Monthly Archives: February 2008

An Amazon Lily and a soapbox

Lily pond, Adelaide Botanic GardensAdelaide Botanic Garden’s Amazon Lily

When we visited Adelaide last month, we were almost lucky enough to see the giant Amazon Lily in flower in the new purpose-built pavilion in Adelaide Botanic Gardens. I say almost, because we saw some buds and a spent lily, but didn’t actually get to see a flower fully open.

According to the Botanic Gardens’ website, the first flower that opened this year in the new lily pond, did so on January 1 and measured 30cm across! I didn’t check, but the larger leaves looked to be more than a metre across (the largest is 1.65m, apparently!), and had wicked spikes on their edges, a hint of which you may be able to see in the photo, above.

The building on its own was quite amazing, being largely built out of glass and with what looked like lily-pads on poles supporting the roof.

Now for the Soapbox part…

Terry Lane, who has an article in The Age Green-Guide every Thursday (Imaging, in the Livewire section) has a blog – DPExpert – which has reviews, information and advice on digital photography.  One article,  regarding the use of phone cameras and the lack of prints being made from them, was printed in the Age in January and really struck a chord.

The technology has changed so much in the last couple of years, and the quality of the images from phone cameras has improved so greatly, that there really is no excuse for not having them printed. That, after all, is one of the basic tenets of this blog – that we have a greater chance to be social historians than we’ve ever had before – but if the pictures aren’t printed, they could very easily be lost forever.

A 2mp camera on a phone can easily produce a 10x15cm image (standard-sized print), and there are many places that can print them for you at reasonable prices. My favourite places for printing are:, (they do great quality standard-sized prints from 10c each), and MOO, (who make really great minicards, notecards, stickers and postcards) at very reasonable prices. Both companies provide excellent service, as well. And, No, I don’t work for either of them!

So, whatever is holding you back – whether it is mastering the technology, forgetfulness or simply that you hadn’t thought to do it – don’t let the precious memories you carry around in your phones be lost – get them printed!

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The colour of envy

Green motorbike #1

 I’ve never been one to ride motorbikes, but I think some of the older ones are just beautiful, with their mixture of glossy paint and chrome, and their smooth curves.

I would have liked to spend more time photographing this bike, and actually had my DSLR with me, but the rain wouldn’t let up and I didn’t want to risk getting it wet. Yet another advantage of phone cameras – they are so compact, and so quick to use, that the rain wasn’t even an issue with it!

As it was, I couldn’t spot the owner anywhere, and felt it would have been appropriate to speak with him/her before taking a more elaborate ‘portrait’ of this beauty (if only to be able to share the image with them). So – armed with my trusty phone camera – I settled for taking a couple of quick shots for this blog.

The limitations of this type of camera are obvious, too, in these shots: the highlights are blown, and with no way to alter depth of field,  selective focus was out of the question. However, careful compostion has produced two quite passable images, despite these limitations. Of course, the rain helped, too, by making the colours so much more vivid than they would have been in dry weather!

Green motorbike #2

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Hare Krishna devotees

 A trip to town on Tuesday for a dental consultation, saw me minus one molar and with my bank account $450 lighter, but still needing to do some shopping for Meg’s Birthday.

I took advantage of the fact that I was in the city but moving slowly, and took a couple of shots that I’ve been meaning to take for a while – the ubiquitous ‘Giant Pocketwatch’ and ‘Shot Tower’ images.  A troupe of dancing Hare Krisha devotees (above), that was passing as I came down the escalator from one of the arcades off the Bourke St Mall, provided a colourful bonus.

Actually, the Hare Krishnas were particularly interesting to look at this time because of the piano accordian (I’ve never seen one of those being used by them before), and the belt amp and head-set being used by the (apparent) leader – shown back left, in the pale saffron-coloured robe and hood.

The angle of the shot shows the movement exactly as it was – I pulled my phone from my pocket, turned on the camera and snapped the picture as I came down the escalator. I didn’t want to take a chance on missing the shot, or be too obvious about it, so I ‘shot from the hip’, so to speak. I quite like the result, even though it is not a perfect image by any means.

 The Shot TowerAs for the Shot Tower image – it was remarkably simple to capture, especially considering how tricky exposure can be when shooting up towards the sky. Rather than having to take multiple images, or mess around with it in Photoshop, I found that the first shot was exactly what I wanted. Sometimes simple cameras can give the most surprising results.

  The Giant Pocketwatch


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Art, not vandalism

More union lane graffiti

When family members from Adelaide visit us here in Melbourne, they often comment on the amount of graffiti around the city. Apparently Adelaide doesn’t have much, though I must say, I’ve never noticed its absence.

Their comments have caused me to look more carefully when I’m out and about, and I’ve got to say that there is graffiti, and then there is graffiti art.

Union Lane, which I’ve spoken about before, has some fabulous artworks, in as many styles as there were artists. I’ve put an example above, and another here:

 Union lane #2I must distinguish here between tagging and more intricate graffiti.  I’m not a big fan of tagging – it seems pointless and destructive – but tags are a far cry from the glorious, multicoloured creations seen all over Melbourne.  To me, lumping these works in with tags, under the heading of graffiti, is wrong on many levels.

As with any art, what appeals to the viewer of a piece of graffiti art is subjective, and very much reflects personal tastes. Regardless of whether or not a piece appeals to me, though, the skills displayed  by these artists, astound me. I am absolutely amazed by the intricacy of the designs that graffiti artists can produce with spray cans.

The photo below is of a building in Collingwood, around the corner from where I used to work. I don’t remember when this particular artwork first appeared, but I do know that I find it very hard to drive or walk past without stopping to look.

 31012008001-copy.jpgThis type of art isn’t to everyone’s taste, but all I can say is that I would take Melbourne’s ‘graffiti’ over another city’s pristine sterility, any day.


Filed under cool things, graffiti, melbourne

Discerning diners.

Sophisticated diners

Last week, walking down Swanston Street, I saw a couple finish their meal and leave their street-side table. As soon as they left, a flock of pigeons descended to finish off the odd bits of rice and vegetable that were still in the bottom of the bowls.

The way the birds (pictured) descended on the abandoned bowls, it looked for all the world like they were going to use the chopsticks. They didn’t, of course, but there were about four birds in the bowl at one stage, and they managed to eat around the chopsticks without even moving them. One bird didn’t bother with the table, but waited hopefully underneath for something to be dropped. Alas, it waited in vain…

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What I did on my Summer holidays.

I feel like I am a little kid, back at Primary school, writing an essay about what I did over the Christmas break, hence the title.  It was interesting, and more than a bit bizarre, so I thought it might be of interest. Anyway, it provides background for the photos, which is what this is all about, after all.

In early January, on the way back from visiting our family in Adelaide, we stopped for four nights at a caravan park in Portland, Victoria.

One of the historic buildings in Portland

Portland itself is an interesting town. The local tourist office has mapped out a two-hour walking tour of the historic buildings in the city centre, and the port that gives the town its name is big and bustling. We were lucky enough to see an oil rig being towed into port for repairs while we were there – something that most people would never see. It was an amazing sight, particularly at night after the lights all came on.

The aluminium smelter is a pretty dominant feature of the town, and Alcoa has done a lot of work in developing parks and walking tracks, as far as I could tell, though I don’t know what it would be like to live near it.

Glorious beaches and views out to the Southern Ocean made for spectacular walks, though the flies were present in unbelievable numbers. Forgetting the insect repellant on our first day there made for a few unpleasant hours, I can tell you!

Cliff-top walk from the Blowholes carpark to the seal colony off Cape Bridgewater

The bizarre part of the trip was the accommodation.  Booked online, as it was, I was at the mercy of their website for information, and I think someone had been putting a little ‘spin’ on it, making it seem better than it actually was. Though I wasn’t lied to by the person who confirmed my booking, I think they were a bit literal in their interpretation of our needs.

When told that the cabin I was booking wasn’t one of their newest, I had said that as long as we had somewhere to cook; somewhere to sleep and a bathroom, we would be fine. And that is what we got – except that the bathroom was IN the main bedroom, with the toilet about two feet from my head at night.

Our bizarre accommodation…

This; the fact that we were told it was very clean and wasn’t, and the fact that the Caravan park in question was one of those with lots of long-term residents (where there always seems to be a lady who goes to the toilet block at around five in the evening in a purple brunch-coat to get ready for bed), mean that this is one place we won’t be revisiting! A nice motel next time, perhaps? And bucket-loads of Aerogard!

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