An unreliable memoir




Supercoiling occurs when a structure such as these three elastic bands relieves the helical stress of overtwisting by twisting around itself.

Do you remember when,
Things were really hummin’,
Yeah, let’s twist again,
Twistin’ time is here!


Nikon D7200, EL Nikkor 50mm f2.8N (reversed), f5.6, 1/80 ISO 800, 12 image focus stack.

Field Wood-rush

Field Wood-rush

There seems to be a growing trend on Instagram for hi-key minimalism, including some rather nice arty “botanical” shots, so I thought I’d have a go. In the end, this macro image won out though, and my hi-key effort turned out to be not that hi-key after all. That’s OK, I’ll filter the s**t out of it on Instagram. Also known as “Good Friday Grass”, Luzula campestris was a week late around these parts this year, needing the first warm weather on Good Friday to get it going. Or maybe, Easter was too early… Anyhow, here comes the botany bit. How do I know this 10cm plant nodding at me from my sodden lawn and giving me another excellent reason not to mow it is a rush? Because:

Sedges have edges and
Rushes are round and
Grasses have nodes
all the way to the ground.

Field Wood-rush – Luzula campestris.
Nikon D7200 EL Nikkor 50mm f2.8 N f5.6 1/80 ISO 800, 5 image focus stack.

Field Wood-rush

The Centipede In The Bath

Lithobius melanops

Lithobius melanops.
Nikon D7200 Tokina 100mm f16 1/250 ISO 100

The Last Post

The Last Post

Nikon D7200 Tamron 17-50mm f9 34mm 1/500 ISO 100

Danish Scurvygrass

Danish Scurvygrass

If you’ve been paying attention you’ll have noticed the white froth along all the major roads at the moment. If you pull off and investigate, it looks like this. Danish Scurvygrass was unknown inland 50 years ago, but with the ever increasing tonnage of salt risk-averse councils pour onto the roads each year this seaside plant has taken advantage of the niche we have built for it.

Danish Scurvygrass – Cochlearia danica.

Danish Scurvygrass

I’m feeling lucky

Im feeling lucky

I’m still trying to love the Nik Collection. One thing I have learned so far – it’s a huge time sink. My control freakery is making it difficult for me to give up the control I have learned over the years with Photoshop. To me, the filters seem to have a harsh, Instagram feel – or is that just Photoshop snobbery? On the other hand, I’m struggling to reconcile a package which has a filter called “I’m feeling lucky” (which is exactly what you think it is) with Ansel Adam’s idea that you should know the image you want before you pick up the camera.

However, I’ve never been able to achieve anything like an acceptable HDR result with Photoshop, so the Nik HDR plugin was attractive. I took a 5 stop series of this uninspiring composition in order to try it out. What do you think? I’m still not convinced.

An appeal on behalf of the Varied Carpet Beetle

Varied Carpet Beetle

The Varied Carpet Beetle Anthrenus verbasci, is experiencing a tough time. While in former years its famous “Woolly Bear” larvae munched their way through your winter woolies and Axminsters, now they can only blunt their mandibles on your acrylic Christmas jumpers and your polypropylene shag pile. The Varied Carpet Beetle Trust is asking everyone to put out small piles of wool in quiet corners of your home to encourage the Varied Carpet Beetle to breed. Even better, all home owners could consider buying a sheep – when they’re not providing a much needed banquet for your beetles they are also handy footstools and waste disposal units – and as a bonus they’ll give you a useful source of manure for your houseplants.

So please, give generously this April 1st and do everything you can to support the Varied Carpet Beetle.

Leiobunum blackwalli

Leiobunum blackwalli

I really like this shot, it’s so alien.

Harvestman, Leiobunum blackwalli.

Guilty Pleasures

Guilty Pleasures

Focus stacking – the ideal occupation for a rainy day. Over the last year I’ve spent more and more time taking photographs of smaller and smaller objects. The problem with this is physics – when a lens magnifies an image so that it becomes larger than life-size (i.e. macro photography), the depth of field decreases. Focus stacking gets round that issue, but requires a set of well-aligned images, and for me that’s an issue because the creatures I like to photograph tend to fly away when you poke a lens in their eye. But not this 4mm long insect, sadly deceased on my windowsill when I opened the curtains this morning – the ideal object for stacking (from my perspective, not his)! I haven’t identified this one yet, beyond the fact that it’s a Myrid bug, but that’s another guilty pleasure – spending hours with dichotomous keys figuring out a Latin name. Rainy days? Bring ’em on.

Update: it’s a Birch Catkin Bug – Kleidocerys resedae.

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