Moss Effect

Spring is officially here! We've had rains and warmer days and while out walking with my camera on Saturday afternoon I saw the moss has geared up for sexy time.

Mosses as you may or may not know reproduce sexually via spores not seeds There are male parts, antheridia, and female parts, archegonia. They can occur on the same plant but are most likely found on different plants. The antherozoids or sperm are motile, swimming using two theadlike tails and are chemically attracted to the archegonium where fertilisation occurs to create a zygote. It is then that the second phase of the moss reproductive cycle begins with the formation of the sporophyte or spore plant. An interesting fact is that the sporophyte grows out of the archegonium of the female plant by cell division and is effectively a parasite for this phase. The sporophytes have a distinct four-part structure comprised of a foot, a long erect stem called a seta with a capsule at the top which contains the maturing spores. A peaked hood called a calyptra sits atop the capsule. A single sporophyte may contain anywhere between four and one million spores depending on the individual species. It's the sporophyte structures that are prominent in these pictures ... these ones are about 15mm tall.

Not that I initially set out to craft a post on moss reproduction this morning but I thought it may ... you know ... add something to your experience if you knew vaguely what you were looking at. Besides I find it fascinating and it is Spring after all.

You may also notice I'm using a new gallery technique to disply the pictures ... like it? Do let me know :-)


Talk to the Hand

Outtakes in my recent quest for a new avatar...











Talk to the Hand...

For everyone who has been listening to me talking about winter and cold ... there's this thing called central heating ... it's nice ;-)

Winter Rains

It's tending toward late and I'm thinking I'll just quickly post this coz otherwise it won't happen until tomorrow night and ... and ...well here I am posting late again. These pictures are the result of one of those occasions when the plan doesn't go according to plan, but rather than fret that it's not, just going with wherever you end up. Yesterday was cold here with heavy rain cells moving through every hour or so. The temperature struggled in the single figures and the wind was extra bitey and fiercely strong. I had resolved that morning to go and continue my 'Deserted and decaying shopping centres' series but while driving to my destination I missed the expressway exit and found myself heading down toward the National Arboretum instead ... OK that's all right I thought ... I'll head up one of the hills ... might be a rainbow or something else up there ... what it was up there was bloody windy and freezing ... let's just say 'totally fresh' ... thank goodness for leather jackets! There was a cell moving in and I stayed out long enough to get hailed upon to capture this beauty of stormlight...



and another in darker processing moodiness



and a rainbow of course :-)


The winter rains ... they finally came ... this morning the mountains were all dusted in snow (apparently) I wasn't fool enough to go up for a second helping this morning ;-)


Wordless: A walk on the beach










Dried Bluebottle or Portuguese Man-O-War
Dried Bluebottle or Portuguese Man-O-War


Now here's a technique I've been wanting to try for a while ... starfield photography ... more specifically trying to capture the spiral arm of our galaxy better known as the Milky Way. Essentially I've been waiting for the opportunity to try out the high ISO sensor on the Nikon D600 but I have also been waiting for a couple of other variables first ... a suitably clear sky away from the most obvious light pollution being one ... living in the middle of even a small city like Canberra has kinda prevented that. An offer to spend this weekend past down at a quiet part of the New South Wales south coast seemed to tick all the boxes. This part of the coast is about two and a half hours drive from Canberra and it's a beautiful part of the world ... bays and beaches amongst rugged coastline. It was forecast to begin raining in Canberra but down at the coast it was extra clear. There was a waxing crescent moon but it wasn't in the sky for very long. We arrived at the house just after sunset and after it got a little darker I set up my camera, tripod and 20mm wide angle lens. I pointed it at the sky, cranked up the ISO setting to the camera's maximum (something ridiculous like ISO25,600!) and set a 20 second exposure and fired the shutter and this is essentially what appeared on the camera's display*...

Galactic spiral arm looking east from Malua Bay toward the South Pacific Ocean

I swore ... loudly. The sentiment being largely 'wow!' and I remember looking up at the sky in wonder before setting the next shot.

Then I went down to the beach...

Milky Way spiral arm looking east from Malua Bay ... from the beach this time :-)
Milky Way spiral arm looking east from Malua Bay ... from the beach this time :-)

I think the thing that amazed me most about these pictures was that I have lived every day with such a massive feature in the sky but have, up until the weekend only seen it in glimpses or as a milky haze across the night sky. I also wondered how I could possibly get my eyes augmented to this kind of sensitivity ... I'd likely get the ultraviolet and infra-red modules too if they available ;-)

Wandering back up toward the house I put the fisheye lens on for a greater than 180° field of view ... this one was a bit later after the arm had risen and I'd had a cpuple of glasses of wine and also after most folks had retired for the night and turned out their lights...

Fisheye capture of the spiral arm looking straight up
Fisheye capture of the spiral arm looking straight up

Back home again and processing these pictures accidentally converted the first picture to monochrome and I liked where it was pointing me so I went ahead and processed it monochrome too...


I think I like this version the best of all the starfields I captured ... what do you think?

*truth be told I tell a little fib ... this would be the third exposure after I'd dialled the ISO down to a more respectable setting (still ISO10,000) to reduce the noise.

Wordless: Up in the trees

Wordless - I have no words today...


Further Fog Chasing

Fog. Tuesday in Canberra was foggy. It was foggy all day ... actually that's not entirely true, I did see some rays from the setting sun on Mount Majura ... through a light mist though. The temperature struggled to a peak of 7C at about 4pm. The fog came back down shortly after sunset and so did the temperature. I decided then to get out amongst this evening for sure ... but not on my bicycle this time I thought. This time I'll go in style. I called my friend Ross. Ross with the Cadillac. I've taken pictures of his car several times. He is always after an excuse to give his car a run and offered numerous times to come pick me up and drive me places to take pictures. Yes, it's kind of ideal. Besides, it's too cold to go out riding tonight and then stand around for long exposures (and not just the photographic kind) :-)

Ross is late, like an hour late. It's half ten by the time he picks me up ... I'm yawning ... my daughter kept me awake most of the previous night with coughing and snurking nose. I maybe shouldn't have had the extra glass of wine while passing the time ... I'm feeling really like just crawling into my warm bed ... dark chocolate helps. Anyways, Ross arrives (you can hear the car coming for miles) and we set off.

The fog is really thick. Then I realise the car windscreen is really fogged up too ... at least Ross has a clear spot to see through to drive. We head to the War Memorial at the top of ANZAC Parade ... tonight's fog renders it a gigantic mausoleum, looming above. I like it but the bright floodlights at the base of the building are too bright for the dark beauty above and I leave that one for the memory or perhaps another expedition. We get back in the car and head down toward the lake. Walking across the bridge toward the Carillon we pass the love locks, which have been added to recently, and see the top of the carillon disappearing into the fog. Fog is an elusive phenomena ... this stuff was moving ever so slowly across the lake ... not only across but vertically too. From the western edge of Aspen Island is near unobstructed 270° view out over Lake Burley Griffin's Central Basin. In the time I'd taken to get set up (and wished I hadn't left my gloves in the car ... maybe 5 minutes) the fog had lifted enough to provide this view. For the technically minded it's a panorama stitched from 7 frames each exposed for 30 seconds. Clicking on the picture will (should) take you to a much higher resolution image which is quite fun to explore. It's only two and a half meg ... go on :-)

Looking northwest from Aspen Island over Central Basin. 11pm 2nd July 2013

Climbing back into the (warmer) car ... did I mention it was cold(?) ... we continued our way around the southern shore of the Lake, this time looking toward New Acton. That's where I took this this photo. It looks like twilight but it's a quarter past eleven on a winter's night. The lights from various parts of the city lights up the fog in a myriad colours and the two mintue exposure renders the lake surface into a stainless steel sheen. A light breeze sprang up about now and it was biting ... at least I remembered my gloves this time.

New Acton under fog. Canberra, 11:15pm 2nd July 2013

The sky changed colour from deep orange through blues and greens and whites in the time we stood there watching.

Back in the car and we head up to Belconnen in north Canberra ... when we get there ... no fog ... gone! Ross thjinks he know where to find some so we head over to the dark side of Lake Gininderra ... plenty of fog here ... how is it so localised? That's great but there's only one problem ... it's really dark and there's nothing to see. (I hear you now ... complain ... complain ... complain). There's a new housing development located nearby ... all straight lines and boxy. Last stop for the night...

Light fog in new development.


Somewhat sterile boxes

OK ... so the last two aren't strictly foggy photos but I wouldn't have seen them if I hadn't been out fog chasing and all. Have you been out chasing something recently?


I tried hard to take a picture this morning. The day was glorious ... one of those Canberra winter days where the air is still, there's not a cloud in the sky and the warmth of the sun balances the chill in the air. I love days like these. I wanted to take a photo (it does happen sometimes!) and so I packed my light camera bag with a couple of lenses and headed out on into the late morning on my bicycle. I'd heard there was a car concourse over on the lawns of Old Parliament House to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Leyland P-76 ... not that I'ver ever owned one or even aspired to ... my first car was an automatic Triumph 2000 MkII and being manufactured largely by Leyland replete with apalling quality control and ridiculously dodgy wiring I always felt a kind of sympathy for these ... they were known as lemons and I recall a house in my suburb when I was growing up that had six of these cars in various states of decay on the front lawn. My Triumph or 'Tilley' as I called her was my first venture into the world of seventies British automotive engineering ... I ended up trading her for beaten up but gorgeous brass body Canon New F-1 camera and a couple of lenses (did I ever mention I have a lens habit?) ... I miss that car, it's smell and the way it lurched underpowered into corners but I think I got the better deal ... after all I still have that camera and it still works as well as the day I received it.

There are some times I'm simply not interested in taking photos and wandering around the concourse this morning was one of those times. There were many gorgeous colours ... repetition of theme ... curly cables ... eccentric characters but it was all Meh! I had a bag of excellent photographic gear and I watched other people taking snapshots and with various cameras and mine stayed in my bag and I just lugged it around for the fun of it. It was funny I thought ... I'd come here with the express notion of taking some photos ... and now I'm here I find none of it inspiring ... at all ... so I simply sniffed the engines, remember my Tilley and get back on my bike and ride toward home. On the way I pass a bit of decay ... the old Police & Citizens Youth Club ... closed for years now ... and see a little something ... it's a busted fan set into a brick wall but it appeals to me ... the first thing today. Not enough to be arsed taking my camera out mind you but enough to snap it hastily with my phone to remind me to go back and take it properly... I continued on my searching way...


So I keep on riding toward home and I come through Haig Park in Turner ... a long avenue of trees ... I used to live in a house (now long redeveloped) directly opposite the western end of the park ... and I see the light. Here's where I'm supposed to be ... there's the photo I'm looking for ... I roll my eyes ... at least I got some exercise riding across the lake first up :-)

I had my oculus with me and it captured the scene perfectly ... it's spherical fashion refracting the vista into it's tidy and tiny world.



And ... just because I like you lots I took a picture of the setup ... I found a small fallen branch and stuck it into the soil to create something to rest the oculus upon ... that's bushcraft that is  ... lol :-)


And how about you? Do you ever grab your gear and go for a walk and leave the camera in your bag ... or take absolutely nothing except exercise? 

Los Chavos: Band Shoot

I had the pleasure of shooting 9-piece Latin/SKA band Los Chavos recently. Here is a selection of pictures from that shoot. They like their 'Day of the Dead' gear ... can you tell? ;-)

Incidentally, this is the band that inspired the production of this stuff.

6 lads on a shopping trolley ... what could possibly go wrong?
6 lads on a shopping trolley ... what could possibly go wrong?
6 lads on a shopping trolley ... what could possibly go wrong?
6 lads on a shopping trolley ... what could possibly go wrong?


6 lads on a shopping trolley ... what could possibly go wrong?
6 lads on a shopping trolley ... what could possibly go wrong?
6 lads on a shopping trolley ... what could possibly go wrong?

A quick post today ... things are busy here at Chez Geoff. I'm doing some art documentation for an artist ... more on that soon :-)

Cranes Tweaking My Hair

It's been a little while since I put myself in front of the camera ... all this playing with flowers and having all the gear set up ... well the art just kinda got out of hand. I don't recommend sucking on a gerbera ... they really taste quite foul but for the sake of a loony selfie why not!




This last one pretty much sums up where I am right now ... playfully surprised, speaking flowers and with cranes tweaking my hair ... there's gold and lots of fun too :-)

Thanks for coming along for the ride.

So lucky! You get three and not just one ;-)

Playing with flowers

I thought the other day 'it's been a while since I played with flowers' (as you do) and so I bought myself a bunch of my favourites ... gerberas. They're a member of the sunflower family Asteracae ... daisies really. There's something about them that does it for me ... they have myriad facets, they have symmetry and a range of colours ... they're as fun from beneath as they are beautiful on top. Put a water drop on them and there's fun and beauty for all. Here's a selection:







Do you have a favourite flower? Or a favourite thing to take pictures of? Or even just a favourite thing?

Do tell :-)

The Enchantress


From the water she rose
hands like whispering flame
a face in shadow
elsewhere perhaps
ripples spread circles
the enchantment begins

One of a series of pictures from a session in the Adelaide hills last year.

This is also the first time I've posted wholly using android on my new tablet. Lots to get used to but I think it will work :-)

Wordless: Autumn

Wordless: Autumn







Gone all Pop! The poster for Los Chavos

I did a shoot for 9-piece Latin band 'Los Chavos' a couple of weeks ago and have been busy processing them up. One of the parts of the commission (the kinda optional part) was to produce a poster for the band in the style Pop Art Cartoon by taking headshots of the band and reducing them effectively to solid colour paintings. I'd not tried it before but I knew it was possible so I agreed. I'd shot the headshots using the intense blue of our autumnal skies to make it easier to mask out later and replace it with whatever colour I chose.

When I first approached the task I thought 'It'll be easiest just to paint these in Photoshop using the original photo as a base.'. But then I'm not the greatest illustrator in the world and in effect I was afraid they wouldn't look any good (I'm sure I'm not alone on that front) so I went for what I thought was the safest option ... trialling and recording a series of actions incorporating various filters in Photoshop. The two main filters were 'Poster Edges' and 'Cutout' which I chose for their ability to effectively reduce the number of colours and tones I wanted in my final image. OK so after a couple of testy tweaky runs I passed all nine of the images through the action ... and? Well, the results weren't great, at least for most of the images. One worked really well, two others were alright and the remaining six were rubbish. I re-tweaked the processing and got a slightly better result: three out of the nine were now pretty close to where I wanted them to be ... that only left six (the same six as before!) still looking rubbish.


Hmmm ... there was always the painting option... so I began to paint. Not from scratch but using an intermediary layer created during the processing action. Using my editing tablet, I selected a hard brush, sampled colours as I went and well, painted! I was soon pretty caught up in the process and while each picture took a while (about 30 minutes each I guess) I was pretty bloody satisfied with the result. 



When I arranged all nine into the poster and coloured them up yellow, blue or red ... I literally said 'wow!'. I should note that I'm easily impressed with my own cleverness ;-)


The members of Los Chavos love it (and all the other non-painty ones which I'll post soon) so I think I've found another artform ... who'd a thunk it?