Thursday, June 21, 2007


7 miles high- no color changes here. I suggest those who fly take a good old mechanical SLR or range finder camera when flying. It is legal and not against the rules to use mechanical cameras on aircraft as they do not generate radio frequency interference. A built in light meter or auto-f-stop also applies. If your camera has anymore then a little button cell just a bit bigger then a watch battery your camera is not all mechanical and you may be asked to turn it off.
I'm not sure on all the rules but fully mechanical only cameras are not capable of producing electrical interference. A light meter or auto f-stop does not apply here as those systems use only a tiny amount of DC current just like a wristwatch.

Pogie-- one of my mom's cats.
A common spider in Micronesia. This species sometimes has bright iridescent markings. I will probably show you more and better pictures of this spider in a future post.

The girls of Bali make these offerings for the Hindu gods. They are intricate and require lots of time to make. They look somewhat like sushi. I have seen offerings like rice, spices, flowers, incense, as well as tobacco, beer and cigarettes and other stuff left burning or open for the God's to enjoy. Insects, birds and really nasty dogs end up getting most of it. They are refreshing however because of all the incense. I admire the discipline and most of all, deep respect for all life. They are woven out of palm tree leaves into boxes in which the offerings are placed inside or near.
A flashback shot-- I think I already showed you this spider but in case not--here is a Huntsman spider in Bali. They are somewhat related to the white crab spiders in the USA.

This shot was not easy. It was not done with any Photo-edit program. I did this all with the camera and gear. No edits at all here, only my name and copyright were stamped on.

I often find ordinary objects can show a sense of interesting beauty. I bring a SLR nearly everywhere I go. You never know when you will get the shot or find something worth taking pictures of. Observe privacy. Ask permission when taking photos in any business or building.
It helps to have buisness cards to show you are really a photographer and not planning some kind of crime. Sadly, I have had to deal with the police several times. People are parioned these days. Since I got my larger digital SLRs I have not been bothered. What crimaial would use such a huge lens and camera to plan some kind of robbery? The police have allways treated me well. If you are out walking taking pictures--bring ID. Something I nearly had to learn the hard way.

Most public places let you take pictures. Here I was holding my camera in a painful position while petting this shark. I am not certain, but it is probably a baby nurse shark. Nurse sharks look dangerous but you would have to grab one and shove your hand into it's mouth to get bit. So I have been told and seen on educational channels. They have a mouth that sucks in fish and stuff. Something like that. Yes, this is real and they did let me pet this live shark. They do feel a bit like fine sand paper.
Here is an icon of Guam and the Northern Marianas. Homes blown to peaces and then re-built as best they can do. Too many people over there live in homes like this. They can't afford to repair and no company in there right mind insures over there except for insane prices. A class 4 or 5 typhoon hits the islands about once every 7-10 years. I went through Chata'an. (Sorry I have no idea how to spell it). I lived three stoires up. No watter. No working toylet. Nothing except an emergency power system that surved me very well. I built it uppon moveing there knowing that I would eventually have to go through one of these things. It ripped off my metal screen door with full sized hinges clean off the wall. The hinges were large enough for a any regular home dead bolted door--one I found still on my doorstep, it was bent nearly in half. It would be difficult to do that even with a vice and a large pair of pliars. The power is incredible. And yah, the rain does hurt. It took all my strength to open my door which nearly smashed in half when it slammed behind me. I wish I had pictures. A bank of deep cycle batteries connected to switches and an old amp meter that led to several inverters converted from EPS units ran my stuff. I was able to power a 20something inch TV, a VCR, DVD, large fan and full bright 70w lightbulb. My stario system and other things as well tied in. I was able to also power my laptop. For a short time I back-wired my apartment with a 400w transformer inverter and lit it up. For miles all you could see was little candles. And my stario was blasting and my lights were all on in a show of defince. I really loved that setup! We did not get power or suage or regular watter for over a month. It was not easy but I had it far better then most.

My mom. There are some great sushi places in Guam. Mom, I hope when you see this you think this is a good picture of you. This is a candid shot I just snapped. Usually those kind of un-planned pictures are the best.

Now I know your going to think I used some kinda software for this. I did not. The picture is completely un-touched. In fact this image is true color and shows the spectacular sunsets my mom and step dad Jeff relax with nearly every night.

Another view. I would have to get really technical to bring up the palm tree and tiny island in this shot. I am told that these colors are new to the area and due to pollution from the massive eastern cities in Asia.

LIFE is everywhere in Bali. And the people grow it. Where they don't grow it it get's grown. It is incredible what grows overthere and how many gardens are kept like this. Alot of people work very hard for little or nothing. They say you should bargin with the stores. I have a hard time doing that with a digital SLR arround my neck.

This is actually carved out of a hardwood stump completely removed. The roots carved into animals and things. An amazing work of art, I shot it in very very low light probably at 1600iso.

A jumping spider--I did not check if I allready put this in. If I did here it is again. Really, check out the pictures that can be found on the right hand side. This site from month to month shows how many posts I make--NOT how many pictures. There are over 500 pictures to see in the archive menu.

And then I got back home. Another candid moment. Just as I noticed my nighbors cat was tired of rolling in the grass--I captured this wide yawn. This looks down right--wierd?

A blast from the past. Soon the spot I took this picture at will be someone's living room. It came from a vacent lot that I used to go shoot pictures in. It's all gone now. It's too bad because it was easy for me to walk to. Somewhere in the archives a while back--there are several pictures of these interesting flowers. They are small and often I found insects living on them. I have no idea what they are.

It was a redish-yellow but clear morning here. But here I tweeked the saturation in RAW way up for effect and contrast. Those are seaguls flying in up the Columbia river. This was a very rare day here. Usually Mt. Adems is impossible to photograph well from here. It is a long ways away but too close for comfort. They've been saying it's going to blow up for a long time now. Things have changed alot since Mt. Saint Helens and all back in 1980, I am confident that things like harmonic termers that they now pick up with modern gear would give us a great advantage of warning should it erupt. But the fact is, many of our major cities were ill concived. It is a serious problem we will have to face in the next few 100 years. The places we have selected for many of our major cities world wide turned out to be really bad ideas. One of many things that are happening. Changes can only be made and things might get worse before they get better but I have hope for humankind. I gave up my dark view of the universe more then a couple of years ago now. If I was one of those crazy dudes holding a sign out on the street about the end of the world, my sign would say "The end already happened".

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The Dalles Oregon Panorama 2007

BE SURE TO CLICK ON THIS SHOT TO SEE FULL IMAGE---USE YOUR INTERNET BROWSERS LARGE BACK ARROW ON THE LEFT HAND SIDE AT THE TOP of this window to return to my site. I shot this panorama consisting of three images from the park up above The Dalles OR where I live. This is nearly a totally complete view of the city as well as the city town and airport across the Columbia river from into Washington state. Unfortunately I do not know how to put the FULL SIZE version so that you can zoom in on details here. Feel free to check it out with any image program. The download is about 3.5mb. You should see a lot by clicking on it and using your internet browsers side to side and up and down arrows. To return to my site, use the LARGE ARROW "back" on the left hand side of your internet browser.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Digital insects from the Nikon D40

I expected to see a camera for a soccer moms and fishing trips. Instead I found a good digital SLR which has a most unexpected power, versatility and in camera image editing that is truely awesome. I used an 135mm 35mm Nikon manual lens and a homemade dioper to take most of these shots. The D40 is an incredible camera, it's quiet yet very high reaction speed shutter. Most of all it is very light waight and reminded me that I may not get as many good shots carrying a my best, most expencive, and heavy camera. Different cameras for different jobs is deffinately something to think about to some degree.

If you learn how easy it is, often will not need to edit your pictures on computer with this camera. It has all the functions and stuff you might not exepect on this class of camera. And on top of sensor options and controls typically found in every digital SLR you have the whole simple to use and very powerful built in image editing systems. Filters to cropping it's truely awesome. A feture I have wanted in a camera for a long time. And do not be so quick to understimate the power of it's 6mp sensor. 6mp is still higher then 35mm film ever was. The prints are awesome and it is extremely small and nimble. I've been using my large Canon which I really like, but once I got that camera and the lenses for it I forgot the freedom and ability of shooting extreme macro shots with a very small nimble simple digital SLR setup. I did not know what I was missing and am very impressed with the Nikon D40. I would recommend it to anyone who wants in-camera editing, or a small lightweight counterpart to a larger main camera for most applications. It comes with an excellent lens. But you won't be able to get shots like this until you upgrade your optics and learn how to stock insects like me.

Now to put this into perspective for you, this fly is about the size of the M letter on your computer keyboard. Just about 1/4 inch long or so! Somewhere between 5-7mm. Looking at the full resolution picture of this fly which is an extreme in-camera crop I did took away any doubts about shooting with a 6mp digital SLR. I can't stand all this talk about mega-pixels. To me it is ego and another expression of our wasteful society. Most people will never use much more then 4. Yet compact cameras are trying to boast 10mp. It's all a crazy overkill created by big business, your pictures often won't really look any better unless your making a very large jump in mega-pixcels. The true measure of a digital camera has allot more to do with then mega-pixels which in my opinion is a poor way to judge a camera. There are many other things you should look at which I may explain more later in my website. My large Canon is over 10mp. That is all I will say. So I have ways of judgeing here. I went back to less mega-pixels by getting the D40 and I see difference but I view it like the difference between medium format and 35mm. Not like the camera is outdated or something. And found that I had a hard time telling 6 from 8 in some cases. I also have an 8mp digital SLR.

I shot this moth myself with one hand on the camera. I was able to operate it with one hand it was nearly just the right size for me to operate it with one hand. This interesting moth was on my deck and had no problem crawling on my finger for a few shots.

Another shot showing more of the moth's camo-features.

And now we see where it's element is. By putting it on a dead plant it's easy to see what the camouflage is for.

The same moth from another angle. This moth was nearly as tame as a trained dog!

This is NOT a fruit fly as most people know them. But it is very very small. Just over 5mm this tiny fly shows the power this 6mp camera can do with cropping insect shots. And I cropped them all in the Nikon D40 before putting them in my computer. All I had to do for most of these shots was stamp my name.

THE SAME FLY--from the same image above now cropped down to about a 8mm span from one side of this frame to another. Yes, just a D40 and an old 135mm Nikon lens I got at a thrift store, a filter and a simple home made dioper setup produced all these extreme macros. It was great to be free of holding a large camera with large lenses for so long. My Canon is great for many pictures but can become very difficult for in-field macro shots like this. As would any big setup. The D40s built in flash could handle F22 just fine. The lens it came with goes as high above F30 and has advanced versatility settings for using old-school manual lenses. This is a very creative camera. At these serious closeup shots of flies most people hardly even see (about 1/3rd the size of a common blo-fly or housefly) you will want to go to the highest F-stop you can for depth of field. And don't have any coffee before for shooting! The D40s quiet and very quick with the flash. I am not talking about bursts (the D40 has about 2.5fps not allot to brag about but it's response time is amazing--and I am not talking about shutter speed or Fps I mean the mechanical speed timed with the flash but the speed of shutter and mirror action. In The camera can fire at a high shutter speed with the flash. That makes allot of differnce here. Many cameras go to or require you to shoot below a certain shutter speed to sync the flash so that it's not slower then the shutter. The D40 does a great job of this. Its bright built in flash to get the depth of Field needed for these kind of shots.

Many species of flies have something like 10,000 times faster reaction time then humans. With that kind of speed you need to be able to have your flash hit the insect at the right time and the shutter to be quick enough in sequence to catch the fly before the light from the flash makes it take off and fly away very fast. Often on my other cameras this takes several tries. With the D40 it's noticeably faster. I would recommend the D40 to anyone who wants a good, lightweight, solid and quiet Nikon system digital SLR that has the standard digital SLR stuff and my favorite, in camera editing and proofing it can do. Saving new files you create when you edit the original which does not get changed. That makes it easy for you to work on your pictures anywhere anytime making lots of variations to upload to your computer later. It is compatible with nearly all Nikon lens going back decades and up to the most current. I think it's faster if you press the button rather then hold it down for a burst. The one thing it's not very good at running at 2.5fps. If your used to a faster camera just turn that function off and think of it like it will take a shot every time you press the button. These flies react as soon as the flash fires. The shutter surprised me in getting these shots before the flies took off nearly every time.

Green flies resting and feeding on stuff. I don't know yet what these flies eat but they are nothing like the houseflies or garbage flies we see. They feed on some kind of plant materials.

You can see how I was stuck at f22 here because I was using that old Nikon 135 manual lens. It did not go higher. If I were using my Canon I'd go close to F30+ for this shot. But the difference made me far more creative.

I not only took the load off my main and most expensive camera, I find that this small nimble SLR is far easier to use in the field. This was taken out by a light fixture outside.

Able to crop as close as I want I was surprised by the resolution I can get out of the D40. It has all those complex settings any good digital SLR would have if you want them. The menus are very simple and quick to use for in-camera cropping and editing levels, colors, shadows and highlighting--all the usual RAW stuff. It also shoots up to iso3500. Now I'm not sure what I'd do with that, but down lower in the 800iso levels it has good noise reduction.

It would seem this fly is feeding. On what or why I don't know. This shot was taken outside near some lights that attract insects. One thing is, these shot would have been more painful and difficult with my far more expensive and advanced level camera. However, by going back in some ways I learned the advantages of having a small digital SLR for shots like this. Using several techniques I have perfected getting close enough to insects at less then 6 inches to use a camera without all the complex and heavy gear I should reserve for important shots that require that power. The D40 is a definitely a good choice and Nikon's newest contribution to the digital SLR world. I am in the process of looking up these flies and plan to identify them later.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Start a Digital bug collection

I recently have wanted to show how insects can be studied and collect insects in high resolution digital images. No longer do we have to put up with breaking up bug collections and spiders loosening there color. And last but not least, with a few well placed high res shots you can get all you need to view the subject as completely as you could without killing the insects and spiders you don't want to. No more feeling bad or bad bug collections. Learn macro photography and if I can do it--anyone can create what I would like to call a digital bug collection. I think it's time to use currently more and more inexpensive technology in the study and collection of spiders and insects in a guiltless and less impacting way.

There are still serious reasons in some cases to preserve some insects and spiders the old fashioned way, but for the most of it-- with a bit of training and a good camera people can create more useful insect or spider collection then they could get using traditional means. And by no means do you need 1000s and 1000s of dollars in gear.

A shot from near where I live here in The Dalles. Those clouds caught my eyes as the edge of thunderheads over in Washington state. Here are a number of recent pictures I took with my Nikon SLR. I may add captions and info about these pictures soon.

I did not show here fully how I would carefully shoot a 1cm jumping spider to produce as much info as possible and have it at a high enough resolution as I would to describe and prove a species. Basically that would be a high-res shot from every angle in a very clear container. to be completely certain of species and other factors. Using my Nikon SLR I took these shots and cropped them in camera. Reaching F30-f40+ it is possible to photograph nearly any sized insect or spider without a very expensive microscope.

For now--check these out-