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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Down the Garden Path

Posted in My Garden on January 15th, 2009 by MadDog
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When the Muse is attending someone else, I venture into my garden in the morning, camera in hand. There has never been a day that the verdant path has failed to provide inspiration and to present challenges to create images that please me. All it takes is a camera and desire.

I was blasted this morning by this stunning crimson hibiscus blossom at the absolute peak of its short life:

Mind-blowing hibiscus

If you’ve been hanging around Madang – Ples Bilong Mi  for a while, you know that I have an unnatural fixation on water droplets. It’s like a dream – don’t bother trying to interpret it. It probably doesn’t mean a thing. This morning I found a couple of fine examples:

Tiny water drops playing like lenses

Many of these tiny beads of Dihydrogen Monoxide* are play-acting as lenses to focus itsy-bitsy images of the morning sun on the leaf.

The drops on this pandanus leaf are more sombre and dignified, as is appropriate for their pinstriped businesslike background:

Water drops on a pandanus leaf

You’ve probably also noticed that bugs of any variety amuse me. This little fly distracted me from matters that are more important (but far less interesting) for possibly ten minutes. Any respite is welcome.

He was devilishly difficult to photograph. As soon as I would get close enough, he would buzz to a nearby leaf – not far enough away to discourage me – and the sit perfectly still until I approached again. Finally, he seemed to tire of the game and settled long enough for me to compose this image:

Handsome little green fly

It was worth the effort. As bugs go, he’s rather handsome, if a bit spindly around the legs. Did you know that Pierce Brosnan has chicken legs? Years ago when he was shooting Robinson Crusoe in Madang, he was staying with his son at the Madang Resort Hotel. Eunie does aquarobics at the pool there three mornings a week. She noticed him at the pool several times. She said he was very friendly and courteous, but his legs were painfully skinny.

By the way, you may never have heard that Brosnan did Robinson Crusoe.  That would not surprise me. It was horrid. I saw it in English and couldn’t get through it. Someone gave me a copy dubbed in German. It was better – I understand very little German.

This next image is interesting because of the lighting. The camera is pointing towards the sun, so the flower is lit from the opposite side. You are actually seeing the transparency of the petals. The spider is on the near side, but he is also semi-transparent. The combination creates a very interesting image:

An unusual lighting situation creates an x-ray of a spider

I find traipsing around with my camera in my hand, searching intently for amusing images, a pleasant and productive way to take my mind off of my worries. Sometimes I think people spend far too much time worrying about things over which they have no control. I know that I certainly used to do so.

I like to remember that every time I click the button on my camera that I’ve taken advantage of the opportunity to create something beautiful that nobody else has ever done before. That’s why I carry my camera with me at all times. I don’t want to miss those chances.

Of course, 99% of the images will be mundane. But, when the magic caresses your lens, you’ve done something unique and truly worth your time.

* Yes, of course, it’s just water. The many attempts to bring to attention the public ignorance of basic science have been amusing, but futile.

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Along Came a Spider

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Photography Tricks on November 12th, 2008 by MadDog
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Well, nothing has happened at all concerning moving Madang – Ples Bilong Mi to a new server. It turns out that I’m a complete incompetent. I did my best, but it’s not working. So, we’ll stay put for the time being until I can get somebody smarter to help me.

When I got up this morning, I truly thought the world had caught fire. I stepped into the lounge and ghastly red light was pouring through the front windows – never seen anything like it. I ran to the front of the house and looked out. The entire eastern sky was bright fiery red and it was raining hard.

I ran to get my camera and a towel. By the time I had reached the dock and started to shoot, the show was mostly over, but the sky was still a nice orange colour:Orange Sunrise
Being already wet, I stopped to take this shot:
Water drops on a banana leafNever pass up a chance to shoot water drops.

Next, I went over to my funny little hibiscus patch where there are always several different kinds of bees humming about.

This little fellow was oblivious to me. His tiny hind legs fat with pollen, he gobbled away. Notice the Rule of Thirds again (and on the sunrise shot). It worked beautifully on this shot: (it’s quite nice if you click to enlarge)A busy little bee demonstrating the Rule of Thirds
On my way back to the house, I noticed this small spider. He’s about half the size of a pencil eraser. He was a very cooperative subject, sitting quietly while I jostled the leaf trying to get the right angle. Or maybe he was simply frozen with terror:

Along Came a Spider
I know that I certainly would be. I like the way the light plays with his legs to make spidery looking shadows.

I ran the full-sized image of the little spider through Microsoft’s Photozoom site so that you can see his gorgeous hairy legs:

I wouldn’t stare at the detail for too long.

Other planets couldn’t have things much stranger than our good old Earth.

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Like a Bee to a Flower

Posted in My Garden on October 7th, 2008 by MadDog
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What’s a tiny mushroom got to do with bees and flowers? Absolutely nothing. There were a bunch of these popping up in our front yard after a heavy rain last night. They seem to favour spots that Sheba also favours when she feels the need to lighten her load. After the pile melts away the tiny mushrooms grow in rings around it. I can remember giant rings of mushrooms in the forest when I was a kid.

They’re called fairy rings:

Tiny mushroom

Here’s a nice little honey bee sitting on a leaf:

Bee on a leaf

I have a strange kind of low-growing hibiscus in the garden. I’m going to look it up sometime. I caught this tiny bee mining nectar and pollen way down inside:

Bee in hibiscus

This one is very interesting to me. I’ve seen many bees with their legs fat with pollen. This bee is different. It carries its load of pollen back to the hive on the underside of its abdomen:

Bee with pollen on his belly

That’s pretty much it for the bees today. What about more flowers?

Well, I have this interesting plant growing like a weed under my coconut trees. It’s some kind of mimosa (Mimosa pudica). People living in the tropics will probably already know it. If you brush against any part of the plant, the leaves fold up in a couple of seconds (nyctinastic movement).

Here is a photo of the flower and leaves:

Mimosa before tickling

Here is a photo taken a few seconds after I gave the plant a little jiggle:

Mimosa after tickling

You can see that the leaves have all folded up and now only the reddish-brown undersides are visible.

Isn’t that cool?

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