Projects, projects

First off, a brief but appropriate celebration.

Woo hoo! Hot damn! Who da man? I da man!

In short, I have just repaired one of my lenses, and it’s working perfectly. The lens in question isn’t one of the old manual ones that I fiddle with off and on, and have repaired many times past, but a complicated modern one: the Canon EF-S 17-85mm 4-5.6 IS USM. Those last bits mean “Image Stabilized” and “Ultrasonic Motor” for autofocusing, and this is one of the real-time models where you can turn the focus ring at any time, while in auto or manual focus modes, and not damage anything in the lens – most lenses cannot do this. All of those things are handy to have, but naturally they increase the complication of the lens assembly to no small degree, and make it challenging to disassemble, but much more challenging to reassemble correctly and have it work properly.

Repaired Canon EF-S 17-85mm F4.0-5.6 IS USMA little background. This particular lens is actually a notorious one from Canon, since this failure issue is well-known and frequent, which may be why I picked it up so cheaply with the Rebel T2i when I got that. It worked fine for me for a year or so, then I began having the dreaded “Error 99” messages when attempting to use it, which basically means the camera body is not getting the expected responses from the electronics within the lens. Sigma was fairly known for this same kind of failure, at least in the 2000s, and they were mostly caused by the same thing: damage to a ribbon cable within the assembly.

Here’s the deal. Both autofocus motors and electronic apertures need to have wired communication with the camera body, to no one’s surprise, but these electronics are usually buried deep within the assemblies on ‘floating’ mounts, meaning they have to move back and forth when the lens is zoomed, often within multiple support barrels. So to maintain electronic contact, ribbon cables are used, flat and flexible plastic with very thin layers of copper laid inside, and these can flex back and forth as the interior bits move. Until they age out, become too brittle, flex too much, or become overheated. Or simply if the lens was poorly designed and they have to flex more than the materials can stand up to. Once they crack or break, the communication ceases and the error messages pop up. This was actually the failure in the old Sigma 28-105 that I am now using reversed as a super macro, and is likely the failure in a Sigma 24-135 that I have gathering dust on a shelf.

Aperture assembly and ribbon cable for Canon 17-85 IS USMThe part itself is quite inexpensive from many sources; it’s just getting to it and replacing it effectively that’s the royal bitch. And I will offer this choice bit of advice to anyone wanting to tackle this themselves: for the Canon 17-85, buy it already attached to the aperture assembly itself. It’s a bit more expensive but well, well worth the extra cost, because said assembly is not intended to be desoldered and resoldered and likely will not stand up to the abuse. I found this out the hard way (which means this was the second attempt.)

There are several videos of the lens disassembly on YouTube, but I won’t recommend any of them: none that I found were done by professionals, or even very good videographers, and all of them left out very crucial details that are absolutely necessary for proper reassembly. Some people just don’t have the knack for instruction, especially of something so complicated and requiring very specific details, and then again, some people shouldn’t even be fucking with the lens in the first place (“I broke this trying to get it apart, so be careful.” No, maybe you have no business trying to tell someone how to do this correctly.) I am presently considering doing my own video, including all of the details (hopefully) that others have missed, but I’m not in a hurry to disassemble this lens again. Perhaps if the failure happens again, or if someone asks me to repair their own…

It also helps to have the right tools, and the right work environment – a house with cats isn’t recommended, though I can’t change that right now. But since I’m involved in car and house repairs, fine-scale model work, and electronics, my tool selection is fairly significant, certainly better than any of the people whose videos I watched, and I wasn’t hunting around for what I needed at all (by the way, I cannot stress enough how useful forceps/hemostats are – I use mine constantly. Get some.)

But all that was Project 2. Project 1 was rebuilding the macro softbox that’s been in use on the Sunpak Auto 322 flash for the past couple of years. The original was made of black matboard, the same stuff you border prints with, and while it worked just ducky, it was showing its age – let’s face it, something made of cardboard isn’t going to last forever, and it’s a wonder that it lasted as long as it did with my usage, really. I’d been meaning to build it out of stronger materials and finally did, making some slight design changes as I did so – not many, really, because the first was carefully planned. I’d added a focusing light mount back in March, and that was a weakness because of the drag that the light itself and the USB cord put on it, but now that it’s acrylic it’s a lot stronger, and the light stays firmly in place.

new homemade macro softbox
You can see that I wrapped the base, where it slides onto the flash unit, with wires to maintain strength; the flash head is tapered so the softbox slides on until it gets tight, but pushing too hard could crack the seams in the acrylic sheets that the box is constructed from, thus the reinforcement. Also, if you notice the bright spot on the decking boards at lower right, that’s actually the beam from the focus light visible in the patchy shade of the day – I was only putting the rig together for this illustrating photo, but I realize now that I should have at least aimed the box so the spot fell in front of the lens, and it looked like I was all set for macro subjects.

underside of new softbox showing focus light port
tight crop of treefrog's eye showing softbox spot effectAnd one other thing that I was wondering about, which was answered when I used it with my subject a few days back. I’d used sheets of clear acrylic for the construction of the entire box, and simply left the big circle unpainted for the flash light to show through. I very lightly sanded it from the inside to make it more diffuse and less harsh, but I left a small circular area directly under the focus light unsanded to keep that as bright as possible, for better assistance in focusing. The concern was that this might show up in sharp reflections on the subject itself, like for instance water droplets, or eyes. As you can see, it does – but if you go back to that original image, it’s going to be pretty damn subtle in nearly all cases. Nonetheless, I’ll probably give that spot a light sanding to soften the effect, at least, and simply deal with the hit to the brightness of the focus light. Since the last version was aiming through a diffusing cloth, which has a heavier effect than sanded acrylic, I suspect I can cope.

Initially I had intended to add a Velcro (hook-and-loop) strap to the top to help secure it to the flash unit, because the rubber band on the old one wasn’t sufficient, but so far the fit has been so snug it hadn’t been an issue; I’ll probably add it anyway just for security. But otherwise it’s doing the job well and I’m pleased with it, even with that little dark spot in the reflection – which exists in the photo of the lens at top, too. You missed it, didn’t you? I used the macro softbox for fill light on the front of the lens, with the Metz 40 MZ-3i as semi-bounce for the main light; Metz on the hot shoe, Sunpak on a flex arm triggered by PC cord. The photo of the aperture assembly and cable was all the Sunpak and softbox, though. I’m feeling pretty good about my lighting rigs now.

Odd memories, part 19: Citation needed

It’s funny – I knew what I was going to name this post almost as soon as I decided to tackle it this evening.

This… is a Chevrolet Citation.

By Herranderssvensson – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons


It was a subcompact car produced in the early 1980s, popular briefly until enough people found out how mediocre they were. There was also a four-door (or five-door, counting the rear hatch) version, but this is what we want to see for our purposes here.

Back when I was one of the managers at the animal shelter, as I’ve said before, we didn’t just see dogs and cats – we got a little of everything, especially when there was a new fad in popular “pets,” which is in quotes because in many cases these weren’t really good pet choices, like potbellied pigs. We had our share of hamsters and budgies, ferrets and pythons, and since we did wildlife rehabilitation we often had a couple of selections from those as well – at one point someone brought in an armadillo, which was a distinct first because we were well north of the latitude where such critters could be found. A bit later in my tenure there we built an expanded facility with, among other things, a small barn and stable, but this particular anecdote occurred before then when we had just your plain ol’ dog kennels and cat cages. So when Animal Control brought us in an impounded cow, we were a bit challenged as to what to do with it.

There wasn’t much we could do, so into the largest dog kennel she went, while we attempted to find out a) how long we were likely to have her, and b) where else we might put her if this ended up being more than a few days. She wasn’t the biggest example that I’ve seen, especially since I grew up next door to a dairy farm, but this was a full-size cow nonetheless. She was very docile and quite friendly, which helped a lot, and she was immensely popular with at least one of our regular volunteers. I did not get the opinions of any of the kennel staff, who now had entirely different job duties when it came to cleaning the kennel, since it was full of straw bedding and the old “flip up the drain cover and hose everything down the drain” wasn’t happening.

Now, you may be wondering why exactly Animal Control would impound a cow (Failure to Give Milk? Protective Confinement during a rash of tipping?) and truth be told I don’t recall exactly myself, but I think it had something to do with inadequate housing/conditions. Within the week, the impound was lifted and the owner was free to come pick their cow back up, and this happened to occur right at closing time when another manager and I were the only ones still available to process this transaction. Animal Control had borrowed a livestock trailer from someone to do the original impound, the typical kennel trucks not quite adequate to the job, but they were not permitted to return the cow – it was the owner’s responsibility. The other manager came up and got me when the owner arrived to do the transport, telling me that I had to see this. We went out to the vehicle gate to find the aforeillustrated Chevy Citation sitting there. No trailer. Not even a pickup truck. Just this podunk little runabout.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I said.

The manager shook his head with a grim smile. “Nope. That’s what he has to bring the cow home in.”

“Well, good fucking luck with that,” I failed to say, also neglecting to return to the front office and leave them to their own devices. I am quite sure some consulting with the Executive Director took place, and a few questions thrown out in vain, but it all came back to the same looming response: we were going to have to help him get a goddamn cow into a two-door hatchback.

Dog only knows how we did it, especially since it not only required getting the stupid bovine up over the rear bumper and hatch lip in the first place, but then also convincing it to lay the fuck down, and if you have the faintest familiarity with cows, this is not something that they do on command or for that matter practically at all – the shits even sleep standing up. There is this one moment of terror saved in my brain from when, sprawled across the folded-down rear seats and attempting to convince this heifer to bend her legs, she almost toppled over on top of me, but in less time than expected, we succeeded in getting her inside, laid down, and the hatch closed. Filthy and sweaty, the other manager and I watched the Citation pull out, sitting decidedly lower on its rear shocks than the manufacturer ever intended. Whether the owner actually made it all the way home without the cow bursting out the rear hatch glass I’ll never know.

This was of course in the early 1990s, when no one routinely had some kind of video-recording device ready at hand, so you just have to take me at my word. Or if you can find Sandy, I’m sure he’ll corroborate the story. You don’t forget a thing like that.

September is outtahere!

massive catfish looming towards surface
I’m not celebrating that, really – I happen to like September, don’t ask me why, but its passing also means autumn is nearly upon us. This occasionally provides some nice landscape opportunities (more often selective little tableaux, at least for me,) but what it mostly means is the end of the active season. Some of us can’t just pop down to Costa Rica in November…

All whining aside, this month’s-end abstract is a rather large catfish that was a resident in Our Hosts’ pond when we went down to the Savannah area, who eagerly partakes of their offered daily feedings despite hardly needing such largesse. I don’t think this is one of those walking varieties, which is good, because no one needs some ominous knocking on the door late at night to remind them that they forgot to feed the fish that morning. I mean, they have small dogs…

Per the ancient lore, part 29

Atlantic stingray Hypanus sabina resting on bottom of Indian River Lagoon, Florida
And now we enter round three of the passes through my categories, back to the beginning (alphabetically anyway) with Aquatic. Our subject this week is an Atlantic stingray, known to its friends as Hypanus sabina, one of the many scientific names that has changed since I first started adding such to the posts and gallery pages (you may or may not see the new name there, since as I type this I haven’t yet changed it but I will. Eventually.) Atlantic stingrays were formerly known as Dasyatis sabina, and the taxonomic change was first proposed, at least, in 2001, but I’d been finding it under the former name for several years following that so it appears this takes some time to propagate throughout the webbernets – in fact, it is still identified as such on various sites. Man, it’s hard enough for me to remember these (and this was one that I did remember) without biologists changing them all the time…

This is a wild shot, in the Indian River Lagoon where there were always plenty to be seen, but photographing them was a different matter. Suspended sediment, rippling water surfaces, and reflections all conspired to make most attempts pretty ratty, to say nothing of getting close enough to one in shallow enough water to make it worthwhile in the first place. Despite the reputation for stingrays to bury themselves in the sand and stab their barb into hapless waders, I never once witnessed such behavior, and most times the rays were far too shy to even let me approach – they could easily sense my movement, no matter how stealthy I tried to be, and usually sped off before I was in decent range. This particular photo is thus a rarity in that regard, and in two others. You can see a small collection of glass minnows passing over the ray, meaning that I managed not to spook them either, and the focal length listed in the EXIF info indicates that I wasn’t shooting from a great distance off either. But glass minnows (actually, according to my quick search, a variety of anchovy – they’re colloquially identified as such in the region mostly because they’re used as bait for fishing) are wary of moving stingrays, as I found when a ray swam towards a large school of minnows while I watched from a dock. The minnows parted for the ray and maintained a margin of maybe a handspan around it as it passed through their midst, giving a distinct impression of something like magnetic repulsion. This, and the fact that I have another frame where the stingray is in the exact same position in regards to the bottom details, tells me the ray was motionless at the time of this photo.

Swimming stingrays are fascinating to watch, as I was reminded, and The Girlfriend and Her Sprog got their first chance to see, during this recent trip to Tybee Island. They move with a lovely rippling motion of their outer wings, very much like a flag in slow motion, looking much more like the current is simply moving past them. We were able to look down on several as they foraged in the shallows under a dock, looming from the murky sediment and vaguely following the waterline before disappearing into the depths again, always hugging the bottom because that’s where they find their food. For a while we thought there was only one, but eventually realized there was a decent collection of them mostly appearing singularly.

Atlantic stngray image before color tweakI feel obligated to tell you that the above image is altered noticeably from the original, by removing a lot of the color cast from the water itself and increasing contrast – again, shooting down into the water is not the best set of conditions. It might also have helped to be in an area with much clearer water, but we have what we have.

Once, I came across a partially dismembered and decaying carcass of a stingray, and wanted the main skeletal structure for display, so I brought it home and began simmering it gently in hot water, which breaks up the soft tissue to allow it to come away from the bone. Don’t look at me that way – that’s one of the easiest methods, and lots of people do it. Unfortunately, while I knew stingray skeletons were cartilaginous, I didn’t realize this meant that they simply crumbled under such treatment, and I ended up with nothing. However, on a different excursion I had come across another dead one with an intact tail, and managed to remove the barb itself, which is quite a bit tougher; since I still have it, I could do an illustrating photo for this post. Overall, it’s 50mm long and 3 wide at the broadest point, and quite easy to see why they’re such a pain to remove. And bear in mind, Atlantic stingrays are among the smallest of the barbed rays.

barb of Atlantic stingray Hypanus sabina against finger for scale

A recent few

I’m trying to get back into shooting a little more regularly, not at all helped by not seeing much to shoot, not having a lot of free time that isn’t taken up with projects, and now not having the best weather. And yet, despite those overwhelming difficulties, I can still come through in the clutch!

[Ahem] Anyway, I snagged just a handful of frames this past evening, most of which I shot while on the phone, because multitasking! This first, however, was earlier in the afternoon between rain showers, as The Girlfriend’s new hibiscus plant began blooming earlier this week. The petals were starting to show wear and weren’t as healthy looking now, so I went selective.

hibiscus blossom in closeup after rain
While I had the camera in hand chasing other subjects, I happened across this lesser meadow katydid nymph (genus Conocephalus) and did a quick couple of frames before it leapt away.

lesser meadow katydid nymph genus Conocephalus
A few days earlier, I had seen this next one twice, surprising me a little because the green treefrogs (Hyla cinerea) have been absent from the yard since spring, but now at least one has reappeared. I kinda wish I’d had the time to shoot it when I first saw it back then, because it was perched on a much more photogenic setting than our porch railings, but so it goes.

green treefrog Hyla cinerea perched on porch railing
There’s a detail in this image that we’re going to see much closer in a later post. Just to, you know, get you all anticipating and stuff.

I was pleasantly surprised to find this juvenile Copes grey treefrog (Hyla chrysoscelis,) obviously one of the many broods hatched from the backyard pond. They’ve mostly been scarce recently, though whether this is from moving on, spending more time in the upper reaches of the trees, or falling prey to predators, I can’t say. This one isn’t significantly bigger than the last couple of times that I’ve photographed one, maybe about the size of your thumbnail.

juvenile Copes grey treefrog Hyla chrysoscelis in repose
I’m not sure why the grey treefrogs haven’t been cooperating by posing on something appropriate and interesting; they seem to really like plastic somehow, because I’ve been seeing them on rainbarrels and now a recycling bin, hardly the kind of natural setting that’s going to make a better shot. But I still like how well the skin quality came up with this one, equal parts translucent and almost-iridescent. They gain a lot from going in close. I mean, seriously, those toes just look like jelly, making it easy to forget there are teeny little bones in there.

southern flying squirrel Glaucomys volans peering from bluebird boxAnd this last one I’m only going to show at minimal size, because focus was slightly off and this is obvious when viewed any larger, but it proves that we have a resident (for the time being anyway) southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans) – in fact, we have two, because there’s one occupying another bluebird box in the backyard as well. They have two nesting seasons a year, spring and fall, and so we’re expecting two broods, but whether I can manage any better photos will wait to be seen – I’m very wary of scaring them off. In fact, I’m going out later on today to pick up some mealworms and nut mixes to place in visible locations near the nest boxes, to help convince them this is a cool location and assist in the feeding demands of the young.

If I make any noise at all in the front yard, I will often see this one peer out to check on me, and have routinely noted the bedding inside, visible in the opening when her head’s not in the way, in different positions, so if there isn’t presently a brood within, there soon will be. Now I’m leery of mowing the lawn, but I suppose she’s settled in enough to cope, and the food offering might help ease her concerns. This shot was obtained by manually focusing with the headlamp while using the Canon 100-300 L and the powerful Metz 40 MZ-3i, which hasn’t been getting a lot of use recently since the macro workhorse (the Sunpak Auto 322) has been what was called for – and used for all other shots in this post. Given the distance that I want to work from to avoid spooking the squirrel, the Metz is likely to see a bit more activity. Again, we’ll just have to see what transpires.

A magic era

Just a curious, passing thought: There is only going to be a brief moment in history where, “Like a t-shirt to the nuts,” is a valid and understandable analogy, and we live in that moment. Enjoy it while you can – it’ll be something to pass onto the grandkids.

The analogy, I mean, not the t-shirt. The nuts have presumably already been passed on to them by that time.

Throwup Monday

I felt the need to throw up some photos for today, but had no idea what to display, until I realized that it’s International Look Back and Wonder What Happened Day, and so I dug up a few photos from this date in past years. I’m not sure what it’s going to tell us, but hey, I didn’t make up this holiday!

One year ago
Carolina anole green anole Anolis carolinensis perched on leafThis Carolina anole (Anolis carolinensis) was being a little shy in Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, and so I only got a couple of frames, but I just needed one to celebrate the holiday.

Two years ago
pregnant Chinese mantis Tenodera sinensis peering from behind foliageI had sized and prepped this photo back then to use in a post, but never did anything with it, so here we have it now. This pregnant Chinese mantis (Tenodera sinensis) was in Gold Park in Hillsborough, though I had to crouch low to frame her against the blue sky while she watched me with grave suspicion. Or maybe I’m assuming too much here.

Three years ago
unidentified tiny spider looking walleyedI’m fairly certain this was in the yard at home, but photos of this unidentified spider were all I captured on that day, so I have nothing else for reference. It is safe to say, though, that it’s ridiculously small.

Nineteen years ago
immature eastern lubber grasshopper Romalea microptera perched on photographer's wristWait, what? Nineteen years ago? Why the big jump? First of all, because there’s only so much poking around in the folders that I’m going to do for this silly holiday, but also because I just so happen to know what day this was shot on, even though it’s from a slide and thus has no EXIF info or file creation date (other than the date that it was scanned, which was well after the fact.) It was years before I discovered that this was an eastern lubber grasshopper (Romalea microptera.) This was from Manatee Springs State Park, which has its own anecdote from posts past.

While I’m at this, I’ll throw up some more photos, just some monochrome edits that I was toying with. I’ll be the first to admit that the originals were better in color, but I don’t think the greyscale versions are totally lacking in merit either.

monochrome version of fishing boat off Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island GeorgiaOf course I had to do this one.

sunrise, surfers, and fishing boat off Wrightsville Beach NCThis was from last year’s trip to Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach, after the hurricane then prevented us from going to Jekyll.

monochrome version of Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island GeorgiaYes, I was obligated to do this one too. All of these had some careful tweaks done in the brightness curves, to bring out the contrast that I liked the best from different regions of the frames, but so far I haven’t been able to do channel clipping in GIMP – I figure there’s a way, but I have yet to find it.

Anyway, enjoy the holiday!

Podcast: Yet again

It’s another hybridcast – part podcast, part slideshow, part video, which means ignore the blank periods because they’re supposed to be there. But there were enough photos in this batch, accompanied by explanations, that typing it all up would have made a tremendously long page (yeah, much longer than this one,) plus we’re in the video age anyway so I’m catering more to the Short Attention Span Theater crowd, even though my better nature tells me that I shouldn’t. Time and effort-wise, it also would have been much easier to type it out, so I’m doing this for you and you’d better appreciate it (on an entirely unrelated note, there’s that tip jar thing over to the right.)

Technical notes: The on-site audio was recorded on a smutphone with a lapel mic, and didn’t do a bad job at that – I’m impressed. Then during photo editing, I discovered one of the simple functions that I took for granted in Photoshop doesn’t exist at all in GIMP, which is doing a line with an arrow. Numerous webbernet sources told me to download a plugin from the GIMP registry, but said registry was completely inoperative, so I finally drew my own damn arrow and pasted it as needed onto the images. Meanwhile, OpenShot (the Linux video editor that I’m using) rendered the first version of the video in an entirely unusable manner, huge amounts of still image jitter and bad rendering of the overlaid text, while the higher-quality version was better than three times my upload limit in Vimeo – seriously, 1.8 goddamn gigabytes for a seventeen minute video? However, I found a Linux converter which took that one down to a very efficient size with no bad effects at all, so we’re good. I’m still working out the quirks and refinements of video.

Links:

Jekyll Island, Georgia

Georgia Sea Turtle Center

A previous post on Jekyll and the sea turtle center; note the photo of the green sea turtle in there, with an identical injury. Same patient? I can’t say for sure – that was two years ago, but I recall them saying something this time around about how long ago the injury occurred, so, maybe?

Voice recorder for Android – App coders need to learn how to name their programs distinctly, because finding this can be tedious; you usually have to look for the exact same icon. Try it for giggles – you’ll see how many variations there are. Some might be much better than this one, but it works for me and I’ll save you the time trying them out.

The players:

Wood stork (Mycteria americana)

Great egret (Ardea alba)

Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta)

Gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)

Eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina)

Broad-headed skink (Plestiodon laticeps)

Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas)

Narrator and videographer: Photographus chauvanim vulgaris

Second unit photography: Ad amicam

But while a video gives me the chance to show a bunch of photos in a small footprint, as it were, the detail takes a hit, so a few of the images reappear below in higher resolution.

trio of gulls against dramatic skyDid you notice that the above image in the video was subtly changing, because I included a sequence of the gulls passing? Now you have to go back and look at it again, don’t you? That’ll teach you to be more sharp-eyed.

fishing boat in front of St Simons lighthouse, Jekyll Island, Georgia

dead tree trunk at sunrise on Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island GeorgiaSee the smoke? There’s the faintest hint of another industrial complex visible between the roots, and the causeway bridge is hidden behind the trees to the left. A wide-angle lens helps minimize such distractions of course, but positioning counts for a lot.

fishing boat against dramatic sunrise, Jekyll Island GeorgiaThe boats really do pass pretty close to the end of the island.

toppled dead trees at sunrise, Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island GeorgiaComparison image here (third frame,) but don’t ask me which tree is which – it’s possible one of them got swept away by last year’s storm.

gopher tortoise Gopherus polyphemus enjoying its foodNo, it wasn’t starving – most turtles look this desperate when eating…

wood stork Mycteria americana in surf on Jekyll Island GeorgiaWood stork (Mycteria americana.) There must be a reason…

great egret Ardea alba on approach glide against cumulonimbus, Jekyll Island Georgia

great egret Ardea alba with tiny flounderWhat a pair of naturals…

great egret Ardea alba with tiny flounder, detail cropThe inset was the full frame (at 210mm focal length – I looked it up,) while the main photo is full resolution. Yes, I lightened it a little for detail of the flounder. I wouldn’t make a print of it this size, but considering the distance and the movement of the players, I can’t complain.

great egret Ardea alba being photogenic, Jekyll Island Georgia

spanish moss adorned tree, Jekyll Island GeorgiaThis wasn’t in the video, so it’s a bonus frame. Jekyll Island is also a great place for Spanish moss, but then again, most of Georgia is.

dolphin tour boat against dramatic sky, Jekyll Island GeorgiaIf you check the video, one of the frames shows what the entire sky looked like, so you can now see what selectivity in framing accomplishes.

seagulls against dramatic sunrise, Jekyll Island GeorgiaAnd one last image back from sunrise; the gulls were usually staying quite far away, so they had to be in specific regions of the frame to be even noticeable, much less distinct elements. Timing was part of it, but luck was a major factor because wing position is important. I have a lot of frames, and many of them will be discarded during the big sort coming up.

That’s all for now – I feel like I’m forgetting something, but I suppose I can always do another post.

Per the ancient lore, part 28

cloud-obscured sunrise during Venus transit
Yes, this is a crappy image, even by my standards, but I include it for two distinct reasons. The first is, my Sunrise/Sunset folder (which we have now reached in the lineup) had way too few images in it for a long time, and this is one of only a handful from back in that time period – the next one will be better, I promise, but taken well after this one.

The second reason is, this was taken June 8, 2004, and that sunlight is slightly reduced from what it normally was – no, I mean even without the clouds, everywhere on Earth regardless. That’s because this was taken during the first transit of Venus in the past century, and I was out in the hopes that I might get something usable – as you can see, the weather was uncooperative. I waited a bit in case the clouds might clear, but never even got a glimpse of the sun. About ten minutes after this was taken, I shot the daytime moon photo that appeared in the previous Ancient Lore post, using the telescope that might have come in handy had Venus actually been visible.

No, that shadow in the sunbeam across the cloud bank did not come from Venus – I thought of that too, initially, but the little spot of Venus against the sun wouldn’t throw any shadow at all, unless there was a mere sliver of sunlight no wider than Venus showing through the clouds; otherwise the light from the surrounding portions of the sun would simply overwhelm it. What you’re seeing is just the shadow of a cloud ‘peak’ somewhere further off.

There is the barest hint of fartistic merit from the tree emulating the cloud bank, with the sunbeam stretching there from the corner, but that’s not enough to rescue the image. I include it only as trivia.

A little set of drapes to peer from behind

I’m editing the video that will be coming soon, but thought I’d toss this one up in the interim. This past Monday, the effects of Hurricane/Tropical Depression Florence had the greatest impact, and flooded out several portions of the region temporarily, among them every possible route The Girlfriend could take into work, forcing her to stay home – we’d been largely unaffected, right up until that point. Yet, later that afternoon, everything cleared and the sun came out, and we were examining the sponge that was our front yard, noticing the deer damage to my almond tree and all that rot. Standing near the bluebird house on a trunk, I glanced up and froze, then motioned The Girlfriend over without saying a word; she’s familiar enough with my habits that she slipped up slowly and quietly herself. Peering out at us distrustfully, not very happy with the noise in her yard, was a new occupant of the birdhouse – just, not a bird.

southern flying squirrel Glaucomys volans peering from bluebird house
That’s a southern flying squirrel (Glaucomys volans,) and this is the second time I’ve seen one occupying the same birdhouse (and the second time that I’ll tell you that paint job was not ours.) That time, I only had the one day of seeing her, since I suspect my shenanigans with the lights and activity convinced her that the nest box wasn’t the best place to raise a brood. This time around I’m leaving the box alone, unsure of whether this one is still establishing and decorating a nest site, presently raising a brood, or simply finding it a better shelter during the storms than the natural options available. Should anything further develop, I’ll try to find a way to let you know.