Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Winter is Coming

The other day, I noticed this woolly bear caterpillar on my back porch.

Kinda, neat, right?  I've never seen an all-black woolly bear.  At least until recently.   A former co-worker of mine, Bob Myers, posted on Facebook his picture of an all-black woolly bear.

According to the Old Farmer's Almanac
The Woolly Bear caterpillar has 13 distinct segments of either rusty brown or black. The wider the rusty brown sections (or the more brown segments there are), the milder the coming winter will be. The more black there is, the more severe the winter.
Elsewhere in the article, there's this:
there could, in fact, be a link between winter severity and the brown band of a woolly bear caterpillar. “There’s evidence,” he says, “that the number of brown hairs has to do with the age of the caterpillar—in other words, how late it got going in the spring. The [band] does say something about a heavy winter or an early spring. The only thing is … it’s telling you about the previous year.”
Let's hope that the prediction is wrong,

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

All Lines Lead to Morgantown

Recently on Google Plus, I've been adopted by a group called the Landscape Photography Show. They periodically choose a theme and place a call for shot that fit the theme.   The most recent theme is Leading Lines.

Here's my submission:

We're required to provide a descriptive comment that discusses the challenges we've met.   Does that include waking up?

All lines lead to Morgantown. I've shot this scene a number of times over the years but this was the earliest time (6:50 a.m.) that I've managed. I guess I have to thank a raccoon in my kitchen at 4:00 a.m. for this. But we've got lines up the wazoo here: tree lines, water lines, receding pole lines, dock, fence rails, and the bridge spanning the river. All converge on Morgantown, W.Va. I didn't have my monopod, so I leaned against a fence post for support. ISO up to 400, lens all the way out to f/2.8, shutter at 1/8 sec. Thank goodness for the built-in image stabilization on my lens.
I also want to thank the raccoon for getting me out there early enough to finally catch the WVU Rowing Team at practice.     This has been my Rosebud.  Unfortunately, my Rosebud is a bit of a letdown.

I feel like the dog that finally caught the car.   No doubt about it, I need a better bucket list.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Today's Word

Today's word is "pareidolia." 

According to Wikipedia, Pareidolia can cause people to interpret random images, or patterns of light and shadow, as faces.

I took this picture of an X-Ray machine mount at my dentist's office with my iPhone yesterday.
It reminds me of Edvard Munch' "The Scream."

Monday, September 25, 2017

Three Eyes (What You Gonna Do Now?)

A lunchtime walk down the rail trail today had me admiring the wildlife on a goldenrod flower.
Meet the Paper Wasp (Polistes):

This shot really shows off the three simple eyes or ocelli that are between the wasp's compound eyes. I read on the old Wikipedia that these ocelli are more strongly expressed in flying insects, especially wasps.

From what I've read, these eyes suck at discerning forms, but they are better than compound eyes at seeing light.  Think of them as little light meters. The jury is still out as to their exact function.

In an exclusive to Blogging the ImaginationTM, here's another shot of our lovely little sister:

The title of this post is a tip o' the hat to The Lovin' Spoonful song Four Eyes.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Midnight confessions

Yesterday I posted a photo of a Snowy Egret that I had taken while in Florida last month.  Much to my surprise, this picture has garnered more "likes" on Google+ than any other picture that I have ever posted -- 273 after just one day on the Birds4All community.

Snowy Egret (Egretta thula) is preparing for takeoff: seat back and folding trays are in an upright position.

The thing that I hate to admit is that this is a PhotoShop retouch job.   Here's the original:

Try as I might, I couldn't do a motion de-blur well enough to fix the head around the eyes and beak.  So I did what any other art department flack would have done -- I pasted in a head shot of the same bird from a different photo.   Sue me.  At least it was the same bird.

In my continued effort to justify my re-touching, I recognized that it was a pretty nice picture.  The bird was in a springing position, about to take flight.  I had unfortunately missed getting the tips of the wings, but for the blurred head, the rest of this shot is quite nice.  I can get away with the blurred wings, as they impart the right bit of energy to the shot.  But a blurred head with two eyes is a no-no.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Little Wolf's Foot

On the 4th of July, I decided to give myself a heart attack by hiking the trail to Raven Rock at Coopers Rock State forest.  Sadly, I failed and survived.

The effort wasn't entirely wasted, as I managed to get a bunch of interesting photographs.   One of the first camera stops was to shot a stand of Lycopodium digitatum, otherwise known as groundcedar.

Here's a moody shot taken from low to the ground:

According to a Wikipedia page on Diphasiastrum digitatum,
Its common name is due to its resemblance to cedar boughs lying on the ground. Its leaves are scale-like and appressed, like a mature cedar, and it is glossy and evergreen. It normally grows to a height of about four inches (10 cm), with the spore-bearing strobili held higher.
More interesting, at least to me,  is that this species was once the principal clubmoss species used for collection of Lycopodium powder, used as a primitive flash powder.
Lycopodium has been used in fireworks and explosives, fingerprint powders, as a covering for pills, and as an ice cream stabilizer. Today, the principal use of the powder is to create flashes or flames that are large and impressive but relatively easy to manage safely in magic acts and for cinema and theatrical special effects. Lycopodium powder is also sometimes used as a lubricating dust on skin-contacting latex (natural rubber) goods, such as condoms and medical gloves.
Here's a very interesting Youtube video, Lycopodium Powder - How to get / make it!   I'm really going to have to try this.