Blue Dusk – Red Dawn – White Thistle Down and More

Posted in Mixed Nuts on September 24th, 2009 by MadDog
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It was a gloomy evening when we arrived home late from the office last night. When I got out of the car, my right hand reached instinctively toward the Canon G9 that I keep in a holster on my belt in the back. I used to carry a Walther P38 9mm in the same location. The camera has proved much more useful:

Main wharf in Madang at duskThe stars around the bright lights are caused by the camera settings that I was using. Since I wanted the stars around the lights, I used the smallest lens opening I could get. You have to set the camera on manual to do these kinds of things, but sometimes it’s worth it. The small opening of the iris of the lens causes diffraction because it is not completely round. It’s made up of little leaves that move in and out to change the diameter of the opening. Each point where two leaves meet causes a ray of the star. You can tell how many leaves the iris on your camera has by counting the rays around a bright light. In this case, I know that my camera has a six leaf iris.

The big news in this part of the world is the spectacular dust storms in the general area of Sydney, Australia. The following image was happily filched from ABC News (That’s the AUSTRALIAN Broadcasting System, folks, not ABC in America):

Huge dust storm in Sydney (via ABC News)Imagine waking up in the morning and looking out your kitchen window to see that! I’d take a couple of valiums and pull the covers up over my head.

I promised white thistle down and I deliver what I promise, though sometimes a little tardily:

Thistle down

The little seeds have just come loose and are awaiting a breeze to carry them to their new homes. For the time being, they are hanging like Santa’s beard around the base of the fading blossom.

This bee was very busy and difficult to snap. It sorely underestimated my determination, however. This was the best of about fifty frames:

Highlands beeThe bees in the highlands seem skinier than our nice fat little buzzers on the coast. I suppose they are a different species.

This is very nearly what we used to call a Lady Bug when I was a kid:

Lady bug looking at meThe one above is having a good look at me. After a few seconds it decided it didn’t like what it saw and began to try to escape.

Why it never flew, I don’t know. It just kept running around on the same leaf while I kept snapping away:

Lady bug hurring home to save her burning childrenEvery time I see a Lady Bug I’m reminded of the horrible sayings and songs that adults deliver like sour medecine to children. Is it supposed to be good for us? I remember this little ditty from my youth:

Lady bug, lady bug
Fly away home.
Your house is on fire
And your children are burning.

Is this supposed to make kids feel good? Even the Itsy-bitsy Spider  seemed depressing to me. Up the spout, nearly drown going down, back up again . . . whew! Gives me the heebeejeebees.

I’ll finish up today with another shot of the Yonki Dam spillway:

Youki dam spillwayI liked the shot from a few days ago. This one has the same colours, but the effect of the camera angle makes it tell a completely different story.

Sometimes images are like new friends. They take a little time to grow on you.

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A Taste of Highlands Flora and Fauna

Posted in Mixed Nuts on September 15th, 2009 by MadDog
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I’m running out of time today, so I’m going to throw a bunch of images at you with little comment. These are from my recent trip to The Papua New Guinea highlands near Madang. The base at Ukarumpa (SIL) was familiar to me when my son was attending high school. We made the 466 kilometre round-trip every three weeks.

Here are some lilies in someone’s yard:

Lilies at Ukarumpa

Ukarumpa looks a lot like a little Kentucky town plopped down in PNG. Though it contains a variety of nationalities, it feels very American to me – no problem, if you like it. I prefer my surroundings a little less familiar and a little more exotic.

When I saw this little bush, I thought the leaves were pinkish. When I looked closer, I noticed that there were tiny red flowers between the bases of the leaves. On the flowers are tinier black bugs crawling around:

Tiny red flowers at Ukarumpa

The entire image above is only about three centimetres.

Here is a nice yellow flower without much special appeal, except, if you look at the small white dot to the upper left of the centre you will see a scale insect: (click to enlarge)

Yellow flower with scale insect

These captured my attention for their intense colour. There was no sun when I took this shot. The colours were so bright that they overload the capacity of the camera. They nearly overload the capacity of my eyes also. Like the old Jerry Seinfeld joke, “You don’t stare at it, you get a sense of it and look away”.

Day-glow Orange flowers

Here is a nice, big, juicy yellow spider for you:

Big juicy spider

It was about the size of a golf ball, nowhere near as big as I’ve seen elsewhere. A hand-sized spider would not be unusual in the lowland rainforest.

What is interesting about this spider image is that you can see that it is ‘listening’ to its web:

Spider listening to its web

It holds a special web filament that is connected just so to the rest of the web. This filament transmits any vibrations of prey landing on the net to the spider’s ‘ear’ leg.

I threw a hapless ant into the web. You can guess the outcome.

I know. I should grow up.

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