allow one get in the time machine and go back to an earlier stage of the process if sudden nausea occurs while examining the resulting image.

Though we concentrate on the sea and especially on creatures under the sea, there is no limit to the type of image with which one might begin. It can be anything. A carrot, if it seems particularly handsome.

One might ask of what use are these creations? Are they really art? My response is that neither question is pertinent. Unless one is obliged to make a living from artistic endeavours, then the exercise need only be purely for enjoyment.

Personally, I find such pursuits a pleasant alternative to sitting in front of the TV absorbing what currently passes for entertainment. This seems to me to be entirely passive. If you seek to create instead of consume, try your hand at Faking It. You might be amazed by what you can do.

You’ll find a variety of images here, some of them fishy and some not.

Scratch the last sentence. All of them are fishy.

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What Can Make Me Happy?

Posted in Mixed Nuts on October 17th, 2010 by MadDog
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At the end of my last post, I talked about my current inability to derive joy from activities which have previously provided me with the emotional, intellectual and spiritual satisfaction which we all crave. This disablement has resulted in a strangely lifeless life. I’m sure that for many readers this will be preaching to the choir. As I’ve said before, this is my first experience with dire personal tragedy. I’m a late comer just catching up with most people my age.

My friend suggested that, as I engage in these experiences, say a Saturday out with friends on the boat SCUBA diving, that I pretend  to enjoy it. I took this to mean that I should try very hard to not let my mind wander to subjects best left alone for the moment and that I engage with others as if nothing had happened and laugh when it seems appropriate and so on. You can make up your own list of fakery. The theory is, I suppose, that if one does this consistently it will become real. This makes some kind of wacky sense to me.

A day or so later I got a Facebook message from Ush Antia who has departed Madang, but is fondly remembered by her friends. Having read my remark about pretending, she sent to me a very interesting link. A guy named Dan Gilbert presented a twenty-one minute lecture titled Why Are We Happy? I’m not going to go into detail about the content, because you can watch it for yourself. I’ll just say that our prefrontal cortex gives us some remarkable abilities that we may not ordinarily recognise. Here’s a little blurb about the lecture:

Dan Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness,  challenges the idea that we’ll be miserable if we don’t get what we want. Our “psychological immune system” lets us feel truly happy even when things don’t go as planned.

Really, if you are less than ebullient concerning life in general, you might want to view it.

In order to investigate and reorient myself to what my current standards of happiness are, I decided to conduct a little experiment. All of the images which have speared in Madang – Ples Bilong Mi  are in one folder on my computer. I set out to scan through these several thousand images as quickly as possible, getting as far as I could in five minutes and pick out eight pictures which instantaneously, as in a word association test, elicited the response, “happy”. This is not as easy as it sounds.

Some of the images seem logical responses while others are puzzling. I’ll comment briefly on each one, if I can think of anything to say.

This one is so obvious that it requires no analysis. It is a composition of many tiny images from MPBM in a mosaic which simulates a picture of Eunie and I at our anniversary party.

Who would not respond with “happy” to this?

This one is not so straightforward. It’s important to remember that analysing these lightning responses one-by-one is a bit like Monday morning quarterbacking.

I think that I responded with “happy” here because, though the surface message of the image is decidedly not happy, the experience of expressing these feelings in an artistic manner was  happy. I derived considerable pleasure from the process of capturing a precise mood in an image.

This one of Carol Dover goofing off during a dive is another obvious choice. Friends always make me happy. That’s because I have no troublesome ones. That has not always been true in the past.

While it is sad that Carol is no longer here in Madang, true friendships never leave the heart.

This shot of a Bulb Anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor)  got the “happy” tag because it is one of my favourite underwater images and always makes me think about the great mysteries of the sea.

It is one of the few underwater images in which I have deliberately fiddled with the colours. This is not the natural colouration of this anemone. However, I wanted to accentuate the surreal beauty and alien quality of the creature. So I did. That’s the beauty of digital photography. You can do anything you like.

This one is not to difficult to figure out either. It immediately brought to mind all of the wonderful times I spent with Eunie in far away places. I don’t remember anything about this lovely statue which we found in Berlin of a young woman releasing a bird. I do remember that we both were captured by its beauty and significance. It belonged in that place.

Eunie and I were very fortunate to have been able to travel considerably during the last thirty years. The necessity of moving back and forth between Papua New Guinea and North America gave us the advantage of seeing many places without spending much extra money.

As I looked back over my choices and pondered my response to each, this one gave me slight pause. It is of a lady selling her produce at the Madang town market.

I did enjoy working with the image. It required quite a bit of effort to get it just the way I wanted it. However, I don’t think that is why it struck the ‘happy” chord. Maybe it represents home to me. That’s a bit of a stretch, but it is close enough.

This baby balancing shot taken up at Blueblood is a no-brainer. Kids, friends, tropical warmth and water, a party . . . who would not think “happy”?

I’m beginning to see a pattern here.

The last shot also is obvious – family. I got this image of Tamara, Pippa and Audrey on the train returning from the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. It is one of my favourite images of Hans’ little family.

Though there is the sadness of so seldom seeing them, happiness is the feeling I enjoy whenever I think of them.

What can I take away from this little exercise? I’m not sure that I know. All that I can do is make an observation.

Of all of the ideas, things and people in the images above, only one is physically missing. While it is a very crucial point that my wife is no longer on the scene, everything else remains, at least for the time being.

So, the question is, can I take what remains, do a lot of pretending and take the lessons of Dan Gilbert’s lecture to heart, trusting my brain to rewire itself in its own self interest as a function of its natural immunity against adversity and despair? Will my prefrontal cortex kick in and create a new standard of happiness?

I trust that it will. And when it does, it will feel real to me. Right now, I don’t see how it can happen. That it will  happen requires trust in something much bigger than my brain. God will have to handle that one.

I trust that God will do that for me.

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Gympie Sunset

Posted in Mixed Nuts on September 17th, 2010 by MadDog
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I have been travelling for a couple of days and also fell into a black hole of no web access at my house, so this is the first time I’ve had a chance to post. A lot has happened. It’s time to catch up.

One thing that I was dreading was the memorial service at the Anglican Church in Gympie. I simply did not see how I could get through it. I’m now reminded that the human spirit is usually stronger than the particular human thinks it is. In other words, you can take a lot more than you think you can.

As it turns out, it was absolutely magnificent. I’d love to tell you the names of all who were in attendance, but I think that might be an invasion of privacy. I was frankly surprised at the number and variety of familiar faces I saw there. If any of the attendees are reading this, please accept again my heartfelt thanks for your efforts to be there to remember Eunie and prop me up.

Carol Dover sang Amazing Grace  is her lovely manner with a mid-southern accent and mountains of soul. Tears flowed like a river. The pastor said that he had never heard singing such as that in that place and I can believe it. It was fitting, comforting and magnificent. It was perfect.

Richard Jones delivered a eulogy which made me proud to know him and count him as a friend. Rich had been chosen as the man on the spot. After what he and Jenn had been through – all of us had been through – it was not an easy task nor one to take lightly. We had all read it when he was finished composing. We knew that the truly hard part would be getting through it. His brief pauses to compose himslef during the reading were both understandable and fitting.

As Val took me to a friend’s house to pick up the mail they had collected for her while we were all in Brisbane, I spied this wonderful sunset:

Throughout this ordeal for those who knew Eunie, so many people have been right where I needed them to be. It’s a testament to someone who radiated love and attracted it back to herself. Here is another shot of the sunset:Once again, the next day – signing a new will, going to the dentist – people were there. Nobody said, “Call me if there’s anything I can do.” and then turned away. They just started doing whatever they saw needed to be done. Somebody once told me a story about “The Guy Who Cleaned Shoes”. This fellow would show up at a house in his neighborhood where there was some sort of death-related gathering and ask people to remove their shoes and line them up in the hallway. Then he would get his shoeshine kit out and polish everyone’s shoes. This is the kind of action I’ve been getting.

Val’s lawyer would not let me pay for drawing up a new will with one day’s notice. Rich and Jenn went to the funeral home to pick up Eunie’s ashes for me, saving me the agony. Carol and Amanda sat quietly with me, holding me when I needed it. I want to mention more examples, but hesitate to open private spaces. If you are reading this, you know who you are. I love you for being there.

Here is a picture of Eunie at her desk – right where she belonged – taken not long after she was elected Director of the Pioneer Bible Translators Papua New Guinea Branch:

It may be a couple of days until I am able to post again. I have no web access at my house – something is broken in my wireless link – and I’m dealing with some emotional issues, as you can imagine.

I’ll be back.

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Life – Act Two, Scene One – Labradoodles

Posted in Mixed Nuts on September 11th, 2010 by MadDog
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It would be a hideous betrayal of honour to my dear Eunie if I allowed my despair to envelop me and the many joyous and exciting things in life which we shared. One small thing in our shared experience of life which enriched us both has been, over the last three years, Madang – Ples Bilong Mi. She was and remains my most faithful reader.

Don’t get me wrong. There will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth yet to come. I’m starting a processes which is not unlike being run over by a freight train. Just when you think you’ve felt the last of it, along comes another set of wheels. I hope that I’ll feel better in a year. Asking more than that seems unreasonable.

Dying is a complicated game. Eunie’s passage was blessed by little pain and great dignity. To the end, her faith preserved her from fear. Oh, that we all could go with such style. When I tell the story to her mates, they will say, in the Australian manner, “Good on ya, Eunie!” – Job Well Done! However, it has left me behind with a huge mess. Stacks of unthinkable paperwork, often smudged by tears from me and my friends helping me grind through it.

For those of you who have gone through this before, you will understand my gruesome fascination with it. It seems simultaneously impossible to do and impossible to ignore. Life for the survivors depends on taking care of the mountainous cascade of insufferable minutia. If I did not have my friends to help me, I would fall down in a heap.

Which brings me to the title of this post. Some might think it a little early for frivolity and this is true. This is not frivolous. It’s serious business. I’ve always said to anyone who was in the least amused by what I say that life is like the most fantastic play that has ever been performed and you are the scriptwriter and star. That’s not to say that everything you write will be performed as written. The Director has something to say about that. However, by and large, we are expected to compose the script carefully while producing as much enjoyment in the audience as possible.

So, with this blank page before me, how to I begin the script for Act II, Scene I? Well let’s start with Labradoodles, some good mates and a fascinating new experience.

We have a dear friend in Brisbane who once graced Madang with her presence. She is a nurse and she was with Eunie in the last few days making sure that everything was tended to in the most careful manner.Tracey Lee raises Labradoodles. One of these gorgeous little critters is going to Laos and the other to The Philippines. I suppose that they must be in great demand:

Aside from the fact that they are ludicrously cute, they are also covered with the softest fur I have ever felt. Minks, eat your hearts out.

Here is another much missed vanished resident of Madang who took time from her own busy life to lighten my load, Amanda Watson:

While in Madang, Amanda was a keen diver and much fun out on Faded Glory.

Whenever anyone takes a decent photo of me, I like to hang onto it:

I seldom like the photos that I see of me, but this one works just fine. I’m your basic old dude who’s been through the grinder a few times and had the most of the rough edges worn off. My dear Eunie provided most of the labour to spin the wheel, sparks flying everywhere. In my mature years I have some to see that a good, smart woman finds some raw ingredients and bakes the man that she wants. The recipe varies from time to time, but women are infinitely patient in getting what they need.

There was a long time in my life when I felt fairly worthless and most people agreed with me. You would not have wanted me as a friend. Eunie baked me into the man I am today. Not such a bad guy. I’ll hold that in my heart, along with many other precious things until I draw my last breath.

Now, some may want to drop out at this point, because I’m going to show you a little tableau of tolerance. Eunie had the kind of love which we Christians call “Christlike” (duh). It’s not rocket science. It’s easy. You simply love everybody, regardless of their condition. The rationale is likewise easy to understand. It is only through love that we truly win hearts. Everybody knows that.

Here with Peter, Tracey’s partner, Amanda Watson, Carol Dover, Tracey and Richard Jones is Michelle Rose, A. K. A. Michael Charles Turnbull:

Michelle, as he prefers, saw us sitting at the open front of a little pub and stopped for a chat. As one might suspect, there has likely been no small portion of heartbreak in this life. Eunie would have sat down for a little while and talked with Michelle about that life. He would have felt loved.

So, what is the first line in Act II, Scene I of the rest of my life?

Well, it’s pretty much the same ol’ same ol’.

All you need is love.

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Surrounded by Love

Posted in Mixed Nuts, On Tthe Road on September 6th, 2010 by MadDog
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I can say truthfully that my wife of forty-six years is the most remarkable human that I have ever known. Certainly, my profound love for her biases me. However, when I examine the evidence objectively, I come to the same conclusion.

I have not the time now nor the emotional energy to catalog here all of her merits and accomplishments. Those of you fortunate enough to know her do not need this.

However, I do now want to say that her most remarkable characteristic is her infinite capacity for love. Eunie is so bursting with love that it floods out and saturates all those who come to know her. Her love is unconditional, utterly free of judgement and accompanied by wisdom that allows her to gently guide those who have lost the path and advise those in need of correction without inflicting hurt.

It is only fitting now that some minuscule portion of that love comes back to her. This is a very difficult post for me to write, because my agony is acute. Nevertheless, I can get through it because I am so full of wonder at her composure in this, the twilight of her life. Eunie is a woman of strong faith. She does not fear death.  Yet, she still speaks of getting back to the job which God gave her thirty years ago. I know that I am going to have even more difficult posts to compose in the future, but I shall see if I can get through this one and take the others one at a time.

I cannot view this image without weeping. Eunie is speaking to her daughter-in-law, Tamara, and our granddaughters Pippa and Audrey Rose in Hamilton, Ontario while our son, Hans holds the phone for her. You can see the joy in her expression:

I am so grateful that Hans was able to come for this time. I have needed much support to keep me vertical and functioning.

Eunie loves mystery novels. Here Hans reads to her to give her distraction and comfort:

Hans also reads many of Eunie’s favourite parts of the Bible. It seems strange to speak of blessings at a time such as this, but one of the many that have benefited Eunie is that she is in no pain and is receiving no pain medication. She is very weak and sleeps or drowses much of the time, but her suffering is confined to the discomfort of medical treatments.

Here we see our friends Rich Jones and Carol Dover expressing their love for Eunie:

Rich suddenly put his life on hold for a while and flew from Madang to Brisbane to be with Eunie as a sort of ambassador of love from all those who would want to be with her now to comfort her. Carol flew from Vanuatu for the weekend to give her warmth and comfort to Eunie. I wasn’t able to slow Val Jerram down long enough to get a picture of her with Eunie; she was in and out taking care of business. She has been doing so every day since we arrived at her home in Gympie. How many friends such as her do you have?

Eunie feels comforted when  I can get a chance to lie with her for a while. This post is not about me, but it’s fitting to record this image of two people who have been joined in every way – become as one:

Since we first fell in love our song has been Our Love is Here to Stay.

I’ve mentioned many others who have expressed their love for Eunie over the last few weeks in very tangible ways. If you want a lesson in love, read back a way.

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Tired of Fish – So-Called Art Today

Posted in Photography Tricks on February 12th, 2010 by MadDog
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I woke up this morning at 04:00 and within thirty seconds realised that I was not going back to sleep without a Valium. Too late for a Valium. 03:00 is okay, but if I take one any later than that then I’ll feel even sillier than usual for the first couple of hours in the morning at the office. Sometimes that’s a good thing, but I’m going to be a little too busy for day-tripping, as it is Friday. Mondays and Fridays . . . what can I say.

Since it was that time of the day when work seems intolerable, I decided to play. One of my favourite games is Turn Something Into Something Else. You’ve seen this mama Canada Goose here before. I know,  I know, some of you think of them as vermin, but I don’t have to live with them crapping all over the place, so I can think of them as cute:

They nest in the most peculiar places.

This image was a good candidate for art because it’s pretty simple. All I had to do was get rid of the cement block wall and punch up the colours with a few clicks and pretso-changeo, I’ve got art:If I had some more time, I’d find a nice woodland scene and paste it in the background. Maybe another day.

Here’s a canoe that you’ve also seen here before:Again, a good subject because it’s simple. The waves rolling in from a passing boat also give the image depth and a vanishing point at the horizon – a perfect starting point for art.

I first tried the Photoshop Poster Edges filter:You’ll have to click all of these images to enlarge them to see the full effects. This one is interesting, but it is not what I’m looking for. The waves have taken over the image now and the canoe detail is lost in the filter effect.

The Watercolour filter is more of what I’m looking for:The waves are still there, doing their compositional job, but now the canoe is much more interesting, as is the water. The Watercolour filter is one of my favourites, but it’s tricky and doesn’t work at all for some images.

Here’s another image you’ve seen here before and it too is simple:Cute little varmint, eh?

On the little Chipmunk, the Watercolour filter worked a treat:The only problem is that his teensy feet were lost in his shadow, so I had to fake them. They don’t look like Chipmunk feet to me either, so don’t bother to tell me.

Here is a nice, pensive shot of Carol Dover which you have also seen here before:Simple and poignant.

I first tried a weird filter called Smudge Stick. I don’t like the sound of it, but it does sometimes yield interesting results:However, in this case, Smudge Stick is not my weapon of choice.

Call me Crazy (please), but I’ve always imagined writing comic books – not the kid’s stuff. I have a sort of comic book brain; you wouldn’t believe what goes on in there. Walter Mitty was brain dead compared to me. The problem is producing the art; the stories will take care of themselves. I’ve been working on some techniques for turning photos into comic strip illustrations. There are tons of products and lessons on the web for doing this and I’ve tried a lot of them, but never been satisfied with the results. They simply don’t look comic book enough for me. So, I’ve developed my own ultra-secret technique which someday is going to make me a lot of money (yeah, sure):Remember, you saw it here first, folks. The MadDog Comic Book Generator. Just set up your story board, take your shots in the studio or wherever you like, pay me a lot of money for my secrets and do what I tell you and voilà – you’re a comic book baron.

Look out, DC Comics. Here I come!

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Underwater Photography – Abort, Retry, Fail

Posted in Under the Sea on January 4th, 2010 by MadDog
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Back in the Bad Old Days of MS-DOS, if you were working with computers you would see, probably once an hour (it seemed so, anyway) the unhelpful message on your screen: Abort, Retry, Fail.  None of these three suggestions were ever of much help. It was Microsoft’s way of saying, “That’s not gonna happen, man.” Yeah, sure, you could usually figure out what was causing the problem, but most of the time there wasn’t much you could do about it.

You’ll be happy to hear that there is a way that you can once again experience these excruciating moments:  through the magic of underwater photography. I’ve collected a little gallery of horrors to illustrate a few of they infinite things that can go terribly wrong. I hope it amuses you, as an observer, more than it does me, as a practitioner.

SUBJECT RUNS AWAY

I wanted, longed, deeply desired, the moment that I saw this fish to capture its soul in digital bits. Sadly, the job is botched. This is a rather rare yellow colour variation of the Blackspotted Puffer (Arothron nigropunctatus):

When I say rare, I mean that I have never seen this species with as much yellow on its body. It really is a beauty. This one, as you can see, was at a cleaning station – it’s like a car wash for fish. The underpaid and little appreciated workers in this car wash are the little cleaner-fish, one of which you can see here vainly chasing the Puffer in hopes of gobbling a few more parasites from its skin. You can see the little Bluestriped Cleanerfish trailing along behind. These little puffers run away (probably screaming in fishy terror) as soon as anything big approaches. They don’t swim very fast – just fast enough to spoil the shot.

The observant observer will note that the image is spoilt by motion blur. I was trying to pan the camera to follow the movement of the fish, which should have produced a reasonably sharp image of the fish with a motion blurred background. As it happens, I got it half right; both fish and background are blurred by the camera movement. I’m putting this one in the RETRY category. The big problem is that I may never see such a magnificent specimen again.

SUBJECT LOOKS PRETTY UNDERWATER – TERRIBLE ON THE SCREEN

These little Striped Catfish (Plotosus lineatus)  looked ever so pretty fluttering in the lazy current along the bottom at the Eel Garden close to Pig Island  on Saturday:However, the finished image is sadly lacking any interest whatsoever. You had to be there. As soon as I started working with the image I realised that the magic was in the motion. You can’t truly capture motion in a still image. I’m putting this one in the FAIL category.

SUBJECT IS A CAMERA TEASER

This juvenile Midnight Snapper (Macolor macularis)  is a pretty cool fish. They don’t look anything like the adult, which is a big brown lump of a thing. However, cool or not, this fish is a nightmare to photograph. Like many fish, it has an inbuilt standoff distance or “comfort zone” which you can, under no circumstances, violate. If it could talk, it would be saying, “Back off, Jack!”:

I did manage to get this rather pathetic shot from about four feet away with the flash turned on. It was as close as I could get. Apparently not many photographers have done a lot better. I Googled for images of this species and didn’t find anything much clearer than the shot above, except for images that were obviously shot in aquariums. I’ll let this one pass with a RETRY.

SUBJECT DARTS AROUND FRANTICALLY

This rather uncommon species, the Red And Black Anemonefish (Amphiprion melanopus)  swims spasmodically back and forth in its host and never even gives you an adequate opportunity to frame the shot. If fact, you’re lucky if the fish is even in the frame  when you push the shutter release. I only barely managed to catch it in this shot:This is compounded by the confounded shutter lag that is common in point-and-shoot cameras. I’d guess that the Canon G10 I’m currently using waits about a third of a second before capturing the image after I press the shutter release. So now, you have to guess where the fish is going to be during your next eye-blink. It’s like guessing which kernel of popcorn will explode next. This one can only be a RETRY.

SUBJECT DOES SOMETHING INAPPROPRIATE

Sometimes you just get a surprise. I would not ordinarily take a picture of an animal defecating. It’s simply not that interesting unless you’re a kid obsessed with scatological humour. We were at the deep end of the Eel Garden’s sandy slope where I was shooting the Red and Black Anemonefish when my dive buddy Carol Dover directed my attention to this big Sea Cucumber (Thelenota anax):

As you can plainly see, it was enjoying a nice, leisurely, satisfying poop. Without going into the unsavory anatomical details, I’ll simply point out the you can clearly see where the poop came from. There’s quite a bit of it, since the critter eats about 99% sand and digests only the digestible bits. All the rest comes out as tidy little sand sausages.

I’m putting this one in the ABORT category.

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