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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Fooling Around – Experimental Photography

Posted in Humor, On Tthe Road, Photography Tricks on May 26th, 2011 by MadDog
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Once again I will get all pedantic on you and deliver a lecture on a subject so obscure that most would not even consider its existence. Today’s endless monograph will lightly cover the pseudo-intellectual pursuit of what I dare to call Experimental Photography. If you Google that phrase, you won’t find very much of interest. Some of the Google Images do lead in the general direction, though. Are you laughing yet?

I use the term more to make fun of myself than for any other reason. It embarrasses me to admit that when I have my camera in my hands I have reverted to a kid with a particularly engaging toy. I wish to appear more serious and, uh . . . deep than that. It’s all about ego. So, don’t take the second part of the title of this post seriously. The “Fooling Around” part is the operative phrase.

My personal view of experimental photography includes a continuum of categories ranging from purely narrative or descriptive to abstract. Within these categories a range of camera techniques can be employed to get the desired effect. I could write a book about this, but I have only this much space. Prepare for compression!

When I take a picture of something which must be instantly recognisable and the object itself is more or less the message, I call this narrative or descriptive. The object is  the story.  Here is a very obvious example:

It’s a sign. How simple can it get? It would be a very uninteresting image except for the words on the sign. What is the message? I’m sure that you’ve gathered that this is a sort of visual double entendre.  There is a place called Lick Elevator, a grain storage facility which you have seen here before. What makes it amusing is that the sign could appear to be a command – a rather absurd one.

This also is a narrative image. In The Happy Singing Machine  I wanted to convey the little surprise I felt when I turned my head and saw the cartoon face staring at me from the side of this whatever-it-is machine:

Here again, to complete the transaction between the photographer and the viewer, the viewer must uncover the narrative – decode it, so to speak. This one is so obvious that it takes little effort.

As you wade through this post you’ll note that I’m slowly (oh, so slowly – will it never end?) moving from narrative or descriptive to abstract. You may find yourself nodding off.

This one is also narrative, in the sense that you can easily see what it is – a restaurant bar top with the street scene outside and everything reflected upside down in the shiny surface:

In actuality, this is a tripple entendre.  The first meaning is the obvious one – the descriptive image itself. It is what it is, an interesting visualisation, but otherwise not noteworthy. The second requires seeing the title of the image, often a clue to the photographer’s hidden message – The Honest Lawyer.  Aside from the fact that the place is possibly a hangout for downtown lawyers, there is the aspect of the mirrored but shaded world reflected in the bar top. Honest? Possibly. True? Probably not. Ethical? Quite likely. Accurate? Well, that depends on who you are asking, eh? You can play these little word games with the image until you decide that you’re wasting valuable time. The third part of the tripple entendre  works for you only if you live in Hamilton, Ontario where there is a matched set of way-too-loud-music quasi-sports (too many big screen TVs silently blaring miscellaneous mundane sports nonsense) plastic-food establishments called The Honest Lawyer. (The funky video clip makes this site worth a click.)

Whew! All that in there? It’s a stretch, I admit.

That shot didn’t require much in the way of camera technique. I simply plopped my Canon G11 down on the bar, pointed it towards the windows and pushed the button. It did require a lot of post-processing to get the effect I wanted.

However, some shots require some planning and fiddling with the camera controls. I like to take shots of things whizzing past the car window. This requires setting the camera to manual or shutter priority mode and selecting a relatively low shutter speed, in this case about 1/8th of a second. It also requires one to look ahead to see what shot might be coming up, because there will be a very short window of time for the exposure:

Here we have the giant communications tower in Toronto framed between trees which are blurred by the movement of the bus on which I was riding. Even more blurred, because it was closer to my camera, is the traffic light on the right. This image is light on transcendental value. There’s not much there. It’s only real interest is the demonstration of motion blur. Ho-hum.

This one is a little more meaty. I remember seeing this sculpture from previous visits to Toronto. I find it no less repulsive than I did before. I wondered how I could capture my revulsion in an image? Hah! A passing pedestrian. Make her appear as if she is fleeing the ugliness:

Simple – select a slow shutter speed, brace firmly against the window frame of the bus and hope that the bus does not move until the pedestrian reaches the precise point at which she seems to be rushing past the travesty. I give you Rush on By.

I’ve been waiting a long time for the opportunity to put a picture of that sculpture in a post and treat it with proper disrespect. Thank you, kind lady, whoever you are.

With this one we are approaching the abstract. I call this a concoction. It follows the recipe of the moment. It’s shaken and baked virtually on the fly. As I was looking out of the window of the bus I was distracted by the reflection of the bus driver. How inconvenient. Why not record my complaint?

Here again, a normal automated shot will not work. If both the reflection and the outside scene are sharp the reflection is lost in the muddle. What is needed is to blur the scenery outside so that the reflection stands our more by its sharpness than by its contrast. A slow shutter speed once again comes to the rescue. If there is a subliminal message in The Phantom Bus Driver  other than the title, you will have to find it. I’ve racked my brain and can’t puzzle it out.

If you are very observant or very bored, you may notice the reflection of my hand holding the camera at the far right of the image. There is a term for this self-referential imagery in which the artist or a portion of the artist appears in the image, but I can’t think of it. Any help out there?

Here the narrative and the abstract mingle. What is the mountainous object which dwarfs the trees? What kind of grass matches a good-sized pine? Does the title Around My Neck  lend a clue? Well, silly me, of course it does. Who am I trying to fool. Some images are just fun and camera technique boils down to nothing more technical than lying on my belly in the wet grass like a 140 pound short thick snake:

The object is, rather obviously, a millstone and it is not twenty meters tall, only about one. The camera angle, shooting from the ground nearly straight up, and the inclusion of the trees make it seem much larger at first glance. I call this Abstract But Not Really Abstract. It’s a visual joke, if not a very good one.

Some of these last ones are approaching abstraction. This one probably more than any of the others:

In Clouds and Angles  it’s all about photography. Nobody would paint this picture. It’s a found object which disappears in an instant unless it is captured and viewed. It appears in a singular place in a moment of time. Were it not for me, nobody would ever have seen it – nobody. Does that mean anything? Of course not. Wait . . . no, it does mean something. It means that somebody sat in a car thinking about the sky and the clouds and watching things go by as a little story about the sky and the clouds and the things going by was being scripted in the mind of the observer until the right moment came along when everything converged and the world was set right for a nanosecond and the finger moved of its own accord to freeze the instant for no purpose whatsoever except the stopping, the pause, the memory of the moment of perfection.

Is that abstract enough for you?

You have to be a little bit odd, I think, to be a photographer. I’ve never made any money to speak of from photography. I’d certainly like  to make some money from it, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards. However, I have made a little money at it and I take it very seriously as an expression of how I see the world, so I call myself a semi-professional photographer. Hey, you can have semi-pro baseball players and golfers, why not semi-professional photographers? Fair is fair. Part of that oddness I mentioned is allowing the mind to romp unfettered through the mountains of optical data flooding the visual cortex to stumble across little meadows of incongruity. I give you GO!

This shot would better fit the abstract label if it were not for the top of the bus at the bottom of the image. I, as the photographer, share a tiny hidden joke with you. There is a thing in Ontario called Go Transit. It’s a combination of bus and train service. The logo is entirely unintelligible – see the little turquoise colored symbol? It’s supposed to read “GO”, but you have to be a calligrapher to figure it out.

Patience, I’m nearly finished.

In This Way Up  we are back at the grain elevator again. We’re nearly all the way to abstract now. The object is not clearly recognisable. This is an assemblage of shapes and colours. It has been Photoshopped beyond all reason. My purpose was, as nearly as possible, to obscure reality under layers of camouflage:

If I’ve done my job well the reality will not be too obvious, unless you are an  employee of the establishment and you travel up and down this precarious ladder frequently. See, there you go. Once the reality is clear, the image loses it’s interest. It’s no longer a mystery. Phooey! I should have stopped while I was ahead.

This last one is neither narrative nor abstract. I might go so far as to call it a visual pun, though not a very good one. What makes it weak is that there is no common phrase “food temple” to match the title of the image:

I had some concept or other in mind as I was working on this image. It may have been a deep thought about the place that food has taken in modern western culture. I might have been thinking about how irritated I am that I can’t go to a meeting or visit with friends or engage in practically any social activity without being compelled to consume food. Really folks, I can’t eat that much. Please stop trying to feed me.

Yeah, that may have been it.

I can’t remember.

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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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Today’s Walk

Posted in Mixed Nuts on February 19th, 2010 by MadDog
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A little fresh air seemed to be in order today, as I’ve been locked down at my office desk or in bed all week. Yes, quite! A little stroll around to to see what I can see. So, what did I see?

Hmmm . . . starting on a sour note, I first saw a fake remedy peddler, or, as I prefer to call them, murderers:Take careful note of all the things that he can cure. If you are afflicted by any of these, he will arrange to send you a a fix.

I stopped by Ho Kit’s, a Chinese variety store, and found something that I haven’t noticed for years. No, they are not red rocks. They are salt plums:I have no idea how they are made. When you put one in your mouth the first instinct is to spit it back out as rapidly as possible. If you hang in there for a few seconds you are rewarded by an amazing, powerful salt, sweet, vinegar, plummy taste that lingers until the thing eventually melts down to the pit, which I recommend that you do spit out.

Ambling over to the market, I found some rather rare red bananas, which I really like:Inside, the flesh is orange and they taste more like banana custard than an ordinary banana.

Still under the heading of tasty sweets, I found some very nice ripe rambutan:You peal the prickly outside off to find the jelly-like very sweet stuff inside.

While I was at the market, I got this panorama shot to give you a little taste of it:This one is pretty cool if you click to enlarge. There are a couple of messes where people moved between shots, but it’s still interesting.

These little Coke stands are all over town. Apparently Pepsi lost that war:

I’ve just been listening to ZZ Top’s Sharp Dressed Man. Of course, in my usual mode of shameless self-promotion, this image came immediately to my mind. It’s from a “Fashion Shoot” that Eunie and I did in Hamiltion, Ontairo.

She has a nice eye for the moment. I love the way she caught the cigar smoke drifting across my shoulder:

Well, enough about me.

Now let’s talk about me.

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Fooling Around on My Lunch Hour

Posted in Photography Tricks on July 23rd, 2009 by MadDog
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Today at the office was a nightmare of server maintenance. The details are too gruesome to list, so I’ll spare you the geek talk and show you how I untwisted my brain on my lunch hour.

The first three images are from the Ontario Royal Botanical Garden in Hamilton. I visited my son and his family there with Eunie earlier this year.

The first two are of red leaves. The striking colour caught my eye, but as I snapped the images, I was thinking to myself that the composition wasn’t very interesting. So, how do you doll up a shot that has one interesting feature, but otherwise has little interesting about the way it is presented? I went back to my ancient darkroom trick, vignetting:

Red leaves at the Royal Ontario Botanical Garden

It takes only  a couple of clicks and moving a couple of slider controls in Photoshop to achieve the effect, so it’s no big deal to play with it until you have the look that you want. It is also great for portraits.

Here is another red leaf shot that has been ‘improved’ by light vignetting:

Red leaves at the Royal Ontario Botanical Garden

In the shot above the leaves are lit by the sun and I was shooting from underneath, so the intense colour is caused by the sunlight travelling through the leaves.

Still in Hamilton, here is an image of two water striders on the surface of a shallow pond. You can see the insects at the upper left corner, slightly out of focus, since the lens was focused on the bottom of the pond. What catches the eye is the shadows of the bodies of the insects and the huge distortions of the surface of the water caused by their weight depressing the water where their feet touch it:

Water striders and their shadows

The circular waves caused by their movement add to the effect.

This lovely psychedelic creature remind me of things that I see in my dreams. Yes, I do dream in colour – always have. I think that it is supposed to be a young giraffe:

Giraffe and turtle at Sedona Arizona

The image above is from Sedona, Arizona. Everything else is magical in Sedona. Why not giraffes?

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