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My New Toy

Thursday, December 03, 2009 10:56 PM | Anonymous
Flag_sm.jpg     Let the record show that when it comes to cameras and photography, I am certainly no Karen Kilfeather, John Ingram, or Greg Lasley with their skills and top-of-the-line equipment.  Yet I am no Luddite; I don't oppose technological progress.  I'm just slow to catch up with new things.

     I still play records occasionally.

     I've never done anything on eBay and I just looked at something on YouTube for the first time a few months ago.  It even took quite some persuasion, coaxing, and coaching to get me blogging here.

CellPhone.jpg     CellCalendar.jpgI didn't get my first cell phone until about two years ago.  The only thing I do with it is call people--imagine that!  I don't want to check the latest sports scores or look up the tides in Galveston on it.  (I admit it: I've given up wearing a watch--that's the other thing I use my cell phone for.)  I certainly don't need it to take pictures or video.

     Which brings me back to cameras.  In many respects, I'm a low maintenance, low-end kind of guy*.  I was still using slide film long after Greg switched to digital photography.  Along with much of the rest of the world, I was skeptical of digital technology being able to reproduce the crisp images of my beloved Kodachrome.  One day, Greg was playing around with his first digital camera and he sent me a nice close-up pic of a water strider which he'd found at Doeskin Ranch:

Water Strider_sm.jpg
(Photo copyright Greg W. Lasley; used by permission.)

I was impressed, but I jokingly said: "I really can't identify your water strider to species unless I can count the bristles on the front foot."  He called my bluff and just a few minutes later, sent me an enlargement showing the bristles on the front foot of his critter!

     Despite that demonstration, I've remained low-end in my photographic abilities and equipment, preferring to leave the heaving lifting (literally and figuratively) to the aforementioned professionals.  A few years ago, Realty Specialist Nancy Unbehaun had graciously loaned me an older, small point-and-shoot camera to nudge me gently into the digital world.  Since that time, I've taken thousands of new images all over the Refuge with it and it has satisfied my needs quite well.  (I'll talk about "documentation" of things on the Refuge in a future blog.)  However, by circumstances which I won't reveal (to protect the innocent and the embarrassed), the need recently arose to replace that little digital camera (which, it was determined by accident, does not make a very good seat cushion).

     Which brings me to my new toy.  I went out and plunked down $199.99--which happily coincided with the exact number of pennies I had in my pocket that day--and bought myself a new digital camera which might be described as a "high-end, point-and-shoot" thing.  I won't reveal the brand since I can't endorse anything here, but this camera has a 10 megapixel image density (Did I say that right?) and has a 10X zoom.  It has image stabilization, which means a clumsy oaf like me can take a reasonably crisp picture of a subject which may be in motion for one reason or another.  It has more icons on the controls and LCD screen than I can keep track of.  Luckily, it has an "Easy" mode for shooting simple pics.  I like Easy; it suits me.

     This is not a technology blog, nor a brag about my new-found photographic abilities.  The latter have not improved noticeably since Tuesday.  I guess this just falls into the category of, "Holy Cow!  Look what this new thing can do!"  So without further ado, here are some first-day images taken with my new toy.  These cropped, reduced, web-sized images don't do justice to the high density originals, each of which is about 2 to 4 megabytes, but you...ahem....get the picture.

A Tachinid fly (perhaps Archytas ~apicifer) on Cowpen Daisy...and its bristly back (a.k.a. thorny thorax). (The adjacent Cucumber beetle was the focus of a subsequent picture, not included here.):

Fly_close.jpg   Fly_bristles.jpg

A Common Checkered-Skipper...and its scaly body and wings.  Note the bristles on the seeds (achenes) of the Shrubby Boneset on which it is perched:

CheckSkip.jpg   CheckSkip_hd.jpg

A little lichen, about 3/4" across...and a closer look at its fruiting bodies.  I expect that lichenologist Taylor Quedensley at U.T. can help me identify this one:

Lichen_sm.jpg    Lichen_close2.JPG

A cold and unhappy Texas Spiny Lizard (courtesy of David Maple)(...that is, David was responsible for making the lizard unhappy, not for bringing the cold weather):


Oh, yeah.  The pic of Old Glory up at the top of this blog was a test of the camera's ability to stop the action of a flag flapping in a 15-knot North wind...at 50 yards away, zoomed in just a little.

* * * * *
"Below the line":

     * I assert my right to high-ended-ness when it comes to choices of breakfast cereals, brands of peanut butter and jelly, and TP....the important things in life.



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