Tag: nature

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After the Rain

In nearly 10 years living in San Diego, I have not seen such lush, inviting foliage as visible this Winter—or what I call late Summer (the other two seasons are early Summer and mid Summer). Typical yearly rainfall is 25 cm (9.9 inches). Through yesterday’s massive storm, totals exceeded that amount, or more than 150 percent the annual average, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Eh, so much for the Southern California drought.

Forgive my botanical ignorance, regarding the Featured Image, the leaves are from the tree adjacent to the stairs leading down from our apartment. I couldn’t resist a quick shot as my wife and I headed out for an afternoon walk, using Fujifilm X-T1 with Fujinon XF35mmF2 R WR lens. Vitals: f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/80 sec, 35mm. I had set the camera for street shooting beforehand. 

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The Paywall Problem

This week the long-dreaded Washington Post renewal email plunked into my inbox. So ends a glorious year of reading the digital newspaper on PC and tablet. My cheap thrill ride is over: “Your subscription will be renewed for a year on Aug. 26, 2015, at the rate of $149/year. As you’ve requested, payments for your subscription to the Post are automatically charged to your credit card”. I requested nothing. The Post imposed auto-renewal, which I cancelled the next day. My sub now ends on August 26.

Twelve months ago, the Post made an amazing email offer, good for just 24 hours: “Get a Full Year of Unlimited Digital Access FOR AS LOW AS JUST $19!” Wow, what a deal. We splurged and went digital on any device for another ten bucks. Washington Post is worth $29 a year—and it’s a good value for $149, too. But all the paywall news sites want that kind of cash or more from me. I’m willing to pay for good journalism, but my budget can’t accommodate them all. 

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Flickr a Day 82: ‘Portrait of a Snail’

Macro photography can be hugely satisfying and express something about the shooter’s inner self. Yesterday we saw how Kristina Alexanderson stages stormtrooper figurines to create familiar parent-child poses. Mark Seton uses the same camera and lens, Nikon D800 and 105mm prime, to shoot closeups. The two photographers’ styles and subjects couldn’t be more different.

Mark, who joined Flickr in December 2006, generally shoots things, which include landscapes and nature. I flip-flopped between choosing self-titled “Portrait of a Snail” and its companion, both captured on May 1, 2014. He is from Leeds, United Kingdom, but lives in Great Dunmow. I picked this pic because the colors are so vivid that they evoke rain forest more than an English homestead. 

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Flickr a Day 80: ‘Solar Eclipse’

Earth, Moon, and Sun ushered in the Spring Equinox with a real treat yesterday: A solar eclipse—total off the coasts of Greenland and Scotland, cutting a broad partial path across Northern Europe to areas of Asia and Africa. The Guardian’s primer is must-read, for a quick study of the science and explanation about this specific, rare astronomical event.

Today’s selection, showing near-totality as seen from Bodø, Norway, is bit of a compromise. The image doesn’t demonstrate the best work of photographer Trond Kristiansen, whose Northern landscapes are stark but magnificent. There’s an other-worldliness to them. The posted pic’s resolution is lower than typically appears in this series, which is another compromise. 

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Flickr a Day 76: ‘Common Green Lacewing’

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Surely, this isn’t the green photo you expected. But I couldn’t resist this wonderful closeup (e.g., Macro shot) taken with little more than a digital compact—Canon PowerShot SX40 HS, which zooms from 24-840mm. Yikes! Meet the lacewing, one of my favorite insects growing up in Northern Maine.

Martin Cooper, who joined Flickr in February 2013, makes a photographic study of the fungi, fauna, and bugs of Christchurch Park in Ipswich, United Kingdom.  He shot today’s selection on March 12, 2014. Vitals: f/8, ISO 100, 1/200 sec, f/42.4mm. 

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Flickr a Day 61: ‘New Zealand Night Life’

Growing up in Northern Maine, I spent many summer nights gazing at the spectacular canopy above, against which the Northern Lights often shimmered bands of color. But breathtaking experience there can’t compare to some of the night sky shots from the Southern Hemisphere. David Kingham delivers fine example with self-titled “New Zealand Night Life”, shot on Sept. 24, 2014.

“On our last night the Southern Lights made a surprise visit for a brief time”, he says. “This captures life of the traveler on the South Island quite well, a campervan under the stars in an awesome campground, I miss it!” He is American, from Loveland, Colorado. 

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Lilacs and Mulberries

My neighbor, who is a helluva nice guy, has it in for the trees on his property. He’s got a problem with roots burrowing holes into his basement. So for the last eight months, he has picked away at the branches, and some whole trees, pruning the lush shade over his property.

Hanging over our backyard is a beautiful mulberry tree, which branches he hacked off on his side of the fence. Today, he would have finished the job, chopping the remaining green on the trunk. Luckily, I work out of a home office and in the basement, where the mulberry tree spreads out in view. We chatted, and he agreed to delay the tree’s execution, at least until the mulberries ripen and litter the lawn with food for birds and squirrels. Like I said, he’s a helluva nice guy—and I know it wasn’t easy for him to stay the execution. He’s thinking about roots and flooded basements. 

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When Nerds Fight

Encyclopedia Britannica has taken out an advertisement in several major newspapers demanding that magazine Nature retract a December story that showed fairly even accuracy with Wikipedia. The ad appears like a memo, “RE: Demand for Retraction”. Ouch, I guess the normal editorial channels didn’t respond. The memo, uh, advertisement, describes the Nature article as “an affront to the principles of sound scholarship, and we urge Nature to issue a full and public retraction of the article”. From “we urge” is underlined.

Who says there’s no drama in science?