Light and shade

I find dappled light quite difficult to work with. Our trail Monday and Tuesday was lit by wonderful light. However as we walked into the wooded area the trees and bushes start to break up the uniform golden bath and create sharp contrasts of honey and black treacle. Very sweet but not necessarily good for photography. Even if the insect or flower is not itself in dappled light the surrounding leaves or tree trunks can be and they create distracting highlights, pulling the eye away or leaving you with unpleasant blown highlights. There is a limit to how much you can crop these out sometimes.

I try to find subjects that do not suffer from the dappler effect and often isolate areas that might almost be abstract. Here is a tree trunk section:

Bark tones

I just called it Bark Tones in honour of Lulu.

I love to see lichens growing prolifically. These are good bio-indicators. I took this extract from

Lichens are widely used as environmental indicators or bio-indicators. If air is very badly polluted with sulphur dioxide there may be no lichens present, just green algae may be found. If the air is clean, shrubby, hairy and leafy lichens become abundant. A few lichen species can tolerate quite high levels of pollution and are commonly found on pavements, walls and tree bark in urban areas. The most sensitive lichens are shrubby and leafy while the most tolerant lichens are all crusty in appearance.

I confess I get confused between lichens, pure algae, mosses, liverworts etc. But hopefully that won’t detract from the visual enjoyment of this specimen.LichensFinally, as all woods contain little people, I had a go at photographing their umbrellas. Sadly this was much more difficult than I had planned because they were almost at ground level. My knees got me down there but when it came to getting me back upright or adjusting my position, well, I needed some WD40. As I remarked to John, what I need is a right angle viewfinder. Perhaps Father Christmas will bring me one.FungiI have wanted to try this sort of shot for a while but what I really need to find is the same sort of arrangement on a nice elevated bank so I can photograph at eye level. Such a shame it didn’t really work. I am however as happy to blog about the misses as much as the hits and leave you, the juke box jury to press the ‘miss’ button. I shall be eagerly watching the Observatory forecast over the next few days hoping that the temperatures drop a little and the humidity is less draining.





Lau Shui Heung

The last 2 mornings I have risen at 5am to drive to a new site for me. I have been accompanied by the always affable John Holmes. He knows the New Territories better than Lulu knows her way around a dog biscuit shop and that is saying something. John’s remit is to be the bird brain and I am insect brain. An excellent combo if I knew much about insects, but I don’t. The trail we have been walking is not particularly long – about 4 km – and the walk is well described in David Diskin’s excellent book Hong Kong Nature Walks: The New Territories.

Here then is a selection of my images from the last 2 mornings, in no particular order.

Let’s start with some scenery.

Lau Shui Heung view In the distance on the next shot you can see HK’s highest peak, Tai Mo Shan (Big Hat Mountain), a monstrous 957m. No sniggering from you chaps with big mountains in your backyard. This is as good as it gets here.View to TaiMoShan

IMG_4616I have learned from Steve Gingold that you have to do waterfalls to be a proper photographer and today I had a go – colour and B&W.LauShui Heung  waterfall Lau Shui Heung waterfall BWBack to insects I think. Don’t give up the day job, Hardacre. The first moth was photographed with the toy camera. This is Cyclosia papilionaris and the bright colours are a warning to birds and other predators that it is not good to eat. In fact these moths contain hydrogen cyanide (HCN) throughout all stages of their life-cycle. One for the mother-in-law perhaps. Oh and the blue one is a female. The species is sexually dimorphic.Cyclosia papilionarisThe next moth is Chaetolopha incurvata. ID courtesy of Dr. Roger Kendrick.

IMGL0653And now its time to meet Bob. Chestnut Bob, Iambrix salsala. Ahoy Skipper!Iambrix-salsalaAnd last of the butterflies, a Dark Evening Brown (I think). The WSF of Melanitis phedima.Melanitis phedima - Dark Evening BrownAnd to wrap up, two flowers. The first is Adenosma glutinosum and the second is Desmodium heterocarpon. I am deeply indebted to Mercury Wong, whose knowledge of HK flora surpasseth all understanding. He ID’d the second plant and confirmed my stab at the first. Adenosma glutinosum Desmodium heterocarponAnd that is it. I have to engage in some work (shock horror) later this week so it will be a swift trip to Singapore and back. Who knows what next week will bring. And as I am working, well….. it might as well rain until September.

Shocked Starling

The birds here are so boring I’ve decided to liven them up a bit. I went out yesterday and rigged up a wire along their favourite perch. The idea is that when they land, they get a small jolt from a car battery. It works a treat and makes the photos more interesting don’t you think.



Black-collared Starling


And if you believe that, you’ll believe anything.