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Winter sunrise: Venus and crescent moon

Venus, crescent moon (plus star Aldebaran)

06:22 (eek!) Saturday 20 June, Sydney

Venus, crescent moon (plus star Aldebaran)

Six Word Saturday

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Up close with cockatoos

“Must you poke that camera at me?” (focal length 108.0mm (in 35mm: 600mm))

I love photos like this: sharp object in foreground, blurred background. If you regularly view my blog posts, you’ll have noticed a few of them (and thank you for your visits!). But I freely admit I can’t be bothered to figure out the technicalities of taking them. I use a combination of zoom and focus area size to compose my shots. I set the ISO, colour balance, f stop and shutter speed manually, but don’t think about what’s happening beyond that. All of these photos were shot at 1/400 sec, F2.8, ISO 100.

But Jude’s assignment this week got me looking more closely at this selection of photos, and I did notice that the focal length corresponds to the amount of blur. “Lens focal length tells us the angle of view—how much of the scene will be captured—and the magnification—how large individual elements will be. The longer the focal length, the narrower the angle of view and the higher the magnification. The shorter the focal length, the wider the angle of view and the lower the magnification.” (source)

So I’ve presented these photos in order of longest to shortest focal length. The photo above and this one below have the same long focal length (most shallow depth of field) and extreme blurring of background.

“Yum, this is tasty!” (focal length 108.0mm (in 35mm: 600mm))

The photos were all taken at Hamilton Island last July. Despite large signs stuck to the balcony doors saying “do not feed the cockatoos!!” the people beside me did just that.

“I wonder what’s down there?” (focal length 79.80mm (in 35mm: 443mm))

“Oh, that looks good!” (focal length 73.0mm (in 35mm: 406mm))

“I know you’re watching me.” (focal length 73.0mm (in 35mm: 406mm))

“Are you still spying on us?” (focal length 52.30mm (in 35mm: 290mm))

“I refuse to look at you any longer.” (focal length 52.30mm (in 35mm: 290mm))

This last photo has the shortest focal length (longest depth of field), and while the trees on the hill are certainly not in focus, they are much less blurred than in photos with longer focal lengths. The balconies are definitely much sharper.

“The show is over.” (focal length 30.60mm (in 35mm: 170mm))

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Early morning spider web

This little spider has been busy! I haven’t noticed any activity (the duranta tree is on my balcony), but this morning, with the early sun at the right angle, I clearly saw her/his handiwork. The spider itself is tiny (you can see it right in the centre, glowing in the sunshine), and by the same token the web is not as large as a dinner plate. What I love about this shot is how clear the web pattern is. You can easily imagine this little creature patiently crawling one way, turning, crawling another, turning … That’s a lot of effort to catch your dinner.

What I don’t understand is how spiders set those anchoring strands. Do they just shoot out some silk and hope it latches on to something?

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Tomato Diary 2

23 May, down to 8 seedlings in 4 pots.

The experiment of growing tomatoes in a Sydney winter using seeds scraped from a store-bought tomato continues. On 23 May I ruthlessly discarded all but the sturdiest 8 seedlings and put the winners into four small pots.

23 May, aerial view

Above on 23 May, after repotting. Below on 6 June, after two weeks of growing.

6 June, aerial view. Definitely bigger!

Despite the less than ideal conditions, they are growing. Daytime highs now are 15-20C (59-68F) and they get only about five hours of morning sun — and that’s with me moving them four times to try to avoid shade as the low winter sun passes behind trees. Of course, many days are overcast and wet. Not what you’d call optimal!

Interesting to see the size differences. All the seeds are from the same tomato, but not all seeds are equal!

Yesterday I ventured to a garden centre for soil and stakes, being very optimistic that the plants will grow high enough to need staking! Some of you may be wondering why I bought “seed raising and cutting” mix. The answer is that I don’t have a car. Not following that logic? I had to buy soil in a bag small enough to fit into my backpack and of a weight I could carry. All that was available in this bag size was mixes for seedlings, cacti or orchids; this seemed the least-bad choice. I do have about the same amount of regular potting mix so when the times comes I’ll combine the two.

Ready to go.

Tune in later for Tomato Diary 3. (Tomato Dairy 1 here)

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The light through the window

Two photos of the Orangery, Kew Gardens, London. (The statue was no longer there in 2018; it had been against the end wall.)

This selection of photos features light streaming through a window into a room. Although these photos have very different subjects, they are all lit by windows — dramatically, softly, harshly, boldly. In some, you can see the shadows of the window frames or of the glass itself.

Two from Fiji below. On the left, the window is not visible but its bright light is falling on the boy. On the right, the diffuse light from the window highlights the flat surfaces of the wooden pews.

Two from Kerala, India. Men were making lime by burning sea shells.

This one shows the splashes of colour from light falling through a stained glass window.

New College, Oxford.

Many lines in this photo — the corrugated ceiling, the wooden floor, the supporting beams, and the multi-paned window that casts its slanting shadows.

Interior of disused industrial building, Cockatoo Island, Sydney.

The bright light brings out the colours of this woven bag and throws shadows from the edges of the glass louvres.

Bag hanging on wall, and shadows of glass louvres, Vanuatu.

No true windows in the photo below, more like openings in the stone walls. An interesting lighting effect, though!

Vomitorium of the Roman Theatre in Cadiz.

Posted for Jude’s 2020 Challenge (Light: Experiment in different weather conditions such as mist or rain, OR take a photograph indoors such as a still life or light entering a room streaming through a window OR experiment in capturing the colour of light.)

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Tomato Diary 1

8 May: Something’s happening . . .

So, you know how gardening has taken off in lockdown? (Along with baking and cooking, but I’m too lazy for that much effort.) I read or heard, I forget which, something about how to grow veg even if you are a total newbie. One of the comments was that you don’t need seeds: plant a potato, carrot tops, the seeds from a tomato or cucumber. So I scraped the seeds out of a medium sized tomato — all the seeds — into a small pot of soil, chucked more soil on top (and as you can see, we’re not talking specialist seedling soil here), watered them … and mere days later, much to my astonishment, green things began to appear.

9 May: More things are happening!

10 May: Uh oh, things are getting out of hand.

Oh dear, a LOT of green things! I never expected such a freakishly high germination rate! When I counted 30 seedlings, it was time for action.

I’ve pulled out a number of little noodle-y seedlings, and am down to about 15. It’s survival of the fittest now! I plan to get the number down to under ten. Then when they’re bigger, I’ll move them into their own small pots and see how they go. (note: the photos above are so awful because they’re from my phone)

19 May: A forest of tomato seedlings. Which will make the final count?

Will they actually produce tomatoes? I doubt it. It’s autumn now, winter is looming, and my balcony gets sun only from 7:30am to about 1pm. The sun is so low now that nearby trees cast shade as the sun no longer passes above them — while I’m working from home I can nip outside and move the pots, but I’m not sure how much that will help!

Tune in later for Tomato Diary 2.

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Monday morning ‘at work’

9:20am, Monday. Hard at work. 😉

Nadia from ‘A Photo a Week Challenge’ is asking us “to share a photo or two of a change you’ve experienced during the covid19 crisis”. I’ve actually been extraordinarily fortunate: no job loss or salary reduction, and the work I used to do in the office I now do at home. I’m not especially sociable at the best of times, so the absence of other people is no hardship at all.

I took this photo at 9.20am today — ordinarily, I’d be in the office by then, not exactly ecstatic at the prospect of another week of work surrounded by noisy (sometimes irritating) colleagues, just starting on my cup of coffee. But on sunny mornings while working at home, I cheekily postpone the start of the work day and enjoy my coffee outside. 🙂