Boats – Bats – Sun – Fun

Posted in At Sea, Mixed Nuts on April 8th, 2009 by MadDog
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It’s time to show a few images out of my big folder of shots that amused me.

If you don’t find this one amusing, then you may as well skip the rest and come back tomorrow. Rich Jones and Mike Wolfe were fooling around snapping Jenn in the reflection of Rich’s extraordinarily funky sunglasses. Only an Englishman would sport eye ware so in-your-face gauche. The glasses are by Cheesy-Mart. The model is sold only in the UK and is aptly named “Ouch, was that a stingray?”

Jenn reflected in Rich's funky sunglasses

Of course, being the bore who knows all about all things photographic, I had to shoulder in with my boxy-but-safe G-9 and hog the set. The shot turned out the way I wanted, except for one thing. An astute observer will note that there is a physical impossibility in the image. If you click to enlarge, you will note that you can read the “SENIOR OF CIA” warning on my cap. You should not be able to read it nomally. It is a mirror reflection, therefore it should be flipped horizontally and read backwards – “mirror writing”. I fixed this annoyance by flipping the image horizontally in Photoshop. The shot above reminds me of the “Shiny Sunglasses” image that won me a chintzy medal in a photography contest.

The sun was being very coopreative, so Rich got his pasty-white English body out where the deadly rays could do it some good:

Rich and Jenn relaxing in the sun on Faded GloryThere was a big thunderstorm hurtling up the coast. You can see it in the background.

As events were conspiring to change the outing into a camera party, someone said, “Look at the reflection of the boat in the motor.”  Sure enough, the sun was just at the right angle to cause a strong reflection of the entire aft section of Faded Glory in my nearly new Suzuki 140:

Photographer and boat reflected in the shiny cowl of the outboard motorAt this point I would like to mention that I am not nearly so short and broad as the reflection indicates. It’s a sort of fun-house mirror effect.

On to another time – another day. I was at The Madang Club waiting for the game fishing boats to arrive. We sometimes don’t even notice the screeching sound of the Flying Foxes. I just fades into the background after a few years. The ears become desensitised and it’s no longer annoying. The moon was a hazy blob and the Flying Foxes were stirring around in the sky on their way to raid village gardens of bananas and papayas:

The twilight features a coconut tree, the moon, and flying foxes

Of course, they also feed in the rainforest. They don’t ravage the gardens. They just eat the best stuff. I can sometimes hear them flapping around at night on my banana trees.

A game fishing boat rests in the twilight after a hard day's fishing at the GFAPNG 2009 TitlesWinding down now, on the same evening I caught this nice image of one of the game fishing boats snuggled in for the night with the setting sun in the background.

Inside, I would lay odds, beer and wine flow like the waters of a mighty river.

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Permission to Come Aboard

Posted in At Sea, Photography Tricks on March 26th, 2009 by MadDog
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Eunie was in Port Moresby last night. I fell asleep at about 20:30 and woke up wide-eyed and bushy-tailed at about 01:30. Not being inclined to stay up the rest of the night, I took 5mg of good ol’ vallium and went outside with may camera and tripod to wait for the pill to knock me out.

The night was clear and calm. Everything seemed all sparkly and bright. Faded Glory looked peaceful sitting at the end of her dock. I took her picture:

Faded Glory sleeps at her berth

It took a fifteen second exposure to get this shot. It required very little processing with Photoshop to clean it up. I next turned my attention to a container ship across the harbour from our house:

A ship across the harbour from our house

Having gotten a solid night’s sleep, I picked Eunie up at the airport. On our way the the office, I spotted a familiar ship out on Astrolabe Bay:

Royal Australian Navy Survey Ship (before Photoshopping)

The photo above is what came out of my camera – a Canon G9 shooting in the RAW mode. It’s interesting compositionally – I used the Rule of Thirds – but otherwise, it stinks. It’s flat and lifeless. With Photoshop CS4 and about 10 minutes stolen from my work day I had this:

Royal Australian Navy Survey Ship (Photoshopped)

Ahhhh, much better!

The ship is one of two Royal Australian Navy Survey Vessels that have come up here to do detailed charting and data collection in Astrolabe Bay. I took a couple of sailors from one of the ships out fishing a week or so ago and they invited me aboard that evening for the grand tour. Check out the HMAS Mellville. We get a surprising number of interesting ships in our harbour.

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Birds, Trees, Airplanes, Frisky Fish

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Under the Sea on February 26th, 2009 by MadDog
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I’ve got it all for you today.

This morning, my garden was sizzling with warm morning sunshine. I felt like I was 60 again. Whoopee! I was standing on Faded Glory  looking back at the house. I quickly brought my camera up to my eye by instinct and caught this crow flying past. The blue sky, warm orange sunlight on the trunks of the coconut tree, and the ominous black bird make an interesting juxtaposition:

Sky, coconuts, bird
Then I heard an Air Niugini jet about to take off. The runway is close to our house. I snap-shot again, just barely having time to zoom. There is even a small school of fish jumping at the bottom of the frame on the right:
Air Niugini departing Madang
A click on the image to enlarge will give you a view of the logo on the tail.

Lastly, here is an unfortunately green movie clip that I got on our Wednesday dive on the Henry Leith.  It is two Three-spot Dascyllus (Dascyllus trimaculatus)  getting it on (Excuse the minor vulgarity. If I use the word – I’ll spell it out – “esss – eee – exxx” in a post, I’ll be knocked off of millions of computers.):They take turns circling, cleaning, depositing, fertilising, and chasing away potential egg stealers (including myself – they BITE!).

I just noticed while I was checking this post that, if you turn the sound up, you can hear over my breathing the sound that many of these small fishes make (Damselfishes of all kinds, including the Anemonefishes). It is a small, quick grunting sound. Turn your sound up and see if you can pick it up. They most commonly make this sound when they are perturbed. You can hear the sound most clearly starting at about 1:13 into the clip running to about 1:45. It comes back again at about 1:45 and you can hear it on and off until near the end of the clip.

Sorry for the horrible green cast. The water was very green and I haven’t yet figured out how to change the tint of my video clips. If there’s anybody out there with a suggestion how to do that, please leave a comment.

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Fooling Fish on the Henry Leith

Posted in Under the Sea on December 30th, 2008 by MadDog
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On Saturday morning, we waddled out with a full load of fun-seekers on Faded Glory to Wongat Island to dive the Henry Leith for the millionth time. Okay, maybe the 500th time. It never gets tiresome. In fact it has been fascinating to do the same dive several times a year for a period of nearly twenty years. Wrecks in tropical waters change dramatically over time. I reckon that the Henry Leith will be virtually unrecognizable in another 25 years. It is deteriorating rapidly.

The visibility was miserable – about the worst I’ve ever seen it in that location. All the photography had to be up close because of the poor light and the pesky particulate matter in the water.

I did manage a few interesting shots. Here’s one of a fan coral that shows some of the individual polyps extended:

Weird Flower Garden

I’ll call that one “Weird Flower Garden.” The image looked pitiful until I had the idea to turn the entire background to monochrome black and white. That got rid of the nasty green background and allowed the natural colours of the fan coral to be seen against a neutral canvas.

Here’s a Spotfin Lionfish on a big leather coral:

Spotfin Lionfish on the Henry Leith at Wongat Island near Madang, PNG

The Spotfin is uncommon in other locations, but for some reason seems to be attracted to the Henry Leith.

Angelfish are notoriously difficult to photograph because they are so skittish. You simply cannot get close to them. I caught this one down in the passageway to the cargo hold. He was confused enough for a few seconds while deciding how to escape that I got one good image of him:

Angelfish - trapped!

Then Pascal had a brilliant idea. He pried open a small clam on the deck with his knife and we just watch the fish feeding on it. Great for photography – too bad for the clam.

I wouldn’t want to do this regularly, but these are easily the best angelfish images that I’ve gotten so far:

Angelfish feeding on clam

There was a lot of mixed-species feeding going on. It was interesting to see how each fish took its turn. There was very little pushing or shoving going on.

Sometimes, two or three fish were feeding side-by-side:

There's room for all at this diner

This is similar to the “turning the rocks over” trick that we do at Planet Rock.

Everything gets eaten by something eventually.

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Solar Attack

Posted in Mixed Nuts on December 26th, 2008 by MadDog
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My collection of sunrises as seen from my front yard is growing a bit too rapidly. I need to unload some of them. In another year, I’ll have enough for a nice coffee table book.

Tomorrow, I’m going to take you with me back to Vietnam.

Today, if you’re familiar with British Empire culture, you will know is Boxing Day. It’s the day that one is supposed to reward with boxes containing small gifts all those who have supported your life in various ways . . . the postman, the milkman, plumber, etc.

Since you support my life in a very important way by reading the daily drivel that I spoon out, I’ll box up some images that illustrate why I enjoy getting up every morning. (That’s aside from the fact that it’s always a pleasant surprise to discover that I’m actually still alive.)

I captured all of these except the first one from the stern of Faded Glory moored at our dock. In the first photo you can see Faded Glory. I usually stand at the stern by the dive ladder.

This one features a rising moon on which you can clearly see the reflection of Earthshine on the dark side:

Sunrise with Moon

I love these “Sky on Fire” shots:

Sky on fire

This one is a little more subtle:

As subtle as a sledgehammer

The next two are panoramas taken on two different mornings.

This one covers a about 120°. At the left, you can see the lights of the main wharf. At the right is the boundary fence of our yard and the pilings of a defunct dock outside our fence:

A 120 degree sunrise

This one covers an even wider angle of about 190°:

A wider sunrise panorama

I feel very blessed by life in a place where I can rise bleary and troubled by dreamtime phantoms, walk to my front windows, and catch a vision of wonder that makes me think, “Well, that’s a nice start.”

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All I Want to Do is Party

Posted in Humor on November 28th, 2008 by MadDog
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Imagine this. You live in a place where there are no movie theatres, no restaurants that you haven’t been to 1,000 times already, no jazz or blues clubs, no interesting hang-outs . . .

So, do you sit at home and read or watch The Tube? Some do.

We don’t.

Nonsensical socialization (i. e. partying) is the primary entertainment in Madang. By custom, it takes a minimum of three people to make a party. (Otherwise people will talk!)

Here’s three slightly demented women partying – just to demonstrate the principle:

Party girls on Melbourne Cup Day a few years ago

Okay, that’s not true. It’s Lorraine, Karen, and Eunie (my woman) at Melbourne Cup Day.

All parties don’t need to have a reason, but Melbourne Cup Day has two. The first (and by far the least important) is to watch the race. The primary reason for the Melbourne Cup party is to dress in such a way as to attract the greatest possible attention, which is what (I think) women like to do, but will never admit. The traditional focus is HATS!

Other parties have entirely different purposes:

Insanity rules at the Red Cross Fashion Show

No, no, this is not what it seems. The Red Cross held a fashion show to raise money. I don’t commonly remove so much clothing in front of so many people, but this was for a good cause. I suppose you can notice that I am on the left looking very improbable. Fedor is in the middle doing “Extreme Ironing”. Rich is at the right doing . . . something.

Here’s the cooking detail at a randomly chosen party at Blueblood:

The Three Stooges - Madang Style

I am as close to the barbie as I am allowed to go. This is an Australian thing. Yanks are not allowed to approach closer than two metres to the barbie. I have, in fact, encroached upon the limit. That is why I am surreptitiously displaying the victory gesture. As soon as Tony and Trevor notice, they will shout obscenities at me until I am once again outside the forbidden zone.

This has nothing to do with Madang, but I should mention that not all nationalities treat Yanks in such a shoddy fashion. Here I am happily, if a bit groggily, tending the barbie in the Vienna Woods. It was okay with the Austrians. In fact, they ignored me completely except to bring me an occasional yummy beer:

Tending the barbie in the Vienna Woods - a thirsty job

And, what would life be without TOGA? Yes, kiddies, we actually do have the occasional toga party in Madang, as this photo will attest:

The "Centurion" style toga

I don’t know what Eunie’s outfit had to do with toga, but I approved anyway. Mine was based on the “Centurion” design and it made me feel quite manly, considering it’s the next thing to a dress. I once wore a kilt for a wedding and it too gave me a strange sense of freedom. Maybe it is the lack of undergarments – who knows?

Here’s two of a group of partiers on board Moonlighting for a little fishing. We didn’t catch anything, but I guess, from previous experience, that catching fish is not really the point of fishing. I’m still not clear on that:

The great 'sport' of Fishing - similar to the great 'sport' of Watching Paint Dry

And, sometimes, on a rare Saturday morning, I find that only the ladies show up at the dock and I’m forced to endure an entire day out on the boat with a mob of noisy, wonderful females:

A Dog's Life on Faded Glory - Photo by Rich Jones

It’s a Dog’s Life, but once you get used to it, it’s not so bad. ( I should mention that the photo above – so close to my heart – was taken by Richard Jones, who was pretending not to be aboard so that I might enjoy my day to the fullest. A true mate!)

As I check this before posting it seems even more egocentric than usual. I’m in every photo except one. I’ll throw in the Faded Glory* logo to help restore the balance a little:

The Faded Glory (out of Madang) logoParty on!

* “Faded Glory” is a registered trademark of Wal*Mart. They stole it from me. Is it a political statement about the ultimate demise of all empires? Or is it just because my boat is cheap and junky like most of the stuff at Wal*Mart?  I’ll never tell.

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Pig Island Oddities

Posted in Under the Sea on October 26th, 2008 by MadDog
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Yesterday was our regular Underwater Saturday. There was a big storm on Friday night. The weather was nasty and grey on Saturday morning and stayed that way all day.

We were looking for a sheltered spot to escape the big rollers coming in from Astrolabe Bay.  It’s nearly always calm in Pig Bay,  so we headed there at a crawl.

Here’s a GPS display of where we went (you will need to click on the image to enlarge it):

GPS Display

I’ll explain a few items on the chart for those who are interested. The chart is a screen capture from a Humminbird 987C. The display above was actually taken at the dock in front of my house. I just moved the cursor to the spot that I wanted to display. You can see that the depth under the transom of Faded Glory  was seven feet at the time – about mean-tide. It might go up or down about 1.5 feet from that.

The course and speed are meaningless, since the boat was stationary.

Ignore the time. The unit was purchased in the USA because it’s much cheaper there. The company punishes you for this by limiting the time zones that you can select to those in the USA. As if that’s not enough, you can’t display anything in Metric measurements. We certainly wouldn’t want America getting onto that bit of gold!. This is done primarily so that they can charge Australians and others on the metric system an extra US$2,000 for the unit and protect their “you’re not Americans” distributors. This seems very cheesy; so much for all the hooey about free trade.

The temperature is that of the water in front of my house. It’s about what you’d want for a warm bath. Again, it’s American style. It would be 32.8° C in the normal world. If you’ve never bathed in tropical waters, you owe it to yourself to do it while you can still enjoy it.

You can also see the distance from my house in statute miles. You could walk there in less than an hour if you were Jesus. It also shows the bearing from my house – the direction that Jesus would walk if he were using a compass.

The bulls-eye thing is the spot where we dived. The straight line extending from it to the southwest is the direction to my house.

You’ll note that we use a local name for the island. We call it Pig Island  – it’s Tab Island  on the Admiralty Charts.  You can also see the location of a shipwreck – the Copal.

Land is yellow. Shallow water is blue.

You can now read a GPS screen as well as anyone.

So . . . what did we see?

Not much. The water was disgusting. I did manage this shot of an old Cesena fuselage that was dumped here. It sat in a shipping yard for years until the owner forgot about it and the shipping company needed the space. Somebody hired a helicopter to dump it at Pig Island  as a dive attraction. It’s not very attractive:

The Cessna fuselage at Pig Island

I remember sitting on Faded Glory  with Jan Fletcher years ago. We heard a helicopter coming and looked around. Suddenly it flew over the top of the coconut trees only a hundred metres or so away and dropped the fuselage in the water with an enormous SMAK  like the world’s most painful belly-flop. All we could do was stare at each other in puzzlement. Then we started laughing our heads off. Serendipity strikes again.

I did manage to get a couple of shots of these weird transparent shrimp (Periclimenes holthuisi).  In this shot, you can see a female carrying eggs. The egg mass is the creamy-white blob in the middle of the body. If you click to enlarge, you can see the individual spherical eggs:

Glass shrimp with eggs

Here’s a shot of another individual – maybe a male:

Another glass shrimp - maybe a male

To give you an idea of the size, the length would be about the width of your thumb.

It’s a nagging worry to me that things that look as if they were made by the glass-blower at a carnival should not be living. How does that work?

Somebody is bound to ask. There are no pigs on Pig Island.

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