Goodbye Hamilton – Hello Sedona

Posted in Humor, On Tthe Road on June 3rd, 2011 by MadDog
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I believe that my wandering is over for a while. What a relief! I have been very blessed that every place I have gone I have had friends who opened their homes to me. I have had to spend only one night in a motel when Hans and I were traveling from Illinois to Hamilton in Ontario. The life of a moocher is not as glamorous as it might seem, but it is much more affordable.

I’ll first force you to listen to my lame excuse for being off the air for five days. As you might gather from the image below, Eunie’s old Toshiba notebook which has been my traveling office since the middle of March finally threw in the towel. When I was in Canada the screen began to jump. My first thought was “Oh-oh, there goes the budget!”. I prayed and laid hands on it, but to no avail. It got the the point at which I could still use it, but I had to let the screen warm up for an hour. When I got to Sedona and turned it on I got nothing but a blank gray screen. I dithered about what to do:

I can’t see much point in trying to replace the screen on a relatively cheap Toshiba which is probably six years old. It would probably cost more than half the price of a new one. The problem was how to get at all the data on it, which, of course, has not been backed up since I left Madang. Grace hauled my old carcass over to Cottonwood, Arizona today so that I could check out some prices. I decided to get an inexpensive LCD screen that I could hook up to the Toshiba so that I can continue to use it while I’m deciding what to buy. I’ll also be backing up, you can be sure. The Samsung monitor cost only US$146 including tax. It’s a very nice piece of gear and a vast improvement over the old Toshiba screen. Editing photos on it is a joy instead of a frustration. It looks as if I’ll be buying a new notebook computer before long.

I have a few images left over from Hamilton to show to you. Nothing to brag about. I went with my son, Hans, and a couple of friends of his up on top of the Niagara Escarpment to have a look around and take some pictures. Sheila has a new Canon G12 which caused me to drool. It seems to me to be a significant improvement over the G11. This line of cameras keeps getting better and better. Here is a shot from one of the many overlooks:

Hamilton is at the bottom a a huge valley. I’m on one side and you can see the other side over on the far right of the picture. The gray stuff that you see filling the valley in to the tops of the building is smog from the steel mills. It’s interesting that you can’t see any visible smoke coming out of the mills as you drive past. What does come out looks like steam, but it obviously has some other nasty stuff in it.

At nearby Tew’s Falls I got some snaps that are decent, even considering the failing light:

That’s the standard waterfall shot.

What I like is the Silky Water Technique, which is child’s play to get, if you have a steady hand and a solid object on which to brace your camera. All you have to do is set your camera so that the shutter speed is 1/8 of a second or slower.

It looks like this:

Having arrived in Sedona, I have a much changed menu of scenery from which to choose. For instance, if I stand in front of Grace’s house and look down her street to the left, I’m dazzled by a sheer cliff of the ridiculously red rocks which surround Sedona:

On the way into Sedona from the Village of Oak Creek where Grace lives, one has to contend with outlandish scenery such as this:

Couple this in-your-face visual stimulation with temperatures which keep you toasty warm, but not hot in the daytime and pleasantly cool in the evenings and you have specifications for a very nice place to live.

You get all this plus the general crazyness of the place. It’s the New Age Capital of Planet Earth. I’ve heard it referred to as Spaceship Sedona, sort of like a woo-woo Enterprise which consists entirely of one giant holo-deck. One the way to the hardware store to get some wood glue I asked Grace if we could stop to grab a shot of this flying saucer which was obviously in need of some roadside repairs:

Note the sign on the van in the background – “Alien Recovery Team”. I’d say that they arrived just in time.

Don’t laugh. They are serious.

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My Neck Gets Longer

Posted in Humor, On Tthe Road on May 28th, 2011 by MadDog
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My bags are packed. I’m ready to go. As you read this I will possibly be zipping across the sky from Buffalo to Phoenix leaving behind me a trail of noxious fumes. I will do this with the aid of an airplane, one Continental Airlines monster or another. As I board I will be chanting the mantra of all sensible airline passengers, “Sure hope the plane don’t crash.”

My suitcase is half full of the warmest clothing which I own. I certainly hope that I will not need them any longer once I reach Sedona. According the the 14 day trend, the lowest daytime temperature I’ll encounter for a while will be about 32°C (about 90°F). At night I might have to put up with 18°C (about 64°F). This is much more my speed. Now that I have wasted your time giving you my personal weather forecast I’ll move on to the equally boring subject of this post – my neck.

For several months I’ve had tingly fingers. The last two fingers on each hand are a bit numb and feel as if they have been frozen and are thawing out. It’s not debilitating, but it’s not pleasant, either. I’ve heard suggestions that it might be a pinched nerve in my neck. Googling seems to confirm the possibility. I’ve also heard suggestions that I might get my neck stretched. This does not appeal to me. I prefer the do-it-yourself approach.

A couple of weeks ago I was suddenly attacked by the idea that I could think my neck longer. Perhaps it might stretch itself. Yes, I know what you are thinking. However, in this case, you overestimate my absurdity. As I went about thinking about my neck being longer I discovered that if, for instance, I’m walking or sitting or whatever and I sort of make my head higher (it is hard to explain) my neck will stretch a little, maybe a few millimeters. I’ve been doing this pretty regularly several times a day. I’ve tried to hold that posture as long as I can continue thinking about it. After a while I forget what I was doing and my neck gets shorter again. I feel like a turtle.

It’s a distinctly strange sensation to think your neck longer. If I do it right now as I’m writing about it, I can describe it to you. First, I have to calm myself a little and hold my head level while looking straight ahead. Then I think about my neck being longer; I stretch it mentally. My head actually moves up a little, accompanied by some rather unpleasant popping and crackling noises. That’s the not-so-nice bit. The nice bit is that, after only a short while, I can feel the tingling in my fingers abating.

The weirdest thing about this is that it appears to be working. I don’t imagine that my neck looks any longer, but the tingling in my fingers has reduced appreciably, even when I’m not stretching my neck. Is it possible that I’d discovered a new medical technique? Can I patent it?

Okay, that’s pretty much everything I can squeeze out of that subject. If you’re still here I have some miscellaneous pictures from the last couple of weeks to show to you.

It’s entirely possible that you have never seen the Willis Tower (I still think of it as the Sears Tower) in Chicago nearly obscured by fog:

Now you have.  One less thing, eh?

While we’re doing tall things (hey, this fits in with the neck-stretching!) have a look at this shot of the big CN Tower in Toronto being annoyed by some wanna-be big ones. I call it Conflicting Egos:

Okay, so I get zero points for clever title.

Toronto is chock full of sculpture. Some of it is very cool. Others are so-so. I grabbed this shot from my bus:

I don’t know what to say about it. It’s big. It’s sculpture. It’s art. It reminds me of an eggbeater.

This also is a bus shot:

At first I thought, “How cruel. They are all tied together.” Then I noticed that they are simply hanging onto the child-securing line. This impressed me. They are remarkably obedient and rule-following. Hey, they are little Canadians. We would expect no less of them . If that sounds sarcastic, it’s not meant to be. I much admire Canada and its adorable inhabitants. I even have a tattoo to celebrate the whole idea of Canada. I would happily be a Canadian, if only it were possible. I might even survive the first winter. Or maybe not.

When I do these miscellanea posts I often fret over which images are worthy of the space. This one falls in the “I don’t know.” category. I include it only because I have not previously seen a pine tree which sports cute little green pom-poms on each branch:

Okay . . .

Moving on now.  I went to Fort George with Ron a few days ago. It was amusing. Ron stepped in a skunk hole and took a tumble. Actually, that part was somewhat less amusing and more scary. It could just as easily been me. You know, I have never been hurt while engaging in any of my adventurous activities. Years of cave exploring, rock climbing, flying helicopters, SCUBA diving, slogging through swamps and jungles, not to mention some recent skydiving have done me no injuries. The only times I have ever gotten hurt was when I was minding my own business and suddenly found myslef picking myself up off the ground. Perhaps this indicates that I am most at risk when I’m not paying attention, eh?

We gawked at the old buildings and I snapped a few of the mildly interesting items. No, really, that’s not fair. It is quite a spectacular place and well worth a visit. I’m just being difficult and moody. I did particularly want to get a shot of the demonstration of musket shooting. Maybe everybody else in the world has seen this, but it was my first time.

Here is the spiffily dressed soldier firing his musket:

Well, as you can see, that didn’t work out so well. The stupid thing failed to fire four times in a row. The guy who was talking us through the demonstration had just mentioned that the weapons were highly unreliable. So, having relaxed my guard, I lined up my camera for the fifth try and KA-BOOM the thing went off. It surprised me so much that my camera jumped out of my hands. I successfully juggled it back into my grip before it fell to the ground. I had a little laugh when I looked at the shot.

The shooter then went through his routine of loading the musket and fired again. I finally got the shot I wanted:

Uh, right. That one is checked off the list.

I’ll start winding things down with this shot off Morningstar Mill:

Don’t believe the “Always on hand” part. They had no flour for sale, not that I wanted to buy any. It is, however, a pretty site.

Here is a shot of the small waterfall:

I had to take three exposures at different levels of brightness and combine them into a single high dynamic range shot to make this image. Isn’t that fascinating? Anyway, you can see a rainbow in the mist at the right, if you look very closely.

The shot above and this one are what I call “Calendar Junk”:

Pretty, but devoid of purpose or meaning.

They are the pop-stars of images.

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Hamilton – Too Much Water

Posted in On Tthe Road on May 21st, 2011 by MadDog
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A curious combination of laziness and furious activity has once again kept me off the air for a few days. The brief stay in Janesville, Wisconsin did not produce any interesting images. Now that I’m in Hamilton, Ontario I have either been freezing in my room or venturing outside occasionally when the weather permitted. Nothing happening, nothing to take pictures of, nothing to report. I’ve decided to escape from Canada a week early for my journey to Sedona, Arizona. When there I will probably complain of being too hot. Never mind . . .

A couple of days ago I did go out in the bleak countryside with my friend, Ron Barrons, to try to grab some waterfall shots. The images are miserable. The sky was a uniform bright grey. Maybe some photographers can make pretty pictures with that light, but I am not in that club. On top of that there was way too much water coming over the falls. While it may seem that is a good thing, it is not. Too much water does not make a nice picture of a waterfall.

Ron got this shot of me in the woods on the Bruce Trail with his Nikon:

I’m not as unhappy as I appear to be.

Here is my shot of Webster’s Falls. After working with it for much more time than I usually spend on an image I finally gave up in disgust. I can’t think of anything to do with the flat lighting which makes it any better. The only good thing I can say about it is that it does look pretty much the way my eyes saw it – listless, desultory:

This is Tiffany Falls. It is no better:

The Niagara Escarpment gives rise to the huge number of waterfalls in the area, including Niagara Falls. In this shot you can see a tiny sample of the kind of cliffs which are characteristic of the area.:

The area is relatively undisturbed. Canada always seems so clean to me. Canadians are very reluctant to make a mess. I saw absolutely no litter:

Always on the lookout for the visually stimulating, I found several of these hairy infant plants sprouting up from the rocky soil:

For some strange reason they are bright red and covered by fuzz when they are youngsters. Later on they turn green and lose their fur. You can see a more mature specimen in the upper left corner.

In this shot I used the aperture priority mode and set the opening at ƒ8 to get the maximum depth of field. The scene is in focus from a few inches to nearly infinity. This allows the red footbridge in the distance to be seen clearly:

Here is a macro shot of a millipede:

This is a Jack in the Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum):

It is a very common plant in the area. In this shot you can see the blurry image of the waterfall in the background.

These images were taken a couple of days ago. Yesterday I trekked into Toronto for a day-trip. I had a bit of an adventure. I’ll be telling about it later. Today the sun is out for the first time since I came to North America.

Today I’m going to Niagara Falls. I hope the sun continues to shine.

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Fortune Favours the Bold

Posted in Mixed Nuts on November 14th, 2010 by MadDog
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The hardest part of writing this post will be making it short enough to be readable. I seem to be full of words tonight. See, I’m rambling already. I watched The Postman  a few nights ago. The megalomaniacal general had a great line, which is by no means original. “Fortune favours the bold”, he said. I’m a big fan of Movie Wisdom, so I was powerfully drawn for a while by the seduction of an improved life situation by simply stepping up to the plate and spitting in the general direction of the pitcher. Though I don’t believe in a key principle of the ancient saying, I now find myself in a world in which a bolder, less timid and fearful approach may possibly serve me well. Perhaps I should explain. (Maybe you should get a cup of coffee. This will take a while.)

The key principle to which I do not subscribe is the concept of fortune itself, or as I will describe it here, luck. I can state with no fear of successful contradiction that there is no such thing as luck. If you think that you are lucky, or unlucky for that matter, you are deluded. I can hear the howls of protest clear over here in Paradise. Possibly a thought experiment is in order.

Suppose I flip a coin five times and it comes up each time heads. We might scratch our  heads, eh? Five times in a row it’s heads? It seems unlikely. But, we have to admit that it’s possible. Now suppose that I propose a bet. I will bet you that the next flip will be heads. Would you take tails at even odds? What if I sweetened up the bet for you? I put one of something on the table (call it a Dollar or whatever, just to make it interesting) and you put two and I let you choose tails. Some people at this point might be thinking, “Take the bet. It’s got to be tails, since it’s come up heads five times in a row.” Some people would be dead wrong. It’s a sucker bet. The next flip of the coin has exactly one chance in two of coming up tails, or heads, for that matter. My expected return on the bet is greater than yours, since the probability of either of us winning is actually the same and you put two dollars on the table. In fact it doesn’t make any difference at all if the coin came up heads five times or ten times or a hundred or a million times (however unlikely that might be) in a row as heads; the next flip still has only a fifty-fifty chance of being tails.

I’m sure that you wouldn’t take the bet anyway. You don’t believe in luck either. You’re too smart for that.

Hey, I’m not making this up. Now let’s take that and extrapolate it to the general concept of luck. It doesn’t take much imagination to do so. Upon examination, the idea of luck disappears in a puff of fairy dust. Lucky numbers in the lottery – posh! Nonsense. Bad luck – no such thing; good luck – the same. Probability is computable, but inexact. One can predict outcomes only within calculated ranges – some outcomes more likely than others. Some will win. Some will lose. Nothing can predict who with any certainty more than the formulas provide. More importantly, there is no mystery force which changes the outcome of future events based on outcomes in the past. Artillery shells do sometimes fall into an existing crater. Lighting does occasionally strike twice.

Okay, so “Fortune Favours the Bold” doesn’t seem so true, huh? At least not if we think of fortune as lucky outcomes.

All that was a red herring. I’m not here wasting your valuable time today to blather on about luck. I want to talk about being bold.

What if we take that old phrase and gently massage it until it mellows into something we can reason with. How about if we say, “Good outcomes tend to be achieved by those who are prudent, but not overly cautious.” Or maybe, “One might be better served by being less fearful so that clear, rational thinking can be the basis of decision making.” Well, now we are getting to an approach that does not depend on the clearly false idea of luck to succeed.

So, the question I am pondering is:  How do I overcome the paralysis of fear? I want good outcomes, but I can’t put my trust in luck. I haven’t been lucky lately. (Wait for it – the humour is coming.) Yet the saying pulls me powerfully to its promise of reward. It seems so true. Maybe if I were a bit bolder, things might go better for me. Why? How could this be.

Why the answer has been so long coming to me is puzzling. I’ve been putting my trust in the wrong place. When what felt like the foundation of all of my comfort, security and welfare was jerked from beneath me, I fell into a dungeon of terror. All of the minor uncertainties of life from which I was formerly protected by a partnership as bullet-proof as a tank suddenly became gigantic threats, each one magnified by grief, stress and depression.

I try to avoid getting all religious on you, dear readers, because I know that I’m speaking to a very broad audience and that is not the purpose of this journal anyway. However, there is no other way to put it. I now need to put all my trust where it belongs. My wife is not my security, my source of welfare and comfort any longer. If fact, if I’m honest, Eunie never was. Oh, she was only to happy to be that for me, but she could not. Not really, no matter how much she wanted to be.

I’ve talked this over with some very switched-on, caring people whose opinions I trust. They tell me not to beat myself up over this. Many people who enjoy such intense, Vulcan Mind Meld relationships such as Eunie and I shared for nearly half a century fall into a dependence that is both understandable and, to a great extent, unavoidable. In fact, this kind of implicit trust, interdependence and division of labour is a major source of the synergistic power of such relationships. Together, we added up to more than two. So, I don’t feel so bad that I let that take over. It was a great ride and we accomplished much more than we ever dreamed we would. I’m infinitely sad that it’s over, but I need to compartmentalise that sadness.

Now I need to get my functionality back. I can’t do that if I can’t think clearly and rationally about problems. If I allow my doubts and fears to control my decisions, I’m not going to get anywhere. I can reduce this impediment by remembering my ultimate source of security. It’s not money. It’s not things. It’s not my abilities. It’s not my friends. It’s my Creator, my Father. It’s God.

Boldness is the exercise of one’s beliefs accompanied by a certainty that positive and well considered actions will produce desirable outcomes. Timidity and fear are not compatible with confidence and trust. I need to act in accordance with my beliefs, my world view, if you please. I either trust or I do not. If I do not, then I must fall back on my own resources, which have already proven inadequate to deal with present circumstances.

Okay, I lost a few of you there, but that’s okay. I’m not here to preach. This is an intensely personal experience which I am telling you about. That’s all. You can take it for what you will. Hopefully, someone will dig it.

Now for some nice, self-deprecating humour.

It is fiendishly difficult to find images to go with such a post. I couldn’t find any pictures of myself being bold. I found that rather odd. Oh, well. I can do what I usually do – fake it. All of these images have appeared on MPBM before, just not in the same post. So, move along folks; there’s nothing here to see.

Here is one of my favourite shots of me faking boldness. It’s from I Take the Big Plunge:

Actually, I wasn’t scared at any time. I spent so much time flying helicopters or sitting in the door with my legs dangling in the air that it didn’t worry me at all. The only thing that did frighten me a little was what Eunie would say when she saw the pictures. I didn’t tell her that I was going to do it. That was stupid, not bold.

It was one of the most thoroughly enjoyable experiences of my long and strangely wayward life. I highly recommend it. If I can get to Australia again someday, I’m going to take lessons with Ali and Dave in Toogoolawah. I have a standing invitation.

Okay, I give it to you. This is not bold according to the definition we’re using. It’s dumb. It’s from Why Ron and Eunie Were Nervous:

It did produce a nice “silky water” shot of Tew’s Falls in Hamilton, Ontario:

That one is from Silky Water – Hamilton’s Waterfalls.

While we’re on waterfalls, here I am boldly luxuriating in a jungle pool:

I call this my “Tarzan” shot. Aaaahhh eeeeee aaaaahhhh eeeee AAAAAHHHHH . . .

Getting there was the bold bit, for an old dude, anyway:

If memory serves me, it was about an eight hour slog up and down heavily jungled mountains which made my knees scream. Both of these shots are from I Go Bush.

The last three here are completely off the wall and are excellent examples of narcissism gone wild in a world where faking it can get you anything you want. You’ve seen a kaleidoscope image of this character recently. Getting this close to a Pseudobalistes flavimarginatus  is considered, with good reason, risky. Risky is not the same as bold:

Even the name is scary, eh? It’s a Yellowmargin Triggerfish. It will try to eat you if you hold still enough. This one is from The Beauty and the Beast.

Okay, this is crossing over into the stupid category. Check the teeth. Do not try this at home:

That one is from Sharks, Schmarks – Triggerfish are the Demons.

Just to show that I’ve not gone all Rambo now that I’ve taken boldness to heart, I’ll demonstrate my tenderness and sensitivity by showing you this lovely fake watercolour of The Fish Which Tried to Eat Me:

As the old mantra for crazy people goes, “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better.”

Gute Nacht.

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Skies – Trees – Tug Boat – Guest Ron Barrons

Posted in Guest Shots, Mixed Nuts on November 17th, 2009 by MadDog
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I was very happy this week to get a couple of gorgeous images from our friend Ron Barrons.  Ron lives in Hamilton, Ontario where our son and his family also reside. We’ve had many happy times in Hamilton with family and visiting Ron and his wife, Brenda. Ron has been a guest on Madang – Ples Bilong Mi  here.

This one gives me goose-bumps. I could bore you to tears with my analysis of this image. It’s got it all. The composition is perfect, using just about every rule to perfection. Note at the right side on the horizon that you can see the bridge connecting Hamilton to Toronto. Click to enlarge (I wish I had a higher resolution image for you) and you’ll see it better:

Hamilton, Ontario Sunrise by Ron Barrons That bridge makes a wonderful focal point in the enlarged image.  All of the lines and shapes seem to point to it. You can’t keep your eyes away from it, but it doesn’t dominate.

Here’s another fine composition by Ron. Though I hate being cold, I do envy the photographers who live in temperate regions with beautiful deciduous forests that glow with surreal colours in the autumn. Ron beautifully captured the serenity of this scene. I don’t know where the image was shot, but I’d like to go there and sit for a while, in a warm coat with a cold Chardonnay and a cigar:Trees mirrored by Ron BarronsNice job, Ron. Please, keep them coming!

Well, I feel a little inadequate this morning to compete with that. Hey, it’s not a competition anyway. It’s a sharing. So, A couple of mornings ago, I got this mid-telephoto of the sun rising above Madang Town across the harbour from our house:Madang sunrise with copra boat heading to Kar Kar IslandThe shot shows the limitations of the sensors in point-and-shoot cameras such as my Canon G9, my carry-about camera. No matter what I did, I could not bring up any decent detail and colour in the shadowed town. The dynamic range of brightness in the scene was just too much for the sensor to capture.

The main advantage of a big, full 35mm frame (called FX) sensor in an expensive digital SLR (single lens reflex) camera is that each ‘bucket’ (pixel) that collects photons of light is bigger. This means that the number of photons counted from adjoining buckets will be more accurate because the random fluctuations caused by several factors will be smaller. In other words, there will be less noise  in the image. Noise shows up as little speckles that shouldn’t be there. The bigger buckets also collect more photons, so the calculations in the computer in the camera can more accurately deliver a wider range of brightness levels (dynamic range).

Here’s how I think of that. Imagine marking off an area in your yard ten metres square. First, put out 1,000 little buckets filling the area as best you can and wait for a big rain. Now measure the water in each bucket. You’ll find a comparatively large difference between buckets, when you would have expected them to be all the same. This is noise. Now remove the 1,000 buckets and replace them with 100 buckets filling the area (they will have to be bigger  buckets). Now wait for a rain which drops about the same amount of water. This time, when you measure the water in the buckets you will find that there is much less difference between them. You have reduced the noise. That’s one important reason why bigger sensors are better. You don’t want more pixels, that can make the noise worse, because each pixel must be smaller. What you want is bigger  pixels.

There are other reasons that bigger sensors are better, but those are even more boring.

This shot made me a little happier:Tug boat in the morning light across the harbour from our houseIt’s a little fakey looking, because I had to massage it pretty vigorously with Photoshop, but it’s cheery, so I’ll satisfy myself with that.

I went a little crazy with the panorama concept in this one:Madang Town morning panoramaIf you click to enlarge, you can see quite a bit of detail in Madang Town, including a blurry band around the tall coconut tree to the left of centre where Photoshop failed to blend properly the adjacent frames when it was building the merged image.

We’re having fish tomorrow! Somebody bring the tartar sauce.

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Guest Shots – Trevor Hattersley and Ron Barrons

Posted in Guest Shots on October 21st, 2009 by MadDog
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I very much enjoy featuring images sent to me by my friends on Madang – Ples Bilong Mi.  Unfortunately, few friends send me samples of their work. I’m pestering a few of them to do so, but shyness seems to interfere. If you are a regular reader of this journal and you have images that you think will be appreciated by our audience, then please feel free to email them to me. Work them over until you are happy with them and send 1600 pixel (longest dimension) JPG images that are between 200 and 300 Kilobytes. Include some text describing the images and I will include that also. I’ve featured Trevor Hattersley’s images before here and here. Heidi Majano has also had a guest appearance.

Don’t be shy. Have a try.

We’ll start with a couple of shots from Trevor Hattersley. He’s been a keen amateur as long as I’ve known him, probably about twenty years. He recently purchased from me a spare (ordered two by mistake from Amazon) Olympus SP-590UZ superzoom camera and has been diligently learning to use it feature-by-feature. Up at Blueblood a couple of weeks ago he was playing with macro shots and came up with two very nice fungi:Bracket Fungi by Trevor HattersleyThis one of Bracket Fungi has very accurate colours, perfect focus and nice composition. A shot that anyone should be proud to display.

Here’s another fungi shot by Trevor:Mushroom-form fungi by Trevor HattersleyAgain, we have interesting and accurate colours, good composition, fine focus (click to enlarge) and a generally interesting and aesthetic image. Well done, mate! I was happy to see that Trevor resisted the urge to use flash on these shots. They are very natural looking – just the way that your eyes see them.

Now let’s move to another friend a world away. Ron Barrons hails from Hamilton, Ontario in Canada. He’s a very experienced and knowledgeable photographer with a good pair of hiking boots. Since Hamilton is the Waterfall Capital of the World, it’s not surprising that Ron has a plethora of beautiful images of water tumbling over rocks. The Niagara Escarpment is responsible for this cornucopia of waterfalls, something for which local photographers are eternally grateful.

Here is a beautiful shot of Grindstone Falls:Grindstone Falls by Ron Barrons

This one is of the cascade below the falls:Grindstone Falls Cascade by Ron BarronsRon has the “silky water” technique down pat. This requires a tripod, a neutral density filter to cut down the amount of light coming in through the lens, and long exposure times. The result is that the water takes on a very fluid and smooth look which intensifies the appearance of flow. You can see some of my Hamilton Waterfalls and our adventures in waterfall country here, here and here.

Ron is not a one-trick-pony. He sent several gorgeous Canadian Autumn shots taken from the heights around the Niagara Escarpment. This one is a beaut:

Canadian Autumn by Ron BarronsHere is another, looking up at the escarpment itself:A Canadian Autumn at the Niagara Esarpment by Ron Barrons

I could not resist the urge to try making a watercolour of one of Ron’s beautiful shots. This one is of Rattlesnake Ridge:Rattlesnake Point by Ron Barrons - Watercolour Rendition by MadDogYou will need to click to enlarge to see the full watercolour effect. Ron was kind enough to allow me to modify his work and publish it here.

I know that many of my readers must be serious hobby photographers. Please send me images that move you and allow me to showcase your work here.

I’m not fooling around. I mean it.

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The Monument to Workers – Hamilton, Ontario

Posted in On Tthe Road on May 26th, 2009 by MadDog
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I haven’t done a blessed thing since I arrived in Chatham, Illinois except eat (too much), sleep, and fool around on the computer (mostly on Facebook – it’s a stone gas, man!). So, for images, I’m going back to Hamilton, Ontario to show you a most unusual monument.

Its called the Monument to Workers. It’s located at Hamilton City Hall (Main W. and Bay Street):

Monument to Workers, Hamilton City Hall (Main W. and Bay Street)
I imagine that you can see, even without clicking to enlarge, that the figure has no head. Therein lies the interesting bit.

Of course, the monument itself is  of interest to the community. Hamilton is a steel makin’ town and has plenty of other hazardous industry. Workers die every year in Hamilton factories and many more are injured. As I was photographing, a guy rode up on a bicycle to chat with Eunie. He said that he had worked in a steel mill and had once stood beside a fellow worker and watched in horror as the man lost an arm. That’s pretty gruesome. Nobody can argue that dead and injured workers don’t deserve a fitting memorial.

What is of interest to an outside observer is why the figure has no head. It flies in the face of logic. Nobody we asked knew why. I’ve Googled it until I was blue in the face and found only this, which provides no explanation.

I don’t want to get into gory speculation, but I am puzzled. The first and most obvious question is how is the figure is hanging onto the wall without a head. Then there is the curious presence of the hook-like appendage between the shoulders. Eunie says it’s a halo. I’m not buying that. Why did the artist choose to depict it in this manner? Nobody seems to know.

I mean no disrespect whatsoever by bringing this up. I think that the monument is a marvellous idea. Casualties of our industries are seldom memorialised in such a powerful manner. I applaud it and am touched by it.

Yet, the puzzle remains.

If anybody out there knows the answer, please comment so that we may all understand.

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