What will my future be?

Doris Day? No. Our old friend, Oxya chinensis. After agonizing for so long over its identity I thought the least I could do is show you what the orgy of nymphatic colour becomes when adulthood hits it. I don’t think Doris would have been impressed. Not so very que sera sera I suspect. And did you know that QSS was originally published in 1956? Its older than I am for goodness sake. And DD is 88 if Wikipedia is to be believed. I bet she doesn’t still look like the picture in the article. And her real name is Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff. I like Day better, with no offense to anybody else called Mary Ann Kappelhoff.

Sharp eyes will notice that the rear end of the grasshopper is not, well…….sharp. I checked the shutter speed and it was 1/250 and the rest of the thing is tack sharp. The only conclusion I can come to therefore is that the respiratory rate of a grasshopper is a lot faster than I had imagined. Its a shame as otherwise I quite liked this but now it will be consigned to the byte-bin of history.

I found two other interesting grasshoppers yesterday. One posed quite nicely alongside its frass. There’s simply no privacy anywhere these days it seems to be saying.

Xenocatantops brachycerus

And the second was wandering around the top of a hedge and it was simply not possible to get a clean image. In the end I chose the image that showed best the face and allowed the rest of the gropper to blur into the distance. I liked the face because it looks as if it is carved out of wood. It reminded me of a puppet. I don’t think Sandy Shaw would have won the Eurovision Caterwauling Contest with Grasshopper on a String but who knows. Here is Ms. Shaw.

Erianthus sp.

Finally, as I assume you may be getting bored with grasshoppers, here is just the thing we all need when things go awry and others annoy us – an assassin bug. And its upside down. Don’t ask me why but it seemed to prefer life from this angle. I may give it  a whirl one day.

Sycanus croceovittatus

So that was enough for one afternoon. Tonight I get to go out to dinner at my club with some old work chums. Much looked forward to even if it means driving onto the island. We also have the fairly high risk of a typhoon heading our way again. It is currently on course for Taiwan, whence it is forecast to veer left hand down a bit towards Hong Kong. If it doesn’t then I may venture out again tomorrow but if it does, I shall be hiding behind the dog’s basket. What I really  want is cooler weather, the start of autumn migration and some birds to photograph. It just can’t come soon enough.

Stacking the grasshopper

If you are hoping for some obscure Japanese game show then I am sorry but you have come to the wrong place. There are indeed some decidedly odd games shows in Japan but I think they are not suitable for the audience I try to reach. Stacking the grasshopper is a rather weak follow-on from yesterday’s tale of the gropper’s outing to Shatin. I was checking the plants on the balcony this morning to see if there were any nice lepidoptera larvae to photograph but all I could find was a grasshopper. I wish I could assert that it was the same adventurous explorer, who hitched a ride on the Audi but even the most basic of ID skills tells me it is not.

Be that as it may I wanted to try to get a decent shot and I decided to try out my stacking software again. So all the images were shot at F3.5, etc. etc.  You know the routine by now. Here is my final output courtesy of those awfully nice people at Helicon Focus.

Xenocatantops brachycerus

Not too bad. I didn’t get the right hand antenna despite thinking that I had. None of the source images gave me anything good enough to copy in. Other than that though it has succeeded reasonably well. Maybe 7/10 for technical expertise and about 5/10 for interest and aesthetic appeal. I am a very generous marker when assessing my own work. Did I ever mention that I was offered fried grasshoppers in Buenos Aires once? It was over ten years ago so I honestly don’t remember whether I ate them. I suspect I opted for half a hundredweight of prime beef. I have eaten snails though.

Now this is the Photoshop CS4 effort.

Look carefully at Mr. Gropper’s rear end. See the ghosting? Yup. So do I and I don’t like it. And PS has “image align”. Now in fairness my first effort with HF also had similar ghosting:

This could of course be down to bad technique on my part but as I looked very carefully through Live View I realized that the grasshopper was breathing in and out quite visibly. This is barely visible to the naked eye. Bit when magnified by 5x or 10x it looks like an earthquake. And it manifested itself in the rear section of the abdomen. Shocking…… breathing grasshopper. Or something like that.

So I redid the HF version and retouched it by using a ‘clean’ image to sharpen up both this aspect and the near antenna, which also moved slightly. The HF effort took about 3 or 4 minutes to run the original stack and then maybe 5 minutes of fiddling to do the touch up. PS CS4 on the other hand took about half an hour to process the 14 images and still failed. The recommendation is to ‘clone out any ghosting’. Well I’m sorry but I just don’t have the time to spare. Maybe CS5 or 6 has a very quick way of doing this. Conceivably CS4 has too but if so, this user isn’t sufficiently advanced to do that and I can do without spending half an evening agonizing over the final image. I’ll take the HF 5 minute job. As John Cleese asked of Michael Palin, “is this a 5 minute argument or the full half hour?”

So there we are. HF wins again on time and faithfulness. And after going through this exercise I think I shall try to sell this to a Japanese TV channel as a game show. I think it may catch on.