Blue Dusk – Red Dawn – White Thistle Down and More

Posted in Mixed Nuts on September 24th, 2009 by MadDog
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It was a gloomy evening when we arrived home late from the office last night. When I got out of the car, my right hand reached instinctively toward the Canon G9 that I keep in a holster on my belt in the back. I used to carry a Walther P38 9mm in the same location. The camera has proved much more useful:

Main wharf in Madang at duskThe stars around the bright lights are caused by the camera settings that I was using. Since I wanted the stars around the lights, I used the smallest lens opening I could get. You have to set the camera on manual to do these kinds of things, but sometimes it’s worth it. The small opening of the iris of the lens causes diffraction because it is not completely round. It’s made up of little leaves that move in and out to change the diameter of the opening. Each point where two leaves meet causes a ray of the star. You can tell how many leaves the iris on your camera has by counting the rays around a bright light. In this case, I know that my camera has a six leaf iris.

The big news in this part of the world is the spectacular dust storms in the general area of Sydney, Australia. The following image was happily filched from ABC News (That’s the AUSTRALIAN Broadcasting System, folks, not ABC in America):

Huge dust storm in Sydney (via ABC News)Imagine waking up in the morning and looking out your kitchen window to see that! I’d take a couple of valiums and pull the covers up over my head.

I promised white thistle down and I deliver what I promise, though sometimes a little tardily:

Thistle down

The little seeds have just come loose and are awaiting a breeze to carry them to their new homes. For the time being, they are hanging like Santa’s beard around the base of the fading blossom.

This bee was very busy and difficult to snap. It sorely underestimated my determination, however. This was the best of about fifty frames:

Highlands beeThe bees in the highlands seem skinier than our nice fat little buzzers on the coast. I suppose they are a different species.

This is very nearly what we used to call a Lady Bug when I was a kid:

Lady bug looking at meThe one above is having a good look at me. After a few seconds it decided it didn’t like what it saw and began to try to escape.

Why it never flew, I don’t know. It just kept running around on the same leaf while I kept snapping away:

Lady bug hurring home to save her burning childrenEvery time I see a Lady Bug I’m reminded of the horrible sayings and songs that adults deliver like sour medecine to children. Is it supposed to be good for us? I remember this little ditty from my youth:

Lady bug, lady bug
Fly away home.
Your house is on fire
And your children are burning.

Is this supposed to make kids feel good? Even the Itsy-bitsy Spider  seemed depressing to me. Up the spout, nearly drown going down, back up again . . . whew! Gives me the heebeejeebees.

I’ll finish up today with another shot of the Yonki Dam spillway:

Youki dam spillwayI liked the shot from a few days ago. This one has the same colours, but the effect of the camera angle makes it tell a completely different story.

Sometimes images are like new friends. They take a little time to grow on you.

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Chaos from the Land of the Unexpected

Posted in Mixed Nuts on September 19th, 2009 by MadDog
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Keeping with the theme of random images from yesterday (it seemed to work), Here is a nice little shot of the mangrove creek up at Blueblood. I came out much better than It expected, which is not unusual when using the Olympus SP-590UZ:
The mangrove creek at BluebloodThis next one looks like a panorama stitch, which would be nearly impossible with this scene. I wanted a very wide angle, so I put the camera down about 3 cm from the water (very carefully) and shot blind, since I could not see the image screen. I took about ten shots like that. This one came out the best. All I had to do then was crop it so that it looks like a panorama. Simple, eh?
Another shot of the Mangrove creek at BluebloodThe Olympus did a terrific job on this one. The sea was quite rough on the way back from Blueblood. I wanted to get the nice colours of the sky, with the dark sea, but I also wanted t get the water splashing up from the bow wake. I decided to try the Night+Portrait setting from the Scenes knob position. It’s meant for shooting pretty lights in the background (with a tripod, most likely, unless you want motion blur) and getting a correct flash exposure on subjects in the foreground. In this shot (the best of ten) I got a good exposure on the sky and water, even while the boat was bucking like a spanked mule, and I also got perfectly exposed and stopped water drops from the wake. Amazing!
Sky, sea, and spray on the way back from BluebloodIt’s too bad that most people don’t seem to read the manuals on these top of the line point and shoot cameras. The will do things that were technically impossible to do only a decade ago.

Here is another shot, though not as good as the last, showing the Night+Portrait mode. I was a little too far from Mike to use the image as it came from the camera, so I had to fiddle with it a bit. Unfortunately, the fiddling is all too obvious:Mike CassellStill, it’s an image that would be difficult to get if you did not have the special settings needed built right into the camera waiting for the touch of a button.

Since I have acquired somehow an obsession with spiders, I’ll throw a couple of the leggy little critters at you. These are both residents of Blueblood. This is Fred: Spider at Blueblood
And this is Ginger showing off by hanging upside-down:
Another Blueblood spiderSpiders. Can’t get enough of them these days. I wonder if it’s a dietary deficiency?

I’ll leave you with my image pick of the week. It’s one of those shots that, when I took it, I didn’t think it was going to be much. Then, as I started to play with it and listen, it began to shout at me. “Hey, look at ME! I should be in National whatchacallit magazine! Gimme a break, man”Yonki dam spillwayHard to ignore pleas such as that. So I fiddled with this shot of the spillway at Yonki Dam with the kids walking home from school. You know what?

I fell in love with it.

Spooky, eh?

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Highlands Panoramas

Posted in Mixed Nuts, On Tthe Road on September 11th, 2009 by MadDog
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I find that I must utilise my time machine to make sense of the last few days. I’m writing this on Sunday morning about my visit to the highlands. I drove up on Thursday, which is your Wednesday. I posted on Wednesday a post to be released on Thursday, so you wouldn’t know that I was gone. I was in the highlands on Friday (your Thursday) and posted nothing then or on Saturday. I was out diving on Saturday and far too lazy to drive to town afterwards. So now, I’m faking a Friday post on Sunday morning. Later, I’ll fake the Saturday post followed by a time-machine-unassisted post for Sunday, If I have time before lunch. Clear on that?

So, what does it look like up there?  Driving from Madang to Kainantu, the real beginning of the highlands as you come from Madang, would be a lovely experience were is not for the horrible roads. It’s 233 kilometres from Madang to Ukarumpa, near Kainantu. I’d guess that about 100 kilometres of that is not very nice (potholes) and of that, about 50 kliks is truly nasty.

When you’ve passed through the Ramu Valley and passed the little junction of Wara Ais (cold water), you hang a right and begin to climb into the highlands. At the top of the first range you go through Kassam Pass. Here’s a panorama from Kassam Pass looking back down on the Ramu Valley:

The Ramu Valley from Kassam Pass

Here is another view showing the twisty bunch of switchbacks that you’ve just traversed:

Twisting road down the Ramu Vally side of Kassam Pass

And here is another shot with a bit wider angle:

A view from Kassam Pass overlooking the Ramu Valley

And yet another with an even wider view:

Another view of the Ramu Valley from Kassam Pass

Bored yet? Okay, I’ll move on. The next place of interest is Youki Lake and the big hydro-electric dam which supplies power with dubious reliability to a wide area, including Madang. I’ll have some more shots later of Yonki Dam, but this one can’t wait. As I was snapping away, I noticed two schoolboys trudging up the 45° slope of the side of the spillway. It is about a thirty metre drop from where the boys are walking. When they got to the top, they were huffing and puffing, something that is rare to hear from a young Papuaniuginian. They are very tough people:

Schoolboys walking home on the edge of Yonki Dam

If you want to get an idea of the scale, look at the little black dot at the bottom of the spillway on the right. That’s a person standing there.

After passing the dam, you begin another long climb to Kainantu. Here is a shot looking back toward Yonki Lake from the road climbing into the clouds. Kassam Pass is on the other side of the lake:

A view of Yonki Lake from the Highlands Highway

It is about here that my allergies being to kick in. This trip was not bad at all. Usually, I am fully plugged up by this point. I guess the weather was favourable. Here is another shot of Yonki Lake:

Another view of Yonki Lake

Over the next few days I’ll have more images from our two day trip. The bosses were pleased with the results of the meeting, so I don’t feel so bad about my numb hands.

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