Weeds (wildflowers) in the front yard — 2016-03-06

From time to time (about once per year), I recalibrate the fine-tuning autofocus mechanism on my camera lenses using a device called SpyderLENSCAL.

[Technical stuff follows:] According to photographylife website, the way calibration works, is DSLR cameras have a setting, which allows compensating for either back-focus (when focus is shifted behind the focused area) or front-focus (when focus is shifted in front of the focused area). This compensation can be performed in small incremental steps (typically from 0 to -20 and +20 in steps of 1), which allows for precise fine tuning of the autofocus system. Negative numbers compensate for back focus, while positive numbers compensate for front focus problems. To put it differently, dialing a negative “-” number will move the focused point closer to the camera, while dialing a positive “+” number will move the focused point away from the camera. So what happens when you dial -5, for example? The camera tells the lens something like this: “aim at where you would normally focus, except slightly move the focused point closer to the camera”. In essence, this would be needed when your camera and lens combination constantly back-focuses.

An important fact to keep in mind, is that calibration is camera and lens specific, which means that if you have multiple cameras and lenses, you have to fine tune autofocus on each camera, for each lens you own (unless you have a camera that constantly front-focuses or back-focuses by the same amount with all lenses, in which case you might need to compensate only for the camera itself). In addition, you might need to periodically re-calibrate your camera gear.

So, I took my SpyderLENSCAL out on the front porch and set it up so that I could calibrate the two lenses that I generally use in my photography: Olympus (Zuiko) 12-60mm f/2.8-4 SWD 4/3 Lens and my combination Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro Lens + Olympus (Zuiko) Digital 1.4x Teleconverter Lens. Both of these I use on my Olympus E‑5 12.3 MP DSLR. While getting set up, I noticed some wildflowers growing in a flower box at the edge of the porch. After calibrating my lenses, I wanted to give them a “road test” with the new calibration. So the rest of this blog shows the results of my front yard wildflower adventure.

Common Henbit
Common Henbit

Read More»

Blank Canvas…

This blog entry is quite a departure from all of my previous botanical entries. Having said that, there is a hint of nature in it after all. For years, I’ve wanted to take advantage of the blank canvas that is my body, my skin. The average person has between 16 and 20 square feet (1.5 to 2.0 square meters) of skin. Of course, there are places where you probably wouldn’t want a decoration of any sort, but there are other obvious places that beg for an artist’s touch. Yes, I’ve gotten a tattoo. There, I said it.

Homework and research is essential in an endeavor like this, and I believe that I have done due diligence. In keeping with my obsession with longleaf pine ecosystems, I have chosen a scene that depicts a stand of longleaf pines in the foreground and the edge of forest in the background. there is even a sandy path leading around the trees. Black was my color of choice, because it would show the most contrast and stand out on my meager canvas. The forearm was a choice that is not only easy to take care of in the healing process, but it also is easy to cover up if circumstances demand it.

Here is a before shot of my right arm. Before you say it, I know, there’s not that much room to work with, but it is what it is — I have thin arms:

Right forearm
Right forearm — before

Read More»

A new book is now out about the Green Swamp, Brunswick County, North Carolina

Sometime shortly after I wrote my first book called, “Wild Orchids of South Carolina”, I began to put together the images and design for another book — one covering the orchids, carnivorous plants, and other wildflowers of the Green Swamp — a fantastic Nature Conservancy preserve in Brunswick County, North Carolina. This place is so special that I had wondered why no one else had written a comprehensive book covering the botanical wonders of this location, and so I decided it was time to write that book. The process has taken me almost ten years from beginning to now, and I think that justice has been done to this treasure of the Atlantic Coastal Plain. The title is a mouthful, “Orchids, Carnivorous Plants, and Other Wildflowers of the Green Swamp, North Carolina: Exploring North America’s Most Diverse Ecosystem”, but it actually fits nicely on the cover and the spine!

For those of you who have had the privilege of visiting the Green Swamp, you will recognize many of the plant species pictured in the book, and you will find, perhaps, some new species to learn about. I have also included several Appendices covering the formative history of the area, discussion of the problem of deciphering the different Spiranthes species found there, discussion and images of the local Sarracenia (pitcher plant) hybrids, and some thoughts about management and restoration of a longleaf pine ecosystem. For you who have yet to visit, perhaps it will plant the seed for a visit, soon.

In early February of this year (2015), the book was self-published due to a lack of interest from publishing companies who I thought would welcome such book into their fold. And now, the books have finally arrived and are available for order and shipment. I have designed an order form whose link can be found at the bottom of my “Books” page. You can click on “Books” in the menu at the top of any of my blog pages and see the cover and some sample pages of this new book as well as read a number of reviews which were generously written by some notable professionals in the field of botany. I also have included a sample of my first book toward the bottom of the “Books” page. It is also available for order.

Currently, the books have not been placed in the inventory of Amazon or any of the “big box” book stores, so you will have to order them directly through my blog website. This may change in the future.

Update: It is currently on Amazon.com. Just search for “Green Swamp orchids” on Amazon, and it will come up for you. Since I am doing the fulfillment for Amazon, I will be happy to sign the book when it is ordered.

Please take the time to peruse the “Books” link above and place an order while they last! Full case (20 books) discount available. 😉


Cover of the Green Swamp book

First posting of the year

Hello friends — This is the first posting in my new blog for the year. I hope it will be as fun for you as it is for me. I’ll be bringing you my thoughts and images of botanizing trips into the field until I decide not to do so anymore. There will not be daily posts, so don’t expect to see them on a daily basis. Just keep checking back from time to time to find out if I have posted something new. Your comments are always welcome. Thanks for your support. — Jim

Copyright © Dandelion by Pexeto