Monday, September 29, 2008

Otters in the Peak District

Otters at the Chestnut Centre for Otters and Owls, in the Peak District, UK:

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Sunday, June 22, 2008


From a recent trip to Maine (gallery now posted here)...


Saturday, June 07, 2008

Photos of Venice, April 08

I am finally getting these together - a sample from the week in Venice in April. There are a few unusual or creepy ones, because Venice can be rather weird, as well as the more typically touristy shots. Also notice how much laundry - why is it prettier in other countries?


Saturday, March 29, 2008

Microscopic? Or Jelly?

The latter... from my new membership to the New England Aquarium, I think this is a kind of Japanese jellyfish. You can see everything it does, inside and out.


Friday, December 28, 2007

Focusing for Self-Portraits

Consultants need to provide photos of themselves that look professional for speaking events and publications from time to time. Blogs and social networking sites also benefit from author photos; and if you're in the online dating game, you need to make your self-portrait a serious piece of work.

Here's a nice list of techniques for getting your portraits focused, if you're the one taking it on timer or otherwise: I'm Ready for My Closeup. I will admit that I hadn't thought of half of these!

As a bonus, if you aren't using your DSLR in manual or advanced modes yet and don't understand some of the terms above, you might read this article from Lifehacker: Master Your DSLR Camera, Manual Mode and More.

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Compelling Travel Slide Shows

A link for my family, and anyone else in this situation: You've come back from the vacation of your life, and you want to share. Your vacation photos should leave them wanting more, not less, and definitely not caffeine. Read "The Ultimate Guide to Memorable Travel Slideshows."

Some tips: Choose one or two evocative pics, not 8 of the same thing. Mix up people with landscape, for variety. Insert movie clips occasionally, to spice it up.

Software to make this easy: Surprisingly difficult to make a simple animated slideshow, it turned out. I tried a few programs that were on my computer and finally got results from Photoshop Elements, which will export a nice slideshow movie to Premiere Elements for creation of the DVD itself. On the Mac, the settings and process was a little hidden and didn't offer the same control over the zoom/pan effect, but you can achieve the same results with iPhoto and iDVD. It seems that Picasa will do it (haven't tried). Some DVD authoring apps will, and any movie-making app, but you really want some tools built for slideshows to make it easier for yourself.

Disclaimer: I've definitely violated these rules too, so this was a good reminder to me, too.


Saturday, November 17, 2007

Cayman Island Critters

I went to Grand Cayman for snorkeling, and while it was excellent, I saw a lot of unexpectedly interesting animals.

The Blue Iguana is indigenous and endangered, but there are lots of other green iguanas and little brown lizards running around. The retired ones sun themselves on rich people's personal boat docks and pose for you. The blue iguanas roaming at the botanic gardens sport blue bling, a sample shown here: cayman blue iguana

The sting rays at Sting Ray City were amazingly interested in people. I guess they know a good food thing when they see it. You are swamped by them when you drop anchor in the shallow waters. The story is that fishermen cleaned their catch out there to avoid mosquitoes on land, and one smart guy turned it into a tourist attraction, undetered by Steve Irwin's sad demise at the tail of one. (Here is an article on "sting ray injuries survived.") They feel mushroomy on their underside, and sandpapery on the top side.

Here's a romantic shot of them in the water, but for up close and personal, you need to go see my critter picture collection here. (There is only one underwater shot there, to show off their smile, and one of the sting ray kiss you get wrestled into when you visit them on the tourist boats.) cayman sting rays

Finally, turtles are farmed for food and tourists there. I found the crowding conditions a mite disturbing, but it's undeniably an aesthetic experience to see all those shells and mottled skin up close. Also, undeniably expensive to get in. I did it for the photo opp, and the chance to snorkel in a private lagoon with turtles in training. Training for people like me touching them while swimming, I guess. In said turtle park were also pretty birds from the Caribbean, which you can see in the critter photos. cayman turtle

When I got home, I discovered a newly arrived National Geographic Traveler mag had an article reviewing destination islands, scoring them in part by how much tourism is affecting them. [I discovered I'd been in a few of their top 20 already, and added more to my destinations desired list.] They were pretty much on target about Grand Cayman: "Exceptional diving and snorkeling but banking defines the island. Tourism is heavily weighted to cruise ships." I'd add: with huge resorts, and retirement McMansions as seen in Florida. But it was the best walk-off-shore-snorkeling I've found yet.

Cayman photos here: turtles, lizards, birds, rays, beaches.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

October Roundup: Owls, UFOs, Ghosts

I've been busy on non-work related activities, for once!

Owls: Saw-whet migration is upon us. The local birders with Mass Audubon were caught off-guard by how many of the little owls are on the move south from Canada this year. Record numbers on some nights, and earlier than usual. These are tiny, adorable owls, who seem to like people and hang out for a bit. They even like being petted, which makes them a great ambassador for birdkind.

I put up a gallery of their extreme cuteness: Saw Whet Owl Banding in MA. I will be posting some video later. But for now, I require you to be amazed (this is not a baby bird):

Here's another set of photos (with a better macro lens) featuring yours truly holding one of these cutie pies.

And just to be slightly scientific, the site with the most data on the migration patterns and how to track these guys lives at Project Owlnet.


Last weekend I also went to a local UFO conference, hosted by Mass Mufon. There were two very interesting talks, one on crop circles and the other on the Shag Harbor Incident in Nova Scotia.

The crop circle presentation started quite strong, with a lot of data and images that can also be found on the website at BLT Research. My data analysis interest was piqued but then dismayed by claims of correlations as "proof." The speaker got less scientific and more, well, peculiar towards the end when she announced a bunch of other phenomena including the ghost of her dead brother caught on film at recent circles. I don't quite understand why the folks interested in paranormal end up mixing it all together so readily; one phenomenon probably has nothing to do with another!

The Shag Harbor UFO Crash Incident from 1967 was entertainingly recounted by Chris Styles, a good storyteller who had collected a lot of documents from the Canadian government (who are much happier to send things out on request than the US government). The most interesting sidebar was that a character named Maurice "Mace" Coffey was working as a parapsychologist investigating mysterious phenomena in the Canadian Air Force at the time of the "crash." He was the Fox Mulder of Canada. He's also editor of a collection of Maritime poetry and was later an important figure in the Northwest Territories (once helping find a downed plane, in which the survivor had lived only by cannibalism). I personally wanted to hear more about Mace, and maybe less about the RCMP.

Ghosts: I've received a few more stories about Windhouse, the haunted house in Scotland that I keep track of here. The essay is updated at the bottom with more photos from contributor Phil Mortimer (scary Photoshop work as shown below) and from another relative of a former inhabitant, Kate Bainbridge.

Phil Mortimer pics of Windhouse

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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Moon in Rigging, Salem, MA


Monday, July 30, 2007

Waterfire Photos

On Saturday, I visited Providence's town-wide art installation, Waterfire. Picture a huge number of bonfires in the middle of the river and a large crowd of fire watchers, some lucky gondola riders with glasses of wine in hand, fire volunteers in black boats with logs, and eerie music. Very pagan. You can smell the smoke and wood from the river banks.


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Angry Bluebird, Happy Bunny

Both of these fellows were seen at Drumlin Farm, an Audubon site in Lincoln, MA.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Goat Mockery

From a nice day at Drumlin Farm, in Lincoln, MA:


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Swiss Farms in the Spring

It was early, and the mist was burning off the valleys, so these look a bit like watercolors.

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Swiss Bunnies

I've been away for a week and a half, looking at green hills and mountains, tinkling cows (their bells, not relieving themselves), and other cute animals. These are Swiss checkered rabbits, who are good friends. They live in Ballenberg, an outdoor folklife museum. I think it's fair to say that their disapproval is less intense than that of your average American variety, although it seems to be a basic trait of the species.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Fractal Art

I've been playing with 2 fractal-generating applications recently, and recommend them for different reasons. If you'd like to quickly generate random beautiful 2d images, of often breath-taking beauty, use Apophysis.

If you like to play with dials and sliders and 3d imagery, and generally do a bit more work yourself, I recommend Chaoscope, a "3d strange attractors" rendering package.

Samples from both:

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Owl and Bear

At the Worcester Ecotarium they have some nice animals. I especially enjoyed the polar bear and the porcupine. Unfortunately, the latter was hard to photograph as he was very busy running in and out of his cubby hole. (But there is a very relaxed and lazy one sleeping on a tree in my animal photos from Nova Scotia here.)

This little screech owl is moulting.

The polar bear likes to play and scare the guests. Expect more of her...


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Icy Whiskers


Saturday, February 17, 2007

Mayan Art

From Chichen Itza this January. The eagle is eating a heart.

I am reading a great book, Breaking the Maya Code, by Michael Coe. The first paragraph says, "It was 12 cycles, 18 katuns, 16 tuns, 0 uinals, and 16 kins since the beginning of the Great Cycle. The day was 12 Cib 14 Uo, and was ruled by the seventh Lord of the Night. The moon was nine days old. Precisely 5,101 of our years and 235 days had passed since the creation of this universe, and only 23 years and 22 days remained until the final cataclysm that would destroy it. So the ancient Maya scribes and astronomers would have calculated, for the day was 14 May 1989, and we were in Leningrad."

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Owls in Massachusetts

Last weekend was an "owl festival" at my local Audubon nature preserve. First was a great presentation on snowy owls at Logan Airport (not given there, about owls who hang out there) by Norm Smith of the Blue Hills Audubon nature preserve. Yes, there are snowy owls all over Logan's landing strips. No, this is not good for the airplanes. Yes, they are hard to spot if you're flying out from there, as I discovered a day later-- white could mean snow, trash, or owl.

Norm has some great pictures of them, and points out how little we understand them -- they don't seem to be migratory in the usual sense, and might even be circumpolar. They are able to filter out the sounds of the jets to tune in on squeaking rats. They all look a bit different, and have different personalities, too.

Some articles and links worth looking at on this work:

This is a map of where some of the owls he attached transmitters to ended up in Canada -- mostly up towards Hudson Bay. Some have been tracked to Siberia, though. (Hey, I've been there. I saw no owls, however.)

The day after Norm's terrific talk and slides, a guy brought in some birds living in captivity because they've been hurt or grown up with people and now identify too much with people to hunt properly. These were beautiful birds. Below you'll see this fellow with a screech owl, incredibly cute, and a wonderful great horned owl. None of my pictures turned out very well due to the interior lighting, but you get the idea.

After the demo of the birds, we went on an "owl prowl" walk in what was probably 14F degrees at best. In the gathering dark, I add, because at the point where I'd had enough of the cold, I didn't think I could see my way back to the lodge. We crunched all over the grounds of Broadmoor making dumb owl calls, and hearing not a peep back except for the bored kids shifting around while we listened and whining a little and sometimes pretending to be owls themselves which didn't really help us. It was so cold even the CD player with some real owls on it wouldn't perform properly. An owl bust, all around. Now that I know what screech owls and saw whets sound like, I can confirm I have never heard them where I live beside the reservoir. Too bad! They are really cute.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Mexican village kids


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Morocco Photo Selection

I haven't had the time to do this carefully, so this is rather hasty -- but here's a selection of the photos I took in Morocco this summer.

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Sunday, December 17, 2006

Atlas Mountains Town

This is where they filmed the slave town in Africa for Gladiator -- they added a fake Hollywood gate to the front of this place for the movie.


Sunday, November 19, 2006



Friday, November 17, 2006

Moroccan carpet seller

In Morocco. (It's tough to pick which ones to post -- I've got so many.)


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Atlas Mountains at Sunset

One of my vacation nights involved a hike into the mountains.

Morocco, Atlas Mountains, October 2006


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Park near my house in Natick



Sunday, September 10, 2006

Birds at the Ren Faire in Carver, MA

Archimedes looking intense. RenFaire, MA, 06


Thursday, September 07, 2006

A fluffy photo post: Rabbits and Flickr Stuff

A friend sent me this link to some hilarious rabbit photos: My Rabbit Disapproves.

Just after laughing a lot at the justice in this woman's photo captions, I found this new flickr tool for browsing pic categories, which I spent a fair amount of time enjoying when I should have been driving to Nantucket. The search on bunnies turns up some really nice rabbit pics, not disapproving in the least. Cats are okay, but not as nice a collection. Gargoyles are a good contrast, and turn up a surprising number of cat pics. Or, perhaps not surprising, to a cat owner.

Flickr Storm.


Monday, September 04, 2006

Youth Hostel, Nantucket.

It's a good thing I'm not too old for youth hostels yet, or I would have missed this pretty building on the south side of the island.


Rusty Bench

Nantucket, MA


Saturday, August 05, 2006

Graves in the North End, Boston

Joanna Grant, Copps Hill, Boston

Here Lyeth


Sunday, July 16, 2006

Puffin Pics Album

Finally, after about 15 years of missing the puffin season everywhere I travel (Scotland, Maine, UK...), I went on a special puffin trip to Nova Scotia. I got a few good pictures, although not many of them in flight, the classic silly puffin shot. Surprisingly, I like the water ones best!


Saturday, July 08, 2006

Nova Scotia Animals Pics

A bunch of animal photos are up on this gallery.
It was a hot day -- so there are lots of sleepy, cuddly looking animals and only a few scary ones. Check out the bunnies, otters sleeping on their backs, porcupine draped over a tree branch, and fierce eagle in a kiddy pool.

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

This owl could be a muppet, but he's not -- he's real and he's just hot. I'm trying to get my pics from my recent vacation online in a web gallery, but it's taking the usual too-much-work...


Saturday, June 17, 2006

I found a turtle in my backyard today! He scurried away, slowly.