Saturday, September 29, 2007

OPENING THE BACKLOG --a look at some of my most liked shots

This is a collection of some of the pictures I like the most on my site. I shot all these with my own modified lenses and in fact with nothing more then a modified compact digital camera. NO kidding. 6mp Kodak DX-7630. I want to thank all those who have complimented me for doing so. I am going to change my situation and how I take pictures. Teaching and learning. Two things I like to do.

I soon will explain here how I took these pictures, the gear I used and built myself, as well as taking questions or advice.

A "bee fly"
The change I am talking about has been a long time coming. This winter and even through my travels to Bali, I became aware of a serious pain in my hip. It did not go away, and now I am facing surgery for it. I am greatful that it's not anything worse like cancer. This spring here in The Dalles was dry, and I was unable to get any of the shots that I wanted to.

I have decided to only place my name into the image I am working with. Tell people what kind of gear, camera, and system I use without any secrets being left. Even how to build my own lenses and how I did that. I'm not sure about sending it all into Popular photography yet.
I will however, put it here.

A relative of the tiger beetle. It is very fast moving--this was a lucky shot. There are many tricks I may show when I can figure out how to put my short digital videos onto this site like it says I can. I can show you tricks --like the dancing spider--or how to put the spider where you want it without even damagingly the web. And how to corner and approach insects and spiders. Tests were done on young children with spiders and snakes and other animals. Evidence suggests our fear of spiders is a cultural thing and it starts when we are a child.

Anyway, pictures like these are what I like to shoot. Wildlife in action. More like, "Spiders in action". I want to show some of the amazing tricks I know how to do with spiders---such as make them dance (I'm serious)--I have been playing with them as far back as I can remember and have always been fascinated as I continued to learn. I hope to get new gear for my digital SLRs soon that will let me shoot even closer and more easy.

No, this is not an opium poppy. It is just one I thought was a bit weird in my grandma's garden.

Now this is strange, this lady spider called the "grass spider" sometimes--is a hunter and as you can see she has been in one hell of a battle. It is likely that she escaped an attack from another spider species. Some spiders can dislocate there coax and let there legs fall off to escape danger without bleeding to death. This spider is very lucky and could not eat if it lost just one more limb. I have actually taken care of spiders in bad shape and had a few success I want to write about later.


I love crab spiders--they are incredible and hard to find sometimes. I get exited and have now figured out there are two species that live out here in the desert conditions.

They call this the cross spider. Here, the "garden spider". She can get huge and I've been bit so many times I assure you that they are harmless. I will do an article about how many spiders and of what kind I have been bitten by.

I am fascinated by the huge number of moth species and the verity of them out here. 100s of species--many only a few millimeters long and some that are not very easy to find. Once ever couple of years if i am lucky. I have yet to find another hawk moth.

Tiny droplets of water--it is so cool to be able to get them look like this.

Monday, September 24, 2007

From Guam to Indonesia to Spiders --backlogged--

It surprises me the number of people who are superstitious enough to not cross this path! Honestly, I'd be a bit uncomfortable myself with this black cat. The eyes, I don't know how that happened!


Can you top this! I shot this in Guam, a sport that only becomes possible when typhoons and tropical storms bring harsh winds. Talking to the guys with my camera in a plastic bag from the sea-air-- I wished they would invite me to try it but I knew from how hard it was for them to do it I might end up hitting that island or damaging this equipment. Just for this gear they said it was about $1500.

A common site across Asia. I am amazed at some of the things that I've seen in my travels. This bike is probably as old as the man riding it. There are other examples, in Lombok and the tiny island off the coast of Lombok, Gili air (glieire) where they still use horse-carts and it's not for tourism or anything. There were no cars or visible motorbikes I saw on the island. It was amazing to see when I went there that in the mid 1990s when I was there transportation was primarily horse-carts. The equivalent to a horse and buggy but different. Smaller horse. I sure preferred this to the other way people get around down there! You can see one of these carts if you go back a a few months to see my main Bali shots. See below.

Accidents are incredibly un-common I have been told, it feels and looks so dangerous in the crowded streets and very common chaotic places it's incredible how good these people get with there motorbikes. Cars are rare as most locals cannot begin to afford them. Trying this kind of travel a few times, I swore I won't ever do it again. The traffic situations in Bali makes any traffic situation in the US look like this nice open road. As I've shown you before the entire family fitting on one small motorbike. These people sit as if they are on a couch doing 40 miles an hour through rushing traffic. Notice how this woman is just sitting sideways and holding on to nothing at all. And of course, not a helmet for the lady. What's up with that?

Bali still has many traditional ways. Unlike the usual shows in Hawaii, Guam and some other tourist spots-- you get to see allot more of the real way people still live. If you click on this picture you will see that this guy is carrying probably hand made, hand tools. My Guide and driver Komong, took me on a photo-tour where I used a Canon Rebel 2000 and a Nikon EM to shoot a number of film shots. I still get exited about waiting to see how the picture will turn out. I tell other photographers--Don't forget film. It's fun and keeps you sharp in your knowledge about lenses and your SLR. I still have 100s of pictures of Bali to go through and of that quite a few worth showing. Be sure and look back through the monthly archives to see my main posts of highlights in Bali.

This is one of the I estimate over 50+ species I've seen and photographed out on my lights. I'd not seen this one yet. It's small, and you can tell from it's antennas having all those extra antennas that this is a male. They need more sensitive antenna to pick up on the pheromones of females. The detection process is so incredible it almost seems super natural. Just a few molecules of the pheromone is all it takes for a male moth to find a mate. This insect sense is way beyond dogs, vultures, sharks and most if not all other species of any animal at detecting the smallest traces of chemicals. Moths are ultimate sensors. Insect antennae are comparable to turned inside out noses. Males can smell the hint of a trail of a female from miles and miles away. More or less--it is amazing that we truly are very distantly related to the incredible insects and spiders. We do share a common ancestor of extremely primitive life Eons ago. As it is with all animals. Even insects share the senses that we do. They are so alien, but yet dissimilar in there sences. Sometimes far superior to us. This moth has less then an inch long wingspan. Moths interest me. They come in so many shapes and sizes. Creatures of the night, the variety of species is mind-boggling even in the semi high-desert conditions I live in here in The Dalles.

This is a true-bug that I have yet to identify. the ruler here is in mill miters. It's very small. One of the many "bugs" out here. True bugs were called that probably because they have a nasty habit of landing on people and stabbing them with there proboscis just to taste if your edible. They suck liquids from plants, others like assassin bugs, attack other insects and small pray. Many so called spider bites are mistaken for these tiny bug bites. The "kissing bug" is one that will land on your lips and like a vampire-- so you get the idea. There are other reasons why this family of insects. They include the "stink bugs". Some of them are really painful as I found out working on these projects. However, they do not use venom to my knowledge. They are a bit like over-grown mosquitoes. Few species bite people, but they do. The bite which is actually a prick from there mouth parts, called a proboscis is like a needle. Bugs, the so called "true bugs" are appropriately named.

A close up of an interesting water-related insect that wound up way too far from it's home. Click on the shot to see more detail.
ONLY IN SMALL TOWNS do you get a chance to see this! I was on a public bus with a compact camera but managed to squeeze off one ok picture. The shutter speed was slow so it's blurred a bit--but this is an old model T or A. I am not certain.

This tiny spider kills more ants in your home then any ant traps you lay out. These micro-warriors measuring less then 8mm or so are very fascinating to me. They live in our homes and often are so small that they survive and not get harmed. They are harmless and related to the American house spider.

This ruler is in millimeters. A mosquito. Watch how a crop can bring you even closer to the shot at the edge of depth of field. I shot this was shot at about F30 or so.

Depth of field here, this is a crop of the same mosquito. This is where mega-pixel power is as important as F-stop and flash. This image is 3 and a half millimeters long and it's still in focus. I shoot most my pictures at 8 to 10mp these days.

A blast from the past, this tiny sac spider is eating a bug that can't be identified. Spiders use a "sucking stomach" and a system that allows them to wet the pray with enzymes that break it down and some soft insects become un-recognizable. They can only consume this liquid diet through a stomach which actually can nearly keep sucking constantly like a vacuum cleaner.

BABY AMERICAN HOUSE SPIDERS just emerged from there egg soon to scatter and populate the species all around. My lens only went to F22 on this but here are some spider lings. This is a 35mm shot as are several others. To me, film is still fun, the excitement of waiting for how well you did and the mental needs to think seriously to calculate your shots is far more challenging then digital. If you don't have an expensive light meter, a small digital compact camera can provide some information about what your film picture will be like. To know your settings for basic stuff. For some reason every compact camera I've seen remains stuck at F8 making really shallow macro shots more difficult without the extensive modifications I invented from experimenting to make my own macro lenses. To get above F8--I used a film can as a "aperture plug" in the line of lenses. A pinprick filed down plastic round will stops-down your compact camera if you can center the pin-prick and get it right--depth of field can be seriously increased. It's very difficult but I've done it up to approximately F30-40.

Digital makes photography sometimes to quick. I tell other photographers, don't forget your film days. In fact, alarmingly, your negatives will long-out last the CD-Rs and DVDs you burn your pictures into. They do not last. There are estimates, but especially inexpensive disks I've been told should be kept away from light sources and you can bet that in ten years they may be damaged. The other problem. Well, how many people do you know who still have a Jazz drive? Zip drive? Those old hard disks that you could change in plastic cases? They now are very hard to find. In another 10 or so years it is very possible that computers will move on to a new way of storing data. Ultimately, flash memory I think will replace hard-drives and possibly some optical media like DVDs. You can fit a full-featured move in a chip that you could swallow like a pill. If somebody told me that just a few years ago, I'd have said "you've been watching to much sci-fy."

In the future we will have new technology. I keep shooting some 35mm because the negatives will last for 100s if not thousands of years if they are kept safe. And they are not coded into a system that would have to be read by antiquated computers that someday will be very hard to find.

Another 35mm film shot of the American house spider Achaearanea tepidariorum. A VERY harmless spider that is fun and I think looks cool. Flashy Huge and or incredible spiders to me are not as incredible as the ones that survive anywhere. This is my favorite species of spider. I say they are very harmless because the body shape looks like black widows and or sometimes sometimes brown widows. The key is as simple as the color. They are not black or have bright displays of reds to warn of poison. She is related to the black widow, yet there is no relation in terms of toxic venom to humans. In fact, I caught several of them bare handed and have been bitten three times in one day and four the next. There was almost no pain, just a slight tingling. I found this out when I was a kid. I no longer catch spiders very often. The pain of this spiders bite was about 1/10th of a bee-sting in terms of effects on me. This is a nice spider. They sometimes will drop out of there webs when frightened in a ball and stay that way, in this mode the do bite--but as far as spider bites go--this is about as harmless as you can get. And they should be allowed to live around your homes to take care of mosquitoes, cockroaches, ants, and other so called harmful insects.

A hard to find species around here. Huntsmen. My abilities of getting details excites me for the ideas of "digital bug collecting" not requiring killing the species. High resolution digital cameras and nice lenses provide a great deal of information. This is a very tight crop. Click to see larger shots-- use back arrow in your Internet browser to get back to my site.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Dalles and ME

BE SURE TO CLICK ON THIS ONE (Ultra big picture) use your browsers <-- to get back. Sometimes you must get up early or not sleep at all to find the best shots. I just happened to look outside and thought I see the sunrise. Very quickly I came back in and got my 400D and it's 300mm (with this digital SLR it's 400mm equiv.) lens. I quickly was able to get about ten shots like this. It is very easy to snap tons of shots of the same thing with a fast camera, just because you have one does not mean you need to. As recently I now think more into directing my shots and took about ten of them making sure the settings were nice enough to require little or no editing. More pictures would only have taken up more space. Semi-professional and professional cameras make very large files RAW and JPEG files. It was a great thing to be Right on time, these kinds of sights usually last less far less then a half hour and sometimes can be gone or completely changed in less then 5-10 min. I did not edit this image at all.

I have in nearly two years never seen a moth like this. I have thousands of shots of moths that are common here, this one is rare find at least where I am. Not just it's colors and hairs amazed me, it's size was a whopping inch and a half long. It is not a hawk moth. I need to look this one up.

This incredible moth showed up a couple months ago. It's fine hairs are really weird. You can bet it's a male because it has those extensions on it's antennas. Click on picture to see better.
This moth was not just awesome--it was twice the size of nearly all others. Not a hawk moth. It's one of the biggest months I have ever photographed. It's over an inch and a half long. When they come to my light like this I usually turn them off and then carefully pick moths like this up releasing them in the darkness. There is another white moth out here sometimes--is it the female?

If I were afraid of insects, I would be more terrified of this seeming small harmless wasp more then any other. It is a parasitic wasp. Some of them lay eggs in trees causing those bubbles (gals) to grow as a nest. But often other species of this wasp swoop down and infest a caterpillar, or a plant-- any other easy target insect and even spiders. Luckily I am not afraid of it because it is harmless to humans. Each species has it's own host. I'm guessing this one is a gal wasp. Possibly for local Oak trees. A parasitic species like this was used to eliminate a species of Malaysian white "Star spiders" from Hawaii. In so doing, a formerly background species moved in and took over possibly making the problem even worse as this species was semi-communal. I believe that even trying to correct our mistakes of introducing species is to me always very dangerous to attempt and should almost never be done. Nature is simply to unpredictable and we are fools if we think we got it all figured out.

When the eggs hatch, the larva begin to feed. Eating the host alive. The host will eat and eat to keep itself fed and keep the larva from taking all it's energy. Eventually, the pray item--will almost literally explode with the fat and ready to fly months. (I told you even I'm afraid of this)

The needle they use if often as long as there body. It's a modified stinger that injects eggs. Thankfully, there are no species of this kind of wasp that will and could not lay eggs in people or pets. Each wasp has a special species it targets usually. So there is nothing to be afraid of. Unless your a caterpillar. Notice those three huge eyes on the head. They are simple eyes, not compound, probably for nigh time direction finding as that is when they are out flying around. Honey bees have them too but they are so small you need nearly a good lens just to see them and we know they are used for navigation.

If you are going to Start a digital bug collection as I will be working on as much as I can right now and more later-- think of things like a glass vile that has very clear glass. This makes it easy to get anatomy shots in extreme macro. I just read an article in Popular Photography about the cost of macro lenses. So much in fact, macro gear can often be rented for a day or two. Even that is expensive. I am very glad I've figured out the truth behind this stuff before I let these camera companies make me think photography is an impossible dream for me due to costs. I use metric in order to show the size of an insect or spider in millimeters. That is a science standard.

This is another image of the same sunrise this morning here in The Dallies Oregon. Those are power lines, very large ones. They come from the Dam and go all over the place. I was stuck without words as I watched this incredible sunrise get better and better.

Initially I zoomed back and did a perceptive. I cannot believe how this looks like a storm with one edge of it on fire. Photography requires patients, and a willingness to experience pain to get the shot. I got a few more like this I may process later and add.