Two Bunnies in a Canoe and Other Curiosities

Posted in Mixed Nuts on July 21st, 2009 by MadDog
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Once again, it’s time to ramble aimlessly through a few images that have caught my eye, but don’t seem to say enough to provoke a gush of prose from me. Just as well. The pictures tell the stories better than I can.

Our next door neighbour got a couple of bunnies some time ago. I think they were dreaming of raising the delicious little furry ones for an occasional treat, but somehow ended up with two males. Though they are useless for producing more bunnies, they are cute. Lately they have been lounging in the hot afternoons in the shade of an old canoe which is turned up on its side:

Two bunnies in a canoe

These bunnies are incredibly docile. I have little experience with rabbits that did not involve putting a bullet through them. Hey, we were hungry. These guys are exceedingly cute. When you hold one, you can feel its heart going thumpity- thump.

Under the heading of strange phenomena, we have this large red flower that popped up in our yard one day, seemingly from nowhere. Juli, our haus meri,   is forever finding interesting plants and bringing them home. She never mentions it, so we never know what to expect. I don’t remember seeing this one anywhere else, but then I haven’t been everywhere, have I?

Strange red flower that appeared from nowhere

The multiple-blossom bloom is about the size of a grapefruit and spectacularly red. The vegetation appears to make it some kind of lily. I’m far too lazy to search for it. If you know what it is, please leave a comment.

Sticking with vegetation, here’s an unremarkable image that somehow gets under my skin:

Three leaves

Tropical plants often produce leaves that change colour radically as they mature. Someday, I’ll have to get a shot of a mango tree when the new leaves are coming out. They are bright red. There are lovely bright green bushes that grow across the front of our yard next to the water (see the leaves in the next image). When the new leaves come out, they are a lovely yellowish-orange colour. I shot these three this morning by the light of the rising sun.

When I had the image above adjusted to my liking, I still wasn’t happy with it. It seemed too . . . clinical, as it it were a specimen shot. I tried a few things to juice it up, but nothing was working. Then I thought of an old darkroom technique called vignetting. It simply means to fade the edges either darker or lighter. In the old days, if we wanted to do it, we’d make a mask to hold over the photographic paper as it was being exposed. Holding the mask a few inches above the paper and waving it around caused areas of the paper to receive more or less light, according to the shape of the mask. Photoshop provides an easy way to vignette an image. In this case it worked a treat. It is a much more dramatic image with the darkened edges to frame the subject.

The last shot is a bit of a puzzle. I have not changed the angle. The water drops are underneath  the leaf. How they got there, I do not know:

Water drops underneath a leaf

I can only speculate that water falling on the leaf below splashed up and stuck to the bottom of the leaf. You can plainly see that the drops are much puffier than usual, because the force of gravity is pulling them away from the leaf instead of pulling them onto it. They are also drooping a little, since the leaf is not horizontal.

Two thoughts are competing in my head for attention. One has something to do with smelling the roses. That works for me, but a quotation from Kurt Vonnegut is nudging in also. He said, “I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.”

The centre is boring.

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Drip, Drip

Posted in Photography Tricks on June 23rd, 2009 by MadDog
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I’m not sure why water droplets fascinate me so much as photographic subjects. They’re not very animated and they have little character of their own. What they do very nicely is reflect, transmit and modify light. Now light, you see, is something that interests me greatly. I’ve shown you my orange lilies before. Here are some water drops resting on a shady morning:

Shady day water drops on my orange liliesWith no direct sun to cast shadows, they look a bit lifeless and moody. I’ve got more orange lilies now than I’ve ever had before. You can see another water drop shot here. You can get orange lilies and more water drops here – one of my favourite water drop shots. So as not to make the other flowers jealous, I’ll add this.

This drop, hanging off of a hibiscus bud, seems entirely too big to stay put. It seems very precarious to me:

A drop that looks too big to hold onI also like that way that everything appears upside down.

I like this one best. If click to enlarge, you’ll see that the middle of the three drops is reflecting the smaller drop located just above it on the branch:

The middle drop shows a reflection of another dropWhile drops are amusing I usually prefer my water in larger units. Get wetter with more water drops and other miscellanea here, here, here and here.

How’s the Pacific Ocean for a larger unit:

Astrolabe SkyI took Eunie to lunch for her birthday today. We ate at the Madang Lodge. I had fish and chips, but no, I’m not going to make you look at it. The view over Astrolabe Bay was very pleasant today. When I was a kid we called those wispy clouds mares’ tails because they look like tails of horses.

Happy birthday, Eunie.

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New Year’s Resolutions

Posted in Opinions on January 1st, 2009 by MadDog
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It’s an old-fashioned idea, I suppose. But, I’m an old-fashioned sort of guy. I also feel slightly silly when I attempt to give advice to others. I have a hard enough time just getting by myself.

Today, I’ll make an exception.

In the mid-80’s, when I began to realize what a jerk I was and I started employer-enforced therapy (yes, that’s how bad it was), I was looking for any sort of coping skills that could help me with my bipolar problem, depression, and the fact that nobody at all seemed to want to be around me – including my wife! The nice guy who I thought I was was a figment of my imagination. The truth was that I was horrid.

You wouldn’t want to hear about most of the stuff to which I submitted so that I could begin the long road to becoming someone else. It has been a tough journey, but, at the very least, I can truthfully say that I like myself better than I did before. More importantly, most people seem to be able actually to tolerate me now. It’s been a significant improvement over about twenty-some years.

Here’s a pretty picture of a sensitive plant flower after having been nourished for a month on a secret formula of psychedelic drugs – just in case you’re nodding off:

Spaced-out tickle-me plant flower

I attribute much of my happiness today to New Year’s Resolutions of the past. I never started doing it until I got into serious trouble. That was probably because I never believed it would work. I was so wrong.

I can’t tell you what several of my successful resolutions were, because they would be far too revealing. I’m not much into soul baring in public – it’s too Hollywood. However, I can tell you about a couple that aren’t too personal and really improved my life (not to mention relationships with others).

Have you ever been inside the Toronto subway stations? Some of them are über-cool indeed:

Subway station in Toronto

One resolution that saved me from employment doom was to learn to treat my co-workers with the same cordiality and respect that I (sometimes) accorded to my friends. Simply having to remember day-by-day that I had to pay attention to this, over a period of a year, improved my situation at work remarkably. Gradually I went from the always-grumpy old dude that nobody really wanted to interact with to someone less grumpy who seemed to actually care. Not perfect, but an improvement.

I love the way water drops look on leaves and flowers:

Water drops on a pandanus leaf

New Year’s Resolutions are strange beasts. I think that there’s a sort of placebo effect in action. If you think it will work, and you have no evidence to the contrary, then It probably will. I review my progress on my resolution all year and begin to think about the next one sometime around October.

I’m careful to choose resolutions that I honestly believe that I can accomplish. I will put off an important resolution for another year and try something less challenging if I don’t think I’m ready to achieve a difficult change.

I’ll reveal one other resolution that improved life considerably. Forever I had this annoying and unfair habit of blaming my wife for everything. No matter the situation, I could find a way to make a problem her fault. You guys out there – I bet some of you know exactly what I mean. It goes like this:

“Yes, I know that I goofed up there a little (bashed in the side of the car), but if you hadn’t parked it so close to the rubbish bin when you pulled in, then it wouldn’t have happened.” It sounds like a three-year-old. I could give a thousand more examples.

Here’s a beautiful deep sky over Pig Island. I darkened it by shooting through my polarized sunglasses:

Pig Island sky

Here’s MadDog’s Seven Secrets for Successful New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. Resolve to change something significant. Don’t waste your years fixing trivial quirks.
  2. Choose a problem that you think that you have a good chance of fixing. If it seems too difficult, then choose something else. In the intervening year, continue to think about the more challenging problem and invent ways to tackle it the next year.
  3. Enter into the resolution fully committed to it; anything less guarantees failure.
  4. If you’re the praying kind, include your resolution in your prayers. If praying isn’t your thing, then commit yourself to a regular, frequent quiet time of introspection to consider your progress.
  5. From January 1st onwards, make it habitual (easier than you think) to stop and consider your response in every situation that bears on your resolution. Once this habit is in place, you’re more than half-way to success.
  6. Learn to chastise youself appropriately when you fail to live up to your own expectations for your behaviour. Guilt works fine for me. Flog yourself if necessary – this is serious stuff.
  7. No matter what, don’t give up.

Have you seen the new kind of kid’s blow-bubbles stuff that doesn’t pop? The bubbles last for a long time:

Long-lasting bubble

I’ll reveal to you my 2009 New Year’s Resolution:

I’m going to eliminate nasty and offensive expletives and euphemisms from my daily speech – including times when I’m angry or when there’s nobody around even to hear me (Those will be the difficult times to zip my lips!). I picked up the habit in the military and it’s been with me since. I’m tired of it. It makes me sound ignorant. It’s childish and I’m no longer a child. It’s time I stopped.

I’ll let you know how I’m getting along with that.

Happy New Year!

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Along Came a Spider

Posted in Mixed Nuts, Photography Tricks on November 12th, 2008 by MadDog
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Well, nothing has happened at all concerning moving Madang – Ples Bilong Mi to a new server. It turns out that I’m a complete incompetent. I did my best, but it’s not working. So, we’ll stay put for the time being until I can get somebody smarter to help me.

When I got up this morning, I truly thought the world had caught fire. I stepped into the lounge and ghastly red light was pouring through the front windows – never seen anything like it. I ran to the front of the house and looked out. The entire eastern sky was bright fiery red and it was raining hard.

I ran to get my camera and a towel. By the time I had reached the dock and started to shoot, the show was mostly over, but the sky was still a nice orange colour:Orange Sunrise
Being already wet, I stopped to take this shot:
Water drops on a banana leafNever pass up a chance to shoot water drops.

Next, I went over to my funny little hibiscus patch where there are always several different kinds of bees humming about.

This little fellow was oblivious to me. His tiny hind legs fat with pollen, he gobbled away. Notice the Rule of Thirds again (and on the sunrise shot). It worked beautifully on this shot: (it’s quite nice if you click to enlarge)A busy little bee demonstrating the Rule of Thirds
On my way back to the house, I noticed this small spider. He’s about half the size of a pencil eraser. He was a very cooperative subject, sitting quietly while I jostled the leaf trying to get the right angle. Or maybe he was simply frozen with terror:

Along Came a Spider
I know that I certainly would be. I like the way the light plays with his legs to make spidery looking shadows.

I ran the full-sized image of the little spider through Microsoft’s Photozoom site so that you can see his gorgeous hairy legs:

I wouldn’t stare at the detail for too long.

Other planets couldn’t have things much stranger than our good old Earth.

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