Photography: Flowers in my Garden

 

I am fortunate enough to have a really pretty garden. Even though it is now almost mid-winter in Johannesburg, the Aloes, Strelizias, Daisies and even the Clivias are flowering!

It hasn’t been a particularly cold winter so far – none of those bitingly cold evenings, and no frost as yet. I’m sure the bad weather is ON ITS WAY!

I grabbed the opportunity to snap some photos this afternoon. First a gorgeous yellow Thistle:

Canon 60D, Lensbaby Double Glass Optic 50mm,  f/4, 1/400th sec, ISO 3200

My husband the Landscape Architect tells me this is called a Crocosmia – I believe him, because I don’t know any better…

Canon 60D, Lensbaby Double Glass Optic 50mm, f/4, 1/50th sec, ISO 200

This shot of a Strelizia is quite abstract – I love the contrasting colours:

Canon 60D, Lensbaby Double Optic 50mm, f/4, 1/125th sec, ISO 125

The Clivias are flowering way too early. (The Plastic Optic lens gives them a glowing, ethereal look which I find quite interesting.)

Canon 60D, Lensbaby Plastic Optic 50mm, f/4, 1/500th sec, ISO 100

This beautiful specimen is not growing in my garden. My dear Husband gave me two dozen red roses for our second wedding anniversary (he CAN be romantic when he tries…)

I took these two photos this morning as the sun came up:

Canon60D, 50mm prime lens, f/1.4, 1/60th sec, ISO 640

Canon 60D, 50mm prime lens, f/1.4, 1/60th sec, ISO 500

Some blooms from earlier in the year: first a magnificent Barberton Daisy:

Canon EOS 1000 at 263mm, f/5.6, 1/200th sec, ISO100

And an Agapanthus head, up close. The series of photos had an incredibly 3-dimensional “popping” effect. If you have these flowers in your garden try photographing them from above with a wide-angled lens. Get as close in as you can to achieve the same effect:

Fuji Finepix S9500 at 29mm, f/3.9, 1/150th sec, ISO 200

Photographing flowers can be very rewarding. Here are my tips, based on my experience:

  • Fill the frame with the flowers, edge to edge
  • Use a wide aperture so the background is blurred.
  • You can use either a wide-angled lens, or a macro lens. Both will give great results
  • Don’t photograph in bright sunlight – the best times are early morning, late afternoon, and on cloudy days – avoid strong shadows, unless it’s for effect
  • Bright sunshine on red, yellow or orange flowers totally blows out the detail. It really is best to shoot them in the shade if you’re after sharp details.
  • Use a fast enough shutter speed to freeze movement – flowers move unpredictably even in a slight breeze. If you have to hold the stem to keep the bloom still, make sure your hand is not in the shot!
  • Be aware of the composition. Diagonals will make the picture more interesting
  • Look out for strongly contrasting colours and make the best of them.

 

If you have any tips for shooting flowers, I would be delighted if you would share them with me 🙂

 

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Photography: (Lion)sex – Rated PG

 

Okay, I know some of you may have found my post (Lion)sex in the city(zoo) a bit of a let-down in the end – a bit of an anti-climax, you might say 🙂

I’m sorry about that – I didn’t want the blog to be in bad taste.

However, friends and family who have seen the photo of the lions actually doin’ it don’t think it’s so terrible…. and I don’t want to be accused of false advertising!…..so here goes….

(if you have a six-year-old sitting next to you, perhaps you should put your hand over his eyes about now….)

Naughty beast!

 

Photography: (Lion)sex in the city(Zoo)

 

A blogger once told me that if I wanted more hits on my blog, I should write about sex!

Does writing about a couple of lions having sex count? If I include pictures?

We have a lovely Zoo here in Johannesburg; Sunday was warm and sunny, so we took the kid, the camera and a couple of sandwiches and had a pleasant day wandering around, looking at animals and of course taking photos.

I hope you will like these. Yes, there are some (tasteful)photos of lions having sex 🙂

Not this one – this is an alert suricate (or meerkat),  guarding his burrow. These are sociable little mammals found only in southern Africa. The name “meerkat” is Dutch for “lake cat” – strange, because they don’t live near lakes, and they are not cats!

Canon 60D, 70-300mm @ 225mm, f/6.3, 1/800 sec, ISO 160

Meerkats are quite comical – their expressions can be quite human… I wonder what those two on the right are thinking?

Canon 60D 75-300mm @ 300mm, F/6.3, 1/800 sec. ISO 500

A pair of ducks:

Canon 60D 75-300mm @ 275mm, f/6.3, 1/800 sec, ISO 320

What can you say about a couple of ducks….? Not much really…. I liked the symmetry of the photo, that’s why it’s here 🙂

Canon 60D 75-300mm @ 300mm, f/11, 1/1250 sec, ISO 5000

Nile Crocodiles. Very common, very dangerous. It is NOT a good idea to take a dip in a river in many parts of Africa – these 5 to 6 metre long reptiles are infamous for leaping out at the water’s edge, grabbing an unsuspecting animal (or human) and dragging it down into the depths, never to be seen again. They wedge the dead carcass under a log or stone, wait for it to rot, and then tear it to pieces…..They have very strong jaws, but they can only bite, not chew….

Canon 60D 75-300mm @ 225mm, f/10, 1/800 sec, ISO 6400

A much happier picture! This old female African Elephant has been at the Jo’burg zoo for many, many years. She is one of the main attractions.

And now, as promised, the sexy lions!

These two were “playing” under a bush…

Canon 60D 75-300mm @ 200mm, f/11, 1/1250 sec, ISO 3200

When they walked out into the open, the male was nuzzling the female’s hind quarters, and then he took her tail in his mouth. I had never seen or heard of this behaviour before…. but it could obviously only mean one thing…

Canon 60D 75-200mm @ 220mm, f/11, 1/1250 sec, ISO 1000

Note the huge scratches on his nose! The lady must have put up a good fight at some stage….

I believe lions mate up to 40 times a day for the four days the female is on heat, so it’s probably just as well each  mating lasts only about half a minute.

Canon 60D 75-300 mm @ 165 mm, f/11, 1/1250 sec, ISO 1000

Magnificent beasts!

 

Will Global Warming cause the Earth to Explode?

Global warming is certainly a “hot” topic at the moment ( 🙂 silly pun….sorry…)

We have the scientists on one side, laying out the facts as we understand them, presenting the research, and calling for action before the harm we’ve already done to our environment becomes irreversible. We are all familiar with those arguments – we see them in the news, in the scientific publications and on Discovery Channel every day.

On the other side, we have the deniers, flatly refusing to accept that the climate is changing, or that human activity is causing these (probably permanent) changes. Some even claim that their god would never allow the climate to change, because their holy book tells them so:

Genesis 8:22, ‘while the earth remaineth seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease,’

(Nobody is saying that climate change will result in the cessation of cold, heat, summer, winter, seed time or harvests anyway, so I don’t see the relevance).

Climate CHANGE is not climate ABOLITION – perhaps these people need to get their heads out their backsides and read something OTHER than the bible?

They were wrong about THIS too!

I was very amused to read this article which claims that global warming will cause the entire earth to EXPLODE!

“Bioresonant” claims that there is a nuclear reactor at the core of the earth, and it requires cooling (as all such devices do). Unfortunately, the anthropogenic warming of the atmosphere is preventing the cooling of the reactor – and pretty soon we will have a runaway nuclear explosion, which will destroy the entire planet!

Doctor Tom Chalko, MSc PhD,  published his theory in the NU Journal of Discovery in April 2001. (Chalko appears to be the only contributor to this “Journal.”) He maintains that life on Earth is only possible because the core is efficiently cooled; there is a balance between the interior heat, the heat received from the Sun, and the heat radiated away into space.  If the atmosphere becomes too polluted, too much heat from the Sun will be trapped at the surface,  the interior cannot cool down – and the result?

The most serious consequence of such a ”meltdown” could be centrifugal segregation of unstable isotopes in the molten part of the spinning planetary core. Such segregation can ”enrich” the nuclear fuel in the core to the point of creating conditions for a chain reaction and a gigantic atomic explosion.

He claims that the polar icecaps are melting from underneath (increased volcanic activity due to the rising temperature of the core) not because the air around them, and the water they’re floating in, is getting warmer. (That’s why an ice block melts, floating in a glass of white wine, on a warm day – it’s the nuclear fission reaction at the CORE!)

Do you doubt that an entire planet can explode? No, really it can! Greek mythology confirms it! The planet Phaeton disappeared “in a flash” – that must have been a runaway nuclear fission explosion at its core, caused by alien-induced atmospheric warming, right? What else could it have been?

(According to Wikipedia, in Greek mythology, the name Phaeton was the personification of the planet Jupiter.  I know from my own personal experience that Jupiter can be incredibly bright sometimes – perhaps it was hit by a large comet and became temporarily even brighter? Jupiter tends to attract large objects entering the Solar System because of its mass…. the comet Schumacher Levy strike is a perfect example.)

Dr Chalko goes on to claim that earthquakes are becoming more frequent and more violent as a result of the increasing heat of the nuclear reactor within our planet. He also claims that the core is spinning 4% faster than the earth spins on its own axis. And, the centrifugal force of this spinning is causing the radioactive isotopes to accumulate in the centre and they will soon reach a critical mass and we will have a NUCLEAR MELTDOWN! There will be nowhere for that heat to go —- volcanoes will explode, the atmosphere will be darkened, we are all going to DIE!!!

Not.

Anyone with half a brain can see right through this argument, but apparently not everyone HAS half a brain…. When the theory first popped up, some people actually took it seriously!

So, let’s look at the facts:

  • The earth has a solid ( mostly iron) core, surrounded by a molten mantle and a thin, solid crust.
  • The solid core is hot – hotter than the surface of the Sun – but that is only about 6 000 degrees C. (The Sun’s real heat is not at the surface, but in the centre (15 million C) and  the corona surrounding it which reaches 1 to 3 million C)
  • The Earth’s inner core is rotating slightly faster than the outer core, but it would take more than 1000 years to “lap” the planet (not 20 – 25 days, as it would if it were rotating 4% faster than the rest of the planet!)
  • Most of the earth’s heat is stored in the mantle, which is still cooling from when the planet first formed 4.5 billion years ago or so.
  • The inner core is cooling down, and this is causing it to expand by about 1cm every 1000 years. This expansion releases heat which is also warming the mantle.
  • Most (about 90%) of the heat of the earth’s interior is the result of the radioactive decay of isotopes such as Potassium 40, Plutonium 235 and 238, and Thorium 232, contained within the mantle and the crust.
  • In several billion years the earth will have cooled completely and will be cold like the Moon – but the Sun will probably have expanded into a red giant star by then anyway, so we don’t need to worry – we’ll all be toast. (So much for Genesis 8:22)

I’m sure you are relieved to hear that there is NO nuclear reactor accumulating fissionable amounts of unstable isotopes at the centre of our fair planet  🙂

As for the atmosphere – global warming has so far caused a relatively small overall increase in global atmospheric temperature. Yes, it is sufficient to cause accelerated melting of the ice caps and glaciers, but it is not enough to prevent the cooling of the mantle.

Has volcanic activity increased recently? In the last four decades, between 50 and 70 volcanic eruptions were recorded per year. Since 1790, the average number of large eruptions per year is between 1 and 4. There is no evidence that inefficient cooling of the mantle might be causing a greater number of volcanic eruptions. (There is some research available that suggests that melting glaciers remove pressure on the mantle, and this may cause increased up-welling of mantle material, and  increased volcanic activity).

Vatnajokull Eruption

Global warming is a threat to the way humans and animals currently live on earth. Rising sea levels will flood coastal towns and drown small islands. Many species will no doubt become extinct unless they can adapt to a warmer environment, and those that DO adapt will become more plentiful.

The threat is to the inhabitants of the Earth, NOT to the Earth itself. “Mother Earth” will continue to exist – she has survived meteor strikes, strikes by minor planets, blasts from supernovae, magnetic field reversals, solar mass-ejections, super-volcanoes and more. She can survive the loss of our greedy, violent species, along with many others, and continue on in her orbit about her bright yellow star, for many millennia to come.

Global warming is a HUMAN problem. WE are the ones who will suffer, and it’s up to US to do something about it. The alternative is to adapt, along with the other animals….

* * * * *

P.S. Tom Chalko’s ideas are the wierdest Global Warming-related ideas I’ve ever come across.

If you have heard of any other strange ideas about the changing climate, please leave a comment – I’d love to hear from you 🙂