Nob Nob and Kar Kar

Posted in Mixed Nuts on January 28th, 2011 by MadDog
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Today’s post title mimics the sound of baby talk. Nob nob kar kar goo goo. Maybe that’s a stretch. I’m going for a little humor today and finding it more difficult than usual. Some days are easier than others. It’s a roller-coaster.

A few persistent and pedantically observant readers may note that my spelling seems inconsistent. For instance, in an earlier sentence I used the word humor. In other posts I have spelled the word as humour. The machine which I am using today has a US English dictionary installed in Firefox, my web browser of choice. I usually use my computer at home or in my office, both of which have Australian English dictionaries. One might ask why.

Okay, since you are so inquisitive, I’ll tell you why. Having lived in Papua New Guinea so long that I can’t remember how to behave anywhere else, I have observed that Australians are laudably picky concerning spelling. I care about spelling only to the extent that I prefer not to appear as if I don’t care. Strangely enough, Americans seem more tolerant of UK/Australian spelling preferences than Australians are of the “Americanisms”. Therefore, I learned early on that, since a great deal of what I write ends up being seen by those who adhere to UK/Australian spelling than the American standards, it is prudent for me to use the Australian forms. It is simply too onerous a task to have to switch from one to another according to who might be the predominant audience. Australians seem to stumble over every Americanised (Americanized, if you are an American) form while Americans simply zip through text littered with Australian forms.

So, in the text of MPBM posts when there are alternate spellings you will usually not see the American forms. I’m not anti-American. I’m just catering to the closest audience and the one which finds the American forms to be a little odd. I’m not saying that Australians are spelling snobs. They are snobs about very few things, certainly no more things than Americans. However, there are some things which can set them afire. One is the American preference placing the letter z  near the end of words for which Australians insist must have an s.  For example, let’s take the word recognise.  To Americans this spelling appears strange, possibly exotic or even wrong. The Amercan form would be recognize. However, most Americans can recognise/recognize the word. They are not outraged by recognise.

Some Australians, however, would be compelled to point out, after careful consideration assisted by a healthy slug of Foster’s Lager, that is American  spelling. This might be accompanied by a slight frown.

So, there we have it. Now I have managed to insult both Australian and American cultures in a few brief paragraphs. If you are not already tired of the subject, you might look at an interesting Wikipedia item on American vs British Spelling Differences. I learned quite a bit from it.

Having dispatched my insults to my homeland and my favourite playground, it’s now time to proceed to the subjects. Last week I had the great blessing of a house guest. Dr. Riley Savage, a young Australian physician, has been in Madang several times working with the local hospital. Each time she was here she went out to dive with us. I invited her to take advantage of the guest rooms that Eunie and I had prepared so that visitors to Madang could economise by staying in a bed and breakfast atmosphere. It was a wonderful treat to have a friendly face for a few days in the big, lonely house.

We could not dive on the day before Riley was to fly back to Australia. This is because it is unwise to have any excess nitrogen in the blood before traveling to a high altitude. It can lead to symptoms of “the bends”. Instead, we went to visit old friends on Nob Nob mountain. Tag Tap took us for a brief bush walk. On our way up to his house we stopped at the Pacific Orientation Course camp to take in the view of Madang, Astrolabe Bay,  the North Coast and Kar Kar Island.  Here is a shot of Kar Kar Island  taken from the ridge upon which sets the huge TELIKOM communications tower:

The air was too hazy for a good shot. I had to massage this one very roughly. Kar Kar Volcano is potentially very dangerous. It is not gentle on our minds. One of the more interesting recent events occurred on the 4th day of December in 2009 when Kar Kar did not  erupt.

Here is a slight telephoto shot. I was attempting to get a better balance of tones. I tried combining multiple exposures including one underexposed, one normal and one overexposed. I then combined them in Photoshop for a single High Dynamic Range image:The resulting image is no improvement, but does have a point of interest. Look at the top of the big towering cumulus cloud (Cumulus congestus)  to the right of the peak. The rate of vertical development at the top of the cloud is so rapid that the two or three seconds between my exposures was long enough for multiple images to develop. Photoshop did a good job of lining up the three hand-held images, but it couldn’t cope with the motion at the top of the cloud. I’m still learning the HDR process. I was disappointed in this shot. I expected to be able to see detail in the brightest area of the cloud. I think the reason is that my underexposed frame was still washed out in the bright part of the cloud. I should have reduced the exposure even more to capture detail in the brightest areas.

While still on the ridge I shot this rather plain flower. It is not a very interesting shot except for the discoloured areas of the petals:

I’ve seen this on many flowers here. Red hibiscus blossoms often have bright blue patches which look a little wilted. It appears to me as if there is a base colour on the petal which is overlaid by another colour. If something happens which disturbs or removes the top layer of pigment the base colour shows through. You can get a hint of this by the general appearance of the petals. There is a hint of blue showing through.

When we started on our bush walk, I was strangely uninterested in shooting. I took only a couple of exposures. Riley was shooting everything, but I failed to get any images from her before she returned to Australia. This line of mushrooms up the side of a rotting tree did catch my eye:

Tag Tap said that they are edible. I’m cautious. I never eat wild mushrooms unless I find them at the market. These looked as if they were safe, but I don’t trust my extremely limited knowledge. Even if they are not poisonous, I might still be taken on a trip for which I’m not prepared.

I was greatly amused by this very elaborate flower. I think is is some kind of Pasiflora:I hope that Anne-Marie sees this and let’s me know what it is. Tag Tap says that it is used to combat fungal skin infections. If one has an itchy patch all that is needed is to find some of these and rub them vigorously on the skin. I had no itches, so I didn’t try it. Pasionfruit and Sugarfruit flowers are very similar in configuration and general appearance to this, but are much larger.

UPDATE: Anne-Marie rescued me with the species name. See her comment.

Getting back to Kar Kar, here are a couple of panoramic stitches of multiple images which include the island. You can see it in the distance at the left end of the large island:

With my equipment and skills images without obvious geometric distortion seem out of reach. I have seen a few, but the requirement for this seem complex to me. The shot above has no troublesome distortions, but it sags a bit in the middle. I ran out of time before I figured out how to correct this. I’m sure that Photoshop provides a method, but I couldn’t find it quickly.

A second series of exposure and a different style of stitching yielded this image:

The water line in this one is straight and most if it looks more realistic. However, the distortion at the right is distracting.

These images are for Rich Jones. Rich asked that the shot include the swinging rope from the Tarzan post. There was a Big Event at Blueblood recently of which I hope to write soon.

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Big Fat Mountains

Posted in Mixed Nuts on December 12th, 2009 by MadDog
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I took a drive up Nob Nob Mountain  yesterday with some visiting friends to show them our magnificent Astrolabe Bay  and the surrounding coastline. A prime feature of this beauty is the Finisterre Mountains  across the bay. Because of the rain all morning, when the sun finally came out, it was quite clear, so we got a terrific view of the mountains.

If I were a painter, I think that one thing that I would enjoy is being able to interpret the same scene or object in many different ways, according to my whim. Alas, I have not a smidgen of artistic talent. However, I do have a yummy selection of cheap cameras and I have acquired a bit of cleverness with Photoshop. For the first time in the history of man (bring up The Ride of the Valkyries  in the background now), an ordinary bloke or blokess can, with the minimum of fuss, create wonderful scenes that would make a landscape artist of a hundred years ago weep.

Here are three interpretations of the same scene from the top of Nob Nob Mountain.  You are looking out across Astrolabe Bay  at the Finisterre Mountains:

Finisterre Mountain Panorama 1An astute (very  astute) observer would note that I have exaggerated the vertical aspect by about 20% to make the mountains appear taller.

Here is a different interpretation of the same scene:Finisterre Mountain Panorama 2Changing the aspect ratio and including the dramatic sky changes the mood of the image completely, but keeping the mountains just about a third of the way up enhances the focus on them. The eyes have to move around a lot more in this image, because there are several focal points.

In an attempt to make a silk purse from a sow’s ear, I took another series with mid telephoto. I didn’t even have to exaggerate the height of the mountains in this one. The telephoto effect did it for me. Using a telephoto lens will always make background objects appear larger with respect to foreground objects:Finisterre Mountain Panorama 3Of course, while I was up at Nob Nob,  I had to have a little nature walk also, just to see what was buzzing.

Guess what I found buzzing in a crevice of an ancient Frangipani tree – hornets!

My camera appears closer that I actually placed it. I used a little telephoto with my macro setting and didn’t get closer than about a third of a metre (or one foot, if you insist). I honestly don’t know if they are hornets or wasps or whatever. I just know that I’m not going to let them sting me if I can help it. I was once trimming a tree in my yard and did not notice a small hornet’s nest. They came at me about a dozen strong and I took about twenty hits before I got to the edge of my yard and dived into the harbour. Man, that smarts!

There are all sorts of weird and wonderful orchids here. Have a look at this one:Strange OrchidWhat’s that supposed to be?

And this, my gentle readers, is a passionfruit flower:Passionfruit Flower and fruitPointing out the obvious here, note the passionfruit at the lower left. I can’t say that I like them much. They taste too perfumy and sour to me. The flowers are certainly beautiful. We have another fruit similar to this that we call a sugar fruit. It has the same hard shell with the gooey stuff inside around the seeds, but it is much sweeter.

When I got home from the mountain, this copra boat was heading out to sea, probably to Kar Kar Island:Copra BoatWhen the winelight falls on our beautiful harbour in the afternoon, I don’t want to be anywhere else.

With my camera, of course.

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