Still works

I mentioned more photos, and I deliver! Before christmas, even.

First off, we continue the thread of finding things, with this little discovery:

egg case ootheca of Chinese mantis Tenodera sinensis
That’s the egg case (ootheca) of a Chinese mantis, definitely this year’s, so I have the first one to watch next spring – so far it’s been the only one found on the property, but I’m still watching. This is on the burning bush (Euonymus alatus) in the front garden that we call The Jungle, which is far less jungley so I may be able to keep an eye on it easier. It was less than two meters from the new bud in the previous post.

In the same region, I found this little scene, even though it rained two days ago – just goes to show you how these leaves are, I guess.

water drops from long past rain on unidentified plants
Yes, that’s white clover over to the left, so this is pretty small, and shielded from direct sunlight, which is probably how the drops remained as long as they have. Either that, or this is deer urine – I admit to not confirming, one way or another.

While I had the camera in hand, feeling guilty about neglecting it so much, I did a few experiments, then returned to them when conditions were better (i.e., darker.)

out-of-focus holiday lights and reflections
When putting up holiday lights this year, I ran a strand of white lights inside the glass cabinet of the grandfather clock (well, one of them,) which is actually a pretty cool effect and may get a more permanent installation later on. What you see here are a handful of the lights and their reflections in the brass pendulum, well out of focus and so rendered into diffuse circles. This technique will reveal every dust speck on your lens, so make sure it’s clean. Also make sure you’re shooting wide open at maximum aperture, to keep the little balls round.

And then, a purposefully staged shot.

fireplace and holiday lights
No special effects or editing here, this is all in-camera, like the previous image. Focus was on the fireplace, so the lights strewn across the coffee table in the foreground were all defocused again. I used the Mamiya 80mm macro at f4 (maximum,) though I did a few other experiments with the Sigma 24-60 f2.8 and the Canon 18-135, which could only manage f 4.5 at the focal length I used, and that wasn’t quite enough – the faster the lens, the better. I changed camera and light positions a few times to get the best effect, since it’s easy for the balls of light to overlap or cluster in less-than-ideal ways. But I do this partially so you can play around yourself while your own lights are up and handy.

Kaylee in the window with the lightsSo whatever you celebrate, or even if you don’t, take advantage of the holiday and kick back, be mellow and froody. By the way, I read somewhere that some people’s cats have been affected negatively by the lockdowns, not at all pleased with people being around the house all day, but Kaylee here is just the opposite; she’s quite happy with attention anytime she desires it, and gets a little antsy when The Girlfriend has to be away.

Happy holidays, everyone! Be courteous and generous. Or not, as you like it; I’m not your boss, I’m just making suggestions, but you do you. I’ll close with an image uploaded many years back, that’s… geez, it’s over fourteen years old now, featuring Ben, my first cat after moving out on my own, lived to be eighteen. If you were looking for what you imagine is the appropriate atheist response to the holidays, well, fine – here you go!


Ben on the author's backside, years ago

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