Phoney Fauna

Posted in Photography Tricks on August 18th, 2009 by MadDog
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It was a magnificent day up at Blueblood on Sunday. The sea was flat, the sky as blue as a cornflower and the sun was shining with all its might. The beer was cold and friends were all in their Blueblood Spirit. I took three cameras with me and a tripod. This created a rich resource for humorous remarks from some who are photographically impaired, but others were interested to see what I was doing. It made no never mind to me, as I was happy with the joking, a cold brew, a cheap cigar and my cameras. The scenery was cooperating beautifully also:

The beach at Blueblood

I had to combine every darkening device that I had (neutral density, crossed polarisers, etc.) to make the exposure long enough to get the “smooth water” shot above. Even with all that, I managed only a two second exposure on the Olympus SP-590 on the tripod. That’s not long enough to get the glassy water effect. Sorry for the technical gobbledygook, but some out there might be interested.

Switching to the Canon G10 braced on the railing, I got this nice three-frame panorama that went together very slickly in Photoshop’s photomerge feature:

Mike Cassell and Pascal Michon fishing at Blueblood

Mike Cassell and Pascal Michon did a little fishing off of the beach. Mike caught a small cod of some kind, but it wasn’t big enough to grease a skillet, so it went back into the sea.

Trevor Hattersley pointed out a butterfly feeding hungrily on the red hibiscus that surround the beach house. I grabbed the Olympus because of its excellent zoom and good image stabilisation. As I was taking the shots I kept thinking that it was a waste of time. I could see that the shutter speed that I was getting was way too slow. I could have used flash, but I hate it. It always spoils the natural colours of outdoor images.

However, when I got the shots up on the screen in Photoshop, I began to see some prospect of turning them into art:

Red hibiscus and butterfly

Taking a technically spoiled shot which otherwise has an interesting subject and good composition and making it into a beautiful image is one of the things that I love best about image programs such as Photoshop. In the shot above, the colours are exciting and surreal. Part of the butterfly is reasonably well focused and suffers not too much motion blur. The primary wings are completely blurred, but you get the impression of them and it lends to the feeling of motion, which was fast and furious. I was very happy with this shot when I was finished.

This one is even better. At first I despaired. Then I noticed that I could actually see a faint image of the butterfly’s primary wings as a sort of blurred shadow. I worked on the rest of the image, over saturating the colours until I got the right fantasy feel and then I darkened the faint outline of the primary wings. Again, I was pleased:

A butterfly on a red hibiscus

I also got a couple of nice shots of the red hibiscus flowers. This is a shot of the back side of a blossom with interesting dark under saturated leaves in the background and a little greenery for contrast:

Red hibiscus from the back

I think that this one is my favourite flower shot of the day. I really like images of sunlight filtering through the petals of flowers. It’s something that I try to capture whenever I can get into position to do it. This blossom was hanging in just the right spot at the right angle and had the right background for sweetening up my day even more:

Red hibiscus with sunlight shining through

What a beautiful place in which I live. Blessings rain down on me every day like a warm summer shower.

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¡Vaca Santa! – CWA Latino Night

Posted in CWA, Madang Happenings, Parties on October 10th, 2008 by MadDog
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I feel that I am in danger of becoming a hermit.

Latino Night at CWA is the second major Madang party that I’ve missed in a row. The first was because the tickets were sold out. I missed Latino Night because I was “too tired” – translation: Too embarrassed to admit that I am hopeless at any sort of Latin dancing.

Fortunately for the patient reader, I have this fine report from our budding journalist, Lorraine Collins along with a nice kiddie photo and a couple of others featuring some very fine legs.

This from Lorraine Collins:

Hola! CWA hosted a Latino night for all its Amigos and Amigas. Based on previous successful, fun-filled CWA events, the tickets actually sold out days before the function (quite a rare event in Madang). A flotilla of volunteers slaved away cooking and decorating for the fiesta to make it as bueno a noche as possible. Guests received an uplifting Caipirinha upon arrival; a not-too-shabby cocktail of white rum, brown sugar, and freshly squeezed limes over crushed ice. It was yumliscious and full of Vitamin C, therefore making it an exceedingly healthy drink.

The evening’s entertainment started off with a posse of brave little children doing a dance from Bolivia. The miniature stars were Grace McCarthy, Lottie Beschel, Lilani Mackie, Chloe Senn, Alice, and Mathieu Senn as the token boy. They performed perfectly a beautifully choreographed dance involving scarves. I reckon they will be looking for an agent soon.

Food was then served, most of it being a vegetarian’s delight; Spanish Rice, Vegetarian enchiladas, Vegetable Salad, Mexican Vegetable Stew and Beef Enchiladas for those who needed some carne. For those who had some space left, pudding was Spanish cake with rum-soaked raisins.

Next up were Heidi Majano and Pascal Michon (our naughty little Frenchman in Paradise) demonstrating a very sexy and fast moving Salsa. Man, were they impressive! They shimmied and salsa’d, twirled and strutted and shook their bootie to a fine tune. The audience was very impressed (especially yours truly) and I think Salsa classes should definitely be something in the future. Good exercise plus “sex” that you can perform in public.

That stunning performance was followed by “The Saucy Salsa Sisters” strutting their stuff to a slinky little number from Cuba. We should probably have been introduced as the “Sauced Salsa Sisters” as co-ordination was lacking slightly, but we tried to cover it with excessive bum wiggling and boob shaking. That usually works.

From then on, it was a free for all, with all the Madang Señoras ‘y cabaleros Salsa-ing the night away, learning new moves from Heidi, our resident Latino from El Salvador, and gaining confidence with every red wine.

It was a magnifico noche with all the ingredients for a great night; healthy cocktails, sumptuous food, great dancers, sexy music, and lots of booze. The night would not have been possible without all the volunteers that made the food (Heidi, Lorraine Collins, Eunice Messersmith), decorated (Heidi), danced (Heidi, Lorraine, Cessa Beschel, Fabiana Ponting), and most-importantly, filled the eskis with booze and ice (Trevor Hattersley). The CWA staff and Committee Members that helped in all the preparations were also an integral part of the night’s success. And, of course, Heidi herself, who taught all the big and little girls their moves and hopefully a large part of the Madang Community too! Who said CWA is boring? It’s “The Place To Be” – fun-filled events with all the profits going to worthwhile, Feel Good Charities.

Well . . . I feel as if I had been there.

Here are the kiddies doing the scarf dance:

Kids dancing

Gotta admit that Mathieu is a brave lad.

And here are the ladies getting it on over a Frangipani strewn dance floor. Hey, we’ve got it all in Madang:

The Dancing Señoras

And one more leggy shot just for fun:

More of the Dancing Señoras

Please don’t ask me why Lorraine is balancing a clock on her fingertips. I wasn’t there and she didn’t report it. It must be a Latino thing.

Adios amigos.

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Triple Christening at the Beach

Posted in Madang Happenings on March 18th, 2008 by MadDog
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On Sunday, the 16th of March, we had a great family happening up at Blueblood. It seems a small mob of Cassell kids were in need of Christening.  Having the appropriate garb close at hand, Eunice and I trekked up the coast for the festivities.

Here we have (right to left) Daniel Cassell, Godfather to Charlotte Kate Cassell, James Cassell, Godfather to Nina Sue Cassell, William John Cassell, Jaculin Cassell (mother of the children), Charlotte Kate Cassell, Ben Cassell (father of the children), Nina Sue Cassell, and Mary-Jane Cassell, Godmother to Nina Sue Cassell. I’m on the far left.

Tripple Christening at Blueblood

Here’s Eunice and Di Cassell during the Christening. Di is holding her granddaughter, Natasha. Eunice is reading a poem written by Vanessa and Steve Ballard, Godparents to Nina and Charlotte.

Eunice, Di Cassell and Natasha

Here’s the some of the Cassell Clan with me after the Christening.

Cassell Clan and Pastor

I couldn’t pass up this one of Grandpa Mike (Pa) and grandson William.

Pa Mike and William Cassell

The usual mob of suspects were also present.  Here’s Ken McArthur looking so fine as he shows off his magnificent Pig Torture Device. What a clever mechanic. It all depends on an old washing machine motor.

Ken McArthur and his Pig Torture Device

Master Porcine Chef Trevor Hattersley was up at 4:00 AM with Pascal Michon to get the pig feeling nice and toasty warm.

Chef Trevor tending Porky’s firey demise

Our special guest, Porky, was so knackered by the time lunch came around that we decided to let him rest for a while with a good, cheap cigar and a beer.  CHEERS!

Porky Pig relaxing

Eunie and I want to thank Clan Cassell for the honour of participating in this wonderful family celebration of life.

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Bizarre Pétanque Finish

Posted in Sports on March 12th, 2008 by MadDog
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It’s a strange game; Pétanque. We play it after lunch at the beach. It makes me feel so … so … continental. We’ve had, on occasion, six nationalities between the two teams. When the social lubrication has reached its optimal level, out come the boules. We usually play rusty boules versus shiny. But, first comes the lunch. Here’s Mike and Pascal and Rich preparing the victuals.  Mike appears to be supervising. Rich needs a good feed.

Lunch at the beach

As a Yank, I’m allowed no closer than three meters to the barbie. On special occasions I’m allowed to help build the fire.

Hmmm, yes, we were talking about Pétanque. See, we don’t really do it properly. Actually we play Bush Pétanque (nothing to do with George). It’s much more interesting. I threw the jack right up against the back of the beach house and it got caught between some ancient roots. Anyway, after everyone had expended their boules, here’s how they ended up.

Petanque boules huddled together

Isn’t that fascinating? Aren’t you just so happy that you checked my blog today? Otherwise you would never have seen such an amazing sight. Now get back to work before your boss catches you.

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