Archive for December, 2011

Common Whitetail dragonfly (teneral)

December 31, 2011

A teneral Common Whitetail dragonfly (Plathemis lydia, Libellula lydia), either a female or an immature male, spotted during a photowalk through Huntley Meadows Park, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. I spotted several of these dragonflies at the same time in the same location; they were easily spooked so it was difficult for me to shoot good photos of them using my iPhone 3GS.

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Photo 1 of 3 was cropped (and sharpened) to highlight the dragonfly; Photo 2 of 3 is the original photograph. Photo 3 of 3 shows a female Common Whitetail dragonfly for comparison with Photos 1-2.

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

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Diptics: Freezing rain event

December 29, 2011

I went for a short photowalk to photograph a freezing rain event that occurred overnight January 17-18, 2011, in Alexandria, Virginia USA. The following three- and four-panel diptychs were created using Apple Aperture and Diptic app for Apple iOS mobile devices.

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Here is a link to 18JAN2011_freezing-rain, one of my Google Picasa Web Albums, featuring all of the photos I shot soon after the weather event ended.

Teacher Tips: What is freezing rain? For a graphic explanation, see “How winter storms bring rain, ice and snow,” an interactive online article from the USA TODAY Weather Book by meteorologist Jack Williams. See also, “Snowflakes – A Thematic Approach (A Flurry of Interdisciplinary Ideas for Teachers)” perfect for enriching/extending everyday instruction during the winter season.

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

Advanced technique for creating Diptic "photo tiles"

December 27, 2011

I like to use Apple Aperture to prepare ready-made “photo tiles” that are the perfect size to add to the panels in a Diptic layout. That said, some photos can’t be cropped to a size of say 1024 x 1024 pixels square without losing critical parts of the photo. Here’s a solution that is both simple and elegant — it’s called “round-tripping.”

I set Aperture’s “Export” preferences to hand-off a copy of an image file to an extrnal photo editor. I’m using Adobe Photoshop, but a much less expensive application such as ImageWell works too. I selected an image in my Aperture Library (see Photo 1 of 3, below), chose the Crop tool and “Square” Aspect Ratio, and selected an area that is 1723 x 1723 pixels square (see Photo 2 of 3, below). From the Aperture menu bar, I selected Photos > Edit with Adobe Photoshop…; Photoshop opened and I changed the image size to 1024 x 1024 pixels square. From the Photoshop menu bar, I selected File > Save; voila, the re-sized image appeared in my Aperture Library (round-trip completed)! Finally, I exported the re-sized photo from Aperture as usual (see Photo 3 of 3, below). Now the photo tile is ready for use in a Diptic diptych. Simple, huh? Really, it’s simpler than it sounds and best of all, there’s none of the loss in image quality that would occur by opening/editing/saving a photo in two-or-more applications. Now that’s cool!

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Tech Tips: When cropping a selected area from a photo that will be re-sized, be sure the dimensions of the selected area are larger than the intended dimensions of the re-sized version. Otherwise you may see “jaggies” in the final image.

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

Needham’s Skimmer dragonfly (female)

December 25, 2011

The following “raw” video clip (unedited) shows a female Needham’s Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula needhami) laying eggs by the process of oviposition. The female skims the water repeatedly, picking up drops of water that are used to flick fertilized eggs toward the shore. The process typically lasts a few seconds to a few minutes.

I spotted several Needham’s Slimmer dragonflies (both males and females) during a photowalk through “Paul Spring Park,” one of seven small parks owned and maintained by the Community Association of Hollin Hills, Fairfax County, Virginia USA. See “Needham’s Skimmer dragonflies (males),” one of my Posterous posts. Male Needham’s Skimmer dragonflies exhibit primarily red coloration; females exhibit primarily yellow coloration.

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

Answer key, dragonfly quiz/scavenger hunt

December 25, 2011

As promised, here is my Christmas gift to you — the answer key for the dragonfly identification quiz/scavenger hunt posted on 23 December 2011.

  1. Autumn Meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum), male
  2. Great Blue Skimmer (Libellula vibrans), male
  3. Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis), male
  4. Common Whitetail (Plathemis lydia), female

Notice that male dragonflies typically exhibit brighter coloration than females. How many dragonflies did you identify correctly?

Copyright © 2011 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Diptic: Dragonfly identification quiz/scavenger hunt

December 23, 2011

Regular readers of my photoblog should be able to identify the dragonflies shown in the following composite image. For each one of the dragonflies shown in the four-panel diptych, identify the type of dragonfly (common name plus genus and species) and its gender (either male or female). If you are unable to identify one or more of the dragonflies, then you may scavenge my photoblog in search of answers. (The correct answers will be provided in a follow-up post on 25 December 2011.)

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Tech Tips: The diptych (shown above) was created using Apple “Aperture” and “Diptic” app for Apple iOS mobile devices. Apple “Preview” was used to annotate Photo 1 of 2; Photo 2 of 2 is the original diptych.

Copyright © 2011 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly (male)

December 21, 2011

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A Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula vibrans), one of the larger skimmers, perched on a twig at Huntley Meadows Park. Notice that the Great Blue Skimmer perches on four of six legs, with the two front legs curled around its head. This individual is a male, as indicated by its blue coloration. (Females exhibit brown coloration.) Photo 4 of 4 shows the dragonfly flying off his perch — a remarkable stop-action photo for an iPhone 3GS camera!

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

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

Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (male)

December 19, 2011

The following gallery features photos of an Autumn Meadowhawk dragonfly (Sympetrum vicinum) spotted during a during a photowalk through Huntley Meadows Park on 02 December 2011. Autumn Meadowhawk dragonflies are the last species of dragonfly to emerge at Huntley Meadows. That being said, it was astounding to see dragonflies so late in the year — completely unexpected! It was even more astounding when a male dragonfly landed on my shoe and perched there for several minutes!!!

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Coincidentally, I was wearing the same pair of athletic shoes when a Comma butterfly landed on one of them in late June 2011. For details, see the related Posterous post: Comma butterfly.

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

Pocket Monet app

December 17, 2011

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The preceding gallery features two more new versions of the digital “painting” entitled, “Autumn Landscape at Huntley Meadows Park.” The digital images were created in the style of Claude Monet, a founder of French impressionist painting, using Pocket Monet app for Apple iPhone to post-process a photograph taken with the built-in camera of an Apple iPhone 4. Photo 1 of 3 uses a finer brush; Photo 2 of 3 uses a coarser brush. Photo 3 of 3 is the original photograph.

Compare and contrast the output from Pocket Monet (shown above) with the output from MobileMonet HD. Which version do you like more? The user interface for Pocket Monet isn’t as polished as MobileMonet HD, but the output from Pocket Monet looks more “painterly,” that is, the use of the pointillism painting technique is more obvious. I would like to see the developer update Pocket Monet to be a universal app — it would be much easier to use the app on iPad’s larger screen. It should be simple to program a work-around for the original iPad (that does not feature a built-in camera like iPad 2). I’d also like to see icons that are more consistent with the standard Apple iOS user interface. For example, I had no idea that tapping a “heart” icon saves the output to the Camera Roll!

Bottom line: Pocket Monet is a good app with a lot of room for improvement. I give it an overall rating of three out of five stars.

Tech Tips:Pocket Monet” currently sells for $0.99 at the Apple iTunes Store; “MobileMonet HD” sells for $1.99.

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

PhotoTropedelic app

December 15, 2011

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The preceding gallery features two new versions of the digital “painting” entitled, “Autumn Landscape at Huntley Meadows Park.” The digital image was created in the style of psychedelic artist Peter Max, using PhotoTropedelic app to post-process a photograph taken with the built-in camera of an Apple iPhone 4. Photo 1 of 3 uses the color palette of the original photo; Photo 2 of 3 is the default color palette. Photo 3 of 3 is the original photograph. Which version do you prefer?

Tech Tips:PhotoTropedelic” currently sells for $1.99 at the Apple iTunes Store.


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