Sunday, July 31, 2011

Flora of Sweden Continued... 2011

NatureFootstep (visit his bird blog for some very nice images) commented on my previous post that he could not see complete images at the size I post them without expanding his browser size... for some time, it has bothered me that I don't know how to scale images properly for smaller screens and still give readers the ability to view the images in a larger size.

Between his comment and one posted by Vagabonde (a visit to her blog is a learning experience full of lovely images) on my vacation blog, I was inspired to try to figure out how to post smaller images... and to figure out how to include the code that would display the large size of an image by clicking on the smaller one posted here. Success! (I will not be going back and changing the code on every image prior to this post!)

I'll be posting this to Macro Monday over at Lisa's Chaos... make sure you stop by and check out the lovely macros... and join the fun! This collage represents three different types of flora seen while traveling in Sweden last month: mosses, lichens and other tiny forest plants, Northern Wolfsbane and a pine cone with just a few pine needles surrounding it.

I had asked last week for folks to let me know what they thought about the idea of combining my vacation blog (new post on Stockholm as of today) with this blog... results are mixed and I'm torn so will keep the blogs separate for now. I'll leave you for today with some information about Northern Wolfsbane (Aconitum lycoctonum, large image), a plant with which I was unfamiliar until seeing it in Sweden. It is a herbaceous perennial native to Europe and northern Asia that grows about 3 feet tall; all parts of the plant are poisonous.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Mallards... as commonly seen in Sweden as they are here in the US! Summer, 2011

female mallard
Female Mallard, Anas platyrhynchos seen in one of the many water features on the grounds at Drottningholm Palace, the official home of the Swedish royal family since 1981. Visit my vacation blog for more information and images of our visit to Drottningholm.

male mallard
A few days and miles away from the female above, this Male Mallard was enjoying a pond at Gammlia, an outdoor park in Umeå. I'll be posting about our visit to Umeå on my vacation blog at some point.

I'll be posting this to World Bird Wednesday later on and would appreciate feedback on whether or not I should combine my vacation blog and photography blog into one blog? One of my readers suggested that idea to me and I'm definitely open to doing that since I cannot figure out how to do BIG pictures on my vacation blog. (Of course, BIG pictures don't scale for mobile devices and I'm totally inept at figuring out how to code my blog to downsize the images for mobile devices... keep hoping Google/blogspot will do it for me!) And while I'm open to combining my blogs, it will take some thought to figure out how to do it properly and not lose anything! (may have to call on a tech geek in the form of my brilliant nephew Dan for assistance should I go forward with the idea)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Flora of Sweden from June, 2011...

wild geranium with bumblebee
Some plants we saw in Sweden I'd never seen before... but Wild Geranium grows in my own garden so this one was easily recognizable. The busy bee was a bonus.

tiny plants growing in the forest
Images of tiny mosses, lichens and succulents growing on the forest floor, seen while hiking near Vägsele, Sweden with cousins Sture and Inger.

I'll be posting this to Macro Monday over at Lisa's Chaos... stop by and check out the other entries.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Continuing with some images from Sweden and Iceland... BIRDS!

I'll be posting this to World Bird Wednesday as the images are birds of the world outside my usual viewing environment. I do have one request for an ID on one of the birds shown in the collage of birds of Sweden, below. I'll be posting more of my adventures in Sweden and Iceland to my travel blog but am definitely finding that slow going... so far nothing new there since my fourth post about our journey added three days ago.

birds of Sweden
Viewing from the upper left corner, the birds shown are a Jackdaw, Coloeus monedula ssp monedula (Wikipedia reference); a Black-headed Gull, Larus ridibundus; a European Magpie, Pica pica; and the White Wagtail, Motacilla alba, which has been kindly identified by Andrew who writes rambles with a camera. I had noted when I first posted this morning that I needed an ID for the fourth bird and that it has a flight pattern similar to a lark... when it is on the ground... it darts around and is rarely still, making it extremely hard to photograph. We saw it in parks and roadsides nearly everywhere in Sweden and Iceland too. (the links on the bird's names take you to the full size image for each)

The Puffin images are not the best images of birds I've ever managed... but they were so much fun to see and watch. I hope you enjoy them. The large image shows MANY birds onshore and is more picturesque than it is useful if you are a serious birder and want to see details... the center image below is another picturesque view of the Puffin colony, this time with quite a few in flight, as seen from the distance while on a rocking boat... not the best of conditions for sharply focused images! And the others are two of the better close views (still not very close!) that I was able to capture of two Puffins at ease on the water and one of a Puffin coming in for a landing. From National Geographic's Puffin page, I learned that these birds are fast fliers... by "flapping their wings up to 400 times per minute they can reach speeds of 55 miles (88 kilometers) an hour." No wonder I failed totally at catching one in flight!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Heath Spotted Orchid by any name is a tiny wonder... Sweden, 2011

This tiny orchid was blooming almost everywhere we hiked while in the north of Sweden near Tärnaby, Granås and Vägsele. I'm grateful to our cousin Sture's wife Inger who was a wealth of information about the native wildflowers. Her reference books came in handy for researching the scientific names and I came home with most of the flowers I'd photographed already identified.

This lovely flower is also known as Moorland Spotted Orchid and goes by the Swedish name "Jungfru Marie nycklar" which translates to Virgin Mary's hand. This specimen, Dactylorhiza maculata subspecies maculata, is one of many subspecies of this tiny orchid plant that grows about 50 cm high and blooms in June and July. It is a protected species in Sweden.

I have shown two images to demonstrate the difference between using the 18-200mm zoom lens alone (on the left) vs. using the same lens with addition of a Kenko 36mm extension tube. As you can see, carrying lightweight extension tubes allows one to get macro images without carrying a heavy macro lens. Using a true macro lens yields better quality images (based on comparisons done in my garden at home), but nothing beats carrying extension tubes for travel if one doesn't want to carry every lens in their arsenal!

I'll be posting this to Macro Monday over at Lisa's Chaos later. I'm so far behind everywhere that I have no business doing so but I've missed visiting other's macro images while on travel in Sweden and Iceland and am just going to make time to visit some of you every day until I've made the rounds of blogs I follow (and/or reciprocate your comments) and can then start over again! :-)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Pottery and tile through the years... samples seen at Göteborgs Stadstmuseum... Spring, 2011

pottery and tile samples
While visiting cousins in Göteborg, Sweden, we spent some time at the Göteborgs Stadsmuseum (Gothenburg City Museum) which houses viking and emigration history as well as a design exhibition that included a jewelry display by our second cousin (twice removed), Matilda. Unfortunately, I was unable to get a decent photograph of her jewelry due to my jet lagged brain not being able to figure out how to reduce the reflections from all the lights shining on the case in which her jewelry was exhibited.

I captured this image because I liked the colors and patterns of the pottery and tile in the showcase. Of course, being jet lagged at the time, I did not think to photograph the captions for the exhibit so other than knowing I liked what I saw, I cannot tell you much about it! I have posted a bit more from our time in Göteborg in my vacation blog if you are interested and have the time to look.