Saturday, 31 December 2011
There was someone on flickr, and it hit facebook too, where ppl turned posted individual images in to posting collages or multi-tile images one post at a time....
I first saw it on flickr, but soon realized ppl were doing something similar on facebook to create sets that when viewed as thumbnails created a single image.
Whatever you do with your images, have fun. Post. Print. Sell. Share. Donate. Take images and do something with them - and have fun.
Man it's been nice not working all week. I've had time for all sorts of things like making pancakes for breakfast and hot dice. At Ridgefield I usually have some time constraints, either having to go to work or the sun setting.
A stretch of condominiums by the lake... It must be a beautiful view for the residents living in there!
Can you spot the MRTs (trains)?
A random shot of the wide canal along which I walked home.
Oh God, I just miss Singapore! :(
Anyway, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, everyone!
Bonne et heureuse ann�e 2012 � tous and Happy new year ! Je souhaite une bonne ann�e photographique 2012 � Noushka, Eric, Alex, Dominic, Cathy, Chris, Fanny, Haude, S�bastien, Coralie, Jean-Pierre, Lo�c, Laurent, Lucie, Les petits bretons, Roger, Harold, Pescalune, JiPeheL, Doms, Raf, Tippie, Phil, Vincent, Foise, Wolf, Raymond, Sophie et tous mes autres lecteurs anonymes .
Friday, 30 December 2011
The African paradise- flycatcher is one of the most striking of the flycatchers found in the southern African region, not just because of its distinctive chestnut colouring that sets it apart from the other local flycatchers, but also because of the male’s strikingly long tail. Indeed, the male’s tail is more than the length of [...]
I took this one a little after sunrise when the sun hid behind some clouds for a moment.
Shooting at sunrise (or sunset) really makes for a much better starting point for nice images. The low angle and shadows or side lighting can't be beat. And the warmth of it, and orange light is way better than any mid day light might be.
The bulk of the editing done on this shot were two things. First I cloned out a person that was along the shore and distracted from the light and birds. The eye just wanted to go to it. The second thing I did was to clone out the birds that were partial and along the top edge of the shots. They too seemed to be distracting. There were about 4 or 5 of the bird parts, and the parts you could see weren't enough to make an entire bird out of...
I recently commented that editing (and cloning, etc) for content was something I didn't like or do much. In the case of this image I was ok with it. I don't consider myself a purist on things like this. What ever seems to work or what my eye wants is what I go with. But as a rule I guess, I don't shoot and then edit with a mindset of "hmmm, I wonder which parts I should clone out?" That's not how I shoot/edit.
Garnet Ghost Town is near Missoula, Montana. Back in September, we were visiting while my husband took classes, so I couldn't resist making a side trip.
some left overs from the Spanish hide trip -- this bird made all too brief visits so not a lot of time to frame any images -- all with Canon 1D4 and 300 2.
I was with a photo group and after shooting all day, it was a rush to get to Alice Springs airport, so although I knew I had placed a nail file and scissors in my checked baggage, there was no time to go through my photo pack. I was the last in our group to go through security where three alum keys and watchmakers screwdrivers were spotted in my pack. They were about to be confiscated when I realized I needed them for the rest of the trip.
"I will check them in."
"They are too small to check."
"OK I will buy a bag to put them in."
The only snag was that the airport store just had small bags for sale. Undaunted, I bought one and returned to the check-in counter, which was fortunately on the same level and not too far away. I requested one of those large plastic bags used to wrap strollers. Admittedly, it was a bit of overkill, but the woman at the check-in desk did not bat an eyelid when I placed it on the scales with my tiny bag visible inside before she tagged it.
I did wonder if it would reappear on a carousel, but it emerged before my main bag. My only regret was I learnt on the 'plane that several others had meekly handed over their alum keys and had I known they could have travelled safely with mine.
On my way to Chile last month, Heathrow did not like the look of my macro focusing rail made by Really Right Stuff, because they scanned the bag it was in three times before I suggested I opened it for the officers to see the suspicious object, as you can below.
The same thing happened on my return journey out of Santiago, but they were a bit quicker off the mark and requested me to open the bag after two scans. Why didn't I put the focusing rail in my checked baggage? Quite simply because I use it daily and I did not want to wait several days over the Christmas break before I could get another if my bag failed to turn up.
And another thing ..... How I wish airlines could agree on where they want us to stow batteries. We all need to take a stack to keep portable flash units charged and out of the UK, all spare ones go in my checked baggage. Yet, some years ago, I was called up over the tannoy system as we sat waiting to board the 'plane. I was escorted out onto the tarmac to unlock my checked bag to reveal the sets of four AA batteries were simply lying in plastic Ziploc bags unconnected to anything.
In the '80's I took a photo group round India and when we were going through security for an internal flight, all the batteries from our still and video cameras were confiscated - most of which we were unlikely to be replaced in remote parts of India, so I pleaded with the officials to let me put them all in my checked bag. By this time, it was on the runway about to be loaded onto our 'plane, so I had to be escorted by a military guard onto the airside.
Does anyone know the current battery situation in India, as it is a while since I was there?
Thursday, 29 December 2011
This was a more demanding assignment than the first three (which is why it was saved for last) and that really showed in the number of entrants. To those who completed the shoot, congrats. And I hope that you learned more about your own turf by looking at it through the eyes of a potential visitor? Read more �
Hello over there, Kentucky!
Before I go any further, let me just say that I am thankful that there are other folks out there who are willing to travel a few hours just to see one small insect. Some (okay, many) would call us crazy, and others would call us nerds. These are descriptions we would all agree to with a smile on our faces. Everyone has a special interest or two that makes them happy, and for which they would drive long distances to indulge. For some of us, that special interest is being outside, searching for new and exciting things, whether they be birds, flowers, or insects.
And so, back to our quest. Several hundred yards from the river proper is where we found what we were looking for. And what, exactly, WERE we looking for? Three years ago John Howard stumbled upon a beetle he didn't recognize, and it was very close to this area. John knows his insects, so for him to say he found something that he didn't recognize is saying something. Eventually some photos got posted to bugguide.net, where the knowledgeable folks there identified it as Megacyllene decora, or the Amorpha Borer Beetle. It gets its common name from the Amorpha plant that it bores into in order to lay its eggs.
Amorpha fruticosa, or False Indigo - host plant for the Amorpha Borer Beetle, seen here in flower.
As shown on this map from the USDA Plants Database, the plant has limited distribution in Ohio, occurring in only 5 counties in the southern half of the state (it's slightly more prevalent in northern Ohio, where it has been introduced). One of those southern counties is Scioto County, and that is where we spent our time along the river looking for the beetle. Or maybe I should say The Beetle, capital "T" and "B," since it seems to be a rarity for Ohio, and I'm all about seeing rarities first-hand. I remember reading about The Beetle on Jim McCormac's blog last year, and was delighted to be part of the search party this year. (To read Jim's account of this year's expedition, click HERE.)
I had an idea of what we were searching for, so my pulse quickened when we came across this beetle on late-flowering thoroughwort, Eupatorium serotinum. This, however, is not The Beetle. This is a Pennsylvania Leatherwing, Chauliognathus pensylvanicus, which is somewhat similar in markings to The Beetle, but smaller, and not as brilliantly colored.
Here is the charmer that got us all hootin' and hollerin', Megacyllene decora in the flesh!
This may not look like much, but it is a very large, shrubby late-flowering thoroughwort, a plant which was in abundance, and which is used by the Amorpha borer as a nectar source.
Here you see part of our group gathered 'round in order to thoroughly document and absorb the awesomeness of this cool beetle.
In case you're curious about the scale of things, the beetle is the tiny yellow dot in the middle of the purple flower in the center of this photo. I can't help but wonder how that beetle must have felt to see all of these huge bipeds with third-eye appendages and large flashing lights bearing down upon it.
And now... the star of the show! We decided to pose it on ironweed to provide a nice contrast to it's spectacular coloring.
Megacyllene decora posed on tall ironweed.
The true work of any naturalist, amateur or professional, is to spend time with their subject and observe it. One should make every effort at getting to know it and its habits, even if it is only for a few brief minutes. Being able to catch something as basic and elemental as grooming behavior, as seen here, was a real treat.
I don't know if the beetle really was mad or not, but this close-up certainly makes it look that way to my anthropomorphic sensibilities.
As to its awareness of us, well, it definitely had an eye on us. Being flanked on all sides by cameras held at very close range, we are lucky that this isn't an insect with a more aggressive defense strategy (as in, going for your eyes or squirting flesh-eating fluid from its nether regions). As far as we know, the main thing to fear from the Amorpha borer beetle is being munched by its mean-looking mandibles, but none of us tested those chompers, so I don't know what the real affect would be from that. Regardless, when an insect is eying each of its hunters, as The Beetle appears to be doing here (there was a camera to my immediate right, exactly in line with his gaze in the photo at right), you best not try messing with it!
I can now say that I have observed first-hand the appeal of this beautiful beetle, but the rare nature does beg some questions. While John Howard discovered this stronghold 3 years ago, no one has managed to find more than 2 individuals of this species in this area since the initial discovery. Two questions arise in my mind from this: 1.) Why are there so few of them around (compared to the leatherwings and other insects that we found in abundance)?; and, 2.) Why are they so localized? Well-known bug guy Eric Eaton says he lived in Cincinnati for 11 years and only came across this bug once. Intrepid nature explorers, ALWAYS keep an eye out. I know I will be out and about looking for this beetle next year, hoping to find another population.