30 June 2011


In preparation for a camping trip, destination unknown, I obtained a 16GB Compact Flash card and spare battery for my camera. It has been hard to avoid the hankering to upgrade from my Canon 40D to the 7D or 5D Mk2s, but I can't afford either.

If I upgrade to a cheaper 60D, which is in the same realm as my camera, but three years or so renewed, then my media cards are not compatible, nor my batteries.

The 7D and 5D take different batteries to the 40D, but both use the same cards I have.

For the full frame sensor, I will have to wait and buy a 5D Mark3s. It will also have cool video capability. Using the depth of field will be fun with my lenses. Allegedly, they should have got round to improving the nodel's focusing system too at that point, but as I have never used one I can not tell for sure.

What I did find during my interminable organising and tidying ...it would be so much easier to live in a barn... was my trusty-German-made-Voitglander-Leica-knock-off-top-quality-rangefinder. It is really quite loud for a rangefinder, but obviously there is no sound of a mirror dropping down. It is technology that makes sense and quite craftily crafted. So there I have a 15mm lense too which is super wide screen or angle to be more precise. It takes film of course. The gun-mrtal-grey Bessa R2a.

Depending on how I go with the roll of 100ISO I am putting through, I may sell it to some conossseiurs of this sort of thing. It took a while to work out how to use it, but then Ken Rockwell provided the following reassurance about focussing:

There is a small focus ring.

It does not couple to the rangefinder, but that's because you don't need it to.

The depth-of-field is so huge that you can guess, and if you don't want to bother, just set it to 6 feet (2 meters) and you can shoot forever and everything will be just perfect.

It would be nice if it has click-stops at 0.5m, 1m and 2m, which would let me focus by feel for any subject, but it doesn't.

Focus is smooth and well damped.

Its focus feels just like my Leica lenses, except that it has no finger lever. This is just as well, because this 15mm is a lens I set and forget.

My lens shown here has meters marked in white and feet in red. Newer versions seem to be marked only in meters.

Mine has markings in feet and metres. I wish I had kept the cute box that it came in, especially if it is going to be sold. Also, have the 40mm F1.4 lens, but that is not such an exciting angle for me, but must remember to check the bokeh it produces on this roll of film.

Make do with what you have.

There is lots to remember on a completely manual camera. (It does have an inbuilt light-meter.) The first thing to remember is to take the lens-cap off. Work out a protocol for that and the winding plus locking of the shutter-button to avoid taking photos acidentally.

Voitglander have been making cameras since 1756 it says on the back. But you never know with these old family-owned companies, maybe they sold the trade name and had a gap in production. It is definitely a piece of machinery with the tinkers spell. And it would not look out of a place on a World War II tank commander's neck. Which is so hot right now.

Ken Rockwell advice on using ultra-wide lenses
: Get in close, jump into the middle of the subject, they are not for fitting everything in, but pay attention to the edges of the frame. Look for the angle, in other words use the viewfinder properly. After reading the rest of the article, I totally want to get a Canon 16-35mm F2.8L II for my future full frame sensor camera, but I don't even want to know how much that costs!

Putting a bit more conscious effort into an activity is always a good idea. The activity in this case is composition. There is also the patience aspect of working with film too.


Detail form of sphagnum moss from O'Connor Ridge Nature Park.


It was J.J. Dilenius who in 1741 first recorded the word sphagnum in his Historia Muscorum, when he wrote on page 240, "The larger soft and hollow-leaf'd Bog Sphagnum."

29 June 2011

O'Connor Ridge Nature Park

The super-abundant and dominant ground cover in O'Connor Ridge Nature Park.

28 June 2011

Casuarina equisetifolia

Braddon, ACT

Fruits as previously photographed. Scan. With unidentified suspended egg from leaf upside down.

Food, Glorious Food

As Oliver cried...

There was a great difficulty in approaching sleep as I explored the world around me last night. A friend told me that the soldiers at Stalingrad had to seriously up their calorific intake to cope with the intense, bitter cold and lack of sleep. In fact, the starving populace of that city under seige had recourse to boiling book bindings for stew, old knackers glue went into their spines. Not a single branch remained on any single tree within the winter city, all for warmth the waood was burnt. Lately, I have been conscious that I need to eat more protein, but I forgot to put tofu in the recipe that I made for lunch. Salad recipe to follow, Aztec Asian.

I have chosen to become vegetarian again. The right path was confirmed when I wandered through Belconnen Market during dry set-up and the butcher was keen to chat. Belconnen Market is only properly open on certain days of the week, namely.... The car parking there is absoltely appalling, given what it must be like when the place is really busy. The butcher told me he was going to become vegetarian once he sold his store and his wife was vegetarian already. I could not help but humour and pine upon the enduring appeal of bacon. He confirmed that mud would taste good if you wrapped it in bacon, but could only offer honey and not even eggs. There are five butchers at Belconnen Markets. Go figure.

The butcher did suggest having a mouthful of the finest steak periodically. This is what I imagine people pay top dollar for at the world's most famous restaurants. A mouthful of this and that. Overrated?

So my chiropracter's advice was to use my siesta to undertake inversion straight after dropping a B Complex. This is one of the ways of coping with not getting enough sleep, or in fact, therefore, getting enough sleep. Discussing Stalingrad with him produced this remedy.

Soba Noodles

One bundle of Japanese noodle.
Four minutes in boiling water.
Strain. Rinse in cold water.
Would benefit from gentle spin in pappered lettuce spinner if available.

Mix juice of very ripe lime, mellowed to the colour of a lemon with but a wisp of pith remaining. Remember this fruit managed to last long enough in the holds of ocean ships to prevent scurvy as those men old sailed the ocean bold. Vitamin C.
Sweet chilli sauce.
Sesame oil.
Natural Peanut Butter how you like it.
Shake it up baby.

Dice avocado and mix with sauce and noodle.

If you have a food processer try mixing the avocado with the sauce in that. This would make an awesome dip.

Dice anything and everything you like with this salad, cucumber, tomato, lettuce, rocket, baby spinach or matchstick carrot. Anything and everything except fruit. Remember to add the tofu, a firm chewy pre-seasoned textrued one, in pieces. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top, add salt if you like. Lemon juice is fine if you have not lime.

Also, the magic iced tea tastes absolutely awesome over ice cubes and frozen raspberries. They go all soft and fresh and exploding. Big ripe juicy raspberries. Yes please.

For breakfast a shake make of:

Soy Milk
Chocolate Protein Powder
Alkalising Greens
Praise the Lord

Potential additions endless, certainly banana when our crop has recovered from the whirling winds of Cyclone Yassi and their price has dropped. The price of bananas should reduce, but new trees will not be mature until mid-late Spring 2012 I believe, if ideal growing conditions are present and prevail from the time of planting. Sunflowerseeds, diced cranberry, maybe some other nuts, or unsulphered apricots that have been rough chopped. The more serious your blender the better if you are going to add nuts.

This was my protein solution and is a good place to slip vitamins, such as Vitamin C powder, which can be upsetting on an empty stomach. Assuming the ship is out of lime. Well, I have found a good use for frozen lime juice now. Cubes, everything can go in cubes. Fresh orange juice with raspberries, but how can you layer ice or combine things at different temperatures while trying to maintain their separativity. The tempperature of the different substances will always approach a mean between the two as it constantly drops to freezing point again. Pineapple and mint ice cubes, orange juice and strawberry.

Stay tuned for the teriffic tale of onion jam, now we are going back to the trees, by which soon will be seen what I mean.

27 June 2011


Magic Iced Tea

Generous amount of Botanica by T2 (it's dried fruit pieces)
Some Liquorice Legs by T2
The ratio is about 4 to 1, Botanica first.
Same again in total as much of dried sweetened cranberries


Add your favourite honey, mild gold colour, not dark.


Plummy Surprise

In your most beautiful glass place:

One scoop of Connoseiur Caramel Honey Macadamia Ice Cream
One whole plum from Goulburn Valley (comes in juice - add a bit of it too)
Top with half a chopped up 50g block of Whittaker's Bittersweet Peanut Slab

Eat - under one dollar a serve!

25 June 2011


Now commences my long service leave. I do not have to return to work until January 2012. This is certainly the longest time I have had without any work commitments since I was a wayward youth of 18 or so on the unemployment benefit.

Right now I am actually on the road with Claire to Jindera for a performance of the Strange Weather Gospel Choir. This morning though, before throwing a few things in my bag for the overnight trip, I took a few photos in the park next to my house. There is not a lot there, a stretch of grass, some gums, bushes and a fair strand of Casuarina equisetifolia. It is an average Australian suburban park.

The slumbering grass growing in the umbra of the trees was well-frosted, awaiting the arc of the sun's light to fully awaken. I squatted and struggled to maintain the focus of my macro lenses on the kingdom of ice crystals surrounding me. I felt dissatisfied with the shots I took and walked in closer to the trees.

There I thrilled to discover a world of bursting fruits, insectile activity and clinging dew. My feeling was that I could easily spend a day in the company of just one tree studying its moods. Thoreau it was who learnt the great lessons of nature at Walden by virtue of keeping patient company with the woods and watching the seasons pass.

According to Wikipedia, "the fruit is an oval woody structure 10–24 mm long and 9–13 mm in diameter, superficially resembling a Conifer cone and made up of numerous carpels each containing a single seed with a small wing 6–8 mm long."

Click twice on the picture above to see amazing little spikes on the legs of the inverterbrate. I will find out what they are. You can see something quite similar on the legs of the jumping spider below. It took a lot of guts to take that picture.

These spiders has been known to jump up to 50 times their own body length by suddenly increasing the blood pressure in their third or fourth pair of legs. Widely distributed across North America, this spider is only 2cm in length, but this makes their terrific launching power no less alarming.

Source: Phidippus Audax @ Wikipedia.

Phidippides the audacious, bold, corageous, daring and intrepid runner who in 490 BC ran from Athens to Sparta to beseech aid for the Battle of Marathon. According to Herodotus, as quoted in the Oxford Dictionary of the Classical World, Pan imagined a religion for himself in conversation with Phidippides along the way. (Also, Chambers Murray Latin-English Dictionary).

The entomon in question seems to resemble in some way the forms at the top and bottom right of this picture by Haeckel in his Meisterwerk Kunstformen der Natur:

All this I record by way of saying I would be a fool to find myself bored in the coming months. No matter how my nascent travel plans manifest, everywhere is a world of wonder and beauty.

Quotes from Thoreau are coming, when soon I read him early one morning by a lake, or wandering with camera in frozen wood. Or on a chair if I am lucky.

23 June 2011


Probably one month or so ago, an old friend rang to tell me that our mutual friend Pranavanta had died. It was not a great surprise to hear the news, as I had heard that he was ill quite a while ago.

Read Pranavanta's Obituary in the Sydney Morning Herald.

The surprising, or really not so surprising coincidence, was that very close to the time of his passing, I had the inspiration to show a friend the blog I wrote about Pranavanta and his art. It is lucky that I was able to take the photos I did and hopefully I have others somewhere. I do have a mission to visit and view the altar that is pictured in the newspaper article linked above and hopefully I can take some pictures.

After reading the obituary and another tribute to Pranavanta, a few memories appeared. I remembered when he showed me around his studio, explaining the principles and theory he used to compose some of his paintings. Suddenly, I could see the subtler realms of colour and the interplay of light he was talking about. His intention had created an opening for cosmic energy and pure otherworldly pastel hues were gently nudging his canvas.

I never did get round to asking if I could buy one of his paintings, as I imagined it would be thousands of dollars. Inscribed at the bottom of the picture that so captured my fancy, I think it says 1996-2003. Although not plainly a continuous effort, that represents nine years of dedication to capture a vision and must in some way mirror the evolution of his own consciousness during that period.

The ability of art and creation to reflect and embody consciousness is power, wonder and beauty. To that extent, all art is great, a miracle portion of Infinity as you will, but Pranavanta was an artist who reached for the Source and this makes his work not only great, but good.

Now I remember how we stood for half an hour or so in front of the landscape that was presently occupying him and amidst much discussion he blended paints and applied a single stroke or two of an entirely new colour. He was so casual, yet there was so much certainty and dedication in his effort. It takes a lifetime of practise and each and every lifetime is a practise.

In the front of my copy of his lauded book -may it find a publisher soon- he wrote to me, "...may your artistic revelations be fruitful ones...".


15 June 2011

For my love of coniferophyta, I cut down a privet that was rather aggressively abutting a pine tree in Haig Park. The privet was just beginning to fruit. I went to the trouble of getting a permit signed by Bentley Hughes Aitchinson Esquire IV (who can not spell very well). This was a challenge on a public holiday and it cost me 3s6d. I was most dissapointed that nobody asked to see my license for operating a hand saw.

What it is in the pine that calls to me so strongly I can not confirm, but I love to photograph them. A good description of pines was written by John Worscestor in the late nineteenth century:

The pines, therefore, represent the principles of personal independence and the right of seclusion, in regard to natural, mental, and spiritual possessions. They are principles which, among Northern nations at least, are of all principles most vehemently defended. They are the principles which brought our forefathers across the ocean to enjoy the freedom of the New England forests; and which they expressed, more exactly than they intended, by stamping the figure of a pine tree upon their first-coined shillings. Probably a like association, with only a dim perception of its meaning, made a pine tree the banner of a Scottish clan. The Greeks worshipped Poseidon, called by the Romans “Neptune,” as the “ruler of the sea, and as the first to train and employ horses” (Murray, p. 62). His temple stood in a pine grove, upon the Isthmus of Corinth, and the prize of the Isthmian games, celebrated in his honor, was a wreath of pine; apparently as a sign of independence of thought.

There is an undeniable sense of gloom in pine woods, which characterizes also an excess of personal independence; and, on the other hand, there is a restfulness in their solitude, which represents the enjoyment of needful seclusion. As the resin of the sap, so inflammable and hot, represents the zeal which enters into the idea of independence, the sugar which often accompanies it represents the natural sweetness of the same. The edible seeds of some species represent the duty of attaining and securing some kinds of independence. But as this is a serious duty only in relation to matters of conscience and religion, a few of the nobler pines only have seeds which are of any importance as food. The habit of the pines of dropping their lower branches as they grow older, and, except in a few poorer species, never sending up new shoots from the stump, represents the usual decrease of care for matters of external independence as we mature, and the transfer of the sensitiveness to matters of conscience and of interior life. That the wood of the tree with such a representation should be easily wrought into boxes, doors, clapboards, shingles, and many forms of protection and seclusion, seems perfectly natural. The name “pine,” as it occurs in our English Bible, is probably a mistranslation, and the pine does not seem to be really mentioned in the Word, unless it is included in the most general sense of the cedar; which is not unlikely, as it is a conspicuous evergreen upon Mount Lebanon, and is nearly akin to the cedar both spiritually and naturally.

Worcestor wrote a Bible dictionary dedicated to animal definitions, therefore Bacchus does not rate a mention.

The photo is a female strobilus as can be read from the life-cycle of a pine. More to follow on strobili.

06 June 2011

Winter's Walk

As a kid, I thought there was a "real" first day of every season which was only visible to those who were open and perceptive enough to see it. The appearance of hundreds of baby spiders would herald a transition between seasons, among several other magical events, such as mushroom circles sprung up overnight or the first crystalline frost. I would spot them on my walk to school, newly hatched from so many eggs and sent out on the breeze, strewn between the branches of trees, webs glinting in sunlight.


A vague regret that I did not have a macro lens on my camera on the morning of 3 June 2011 haunts me still. I can only assume that the sum membership of the order Araneae presently living in Canberra will not spontaneously migrate interstate or evolve another pair of legs and lose their power of spinnerets before fog next visits the inner north.

Fingertips of trees
Covered with orbs of dew.

Cobwebs turned into
jewel bedecked and
bestrewn parachutes.

A sideline in metereology would be handy at this point, because the ability to reliably predict the manifestation of fog would be optimal. Fog forms when the difference between the temperature and the dew point is generally less than 2.5C. Dew point it turns out is the temperature to which a given parcel of humid air must be cooled, at constant barometric pressure, for water vapor to condense into water. The condensed water is called dew.

This was gleaned from wikipedia, but given fog is not renowned for having an inimical affect on the tempremant of farmers or such it is not heavily featured at the Bureau of Metereology's website. The latest weather observations for Canberra are now my friend.

PS Just be clicking on the images for a better view.