Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Holidays everyone! --Shots fired close to home

Yeah that's right. It was snowing here but it only lasted long enough to setup my camera and shoot a few shots with both digital and 35mm. The only sunny day we had, incredibly, was the
day of the shooting.

Usually I would not post this kind of picture on my site. Then again, I post journalistic shots often. I am not going into detailed speculation about what happened. Only to say that a good friend of many people in this building and a man died at about 4am a few days ago. Darrel Dwayne Furgaican (forgive my spelling if that was wrong). Yes, that was the same apartment complex I live in. In fact, he had just moved in with his girlfriend to the unit right next to ours. Our door is on the left of this picture. I have respect for most cops. I have known a few and I think sometimes they get a bad wrap when they may not deserve it. Every cop I've met so far has treated me with respect and sometimes even let me off on a few things. All it takes though is one jerk. I have been lucky I guess. I do tend to side with the cops even though I know the system is a mess. In this situation I am not sure. My wife and I as well as the entire building were evacuated just a few moments after I was told to stay in my apartment. These shots are frames taken from a secret video I made as when we were finally allowed back into our apartment. We were taken to local Trimet buses to keep us warm and interviwed by the police there. I think this was a tragic situation. If you think it even could be the cops!-don't reach for a weapon of any kind! What puzzles me was how many shots were fired --20-- between two officers. There were five people in that small apartment. Bullets were found sprayed all over the place. One even hit the door jam. I was amazed at how inaccurate the firing was almost as if at random. Maybe he was running, we may never know the true story. All I know is I think police should examine a situation more careful and give a subject with a weapon a chance to give up before they simply open fire or pursue alternative means--especially taking steps to insure that not only does he have a real gun but that he really intends on harming someone. I don't want to get too political on this site but I will say what I want. Mainly I will say is that it was very sad and difficult for everyone involved and I feel terrible for his family. This is not that bad of an area. Things like this happen to much. Police should think sometimes a bit more before they chose to use deadly force. My wife and I knew him, he did not do so well when he was drinking but he was always as nice guy to us. Giving me the very table I put my computer on for free. He was not a potential cop killer or really violent man. But it is a fact that his very accurate replica BB gun had them fooled right up until the CSI investigation my wife and I actually heard through our door. He had used magic markers to make it look more real and possibly enlarged the barral. That is not a street smart idea. The cops shown here are CSI and security at the time. THEY ARE NOT the cops who were involved in the shooting.

My wife and I were woke up to rapid gunfire at arround 4 am exactly. I smelled gunpowder in the hallway and got a bad feeling. After hearing some well yell "he's bleeding, he needs paramedics " I looked out the door to see shell casings all over the place and a flashlight dropped on the floor. 9mm casings and a police issue flashlight. Quickly a man in serious black fatigues yelled at me to STAY IN MY APARTMENT SIR! So I closed the door. About 5 min later we were evacuated without hardly time to grab or prepare a camera. When we left our apartment there was two cops with a bullet shield, pump 12 gauge and a AR15 type assault rifle still aimed at the apartment. From this I can only asume they may have had trouble getting the rest of the 5 people out of there and been unsure of what or who was in there. We were on buses kept warm by idling engines for about 4 and a half hours. All in all, I think the CSI guys did a meticulous and professional job on the scene because I spent a great deal of time listening to them at my door and I heard allot of details not revealed to the public for a while.

This was a sad situation. AGAIN the POLICE IN THIS PICTURE ARE NOT the same police who fired the shots--I want to stress that. They are part of the CSI team or for security reasons. He had a BB gun that looked real and apparently showed it to the police or something. They claim he pulled the fake weapon, some say it was suicide by cop, others an tragic accident. No matter what it was--I feel sorry for everyone around and most of all for his family who were moved back into the apartment less then 24 hours after he died in it probably nearly instantly from 3 gunshot wounds. I have many more pictures of the buses and us in them as well as the close to 50 cop cars that showed up here and the media scene but I'm not sure if I will get around to posting it. The whole thing just was a waste that did not have to happen in my opinion.

I have a great many pics I wanted to get out before the holidays but family matters and other stuff has kinda kept me from working on too much. Here are a couple of shots I snapped recently. It snowed for a short while here in East Portland a few days ago only to melt. It was nice while it lasted. I have a backlog of pics I am working on that will be added soon. I just want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and and the best of New years. Everyone is settling in for this most difficult Christmas. I want to thank my mom for the chance to let my wife and I stay at a hotel in Portland for the weekend and get out of here for a while. We will almost surely be totally broke--but at least we get to stay in the motel room! If anyone is interested in macro shots or other photography please contact me at the email addresses on this site. We really need the money right now. Merry Christmas.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Harvestmen and the Lady!

My wife and I were walking back from the store as things got colder and colder this winter. My eyes met this incredible sight! It is rare to be able to get a number of usable shots of a scene with 2 species in the frame. Even more rare have it happen naturally! I got several dozen usable shots at F16-F32 ISO L1.0 (100) to 400 all with my Nikon. D90 DSLR. These two posed for me and even moved sometimes and as you will see it got even better!

Using a wireless external flashgun like the SB600 or better, or a macro flash ring (I can't afford one they are $400!) might be best but a wireless flash can be very good for macro shots. In this case I just shot with my flash on M 1/1 very high output so I can shoot at a distance at F22+. Just when I thought this shot could not get any better, a tiny yellow aphid joined the party! These kinds of shots nature photographers dream about getting! This day incredibly they did happen in real life naturally and she stayed put long enough for me to take dozens of shots with different light, angles and lenses. This shot is not a setup shot at all. I don't think I could set one up like this! 3 species in one shot is rare to naturally find. I got lucky and was tired from lots of shooting but had plenty of energy when I saw this harvestmen just laying here. The cold weather made them easy to photograph.

The ladybug is in no danger here. This is a deceptive shot. The "spider" you are looking at is not a spider at all! It is actually one of the 3 main species called a "daddy long legs" called a Harvestmen. Order: Opiliones

Harvestman do not spin silk, have only 2 eyes and only one main body section. They also do not mate in the same way spiders do. They are related to spiders but often scavenge on plant material and even already dead insects or other animals.

"Lady and the Harvestmen"
I dream about finding shots setup like this, usually don't!

They also tolerate each other and do not appear to be afraid of each other as they often can be found sunning in large groups and run into each other all the time. There two eyes are up on a turret at the top of there head, you can see them if you click on this shot to see it full screen. Harvestman are difficult to identify and there are few books seriously devoted to them but this is probably a Mitopus morio. At least Mitopus sp. In the Phalangiidae family. They have no silk glands so obviously spin no web and although they have similarities to spiders, they also lack venom and any kind of serious bite. Mild mannered with 1 body section and 2 eyes no silk ability I often jokingly call them the "humanoid spiders". They are truly harmless. The ladybug is in no danger of being eaten.

Here is a Harvestmen. NOT a Spider, but a close Arachnid relative. Opiliones and below is it's other daddy long legs counterpart which actually is a spider.

Here is your average other daddy long legs. This is the true spider version. Often said rumored falsely to be the most poisonous spider in the world. This is not at all true in fact they are harmless and helpful to humans and I have yet to see a study on there venom toxicology. Notice the two separate body sections of this female long bodied cellar spider or Pholcus phalangioides I shot down stairs in this building. They are very common in homes and the daddy long legs often seen shaking in the corner to avoid being seen.

In obvious contrast here is another picture I recently took of a Harvestmen. (Opiliones) Since there genitalia differ from spiders I am not certain if this is a male of the same species seen with the ladybug (top picture in this article) or if it is a different species. I need to do some more research on Harvestmen and really want to find some books on them.

I shot most of these with several extension tubes and a 50mm lens to take detail shots of these harvestmen hanging out on a fence. Here you can see other differences, this one is probably a younger member of the group.

This is NOT a SPIDER (read above captions)
Some Harvestmen get a lot bigger then this, they often have mouth parts similar to the Camel Spider which is also NOT truly a spider. This is my finger but it is in no danger as they are not aggressive at all.

A closeup showing the palps and chelicera which are different then those of spiders. (seen facing down in this shot) 2 eyes on a small turret on head can also be seen.

We also found some interesting and large mushrooms on this walk, some of these actually grew in just a few hours, larger then they were when we first found them!

"The mushrom Forest"
"Harvestmen bar stools"
"Mushroom flowers"
These are actually the same kind of mushrooms but the wind and time has damaged them interestingly.

I had to throw another spider in here somewhere. I recently have become interested in this common species the Araneus diadematus. I have made some observations about it and other species I will talk about in a future article.

"Lone mushroom"

This one popped up alone as well. It is very small not even standing an inch tall.

Of all the interesting things I have recently photographed--including a number of Harvestmen pictures most of which I have not posted and some other spider pics I promised but have not posted yet--this ranks very high as well. This tiny snail required an old 210mm 35mm manual lens to capture it. The heavy lens setup is over a foot long and can be cumbersome but really gets the detail when it comes to close shots.

With my flash mounted on my camera again using a laminated reflector that Velcros to my flash I was able to get these pictures at F22. This snail was only about 3-4mm long total. It was half the size of the eraser on a regular pencil! So small you could fit about 3-4 of them at least on my smallest fingernail!

The colors here were hard to match. For me it is rare to find a snail like this so small and still alive. Often you can find shells, but the living creature can be hard to find. Is it a baby or full grown? How old is it? What species? I do not know but the iridescent colors were amazing. I
am lucky I've figured out how to use my limited budget lenses to shoot so close and with such detail this kind of thing. On a serious note here--even tiny snails can be dangerous as they can carry salmonella, parasites and other diseases. Snails and slugs should never be handled for this reason. Be sure and click on this picture for a larger view--use the "back" arrow in your Internet browser (top left of your screen) to get back to my site.

A WORD ON GOOD BATTERIES--AA-NiMH 2500Mah--Being a photographer and a licensed Technician class radio operator I am qualified to talk a bit about this subject as well as experienced. Some people don't realize the power of NiMH--they almost always outlast ALL those other batteries. For years rechargeable AA batteries were not up to quality with Alkaline and Lithium. NiCD batteries lasted about half as long back in the old days. Now, in the past 10 years batteries have taken a quantum leap. They often seriously exceed them especially when used in high-power demand electronic devices. Don't waste money and the environment on buying AA batteries. Try the NiMH rechargeable batteries. With a small $20 inverter you can also recharge them in your car or even buy solar chargers. These are not the old NiCDs. I never know when I'm going to find something like this recent shot so if I can at all afford it make sure I have a backup camera battery and extra charged batteries for my SB600 flash. I nearly only use NiMH rechargeable AA batteries. You can get them up to 2500mah so they last far longer then even quality Alkaline/lithium batteries. 1700-2500mAh are great for flashes and even powering DSLRs with battery grips. I used to be able to run my Rebel XTI (Canon 400D) for 2 months or more--500 pics+ before I had to recharge! I got a battery grip that let me power the camera off of If I remember right, 6 or 8 AA NiMH batteries. My Canon XTi ran great for years like that and it was a high-energy 10mp DSLR. Sadly, it was destroyed in our house fire and like everything else not covered by insurance. The higher the mAh milliamp hour) number--the longer the batteries will last per cycle. They can even often exceed lithium non-rechargeable batteries (which get very expensive!) for camera and electronic gear. In my opinion and experience from compact cameras to pro-gear--flashes to just about any device like a long range 2 way radios--the AA NiMH battery is the best format for powering devices. AAA powered devices often do not nearly last as long as they are only 700Mah or so. Also--never buy a compact digital camera just powered by 2 AA batteries! You will spend more on batteries then anything else! However, I've had great experiences with every compact camera I ever used that used 4 AA batteries. I still use one that is 12 years old! Extra power goes a long ways. I point this out because people not only waste money by buying lots of AA batteries for stuff and not using rechargeable (cost pennies or less to recharge) they ruin the environment by doing so. Every year millions and millions of toxins go into the ground and air because of not using and recycling rechargeable batteries.

More pics coming soon-- Mother, eggs and babies--The life of a dedicated American mother spider and more Harvestmen shots!

Saturday, October 23, 2010


I really wanted to make a sort of new look to Mostly Macros.  For one thing I changed the intro picture and I will probably start doing one article at a time on one subject at a time since that is how blogger sets things up now.  I have some personal stuff to take care of but I eventually want to start putting up more pictures.   I also wish to join local photo clubs and learn more about art and photography sometime in the near future.   I also plan to do more on line once I get a new full featured computer.  That may be a while, so for now emails and responses as well as posts may be a bit slow.  I apologize for that and hope nobody takes it personally.   I guess I kinda got caught behind in technology everybody has all these avatars and large social networks being on a low budget I do not even have a cellphone at this time.

I want to first apologize for not updating my blog for a long time!  I know there are some people here who do read or at least look at the pictures!  I am very glad for feedback and comments.  Please keep them coming and be sure to email them to me or leave them as comments here as I need to rebuild my Facebook account.  When my only laptop crashed I was without much of a computer to spend the time necessary to prepare and post pictures on this site the way I would like to.  I finally saved enough for a Mini HP Netbook which is just powerful enough setup photos for this site and move them off my camera but I cannot yet edit them with Photoshop as I still do not have a computer powerful enough to run even an older version.  Money is tight right now.   Without needlessly going into personal detail, we have had one thing after the next come up.  I also feel bad because due to current situations I have not been keeping up with emails either.  Sorry about that--I did not forget about you-- if I don't email you quickly again, please don't take it personally there is a lot going on in my life right now.   Back to photography--

 This spider is probably related to the Tetragnathidae.  They often have huge jaws and are found near water. My wife and I walked up to Forest Park where I shot most of these pictures.   This species is known for locking jaws during mating.  I got some great shots of this female.  She did not have a web and was just wondering around.  These pictures were taken with my D90 using a 50mm manual lens at usually F16-F22 and extension tubes.  I have found that shooting down below ISO200 can sometimes produce great detail even in newer digital cameras.

This species often elongates it's body to blend in.  Here it can be seen in most of these shots on a typical wire fence link.  These species are yet another virtually harmless species.

The power of macro can be seen here as a link in a regular fence seems to be a large metal wire.   Eyes are visible here, be sure and click on picture for larger view and use your back arrow to return to the site. 

 These are all the same spider shot up at Forest Park.  Blogger has changed the way pictures are uploaded so in the future I will probably do individual articles on individual species or subjects.

A combination of cropping can often make good results but using a macro lens or a series of extension tubes and a good diopter lens can produce really nice super closeups.   I recently discovered a new way to use my extension tubes to get even closer.

I just kept shooting shot after shot, using an SB600 external flash in manual mode.  I often compensate for not being able to afford a macro flash by adding reflectors made out of aluminum foil laminated with clear packaging tape and secured to my flash and camera with strong Velcro. 

A typical pose for a Tetragnathidae, often found hanging like this near a loose orb web over water.  A really interesting species. Be sure to click for larger view and use <-- back arrow in your browser to return to this site.

 Another closeup, I can even get closer then this but I need to use other equipment I did not have with me in the field.  I shot this on a sunny day right out in the open in the park.   It looks like it was taken at night or in the dark because my f-stop was so high that only flash light was visible.   Most of my macro shots are done   above F22.

Here  you can clearly see the chelicera and the clearly female palps.  Male spiders have bulbs that look like boxing gloves (almost all species of spiders) on there palps.

 Another comprehensive view, I got so many great shots of this spider I was not sure which ones to post and had to leave many of them out.  I still am trying to find out what I can do with my work on spiders--what site I should post them on--and where to go if and when I shoot something that might contribute to science.  I have a lot to do on the internet!

I was holding about 5 pounds of camera and my wife was great because she was watching out for me as I took these pictures which require complete concentration.   So she was very helpful watching some of my gear and the area where I was shooting.   Even with live-view, often I find myself with macro shots looking through the old view finder as I am used too.   When ever you have a large expensive camera that is not insured and your on a really low budget you get nervous about what people might thinking. 

This is another species, probably a Linyphiidae, there is a few species here and I want to find out more about them.  They are one of the only species I've ever photographed mating.   Luckily people are usually passive when your a photographer and do not get upset thinking your photographing them or something.  I have a funny story I will tell you in an the next article I post that happened right here.  Shooting spiders often looks strange because you go into shady places to find them.  In parks however, this is usually not a problem but you never know what else might happen or people might think when your taking pictures.  I lost count how many times I've had my ID ran by the cops!  I understand that--it's protocol if you walk around with a camera.  But really, usually people who are doing drugs or planning crimes are not walking around using large complex and expensive cameras!  I wish I had some kind of shirt or "pass" so people know I am a photographer and not a criminal. 

 Another shot of what is probably a Linyphiidae.

 The famous and well known garden spider--Araneus diadematus.  There are variations in abdominal colors which I am interested in as well as shades of body color.  Could this be "races" of the species?

Many of these shots were done with an older Zoom lens.   70-210mm.   I really like Nikon because the older 35mm manual optical lenses.   I don't have any but I have read and been told even the auto-focus lenses from the 80s operate on the higher end Nikon digital SLRs.  (D90 and above).   I often get great results using the manual older sometimes bargain lenses.   They can lack depth of field because they max out at F22 or so, but that is usually enough for a great spider picture.   Canon unfortunately changed there format so it is not possible to use older Canon non-digital lenses.   This was one serious reason that after I lost nearly all of my gear in our house fire last year-- I decided to start over with Nikon as my SLR system.    I saved for almost a year after the fire on my budget to get a D90 but it is a camera I would definitely very much recommend.   I have been told that the optics in the older 35mm lenses are often higher quality then the optics in the new and even very expensive digital lenses and I believe it.  So the manual focus part and manual adjustment might be worth it!  Don't get me wrong, I loved my Canon cameras which performed very well.  There are just many more lens possibilities with Nikon which can make it a good choice especially if you want to take awesome pictures and don't have the money for expensive new of gear.

This one is obviously and definitely a Linyphiidae.  They spin the glossumer (spider silk strands seen in the summer sunlight) seen in the summer time and are probably the most common spider in this area and one of the most common spiders in the temperate world.

 Linyphiidae from another angle, they build an upside down dome shaped web where they catch many types of insects that we consider pests.  They are totally harmless to humans in and in fact I have never even heard of someone being bit by one.

 I am not sure but I think this is also a Linyphiidae species.

My wife was really great being there for me while I spent hours taking these pictures in Forest park.  I love it there and spent many summers with my grandparents up there.  By the time I got to this species I was a bit too tired to take lots of descriptive shots.  My new lens system should allow for better shots that will let me definitely identify more species I photograph or at least get closer.

The webs of Araneus diadematus are among the most well known and seen this time of year.  These in the sun looked awesome.  It should be noted that this species is also harmless.  Getting bit from what I have heard is not only very difficult but if by some chance you do get bit it's not even as bad as a bee sting.  I have never heard of anyone having a serious reaction to this very common and non-aggressive species which is critical in controlling the mosquito and fly population.

 Side view of a probably ready to lay eggs female Araneus diadematus.

 I really liked this large female, she had made a really good living catching insects here near by a lunch place my wife and I ate at.  I took some ultra close up shots of her and noticed like some others both here and in other spots--she has slightly different body colors.

 Some extra large shots of the Araneus diadematus with pray.  She had no problem walking about with her catch and doing a few things while I took some closeup shots.

 A new lens configuration I did not know I could use lets me shoot close pictures at subjects at even further distances with my gear.  Instead of being 1 or 2 inches away I can shoot quality close up macro shots in a "teli-macro" kind of concept from up to more then a foot away.

 This makes detailed shots like this far more easy.   She did not seem to mind however even when I got close.  I noticed her color was a bit shifted.  Some are more red then others.   She is very healthy and almost certainly ready to lay her egg sack.

 I got lucky here and was able to get a good shot as she moved by waiting and watching her for over an hour and a half.   Notice the color differences.   This is the exact same species but she almost seems to have some colorations similar to that of the related species the Shamrock spider.

 She gripped her pray and holds it.  Some people think how spiders eat is gross.   Killing with venom and then enzymes that break down tissues so that mostly the pray item can be drank down.  We feed cattle the remains of slaughtered cattle (forced cannibalism which causes mad cow disease), raise them in horrible conditions with no room to move, milk them until they bleed, feed them with toxins and groth hormones, prod them with electricity--not even alow them to mate naturally and we somehow think that we have the right to say "spiders are gross".  If people knew the truth behind most foods they eat and how bad it really is--they would think spiders are the humane ones.  I'm sorry if that makes some parents upset by me mentioning this morbid topic--but people need to know the truth about such things and not judge other animals.  By far human beings can be the worst and most disgusting animals of all.  When I first heard how they treated cows and other animals I refused to believe it--then after doing research and seeing things for myself I had no choice.  It's sad but true--spiders are far more human with there pray then we are.

More views, I could not get enough of how this female seemed to enjoy the sun and posing for my lens.

 I thought I'd ad a few views here showing some of the best shots--maybe a few too many but I really liked this spider.  She moved around a lot for me so that I could photograph her without me having to do anything.

Araneus diadematus with pray.   A beneficial and harmless web building spider.

Here is where the Araneus diadematus gets interesting.  This is another one found just a short distance away eating a bee-mimicking fly.   This one clearly has a darker skin pigment.  I want to figure out how and exactly why they have different colored markings in the same species that can change so much sometimes they nearly look like a sub-species.

Three Araneus diadematus webs stood out in the afternoon sun.  This is a harmless and beneficial species, I can't stress to people enough that they are not only harmless but should be left alone and treated with respect because they help keep the mosquito and fly population under control. 

 Another one, this one photographed at Forest Park.  The markings do change and appear different yet again in this one.

 I was going to delete this from the post but I thought I'd show one more time one of the more interesting spiders I found on a walk with my wife to Forest Park.

Yet another view of probably a Linyphiidae again.   With new lens configurations eyes can be counted and I will be better able to identify species.   Next article will be about an American house spider with babies I recently photographed.  She has laid 3 egg sacks.   They are not as common so whenever I find one I get excited.  coming soon next time to Mostly Macros.   I want to thank my wife for her on going support and help in my efforts and photography.