The Relaxing Art of Faking It

Posted in Photography Tricks on November 10th, 2010 by MadDog
No Gravatar

As part of my plan to get more sleep, I’m forcing myself to stay up until at least 23:30 each night. The other part of the plan is not  to lounge in bed watching the same movie on HBO for the twentieth time. I realised that I had failed the second part of the plan this evening when I caught myself staring mesmerised near the end of Dr. Strangelove  at about the point where Slim Pikins was mounting the hydrogen bomb with his cowboy hat on. There is nothing at all wrong with Dr. Strangelove.  It’s an excellent flick. However, it might be considered excessive to have viewed it as many times as I have. I have most of the dialogue memorised.

So, here it is at 23:07 already and I’m just getting around to writing. I did, however manage the time this evening, since I cooked yesterday evening (boiled cabbage, steamed pumpkin, broccoli, pasta with tomato and mushroom sauce) to download some new free Photoshop filters.  When I cook, I cook frantically – several dishes at a time. I had the entire stove going yesterday. It was as hot as the hubs of Hades in the kitchen.

So, I’m celebrating a little free time this evening by engaging in my most relaxing hobby – Fake Art. Some reasons why I find it relaxing are that nobody is telling me how to do it and I have absolutely no constraints. I’m pleasing only myself and, contrary to popular opinion, I’m quite easy to please.

So, let’s get on with it.

Oh, before I forget . . . Stupid Mistake #987 (I start counting all over again on each January 1st). I didn’t think of survivors benefit’s.  Well, I sort of thought of it, but not effectively. When I noticed that Eunie’s Social Security money was no longer showing up in the bank account along with mine I reckoned that I just wouldn’t be getting any. Then a friend (a Canadian,  for pity’s sake!) said to me yesterday that she thought that I should be getting survivor’s benefits and maybe I would have to apply. Apply? APPLY?? Why didn’t I think of that? I don’t think that I’m a danger to others, but I’m certainly a danger to myself.

So, I got on the web site for the SSA and discovered that it may be true. I may not be as impoverished as I thought. Not quite. Wish me luck as I try to figure out how to apply without appearing at the nearest SSA office, as that seems to be the only way to go.

Now, let’s get on with it.

Here is That Flower which I can never remember the name of:

There is a big vine full of them right outside my front door alongside the Night Blooming Jasmine, which I can’t smell any more (interesting story there if you can find it on MPBM). The filter I used is a nice outliner. I’m going  to try it for cartooning.

Here are some of my orchids harassed by the Bad Dream filter:

I still can’t decide if I like the effect or not.

Regulars here will recognise my favourite orange lily:

This filter is a pretty good posteriser. Posterisation is simply the reduction of the number of colours in an image. This one I do like.

I can’t remember the name of the filter which I used for this image. I call the resulting image Coleus on Acid:

It is dramatic enough.

And this is one of my many, many Bird of Paradise plants:

This one has been chewing magic mushrooms since late last night. Its consciousness has now fully expanded.

A yellow flower with dew drops. How prosaic. The filter also is likewise subtle, but insistent:

This one may be my favourite. I can’t decide.

No, I could  decide, but I’m not making any more decisions today.

It’s 23:35 and I’m going to try to go to sleep.

Wish me luck with that, eh?

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Spider and the Fly

Posted in Mixed Nuts on July 17th, 2010 by MadDog
No Gravatar

This morning’s sunrise was unmanageable with the tiny sensor and the somewhat limited dynamic range of my modest Canon G11. I have nothing but praise for this camera, considering that I am a relatively poor person. We just bought our first new car in nearly twelve years. I’d like to purchase a camera which would cost, with lenses, nearly a third of the price of our new Nissan Navara. That would be patently insane. Therefore, I squeeze the lemon. I do not, in any way, resent being relatively impoverished. I certainly live as a rich man here in Paradise, so why should I complain? I can’t afford an expensive car. Where would I drive it? I don’t own a Rolex. I don’t own any  watch. Why would I need one? In Paradise, things happen when they happen. I am rich beyond my wildest dreams of three or four decades past. It’s a richness that money can’t buy.

Anyway, the contrast ratio between the sun and the clouds was greater than any camera can handle. Only the human eye can deal with these conditions. I began to wonder if I might use that to my advantage. What if I could turn day into night?

Well, it’s not totally convincing, but the general effect is pleasing.

When I turned around and saw the morning sun lighting up our house and the garden all I could think was, “Wow. Gotta have that shot!”:

Too bad about that ugly TV satellite dish spoiling the shot. It’s tacky. I should Photoshop it out. What’s amusing about this shot is that you can see my shadow. I’m like the ghost appearing in the hall of the mansion. I held my trusty G11 up as high as I could to get just the right angle. The other shadow is one of our coconut trees.

Down at the water’s edge I could not resist yet another shot of one of my favourite plants commonly called the Sensitive Plant or the Tickle-Me Plant (Mimosa pudica):

Its flowers remind me a cheer-leader’s pom-poms and the leaves fold up magically if you touch them.

Half a lifetime ago, I never dreamed that I would live the rest of my life in a place where I would have orchids growing in my yard:

Life can be full of surprises. Let it flow, baby, let it flow.

Even the now familiar orange lilies were decked out in their sparkly caps of morning dew:

I will never tire of shooting water drops. There’s a purity of imagery there which is difficult to top. Less is more.

Today is about images. I suppose that you’ve guessed that already. I enjoy letting the images speak, because images can speak more eloquently than words, at least my words. I was hunting for my wonderful green spiders who frequent the yellow flowers forever blooming in our garden. They have been curiously absent recently. Today I found one laying in wait for a meal:

Does the fly sense danger? I think not. The spider is designed to be covert. Its posture mimics the shape of the flower.

Even as the spider slowly moved its legs to conform more closely to the contours of the flower, the fly approached:

And then the fly flew. Was the spider disappointed? I doubt that a spider thinks much about disappointment. It’s a waiting game. Patience is the key. The occasional meal will suffice. Would that we had such patience.

Yes, the spider waits and my attention is focused upon it. My concern is the perfect image. The spider is takes no note of me. Even as I hold the stem of the flower to adjust the angle, the spider is unconcerned:

My concentration prevented me from noticing, until I had this shot on the screen, the other  spider, which had completely escaped my attention.

How much we miss when we concentrate on one thing!

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Sunshine and Orchids

Posted in Mixed Nuts on May 11th, 2010 by MadDog
No Gravatar

Today I shall begin with the beginning and end with the end and skip all of the boring stuff in the middle. I’m talking about my work day, of course. I usually awake between 05:00 and 05:30 and try to get the computer turned on and start working before Eunie rises at 06:00 for her breakfast and an hour of reading. I have to keep running to the front door if there is anything interesting developing in the sky to catch the ten minute window for a decent sunrise.

This morning the sky looked chaotic. I was hoping it was not a portent of the day to come:I had a little hurry-up in the house to catch up with Eunie, who was eager to get into town for her aquarobics on a sunny morning.

I did have to pause in the front yard for this image of Kar Kar Island  sticking its dangerous head up over the horizon. I hope this baby never blows:Nothing untoward happened on the way to town, no drunks staggering out in front of the car, nobody throwing rocks at our new Nissan Navara (more to come on that later).

I had to turn off on Coronation Drive for a quick shot over Astrolabe Bay  including Coconut Point:It seems that the sky was out to impress me. It was doing a fairly good job.

Just before the Coastwatchers Monument, I got another blast of beauty:Okay, now I was set for the day. Time to focus on work for a while.

Now I skip over the boring part.

Since Eunie is helping out at the Madang Lodge and Restaurant for a while, we needed to stop there for a while on the way home. I always take advantage of this time to browse on the orchids. They are delicious:

The ones above remind me of the mating displays of some of the birds of paradise. They spread their wings and vibrate their tails. Hey, that just gave me an idea for a new dance craze. “Yeah, baby! Do da Bird o’ Paradise! Spread yo’ wings an’ vibrate yo’ tail!” Never mind. It’s nearly noon. My blood sugar is getting low. I feel dizzy.

This one is called, “Come on, Baby. Let’s do the Twist”:No, that won’t work. Somebody already took that one, Chubby Checker, to be exact.

This is the kind that we would buy for the girls when I was in high-school if we wanted to encourage them to feel generous after the dance:Which was always!  Dweebs and nerds bought wrist corsages for their dates, because they were too shy to pin one on the bosom.

I preferred the full-pinning ceremony.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Back to Nob Nob Mountain

Posted in Mixed Nuts on October 29th, 2009 by MadDog
No Gravatar

A couple of days ago I had to drive a mob of visitors up Nob Nob Mountain.  It’s not really a bother, except the road is a bit scary. It’s just dirt and tight switchbacks and two-hundred metre drop-offs, so it is really no big deal as far as PNG roads go. Nevertheless, when I’m driving it in a van, it’s not my cup of tea.

The view from Nob Nob is fairly spectacular. You can see the entire coast from way over at Saidor on the other side of Astrolabe Bay  to the southeast up to Sek Island  and further to the north. Here’s a shot from the Pacific Orientation Course camp:

View from Pacific Orientation Course grounds on Nob Nob Mountain

I enjoy having a walkabout with my camera whenever I’m at Nob Nob. I never know what I’m going to discover. I was stopped dead in my tracks by these very trippy pink fungi growing on the side of a rotten log:

Trippy pink fungi on Nob Nob Mountain

One can’t help wondering what a little nibble might do. The possibilities are endless, beginning with a psychedelic journey deep into your navel and probably ending with a quick trip to the morgue. On the other hand, it might be an Alice-like experience. I didn’t look underneath to see if they had little labels attached commanding “Eat me!”

This, as any fool can see, is the underside of a fern leaf. What is interesting here is the size and colour of the sori. In case botany was not your favourite subject, I’ll mention that sori are the clumps of sporangia. Does that help? Okay, okay, they are the naughty bits of the fern by which big ferns make little ferns:

Underside of fern leaf on Nob Nob Mountain showing sori (clumps of sporangia)

The spores from the red spots are released into the air to find a suitable place at which to start all over again.

Here is another kind of fern called a Staghorn. You are looking at about half of it. The rest is hidden higher in the tree. The part that you are looking at is about two metres long:

Staghorn Fern on Nob Nob Mountain

If you look at the flappy looking bits at the top you can see that they are completely covered underneath by a solid mass of sporangia.

Enough of ferns. Have some orchids.

Here are some frosty-white ones:

Frosty White Orchids from Nob Nob Mountain

I don’t know the names of any of these. It’s enough strain on my brain to keep up with fish.

The design of this one seems a little overblown to me. I’m not sure what the point is, but I’m suspicious that it has to do with reproduction:

Funky Yellow Orchid from Nob Nob Mountain

It probably goes something like this:

“Hey you! Bug! Look over here. Yeah, baby, I’m hot! Don’t you want to pollinate me? Come on, big fella; you know you want it.”

Sorry for that.

Anyway, I admit that I’m fascinated by orchids. Look at this clown:

Orange Orchid from Nob Nob Mountain

If I were an orchid I’d want to look like that.

Only moreso.

And yes, I would be sticking my purple and white striped tongue out at you.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Crashing Servers – Passing Clouds

Posted in Mixed Nuts on February 19th, 2009 by MadDog
No Gravatar

Our main server crashed horribly last Friday. Tsk, tsk, what a shame. Don’t pity me. It’s been sitting in the corner feeling neglected for a long time. It’s been subjected to countless installs and uninstalls of programs. It started out life as Windows 2000, got upgraded to W2000 Server, then Windows 2003 Server all without so much as a whimper. Now its boot disk is showing symptoms of severe senility. A CHKDSK took an entire night. I didn’t expect to see it on line this morning, but there it is – bravely carrying on carrying on.

I’m demoting it to herding the telephones and serving the printers for a few more days while I put the finishing touches on a pair of back-to-back Windows 2008 servers. Then I’m going to retire it and give it an honourable burial without even dismembering it. Long faithful service deserves honour. I wish our financial backers had the same attitude. But, that’s another story.

All that technical junk bores me these days. It’s just a drudge. I’m going to forget about it for a few minutes and enjoy showing you some images.

This morning we had some new Bird of Paradise blooms next to our orchid draped Flame Tree. Aren’t they pretty:

Bird of Paradise Flower
As I looked up to see if there were any orchid flowers, I noticed some interesting lichens growing on the tree:
Lichens growing on a Flame Tree
You can also see the snaky tendrils of the orchids attempting to strangle the tree. I don’t know if they could be properly called roots. They don’t go clear to the ground. Most orchids are epiphytes – they grow attached to another plant, but do not gain nourishment from it directly.

On the way to the office the Finisterre Mountains were calling to my camera. I stopped for a minute to get this seven-frame panorama shot:

Moody looking Finisterre Mountains
It looks about as moody as I feel today. I have more Finisterre Mountain panoramas here and here.

These clouds will also pass.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,