Hamilton – Too Much Water

Posted in On Tthe Road on May 21st, 2011 by MadDog
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A curious combination of laziness and furious activity has once again kept me off the air for a few days. The brief stay in Janesville, Wisconsin did not produce any interesting images. Now that I’m in Hamilton, Ontario I have either been freezing in my room or venturing outside occasionally when the weather permitted. Nothing happening, nothing to take pictures of, nothing to report. I’ve decided to escape from Canada a week early for my journey to Sedona, Arizona. When there I will probably complain of being too hot. Never mind . . .

A couple of days ago I did go out in the bleak countryside with my friend, Ron Barrons, to try to grab some waterfall shots. The images are miserable. The sky was a uniform bright grey. Maybe some photographers can make pretty pictures with that light, but I am not in that club. On top of that there was way too much water coming over the falls. While it may seem that is a good thing, it is not. Too much water does not make a nice picture of a waterfall.

Ron got this shot of me in the woods on the Bruce Trail with his Nikon:

I’m not as unhappy as I appear to be.

Here is my shot of Webster’s Falls. After working with it for much more time than I usually spend on an image I finally gave up in disgust. I can’t think of anything to do with the flat lighting which makes it any better. The only good thing I can say about it is that it does look pretty much the way my eyes saw it – listless, desultory:

This is Tiffany Falls. It is no better:

The Niagara Escarpment gives rise to the huge number of waterfalls in the area, including Niagara Falls. In this shot you can see a tiny sample of the kind of cliffs which are characteristic of the area.:

The area is relatively undisturbed. Canada always seems so clean to me. Canadians are very reluctant to make a mess. I saw absolutely no litter:

Always on the lookout for the visually stimulating, I found several of these hairy infant plants sprouting up from the rocky soil:

For some strange reason they are bright red and covered by fuzz when they are youngsters. Later on they turn green and lose their fur. You can see a more mature specimen in the upper left corner.

In this shot I used the aperture priority mode and set the opening at ƒ8 to get the maximum depth of field. The scene is in focus from a few inches to nearly infinity. This allows the red footbridge in the distance to be seen clearly:

Here is a macro shot of a millipede:

This is a Jack in the Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum):

It is a very common plant in the area. In this shot you can see the blurry image of the waterfall in the background.

These images were taken a couple of days ago. Yesterday I trekked into Toronto for a day-trip. I had a bit of an adventure. I’ll be telling about it later. Today the sun is out for the first time since I came to North America.

Today I’m going to Niagara Falls. I hope the sun continues to shine.

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Fortune Favours the Bold

Posted in Mixed Nuts on November 14th, 2010 by MadDog
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The hardest part of writing this post will be making it short enough to be readable. I seem to be full of words tonight. See, I’m rambling already. I watched The Postman  a few nights ago. The megalomaniacal general had a great line, which is by no means original. “Fortune favours the bold”, he said. I’m a big fan of Movie Wisdom, so I was powerfully drawn for a while by the seduction of an improved life situation by simply stepping up to the plate and spitting in the general direction of the pitcher. Though I don’t believe in a key principle of the ancient saying, I now find myself in a world in which a bolder, less timid and fearful approach may possibly serve me well. Perhaps I should explain. (Maybe you should get a cup of coffee. This will take a while.)

The key principle to which I do not subscribe is the concept of fortune itself, or as I will describe it here, luck. I can state with no fear of successful contradiction that there is no such thing as luck. If you think that you are lucky, or unlucky for that matter, you are deluded. I can hear the howls of protest clear over here in Paradise. Possibly a thought experiment is in order.

Suppose I flip a coin five times and it comes up each time heads. We might scratch our  heads, eh? Five times in a row it’s heads? It seems unlikely. But, we have to admit that it’s possible. Now suppose that I propose a bet. I will bet you that the next flip will be heads. Would you take tails at even odds? What if I sweetened up the bet for you? I put one of something on the table (call it a Dollar or whatever, just to make it interesting) and you put two and I let you choose tails. Some people at this point might be thinking, “Take the bet. It’s got to be tails, since it’s come up heads five times in a row.” Some people would be dead wrong. It’s a sucker bet. The next flip of the coin has exactly one chance in two of coming up tails, or heads, for that matter. My expected return on the bet is greater than yours, since the probability of either of us winning is actually the same and you put two dollars on the table. In fact it doesn’t make any difference at all if the coin came up heads five times or ten times or a hundred or a million times (however unlikely that might be) in a row as heads; the next flip still has only a fifty-fifty chance of being tails.

I’m sure that you wouldn’t take the bet anyway. You don’t believe in luck either. You’re too smart for that.

Hey, I’m not making this up. Now let’s take that and extrapolate it to the general concept of luck. It doesn’t take much imagination to do so. Upon examination, the idea of luck disappears in a puff of fairy dust. Lucky numbers in the lottery – posh! Nonsense. Bad luck – no such thing; good luck – the same. Probability is computable, but inexact. One can predict outcomes only within calculated ranges – some outcomes more likely than others. Some will win. Some will lose. Nothing can predict who with any certainty more than the formulas provide. More importantly, there is no mystery force which changes the outcome of future events based on outcomes in the past. Artillery shells do sometimes fall into an existing crater. Lighting does occasionally strike twice.

Okay, so “Fortune Favours the Bold” doesn’t seem so true, huh? At least not if we think of fortune as lucky outcomes.

All that was a red herring. I’m not here wasting your valuable time today to blather on about luck. I want to talk about being bold.

What if we take that old phrase and gently massage it until it mellows into something we can reason with. How about if we say, “Good outcomes tend to be achieved by those who are prudent, but not overly cautious.” Or maybe, “One might be better served by being less fearful so that clear, rational thinking can be the basis of decision making.” Well, now we are getting to an approach that does not depend on the clearly false idea of luck to succeed.

So, the question I am pondering is:  How do I overcome the paralysis of fear? I want good outcomes, but I can’t put my trust in luck. I haven’t been lucky lately. (Wait for it – the humour is coming.) Yet the saying pulls me powerfully to its promise of reward. It seems so true. Maybe if I were a bit bolder, things might go better for me. Why? How could this be.

Why the answer has been so long coming to me is puzzling. I’ve been putting my trust in the wrong place. When what felt like the foundation of all of my comfort, security and welfare was jerked from beneath me, I fell into a dungeon of terror. All of the minor uncertainties of life from which I was formerly protected by a partnership as bullet-proof as a tank suddenly became gigantic threats, each one magnified by grief, stress and depression.

I try to avoid getting all religious on you, dear readers, because I know that I’m speaking to a very broad audience and that is not the purpose of this journal anyway. However, there is no other way to put it. I now need to put all my trust where it belongs. My wife is not my security, my source of welfare and comfort any longer. If fact, if I’m honest, Eunie never was. Oh, she was only to happy to be that for me, but she could not. Not really, no matter how much she wanted to be.

I’ve talked this over with some very switched-on, caring people whose opinions I trust. They tell me not to beat myself up over this. Many people who enjoy such intense, Vulcan Mind Meld relationships such as Eunie and I shared for nearly half a century fall into a dependence that is both understandable and, to a great extent, unavoidable. In fact, this kind of implicit trust, interdependence and division of labour is a major source of the synergistic power of such relationships. Together, we added up to more than two. So, I don’t feel so bad that I let that take over. It was a great ride and we accomplished much more than we ever dreamed we would. I’m infinitely sad that it’s over, but I need to compartmentalise that sadness.

Now I need to get my functionality back. I can’t do that if I can’t think clearly and rationally about problems. If I allow my doubts and fears to control my decisions, I’m not going to get anywhere. I can reduce this impediment by remembering my ultimate source of security. It’s not money. It’s not things. It’s not my abilities. It’s not my friends. It’s my Creator, my Father. It’s God.

Boldness is the exercise of one’s beliefs accompanied by a certainty that positive and well considered actions will produce desirable outcomes. Timidity and fear are not compatible with confidence and trust. I need to act in accordance with my beliefs, my world view, if you please. I either trust or I do not. If I do not, then I must fall back on my own resources, which have already proven inadequate to deal with present circumstances.

Okay, I lost a few of you there, but that’s okay. I’m not here to preach. This is an intensely personal experience which I am telling you about. That’s all. You can take it for what you will. Hopefully, someone will dig it.

Now for some nice, self-deprecating humour.

It is fiendishly difficult to find images to go with such a post. I couldn’t find any pictures of myself being bold. I found that rather odd. Oh, well. I can do what I usually do – fake it. All of these images have appeared on MPBM before, just not in the same post. So, move along folks; there’s nothing here to see.

Here is one of my favourite shots of me faking boldness. It’s from I Take the Big Plunge:

Actually, I wasn’t scared at any time. I spent so much time flying helicopters or sitting in the door with my legs dangling in the air that it didn’t worry me at all. The only thing that did frighten me a little was what Eunie would say when she saw the pictures. I didn’t tell her that I was going to do it. That was stupid, not bold.

It was one of the most thoroughly enjoyable experiences of my long and strangely wayward life. I highly recommend it. If I can get to Australia again someday, I’m going to take lessons with Ali and Dave in Toogoolawah. I have a standing invitation.

Okay, I give it to you. This is not bold according to the definition we’re using. It’s dumb. It’s from Why Ron and Eunie Were Nervous:

It did produce a nice “silky water” shot of Tew’s Falls in Hamilton, Ontario:

That one is from Silky Water – Hamilton’s Waterfalls.

While we’re on waterfalls, here I am boldly luxuriating in a jungle pool:

I call this my “Tarzan” shot. Aaaahhh eeeeee aaaaahhhh eeeee AAAAAHHHHH . . .

Getting there was the bold bit, for an old dude, anyway:

If memory serves me, it was about an eight hour slog up and down heavily jungled mountains which made my knees scream. Both of these shots are from I Go Bush.

The last three here are completely off the wall and are excellent examples of narcissism gone wild in a world where faking it can get you anything you want. You’ve seen a kaleidoscope image of this character recently. Getting this close to a Pseudobalistes flavimarginatus  is considered, with good reason, risky. Risky is not the same as bold:

Even the name is scary, eh? It’s a Yellowmargin Triggerfish. It will try to eat you if you hold still enough. This one is from The Beauty and the Beast.

Okay, this is crossing over into the stupid category. Check the teeth. Do not try this at home:

That one is from Sharks, Schmarks – Triggerfish are the Demons.

Just to show that I’ve not gone all Rambo now that I’ve taken boldness to heart, I’ll demonstrate my tenderness and sensitivity by showing you this lovely fake watercolour of The Fish Which Tried to Eat Me:

As the old mantra for crazy people goes, “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better.”

Gute Nacht.

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Guest Shots – Trevor Hattersley and Ron Barrons

Posted in Guest Shots on October 21st, 2009 by MadDog
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I very much enjoy featuring images sent to me by my friends on Madang – Ples Bilong Mi.  Unfortunately, few friends send me samples of their work. I’m pestering a few of them to do so, but shyness seems to interfere. If you are a regular reader of this journal and you have images that you think will be appreciated by our audience, then please feel free to email them to me. Work them over until you are happy with them and send 1600 pixel (longest dimension) JPG images that are between 200 and 300 Kilobytes. Include some text describing the images and I will include that also. I’ve featured Trevor Hattersley’s images before here and here. Heidi Majano has also had a guest appearance.

Don’t be shy. Have a try.

We’ll start with a couple of shots from Trevor Hattersley. He’s been a keen amateur as long as I’ve known him, probably about twenty years. He recently purchased from me a spare (ordered two by mistake from Amazon) Olympus SP-590UZ superzoom camera and has been diligently learning to use it feature-by-feature. Up at Blueblood a couple of weeks ago he was playing with macro shots and came up with two very nice fungi:Bracket Fungi by Trevor HattersleyThis one of Bracket Fungi has very accurate colours, perfect focus and nice composition. A shot that anyone should be proud to display.

Here’s another fungi shot by Trevor:Mushroom-form fungi by Trevor HattersleyAgain, we have interesting and accurate colours, good composition, fine focus (click to enlarge) and a generally interesting and aesthetic image. Well done, mate! I was happy to see that Trevor resisted the urge to use flash on these shots. They are very natural looking – just the way that your eyes see them.

Now let’s move to another friend a world away. Ron Barrons hails from Hamilton, Ontario in Canada. He’s a very experienced and knowledgeable photographer with a good pair of hiking boots. Since Hamilton is the Waterfall Capital of the World, it’s not surprising that Ron has a plethora of beautiful images of water tumbling over rocks. The Niagara Escarpment is responsible for this cornucopia of waterfalls, something for which local photographers are eternally grateful.

Here is a beautiful shot of Grindstone Falls:Grindstone Falls by Ron Barrons

This one is of the cascade below the falls:Grindstone Falls Cascade by Ron BarronsRon has the “silky water” technique down pat. This requires a tripod, a neutral density filter to cut down the amount of light coming in through the lens, and long exposure times. The result is that the water takes on a very fluid and smooth look which intensifies the appearance of flow. You can see some of my Hamilton Waterfalls and our adventures in waterfall country here, here and here.

Ron is not a one-trick-pony. He sent several gorgeous Canadian Autumn shots taken from the heights around the Niagara Escarpment. This one is a beaut:

Canadian Autumn by Ron BarronsHere is another, looking up at the escarpment itself:A Canadian Autumn at the Niagara Esarpment by Ron Barrons

I could not resist the urge to try making a watercolour of one of Ron’s beautiful shots. This one is of Rattlesnake Ridge:Rattlesnake Point by Ron Barrons - Watercolour Rendition by MadDogYou will need to click to enlarge to see the full watercolour effect. Ron was kind enough to allow me to modify his work and publish it here.

I know that many of my readers must be serious hobby photographers. Please send me images that move you and allow me to showcase your work here.

I’m not fooling around. I mean it.

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Why Ron and Eunie Were Nervous

Posted in Humor, On Tthe Road on May 21st, 2009 by MadDog
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Cute little short posts aren’t my style, but I must show you this shot taken yesterday by our friend Ron Barrons while we were out waterfall hunting. Ron and Eunie remarked to me (more like a complaint) that they wished that I’d stay on the paths. I didn’t know why they were so concerned until I saw this:MadDog on the Edge! - Photo by Ron BarronsI’m standing a half metre from a fifty metre drop striaght down. I was being careful, because I’m not a complete idiot. Also it didn’t seem nearly as scary to me as it did to Ron and Eunie. I did remind myself several times that if my tripod and camera went tumbling over the edge, it would not be wise to grab for it.

At one point I heard Ron remarking rather too loudly that some kid had been snatched up out of the bottom after he jumped to catch a frisbee. I though to myself, “Hey, I’m not that stupid.”

Or am I?

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Silky Water – Hamilton’s Waterfalls

Posted in On Tthe Road, Photography Tricks on May 20th, 2009 by MadDog
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We finally got a day when it was warm enough to go outside without my fingers locking up. We borrowed our son’s car and headed off with our friend Ron, a walking encyclopaedia concerning the Hamilton area, and went off in search of a few of Hamilton’s approximately 100 waterfalls.

The first one that we hit was Webster’s Falls:

Webster Falls - Hamilton, Ontario

Surprisingly, it’s not easy to get into a good position to photograph many of the falls. That is because the surrounding areas have not been decimated for the sake of the convenience of visitors. Most of the ones we visited required only modest hiking to see them, but getting into an ideal position for photography was not so easy. Finally, I was warned by Eunie and Ron to stay on the paths, because I was making them nervous.

I didn’t record the name of this one. I think I’ll call it “Hairy Dog Falls”:

Some waterfall in Hamilton, Ontario
You may wonder why the water looks silky. I used a common technique for slowing the shutter speed to more than two seconds so that the moving water looks blurred while the surrounding detail remains sharp. It involves shooting through a dark grey bit of glass, called a neutral density filter, to cut down the amount of light going through the lens. Since there is less light, the shutter of the camera must be held open for a longer time, therefore the moving water streams and drops blend into a smooth, pleasing veil. Of course, that’s not how waterfalls really look, but it is an interesting effect.

Here is Tew’s Falls, the one that I like best:

Tew's Falls - Hamilton, Ontario
Sherman Falls is also very pretty:
Sherman Falls - Hamilton, Ontario
Grindstone falls is difficult to get close to without getting your feet wet. I didn’t want to soak my new boots, so I settled for this long shot up the little cascade:
Grindstone Falls - Hamilton, Ontario
I think that I’ll pass on the rest of the hundred waterfalls. We’re leaving in a few days and I haven’t seen the Botanical Gardens nor the Royal Ontairo Museum yet.

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