The world didn’t end today!

The world hasn’t ended so far today and it seems unlikely to do so in the next 8 hours left (or maybe the Mayan Calendar was just crap to begin with)!! But if it does in the next 8 hours and 22 minutes, I wanted to leave you with a couple of pictures in what could be my last blog posting!!

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Did you spot the tiny spider in both the pictures on the middle-right of the picture? These flowers are those of the Lesser Celandine. Also known as pilewort since the plant was believed to be useful for the treatment of piles. Impressive knowledge to have if the world comes to an end.

 

Daffodil – on black

I know this is the middle of winter!! Just to cheer us up and to look forward to the lazy days of spring and summer, here’s a lovely daffodil on a black background.

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Technical Details:

Nikon D80
Sigma 105mm f/2.8 macro lens
SB600 Speedlight External flash
f/4.6 1/2500 ISO200
Processed in Adobe Lightroom4.1

 

Water Taxis – Amsterdam

Fact: Amsterdam has more canals than Venice!

People associate Amsterdam with lots of things including “Coffee shops”, Red-light district, Vincent van Gogh and Rembrandt but rarely with canals and water. Ubiquitous in the more than 100km of canals and 1500+ bridges are the water taxis. They are an excellent way of getting around the Amsterdam old quarter avoiding traffic jams on the narrow roads.

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Technical Details

Nikon D80
Tamron 28-250mm f3.5/6.3 Lens
Post-processed in Adode Lightroom 4.1

Dandelion – A gardeners nightmare or cooks delight?

Mention Dandelion to any gardener who loves their lawns and they will tell you a few stories about how difficult these plants are to get rid of, and how pernicious these weeds can be. Dandelions belong to the Taraxacum genus of the family Asteraceae and found in most of Europe and North America. They tend to have leaves that are flat and close to the ground and produce bright yellow flowers throughout late spring and summer. Whilst the flowers tend to brighten up any wasteland, they also grow happily between grass in lawns. Due to their low habit, they avoid being cut down by standard lawn mowers. Every plant produces a beautiful spherical head of winged seeds that easily disperse in the wind (see below).

araxacum officinale
Taraxacum officinale

The recent series of television (Masterchef: The Professionals) had a cook James Burton using Dandelion roots in cooking! Till that time I’d no idea that these plants were edible, so used as I was to zap them with weed killer on first sight. Reading up a little more on these plants, it turns out that the dandelion leaves are an excellent source of iron and calcium (more than spinach)!

So the next time I see these growing in my garden (which I’m sure I will), I’ll be reaching out for a recipe book and not my glyphosate containing weed killer!

Aquilegea

From earlier this summer (or whatever that passed for that term this year!). A few years ago I wouldn’t have known what Aquiligea was, but my knowledge of these plants has increased after the purchase of a few plants.

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Apparently the name Aquilegia comes from the latin aquila, or eagles claw based on the shape of the petals.

Selective Colouring

Do photographs look better when selectively colored? Selective coloring involves painfully desaturating a picture to leave only the portions that need highlighting. There are many ways to desaturate a photograph, and I use Adobe Lightroom adjustment brush to remove colour from portions of a picture. The pictures below show both the original picture and my selectively colored version. Which one do you prefer?

Original Image
Original Image

One method of removing colors from a picture is by desaturating color groups. In the picture below, I removed all the greens, blues and yellow. This has the desired effect of making all the leaves and sky become monochrome while leaving just the flowers with color.

Removed greens, blues and yellow
Removed greens, blues and yellow

The above makes the picture look a little artificial due to removal of the yellow-green components from the petals too, as well as with other flowers in the background showing through the foliage. I then attempted to use the adjustment brush to remove all color from the picture except for the two flowers in the foreground (as below).

Selectively colored
Selectively colored

Personally I’m pleased with my selective desaturation as this brought out the vibrant colors of the flower, which were otherwise lost in the bright greens of the leaves and the blue of the sky.

Technical Details:
Nikon D80 with Tamron 18-250mm f3.5/6.3 Lens
1/640 f/8.0 55mm
Location: Araku Valley, Visakhapatnam
Processed with Adobe Lightroom 4.1

 

A tangled web!

Autumn mornings offer a great chance to see myriad spider webs drenched in the early morning dew making a million natural necklaces of tiny pearly dew drops. I took these pictures on just one such day. The industrious spider had built this web on the clothesline overnight.

1/60 f/5.0 ISO200 with flash
1/60 f/5.0 ISO200 with flash
1/60 f/5.0 ISO200 with flash

I am constantly amazed at the persistence of the spider to continually attempt to make a web in the most unlikely of places, day after day. Maybe there is a lesson in it for us all….
Technical details

Nikon D80
Sigma 105mm f/2.8 macro lens
Nikon Speedlight SB-600 flash
Processed in Adobe Lightroom 4.1