I Shoot Myself

Posted in On Tthe Road on April 7th, 2011 by MadDog
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I’ve had an interesting few days. I went a couple of weeks ago to get a physical check-up. A few months ago I was wishing to find something which would kill me as quickly and painlessly as possible. Now I am more hopeful. It would be nice to find that nothing serious was amiss. Well, it seems there are a couple of numbers out of whack, but I’ll not go into that until I have more information. It’s probably nothing serious, but I can’t get it checked out now. I’m just too busy. If the second round of tests come back with a frown, I may have to take some more time at the end of my holiday to stop in Australia to get myself checked out thoroughly and go in for repairs if necessary. The cards keep coming, whether one is ready for them or not. Best to keep playing with as cool a head as one can manage.

I did get my wrinkled old skin examined expertly. I was amazed that it cost me only $35. Decades of careless sun exposure have forced me to have tiny bits and pieces frozen off here and there.  Some pesky spots on my head turned out to be nothing. Good news. One little place on my hand had to suffer the liquid nitrogen treatment. It’s a fascinating thing to watch, but don’t be in a hurry for it. Be careful with the sun, kiddies. It wants to kill you.

I’m a fanatic about getting my flu shots every year. We have some terrible flus floating around here. I know that these yearly vaccine concoctions probably will not protect me from those, but it makes me feel better when I get jabbed. I’m very fond of placebos. I wish I could get them by the dozen. So I asked my doctor to script me for the flu vaccine for 2011 and also the Pneumovax pneumonia vaccine, which I have not received for a few years. You’re supposed to get it twice in your life, five years apart. I’ve gotten sort of used to being alive now, after a spell of intense ambivalence, so I would rather not get struck down by something as mundane as the flu or pneumonia. If I’m going to go, I want to do it with a bit of panache.

In line with my extreme frugality, I decided to save another $50 trip to the doctor’s office by injecting myself. It’s really no big deal. When I was in “the military” we were always having to practice injecting. I don’t know why they wanted us to be so proficient. Maybe it was training for a future life on the streets. Anyway, it’s kind of interesting to give yourself a shot. In fact, it stings a lot less when you do it yourself. The flu shot turned out to be no problem at all, as it came neatly packed in a throw away syringe:

As you can see, this image is part of my continuing plan to amuse and enlighten. I may or may not succeed.

Alas, I discovered my plan to cheat the medical industry out of fifty bucks was foiled, as my Pneumovax came in a vial. I was tempted to use the syringe for the flu shot over again, but I was afraid Val would catch me. I can’t imagine that she would have approved:

Nice try. Now I have had to make yet another appointment and fork over another five ten-spots just to get some person in a white suit stick a needle in me. You just can’t win at this game.

By the way, the cane toads came back to the frog pond the next day with reinforcements. Val squirted disinfectant on them to try to kill the pesky beasts. They’re nice and clean now and no worse for the experience. I was funny to watch them blowing soap bubbles:

I was tempted to go and get one of Val’s golf clubs and practice my wedgie or whatever it is golfers do. I despise golf. No, wait. That’s too strong. I find golf puzzling. Okay, now I’ve offended all of the two or three golfers out there who may read this. I’m sorry. Sometimes I just blurt things out. It’s not my fault. I’m impulsive that way. Blame my mother or my father or some other ancestor. I got some truly bad genes. I’m amazed that I’ve stayed out of jail so long. Hey, it’s never too late!

Rummaging around for something else to throw at you today, I ran across this shot of the beautiful red mushrooms which we found near the beach at Teewah a while back:

I reckoned that these would be easy to identify, but no luck. Anybody want to have a go?

Okay, I’m randomising again. Perhaps I should focus a little.

On the way to Teewah, the sky was flamboyant. It was all herringbone and ripples. As I understand it, this is a sign of an extremely unstable upper atmosphere. Something got up its nose. Anyway, as the trees whizzed past with the relatively stationary clouds in the distance, I was mesmerised. It doesn’t take a lot to mesmerise me. I’m hyper-sensitive to mesmerisation. Now I can’t stop saying the word. See what I mean.

So, to make a long story a little shorter, I started thinking about how to capture the effect most cleverly. It turned out to be simple, okay, relatively simple. Here’s an example:

My first efforts were not all that flash.

So, here’s how a photographer thinks:  First, I know I want a relatively slow shutter speed so that the trees in the foreground will be motion blurred. Here’s some nice motion blur, better than the first one:

Next, I have to remember to hold the camera pretty still, as moving the camera with the slow shutter speed will cause the clouds themselves to blur from “camera shake”. The image stabilisation gizmo in the camera can only do so much.

Also, I gotta make sure the camera can focus, since it’s going to get pretty confused by all the whizzing. That’s pretty simple. I just have to set it on manual focus and push it to infinity. Bob’s your uncle.

Except, and there’s always an except, with the slow shutter speed, there was way too much light. My G11 won’t stop down more than ƒ8, and that wasn’t enough. Fortunately, it has a nifty built-in neutral density filter which can be turned on with a couple of stabs of the finger. Once I got that set, the rest was easy. I could get it down to a nice, slow shutter speed:

The perfect sky and the perfect tree.

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Direct Comparison – Canon G9-G10-G11

Posted in Photography Tricks on January 28th, 2010 by MadDog
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This post may cause some of you to reboot. Sorry for that. Not everybody is a photography geek. However, since I find myself today with all three of my Canon G series cameras at the office, I decided to make an extremely unscientific comparison of them. Canon has been all over the map with megapixels in the G series. The G9 was 12 and shot pretty good pictures. The G10 went to 15 and gave amazing detail in good light conditions, but was too noisy for the low light levels that make such sweet available light shots. The G11 gives you  10 megapixels. Why the backtracking? To give you a better all-round experience. Fifteen megapixels are overkill for most uses. And, the “buckets” are too small to catch enough photons to keep the sampling fair. Remember, all this dancing around of pixel counts was done without changing the size of the sensor.

Anyway, that’s way too much detail for most folk and the geeks already know what I’m talking about. Here’s a series of three shots at my bolted-to-the-wall computer in my office. All were shot at ISO 1600, which is adequate for most indoor shooting without flash as long as there are no kids or pets in the shot and you can brace a little to avoid motion blur. Just the ticket for those romantic, candle-lit dinners. All of these are a small portion of the centre of the frame – about a 300% enlargement:

Here’s the G9:

It’s noisy, no doubt, but it’s not unmanageable. I’ve made no compensation for megapixels here and the shots are compressed with JPG, so it’s not a technically sophisticated comparison, to say the least. Non-photographers probably won’t even notice the differences.

Here’s the G10 image:

We have to click all of these to really see the detail. If you do, you will probably note much more noise and a generally poorer image. That’s because of trying to cram 15 million pixe3ls on something smaller than your little finger nail.

Here’s the G11 image:

I would certainly call this better than the G9 or G10. There’s less noise and it is of the manageable kind, using a good noise filter such as Noise Ninja Pro. The detail level is better and the whole thing simply looks better.

So much for low light. How about normal shooting? I grabbed this image in front of my office today on the G11:

Nice and clean for a snapshot, but it doesn’t tell us much.

Here’s a blowup from the G9:

Pretty crisp. You can read the PNG on the plate.

Here’s the G10:

Not so hot. I didn’t get the apparent size the same, but you an still tell that it appears a bit blurry compared to the G9. Again, more pixels doesn’t necessarily make a better camera.

Here is the shot from the G11:

Frankly, I can’t see a lot of difference here. That’s to be expected. At high light levels, we shouldn’t expect to see much, although my imagination whispers that there is more detail in the shadows and highlights for the G11. This is is one of the Holy Grails for point and shoot cameras – low noise, high dynamic range. The extra detail in the shadows and highlights make a huge difference when you’re trying to achieve magnificence on a budget.

So, what does MadDog think?

Well, first MadDog wonders if anybody cares. I took this shot with the G11 in miserable lighting conditions at ISO 1600. The G11 has a swivel screen, so you can do all of those exciting things with a camera that you’ve only dreamed about. Just don’t tell me about them. I’m as happy as a clam. I can’t wait to get it into its UW housing and take it diving on Saturday.

I’m probably going to start carrying my G11 as my daily camera, though I’m a bit nervous about that, given the security situation here. When my G9 was stolen and thrown to the pavement, it still worked, except in the UW housing, Still they are tough cameras. I can’t think of many cameras with which you could club a thug unconscious and then take his picture.

I’ll still use the G10 when I need massive detail. Good light and lots of pixels can’t be beat for some jobs. But, my new sweetheart is the G11.

I’m so fickle.

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