Archive for the ‘macro’ Category

It Should Be Springtime Here   Leave a comment


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Blasted cold!

I woke up this morning to single digit temperatures. The wind chill was below 0F.

Now, I know that doesn’t mean much to those from farther up north, but around here in North Carolina, this is rather unusual for this time of year. And it has been relentless.

Although I’m quite done with winter for now, I realize it’s only a matter of a few months before I’m slogging through the heat and humidity of a Carolina summer. Perhaps I’ll try to remember this popsicle in late August, finding some refreshment in the memory.

Grouch   3 comments


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After the chill of the evening wears off, a number of cold-blooded animals climb out of the water to warm themselves in the sun. Alligators tend to favor land or vegetation mats, turtles tend to climb up on logs that stick out of the water. In both cases, the chosen location is a good one in case a quick escape is needed.

This little guy — a Suwannee River Cooter, I believe — is actually only a few inches long, perhaps 5″ at most. I slowly nudged my kayak toward his carefully chosen log and snapped a few frames at 210mm.

Why “Grouch?”

This was the look he gave me just before grudgingly dropping into the cold water.

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Seaweed Salad   Leave a comment


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When the weather is yucky and overcast, with no subjects of real interest in sight, it’s time to get on the hands and knees and scramble over the rocks.

Down near Ship Harbor and Wonderland on the “quiet side” of Mt. Desert Island, expansive slabs of rock extend into the ocean. Shallow pools filled with life are created from the receding tide, and as long as one is careful with their footing, you can get up close and personal with all manner of little critters and plants. I found this particular collection of denizens to be a lovely composition, but it also looked quite delicious. (I didn’t do it.)
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I Gotta Right to Sing the Greens   7 comments


I Gotta Right to Sing the Greens

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During the dog days of summer here in the South, backyard critters will still find a way to keep cool, and to be cool.

This Carolina Anole seemed to be singing his heart out toward the end of a long day of catching bugs. We noticed him through the glass doors leading to the back deck, so I grabbed the new Sony NEX 7 with the an 18-55 lens and got right up against the glass.

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Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?   4 comments


Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?

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One evening, I was wandering around the garden with my new D600 and a sweet hunk of glass, the Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8, when Susan told me of a bee sleeping in a nearby purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), a plant with many uses not the least of which is… attracting bees.

Now, I don’t know what they put in that stuff, but it’s not the first time we’ve seen bees passed out after collecting a load of pollen. One time, we witnessed a bee waking up on a flower, stumbling around in a bit of stupor, then clumsily flying away to what we presume would be his home base.

Gardens are lovely because as you spend more time in the relatively confined space, you begin to focus in on little things that you might ordinarily miss. And if you sit long enough, nature comes to you, and you begin to recognize the patterns that individual creatures take through the landscape.

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Where Food Comes From (3)   3 comments


Where Food Comes From (3)
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Continuing on the theme of Where Food Comes From, we have a new subject for you to identify. Can you guess what this is? (* Answer below.)

We had been concerned about this plant over the winter, as it looked a bit gangly. But as this year’s new growth flushed in, the plant became much larger and fluffier just before sending out these beautiful flowers laced with various purple tones.

We don’t harvest the leaves of this plant while it’s blooming, but otherwise, we clip off the leaves, rinse and dry them, and then sauté or pan-fry them in butter and olive oil. (Okay, more butter than oil for this treat!) Don’t make them too dark, or they’ll get bitter.

After about five minutes, you take the leaves out of the butter and cool them on a paper towel. IF there are any remaining after we snitch them, we put the leaves on pasta, on salads, or any other dish that could use a come-up. It always surprises us when the toasted leaves make it to the plate.

* Somewhere on the ‘net, a woman asked what to do with all the excess sage she had growing in her garden. Someone else responded with the above idea, and voila… no more excess sage.

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This is another macro-focus-stack image, derived from five separate images taken at various focus points along the plane. Using Auto-Align Layers and then Auto-Stack Layers commands in Photoshop CS6 produces a good result with few artifacts.

Where Food Comes From (2)   5 comments


Where Food Comes From (2)

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Okay, so the identity of this one is a bit of a trick question, as it is not edible. What is it? *, and what is its relation to food production?

This plant, located in several places around our garden, has a large central tap root and huge, lush leaves. It puts out these delightful flowers ranging from purple to white, yet the plant does not reproduce via the flowers, as it is sterile. (Whatever you do, though, do not cut the tap root, or the plant will pop up everywhere!)

It is highly advised not to eat the plant, as it can lead to liver failure with its hepatotoxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids. However, with a country name of “knitbone”, topical application can encourage cell division leading to faster healing.

Why did we plant about ten of these big boys? Because the leaves make excellent, nitrogen-rich compost and fertilizer! The large tap root, which can extend dozens of feet into the soil, pulls nutrients from well below the surface, concentrating all the mineral goodness into their leaves and stems. Whether we add the leaves to the compost pile, drop them where they are, or make a “tea” from the leaves, this is one of the best forms of ‘free fertilizer’ for the other, edible plants.

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* Russian Comfrey (Symphytum × uplandicum)

This image is created from a focus-stack of eight images, with a Nikkor 105mm macro lens.

Where Food Comes From (1)   1 comment


Where Food Comes From (1)

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I recently rented a couple of macro lenses from BorrowLenses.com, testing them out in our gardens.

Springtime is in full swing around here; lots of plants are budding out and blooming. As I honed in with the macro lenses, I was astonished at how well these lenses show us details that we might otherwise pass by without noticing much of anything. Some plants the we believe we’re familiar with take on a completely different appearance when seen closely.

As I was shooting, I recalled a scene from a movie we watched recently, Forks Over Knives, a documentary that examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods. The scene showed a school teacher holding up various vegetables to a group of young students. Many of the students failed to identify potatoes, tomatoes, and other “common” vegetables. Their experience of these foods tends to come only from highly processed and brightly packaged commercial product.

I find that sad.

In the next few weeks, I’ll be posting some of the macro images I’ve taken (and will continue to take!) Can you identify the plants? We’ll start out with something relatively straightforward.* Answer below.

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* It’s a baby blueberry. 🙂

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