Tag Archive: AlyZen Moonshadow


Geobender.com

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I came across this amazing Cube whilst surfing the internet. And thought I’d share it with you. You might be thinking “Hey, it looks like THAT Cube from the Hellraiser movies!” It certainly contains a lot of surprises, but no, it is the brainchild of Andreas Hoenigschmid.

The website is http://www.geobender.com
When you’re at the website, select “HyperQBS” from the dropdown list on the right. It gives you an explanation of what the Cube is. You can also purchase Cubes from the site itself. There are several videos within the site, showing how the cubes work. Highly recommended, if you like to be awed.

Watch “Single Cube” on YouTube http://youtu.be/ulS7pJ5l7eI

If you think 1 Cube is good, wait til you watch 4 Cubes in action!

Watch “Cube Transformations” on YouTube
http://youtu.be/EKgNeKmQSqY

Photo of Andreas Hoenigschmid with some of his Cubes:

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I want one! No, I want them all!

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Photograph or Painting?

Whilst trawling through the Internet, as one does with increasing frequency these days, I came across this arresting image.

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Like WOW. Mind blown.

The caption read : Orange sand dunes of Sossuvlei, Namibia. And at the bottom left of the image was the National Geographic logo and the photographer’s name Frans Lanting. So I simply Googled those keywords and almost immediately came across the National Geographic’s article about it.

Yes, it really is a photograph. Even though it may look like a surreal illustration for some science fiction/ fantasy book.

I just thought I’d share the awesome image with you all, and also the National Geographic’s interview with the photographer, Frans Lanting, where he describes how he came to create this masterpiece. (This image, by the way, isn’t new, it’s been around since 2011. It’s just that my radar has finally caught up with it. Darn…time to upgrade said radar ;))

From the National Geographic article:

Behind the Lens
Photograph or Painting?
While on assignment in Namibia for National Geographic magazine, Frans Lanting captured this surreal landscape image in a location called Dead Vlei. Due to the nature of the lighting in the frame, the photograph appears almost like a painting. We asked Lanting to take a few moments away from his current assignment in Africa to answer readers’ questions about the photograph. Due to limited internet connectivity in the field, he was only able to provide brief responses to questions, so we asked Elizabeth Krist—Lanting’s photo editor for this story—to offer additional detail where appropriate.
(If you are interested in acquiring this image as a fine art print, please e-mail gallery@lanting.com.)

From Shay Mordo: Absolutely amazing composition! Did it require prior planning or it was just being in the right place at the right time?

Lanting: Here’s a short summary about the making of the photo. It was made at dawn when the warm light of the morning sun was illuminating a huge red sand dune dotted with white grasses while the white floor of the clay pan was still in shade. It looks blue because it reflects the color of the sky above. Because of the contrast between the shady foreground and the sunlit background I used a two-stop graduated filter which reduced the contrast. The perfect moment came when the sun reached all the way down to the bottom of the sand dune just before it reached the desert floor. I used a long telephoto lens and stopped it all the way down to compress the perspective.

Camel thorn tree in the shade, Namib-Naukluft Park
Photograph by Frans Lanting
Krist: Our photographers do extensive planning, often selecting specific locations before they even set foot in the field, and in this case Frans was fortunate to have his wife, Chris Eckstrom, helping with research and logistics. A key factor in all our stories is giving the photographer enough time to scout situations so they know where the light will hit, when people might arrive, what the problems will be, etc., and can return at the best times.

From Ana Paula: What is it that appears white in the orange background?

Lanting: The sand dune is dotted with white grasses.

From Cathy Cory: What editing did you do to this image and what software did you use? I’m an art student working toward my B.F.A. and this image does look to be heavily edited. Some explanation would be helpful. Thank you.

Lanting: The colors in the final printed image were true to the scene as I saw it—the only technical adjustment I made was the use of the graduated filter, which only reduces contrast but does not affect the colors of the scene.

Krist: We never touch anything that will affect composition or the action that happens in a frame, but we do crop images to fit the layout, and our pre-press staff are masters at helping to adjust color or exposure so that the photograph will print well.

Visitors descend upon Dead Vlei, Namib-Naukluft Park
Photograph by Frans Lanting
Can you describe what it is that makes this photo look like a painting to so many people?

Krist: I think it’s the intensity of the sunlight falling only on the dune in the distance, while the foreground is still in early morning shadow, so the trees are almost in silhouette. The dune, called Big Daddy, is almost 1,200 feet tall, and is an intense reddish-orange color, so it creates a mysterious backdrop.

Are there techniques people can use to capture similar images?

Krist: One reason people respond so strongly to this image is just how surreal and otherworldly it looks. My advice to both students and professionals is to always, always, always use the drama of light (and composition, too, of course) to go beyond simply recording the scene in front of you. If you’re standing with a group of photographers, why would you want to shoot the same picture everyone else is shooting? You have to master the equipment, but you also want to find your own distinctive approach. A lot of that is sheer effort—trying different angles and distances (lying on the ground, climbing a hill), or investing the time to wait for just the right moment or weather and coming back the next day for a second chance. But there’s always that elusive imaginative element, too.

Cracked desert ground, Namib-Naukluft Park
Photograph by Frans Lanting
Did you have any expectation that this particular photo would be so popular?

Krist: I can’t speak for Frans at the moment he shot the image, but it was fascinating to see the reactions here at the magazine. People were polarized. Most of the editors loved it, but it left a few people cold. This scene, with the dead trees, stood out for us immediately while we were editing, but Frans shot a lot of variations, and we did have to do a lot of close comparisons before we finally settled on this one frame.

Why did you choose to shoot the five different frames that appear on this page, and what were you trying to tease out of the landscape in each frame?

Krist: Frans shot almost 16,000 frames for this story, and when I went back to look, I found that he had shot 321 images of the dead trees in Sossusvlei and Dead Vlei. (That’s actually relatively few frames for such an iconic scene, but Frans had a shorter time than usual in the field for this assignment, and he was trying to cover a lot of ground.) He was simply trying to give us the greatest visual variety from that unusual location in the brief time he had there.

Camel thorn trees in the shade, Namib-Naukluft Park
Photograph by Frans Lanting
Could you talk about the quality of light at different times of the day in the locale and what’s better for achieving the perfect photo?

Krist: The early morning light and the light at dusk usually yield the most romantic and beautiful feeling for most locations. But it all depends on the kind of effect you’re going for, and if you want the harsh light of midday, that can also give a certain kind of drama. There is no such thing as the one perfect photo!

Here are some other images of the Sossuvlei sand dunes, courtesy of Google images:

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These photos look strangely familiar…and then I remember a film where Sossuvlei and Dead Vlei featured in a film. It’s the opening scene of the 2000 movie “The Cell” starring Jennifer Lopez. Yes!!

Here’s a video clip of that scene:
http://anyclip.com/movies/the-cell/the-desert/

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Rockingham Penguin Island

I’m proud to be able to boast that our little city of Rockingham, Western Australia, is home to a race of adorable tiny little creatures. These are the Little Penguins, so-called for their small stature.

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The Little Penguin, or Fairy Penguin (I love that name!), is the world’s smallest species of penguins. They stand little more than a foot high. End to end, one would fit nicely from the crook of your elbow to your fingertips, that’s how tiny they are. They can be found along the coastlines of southern Australia. In New Zealand they are called Blue Penguins. Rockingham, Western Australia is about the furthest north these little critters go, and we are all the better for that. Penguin Island hosts the largest colony of Little Penguins in Western Australia.

image View showing Penguin Island in the forefront, and the Rockingham mainland in the background.

imageShowing Penguin Island and behind it, Seal Island. The large island with a causeway is Garden Island, Western Australia’s largest Naval base.

Penguin Island is called that because…well, obviously because it’s where the colony of penguins live. But not just penguins call the island home – on Penguin Island itself, and on its neighbouring islands are large colonies of pelicans, seagulls and seals. You can take a tour in a glassbottomed boat further out to sea and see playful dolphins, and even swim with them. On Penguin Island there are several nature walks (watch out for raucous seagulls guarding their nests, eggs and young!), a picnic area (bring your own food and drink), caves you can explore, even the occasional basking sealion on the beach!

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For both the ferry to Penguin Island and dolphin tours around the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park area, Rockingham Wild Encounters is the sole operator.

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There is a tidal bar or sandbar from Rockingham across to Penguin Island, and people were allowed to walk across until recently…the sandbar unfortunately does not go out in a straight line, like a bridge, but curves and zig-zags underwater, and is extremely difficult to see underfoot when the tide is rising or in strong winds. Step off the sandbar and you would plunge into the sea, or worse, be swept by strong currents onto jagged rocks.

I recall reading about an unfortunate family from India who had just had a picnic on Penguin Island on 28th December 2010. They, along with around 10 other tourists, had either missed the ferry or wanted to experience walking on the sandbar. The tide started coming in, so they quickened their pace to get back to the Rockingham shore. Unfortunately, the 2 Indian wives were swept off the sand bar into the sea, and their husbands jumped in to save them. The women and other tourists were subsequently rescued, but the men drowned. These days, there is a huge sign on the beach strongly discouraging anyone from using the sand bar.

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So, please, if you are planning to visit Penguin Island, do it safely. Take the ferry. The cost of it covers you to and from the island, and you can also combine it with the cost of the Penguin Island Discovery Centre Show aka feeding time for the Little Penguins. You can see them up close and learn about their habits, watch them swim, play and eat. They really are the sweetest little things.

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Penguin Island is closed to the public during the penguins’ winter nesting period, from June til mid-September each year. But the wildlife cruises are still operational all year round. During the breeding season, there are up to 1000 pairs of Little Penguins on or around Penguin Island. The penguins that you see on show are either orphaned or rejected and rescued and are now permanent residents of the Centre, or those found injured and nursed back to health.

Where I live, each morning at sunrise, large flocks of wild birds fly over my house: seagulls, pelicans, cockatoos of all colours – white, pink and white, green, black. The cacophony is unbelievable and enough to wake the dead! And the same happens at sunset each day. I absolutely love it.

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(All photos courtesy of Google images).

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Some ads from the 1950s and even earlier: (as seen on Pinterest)

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And who uses these appliances?

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That’s right! The lady of the house! Look at that beatific smile on her face as she irons, washes, hangs out the clothes, sews, scrubs and mops! Doesn’t she look like she’s enjoying every last second of it?

(Cue sound of DJ scratching record)

Luckily, you’ve come a long way, baby. Here are some household appliances, gadgets and innovations the modern house already has, should have, or will have in the very near future: (images also taken from Pinterest)

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All to make your life much easier…after you’ve just returned home from a long day at work and find that you’re still expected to cook, clean and tidy up after the kids and the husband.

Luckily, there are always willing slaves to help you out…The following images are from a witty little book called “Porn for Women” ;).

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Like I said, you’ve come a long way, baby!

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Take one old garden bench.
Add one found bookcase, minus the shelves.
Add 30 litres of potting compost. Scrounge around the house and gather together various succulent plants and what not.
Plant in bookcase planter.
Add smooth pebbles from old pond. Tamp down.
Water with watering can.
Add various plastic toy animals.
Stand back and admire.
Enjoy!

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Everyone has high and low periods in their lives, it’s only normal, as Life is constantly changing and never the same.

Whenever I feel low, one of the things I do to help raise my spirits is to look on Google Images and Pinterest for affirmation quotes. It’s reassuring to know I’m not alone in the way I’m feeling, that countless others have experienced the same and lived to tell the tale. What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.

Here are just some of my current favourite affirmations or sayings, for a positive outlook on Life when it gets you down. (Courtesy of Google Images and Pinterest).

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So, whenever you’re feeling not so on top of the world, remember to Stay Positive. It’s only Change. Choose Happiness!

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Dušan Beňo is an amazing Slovakian photographer specialising in Macros of insects. Enter his microcosmos here.

Dušan’s photographic skills are not limited to Macros; he is also a dab hand at human portraits, animals and flowers, as evidenced on his site.

Here is what I managed to glean about Dušan, from various searches online:

He is a student of Matej Bel University in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia.  He’s 27 years old and has been shooting and specializing in macro for over 7 years. Dušan loves the details of his insect subjects and finds their bright colours and characteristics charming. His favourite camera is the Canon MP-E, which he considers the best universal lens for macro shooting.

Here are some examples of Dušan’s magnificent insect Macros:
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Here’s a photo of Dušan, the photographer, himself. Keep up the wonderful work!

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I also found a YouTube video by Dušan himself which showcases his wonderful insect Macros:

 

Visarute Angkatavanich hails from Thailand and has a wonderful talent for photographing fish. I keep fish, but I can never get mine to stay still long enough to be photographed properly ;-). And my photos of fish never come out as envisioned. Quite possibly because my weapon of choice is a mobile phone camera and not a professional SLR with all the bells, stops and whistles attached to it. And definitely because I am not a patient person who’s willing to sit for hours watching for the perfect photo opportunity. I’m like that proverbial Panda that eats, shoots and leaves lol. Visarute uses specialised lighting and crystal clear water to shoot his subjects. (I have problems getting my fish tank water to stay clear and my subjects to stay alive long enough!)

Visarute is perhaps most famous for his portraits of Siamese Fighting Fish or Betta Splendens. A fitting tribute, for these fish originate from his own homeland and are part of a rich cultural history going back to the 19th century and Siamese royalty.

Here are some examples of Visarute’s glorious Bettas, courtesy of Google Images:

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To me, it seems almost balletic, the way the wavy fins appear to dance in mid-air. The Betta Splendens is a beautiful fish in its own right, and Visarute has managed to enhance its attributes even more, with his photographic prowess.

I also found on Google some examples of Visarute’s photography that are Not of the Betta Splendens. This leads me to believe that he is flexing his photographic skills and observing the characteristics of other types of animals, no doubt in the near future we shall see more of his astounding works.

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Portrait of Visarute Angkatanavich and his beautiful young family (from Google Images):

Family portrait

 

I contacted Visarute on Facebook, and asked if he would like to add anything to my post here. He told me that his work is available on Amazon through this link:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=art_artist_search?node=6685269011&field-keywords=Visarute+Angkatavanich

 

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Alexander Semenov is a marine biologist with a wonderful sideline in undersea photography. You may recall recently that I posted up some images of jellyfish in a previous post. Some of those images may well be by Alexander Semenov. This young man is no landlubber, preferring a life on the high seas!

In Alexander’s own words:

In 2007, I graduated from Lomonosov’s Moscow State University in the department of Zoology. I specialized in the study of invertebrate animals, with an emphasis on squid brains. Soon after, I began working at the White Sea Biological Station (WSBS) as a senior laborer. WSBS has a dive station, which is great for all sorts of underwater scientific needs, and after 4 years working there, I became chief of our diving team. I now organize all WSBS underwater projects and dive by myself with a great pleasure and always with a camera.

When I first began to experiment with sea life photography I tried shooting small invertebrates for fun with my own old dslr camera and without any professional lights or lenses. I collected the invertebrates under water and then I’ve shot them in the lab. After two or three months of failure after failure I ended up with a few good pictures, which I’ve showed to the crew. It has inspired us to buy a semi-professional camera complete with underwater housing and strobes. Thus I’ve spent the following field season trying to shoot the same creatures, but this time in their environment. It was much more difficult, and I spent another two months without any significant results. But when you’re working at something every day, you inevitably get a lot of experience. Eventually I began to get interesting photos — one or two from each dive. Now after four years of practice I get a few good shots almost every time I dive but I still have a lot of things that need to be mastered in underwater photography.

And the most important thing — I love Sea.

Some images of Alexander’s amazing sea creatures, courtesy of Google Images:

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And here are a couple of photos I found of Alexander Semenov himself, one as he is, and one with his underwater photography and diving gear:

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Alexander Semenov’s underwater photography can also be found on these sites:

https://m.flickr.com/#/photos/a_semenov/

We owe a debt to Alexander and other photographers of his mien, who constantly work tirelessly to bring us images of deep sea creatures that we would otherwise never encounter in our daily lives. Maybe “work” is not the right word for what Alexander does, it is clearly his passion and more a way of life than a hobby.  It is his calling.  He’s one of the lucky ones who actually does what he loves for a living. Thank you, Alexander Semenov!

Postscript: Alexander replied to my email enquiry and provided some further insight to his aspirations. His newest and most ambitious project is Aquatilis, a 3-year expedition on the high seas to capture images of deep sea creatures. This will be an epic, scientifically important project. Please show your support if you can!

Aquatilis TV

Aquatilis Indiegogo Crowdfunding

Aquatilis Flickr

Appreciation

I was leafing through the latest issue (August 2014) of one of my favourite home decor magazines, Elle Decoration, when this image caught my attention.

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It wasn’t so much the sofa itself that got to me, it was the caption on it. “I found this sofa on the side of the road”.

Two disparate thoughts struck me simultaneously. One was “Oh, how lucky for this person to have found such a fabulous sofa on the street”. The other, much louder thought was “Why would anyone throw out such a beautiful piece of furniture?”

Granted, that sofa might have become shabby from years of wear and tear. It might have been soiled or damaged by water or the elements, the springs in its seat might have been broken. It might even have been thrown out to make way for a more modern sofa.

What makes me angry is why the previous owner did not see it fit to repair that sofa, restore it to its former glory, give it another lease of life. Why was it summarily chucked out on the street? No doubt when that sofa was brand new, its owners loved and admired it, they sat on it and ran their hands over its velvet seat, carressed its detailed curves and carvings, boasted about it to their friends and family. Family portraits were taken on it with pride, it featured at christenings, coming of age parties, birthdays, weddings, funerals, Easter, Christmas. For years it was literally part of the furniture, like a beloved pet, a faithful retainer.

So, for such a wonderful object to meet such an ignominous end on the side of a road, that is the real tragedy.

But, luckily for it, someone with an eye for beauty and potential spotted this treasure before it could be carted away to some dump somewhere. Someone brought it home, cleaned it up, repaired it, gave it new padding and covers, filled in any chips, cracks or breaks. Someone gave it Love again.

It’s said that we don’t appreciate something until it’s gone. Well, here is a prime example. And what saddens me more is that this metaphor can be so easily translated to human relationships. Sometimes we take others for granted so much so that we fail to appreciate what they do for us, until they stop doing it.

Here are some quotes on Appreciation that I’ve taken from Google Images.
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We could all learn a lesson or two from that old sofa.

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