WPC: Beneath Your Feet

I love the weekly

CHALLENGE

mainly because I get to rave on and it’s all legal. (Showcases some snaps, too …)

SPECIFICALLY

underfoot is this one  taken in Queens Park on a cold and frosty morning—

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—when the crunchy frosty bits were turning into soggy wet bits. All very complicated but I’m sure they know what they’re doing, underfoot.

AND AFTER THE PARK

cometh the stream, or canal, or whatever other name they give to this lump of flowing water. Not strictly beneath my feet—more like beneath but out in front a bit (it was the reflection that triggered my reflections anyway) …

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… is that Serenity, or what?

WAS IT JUST

last summer that I lay upon the grassy sward in front of the Olde Tennis Club? And took several shots, of which this one alone best captured the defunct essence of the out-of-favour tennis courts—in their heyday alive with the sounds of happy people banging their balls back and forth across the nets, and possibly the gurgle of pink gins and/or cold beers with hot crumpet afterwards—

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—alas, no more. To lie upon the grassy sward now is to invite being reaped or otherwise run over by demented bulldozers and herds of workmen with huge tools. Not good.

I caught this one (below) a week or two ago before I was dropped in my tracks by the worst flu bug that ever graced a human disaster zone; and I imagine that to go back there now would be to lay a sensitive soul open to the ravages of Time—

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—when our cup is still full. Funny … once I was all for progress but as I mature I find myself hugging more and more trees, and casting almost desperate eyes upon the rapidly departing elegances of fading ages. I guess it won’t be long before the Eiffel Tower is painted dayglo pink and the Yorktown refloated to become a theme park complete with hamburger joints in a Disneyland somewhere …

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NIL SHUTTERBUGITIS

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WPC: Beneath Your Feet

or, 

UNDERFOOT part 2 

When last in Gore I ambled along what’s left of once very busy shunting lines. Amazing the amount of steel just lying about underfoot, some still scrod to the ground—even complete with little piles of screws and other bits where some long passed artificers dropped them—

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These lines go nowhere now, they do nothin’ but end in wee piles of neatly dumped gravelly stuff. (Why, I have no idea—the very thought of a train coming along along these rails now belongs on either the Sci Fi or the Occult shelves)—

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—sure, the crossing signs are still up on that road in the distance but they are covering the one active line that’s been left to carry an occasional freight from Invercargill (I think). Bummer. No passenger ferries at all.

I still like the idea enthusiastically espoused by some old goat in Auckland* that time ‘they’ were bleating about gridlock traffic congestion on the roads and Harbour Bridge (whilst whimpering about all the unused railways still lying around)—an idea to the effect that there’s no reason why they couldn’t simply slip a bus or several dozen onto rail wheels and just drive them along, turning hardly used cargo routes into commuter routes. Hell, it’s not even a unique thought—I remember seeing a road truck scamper by on the rails with cheerily grinning railway maintenance guys waving tools. It could be done but sadly seems a bit too “outside the box” to even be considered; thus millions of dollars of capital assets quietly rust and fester.

AND NOW

you must already be pondering the next image. There’s a sorry tale behind it—also in Gore, I must add. When out I like visiting all parts of a place. And when once on the other side of the tracks I was bimbling along a street filled with some of the most interesting piles of deceased cars I observed not far in front what appeared to be stacks of ex-motor vehicles with saplings growing up through them.

I wanted a shot, and went closer … yep, definitely. Trees penetrating various steels and things, right through the floors and out through the roofs or windows or otherwise holes.

I shot this one on final approach—

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—with the intention of putting the lens through a hole in the netting of the gate. There was no-one around anyway, so I poked the lens to the hole and quietly entered orbit.

One has to give credit where it’s due. As I slowed to a mere gallop quite some distance up the road—amazing, such reflexes even at my age—that damn’ dog deserve all the credit in the world.

He must have detected me from a long way off (scent, perhaps; instincts honed by habit and boredom, maybe) and silently shadowed my every cheery step along that blasted fence until the ideal ambush was set, armed, and sprung.

Ye utter gods.

I’ve seen huge dogs in my time, and heard them, and on occasion been held captive—but never by such a consummate Master. Think pit-bull crossed with Neapolitan mastiff and aurochs. Slobber? No, that was me afterwards, trying to still my pounding heart—he was all teeth and red eyes with a volume any jet airliner on takeoff revs would envy.

I didn’t hear him—I just felt; and that was through corrugated iron and mesh. He blended his paroxysm of racket with the first hurl of his body into the fence immediately below where my lens was about to trespass—dumb dog, that reverberating THUD by itself would have sufficed.

If he were trying to reinforce the lesson it worked—I give all points to him except for the tiny one I awarded myself (afterwards) for my instant panic-plan … if he’d got out, I was going in.

Not bad for the exigencies of the moment—I’d surrender my share of the street to him for a place in his very own personal yard; wherein the second part of my clever plan was to promptly go aloft on the nearest of those wrecks and once there improvise a weapon of any kind and defend my new kingdom to the death. I don’t know how high huge heavy battle-dogs can jump … it would have been just my luck that he’d figure out how to climb too (and/or wasn’t alone in there). Brrrrr~!

WISER NOW, and desperately in need of a black coffee I gave away photographing anything and staggered off to meet The Spouse. I’m sure I heard a snigger as I wobbled away—in a pronounced canine accent.

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FIN 

*Moi. (Did you guess?)

WPC: Under your feet

 

as in

UNDERFOOT

perhaps.

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HERE WE HAVE

an underfoot revealed. I can’t even begin to think how many times my own feet have ambled, strolled, walked, or on occasion galloped across this lot—with nary a thought to what lies below. At times I pondered the wisdom of using expensive bricks in artistic patterns for pavements; but should you ever live here you’d pretty soon understand. The Council Committee that chose chose well—the footpaths and byways down here are forever being dug up, rearranged or otherwise updatingly ‘put right’; so of course there’s now no horrible eyesore ‘patches’. (And quite possibly the next time I pass this way it could look as if nothing has happened—Hades is in His underworld and all is sweet with the universe. Then again, the very next day some other Council department may well be along with their own shovels and agendas.)

OPPOSITE FROM

underfoot is the concept of overhead. So? So I once read a short story (Azimov, I think) to the effect that some astronauts on the moon were so thoroughly fed up with—every time they ordered something from Earth—stuff arriving in cartons with voluminous instructions written in an apparently foreign language: “To begin assembly, first lay out all the parts and check against list … etc etc” so they radioed Earth and asked if a robotic assembler could be designed, built, and sent up to them.

Well, it was a several month wait but eventually a large package arrived. It was their much anticipated robot … so they tore off the wrappers, and there before their eyes was a voluminous instruction book written in an apparently foreign language: “To begin assembly, first lay out all the parts and check against list …”

So?

So—first, be advised that I’m currently fighting the worst ‘flu I’ve ever had (and this ol’ dog has had some beauts, I tell you~!).

So?

So my internet service supplier recently (at short notice) went belly up.

So I promptly changed over to one ‘Spark’ (which used to be called Telecom—they changed their image, to one of modern youthful vitality and with-it-ness … and some executive doubtlessly got a huge bonus for the spark of genius).

The service I had before was beamed into my home from radio towers in the hills and although slow and given to ‘rain fade’ it worked.

The new all-singing all-dancing Spark? Beelzebub! I never expected the changeover to go sweetly or smooth—things like that just don’t happen in real life.

I should have guessed when I opened the package containing my lovely new modem (these days called a Gateway? I never knew …). Sure, they have a 24/7 Helpline. Of course I tried it … amazing how many robotic voices giving infinite robotic instructions can lead one tortuously to a very final “… all of our agents are busy right now but please hold the line and one will with be with you in … seven … minutes” which after the four hundredth time you hear it gives excellent grounds for divorce.

I should have guessed from the moment I opened the box and saw the surprisingly brief instructions: “To begin assembly, first lay out all the parts and check against list …”

 

And now I’m stuck honking and barking like a lovesick seal, with a computer that is dazzlingly fast with broadband but which I cannot use for emails. I’d phone for help but my landline phone isn’t working although the internet is—and as far as I know they both use the same underfoot cable(s)?

I think it’s entirely possible that I may have outlived my time:

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but worry not, I’m still trying make sense of “set up the SSL to the SSB, use the WAN (if already in use the LAN, MAN, or DAN will serve). POP 3 with an HTML, IMOP or IMAP”

Ye gods, kindergarten kids are doing this stuff as if to the manner born?

AND NOW

for you— a Challenge of my own, make of it what you will. Here be a snap—

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—and your challenge is to suggest what you think might have caused the damage to those two block walls separating the Invercargill Hospice Shop from its neighbours? The near damage has been there for some weeks, the far damage I noticed only the other day so it’s much more recent.

And now to continue getting familiar with my lovely new Gateway (and it is lovely—all black slab with just few (okay, eleven) greenish lighty things along the top).

If you do accept my above challenge, my own responses may take a wee while getting to you. Don’t wait up …

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NIL DESPERO 

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WPC: Inspiration

A challenging challenge, when

EVERYTHING INSPIRES

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so herewith a few (scenarios) that I find inspiring. And of course, the blurble that goes with them—how else could anyone relate to a piece of twisted card, or something that looks like a schlogg of old sheep fur on a fence?

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Nature inspires me. People inspire me. And when sheep (part of nature) rub their itchy fleeces against a wire fence in search of a good scratch, and leave the evidence, I relate. (On occasion I’ve used a Chinese bamboo back scratcher to reach the itchy bits that otherwise I can’t … so relate all the more to the poor sheep doing the best she can with what’s to hand. To foot. To paw, to hoof, or whatever it is sheep have.)

So on the subject of natural inspiration, even the behaviours of the bird-brained can inspire one to dwell on the hidden depths of life. I developed a healthy respect for magpies in the past, but this being not yet the season for nesting and territorial prerogatives I felt free to bimble along the road by the field wherein five pairs of beady eyes were watching me. And then it happened—

maggie

—this is the sole survivor of the five birds. Even he didn’t last long. Now, given that I took this shot over a loooooong range (wondrous zoom on the camera I was using) there was no way (r) NO way he could see me as any manner of threat. This is important—even at my fittest as a youth I couldn’t have thrown a stone that far.

Each time as I’d drawn within camera (but not threat) range of each bird in turn whilst quietly hoofing along they’d seemed unaware of my existence—yet three times out of five the target bird took off just as I was about to trigger my shot. Camera leisurely raised, sighted, target acquired and just about to shoot … poof~! Gone.

The fourth took off when I was actually thinking about doing so but hadn’t yet started; and number five (this guy, above) lifted off so soon after I’d taken this shot I thought I’d get just a blur of wings. Their actions inspire me to ponder—are magpies telepathic? It was spooky … (it was also bloody annoying).

AND A WEE WHILE

later I once more passed the whimsical figure I call ‘The Watcher’ (he watches everything but is very discreet, never says a word, good or bad). I did take a snap but this one from my archives shows him a bit better. Since then he’s grown moss and now looks quite distinguished …

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Like many an observer he blends quietly into the background and people tend to forget he’s there. I like that, loud and obnoxious people can be vexations to the spirit, to be avoided; but The Watcher here … I can live with. An inspiration to us all, if we’d only take the hint.

THE IMPOSSIBLE CAN BE INSPIRING

too. What’s impossible? Perhaps a square circle? An honest politician? How about a genuine actual physical strip with only one side and only one edge?

If shown one, would you be inspired to think of others—

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 17.36.41—or at least inspired enough to make one for yourself? Here you have it, then, infinity made manifest—a beetle walking along one the edge would find himself hiking sometimes upside-down, forever and ever in a world without end, amen. (I also spent hours watching ‘lava’ lamps blooping away, or fibre-optic strands changing colours …) A good anything can be inspiring, especially if a novelty. Make one for your kids, give it your own back story—you might even win a few bets (I won oodles of drinks when younger with an antigravity machine).

INSPIRED BY PEOPLE?

I am. Not by loud-mouths, politicians, Seventh Day Witlesses or street corner preachers … but by ordinary folks quietly going about their lawful occasions and doing a damn’ fine job of it—

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—and once again the super-zoom gets me in close enough to capture human nature without intruding. (If you click on this shot (or any, actually) it should blow up into decent size for viewing—browser’s return button will get you back.) With this snap it’s worth the trip—a quiet Sunday soccer game out at Moores Reserve. I was hoofing by a respectable distance away but had to stop and shoot.

You’ll have to write your own stories to suit the characters but it was a lovely villagey sort of scene; the type I personally find very satisfying … and inspiring.

 

NIL DESPERADO

TIPPED

a few years ago

to use a

POLARISER

.

I did so. Hard to regret doing so, so I never have (regretted) (sheesh~!) …

Not only does it serve as a first line of defence for the front elements of your actual lens you can tweak it and it does things. Magical things—especially to skies, colours, and water … looking for fishies and all you can see is the gorgeous reflected leafery of autumn? Go further down the page and see what you might do to your current puddle for a mere minor outlay of funds.

THESE SAMPLE SNAPS

were snapped from standing positions, hand-held. They were taken within seconds of each other, the only difference being the rotation (angle of twist) of the filter. Likewise for the stream snaps further down—not only can your lovely polariser add depths to colours, by reducing surface reflections it can add depths to depths. You’ll have to find your own fish though.

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Above:  late afternoon sun on St Aardvarks in Dee Street.

Below:  likewise but with a wee twist to the lens.

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Below, a cute little streamlet/creek thing in autumn, near the Winton golf course. Over a few weeks I took this snap quite a few times but of course cleared ’em from the computer … so by the time it occurred to me to take a ‘keeping’ snap I’d lost the power of those colours—

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—but not the effect of the polariser; again two shots from the same place at the same time within seconds—

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—and not a single Photoshop in sight. Boom boom!

NOW GET THEE

hence to your local photo shop and price yourself a polarising filter.

I think mine was around twenty-thirty bucks (kiwi) and I just leave it permanently in place on the end of the lens. I have no idea by how much it reduces the light but should I ever need to remove it the things comes off in seconds (years ago I had an Olympus OM2n and used the Cokin filters. Brilliant, just slip ’em in or out, no screwing).

Now go get one, and no—I’m not on a commission …

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NIL DESPONDO

 

WPC: CLOSE UP

Okay — no dallying, into it~!

THE CHALLENGE

BUT FIRST

let me set some ground rules—the shots first, during which you will have time to ponder (a) what the hell is it, and (b) is this guy quite the full quid?

ANSWERS WILL BE PROVIDED

in the latter half of the post. And, bear in mind that clicking on any snap should take you to a larger version of that snap. Your browser’s return button should bring you back again. Free, too …

YOUR FIRST CLOSE-UP—

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study it as if your very life depended on it. If you were down here in New Zealand there’s a remote possibility that it could.

Moving on—

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 20.28.53dart board, right? Maybe not.

So try this on for size, and don’t get tired—

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Ready to give up yet? If not (I had a whole lot more like this below, but let the one represent the whole. Whole lot. Wholly, the lot … the holy lot? Brrrrr …) we’ll be moving on—

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—brick wall, right? Yep. Anyone can see that it’s a part of a brick wall, no prizes for that. The prize goes for what is it a close up of?

TIME NOW

for some answers. And of course the settings, without which your lovely close-ups are simply abstracts. That first one, for example (I could call it The Crippler ‘cos nobody who’s seen it so far guessed correctly) is simply (SFX: drum roll here, please, and make it good) a rail. A rail in a track, as in railway track—specifically the line that runs past St Mary’s Basilica in Invercargill. I got some weird looks when taking that shot …

OUR SECOND is a cross section of a once happily growing object in Queens Park. The management there seems determined to eliminate all trees; and as a hugger from way back (even before tree hugging became a recognised sport*) I hate that their plan looks to be on track for turning a once lovely woodland park into a sterile sparse savannah dotted occasionally with token trees. He was a tree, take him for all in all … I shall not look upon his like again. R.I.P

NUMBER THREE

still working on it? Don’t lie down on the job—you might get tired, or in English: tyred.

That’s a close up of a car park, located next to the Masonic building south of Tay Street. Doing okay so far? Don’t fret, the next was a gimme—

IT’S A CLOSE-UP of St Johns Anglican Church in Tay Street. (You don’t get much closer than that, boom boom~!)

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 22.34.21It’s close to where I stopped in their front yard (lawn) and got down on my knees to snap the snippet on the left here. I came over all philosophical and attracted yet more interest from folks who are beginning to recognise me as a mobile landmark, some even wave now and most no longer nudge each other with nervous giggles when I get close.

I got to pondering—if the church and grounds have been blessed and/or sanctified, does that mean that anything encompassed by the bounds is likewise holy? If so then it’s just as well I didn’t swipe any of those lawn clippings and other detritus left over from the autumnal gales, ‘cos filching holy grass might be a sin and God knows I have precious little going for me when I front up to St Peter (gate warden) as things stand already.

And to fully answer that question: yes, I am the full quid (had you worried, though …).

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NIL DESPERO  

* I could tree-hug for New Zealand at the Olympics~!

 

WPC: Close Up

Bee it ever so

HUMBLE

a bumble

or twooooooo

here be some close-ups …

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… entirely for you.

SECOND VERSE

same as the first, only

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a wee bit different.

‘Twas ever thus—so, a bit more to the point:

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and be warned you wouldn’t want to be frondled by those (better to leaf them alone, then) fearsome spikes. They are quite inflexible and oodles sharp.

Rather than drip about it, let’s settle for some wee hills of water (I used to admire the ‘Clumsy Carp’ character in the “BC” cartoon strips series. Clumsy, yes, a maladroit par excellence, yes … but the only guy in literature able to mould and carry genuine water balls. I think he’d look approvingly on these efforts (provided he didn’t trip and fall into them on approach)—

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AND while we’re on colour, try this on for size. Shot with my elderly Olympus on Safari in deepest Gore last year, you may have seen it before but what the heck: I’m trying to meet a Challenge here.

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The close-up itself is my whole try—you’re getting those lovely colours as a freebie bonus; boom boom!

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NIL SLUDGEO

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