Thursday, April 29, 2010

Only by the unseen...

There are times when what we can not see reveals itself indirectly - reflections, shadows and distortions. (bigger versions)

Sometimes the context can be refined, orientations understood, depth conveyed... (bigger versions)

Sometimes tension can be created, a sense of unease in the viewer that the participant does not see... (bigger versions)

But it is only by following reflections of reflections that the magic happens... light spread to components and spread in ways so that from that one place - that one point of view the world is different, the color and form special - unique... (bigger versions)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Sometimes it's hard to find a way to capture in an image that which makes something unique and special.  More often than not the most visible characteristics reveal that which makes something recognizable - what binds it to a group - what one would expect to see... but finding the way to reveal what makes something special is a challenge worth attempting. (bigger image)

For me - it's the flaws that I love to see... The parts that are missing or broken or deformed that one doesn't see at first - but because they are there... I am drawn in... While I can't figure out why at first - I am compelled to keep looking. (bigger image)

Sometimes it's the unbalanced and unfair nature of life - the wear and tear of existing that makes one of many stand out. (bigger image)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Places that become yours...

There are places in this world that I frequent, sometimes I find evidence that others have been there recently - but we never overlap - when I am there I am alone... Effectively these places have become mine. (bigger versions)

Sometimes I know why there are few other travelers - thorns, briars, ticks, mosquitos.  Sometimes I think the reason is the distance to safety is a bit much if something goes wrong.  (bigger versions)

Most times I think people do not travel in places where they haven't been led... It's different now than it was when I was a kid - exploring everything without fear just to see what's there... (bigger versions)

In a way it's sad to have so few realize what's available all around them, but in another way it's nice to have places that become yours... (bigger versions)

Monday, April 26, 2010

Hatchlings... (about 5 weeks)

Over the last week there have been some interesting developments with the tadpoles.  The differences in size and differentiation state have increased - the largest ones are about 70% larger than the smallest.  All seem to eat well (and more aggressively) so I think there may be some genetic variability (which suggests the wild population is diverse. (bigger images)

Most of them seem to be developing more complex bone plates, lungs, hearts, mouths and eyes.  Even the small ones seem to have substantial control of the eye position, but none appear to have iris control yet.  (bigger versions)

The biggest and most differentiated ones (perhaps 5-10% of the total) have begun to develop legs.  The small white buds that appeared a week ago have begun to change into more complex tissue and elongate near the tail. (bigger versions)

The pigments on many have begun to change as well.  Some that appear in olive and green have begun to spread and the gold flecks are becoming less dominant.  Interestingly, small snails have begun to appear over the last week - larva must have come from the original pond water.  (bigger versions)

As usual, many images from the project are here:

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Scent of what... ?

Continuing the exploration of the woods between the fence along a highway and a river (a spot hard to get to without wading across a river) Mischka suddenly dropped and indicated something. (bigger versions)

This was not what I expected... Why on earth would this be out in the woods?  Why would someone even make such a thing? (bigger versions)

This just doesn't make sense... (bigger versions)

Behind the fence...

Out exploring to see what hides behind the fence that guards the highway Mischka found a head.  It was strange in that the antlers were hooked around a tree and there was no body - no signs of a struggle.  Older than a few days and not eaten by scavengers.  (bigger images)

I suspect that it was probably hit by a car on the highway and someone threw the head over the fence...  Somehow it didn't seem right to leave it tangled on the ground so I placed it on a stump - to watch and to warn (and if lucky not to be eaten and destroyed). (bigger versions)

It's a sad thing to find... I don't mind the living - I don't mind the skulls - I don't really know what to think of the intermediates when remnants exist - remnants confuse my emotions - eyelashes to the soul... (bigger images)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Natural forms...

I have always found interesting the forms of nature.  There always seems to be a new variation, a new balance, a new reason for why things are in any particular state at a given moment.

Bigger versions here:

Herons are one of my favorites for thinking about form - they shift back and forth from states of perfect balance and always seem to hold an air of grace.

Bigger versions here:

But even with herons one sometimes sees the unexpected...

Bigger versions here:

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ant wars...

Every so often one comes across an ant war - a writhing mass of bodies tearing each other apart.  They climb on each other, work in groups to battle and defend.  Some even hold territory...
(bigger images)
I've never been able to figure out which group invaded the other's domain... which was morally right... or even which was winning...

As sad (but compelling) thing to witness.  The next day when it's finished I am left with a sense of relief it's over and yet the mystery of why it ever happened leaves me unfulfilled...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

She hides before me...

Yay, with spring come rabbits again...  Out in the woods after work I found this little one was hiding right in front of the the path I was taking.  It didn't feel right to make it move so I went another way.

Sometimes it's just a nice experience to come across something special - little moments can make any day seem worthwhile.

Bigger images are here:

Monday, April 19, 2010

Unexpected visitors...

Climbing and hiking around all day one might think that the occasional traveler wouldn't stay long (and usually they don't)...  This little one spent the better part of the morning clinging to by pack, sometimes facing into the wind - but seemingly happy to be carried from place to place.  By the time I got back to the car it had eventually left but there was something kind of nice having it travel with me for a while. (bigger versions)

These little ones (there were many of them) kept climbing up the tripod and the lightstands one day while shooting humming birds.  They clung so tightly that I was afraid I would hurt them if I pulled them off so I left them alone... When they got to the top they seemed lost and confused and made no attempt to climb down so the only thing that seemed to make sense was to be the path away... one by one I moved them off to the world they should inhabit. (bigger versions)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hatchlings... (about 3 weeks)

At around 3 weeks old the changes continue... Over the last week one of the most evident changes has been the differences in sizes within the population.  Previously they had all grown at about the same rate and appeared roughly the same morphologically the same.  Now some are clearly larger (around 30%) than most of the population while a few don't appear to be growing in size.

The larger ones seem to have increased complexity within the tissues - more definition of the internal organs including the size of the digestive tract and the musculature of the mouth.  More interestingly they also appear to be developing visible nerves and bone plates.

A few have begun to differentiate the tissue around the mouth giving enough movement to make tearing off bits of plant material more efficient.  Many are developing small whitish lumps behind the rear vent of the digestive tract - I am uncertain whether these will develop into legs...

They all seem to have increasing ability to direct the eye position but none seem to have iris control yet.  They are much more agile in movement than last week.  Social behavior has increased for most of them (moving in groups, resting in groups, periodic contact/bumping) but there are a few that seem to prefer to be alone.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Everything returns to nature...

No matter who you are - no matter how powerful - no matter how important and critical for the world your work seems at the time - in the end everything returns to nature. (bigger versions)
Bit by bit all that we build and all that we hold dear will be lost and eventually forgotten...

The bindings degrade and the whole falls back into the many...
I guess it's not really a bad thing that everything is eventually lost - for something new to come into the world, something else has to go... beyond the grasp of all destiny awaits...

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Hatchlings... (almost three weeks)

Another set of interesting changes seems to be happening in the structure of the eye.  A few days ago tissue around the eye had retracted and moved away forming the beginning of a socket.  Now additional tissue has formed next to the eye forming a ridge.

This ridge sees to be important for two things.  First it seems to be allowing alight movement and changes in alignment of the eye relative to the body.  Not all of the tadpoles seem to be able to move their eyes yet, but I suspect that over the next few days this will become common.  Also, the ridge around the eye seems to be providing a stronger support for the lens.

The lens forming in the eye seems to be associated with some information other than simple light intensity.  The tadpoles are routinely aligning themselves relative to environment structures and some are moving in groups for a few moments.  The eyes are separating more from the nasal holes and as the from of the head elongates the possible view of vision is increasing.

Under that cap over the lower torso something is happening...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Traditional fingerprints...

There's something special about every tool you have... Sometimes it's tangible, the way it feels in your hand, the way it moves, the way it sounds...  No tool is truly ideal (perfect in all situations), but there is a reason we all tend to have our favorites.
(bigger versions)
In the morning light I love my old 28mm/2.8 AIS... I even love the unique lens flare and the way it can twist the light (otherwise known as aberrations, imperfects, defects and generally things that all the newer lens designs address and newer manufacturing techniques remove).  The fingerprints are the imperfections that define the importance - that which makes something unique and special and worth having. (bigger versions)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Things you might cnsider looking at... 4/12/10

Every so often I come across something that I feel is worth recommending.
Amy Stein (whom I've never met and don't know much about at all) is one of those very few people whose images make me happy to simply exist so that I can see them... She has a a few projects on her site (domesticated, stranded, halloween in harlem and women with guns) that I really think are worth looking though - there's something special worth paying attention to here.

Hatchlings... day 18

The tadpoles are continuing to change, slowing getting larger over the last few days.  The most visible external change is in the form of the mouth.  The two hard beaks are retracting back and getting closer together and the tissue around the teeth is moving forward.  What uesd to be a blebby mass is beginning to form an elongated mouth and the teeth are pointing inwards a bit.

The pigmented cells are forming larger groups and regions are forming where the all of the cells have a unique color.   The lower torso is clearly developing internal muscles and continues to gain definition of the internal organs.

The tadpoles are also becoming more agile at moving about the environment.  The tail seems to be flexible and capable of rotation on most of the joints giving fine control of motion in all three dimensions.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Hatchlings (day 13)...

A few days ago the underside revealed an increasingly long and coiled digestive tract but now the migrating and expanding pigmented cells are forming a cover over the area.  The sides of the body around the lower half are pinching in as the head is becoming defined.

The tail is now increasingly capable of twisting along it's axis allowing greater control of body position and much faster acceleration.

The mouth parts are much better organised and seem to be quite efficient at scraping algae off hard surfaces as well as tearing off little bits of vegetative matter.  The beaks are becoming stronger and the labial teeth are becoming less dominant.  It sees that some sort of muscle array is driving the beaks while the teeth are just suspended in the blebby cup area of the mouth.  Most of the pigmented cells are migrating away from the bottom of the upper body.

While it is becoming harder to see through the tadpole, the respiratory and circulatory organs are becoming more defined.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Quick and dirty...

I have always used "quick and dirty" to refer to something that takes 10 minutes or less.  Playing around with Mischka (my dog) in a field I had the camera (D300s and a 12-24/f4 lens) on a tripod.  The light was at a relatively low angle and very bright so I was using shutter speed of around 1/2000s and shooting bursts at 7 frames per second.

When I got home I played around with creating a "quick and dirty" composite (took somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes I think).  Well I ended up liking the result so I posted it to my flickr account.  I've had a number of people ask how I did it, and while it's embarrassing simple I thought I would post an explanation.

I used Adobe Photoshop CS4, but you should be able to do the same thing in any software that supports layers.  I opened each individual file and added them as individual layers in a single file.  This just shows the lowest layer (the visibility of the other layers is turned off).  In the lower right corner you can see the layers I have (1 background and 5 additional layers).  Each layer has an eye symbol on the left side to toggle visibility, an icon of the image in the layer and a layer mask.

The layer mask determines what data is allowed to pass through to the final image.  Here I have limited visibility to only the top layer.  Anywhere the mask is white the image in that layer will be visible and where it is black it remains hidden.  You can add masks to layers and then draw on the layers with a brush just like any other image, but you are restricted to greyscale.  For quick and dirty composites I only use black and white.

Here I have made the top layer and the background visible.  Since there are no overlapping elements and sloppiness in creating the masks is largely irrelevant.

Here I have made an additional layer visible.  You have to be a big more careful about the masks here... An parts of the mask on the upper layers will overwrite the data you want to come through from the lower layers.  You can see that I made a slight mistake with a mask too large on the top of her snout and that hides a bit of the dog on the second layer.

With quick and dirty I don't have time to do it right (I would have completely masked each dog and the shadows completely and accurately).  Since I only paint the mask parts that are needed you can see some funny results if you reveal layers in the middle without the context of all the other layers.

Well that's it.  Nothing all that complicated, but probably a good first exercise if you aren't accustomed to layers.  I'm sure there are many well done explanations of layers and masks on the web (and in books).   Mine is just what I did (imperfect and messy).

There are an insane number of tools and techniques (way way more than I have time to ever explain), but my suggestion to anyone is to start simple and focus on doing things quickly before you try to spend a lot of time making something perfect - for me at least it's the fastest way to really learn how something works so that it's natural and fast enough not to distract you from the content.  There are always going to be rainy indoor days in the future to spend a lot of time focusing on making an image "perfect" later.

There are a few of these composites here:

The original singles are all somewhere in here:

Hopefully my little explanation is useful to someone.  If there is anything else you want me to explain, let me know and I'll do my best.