Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Post Of The Day

Today's joint winners are Incurable Insomniac with Pleasant Valley Sunday and Maggie May with The Resting Place. The other top contenders were Reluctant Farm Chik with The Farm Vs The Gym; Merisi with Sunday Morning in Schönbrunn Park; Old Man Lincoln with Find The Squirrels; Hilary with September Stroll; Leslie with Heritage Of Ladner Village; Crazy Cath with Odd Shot Monday and Jo Beaufoix with When Cool Got Married. Do pay them a visit and leave a comment if you have time.

You can nominate a post too. Just leave a comment here with the URL or link - and tell us the name of the blogger you are nominating. Righty-o, then, it's over to you.

Verse And Worse

Random Wit, Errant Rhyme. Not A Literary Crime

The butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker
I pray that your stockbroker ain’t a risk-taker
Tell me you haven’t torn your inheritance asunder
As the Footsie and Wall Street both went under

Gamble's Soup

(With Apologies To Andy Warhol)

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON

There’s a great Australian expression that might not be in common use around the world, but it sums up this photograph rather aptly. The expression is simply the abbreviation "NQR" - which denotes the phrase "not quite right".

Sometimes, though, an image that doesn’t quite live up to expectations produces an entirely different effect - and I reckon this shot falls into that category.

As some of you might remember, I was in Dawson City three weeks ago, at the invitation of Yukon Tourism. After watching the evening’s entertainment at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s, I published an interesting series of the dancers at Diamond Jubilation and this image was shot the same night.

I had already been told that while cameras were allowed at Gertie’s, video footage was not permitted during the show. Nonetheless, when I walked into the place, I double-checked at the front counter and was given the thumbs-up. Because I prefer to shoot without a flash, I had to work the options to try and get the best results.

Having worked with two cameras right through my week in the Yukon, that evening I left the Pentax K200D with the 300mm lens in my hotel room and opted for my Pentax K100D with the 18-125 Sigma lens. The lighting in Gertie’s is interesting - low enough to be unobtrusive yet not bright enough to shoot long range with ease if you choose not to use a flash.

I watched people using the slot machines along the wall that faces the side street and the colours and shapes caught my eye. There was the immediate compulsion to take a shot that showed the players in silhouette, almost like shadow puppets, with the richly textured background comprising bright colours and the arches above each machine.

I only shot one frame, because the cabaret was about to begin, but I wish I’d taken two or three more shots. In retrospect, I’d like to know what you think. Should I have focused directly on the machines, leaving the players out of focus? If you have the time to leave a comment, let me know what you think.

And for all those who are wondering, I’m not a gambling man. I wouldn’t know which direction a horse race is run, and I would be more at home using an automated train ticket machine than a slot machine. Besides, photography is far more fun.

And even if an experimental shot like this is NQR, there’s only one solution. I’ll have to travel thousands of kilometers back to Dawson City with my cameras, to get the shot right next time. Would I do that? Yup, I’d be delighted to.

Lost And Pound

But What'll It Buy Me, Guv?

A one million pound banknote, believed to be one of only two in existence, is expected to fetch only £40,000 (about $80,000) at auction. The eight-inch-wide green note, which dates back to 1948, is no longer legal tender. It was issued by the Treasury in connection with the Marshall Aid Plan to pump US money into Europe after World War II.

FOOTNOTE: One in a million.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Post Of The Day

Today's winner is Deborah Gamble with She's Too Hot For Marriage. The other top contenders were Gone Back South with Role Reversal; Leslie with The Death Of A Succulent; Louise with The Friday Night No Strings Attached Bath; Golightly with When The Camera Gets Away; Carrie and Troy with Tickle Me Pink; Daryl with Beignets, Anyone?; Kathryn with How Is This For Random; Damp Dog with ISoLL 1-2 and The Teach with Sunsets Acros The Ramparts. Do pay them a visit and leave a comment if you have time.

You can nominate a post too. Just leave a comment here with the URL or link - and tell us the name of the blogger you are nominating. Righty-o, then, it's over to you.

Verse And Worse

Random Wit, Errant Rhyme. Not A Literary Crime

If an appendix excision
Is no minor decision
Then why did Doctor Consul
Only take my left tonsil?

A New Bloom Sweeps Clean

There Are No Boxes Like Window Boxes

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON

Shortly after the near-embarrassing situation described in the post The Charge Of The Flight Brigade, Bill Holmes of the Dawson City Visitors' Association advised me to buy a set of long-life lithium batteries (for extra backup) and a Canadian-voltage battery charger.

We had a great lunch together at Klondike Kate's and then, on Bill's advice, I headed to Peabody's Photo Parlor. I explained to the lady there how I had not one but two Pentax DSLRs with me and how both sets of batteries had died shortly after takeoff that morning - because I had been using an Australian-voltage charger.

She was very helpful, and we shared a chuckle about how lucky I was (or how well prepared I was for any eventuality) to carry spare batteries. Then she advised me on the relative merits of two different chargers and nodded when I opted for the Sony unit. I paid for my purchases and carefully kept the paper packet so that I would remember the name of the store.

Just before I sat down to write this post, I could not find the paper packet anywhere. (It's somewhere safe and logical and it will turn up eventually!) So I had to email Bill to ask him the name of the camera store - and he replied immediately.

So then next time you visit Peabody's, say a big Australian "G'day" to the lady behind the counter. And don't forget to photograph the flower boxes outside the store, on the boardwalk.

And if anyone can tell me the name of the lilac bloom in the first shot, I would be extremely grateful.

Visit Luiz Santilli Jr for the home of Today's Flowers.

Pistol Packin' Mama

What On Earth Triggered This Sign?

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON

After I'd had my passport stamped at the US border at Poker Creek, I asked permission to take a few photographs outside before we got back in our rental vehicle. This was the first shot I took.

Sorry, did I say "shot"? Consider that a Freudian slip. The only trigger I ever hit is the one on my trusty Pentax.

(The Odd Shots concept came from Katney. Say "G'day" to her.)

When Push Comes To Shove

Thank Goodness It Wasn’t A Jumbo Jet

Officials at Zhengzhou in China shocked passengers and flight crew - by sending 30 workers to push a faulty plane off a runway. It took them nearly two hours to push the CRJ7 plane, with 69 passengers and seven crew members on board, less than half a mile to a side apron.

FOOTNOTE: Air raising.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Verse And Worse

Random Wit, Errant Rhyme. Not A Literary Crime

Of whom, may I ask, are you more fond?
Is it Mister Templar or Mister Bond?
Each role was played by Roger Moore
He would have had a preference, for sure

The Dam Busters

If You're Beaver, Does That Mean I'm Butthead?

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON

Sometimes, even when you're miles away from home, do you find yourself thinking in "blog mode"? When I have a couple of cameras slung around my neck I'm in photography mode, but I sometimes find myself thinking "Yup, that'd make a great shot for Camera Critters".

So when I arrived in Beaver Creek in the Yukon, I dropped my bags off in my room at the Westmark Hotel and immediately started scouting around. It was late evening and the light was fading, so when I saw this beaver sign I knew I didn't have enough light to make the shot work.

Instead, I was up at the crack of dawn the next morning. There was not much movement and pretty much no sound either, as I began shooting the mountains in the pink light of early morning. I even got a shot of the contrails of a jet, like white gossamer against a clear blue sky - with the jet so high that it was completely soundless.

But before I stopped shooting and headed indoors for breakfast, I had to get this beaver shot. Lucky I remembered - or it would have been a dam shame!

Check out the rules at
Camera Critters or go to Misty Dawn.

The Sunday Roast

Truly The Long Arm Of The Lore

This week's interview is with Sandi McBride,
who writes the blog Holding Patterns.

The first of the standard questions. Why do you blog?

I started blogging after I retired from Law Enforcement to keep my mind busy. I have written a weekly column for our local paper for the past ten years, but I needed more than that was giving me and the garden is a temporary thing at best.

What's the story behind your blog name?

When I turned 40 I told everyone that they should consider me in a holding pattern, no more birthdays to annoy or destroy ... that was 20 years ago and I'm still in the same holding pattern.

What is the best thing about being a blogger?

The best thing to me is the people I meet through my blogging. I have always loved people and interacting with them. I am proud to say that even people I placed in jail during my law enforcement career still smile and hug me when they see me and often tell me that I made an impact on their lives. It doesn't get better than that.

What key advice would you give to a newbie blogger?

Write what you know about ... it comes easy if you keep that one one important rule in mind. If it's your family, your career or your hobbies, just offer the benefit of your knowledge to others and you'll be rewarded by your audience tenfold.

What is the most significant blog post you've ever read?

One of my dearest friends is Sue (or SusieQ at Rabbit Run Cottage) She posted about the sad loss of a pet and the wonderful lessons learned from it. It was entitled A Dog Knows and it is this perfectly written piece on why animals don't live as long as humans. A must read.

What is the most significant blog post you've ever written?

I don't know that I like that question much as it seems to much like bragging. But I guess for me it would have to be the post about how I feel about blogging and bloggers (and it's at Kindness Of Strangers if you care to read it. )

Today's Sunday Roast with Sandi McBride is the 36th in a weekly series of interviews with bloggers from around the world.

Is This Liberty, Equality Or Farternity?

Maybe He Had Just Eaten Beans

A US man has been charged with assault after he allegedly broke wind on a police officer. Police say they were fingerprinting the man when he moved near a patrolman, lifted his leg and passed gas "loudly" on the officer. He then allegedly waved the air in the direction of the officer.

FOOTNOTE: Fart from the madding crowd.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Verse And Worse

Random Wit, Errant Rhyme. Not A Literary Crime

If you must transport escargot
Just book 'em aboard Wells Fargo
I know they'll deliver without fail
And so much quicker than "snail" mail

The "Charge" Of The Flight Brigade

Yes, You Could Call It A Power Struggle

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON

Until a couple of years ago, I’d used quite a few camera brands. Then in mid-2006 I used a Pentax for the first time when I had to review the performance of a K100D. I liked the camera so much that I bought it. I liked the way it handled, I liked its balance, I liked the feel of the camera, I liked the weather-proofing of the body. But more than anything else, I liked the fact that it was powered by simple AA batteries.

For more than a decade, I had become accustomed to sealed battery units, but with the Pentax and its 18-125mm lens, I suddenly realised there was much greater freedom. It’s the perfect lens if you’re travelling. And it’s the perfect power source - crucially - if you’re on the road. Hey, have you ever come across a place, even a remote town, where you can’t buy AA batteries?

In the two years that I’ve had the Pentax, I’ve always used rechargeable batteries, but I’ve always carried backup with me. In my camera bag, I always have one set of AA batteries. A few months ago, I made assurance doubly sure and slipped in a second set.

It was a simple decision that saved me from what could have potentially been my greatest embarrassment. Last month, I was privileged to be invited by Yukon Tourism aboard a Fireweed chopper flight over the snowy peaks of Tombstone Territorial Park. It was my second day in the Yukon and because I was using a Pentax K200D along with the K100D, I had charged both sets of rechargeable batteries overnight.

The chopper had barely taken off and I started shooting immediately. We took off from Dawson City and had been flying for about ten minutes when the battery indicator on the K100D showed I had no power. I was puzzled, but I knew I had backup in my bag.

Mate, if you’re six foot three, never try this in the cockpit of a helicopter. I emptied the battery compartment and, scrabbling around by feel only, found four spare AA cells in my camera bag. Praying that I wouldn’t drop one (or more) I put the fresh batteries into the camera. No worries at all.

About ten minutes later, the same thing happened on my other camera, which had my 70-300mm lens on it. Again I had to repeat the process in the cramped confines of the left-hand seat.

Yes, I had two sets of spare rechargeable batteries, but they were in my hotel room. Now I had to work out why my batteries had died so quickly and unexpectedly. The answer slowly dawned on me. I was using a 240-volt Australian charger - in Canada, where the voltage is significantly lower.

Immediately after the flight, during which I shot almost 1000 frames, I headed into Dawson and bought a set of lithium batteries and a Canadian-voltage charger. From that point on, I had no worries.

Certainly, my decisions to a) buy Pentax and b) always carry two sets of spare Energisers in my camera bag had paid rich dividends.

Visit TNChick, creator of Photo Hunt. Today's theme: "View".

Cue The Music, Maestro

Who's Making A Song And Dance, Then?

An organic sausage maker in Germany is playing classical music to his bangers to improve the quality. The Tegut nature food company employs a string quartet playing Mozart and Beethoven to the sausages on Sunday mornings. Wolfgang Gutberlet says the soothing music makes the meat taste even better.

FOOTNOTE: Bach ache.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Worth Its Wait In Gold

Not Quite The Sunset Shot You'd Expect, Is It?

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON

You just never know when a great photo opportunity is going to come your way. And sometimes when a great chance appears, it remains for only a few fleeting moments, never to re-appear.

I was in the dining area of the Westmark Hotel in Beaver Creek in the Yukon - and as always, I had my cameras within arm's reach. There was a lady a couple of table away from me and I knew she was waiting for her husband to join her at dinner, because I had seen them a few minutes earlier, in the hotel corridor.

She had a long-necked bottle of beer on her table. She faced west, looking towards the setting sun as it sank across the snow-capped mountains. I faced east, looking towards the wall. That alignment was a great piece of luck.

For a couple of minutes, I saw a shadow on the wooden wall, just below the wallpaper at waist level. It was the shadow of her glass and the beer bottle and as I watched, the shadow grew more defined as the sun pierced the late-evening cloud.

I knew if I didn't take the shot, the angle of the sun would quickly change. I picked up my Pentax K100D and hit the shutter once. A few moments later, the lady's husband joined her. He sat opposite her and blocked the shadow. Had I not followed my instinct and captured the scene, I would have lost the opportunity.

Visit MamaGeek and Cecily, creators of Photo Story Friday.

Verse And Worse

Random Wit, Errant Rhyme. Not A Literary Crime

My next-door neighbour Bucky
He was born in Kentucky
You can tell his heart is true
'Cause his grass is bright blue

Deck Whittington

Aye, Aye, Captain, Everything's Ship-Shape

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON

Where there's smoke, there's - well, there's a steamship. Because I grew up listening to the sounds of vessels, anything with a hull and a wheelhouse has a certain attraction for me. Hence this decision to write a post about a paddle steamer - of all things - for Sky Watch.

I guess I always try and look outside the square, rather than simply shooting skyscapes for this popular theme. Like the internet, the sky has no international boundaries and that is precisely why I've always told Dot that her choice of theme embraces us all.

Since the very first week of the theme, I've published a variety of unusual subjects, all of which have broadly embraced this great and borderless sky above us. There was Tall Story, about Eureka Tower; The Day That I Never Saw, about the International Date Line; Running Mate, about Edwin Flack, Australia's first Olympic gold medallist at Athens in 1896; Departure From The Norm, shot from inside Kuala Lumpur Intrnational Airport; Running Repairs, about stonemasonry work on a statue of Samuel de Champlain in Quebec City; Action Figures, about modern sculptures in Melbourne; Seeing The Light, which was a skyspace shot taken through my Ray-Bans; Last Splash Of Dusk Colour, about the hottest March fortnight in a century, A Golden Orb, about a hot-air balloon; Climb Every Mountain, taken during a chopper flight above Tombstone Territorial Park in the Yukon; and there was Sun Spot, about a sulphurous sky at dawn.

So this week, I bring you the SS Keno, regarded as the last steamer to run the gauntlet of the Yukon River. The year 2010 will mark the fiftieth anniversary of her final voyage, from Whitehorse to Dawson City.

I grew up reading about Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn and the paddle steamers that formed such a strong backdrop to their lives. But I'd never heard the term "stern wheeler" until I was in the Yukon last month.

I didn't even know about the existence of the Keno until I made good use of an hour, late on the evening I arrived in Dawson. I dropped my bags off at the hotel and had precisely an hour to spare, so I took both cameras and headed off along the riverbank, shooting several frames during the brisk walk.

It was 7.30 in the evening and I was just about to turn around and retrace my steps when I noticed the Keno. I took several shots from various angles, incorporating the sky as a backdrop against her towering superstructure.

Then I stood directly in front of her bow and noticed something really interesting. Take a good look at the shot below and tell me if you see it too.

Look to the left of the frame (above) and you'll see the bright sunshine striking the hull. Now look to the right and you'll see everything in shadow.

The strong lilnes and the contrast make an interesting study of light and shade. Also, have a look at the metal bollards above the bow. The one on the left has light playing across its surface, while its companion on the right of the frame seems dull by comparison.

As I began walking abck to my hotel, I noticed the commemorative ship's wheel nearby. Unable to resist the challenge, I simply had to try and frame the wheel, the Keno, the hills that surround Dawson - and the striking sky.

Ya can't have a Sky Watch post without the sky.

For other participants in Dot’s concept, go to Sky Watch HQ.

Soak Far, So Good

That's What You Call Clean Profit

An Australian company has invented a suit that can be cleaned under the shower with no soaking, dry cleaning - or even soap. Australian Wool Innovation says it has already received 170,000 orders from Japan, where it appeals to busy corporate people, particularly those who travel frequently.

FOOTNOTE: Drip try.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Post Of The Day

Today's joint winners are The Egel Nest with What Au Pair Of Assets and Corey with When You Run Out Of Answers. The other top contenders were Rhea with An Ode To My 35mm; Caroline with Tricking; Katy Did Not with I'm Going To Take This Mother; Donald Kinney with Groovy Water; Lucy's Logic with It's A Holiday; The Rocky Mountain Retreat with Untitled; Old Man Lincoln with Sleeping Through The Parade; diXymiss with Autumnal Equinox; Jo with Vancouver - aka California North and Charles Gramlich with Follow-Up To Hot, Blue And Righteous. Do pay them a visit and leave a comment if you have time.

This blog recorded more than 800 page views yesterday, for the first time. My thanks to all of you for your growing support.

Verse And Worse

Random Wit, Errant Rhyme. Not A Literary Crime

If grammarians conjugate
Everything we say
Do boxers celebrate
All Feints Day?

Cocktail Arty

Hey, Who's Been Drinking Canada Dry?

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON

Sometimes my camera is like an extension of my brain. Actually, make that: most times, my camera is like an extension of my brain. So after I'd finished lunch at the High Country Inn in Whithorse, I asked if I could walk around and take some photographs and the ladies behind the bar readily gave me permission to do so.

The little details are all-important sometimes. And while there are some great Yukon souvenir signs on display here, I also had to take the shot above because my eye was drawn to the little cocktail sticks and the variety of colours in the glass. To their right were the distinctive Yukon drinks coasters, while behind them were the bar taps, one bearing the legend "Yukon Gold".

It was very tempting to turn the closer set of coasters anti-clockwise, so that the word "Yukon" was facing the camera - but as you know, I never move objects that I photograph. So I had to go with the cocktail sticks in sharp focus, in the hope that your vision would encompass the other details in the frame.

And just in case you're wondering what the symbol was above the Molson dispenser, here it is ...

Are you wondering what the bright colours are in the background of the second shot? They're the hues of a huge variety of bottles, alcohol and liqueurs alike.

And no, I don't drink anything stronger than iced water, so if you're really thirsty, go ahead and drink my share.

Ready To Lend A Han

Antique Needed More Than A Quick Fix

A museum curator in China has been dismissed after gluing a broken antique back together instead of reporting the damage. The antique, a wooden turtle dove more than 2,000 years old and dating from China's Han Dynasty, had its beak broken when it was transported by museum staff to an antique storage cabinet a year ago.

FOOTNOTE: Lead on, Mac dove.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Post Of The Day

Today's joint winners are Colleen with Summer's End On Camano Island and River Poet with Dust Bunnies In The Nest. The other top contenders were Moannie with Magical Moment In Mexico; Sandra with You Gotta Love Monday; Mrs Nesbitt with Jack Frost; My Five Men with Fun Shapes Of Pasta; Jennifer Harvey with I Must Be Crazy; Fat, Frumpy And Fifty with What's In A Name; Bear Naked with Why Teddy Bears Are Sew Lovable; Louise with A Keen Sense Of Smell; Fishing Guy with Autumn Is In The Air and Lee with Miscellaneous Bits. Do pay them a visit and leave a comment if you have time.

You can nominate a post too. Just leave a comment here with the URL or link - and tell us the name of the blogger you are nominating. Righty-o, then, it's over to you.

Verse And Worse

Random Wit, Errant Rhyme. Not A Literary Crime

The timber mill boss, a bloke called Bruce
Had misgivings about the quality of spruce
So when things reached a critical juncture
He scrubbed up for a "lumber" puncture

If Anyone Can, Jerrican

Who’s Got A Stormy Petrol Story?

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON

Next time you’re in the vicinity of Whitehorse, go and say "G’day" to Charlie McLaren, who runs Shadow Lake Expeditions. He’s an architect, he’s passionate about the Yukon, he’s a mine of information about the region’s history, flora and fauna, and I reckon he has a significant percentage of adrenalin running through his veins.

I took this shot on his property. It was about nine o’clock in the morning and the autumn weather was cool enough for me to don a sweater. I took a few shots of the canoes, life jackets, ropes, oars and other equipment before I noticed this cluster of jerricans.

They caught my eye because there was a slight golden tinge to their surface as the soft light, dappled during its passage through the trees, played on them. I just thought it was a really interesting image, especially because the jerricans were at a variety of angles, rather than arranged in military fashion. The black caps also created a unique stop-start pattern across the bright colour, so I composed as tight a frame as I could.

The only time I’ve been completely flummoxed at a service station was three years ago, when I was travelling in Muskoka, from Gravenhurst to neighbouring Port Carling. I was due to drive back to Toronto later that night and I wanted to make sure I had enough fuel in the rental car, so I pulled in to the first service station that I saw.

I did very well here - for a while. I remembered that the fuel tank was on the right, unlike my own car. I remembered that I was sitting on the left of the car, unlike Australia. And then things fell apart. I could not lift the fuel nozzle off the bowser. I tried sliding it off. I tried lifting it off. I tried it with my left hand. I tried it with my right hand. I tried everything, short of singing to the nozzle.

That’s when the attendant used the PA system (reserved, no doubt, for absent-minded professors and aberrant Australians) to tell me that I had to first press a lever and then lift the nozzle. Oh, the embarrassment.

If it wasn’t late September, I would have thought it was April Fuels Day.

For the home of ABC Wednesday, go to Mrs Nesbitt's Place.

It All Adds Up

Till Debt Do Us Part

Old-fashioned cash till at Klondike Kate's, Dawson City.

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON

Is Every Day Valentine’s Day?

Where’s The Bedhop, Er, Bellhop?

A Turkish hotel has sacked all its male staff because they kept seducing older women tourists. Manager Pelin Yucel took the drastic step after catching her male waiters and barmen with guests who were looking for Shirley Valentine-style romances. They have now been replaced with a women-only team.

FOOTNOTE: Sacks and the city.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Post Of The Day

Today's joint winners are Laugh Now, Cry Later with Doggy Style and Hilary with Non-Trivial Pursuits. The other top contenders were DumDad with My Life As A Tailor's Assistant; Shrinky with Birthday Meal; Mental P Mama with Why Did The Turkeys Cross The Road?; Brit Gal Sarah with Can You See Me Drooling Yet?; Daryl with Monochrome; Sandi McBride with I Don't Do Windows - Here's Why; Fugue with Morning Stroll In Haridwar and Babooshka with How To Photograph Crashing Waves. Do pay them a visit and leave a comment if you have time.

You can nominate a post too. Just leave a comment here with the URL or link - and tell us the name of the blogger you are nominating. Righty-o, then, it's over to you.

Verse And Worse

Random Wit, Errant Rhyme. Not A Literary Crime

My classmate Harriet
Was lethal with a lariat
The boys just didn't have a hope
When she stood and looped that rope

Planet Follywood

This Is How To Get Your Kicks

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON

You're not thinking photography. You're thinking lunch. Serious lunch. You've been in photography mode for a week and now hunger mode has suddenly taken over your life. You get out of the car in Whitehorse, capital of the Yukon - and this sight smacks you right between the eyes.

I'm thousands of miles from home, but this is enough to stop me in my tracks. The mid-afternoon light is strong, the sky is cloudless and although the shadows are not as long as they would be a couple of hours later, they are still prominent enough to catch my attention.

So what else caught my eye? The combination of colours. The strong parallel lines of the wood. The white shutters. The snaking wire on the right. The ornate coach lamp. The baskets of petunias. The no-parking sign.

It was more than just the advertising hoarding for the Frantic Follies, splendid though that may be. I had to get as much into the frame as possible, without losing perspective.

And after all that I still had to try and remind myself that I was in Canada, so I had to look on the "wrong" side of the street for oncoming traffic!

Hare-Raising Phone Call

Ear, There And Everywhere

Police in Scotland say a woman dialled 999 to complain that the rabbit she had just bought did not have floppy ears. The caller phoned the emergency number when she discovered the pet's ears did not live up to their description in a newspaper advertisement. Other nuisance calls included two people who dialled 999 after being splashed by cars in wet weather.

FOOTNOTE: Bugged bunny.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Post Of The Day

Today's winners are Merisi with Falling Into Autumn; Celebration of Life with Doors … Windows … Gates and Quilldancer with Bullet Flight. The other top contenders were Millennium Housewife with A Real Brick; Napaboaniya with Flying Dragon; Uncle Joe with Where Would We Be?; Brooke with My New Digs; Crazy Cath with You Couldn't Make It Up; Jo with Pecking Order; Pat Houseworth with The Battle Of Chickamauga; Ramblings Around Texas with Above Valdez; Marcia with I Like Gray As Well As Sunny and Samhlaigh with I Have To Deal With Stuff. Do pay them a visit and leave a comment if you have time.

Thank you, everyone. This weekend my blog broke new ground, with the daily page views topping the 650-mark for the first time. That simply would not happen without all your support.

Verse And Worse

Random Wit, Errant Rhyme. Not A Literary Crime

Rookie Detective Sergeant Mikey
Complained that his hair was spiky
Because the deputy commissioner
Forgot to requisition conditioner

Ingot We Trust

That Is One Beautiful Rust Bucket

Photograph copyright: DAVID McMAHON

A couple of weeks ago, I was in Alaska for a few hours, traversing the Top of The World Highway as we looped back into the Yukon. This was taken when we made a brief stop at the tiny settlement of Chicken, just past the US-Canada border at Poker Creek.

But a photographer never rests. There are too many sights to shoot, too many visions of beauty to capture. I opted for the Pentax K200D with my long lens (the Sigma 70-300mm) to take the shots of the biplane kite that can be seen at Soar Point.

I was just walking away when I noticed an unusual sight. I am an avid gardener and I'm accustomed to seeing flowers blooming in some very creative spots. But the sights of these healthy petunias in a large, rusty bucket caught my eye immediately.

I'd seen the buckets lined up alongside the SS Klondike in Whitehorse, and I'd seen them at several places during this week-long trip organised by Yukon Tourism. The heavy metal objects, of course, are disused dredge buckets, which are such a common sight along the gold trail in this part of the world.

I should have used my Pentax K100D with the 18-125 Sigma lens, but as I walked, I just hit the shutter on the K200D with the long lens. I shot three frames, very quickly, in the bright midday sun. My main focus in this particular frame was the fresh bud and its clear-cut shadow. I wanted to try and use the harsh light and the corroded surface of the dredge bucket to emphasise the sight of Nature's beauty surrounded by rust.

This is just a low-res version of the shot, but on the high-res original you can actually see the delicate white fibres that are so common to petunia buds and that give the blooms and leaves that unique sticky feeling.

I used the gentle diagonal slope of the bucket's left-hand edge and the deep shadow on its outer lip, facing away from the sun, as added value for the foreground, while the composition allowed me to use the soft colours and purples spikes of the other blooms as an interesting background.

Also, when you think about it, you don't often get the chance to photograph a flower's shadow on metal in such close proximity.

Visit Luiz Santilli Jr for the home of Today's Flowers.

Kith And King

Which Way Now, Your Majesty?

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON

The king was in his counting house, counting out his money. I saw this signpost, and thought it was quite funny. Okay, that's enough of the nursery rhymes, but you get the idea.

This shot was taken during a hike in Kluane National Park. No, there is no royal family there - this sign just points the way to two different hiking paths. Go left to King's Throne, or you can go right to Cottonwood.

Further up the track, I saw this other sign carved on the bark of a tree - and so I just had to get a shot of the message, while trying to include some of the vivid fall colour on the hillside.

There is another reason I took this shot. We had four Dutch hikers as our companions that day and I was able to point out to them that the "crown" symbol above the letter "I" actually looked exactly like the symbol in the corporate logo of KLM, the Dutch airline.

(The Odd Shots concept came from Katney. Say "G'day" to her.)

Post Haste (Not)

I Ran All The Way

A birthday card sent from East Yorkshire to Hampshire arrived two weeks late - after a 6,000-mile detour via Tehran, Iran. Audrey Flood posted it from Hutton Cranswick to her friend Win Hopes, 280 miles away in Southsea, but it finally turned up with a postmark on it from the Iranian capital.

FOOTNOTE: Card blanche.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Verse And Worse

Random Wit, Errant Rhyme. Not A Literary Crime

The curator drove down to see the painting
Just as the artist felt like fainting
When he switched the ignition off
I swear you could hear his van cough

Inter Nest Explorer

You Giving Me The Bird?

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON

So here's the deal. You're walking up a slippery hillside path at Kluane National Park. Snowy mountains dominate the skyscape and Lake Kathleen shimmers below you, almost as far as the eye can see. You've got not one but two cameras around your neck and as you climb, they seem to get incrementally heavier.

You're concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other, as efficiently as possible. If you slip, you're going to end up on your butt. There are tree roots. There are rocks. There is lichen. There are rivulets. There are mountain streams. Not dangerous, in any manner of speaking. But seriously embarrassing if you lose your balance.

So you get the idea? I have my eyes firmly focused downwards. That's when Brent Liddle, our guide, asks if we've seen the ptarmigan.

Ptarmigan? Mate, what ptarmigan? I can't see anything that looks remotely like a ptarmigan.

That's when he points up into a tree several metres in front of us. So now it's confession time. A city slicker like me would not have seen the bird, even if I'd been looking into the branches. It's all about natural camouflage. See how the bird blends into its surroundings and the tree bark in the first shot?

And precisely because of that, I try and creep forward, in order to get a better composition. The bird's one thing, but hey, I want to get him framed against the yellow and soft green of the fall colours. So one step at a time, I inch forward, making up ground while arcing round to the right a bit, to get the colours I want.

Mister Ptarmigan is watching me, but he ain't afraid. He ain't skeered at all. He's just a-sitting there, swivelling comfortably on his branch and making sure I show him some respect.

Even when his body language changes, he's in no hurry to take his leave. He leans forward, as if he's about to take flight - and I have the Sigma 300mm lens ready, if he takes wing. But he just sits there, as if he's testing me.

If I thought that was the only wildlife I'd see during the hike, I was mistaken. A few hours later, I had the opportunity of a lifetime. How many photographers get the chance to shoot an image of a Charging Grizzly?

Check out the rules at Camera Critters or go to Misty Dawn.

The Sunday Roast

Meet The Woman With The Texas Word Spangle

This week's interview is with Rhea,
who writes the blog Texas Word Tangle

The first of the standard questions. Why do you blog?

To satisfy the deep, compulsive desire to make a fool out of myself in a public forum ... and to nurture the creative bug I've been infested with since birth. There's no cure, and I wouldn't want one if there was. I'm a writer. I love to write and take pictures, to create a story.

Give me a blank page and some colored pens, and I'm content. Combining all this AND getting feedback makes my heart sing. I also have two boys, and I love chronicling their lives and adventures. They make my heart sing too.

What's the story behind your blog name?

Texas Word Tangle - I live in Texas. I love to write. I love words. I took years and years of Latin, which taught me a lot about word origins. I found a great quote by U.S. novelist and short story writer James A. Michener, where he says, "I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions."

I then adopted the phrase, "The swirl of words tangled with human emotions." That was too long for a blog title, so I shorted it to Word Tangle. Texas Word Tangle. Had a nice ring to it. And, my name really is Rhea (pronounced Ray or Ray-ah).

What is the best thing about being a blogger?

Being called such a goofy term, "blogger" and seeing people's faces when they hear you're a blogger. People either don't understand it, don't know what a blog is or think you're a total dork. OK, seriously, I love giving family and friends a glimpse into our daily lives, whether they want it or not. I love having a creative outlet, and I love meeting people from all over the world. I've learned so much about other people and cultures. I think we could achieve world peace through blogging.

What key advice would you give to a newbie blogger?

Go visit and read lots of blogs, leave comments, and always return the comment love when people visit you. Paragraph breaks and basic grammar go a long way. Pictures are nice but don't go overboard (like I do). Same with memes. They're fun but don't go overboard.

What is the most significant blog post you've ever read?

I can't single out just one post. I've read a lot of really hilarious posts, sad posts and super thought-provoking posts. The most significant blogger who stands out in my mind is Confessions Of A Pioneer Woman because her world is so different from most people, as she lives on a working cattle ranch. She's a great photographer and super creative and hilarious. I also likes that she doesn't take herself too seriously and knows how to make me laugh.

The blogroll on my site is made up of wonderful blogs that I read almost daily. Every one of them entertains me, inspires me or just makes me happy on any given day. Men and women from all over.

What is the most significant blog post you've ever written?

I'd like to think all my posts are significant, but who am I kidding?! No way. Some are silly, some more serious. I experiment all the time, and continue to try and outdo myself. I'm not sure I've found my groove yet. I feel a lot of untapped potential simmering beneath my goofy exterior. Maybe. Or I just have gas.

But some of my favourites are: Singing For Starbucks - I don't drink
coffee but I love their chai tea; Yet Another Very Serious Interview With The Little People - I love messing with my kids; and finally Wanted: An Internal Compass - sometimes I'm conflicted and serious.

Today's Sunday Roast with Rhea is the 35th in a weekly series of interviews with bloggers from around the world.