Tuesday, May 01, 2007
THE TRIP OF A LIFETIME--> set#1
"Island of gold"
This is SET#1 of several sets I will make of pictures from the Marianas islands down to Bali and a few in between.
BE SURE TO CLICK ON THESE PICTURES--SEE THEM FULL SCREEN! USE YOUR INTERNET EXPLORER PROGRAM'S BACK ARROW ON THE LEFT HAND SIDE OF THIS WINDOW TO GET BACK TO MY WEBSITE.
An old farm--went bust many moons ago. I took this on the train back from California, Somewhere in southern Oregon. And less then ten days later I was HERE: >
->-|> NEARLY HALF WAY AROUND THE WORLD
If I recall this is one of the first things you see at the airport when you arrive. I think these are some of the Hindu gods. I'm don't know much about that. But because they are taught to respect nature and people, the religion has made Bali a Paradise all it's own to this day.
SECURITY, CUSTOMS. I tried to capture the rushing moments as we hustle to customs from the airplane. My mom is to the right.
There were so many x-ray and metal detectors used on my cameras that I recommend even if your using 400iso film you might want show it too them rather then let it go through the machines if your going through dozens of X-ray security checks. Radiation damage on film adds up each time you go through. Each time makes more noise in the pictures. The airport signs say 800iso but if you go through different security places 10x on your travels then you could have a serious noise problem. I had to go through 3 metal detectors to get out of Bali alone. And getting back into the USA is nearly as bad. Just in case you don't know, digital cameras and memory cards are of course completely immune to X-ray damage.
I cannot put into words how incredible this trip was for me as a photographer now. This has been a dream of mine for 14 years. Everybody has been waiting to see the Bali shots. Well, here is my first set. They are a trail-mix of memories I decided I'd just add together rather then run them in order for now. I got quite a few 35mm shots of the planes. Some of the pictures here are 35mm and some are digital. I love the chance to use my Nikon EM. Film is cheaper there and I get a professional discount. A CD and negs for a 24 exposure roll is only $4.
This is the first hotel we stayed at. Everything is real, and everything is incredibly artistic. If you did not know it was a hotel, you might think these are temples. Bali is the island of art fused with nature. An incredible combination that almost never fails to please the eye. And the very nice people of Bali have a laid back attitude. It was an incredible gift from my step dad and mom to let me go on this trip.
The entrance to our first hotel. We arrived at night, this is a snapshot at about 1200ISO without a flash. The artwork in nearly all the non-westernized hotels is very fascinating. Mom and I have been staying at the non-western hotels. for many years. It is very safe, and you will miss half the experience if you don't leave Denpasar and stay at a hotel like this. Most hotels have incredible rooms for 1/8th or even less the cost of any "westernized hotel"
Of course, camera's ready to go--I was bummed because it was at night and I knew I could not sleep well. I felt a bit like the Apollo 11 Astronauts. Did you know that they were scheduled to land on the moon and then sleep for several hours without even getting out and looking around! It is true, of course none of them could or did do that! So feeling nearly like I'd gone to another planet or moon myself, I set out at night with my cameras and could not find much. Sleepless in Bali--I just did some computer stuff and waited very excited.
At night Bali goes into another mode. 1000s of outside lights in ornate fixtures and under statues come on all over restaurants, hotels, and some shops. It's worth a walk and generally safe, especially if your outside any big city and not alone. It is very safe if your just a bit street smart to go it on your own. I'd definitely get out of the main city and go to Ubud or another smaller town. We went to Ubud this time.
A presentation to students we happened to walk up on. It is called a "Kejak dance".
where they sometimes walk in hot coals and go into trances in an effort to contact the
I felt absolutely no sense of anti-American sentiment or anything like that here. I felt totally welcome and so did my mom, we were never really worried anything would happen. We avoided the large party crowds in big cities anyway. It is safe to go here and you will be welcomed with honor. I have been to Java and Lombok as well--it's a different story there.
Your going to want to bring every kind of lens you can. Wide angle to at least a 135mm-300mm long lens for birds and people at a distance. I know about all the new digitally stabilized cameras and lenses. That adds nearly $500 to each lens and does not do much good for cameras with built in sensors either. Photographers have been without image stabilization for nearly 150 years. My mono pod works fine for me. To heck with spending that much money! I do hear Olympus has made a good new digital SLR which has that rare feature--a built in image stabilizer, but I would get another lens rather then buy a new camera with that feature. Cannon has a set of lenses that do that and I believe Nikon does as well. It's not worth the price to me anyway. Even though I have to keep cameras more steady then just about anyone. Very close macros require all kinds of moves with your hands and your camera to get the right angle and shot, often pain from this long process can cause you to get a shaky hand--and often low light. It is a pain problem from trying to get the depth of field just right or a moment at the right time in a certain place where you must hold the camera very steady and don't have room or time for a tripod. Most people have no idea the lengths and pain photographers go to to get the shot they want!
Nephila maculatl sp. (family Nephila) This picture incredibly is LIFE SIZED! unless your
useinga very old computer (more then 8 yeras) then you should be seeing this spider at it's real size. This 1:1 view was an accident but it worked out nearly perfect!
This is the second largest orb web building spider in the world here. Often called the Golden Orb spider Sometimes the banana spider. SHE IS HARMLESS! A gentle giant she can only move very slowly due to her bulk. Some of the hotels leave them around since they are harmless. Considered yourself lucky if you meet one. They get larger then a man's hand. This one is removing a flower that fell in her web. She knows what it is with her palps that act as a sort of taste and smell for her. The males are reddish in color and literally 10X or more smaller then her and sometimes are just red in color. He will live with her and on her body, actually sharing food with her. Another species that does not practice cannibalism. He will crawl on her body living with her for his entire life. If she were put on the ground it would take her over a half hour to just walk go 15-20ft or so. Don't have nightmares, she is very slow and the bite is not serious. Hotels often let them be in full view as they do take care of allot of insects and are truly harmless. They won't leave there webs. Nor will they bite even if you walked through there web. Her size and movement is limited due to her passive breathing system. This is the same reason why insects and spiders are limited in size. 300 million years ago however, there were dragon flies with 3ft wingspans and countless other giant insects due to a much higher oxygen content in the air. This was long before any humans, mammals, dinosaurs--or land animals of any kind except for insects. They became the first animals on land first and some say because they could out-survive us as a species and out weigh us if put all together they are truly still and always have been the masters of the world! Am I boring you? Ok--back to the photos!
HERE SHE IS
IF you ever have the rare pleasure of meeting one of these giant spiders in person--DO NOT CAPTURE! When she gets this large she cannot build a full web again. Thus she would die if you took her down. As seen here--I had the lenses and angles to get these shots without doing anything. I am very glad that I can photographically do nearly all my shots now without capturing and interfering with the insects and spiders.
A candlelight dinner at a restaurant in Bali. You must sit on your knees or cross legged to use this table. Many people here are used to that position.
Look at how lush this is. I could spend decades here taking pictures and not run out of ideas.
My main room. The one I stayed in the longest after mom went home. She was nice to let me stay longer then her. It was incredible and you would never guess what a room like this would cost. There was no TV. Bali has a pretty loose power system. The line voltage on those bulky outlets averages around 200VAC. You definitely need a plug adaptor. The idea is to escape all that here! Often there is a Free FULL breakfast!
Things like this are EVERYWHERE. A fusion of art and really awesome plants. I still can't get over it. I plan to definitely go back as soon as I can. I want to cover snakes and the rice paddy wildlife walks--there is a lot more.
This was my 2nd room of 3 I stayed at total on the 10 day trip. And it costs less then most ok US hotel rooms. Were talking less then $200 US. I'd have to ask my mom exactly how much it was, but this room secluded with an incredible views of the rice paddies and so much more would go for 1000s at the states, that is for sure. And you can trust these small hotel retreats. Don't waste money and experences staying in a westernized chains where prices are. You'll miss out on half the experience and spend 10X more money. Most of the small local hotels have air-con rooms for slightly more money.
With the view and the area I felt as if I was on a Safari in the 1920s. It was incredible. In set#2 I will make a point to show you the incredible river valley view I had. My mom is sitting there next to me, she had a bungalow on the other end and we communicated with 2 way UHF radios.
I want you to know here, I don't usually ever smoke or use any tobacco of any kind. I can handle about 2 cigars a year. Very special occasion here. I did the same thing a year ago with dad while were camping. When I got out of the hospital I quit smoking and all tobacco. I made up my mind and found out how to quit. Forced to go without nicotine for a month I seemed to get over part of the addiction and the rest is all in your head. I was over a pack a day smoker for 10yrs--and I quit completely three years ago. However, like my dad-- I still can enjoy on a very rare occasion a good cigar. No cigarettes or chew or anything. I don't need to ever smoke again and since I got back from Bali about 2 months ago I have not used any tobacco.
In nearly every small hotel and many restaurants there are ponds, gardens, flowers--and on them insects and like butterflies and dragon flies that will sometimes even land on you. They have incredibly not ever learned to fear human kind much. Genetically, that's what happened over the years. But since the Hindu people value all life so much---even the insects have not come to fear humankind very much. This is a long genetic situation. It is very hard to find animals (even insects) where survival of the fittest has not made them very afraid of humans.
Dragonflies and damsel flies are very hard to take pictures of in most places. You either have to be very slow and go to great pains to creep up an inch an hour or you need to get a really powerful macro rig. I now have a rig for it--but I did not need to even change to it to shoot the dragonfly and damsel flies. They just are not afraid. The Hindu people value life and killing insects for any reason is something they go out of there way to avoid.
LUSH AND UNSPOILED GARDENS no "Round up" here!
Another garden view. A chorus of frogs runs all night. And those huge Geckos like the one big one I caught make that sound they whole entire family was well known for. Ggggeccckoooo GGKekkoo"--it varies. Sometimes they seem to be saying other things. Of course this is a mating call that coincidentally sounds like words. They don't listen and talk like birds. They are not very smart lizards-but they are very hard to catch because they can run up anything and very fast. They have tiny hairs so small that they make use of a natural atomic connection that bonds basically anything if it gets close enough. Called the "nuclear force" or "weak nuclear force" it holds them to virtually anything. Contrary to popular belief it has nothing to do with suction cups. Air is not what holds them up so well. They can hold onto glass and nearly anything else because the hairs on there hands are so small that they break into the molecular structure of the object they are on and get close very close to the molecules. Close enough to make use of another force that acts like magnetism or gravity. I think they are the only animals to use this force for something. I learn allot from digital cable.
Click here for a higher then normal res. picture. This is the Gecko that gave gecko's there name. You can see how large he is, my hands are pretty big. Be sure to click on this picture to get a bigger then normal shot. DON'T FORGET to come back using your Internet Explorer back arrow button on the top left hand side of your computer screen or this window.
At night Bali comes alive with lights. Outside of the big cities, it is genarelly safe especially in smaller cities,
They changed these flowers neverly every day. A complex number of them carefully aranged.
They try so much to surve you and go out of there way. Part of that is because of how they were raised and there religion. Pay them well because they don't make much.
I don't know why all these women were standing out here. Or why this one woman was so white with a native face. Could she be an albino human? Don't take your compact camera. Bring your SLR. Not only will you want to change lenses but having a large professional camera causes people to look at you, pose for you--and other things that make picture possible. They often assume I'm working for a magazine, especially with my Canon because it's larger then a typical SLR. It's square with the controls on both sides for poster shooting and other stuff.
This is the beginning of a yearly festival when all power is shut down on the entire island for one night and you are not even allowed to leave your hotel. It is called "Neipe". I don't know how to spell it. They make huge terrible looking status. The full story I will put in another post with more info. Here a man is dancing probably part of working up to this night of noise. They let the bad spirits pass. I had to leave the day before as the airport is shut down on that day as well. More on that later.
This is our first hotel still in the big city. My room is off to the left on this path. All kinds of plants and flowers around leading into the restaurant and reception desk. Full of hard-wood carving that might go for tens of thousands of dollars in the USA.
Ponds like this are made all over. Fish and frogs are added. Everything just grows like life itself is a force. The Hindu believe in this, and try very carefully to respect all life.
This is the best view of my last room. Off to my right (I have to find this picture) the river and jungle turns into rice paddies. This room was incredible. A huge bathroom with showers, a large ornate bathtub, and everything is provided. Once again work is constant and 100s of flowers are changed with the laundry. I was not very afraid of theft. It's not common in Bali, especially out here. I'd take my serious cameras with me--but I felt reasonably ok leaving even my laptop in my room slightly hidden.
This little jumper was the first spider I found. I had my high-powered macro setup on so I could get nice shots of her from a distance. Before she ended up where I could not take anymore seriously high depth of field shots--she posed several times for me. Jumping spiders are the only spiders that look back at you. You can see there at least thinking--and sometimes even a bit curious. She's less then 1cm long legs and all. My new lens goes to new levels shooting at F30-F35 giving me very high depth of field. F22 usually does it but getting to f30 is makes for really nice text-book quality shots.
DEPTH OF FIELD
This picture is the first one I took of a small beetle with my new macro rig. It's less then 10mm long. About 8 or so. Smaller then three letters together in this sentence. Shot above f30--the color and depth comes out very well, but you need a directed flash--even in full sunlight the picture would not be light enough to take without my Sunpack flash. If you don't have a macro ring or flash try making reflectors laminated with packaging tape or putting your camera in "B" (bulb) mode so that it's shutter opens as long as you are pushing the button. You can then push the test/fire button on your flash while holding open your shutter. I did not need that to take this picture as my flash was bright enough.
Another angle, she is looking down in front of her.
This is the original shot.
This guy was only about 10mm long. I have some serious macro gear now and part of it is still a homemade system of mine. A lens "recipie" I am very proud of.
I turned up the levels a bit for this, it's the same picture.
This is known as a "kejak" dance. A bunch of guys with tattoos become possessed with spirits or something to that effect, and they seem to control the crowd with hypnotic chanting and dancing, sometimes over hot coals or fires. These people were participating as part of a school project from Java and I just happened to show up there when we were eating dinner.
They get all worked up into these trances. I saw a bottle of what looked like moonshine being passed around. It could have been watter but these guys get really serious in some of there trances.
The students perform part of the dance with the dancers. We were not sure why they were there doing this but apparently the students from Java were on a long field trip. The guys without shirts on are perform this dance which often induces walking on hot coals. We walked into this and did not have to pay anything. You can pay to go to one but be careful--the one I went to with my dad the guy was so nuts he kicked burning coconuts at the crowd! Some people yelled and actually left!
Orchids grow naturally over there. It seems there are some growing in places from every tree and blooming all the time. In the hotels they are started and take off like crazy. I did not need to leave my hotel to spend the whole trip finding new pictures. Bring a set of good lenses! From wide-angle to at least a 300mm long lens for birds and other things. There is a huge movement in very expensive lenses with image stylization. They are impressive, but photographers have done without them for over 150 years. A monopod and a good balanced SLR is enough for me. Image stabilization would be nice in a compact super zoom camera. There I can see it to be useful. Something to think about--keep the loads off your SLR. Now that compacts can shoot up to 8+mp. There's not always a reason to use your very expensive SLR. Be careful about the strong coffiee in Bali, I'm not even sure if the best image stabilizers will compensate for that!
These are all REAL and fresh! despite the fact that they don't look it even when you pick them up. Fruit so strange that I felt as if I was in a Star Trek episode. One, called Snakefriut, replicates snake skin so well that when removed could fool an experienced person. Incredible that nature made such a thing. "Snakefruit" was only one of several strange kinds of fruits ready to eat every day--along with replacement of over 100 individual flowers in all places. The service here approaches that of the most expensive hotels I can think of.
This is a major junction in Ubud. It leads to the monkey forest and other places. It is a soccer field and from here you can go to trails through the rain forest as well as other places.
I will add here again about hand-held radios. You may want to bring a pair of those 16mile expensive ones. Because you probably won't be able to setup a full new cellphone in Bali for your stay--you might ask to barrow a VHF FM walkie talkie if you go on a hike, especially if your going to be alone. Due to dangers from snakes to falls it is best to go with a buddy system. There are walk clubs to join and all. You should know some basic first aid and be ready for difficult places if you go it alone--most of all have a means of calling for help if you are injured on on a trail. I fell a couple of times from an injury myself. You have to be very careful. I would consider this a relatively serious jungle. Well, on a scale from 1-4 4 being the most dangerous naturally, I'd give this one a 2. You got some dangers you got to worry about.
This black bumble bee was nearly an inch and a half long. Twice as large as the ones you might see in your garden at home. I think it is some kind of carpenter bee. It's huge and this was a difficult shot!
"Nature fuses with art"
This kind of thing happens everywhere in Bali. It is awesome to see. There is so much artwork of all kinds that even old junk becomes a new kind of art when it's overgrown with plants and flowers. Unspoiled pockets of rain forest still exist, and the people get along incredibly well with the dangerous creatures in the rice paddies. Even the Cobras. There are so many of them you are almost sure to see one if you walk for a while on a trail. But you won't see them for long. They run as quickly as possible making a fast speed into the bushes. They don't rear up unless they have nowhere to go so often people don't even know they are among Cobras.
A WORD TO THE WIZE ABOUT REPTILES
Your chances of getting bit are very small as long as you don't try to catch one. It may look easy on TV, but it takes a serious ammount of skill to capture a live posoness snake. Each year--100s of young people are brought to the hospital because they think it's easy to catch dangerous snakes. Some of them even die. DO NOT try those things you might see on TV. It took me years to learn how to handle poisoness snakes and I had to be taought how. When they say don't try this at home--This is one you should really listen to. It takes far more skill and knowledge then it looks to keep a snake from biteing you like you see on those TV shows. Those guys have to think like a chess game with the snake, and know how they generally will react by reading them. This takes lots of practice and time to learn how to do well. If you just imitate them--you'll get bit. And in Bali, the Cobras are even more dangerous then rattlesnakes. I have had serious training and experience handling live poisonousness snakes and taking care of them. Please Supervised levels of training are needed. It is illegal in many states to keep rattlesnakes for pets and that often ends in disaster. Don't try to impress anyone or do anything stupid on the trails. Handleing deadly snakes is stupid, especially when medical help is nearly hopelessly far away.
I did not get to places where the best rice paddy views are on this trip. Here is one shot I caought while we were driveing to Ubud where we stayed for the next few days. Where the treelines are crisscrossed by patches of rain forest there are hikeing trails. That's where the snakes are. There are also green thin snakes you can sometimes spot. They are nearly more dangerous because they are slow. The vine snakes here have a triangle shaped head and long thin green body to blend into foleage. I could not find one on this trip. I was told again they are deadly as well. There are many snakes in Bali and other places that look like safe species but they are NOT.
Art is everywhere in Bali. I took this in very low light so I had to do alot to it in the "digital darkroom". It is a hardwood carving that I can't even begin to think of how they did it. Incredible craftmenship and often at an amazingly low price. What will be probubly more expencive is how to get something like this back to your home in the US or wherever. One thing, remember, these people live truely poor. If you at all can, you should reward them whenever you can. Just handing them a bit of money might make them happy but don't pat yourself on the back because they act extremely pleased with a 50% tip. They will act the same at 10%. I usually cave in to store prices because I know they need it.
Another fusion of art and life. Things like this are everywhere in Bali. This is what Bali is about!
Ironically it's not the big spiders or other visible threats you have to worry about. Animals, falls, and most of all FALLS INTO SEPTIC WATER is a serious problem! DO NOT TOUCH any creek water around. Septic systems run on the streets in many areas and poor into rivers and streams. The watter can kill you because of how contaminated it is. Do not hike where you could fall into a stream. Be very careful of snakes and other things could leave you in an instantl----Ok, I am writing a whole tour-guide here!
If anyone wants to know more about it you can e-mail me and if I have the time I will try to answer any questions if you are going on a trip. Please buy one of my pictures if you do. Thankz.
There is no tax that is noticeable in Bali and no fixed prices. Many places you can cut a bargon with. Barting, bargoning, tradeing, and forgine money are all welcome and legal to use. If something costs 100,000 Rp. (Rupia) You can ask "I give you 75,000". For example. Although since they are so poor I usually do not try to do this. There is very much a wild-west like freedome there about certain things which are covered in red-tape in the USA. We are banning pocket knives and video cameras, rados that pick up frequencies. What is next? I won't get any more political but one thing I love about Bali is as long as your not basically "doing wrong" and you be careful you can do many things without worry.
This was a snapshot of the same resterant that night. These incredible places are all so elaberately decorated it's hard to beleave it's even possible. How do they grow all this stuff?!
There are NO FAKE plants or flowers here. Every day they arange buquets of flowers for your room. Fresh ones. Elaberate ones. This is something you would expect in a 4 star hotel. The only place in Bali you might find fake plants is at the western hotels. Out here in a small but growing town called Ubud, things are far different. You might not have a TV, but you will have a view far better then anything you would want to watch!
The Balines women are shy sometimes but very nice and very beutful! My mom was with me when we were by the beach so I did not get a chance to go use my long lens to---oh, ya--this is a G-rated website :) I tried but due to an injury I did not get very many people shots. I have some more I will publish soon in what I call "Bali Set#2". There is so much cool stuff! Keep checking my site in the next month or so I should have alot more pictures.
I found the woman in the middle of this picture a bit odd. She looked like she was a human albino or something. I did some color correction. Many times I got stares that were good from people because of my pro-camera. All these women and children were waiting for something, it's my guess it was a market. Our friend and guide down there, Komong, drove me arround slowly so that I could take pictures.
And this is a huntsman spider of some kind. Now these do move fast. I was lucky enough to get a few shots of htis one before she ran off.
AWESOME! Look at this! A species I've never seen before anywhere! It's is a silver-chrome Argiope! I'm not sure of the name and I've never seen this species even in books. This is TRUE COLOR. It was increidible chrome color. A few more shots made her a nice addition to my digital bug collection. This picture was taken about 5-8ft away from me. I did not need to even touch her to get a very high-res description of the species front and back down to serious details. These days there is little need in my opion for creating large insect collections that fall to peaces all to often. And spiders that loose all there colors over time. Let them live and create a "digital bug collection" even if you have to capture the subject and release. Today's digital cameras are powerful enough with a good macro setup to get details which can identify a spider beiond all doubt 99% of the time if you get the proper angles. Why kill what you love so much when you can now do it with the power of today's technology and minimize your interference with nature?
I do know there are some places and times where survayes are needed and specimemens must be collected for studies and identification or simply because it is the easy way. Sometimes you still understand that it's sometimes need more then a set of detailed pictures if you think you found a new species or need to study biology and many other functions. There is still something like an estimated 10,000 species of spiders not yet named and known to science. I just think that sometimes shortcuts are taken (such as animal testing products and drugs--killing or maming lab animals) to get quick results. This is simply wrong.
The dragon flies were so used to people not harming them they litteraly can and do land on you every now and then. Over generations of not being killed or harmed by the people in Bali it makes it possible for me to not need to put on macro lenses to catch pictures like this! Incredibly, butterflies will sometimes land on you and are not afraid. And flickrs, known for years to be very shy will let you get right up close! I was shocked at how these creatures really are not very afraid of humans. Clearly the difference because of the range of species here is a genetic thing that has happened over generations of the Balinize people treating even insects with great respect. One very rare place, where some of the wildlife still does not fear man. Places like that with other animals are extremely rare but there are still a few. Nearly all animals have learned to be afraid of people includeing the insects because people swat them.
Damwsel flies. They are everywhere with all the little pools and gardens most of the hotels keep up.
Isn't this awesome! I've never seen a Damselfly this long! Amazing stuff here. I shot all these just at my hotel in less then an hour.
I was attacked by these guys--stung probubly 100x. IT was bad but I recovered quickly. They are one of the more nasty bugs. The large Golden orb spiders are gental giants that can't move more then a very slow crawl. I don't understand why people are so afraid. A recent study indicates that young children do have a true reaction to s-shaped things moveing past them and snakes. Fear. The same test done with spiders showed none. We learn our fear of spiders, and most things called "spider bites" are actually insect bites or skin problems. More often then not insect bites and stings that your not even aware of. The kissing bug, is a relitively known example.
A WORD ON SWARMING ATTACKS OF STINGING INSECTS--WHAT DO YOU DO?
Everyone should know, insects, (especially bees and wasps) will not stop and many will not give up for over an hour trying to sting you if you jump in the watter. NEVER do that. If you are attacked by swarming bees or wasps the best thing to do is get in a car and drive fast or run away as quickly as possible. Going into a house can be a death sentence as they will may find a way inside. No matter how many biteing ants or bees on you run carefully and don't panic. Never lay down or jump in a creek. A watter hose, peper-spray, and even bug spray is useless.
GET OUT OF THERE. Thinking othwerize is how people get killed. Unless you have scuba gear on you will be in serious trobble thinking you can outwit bees or wasps by jumping into water. A Method that had killed people before because killer bees remain for hours stinging you every time you come up for air. RUN--as carefuly as possible. Keep calm and don't fall. Before you go into a dangerous jungle environment you might want to think about the dangers and imagine yourself in some of the situations you could get into and how you might react. This is good training for the real thing. And on this trip alone--I got the real thing happen to me. I was covered in stinging army ants in seconds. Think about what you would do--plan an escape route while you are in jungle or dangerous areas--and be very aware. Know where you are and what you can do if you did get swarmed. There should be an Epi-pen or Epinepherine injector with any trip incase someone has an alergic reaction to an otherwize slight normal sting. My dad nearly died after tripping on a log with a huge wasp nest in it. He was swarmed and stung 100s of times. Now he is dangerously alergic to the stings of many wasps. Be aware of what can happen. When I was attacked by army ants stinging me on this trip--I thought of a pre-planned idea in my head about what I can do. Even though did not expect the attack--I was aware of what to do when insects do attack. Staying calm, saving myself and my expencive camera gear! Most stinging insects will not follow you very far. Be as ready as you can before you go into a dangerous tropical jungle or place where such attacks are possible.
She's ready to lay her eggs. I am not sure, I think they live about 2 years but I forgot.
Argiopes on Guam. This is a male and female. Once again, the male is small so she's not likely to eat him. He will mate with her for some time--until being kicked out of the web or whatever and die. Nature is usually pretty cruel to males. Some male spiders don't even live long enough to eat. There is one species where the male commits suicide--litteraly--by forceing the female to bite him (not shown here). Incredible how many animals have so many ways of doing things to insure the future of there offspring. Such morbid things are by no means limited to spiders--there are countless species from lions in Africa to sharks in Hawaii that have morbid and strange reproductive habits.
I did this shot IN FIELD! An Argeope. Her tiny eyes are hard to see. She's face down here. The palps which can be used to tell males from females are those two things ponted down at the center of this picture. They are sensory organs in females and males letting them "taste" things. Her mouth is under on the other side. This is her cephilothorax. Her head and one part of her body is fused. Her abdomen is bright yellow and not visable in this shot.
An another Pacific Argeope seen now from the bottom or venteral side. She breathes through slits on her abdomen (the top body part here in this picture) And she is holding a small beatle in her mouth eating it. Most people dont' know this but spiders don't just suck the life out of insects through fangs like a vampire. They actually have a mouth under there fangs which is connected to a stomich that continuues to operate constantly called a "sucking stomich". That is connected via her mouth. Digestive enzimes make the meal possible delevered mostly in the bite. I took both these pictures back and front--without even bothering her in her web. If you have a good macro rig it is possible to get neraly every detail. I could have made these shots perfect for anatomy but chose to make them more abstract.
There be many more adventures in the Pacific----above is a sneek preview of another adventure I went on just before I went to Bali. Keep watching to find out what happened.