Of Ants and Warships

Posted in Mixed Nuts on April 3rd, 2010 by MadDog
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When Satruday starts off grey and rainy, I get all antsy and make frequent trips after dawn to have a look out the front door. This rainy season seems to be lasting forever. This morning it was very soggy and the sky looked as if it had fallen. Maybe Chicken Little was right. I did a double-take as I looked across the harbour and saw this:She’s the HMAS Leeuwin,  a Royal Australian Navy Hydrographic Survey ship.

Leeuwin  and Melville  enable the Australian Hydrographic Service to gather high quality hydrographic information at a much greater rate than the ships they replace. The ships are 71 metres in length, with a beam of 15 metres, and a draught of 5.4 metres. Each ship displaces 2,550 tonnes and is manned by a crew of 46 officers and sailors. A state of the art Hydrographic Survey System (HSS) developed by STN Atlas will integrate accurate position information with data from a multi-beam echo sounder, towed side-scan sonar, single beam echo sounder and a forward-looking sonar. The ships will also carry three fully equipped 9 metre Survey Motor Boats for surveys in waters not suitable for the ships themselves. Both ships are capable of carrying a helicopter to assist in survey operations.

While I was outside yesterday afternoon in our garden, the orange lilies were calling to me:“Take some pictures of us. Please.” Lilies are so polite. These were hiding in the shade with just a bit of the late afternoon sun warming them.

Another pair were still catching the rays. How did that drop of water last all day?

The ants were marching up the post of our veranda roof. I didn’t like the shadows going to the right; it just didn’t look right. So, I turned the ant images a quarter twist clockwise. The ants didn’t notice:These are not nearly the best ant shots that I’ve done. I think there was a little camera shake, since I was holding the camera out as far as I could and leaning out over the rail. I’m lucky I didn’t fall off and break my fool neck.

The ants still took no notice:The just kept on marching. I like ants. They are so . . . industrious.

I could never be an ant. I’m far too lazy.

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Mystery Object of the Month

Posted in At Sea, Humor, Mixed Nuts, Photography Tricks on March 29th, 2009 by MadDog
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Oh, the sky was looking mighty fine when I got up this morning. Made me feel nearly human:

Sunrise Panorama

But, let’s get down to business. I told you before that I was invited on an Australian warship after taking a couple of sailors out fishing. I took only one photo while on board. In one of the main control rooms where the ship’s technicians hang out, there were two little stainless steel objects attached to a railing on the ceiling of the compartment. I asked about the curious devices and was told that they are little floats with magnets on the end. They float in a fluid filled chamber close to a sensor and the position of the magnet indicates the level of the fluid. Clever, eh?

Mystery objects found aboard an Australian warship

But, that’s not the interesting part. When not busy doing their normal work, they are put to another very important task involving the morale of the entire crew. When two spares are hung side-by-side as you see here, the configuration takes on a  special title. I wonder if you can guess what they are called. Sorry, there is no prize for the correct answer. It’s too easy to just examine the file name when you look at the bottom of your browser while your mouse is hovering over the photo. Personally, I think it is very funny. Your mileage may differ.

We have plenty of these flowers in my garden. I think they are some kind of daisy. I do particularly like the colour. Only yesterday, I showed you a white blossom that was just beginning to open.

Magenta daisy

By the way, these are the “Harmonious Daisies” that we planted in anticipation of the visitation of Swami Monty.

As I sat on the steps leading up to my veranda this morning, looking around for tasty fodder for my camera, I spotted this grumpy crab sitting on a Pandanus leaf. It’s usually difficult to get close to them. They are quite skittish. This one held fast while I captured him for you:

Grumpy looking crab on a Pandanus leaf

The detail on the crab is pretty nice, if you care to click to enlarge.

This shot is actually my favourite of the day. I like ants – as long as they stay out of the house. They are so inspiring. Busy, busy, busy.

Nevertheless, they always have time for romance. I’ve written about ants falling in love before:

When ants fall in love

I’ve also warned the world about the hideous plot by the Ant Body Snatchers to steal all of our precious ants. As if that’s not enough (you can never do enough for ants – nag, nag, nag), I’ve told you about Muli Ants and the effects of Weird Gravity.

After all, who would you rather have cleaning up after you, ants, or cockroaches?

For my parting shot, let me inform you that there is someone (Jungle John) who actually holds the Guiness World Record for lying with live cockroaches.

Yes, kiddies, it is sadly true. He is also one the few human beings to be eaten by a balloon and survive.

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Permission to Come Aboard

Posted in At Sea, Photography Tricks on March 26th, 2009 by MadDog
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Eunie was in Port Moresby last night. I fell asleep at about 20:30 and woke up wide-eyed and bushy-tailed at about 01:30. Not being inclined to stay up the rest of the night, I took 5mg of good ol’ vallium and went outside with may camera and tripod to wait for the pill to knock me out.

The night was clear and calm. Everything seemed all sparkly and bright. Faded Glory looked peaceful sitting at the end of her dock. I took her picture:

Faded Glory sleeps at her berth

It took a fifteen second exposure to get this shot. It required very little processing with Photoshop to clean it up. I next turned my attention to a container ship across the harbour from our house:

A ship across the harbour from our house

Having gotten a solid night’s sleep, I picked Eunie up at the airport. On our way the the office, I spotted a familiar ship out on Astrolabe Bay:

Royal Australian Navy Survey Ship (before Photoshopping)

The photo above is what came out of my camera – a Canon G9 shooting in the RAW mode. It’s interesting compositionally – I used the Rule of Thirds – but otherwise, it stinks. It’s flat and lifeless. With Photoshop CS4 and about 10 minutes stolen from my work day I had this:

Royal Australian Navy Survey Ship (Photoshopped)

Ahhhh, much better!

The ship is one of two Royal Australian Navy Survey Vessels that have come up here to do detailed charting and data collection in Astrolabe Bay. I took a couple of sailors from one of the ships out fishing a week or so ago and they invited me aboard that evening for the grand tour. Check out the HMAS Mellville. We get a surprising number of interesting ships in our harbour.

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