30 June 2008

Bonus bug

One of the thing I especially like about macro and pseudo-macro photography is getting to see all the things that I don't notice directly. In this case, that would be the bug on the right hand side of the flower; no idea what kind of bug, but I like the post-facto noticing aspect of pictures like this. Helps remind me that the observed scale and the scales of activity that are present have only very slight overlap.

29 June 2008

And bore the white rose fairly

More front yard garden on Baldwin Street, though not the same one. Stopped down some from the raw file; one white thing in the middle of deep green tends to set the exposure so the white thing is overly bright, and I didn't attempt to correct this at the time the picture was taken. (I have yet to mentally adjust to "sunglasses—you are wearing polarized sunglasses; the camera is not..." but hopefully the adjustment process has at least started.)
Though to be fair to myself, was a bright sunny evening, and the rose sitting there glowing to itself is not very far off how it looked to the eye, at all.
Stopped down even more, 100% crop, and a modestly hefty 1.5 MiB PNG. Hopefully this means I've figured out some notion of the edges of Blogger's photo uploads, and will be able to provide such detail as I've got in future.
I would not have though that the 77mm/F1.8 lens was particularly suited to flowers; it's emphatically not a macro lens and it's got a certain amount of centre bias. But, well. Flowers over someone's front yard fence seem to be an appropriate application.

More Baldwin St. flowers

Of unknown provenance (at least to me!), but I thought they were pretty.

28 June 2008

Floating flowers

From along Baldwin Street yesterday, were folks seem to be inclined to flower gardens:
The downscaled JPEG version.
The full scale PNG version, 13 MiB in size as uploaded. Trying to see if Blogger will forcibly downscale these, or if it's just JPEGs.

And indeed it looks like the actual photo file size limit is 2 MiB on blogger. Bother. (I'd be a lot less annoyed if this was clearly explained somewhere.)

26 June 2008

Birding at the office.

Pictures taken with my pocket camera, which is pretty good for a pocket camera but which has only 4x optical zoom, and subsequently cropped and sharpened fairly drastically. (Except for the fourth photo, which is straight off the camera aside from the cropping.)

Ok, so it's certainly a hawk of some kind. The head is feathered, so not a vulture; the wings in flight were not pointed, and the eye lacks the yellow rim and proportionately large size of falcons. The beak and the feet certainly indicate some kind of predator, and it's way way to big to be a shrike!

If I zoom this to a ridiculous degree, I'm pretty sure the eye is red, and those are definitely horizontal orange tummy stripes; so this is not, as I immediately assumed from the ground skimming flight and vertical swoop up to perch on the street light, a Northern Harrier, and it's certainly not a Goshawk, so we're down to the Accipter dichotomy—Sharp-shinned or Cooper's?

Slate grey back; this is an adult. (If it was a Northern Harrier, it'd also be male, but I don't think it's a harrier, so that's no help.) Also, that's looking like an instance of 'pale nape', a field mark for Cooper's. No obvious white tail tip, but moult hasn't happened yet so that's a wash; could be worn or never there, can't tell. Tail tip appears rounded, which would also support Cooper's, but see picture number four.
Tail much longer than primaries; definitely not a harrier. (Pout. Poor snap judgement, no biscuit.) and that's certainly looking like more pale nape.
"Cooper's often perches on fence posts or poles" quoth Mr. Sibley, another supporting sort of character for Cooper's. Whether I should regard that as a more rounded tail, with graduated feather lengths, or a square tail with sharper corners, is not obvious to me. Since I already concluded that it could easily be worn, and it certainly looks worn, I don't think I can do anything with the tail as a field mark beyond 'accipter'.

So I'm tentatively thinking Cooper's but could easily be wrong.

25 June 2008

I do know what this is

Lilac blossoms from about six weeks ago now. Mostly a test to see if fighting with the non-support of Konqueror has better results than fighting with the actively malign behaviour of Blogger interacting with Firefox3. (forcible image resizing and quality degradation in the process.)

And, nope, get this from Konqueror, too.

Any sugguestions for alternative blog hosts?

24 June 2008

Does reds OK

I have (of course) no idea what it is, but one of my neighbours has it in a window box.
It's the full frame and not scaled, under there, better looking than the thumbnail is managing to imply. (Turns out, if you've been watching this post spasm, that Picasa itself will take the full size upload, though doing it directly in the web editor thing doesn't seem to be willing so to do.)

Leaving the 'ack! size limit! 100% center crop in, just because.

23 June 2008

Lessons Learned

  1. There's nothing like the immediate aftermath of a thunderstorm to produce a strong diffuse light.
  2. The undertail coverts are, in sober truth of fact, white. (Or at least mighty pale.)
  3. 300/F5.6 isn't fast enough or (in the particular instance) sharp enough.
  4. 100/F2.8 is, apparently, fast enough some of the time.
  5. There are actually two pairs of goldfinches coming to my feeder; I wonder how I am going to tell them apart.
  6. Pentax FA* 300mm f/2.8 ED IF is about 3.2 kCAD used. This is going to be a long term project.
  7. No one started using diffraction grating objective lenses so they can make a 400/f2 one can lift (and pay for without resort to nefarious deeds...) for sound business reasons; it has nothing to do with hating me personally or people trying to photograph small chirpling birds in general.

22 June 2008

Here comes the rain again...

While not a patch on what the US Midwest has got/is getting, Toronto has been getting some tolerably emphatic thunderstorms fairly regularly over the last week or so. (One presumes Thor considers our troll infestations worth bothering with.)
This wasn't the first thunderstorm to blow in sending wind ahead of itself; I think it might have been the third.

The SMC Pentax 35mm macro lens, and me trying to figure out if I can focus on the raindrops on the window glass on purpose, since the autofocus was going for them about a third of the time. (It is very hard to feel even the least bit guilty about buying this lens...)
Out the front door.
Aoife would normally react to me holding the front door open by making a break for her favourite round-the-corner bit of concrete sidewalk, back scritching rolls, cats, for the use of, but oddly enough not while I was taking this picture.

21 June 2008

LBA—SMC Pentax DA 35mm F2.8 Macro

LBA is "Lens Buying Activity" "Lens Buying Addiction", and well, should one obtain a new lens, one must surely make an effort to use it.
Since it's a macro lens, it's either bugs or flowers, and it's not bugs; 35mm is kinda short for bugs, and handheld bugs is something for people with much steadier hands than I've got in any case.
I have no idea what any of these are, other than the dandelion, and I've subjected your patience to mostly full scale jpegs, the better to appreciate the detail.

Very shortly after rain, in the gardens at the foot of the walls of the Cathedral Church of St. James, downtown at King and Church Streets.
From the triangular garden in the tip of the southern end of the split in Don Mills Road; I don't know if this is a community garden or maintained by the Lutheran church that gets the first full width section of the stuff in the middle of Don Mills.
In the grass around the triangular garden above.
Maple tree by the side of the road; I feel minimally bad about the blown bits of sky because, hey, light cloud or no light cloud, that's the sun.
Not full size; these guys are in a garden by the start of the property of a large apartment building, and they're really very close to this colour.

More of the same flowers, only I hope with a better general depth of field.

Growing in one of the gardens scattered around the paths of the townhome complex I live in.

20 June 2008

Dove in the Green

I am not generally all that fond of mourning doves, but this one is kinda cute.

19 June 2008

That look

A male house sparrow who really doesn't much approve of that clicky thing.
I rather liked the odd bokeh on this one as well; the Sigma 70-300 doesn't usually do that.

18 June 2008

A little less glare

Though perhaps not less doubt.

It's getting so I don't dare go in a camera store, because if I do, I'll buy a better long lens, which is not in the present budget whatsoever.

This is the one decently sharp over the whole bird shot, and it's quite forced for brightness, because the lens is F5.6 at 300mm and that's just not a lot when shooting from inside a house to a shaded finch feeder on a cloudy day.

Still, one can tell what it is, and perhaps even age the feathers.

17 June 2008

Inaccessible Birds

Combined with the heat (thankfully broken for now), Aoife is not always suffused with delight.

Said birds have taken to including pigeons (as well as the tribe of mourning doves) and are going through seed at something pushing four pounds a day. I clearly need to pick a less large-bird friendly seed formula.

16 June 2008

When I grow up, I want to be a vulture

That immature starling, practising the perched glower or the mad stare, it's hard to decide which.

15 June 2008

Almost a good picture

But not quite; not even white undertail coverts to blame it on. Still, the majority of the bird is not overexposed, and this was taken more or less when the sun clears the roof of the building to the east.
But, hey, female goldfinch picture recognizable as such. This is progress.

An Unhelpful Inheritance

Does the submission of others make you more secure?

If you're in a little band of ground apes somewhere on the savannah, sure it does; you get to eat before at least them, you have better breeding opportunities, and better chances to feed any offspring you manage to have.

If you live in a city—any city, not just a post-industrial city—this makes you much less secure, because more and more of the effort that could be going into import replacement, education, and innovation are going into increasingly nasty political fights over submission, and eventually, you don't have a city anymore.

This is the core trick with cities, and the thing that is impossible to explain to a barbarian; if you understand that cities (the rule of law, cosmopolitan acceptance of social difference, and the recognition that absolute access to choice is more important than relative access to choice) make the question of submission to individuals irrelevant, you've stopped being a barbarian.

Submission to the rule of law—accepting that you are better off not getting what you could take by force—yes, that has to be there. But not submission to an individual. (Take a look at the process by which successful democracies have formed; there is great emphasis on the institutions and as little emphasis as possible on living people, because that makes it easier to make the question one of participation in the great endeavour, rather than submission to some eminent individual.)

The difficulty is that not everyone is civilized; lots of people are still running on something back before civilized, and some are running on the basic ground ape band forming rules, most especially "I'm a dominant male if I can hit who I want and fuck who I want". And given their social assumptions, proving that to be the case is the most important thing in the world.

The massive down side of all this—aside from the quality of life of anyone who has to deal with the would-be dominant male— is that this desire is corrosive to civilization; it brings the question of personal submission into the conduct of dailing business, and *poof*, there you are with all kinds of homophobia, misogyny, intensely ritualized process to pretend there are no real power differentials and equally ritualized processes to force and maintain submission.

The human trick is ganging up on problems; civilizations can put at least tens of millions, and very probably billions, of people into active co-operation with one another. Regular old primate band structures can manage a couple hundred. You can stack that—behold the roots of actual feudalism, not the late god-king autocracy that tends to be mistaken for feudalism in general discourse—and you can regiment it so it works for up to a couple thousand (if it has an external support structure for most things; behold the regiment of the New Model Army) but it is not really a machine for co-operation; it's a machine for determining relative social status.

Civilization treats social status as a side effect. You get it because people think you've done admirable things with your life. This is slow and hard work; it doesn't convince the young would be dominant male in any case, because there's no ritual of submission so it can't be real.

Which is a funny definition of real; log huts, and lives nasty, brutish, and short are real, but so are climate controlled habitation, gracious conduct, varied diet, and good health care.

The trick is spotting the folks for whom none of that matters if they can't assault and rape. They need to be kept out of political power.

14 June 2008

Passing roses

Knew I was going to wish I'd taken a macro lens with me today. (The macro lens I've got is the FA-100mm Macro, which is, in the memorable words of one reviewer, "built like an aluminium brick". This does discourage me from taking it when I'm taking just the camera bag and not camera bag plus lens bag.)

Leaning over the wee short metal fence separating someone's garden from the sidewalk with the 77mm lens stopped wide seems to have worked well enough.

I have no least idea in the world what variety of rose, but that shouldn't surprise anyone.

13 June 2008

Therapoda incertae sedis

Well, ok, a juvenile starling, probably just out of the nest and a bit lost, or at least thankfully not attended by a flock of elders (one pound/day of seed at the feeder is generally enough!) but one seldom sees such a clear "if I were four orders of magnitude larger" look.

12 June 2008

It's a passerine bird

Beyond that, I would hesitate to be specific, but suspect it's a female house finch.
Taking pictures through wet glass isn't good for the focus, alas, but this one isn't too bad.

11 June 2008

Fortune favours the persistent

Macro photography of oak leaves in what was at least a brisk breeze is an inherently silly endeavour, as the branches toss in and out of focus, but take enough pictures and one or two of them will be lined up properly.
I am perhaps too proud that this is scaled, but not cropped; that's the whole frame, and nothing has been adjusted from the camera settings.

10 June 2008

No pettins at this time

She did not approve of the humidity and heat combination we were having Sunday in anyway whatsoever.
Since she also entirely fails to approve of fan noises, I'm not sure what she's going to think of the air conditioner once I set it up.

09 June 2008

I think they are house finches

I'd be more confident if the beaks did not seem rather large and the red on the presumed male rather brighter and more extensive, but I can't figure out what else these might be.

08 June 2008

Another month, another few cat photos

More photos, though I admit they are taken in June, and not May:


07 June 2008

Lily of the Valley

It was no where near that dim out; I've adjusted the brightness quite a bit in an effort to keep the glare-white flowers from washing out completely.
Since I didn't manage to get the whole umbrel in focus—beware the shallow depth of field!— there's a sort of progression off into elfland involved, with the lowest/nearest in focus and the highest/furthest caught in strange lights.

03 June 2008

It has been a good year for lilacs

Another full-size JPEG.
I don't generally expect the lilac flowers to make it to June in a still-going-strong sort of state, and here we have a mix of active and senescing flowers, complete with lurking car. Taken yesterday from the top of the stairs that are also beside the entrance to the underground parking on the other side of the rental complex I inhabit.

02 June 2008

Green is the colour

Full sized image, so if you click on it and get a blurry bit from the upper left corner, that would be why.
As usual, I have no idea in the world what plant this is.
Next time, I should try to find one that hasn't got other green stuff close enough to mess with the bokeh, I suppose, but there is something to be said for the impression of a rising green tide, too.

01 June 2008

Benefits of cleaning the window

And sometimes the focus gods are kind; this was taken very quickly as the jay hit the feeder, grabbed a sunflower seed, and absconded, all quite abruptly. So I was very surprised when this turned out to be something approximating in focus; I didn't think there had been time for the focusing process to complete with the jay on the feeder, so I was expecting (at best) a blue-white blur, exiting frame right.