Golf, Anyone?

Posted in Sedona on August 28th, 2011 by MadDog
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I’ve been playing lonely guy for the last two weeks and I don’t like it one bit. I’ve come to the conclusion that I am only part human. My orangutan-like arms attest to this conclusion. If the rest of me were more like my cousins, I’d probably get along fine, as they are rather solitary beasts. I, however, am much less happy to be alone. The main problem is that I get bored with nobody to talk to. Well, I’ll get relief in a week. I’ll be off to St. Louis to be with Grace and her daughter and family. Grace is a new grandmother again. I’m gonna take about a million pictures and shoot hours of video.

Which brings me to today’s subject. Golf. No, of course not. I am not a golfer. That’s too bad, actually, since I could stand outside our front door and throw a golf ball onto one of the prettiest golf courses I’ve ever seen, not that I’ve seen very many. Anyway, I’m going to start on the night before and walk you through a photographic expedition from our house to the golf course. You don’t need a back pack. It takes only about one minute, unless you have a camera. Then it takes about a half-hour.

Last night I set up the new Canon 5D Mk II with the EF 40-70mm ƒ4 L USM lens on a tripod outside the front door and shot directly across the street. This was a thirty second exposure with an ISO of 3200, I think. At that ISO reproducing at normal sizes shows no detectable noise. When the width of an image is over 5,600 pixels, noise gets pretty much buried in the mass of dots of color. I spend far less time cleaning up images.

I got lucky in this shot when a car passed by the house. Notice that the shutter was open was long enough to produce perfect little star trails. You’ll have to click to enlarge to see them.

I woke up at 05:30 the next morning and went to the front door to see how smoky it was outside. We have had many fires lately. Much of it is “managed burns”, but it’s just as smoky, no matter the cause of the fire. Here is a site showing current wildfires over one-hundred acres. This morning was about as clear as I have seen and the sun was at a perfect angle to sculpture the famous red rocks. After I crossed the dry wash and made my way to the top of the bank I set up the tripod and grabbed this shot:

This is a different kind of spectacular from the scenes out my front door in Madang, but I can get used to it.

I then made my way back down into the dry wash for a little stroll to the golf course, only about a hundred feet along the path. Along the way I spotted deer tracks:

Unmistakeable, eh?

But how about this?

After checking the area for other tracks and a visit to the World Wide Web for confirmation, I’m convinced that there was a rather large elk wandering around the neighborhood while I was out spying on the house across the street last night. It seems that elk tend to put the hind foot nearly in the same spot as the front foot hit the ground as they walk. This accounts for the distorted shape. The front of the indentation shows the characteristic cloven hoof pattern of an ungulate.

Well, that’s got precious little to do with golf, but I’m getting to that.

At the top of the bank a few feet further on is the perimeter road of the golf course. There are many presumably rich people housed around the course. Once again I find myself a man of very modest means living like a prince. The road is a popular place for a morning constitutional:

Up at the end of the course I got this tripod shot of the scene. I could have done quite nicely without the tripod, but though the gear is capable, my arm is not. That rig is heavy, man. My biceps will soon be bulging again:

In the past I have shot stitched-together panoramas to get landscapes such as this, but with over twenty-one million pixels, all I have to do is crop out the middle. Unless this was blown up bigger than an 8×10 inch sheet, you would never see any pixelation.

Really, there’s not much that this camera can’t do, given the right lens. I wonder what some of the great photographic geniuses of the past would make of the equipment and software we have today. It would be something to see, I’m sure.

The morning light was very soft and warm. The sky was nearly white. I used a circular polarizer filter to darken it as much as possible, but I still had to fake a blue sky in this shot:

I’m afraid it shows, eh? Well, it’s just an interpretation, so I don’t care. It would make a nice post card.

If you like golf.

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The Helicopter Money Shot

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Photography Tricks on August 11th, 2010 by MadDog
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Sometimes being one of the few serious photographers in town can be beneficial in unusual ways. Let’s back up a few days before we came to Cairns to take care of Eunie’s health problem. I got a call from Heli Niugini management and my friend Monty Armstrong asking if I could go out for a ride to take some promotional shots for them. I didn’t even have to think about it. It’s a no-brainer. A free helicopter ride over Paradise? What kind of an idiot would turn that down?

While I was waiting for them to prepare the two Bell Jet Rangers which would be required for the mission, I caught some of the technical guys installing a new transmission in a Huey. Nothing gets off the ground without these fellows’ careful scrutiny:

You’re looking right down the business end of the engine where that big round pipe is.

While cruising around, I got this great shot of our house:That’s Faded Glory  there at the dock.

Here is a very nice shot of Coronation Drive, the golf course and the island chain reaching up the coast. We do nearly all of our dives in the area covered by this shot:

You can barely see the Coastwatchers Monumtent at the distant end of the golf course just where Dallman Passage  starts.

In case you can’t see it in the shot above, here is a pretty close-up of it:

To the left is the Coastwatcher Hotel, known by locals as “Coasties”, of course.

I was happy with a free ride for taking the photos, but the particular view needed – The Money Shot – was of a Heli Niugini machine placed just so in the frame with a nice tropical paradise scene in the background. This proved to be the one:

It’s going on a two metre long billboard along with promotional text and the company logo.

I was happy to provide this service in exchange for the rare opportunity to get some great shots of my own, which I will be showing over the next week or so.

Naturally, the uncertainty concerning the cause underlying Eunie’s illness has us in a delicate psychological condition. Personally, if given free reign and no responsibility, I’d hide under the covers and sleep. This is not going to do any good for either of us.

So, for the first time since I started Madang – Ples Bilong Mi,  it is therapy for me. I hope it doesn’t get too weird.

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