Monday, December 22, 2014

Happy Summer Solstice

Today is the longest day of the year for us in the Antipodes and the longest night for those in the Northern Hemisphere. Astrologically Capricorn becomes the dominant sign of the zodiac, which is not a particularly friendly sign to those of us born in fire signs.

In Melbourne it is a warm and sunny day and of course it’s only three days to Christmas.

gorey cat
Edward Gorey Christmas Cat

As usual I’ll be going to my brother’s place for the day and leaving the cats to their own devices. They no doubt will be alarmed by the absence of their slave, but I’ve arranged for a neighbour to attend to their needs in the evening.

More Christmas cheer was to be had at Flemington last Saturday, which I attended to see how my new camera handled the racing scene.

A droll band costumed in Christmassy things were greeting race goers as they entered from the station…


…and the Makybe Diva Statue was bedecked with a Christmas garland

makybe diva 1

I only stayed a short time – for three races – and only had one bet which was successful. I was pleased when Taiyoo, a son of Haradasun,  easily won the Comic Court Handicap, a race over 2000 metres. He didn’t pay heaps, but financed my short afternoon at the races.

taiyoo 2
Taiyoo returns to scale after winning the Comic Court Handicap

As for the G16 at the races, it’s a pity that I inadvertently stuffed up the White Balance, somehow setting it to underwater mode instead of auto white balance.

There wasn’t much of a crowd so I decided to expand my horizons at the course and walked up beyond the winning post, where I found a spot that was not obscured by the double fencing that restricts one from taking action shots. The photo below was taken from there.

bascule 5
Bascule, winner of the Primacy Handicap returning to scale.

Despite the stuff up with the white balance, I was quite pleased with the G16’s performance and the photo quality. I do however prefer the continuous shooting mode on my Panasonic as the Canon, despite taking very fast shots, has a lag when processing the images after the fact, and doesn’t give you a live view when shooting in that mode.

As the trains were not scheduled to leave Flemington until 4.55pm, I didn’t fancy hanging around till then, so decided to go home by tram. It certainly is a long walk to the tram stop in Epsom Road – good exercise I suppose – but at least I now know where to go in the future should I need to.

The roses were still in bloom, so I paused on my walk to the tram stop to snap a photo of a rose, marvelling at the extent of the famed rose gardens at Flemington, and how much work it must take to maintain them.


This will be my last post before Christmas, so I wish anyone who reads this a very merry festive occasion.

Monday, December 15, 2014

New Camera, new cat (& dog) pics

I’ve just purchased yet another camera. This one is a Canon Powershot G16, an updated model of my old Canon G10 which I purchased in 2008. There was nothing wrong with the Canon G10, it took great photos, but I have to admit it was somewhat sluggish at times when it mattered.

I had been eyeing off the G16 for some months, but resisted buying it, until last week, when Canon were offering it at a discounted price with a generous cash back.  How could I resist!

I put the G10 up for sale on Gumtree and sold it almost instantly. Perhaps my asking price was too low, but I thought $100.00 for a six year old camera was reasonable, and obviously so did the purchaser.

Anyway, I’ve been testing out the G16 and I am really pleased with its performance (lightning fast) and the quality of the photos it produces.

Naturally the resident cats have been my test subjects…

talya 1JPG

talya 5

willy 5
This photo of Willy was taken early this morning in poor light, but it turned out quite well.

I also tried out the camera on  plants in the garden.

Macro of fuschia (really pleased with the bokeh effect)…



vinca 1

A friend came around to visit the other day and brought her delightful little dog, Tickle, so I snapped the following photo of her.

tick 3

You may well wonder how the cats reacted to having a dog around. Tick is a fairly frequent visitor, and it is more for her safety that we isolate the cats to another part of the house. Tick lives with two cats, so is used to them, but our cats are not accustomed to dogs, and Willy, in particular, would probably attack poor Tick if she approached him.

As for the relationship between the resident cats, nothing much has changed – they still loathe each other. I had to take Talya to the vet, when I noticed she was losing more fur than the normal malting process would produce. She was over grooming and pulling the fur out herself. The vet reckons it was caused by stress, so he gave me some Chinese Herbal medicine called Xiao Yao San to try out on both cats in the hope that it would fix the problem. 

It hasn’t really, as Talya is still occasionally ripping out her fur, though the Xiao Yao San has calmed both cats down, apparently, as they have not had a really serious confrontation since they’ve been on the medicine.

Overall I’m very pleased with my new G16 and look forward to trying it out at concerts and the races.