Sunday, July 26, 2015

Flight Visualization

Doarama provides cool 3D visualizations from GPS data. Here's my long flight near Vernon, BC. (If the embedded view doesn't work you can see it on their site)

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Print of the Week

blazing fall color

Another one from our Kanchenjunga trek in Nepal last fall. The sun on the bright yellow leaves against the shaded background made a striking contrast.

See also past Print of the Week posts.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Fishing Spider Nursery

Fishing spiders lay their eggs in a ball that they then carry around with them. When the eggs are ready to hatch the female builds and guards a "nursery" web where the baby spiders are protected from predators and perhaps can also find food trapped by the web. A single egg sac may produce over 1000 spiderlings.

fishing spider nursery

The big spider on the left side on the outside of the web is momma. Inside the web is the remains of the egg sac. It's hard to see in the web version of this photo, but if you look closely at the top of the egg sac, you can see the baby spiders. There are several insects trapped on the outside of the web, mostly dragonflies. Momma is feeding on one of the dragonflies in this photo.

Immature fishing spiders hibernate over the winter and then mature and mate in the spring. They can produce two or three batches of eggs over the summer.

Note: This is not the same female that I took photos of with her egg sac. That one is at the other end of the pond and is still carrying around her egg sac. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Print of the Week

Our living room window faces the sunset, but there are so many trees (and houses) that it's hard to get a good view. The best I can do is shoot through the trees and make them part of the composition. Usually I print photos that I took some time ago, but sometimes it's fun to print an image right away. This is from last night.

sunset through trees

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Blossoms and Bugs

It's hard for me to walk through the gardens at Innovation Place without seeing something I want to photograph. These photos are from several different sessions.

I was eating lunch by the pond when I noticed this flower in a spot of sunlight.


And then beside it, a less colorful flower, but with a harvestman in it (not to mention a fly in the next flower). One of several arthropods known as "daddy long legs", harvestmen are arachnids, but not technically spiders.

flower and harvestman

The water lilies are flowering as well, wonderful splashes of color in the pond.

water lily


I'm a sucker for the hibiscus flowers as well, not so much the showy petals as the colorful details of the stigma and stamen.

Hibiscus flower

I keep looking, but I haven't seen many fishing spiders this year, mostly just a few small ones. I have spotted this larger one several times in the same area (at least I assume it's the same one). It's now guarding a ball of eggs. You have to move slowly when you approach and photograph them or else they dive and hide underwater.

fishing spider

On the other hand, there are an abundance of dragonflies around, and maybe not coincidentally, not many mosquitoes. There are obviously dragonfly larvae in the pond since I see their exuva on the reeds (the skin they shed when they crawl out of the water and become dragonflies).

dragonfly exuvia

I found this dragonfly soon after emerging, still drying and "inflating" its wings. Both the larvae and the adults are fearsome predators. The adults are amazing fliers, it's estimated they can accelerate in a straight line up to 4 g's and pull up to 9 g's when they turn in pursuit of prey. Fighter pilots eat your hearts out!

newly emerged dragonfly

As with most of my Innovation Place and walking to work photos, these were all taken with the little Sony RX100 that I keep in my pack. It does an amazingly good job for a tiny little camera.

See all 13 photos as a slideshow or overview

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Print of the Week

"The object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity.”
- Alberto Giacometti


This is another photo of the succulent flower, only deliberately out of focus, making it mostly abstract. (But at least not black and white!)

Normally I'm trying for the sharpest image I can get, but when I was shooting these flowers I noticed that it looked interesting when it was out of focus, so I shot a few images that way.

I can't decide if I think it's "good" or not. I like the colors, and the contrast, and the shapes, the vague suggestion of leaves and a flower. On the other hand, what's the value in a blurry picture of a flower?

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Flying Practice

“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”
- Aristotle

A few days ago the wind was right for another practice flying session at our local hill. With the wind from the south we got a break from the smoke from all the forest fires up north.

Shelley prepping to launch

Shelley ready to launch

And a quick video:

We also got out yesterday for a no wind, forward launch practice session at the tiny hill in the park at the end of our block. With practice, we're gradually improving, going from the glider controlling us, to us controlling the glider. As skill improves, frustration decreases, and the enjoyment goes up :-)

PS. While we were practicing our no wind forward launches, first a group of pelicans flew over with their effortless graceful flight, and next the Snowbirds air force demo team blasted by (airshow is on). I felt like an ugly duckling in comparison!