The Spider and the Fly

Posted in Mixed Nuts on July 17th, 2010 by MadDog
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This morning’s sunrise was unmanageable with the tiny sensor and the somewhat limited dynamic range of my modest Canon G11. I have nothing but praise for this camera, considering that I am a relatively poor person. We just bought our first new car in nearly twelve years. I’d like to purchase a camera which would cost, with lenses, nearly a third of the price of our new Nissan Navara. That would be patently insane. Therefore, I squeeze the lemon. I do not, in any way, resent being relatively impoverished. I certainly live as a rich man here in Paradise, so why should I complain? I can’t afford an expensive car. Where would I drive it? I don’t own a Rolex. I don’t own any  watch. Why would I need one? In Paradise, things happen when they happen. I am rich beyond my wildest dreams of three or four decades past. It’s a richness that money can’t buy.

Anyway, the contrast ratio between the sun and the clouds was greater than any camera can handle. Only the human eye can deal with these conditions. I began to wonder if I might use that to my advantage. What if I could turn day into night?

Well, it’s not totally convincing, but the general effect is pleasing.

When I turned around and saw the morning sun lighting up our house and the garden all I could think was, “Wow. Gotta have that shot!”:

Too bad about that ugly TV satellite dish spoiling the shot. It’s tacky. I should Photoshop it out. What’s amusing about this shot is that you can see my shadow. I’m like the ghost appearing in the hall of the mansion. I held my trusty G11 up as high as I could to get just the right angle. The other shadow is one of our coconut trees.

Down at the water’s edge I could not resist yet another shot of one of my favourite plants commonly called the Sensitive Plant or the Tickle-Me Plant (Mimosa pudica):

Its flowers remind me a cheer-leader’s pom-poms and the leaves fold up magically if you touch them.

Half a lifetime ago, I never dreamed that I would live the rest of my life in a place where I would have orchids growing in my yard:

Life can be full of surprises. Let it flow, baby, let it flow.

Even the now familiar orange lilies were decked out in their sparkly caps of morning dew:

I will never tire of shooting water drops. There’s a purity of imagery there which is difficult to top. Less is more.

Today is about images. I suppose that you’ve guessed that already. I enjoy letting the images speak, because images can speak more eloquently than words, at least my words. I was hunting for my wonderful green spiders who frequent the yellow flowers forever blooming in our garden. They have been curiously absent recently. Today I found one laying in wait for a meal:

Does the fly sense danger? I think not. The spider is designed to be covert. Its posture mimics the shape of the flower.

Even as the spider slowly moved its legs to conform more closely to the contours of the flower, the fly approached:

And then the fly flew. Was the spider disappointed? I doubt that a spider thinks much about disappointment. It’s a waiting game. Patience is the key. The occasional meal will suffice. Would that we had such patience.

Yes, the spider waits and my attention is focused upon it. My concern is the perfect image. The spider is takes no note of me. Even as I hold the stem of the flower to adjust the angle, the spider is unconcerned:

My concentration prevented me from noticing, until I had this shot on the screen, the other  spider, which had completely escaped my attention.

How much we miss when we concentrate on one thing!

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Mystery Insect

Posted in Mixed Nuts on January 29th, 2010 by MadDog
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Today’s post will be all over the place, because that’s where my head is. I’m the worlds worst mental multi-tasker. Physically, I’m okay. I can simultaneously pat my head, rub my tummy, hop on one foot, roll my eyes, chew gum and twirl a hula-hoop while singing the national anthem of Papua New Guinea (most of it, anyway). But, I can’t think about more than one thing at a time. This makes my workday feel like a picnic in one of the lower levels of Dante’s Inferno.

So, since I’m even more scatterbrained than normal, it would be asking too much to expect any kind of theme today. I’ll start with the Mystery Insect. Up at Blueblood, Pascal Michon found this weird thing:

Though it looks very much like a mosquito, it’s not. Pascal tells me that it is a fly of some kind because of the shape of the mouth parts (ugh!). I had to take about twenty exposures to get one while it was sticking its tongue, or whatever you call it, out. All the while it was sitting on my hand, presumably deciding whether or not I was edible. Pascal put it in a jar and sent it off somewhere for an ID check. More later on that.

Switching subjects completely, here is a nice shot of a gang of Pickhandle Barracuda (Sphyraena jello)  down deep in Magic Passage:It’s worth clicking this one to enlarge it.

The polyps of this Gonipora  genus coral (I can’t identify the species.) remind me of waving wheat:The metaphor works better if you can see the water currents making it sway back and forth.

The new Canon G11 came into play this morning at about 06:15 to catch the sunrise. This is the fantasy version:

I couldn’t resist playing with the colours.

This is what it really looked like:That’s a four frame panorama more or less exactly as it came from the camera. So far, so good.

Finally, I’m happy to announce that Bozo the Clown made a guest appearance recently in Madang and I was proud to take him diving. Here he is all google-eyed and frazzled, looking as if he’s enjoying a giant licorice all-day sucker. Someone should tell him that you’re supposed to lick it, not stick the whole thing in your mouth:

Okay, okay, it’s actually me.

Is it any wonder that I’m the laughingstock of Madang? Hey, everybody is entitled to a job.

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Yeah, Man! Give Me That EXTREME Science!

Posted in Mixed Nuts on December 9th, 2009 by MadDog
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You may not have been holding your breath, but I’ve been patiently waiting for Steven Goodheart to put up his third blog, Goodheart’s Extreme Science. I can barely keep one journal going. I can’t help wondering if he has a time machine stashed away someplace. I can’t imaging how one could find time for three journals. Anyway, pop over there to wish him luck. Give him a bookmark. People like us need all the breaks we can get. If there are any therapists out there, you might want to have a little chat with him. I think he needs help.

My pathetic little contribution to science (and art, I dare say) comes in the form of these two images that I captured yesterday morning. I’m trying to take the perfect picture of this spider. It’s been featured here before here, here and here:

My favourite Green SpiderI think that I’m getting close. I can’t wait to get my hands on my new Canon G11 when Rich Jones brings it back from Canada for me.

Taking a break from science for a moment, a loving grandad has to show off this image of my granddaughters. I just received it this morning:

My Granddaughters, Audrey and Pippa (left to right) and Jack the dog
That’s Pippa on the left and Audrey Rose on the right. The little critter is Jack the Dog. The biggest bummer in my life is that I get to see them only once every few years.

In this shot of a red-eyed fly I managed to get also another fly and an ant. I hadn’t even noticed the ant:

Red-Eyed Fly and FriendsThe play of light in this shot is very nice. I love shooting in the early morning when the sun is low and the colour of Chardonnay. It gives a warm glow to my images and casts interesting shadows.

To finish off here, I’m filching something directly from Steven Goodheart’s Metta Refuge blog. I found it amusing:



If you can live without caffeine,

If you can be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,

If you can resist complaining,

If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time,

If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,

If you can ignore a friend’s limited education and never correct him or her,

If you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend,

If you can face the world without lies and deceit,

If you can conquer tension without medical help,

If you can relax without liquor,

If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,

If you can honestly say that deep in your heart you have no prejudice against creed, color, religion, gender preference, or politics,

–Then you have almost reached the same level of spiritual development as your dog!

The sublimely enlightened ShebaI’m feeding you seafood tomorrow. Don’t forget the tartar sauce.

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A Little Garden Magic

Posted in My Garden on March 28th, 2009 by MadDog
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My garden was a pleasant place this morning. the light was subdued. This pumpkin flower, as big as my hand, stood out as brightly as the sun:

Pumpkin Flower

It rained just before dawn – not unusual this time of year – and this reproductive gear of a hibiscus flower was dripping wet:

Hibiscus reproductive gear
I have a compulsion to take photos of water droplets. On this Pandanus leaf, you can see the reflection of my camera in the larger drops on the left:

Water Drops on Pandanus leaf

These checker board winged flies are crazy about these yellow flowers:

Checkerboard wing flies on a yellow flower

Flies and bees are always interesting subjects – if you can get them to hold still.

A daisy bud just broke open this morning. It looks strangely like something fancy that you might find on your plate in a very expensive restaurant. In the unfocused background, you can see how the blossom will look when it unfurls:

Daisy bud

Other gardens entice me. Nevertheless, though my garden is so small, I’m always amazed that every day that I explore it I find something new.

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Strolling Through My Garden

Posted in My Garden on January 4th, 2009 by MadDog
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I had a little stroll through my garden this morning, camera in hand.

I always check for insects. There are plenty of bugs that chew on my leaves, but I don’t worry much about foliage loss. Plants grow so quickly here that the insects can hardly keep up. If it were not for the bugs, we’d be buried in plants.

My insect inspection each morning is mostly so that I can see what might be posing nicely for a photograph. This tiny green spider is busy eating his breakfast – a juicy fly with polka-dot wings:

A little green spider enjoying his breakfast

If you click to enlarge, you’ll see that the spider has eight eyes. I’ve shown other spiders on Madang – Ples Bilong Mi here, and here.

I have many varieties of Coleus in my garden. They always make intriguing patterns to photograph:

Green and red coleusFixing on patterns now, I’m stopping at a coconut tree to see what the lichens are up to:

Lichens on coconut tree

Can’t get my mind off of patterns – probably leftover nitrogen from my last dive. It can make you a little trippy. These flame-tree leaves are too, too green:

Flame Tree leaves

This has to be the weirdest panorama that I’ve done. It spreads over more than 400°. You can see the house and car twice. It looks nothing like our front yard, yet everything that is visible in the yard is in the photo – just wildly distorted:

Dizzying front-yard panoramaOooo, head is spinning now. It’s Sunday. I’m going for a nap.

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