A wet Monday

Wet and grey in GB today so I have been messing about with my camera, trying out some new techniques to get better focus.

 

This little chap is about 5mm long excluding his antennae and is siting fairly still on some lavender flowers in our conservatory. So I could photograph him without getting wet.

The next photo is the product of focus stacking 3 shots… obviously he moved, but it makes for an interesting multi antennae beast. 

Garden Safari…Maputo

It is quite rewarding to have a close look round your garden to see what little creatures are living there. More so if you are in a garden which is some distance from home. This one is about 9286 km, or 5770 miles away from home, I looked it up!  The garden under investigation is that of Caroline and Felix Wood, and it is in central Maputo, the capital of Mozambique. As you might expect there are lots of interesting creatures to be seen.

This slug is quite an up front sort of slug. It chooses to rest during the daytime on a garden wall which receives the sun from about 10am to about 4pm. In the shade today it is going up to 37C which is hotter than usual but even on a normal day it is 30-33 and in direct sun that will be considerably more.

These photos of the slug were taken after a rare shower of rain, I have tried to find the name of this slug but no luck. Also after the rain shower several frogs started to ‘plink… plink’ but I could not locate them. More easy to spot and photo are various lizards. This one has a favourite stone and is about 25 cm long.

There are lots of little chaps like this gecko. They grow up to about 15cm and sometimes are in the house.

Of course some little chaps could be younger versions of bigger chaps, like maybe the next one. He was tiny, only about 4cmm long, he could be another gecko.

A particularly striking lizard was this one which marched along the top of the wall and underneath the security wire. This I think is a type of Agama Lizard.

There are lots of insects, particularly butterflies but they are very active and so far I do not have any decent shots. This also applies to dragonflies and damsel flies. So in terms of insects I have this shot of a bee.

There are several flowering plants in the garden and I was hoping they would be visited by sunbirds but not so far. This next insect is a sort of cross between a grasshopper and a mantis it is called a Katydid as in ‘What Katy did next’  so it has a particularly silly name in my opinion.

Ants of varying sizes are everywhere so here is a medium sized one (6mm ish)

Finally, there are a few birds about but not as many as in their previous garden. This little chap came along yesterday and is an African yellow white eye. Which is not a bad name except its eye is actually black. 

 

Daddy Long-legs Spider – Pholcus phalangioides

This photo is a result of ‘focus stacking’. It is not 100% successful. I took about 6 or 8 photos by gradually moving the camera forward on a ‘Photo rail’ whilst retaining the same shutter speed, ISO and all other settings. I then put all the photos into Photoshop and stacked them together.spider-stack2

 

The problem is that in places the spiders legs seem to get blurred, and in some areas the background is sharp and well focused and in other areas it is out of focus.  I prefer the out of focus background so I have photo shoped the image to hopefully make all of the background out of focus.

Also there is one place on one of its legs where you can see a definite break in the continuity of the leg.!!!!

So does anyone have some tips on how to improve this focus stacking technique? I am wondering if using less images would be an improvement. The photo above is the product of about 8 images. Also would it be better to up the ISO and then increase shutter speed to increase the depth of field in each individual photo.

Here is another photo in which I have done less stuff in photoshop after the initial focus stacking. You can see the flaws in the spiders legs.spider-stack

Red-veined darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii)

Not sure what exactly it is….. certainly a darter or Sympetum but there are many different red ones.darter1

Red-veined darter  (Sympetrum fonscolombii). This is the most likely candidate.

There are lots of dragonflies in the pine woods behind where we are staying, however the soil is sandy and I have not seen any signs of ponds or fresh water. So where do the larvae of the dragon flies grow up???

Red swamp crayfish. (Procambarus clarkia)

Hundreds of these crayfish in drainage ditches around the fields near Zahara de los Atunes.crayfish3

 

I had driven down a track to observe the vast numbers of white storks and other birds on the wet fields.crayfish1

I noticed some movement in the shallow water of some of the drainage ditches. They were literally full of crayfish, some were dead and others were not that lively, a few were still ready for a fight. I think the water levels were down and there was a lack of oxygen so they were suffering. Surprisingly no predators seemed to be making use of this food source. I considered collecting up a bag full for dinner, but not being sure what might have been sprayed on the fields and if this might also be a reason why they were suffering I decided against it.crayfish2

This is an introduced species from SE America, (Louisiana), the native species is now quite rare, rather like our own crayfish in the UK.

In Spain crayfish is called cangrejo de río (lit. “river crab”).