Archive for November, 2011

Another diptych of dragonflies

November 29, 2011

The following composite image, known as a diptych, was created using Diptic app for Apple iOS mobile devices. The diptych shows Great Blue Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula vibrans) spotted during photowalks through Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA.

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In order to create a “Hi-Res” Diptic (resolution = 2048 x 2048 pixels) like the one shown above, I used Apple Aperture to crop photo tiles from the source images in the following sizes: 1024 x 1024 pixels (square); 1024 H x 2048 W pixels. Next, I used iTunes to sync the photo tiles to my iPad. Finally, I launched Diptic, selected the photo tiles, and added black and white borders with a width of 10 pixels.

The following workflow was used to crop the photo tiles in Aperture:

  1. Choose a photo to edit. From the menu bar, select Photos/Duplicate Version.
  2. Select the new version of the photo.
  3. Select “Crop Tool” and drag a selection area on the image — don’t worry about the size of the area. Note that the “Master Aspect Ratio” of the Master Version is shown in the Crop Tool HUD; do not change the aspect ratio. (Under unusual circumstances, you may need to select “Do Not Constrain.”)
  4. Under the “Adjustments” tab, select “Crop.”
  5. Enter values for the new height and width, in pixels.
  6. Click-and-drag the crop selection box to desired position.
  7. From the menu bar, select File/Export/Version…; save file to desired location.

Photo © Copyright 2011 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

A diptych of dragonflies

November 27, 2011
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A diptych of Slaty Skimmer dragonflies (Libellula incesta) spotted during photowalks through Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. The diptych (shown above), entitled “Perching Slatys,” was created using Diptic  app for Apple iOS mobile devices.

Related Resources:

See full-size versions of the photos used to create the preceding diptych of dragonflies.

Tech Tips: The source photos were post-processed using Apple “Aperture,” a professional-grade tool for organizing and adjusting photos, before they were imported into “Diptic” app. Selected images were cropped to fit perfectly within the borderless frames I chose to use in “Diptic.” In order to create a “Normal” resolution Diptic (1024 x 1024 pixels) like the one shown above, I used “Aperture” to crop photo tiles from the source images in the following sizes: 512 x 512 pixels (square); 512 H x 1024 W pixels. Next, I used iTunes to sync the photo tiles to my iPad. Finally, I launched Diptic, selected the photo tiles, and added black and white borders with a width of 10 pixels.

Photo © Copyright 2011 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

American sweetgum tree (fruit and fall foliage)

November 25, 2011

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American sweetgum trees (Liquidambar styraciflua) are among the last deciduous trees in the mid-Atlantic region to change color and drop their leaves. Seems like Mother Nature saved the best for last — Sweetgum trees go out in a blaze of glory! Leaves change color from green to yellow to red to a rich reddish-purple.

Photos 1-2 show Sweetgum tree “fruit”; Photo 2 shows the relative size of the fruit specimens. [Editor’s Note: The quarters used to show the relative size of the fruit specimens are approximately one inch (~1″) in diameter. See a schematic diagram of Sweetgum flowers and fruit.] Photos 1 and 3-6 show Sweetgum tree fall foliage. Photos 5-6 show a Sweetgum tree leaf, identified in situ using Leafsnap app (free) for Apple iOS mobile devices.

Tech Tips: The preceding photos were post-processed using Apple “Aperture,” a professional-grade tool for organizing and adjusting photos.

Trumpet vine fruit and seeds

November 23, 2011

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Trumpet vine (Campsis radicans), also known as “hummingbird vine,” is a vining plant that features red trumpet-shaped flowers. The flowers morph into “fruit” (seed pods). Photos 1-3 show the same two pieces of fruit, including seeds that burst from the larger seed pod. Photo 4 features a third piece of fruit, shown for scale.

I harvested “fruit” from late-October to mid-November. I plan to germinate the seeds next spring, in the hope of attracting hummingbirds to a small container garden located on the balcony of my exurban apartment.

Related Resources:

Fossil sea snail shell, revisited

November 21, 2011

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Fossil marine gastropod mollusk shell (Ecphora tricostata), approximately three inches (3″) in length, collected at an undisclosed location along the Potomac River, Westmoreland County, Virginia USA. The word “costa” means “rib,” derived from the Latin word “costae.” Notice that the shell of Ecphora tricostata has three costae (ribs). Photo 1 of 4 was annotated to highlight the three costae; Photo 2 of 4 is the original photograph. Photo 3 of 4 shows the relative size of the specimen (a quarter is ~1″ in diameter). Compare and contrast Ecphora tricostata with Ecphora quadricostata, the subject of one of my recent Posterous posts.

Habitat: A relatively “shallow” sea that existed along the east coast of the United States an estimated 10- to 15 million years ago, during the Miocene Epoch.

The following gallery displays a few alternate image crops, featuring reduced white space around the specimens while preserving the aspect ratio of the original photos — which versions do you prefer?

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Editor’s Note: Are you a keen observer with eagle eyes? Did you notice I used “Virginia” quarters to show the relative size of a fossil from Virginia? That’s a subtle detail you may have overlooked.

Tech Tips: The preceding photos were post-processed using Apple “Aperture,” a professional-grade tool for organizing and adjusting photos. Apple “Preview” was used to annotate Photo 1 of 4.

The sidewalk is my canvas.

November 18, 2011

The sidewalk is my canvas; leaf stains are my brushes and paints. The following abstract photos of leaf stains remind me of paintings by Jackson Pollock, an American artist who participated in the abstract expressionism movement.

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The preceding gallery shows leaf stains on a concrete sidewalk. Many of the stains were made by Maple tree (Acer sp.) leaves, as indicated by the “helicopter” seeds on the sidewalk (annotated in Photo 2 of 2).

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The preceding gallery shows pine needle “leaf” stains on a concrete sidewalk. Photo 1 of 3 was cropped to create a “painting” canvas; Photo 3 of 3 is the original photograph. Photo 2 of 3 was annotated to highlight pine needles on the sidewalk.

Tech Tips: The preceding photos were post-processed using Apple “Aperture,” a professional-grade tool for organizing and adjusting photos. Apple “Preview” was used to annotate some photos.

Red Maple tree leaf stain

November 16, 2011

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Photos 1-2 (of 4) show a Red Maple tree (Acer rubrum) leaf stain on a concrete sidewalk; the stain was the result of chemical- and physical changes as the leaf decomposed on a wet sidewalk. Photo 1 was annotated to highlight the leaf stain; Photo 2 is the original photo. Photos 3-4 show a Red Maple tree leaf, identified in situ using Leafsnap app for Apple iOS mobile devices. The leaf sample was collected from a tree located beside the leaf-stained sidewalk.

Photos 1-2 also show signs of human life (see “SNOZ” graffiti). I can tell “SNOZ” is a sign of human life because I know of no other creature that likes to write in fresh concrete — can you name one? What does “SNOZ” mean? It could be a nickname for someone with a big nose. What do you think “SNOZ” means?

Tech Tips: The preceding photos were post-processed using Apple “Aperture,” a professional-grade tool for organizing and adjusting photos. Apple “Preview” was used to annotate Photo 1 of 4.

Lamb’s Ear

November 14, 2011

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Lamb’s Ear (Stachys byzantina), an unusual flowering plant spotted during a photowalk through the Children’s Garden, Hollin Meadows Science and Math Focus School. Lamb’s Ear seems to be very attractive to Bumble bees (Bombus sp.) and Small Cabbage White butterflies (Pieris sp.), among other pollinators.

Related Resources:

Photos © Copyright 2011 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved. www.wsanford.com

MVUC windmill

November 12, 2011

Tech Tips: Apple “iMovie ’11” features video stabilization to automatically reduce camera shake. Time permitting, I plan to test this feature and post before- and after video clips. Please stay tuned for a follow-up post!

Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (male)

November 10, 2011
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A Slaty Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula incesta), one of the larger skimmers, perched on a twig. Notice that the Slaty Skimmer perches on four of six legs, with the two front legs curled around its head. This individual is a mature male, as indicated by its dark bluish-black body and black head. Photo 1 of 2 is a copy of the original photograph, cropped to highlight the dragonfly; Photo 2 of 2 is the original photograph.

I spotted this dragonfly during a photowalk through Huntley Meadows Park, a 1,425 acre wetland area in Fairfax County, Virginia USA.


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