Going away?

Filed in Entertainment Ind., General, Health, Travel, WorkTags: ,

I might be going overseas for three months. I'm waiting for confirmation. I hope it happens but it's out of my control. The departure date though, if confirmed, is January 1 which doesn't give me much time to prepare. It's not the packing that I'm concerned with. It's making sure that everything at home is in working order, that our pet supplies are sufficient and that we have enough medicine for them, that our computers and my MacBook Pro are running well, that I have all the computer programs that I might need while away, that my camera and lenses are in great condition, that the rest of our family know how to do the things that I'm normally responsible for like changing the water filter, that… You get the idea.

One of the things that I had to do in preparation for this trip was get inoculations. Surprisingly, the Hong Kong government has a great service for people planning to travel. The Travel Health Service keeps current information about diseases in various parts of the world, and can supply travelers with the medicine and inoculations they might need for that particular trip. You need to make an appointment, but it's quick and easy. My appointment was yesterday and when I arrived at the Kowloon office, I was surprised to find it very quiet. Apparently, most people either don't know about the service or they balk at the basic consultation fee of HK$310.

The doctor asked me about where I was going, explained the diseases currently in effect for that region and then prescribed the medicine for me. All up, I received tablets for one disease and inoculations for three others; I have two sore shoulders today! They also gave me a booklet with a record of the inoculations I received. The total cost was just HK$780; very reasonable.

Let's see if any of you can guess where I might be going. The tablets were for Malaria. The inoculations were for Tetanus, Typhoid Fever and Hepatitis A. Two other diseases that might exist in my target region but for which no inoculations exist are Cholera and Dengue Fever.

I'll reveal the secret destination if and when it's confirmed ;-)

Warming in the Sun

Filed in Digital Hunter, Hong Kong Wildlife, Photo of the DayTags: ,
Lizard Cooling Off

Pearly white teeth and a creamy-yellow tongue. Nice teeth!

My (relatively) new Canon 1D Mark III is in the shop getting a new focus mirror installed. You can read a lot about the problem on Rob Galbraith's page although it hasn't affected me as much as others. In addition, my Canon 70-300mm DO lense is getting a clean and recalibration, so I'm feeling orphaned and alone at the moment. Many of my photographs are of very small creatures usually shot at 300mm (x1.3=420mm for the 1D Mark III) and even at f16, the Depth of Field is extremely shallow, typically around 1/8". Manual focus is absolutely necessary to fine-tune the auto-focus and if the lense is not spot on, I return home with many non-ideal photos. 1/8" DoF means that I have to be very aware of my body movements while shooting because the slightest motion forward or backward will put the photo out of focus. The lense clean/recalibration will be very expensive but if you want great photographs, you cannot avoid these occasional expenses.

Before I handed the camera in, I had the opportunity to get these photographs. This young fellow was walking around just outside our yard, and once again, the pollution-filtered sunlight shining down from the South was fantastic.

Many of the photos I came back with were out of focus. I learned something important this day. Never try to take photos with your lense at the minimum limits of its focus range because the focus may very well be less than ideal (1.4m in this case). One day, I might experiment with an Extension Tube to get closer to the subject. I'd like to get the 400mm/4.0 DO lense but that will have to wait a while longer while I save a few more pennies ;-) That said, the less expensive 400mm/f5.6L might be the more ideal option for me because most of my telephoto photos require an aperture of f16 or smaller anyway. I'll think about it for a while.

Note. You really need to look at the larger version of the photo to fully appreciate it. Some of my photos look their best when printed to A3.

Sunning Lizard

This is my favourite photo from the set.

For a larger version, click here. For a different photo, click here.

Who you lookin’ at bub?

Filed in Digital Hunter, Hong Kong Wildlife, Photo of the DayTags:

If there's an advantage to having a polluted sky, it's that sometimes the sunlight filtered by the pollution can be quite extraordinary; bright and warm without being harsh. Such was the case yesterday afternoon, so I decided to hide out for a few minutes behind a bush hoping that the local Sunbirds would visit. While waiting, I suddenly became aware of another life, totally unexpected, and as I watched him, he suddenly noticed me, perked up his head and looked straight back at me; a praying mantis. Here is one of the photos I was able to take in that short fortuitous time.

Praying mantis on Guard

Stop watching me! You'll tip off the birds to my presence!!!

For a larger version, click here.

And for a later photo of the same mantis watching carefully for any birds flying above, click here.