Pale Plants – Canoe Boys – Our House

Posted in Mixed Nuts on December 1st, 2009 by MadDog
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What’s the deal with plants that don’t have green leaves. It’s been a long time since Botany 101. I thought that chlorophyll was green!  We certainly have a lot of plants here with radically not  green leaves, but this one is seriously green-deficient:

White leaf plant 1

As you can see, it does get a few green patches here and there, but the leaves are mostly pale ivory, pretty, but a little creepy, like a blue dog.

Here’s another shot showing some of the green patches:

White leaf plant 2

If there are any plant experts out there that can enlighten me, please leave comments. I Googled listlessly this morning for a few minutes on the subject, but ran out of time, as my gestating network is in danger of being stillborn if I don’t knuckle down and get it rolled out soon.

This huge tour ship was here in Madang a few days ago. I don’t know why they bother. Most of them are here for a few hours only and I’ve often noticed that only a handful of people even bother to get off and walk around. I don’t get it:Tourist ship visiting MadangPoor saps don’t know what they’re missing.

Here, have a sunrise while were at it:Sunrise PanoramaWe’ve had a drought of sunrises for the last week or so. It has been grey most mornings. Eunie always has the same (getting a little repetitive now) complaint, “It feels like winter today. I don’t like it.” As if she expects me to fix the weather.

After I took the shot above off the stern of Faded Glory  tied up at our dock, I turned around and saw our house all sparkly and cheerful. I did a panorama that came out pretty nice:

Our HouseIt covers about 120° and shows the entire area of our waterfront.

Keeping in the spirit of miscellanea today, here’s a sweet sunrise at Coconut Point:Coconut Point SunriseI did a lot of fiddling with the colours on this shot. I was going for “not quite believable”. Did I make it?

Last Saturday, we were tied up in Tab Anchorage  out of the wind to catch some sun. These boys came over on a canoe, pretending to fish, but we all know what they were really after:Canoe BoysSo, I won’t go into that.

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A Variety Pack

Posted in Mixed Nuts on August 19th, 2009 by MadDog
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I’m covered up at work today and also dealing with family matters having to do with my father’s recent passing, so I’m simply going to throw a random bunch of images from the last week at you and let this post sink or swim on its own.

I’ve shown you before these weird upside down flowers that grow beside my veranda. Here is the earlier stage just after the blossom opens:

Strange upside-down flower - Jan Messersmith

As you can see the naughty female bits are all spread out as if they are desperately seeking someone.  The sneaky male gizmo seems to be pointed in the wrong direction entirely. I wonder how this thing manages to reproduce?

In this image, you can see that the male bit has turned deep red (possibly because it’s very tired from its wanderings), the petals have also gone deep red, and the egg case at the bottom is growing. I guess something must have worked:

Strange upside-down flower at a more mature phase

I think that this is some kind of hibiscus that hangs upside down. I’m too lazy to look these up and quite a few readers pipe in with the names of the flowers anyway to save me the bother:

Some kind of red hibiscus that hangs upside down

Trevor Hattersley just got a couple of new beaut Suzuki 140s on the back of Lying Dog,  his 24 Ft Bertram. Here they are shoving us briskly up through Tab Anchorage:

Trevor's new Suzukies doing their stuff

Here’s another peek at one of the Suzukies with Kar Kar Island in the distance:

Trevor's new Suzukies push us away from Kar Kar Island

Up at Blueblood last Sunday, I got this nice shot of our old mate, Bill Hughes out in the water looking extremely happy:

Our old buddy Bill Hughes
And, here is a five frame panorama of the little lagoon at Blueblood:

A Blueblood Panorama

Em tasol.  (That’s all, in Tok Pisin)

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Suspicious Skies

Posted in Photography Tricks on August 17th, 2009 by MadDog
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It’s just impossible to witness and photograph thousands of beautiful sunrises and sunsets without beginning to believe that nature could do better. Spcifically, Mom Nature could do better if she had some Photoshop lessons. This is pretty presumptuous thinking for a mere mortal. Nevertheless, I’m a moral weakling and easily succumb to shiny new things that prove my lack of respect for authority. The “I could have done it better” theme runs rampant through my more fanciful exercises in portraying reality in images.

Witness this atrocity:

A "Too perfect reflection" sunrise

It was quite spendid that morning. I was up before 06:00 with my tripod, chair, Canon G10 and an orange Fanta. The only thing that was missing was a cheap cigar. Either Mercury or Venus (I could look up the position on that morning, but I’m too lazy) was high in the sky and shining fiercely. I used a frightfully long exposure through a polariser and a #1 neutral density filter to make the water look glassy. Nevertheless, I wasn’t satisfied. The sky didn’t look dark enough. Fooling around, I discovered that I could apply a graduated filter with just about any attribute attached to it to the image while it was still in the Camera Raw filter. Vliola!  I got an evenly graduated ever darkening sky. Applying the same procedure upside-down gave me the effect that I needed to balance the image for the water. Very nice. Except that the star all but disappeared. I had to fake it. I painted it in. If I hadn’t told you, you wouldn’t know, eh? I will state, however that the reflection is real.

This one is a perfectly good picture that looks very much like an interesting sunrise, umm?  Hah, it’s a sunset. It seems that they are mostly interchangeable unless you can spot something in the image that gives it away. Madang residents might just possibly recognise this as a view from Tab Anchorage  looking west. Therefore, it must be a sunset, unless Superman has once again reversed the Earth’s rotation:

The "It's not really a sunrise" sunrise

This one has no obvious fakery.You probably wouldn’t catch it unless you had seen it. It was weak, weak, weak. The colours were pastels at best. I had to saturate and vibrate unmercifully to get anything remotely pretty:

The "Water too smooth" sunrise

This one, I like, even though it’s an obvious fake. The colours were quite nice, if a little bizarre. However, the water had nothing going for it. It was a little windy and it took on a greenish-grey cast that made me slightly ill. I used the old trick of taking the top part, above the water line, flipping it upside down and laying it down over the water while reducing its opacity so that the texture of the water shines through. It’s an obvious fake, but it’s still pretty in a “Bible Illustration” sort of way:

The "Too fake reflection" sunrise

This is my favourite fake of the week. I got lucky to have a ship pass by as I was sitting there behind my tripod. When I got the image up on the screen it needed a lot of help. I have bashed the colours so severely that they look as if they need a long stay in hospital. The ship reflection is also an upside down overlay as in the image above. It’s gaudy, cheap looking, and cheeky.

The "Fake Ship Reflection" sunrise

But, you can’t say that it’s not interesting. (okay, okay, you can, but I won’t believe it)

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When is a Photograph not a Photograph?

Posted in Photography Tricks on July 19th, 2009 by MadDog
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When I was out on Faded Glory  on Saturday, I brought along my Olympus SP590UZ superzoom camera. I love the long telephoto shots, even though the lens is, of course, not very sharp. What can you expect from a US$450 camera that claims a 26x optical zoom. Since nothing I shoot ends up being printed any larger that what will fit on a magazine page, it doesn’t worry me too much and I don’t need to worry about messing up a US$3,000 camera or having it stolen. I treat them as throw aways.

Sometimes, though, one wishes that the lens were a little sharper or the sensor a little less noisy. And then, sometimes, one simply botches the job. On Saturday, for instance, I had a setting wrong on the camera which caused the images to be much less than I’d hoped. For those who care I’ll mention that I had the camera set to aperture priority mode and the f stop was a 8.0. This caused two problems. First, as the lens closes down its sharpness decreases. Second, as there is less light at f 8.0, the sensitivity of the sensor is increased automatically causing it to get noisier. The result was grainy images that weren’t very sharp at all. That’s about as bad as it gets.

Still, there were some interesting images under all that blurriness and grain. I decided to finagle the snaps with Photoshop to see if I could get some visually appealing images out of the mess.

Is it photography?  Or, is it art? I’d say neither. They are derivations  of photographic images. I had a huge palette of colours and image manipulation tools available to me. I chose to use only the least obtrusive ones to save the images. Let’s see what came out of the experiment.

Here’s a shot of Kar Kar Island  looking positively ominous. It should, since it’s one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes:

Kar Kar Island as art

This is a shot from Tab Anchorage  of part of Madang town with a ship anchored next to Kranket Island:

A ship with Madang in the background and the Finisterre Mountains in the distance

If you click to enlarge any of these images you will see that they have been severely mauled by Photoshop filters and image controls. They are no longer strictly speaking, photographs. This is the Finisterre Mountains  as seen from Tab Anchorage:

A panorama of the Finisterre Mountains as art

This shot is spoiled because I needed just a tiny bit more space between the canoe paddle and the left edge. It’s taking the Rule of Thirds too far:

Canoe art

On the way back home, I stopped for this shot of the blazing sun reflecting off of the water of Madang Harbour  near the airport:

The afternoon sun near the Airport in Madang

I combined the shots above with others that I massaged in this little gallery:

I’ve reduced the sizes on the gallery shots so that they will fit more comfortably on most screens.

I guess my photography lesson for today is, if you’ve got an onion, make onion soup. Or, never delete an image unless it has nothing to say.

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Lucky Canoe

Posted in Mixed Nuts on November 22nd, 2008 by MadDog
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I used to love to sleep in on weekends. It doesn’t appeal to me much now. I wake up early on Saturday and think, “Hey, I don’t have to go to work today; I can write instead.” So, from 5:30 or 6:00 until about 9:30 I can take time to look over my folder of “potential blog photos” (about 250 now, and counting) to see what inspiration the Muse may lend me.

This particular Saturday morning delivered a smidgeon of serendipity in the form of a sleepy fellow paddling lethargically in the brassy glow of the rising sun:

Lucky Canoe in the brassy glow of the rising sun

Sometimes I’m so focused on the camera and the lining up of the panorama shots (this is four exposures stitched together) that I forget to note what else might be going on. However, this time I did notice the canoe coming and I got the timing very close. I was missing just a bit of the trailing edge of the canoe wake. I had to clone that in, but it doesn’t look too faked. I’m going to try to sell this one to Our Way as a cover shot. Maybe I’ll get lucky.

Sheba was out in the yard following me around and whining. She was longing desperately for her breakfast. I wanted to get a good shot of her in the warm glow of the sunrise. She’s such a mongrel – like me. She’s part Doberman and part Rottweiler with a healthy dose of German Shepherd tossed in at the last moment for good measure. She is a pup of Greg O’Keefe’s bitch and was owned briefly by Swami Monty and Meri, his luscious consort.

Here I was commanding “STAY!” about every five seconds while she fretted, “Why doesn’t the stupid biped feed me?” One can easily see the concerned expression on her pretty face:

Hungry Sheba

I try to avoid taking hundreds of photos of Sheba and then forcing innocent captives to look at them. They are like baby photos. “Oh, here’s Junior spiting up, and here he is making kaka in the back yard, and, Oh look, here he is holding the dog by its ears. Doesn’t he remind you of Lyndon Johnson?” You have to be an aging Yank to get that reference.

This next shot seems a little out of place. As I looked through frames that I liked and had spent some time to make them just so, this one evoked some pleasant memories of Miss Rankin and all the good times we’ve enjoyed on her decks and under her hull. Here’s Carol seeming pensive as she watched the sunset on our way out of Tab Anchorage:

Carol Dover

So, that’s my Saturday so far.

I hope my readers like the new look of the site. I’ll get the URL problems settled down eventually and hope I haven’t lost too many of you along the way. I’ll also clean up the messiness in the sidebar and fix the garish colours of the fonts.

For those of you with eyes like mine, I’m also going to increase the size of the body text and make it brighter so that it’s more easily readable. Generally speaking, I hate the black background sites because of the readability problem. But I can’t give it up now that I’ve seen how much better the photos look.

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