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Friday, May 30, 2008

The Mystery Creature Strikes Again

Last fall, Megan and I were wading in the Olentangy River looking for fish and she suddenly stopped, stared down into the water, and with quite a strange look and a point said "WHAT is THAT?"

We looked down, and sure enough, a freshwater mussel, embedded into the river substrate, was displaying its lure designed to attract fish. The lure looks just like a live fish, and even has two "eyes" and waving "fins". To me, freshwater mussels are one of the most interesting and amazing creatures on the planet, simply because they appear to be such simple beings, yet their lures mimic fish so incredibly it just blows my mind. Last year, we only captured still images, but today, I captured video. Sit back, relax, and prepare to be amazed if you haven't seen this before.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sky Watch Friday- Olentangy Moon

May 16, 2008, Columbus, Ohio

I took this shot on my way back from the Olentangy river as I was walking through the park. I looked over my shoulder, saw the moon peeking through the black walnuts, and the pinkish clouds, and thought, I need to take a picture here. I set up the tripod and exposed the image for thirty seconds. There was little wind on that night, so the leaves were still throughout the exposure resulting in a crisp image.

Megan and I continue our house search. We came very close to making an offer on a house, but after much soul searching, coupled with research on basement foundations, we decided against it. Our evenings are dedicated to going through homes with our Realtor, checking out neighborhoods, or browsing homes on the internet. I know we'll find a great place, and I'm glad that we live close to where we'll be moving. Although I won't be a minute's walk from the Olentangy like we are now, I'll still be close and still be able to document the living creatures of the river.

This week I ventured across Ohio. On Tuesday, I was in Wood County looking for an extirpated sedge, Carex formosa, near Bowling Green State University. Today I was updating rare plant records at Lakeside Daisy State Nature Preserve in Ottawa County. Next week, I'll be back to Kelleys Island to continue a vegetation and rare plant survey of the state park lands on the Island. It's sedge season, so if you are feeling brave, wander into a woodland near you and start collecting sedges, especially members of the genus Carex. It is quite fun, really, it is!

Tom

Friday, May 23, 2008

Sky Watch Friday- Olentangy Curve


Olentangy Curve, originally uploaded by Tom Arbour.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Power of Collective Naturalizing III- Shawnee State Forest

What a fantastic day of naturalizing at Shawnee yesterday! Here are just a few of the very interesting things that we came across. As always, if you recognize something, no matter how basic, feel free to chime in and tell us a little piece of information, or maybe even put an I.D. on something. As always, in this list, there are things that I knew right off the bat, things I had and still have a general idea about, others I learned, and there are still things that are yet to be solidly identified. So here we go, here was our day at Shawnee, a state forest and park system about 2 hours south of Columbus, a few miles west of the Ohio River city of Portsmouth.

*****(It's Monday Night, and I'm going to write some updates and maybe give a few HINTS!)****

1. Kathleen correctly identified the biologists in this photo, with their floppy hats and all, but what is that shrub they are looking at? One clue: It has opposite leaves. Second clue: It is on the Ohio Rare Plant List.

2. I thought someone may have gotten this one by now! I know it by two common names, any guesses here?
3. Kathleen correctly ID'd the eastern tent caterpillar, which I learned on this trip from John Howard, an incredible naturalist from Adams County.
4. Yes, this one is in the pink family. I'm getting hot we're so close. Its starting to smoke!
5. Any ideas what family this plant may be in? Kylee, are you out there? You can't buy this one at Kroger or any garden center near you. Ok..I'm outta here, but I've given a few clues, more to come tomorrow.
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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Olentangy Sycamore


Olentangy Sycamre, originally uploaded by Tom Arbour.

This evening I played around at creating HDR images again using shots taken last evening. This time, I downloaded the full blown version of photomatix and wow, was I happy with my tone mapping results! Isn't this image cool? To generate an image without watermarks, one needs a license, which will set me back about $100. For now, I'm satisfied with just playing around, but digital photography is incredible. It wows me every day.

Today was a fantastic day at Shawnee and I'll have pictures of our trip tomorrow. Be sure to stop by and see what fascinating creatures Shawnee had to offer.

Tom

Friday, May 16, 2008

New Bird for the Yard- The White Crowned Sparrow

Good evening and I'll be soon off to bed, but I wanted to share images of a white crowned sparrow that visited our yard today. I looked out our window this morning, and there it was, eating the seed just off our front porch. It really surprised me, as I've never seen this bird visit the yard before. I must say, this was the best look that I've had at this species. The seed is only about ten feet away from where I was standing. Unfortunately our dirty window and the lack of light led to a less than spectacular photograph.
I took the afternoon off today, and I headed to Midwest Photo Exchange's tent sale. I lucked out and they had a tripod that I had been eyeing for quite some time- a Gitzo explorer- for a really great price. I found a ball head I like, and headed home for the afternoon. I set up shop in the front yard, photographing mushrooms and weeds, when I turned around, and noticed the white crowned sparrow had returned. You can see that from far away, and without binoculars, this bird is rather plain looking, but up close, it is quite spectacular. This morning Megan saw it and said that it looked like someone had applied "white-out" correction fluid to its head!
As I was watching the birds further away, a female house sparrow swooped onto our neighbor's driveway and snatched up an arthopod of some type. I managed to get a few decent shots of here. There are hundreds of these non-native birds in our neighborhood.
And this evening, being without Megan and she flew to Alabama to attend here future sister-in-laws shower, I went down to Kenney Park to practice my photography. I'm very much concentrating on creating dynamic landscape images that have continuous flow througought the photograph. This side channel of the Olentangy has always been one of my favorite subjects since moving to our present house. The lines, the reflections, and the exposed roots of the American sycamore are all quite intriguing to me. I captured a range of exposures of this same composition with plans to compile a high dynamic range image.

As it grew dark, I thought I might play with my Vivitar 285HV external flash. This is the result that I am most happy with. I metered on the sky, set my exposure in manual mode, all while the camera was mounted on my new tripod. I placed the flash just out of the range of the picture, holding flush against the tree, pointing straight upward. This created some wonderful shadows and highlights, and I'm quite pleased with the results. A crop and some sharpening are in order, but I'm happy! I rounded out the evening as it got dark with some shots of the moon. But those will have to wait until Sky Watch Friday.

Tomorrow I'm off to Shawnee State Forest, so expect at Collective Naturalizing post soon.

Have a great weekend,

Tom

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sky Watch Friday

Flying up above the cumulus congestus, up towards the cumulonimbus, April 27th, somewhere northwest of Columbia, South Carolina, and taken above 10,000 feet, when I could legally use my digital camera, according to FAA regulations! Needless to say, it was a bumpy ride just after taking this photo. We were traveling from right to left in this photo, straight up and into the thunderhead. As we climbed up above the cloud level, the rest of the ride to Dayton was quite smooth. I love flying in an airplane, and I love taking pictures of the sky from this incredible vantage point.

Tom

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Collective Naturalizing II- Birds

Tonight we have a collection of bird photographs that I took on May 4th in our back yard and Kenney Park, in a silver maple/boxelder/cottonwood/hackberry/black walnut forest. This was a clear and cool morning, and it seemed to be the day of the greatest warbler fallout that I witnessed. Here are some of the birds species that I managed to photograph. Some are pretty easy to identify, and others I have questions about, and some are just down right too difficult I think for anyone to identify, but who knows, our collective naturalization process could produce some very interesting results! I'm personally most interested in #5. I found nothing that really matched while I was leafing through my Peterson Field Guide to Warblers. I'm really a novice when it comes to birds.

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Tom