Lichen reprise

I rarely go into my blog’s media library for material. It feels a bit like cheating. However I am housebound today with a burning sore throat, blocked nose and a feeling of being rather, well, blurgh. I suspect it was the flight I took on Saturday. Someone else’s germs have invaded my body. I felt a bit poorly yesterday but well enough to take Mrs. Ha out to The Club for lunch followed by our now regular bowling game. Slowly we are improving and I managed to get 3 or 4 games up around the 125-135 scoreline. My aim is to get over 150 regularly. Mrs. Ha is also improving and wants to top 100 consistently.  We have had no lessons. We simply make it up as we go along. Sometimes the pins go rattling over. Sometimes they jeer at us. You missed us!! Can’t you do better than that? The answer to which is mostly, no we can’t.

Mrs Ha also sprang a surprise holiday idea on me yesterday. Some friends are going to Lisbon next year and following it with a 7 day river cruise. Mrs. Ha wants to go too. So it looks like we shall do so but I want to combine it with a detour to Barcelona, a city I have never visited but greatly desire to see. We are no looking at all the cheap flight permutations on good old ITA. This of course means we need to find a dog-sitter and Cost Centre number 2 may be volunteering as she would of course have the use of the cars whilst we are away.

If I feel better tomorrow I shall venture out. The forecast is not too shabby – just a few showers – and I get withdrawal symptoms if I don’t use the camera for more than a few days. My work trip to Singapore was enjoyable but there were not many lichens or bugs in the business centre. I had dinner with a good friend from Karachi on Thursday night, another friend from Seoul on Friday and flew home bright and disgustingly early on Saturday. I enjoy the work but each time I go through an airport I remember why I loathe them so much. In stark contrast I managed to photograph a female Blue Percher dragonfly in the garden this morning, even in my groggy state. As I look out of the window I see a Long-tailed Shrike looking rather bedraggled in the drizzle. If it hangs around the other birds will doubtless give it “what for”. Shrikes don’t seem to be popular with other birds. The “Johnny No Mates” of the garden.

So where are the lichens, you cry. Well, here they are and jolly fine they look too.

Painted tree

Painted tree




Graphina lichen?

Graphina lichen?

Parmotrema tinctorum

Parmotrema tinctorum

I hope they entertain you and maybe I shall have the energy for an outing tomorrow. Stay tuned.


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.





Macros – stage three.

In a response to a comment on my last macro post I alluded to the fact that I was being coaxed and coached towards trying ‘stacking’ or as Scott Kelby calls it, Depth of Field extension.

Steve Gingold, a fine photographer from Massachusetts, explained the broad principles to me and the actual keystrokes I checked in Kelby’s book, The Adobe Photoshop CS4 book for digital photographers. It’s a pretty snappy title but it got me over the line. Essentially I wanted to maximize the DoF on my subject and leave the background out of focus. Using a small aperture risks having the background in focus too, thus losing the ‘pop’ of the subject.

Well, here are 2 examples of what I managed:

Blossom time at LNEC

Bracket fungus

As I said to Steve, “I am frankly amazed at the upper shot – 7 images combined and shot in a very light breeze. It may not be perfect but it is far better than I could have done with 1 frame.

The lower one was comparatively easy as the log didn’t move but I only used 4 and I think I needed a fifth for the very top rim.”

So still some work to do but a whole lot better than last time and streets ahead of my original ham-fisted efforts. I also learned today that it is easy to get carried away and over use this technique.

Look at this image:

Winter's End

I took about 7 frames of this but finally decided that a single frame was better than the stacked one. Note the clean background rendering my efforts superfluous. Doh! I also wasted ten minutes trying to think of a snappy title for this and as I was at my wit’s end I settled on Winter’s End.

Each of these others is a single frame.

Bunk fungi


Graphina lichen?

This is presumably a Graphina lichen but I don’t know which species. It could also be a message in hieroglyphs left by the ancient Egyptians when they visited Sai Kung thousands of years ago. However this is unrecorded in the history of the town so it is a very long shot. It might also be a sketch for an early Lowry. The Sai Kung matchstick men. Anyway, I like it.

The great thing about macro photography is that it leads you to look at things differently. I am now looking not just at the whole but at the parts, trying in my mind to isolate something that will be aesthetically pleasing out of context. It also forces you to work at a different pace. Slow is not my normal speed in life. Shooting these frames gives me time to reflect, try out different angles, explore the depth of the picture and to visualize a finished image. Heavy stuff, eh?

Anyway, I must finish as I have another few frames to stack before bedtime. Toodle pip.