If you're interested in using any of these photographs, please contact me. Send an e-mail to naturalhistoryphotos(at)gmail.com. Thanks!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Breakfast in a tidepool

A close-up photo of Gooseneck Barnacles (Pollicipes polymerus) in the rocky intertidal zone.

And here are a couple of Gooseneck Barnacles feeding in a tidepool, with their appendages (cirri) extended to capture food from the water:

Monday, June 26, 2017

Sparkling, frilly edges

This is one of my favorite flowers on Bodega Head.  Do you want to guess which species this is?

I'll zoom out a bit, so you can see a little more:

It might be helpful to know where this species grows.  In this area, we find it along the coast, especially in salt marshes.

From a distance, the flowers of Seaside Arrow-grass (Triglochin maritima) might not stand out.  Up close, it's a different story.  Purple with sparkling, frilly edges — Oh, my!

P.S.  Usually Seaside Arrow-grass is tall and straight.  This Dr. Seuss-like version is somewhat unusual, but it was fun to see!

Sunday, June 25, 2017


Colorful eddies swirling on bubbles on the surface of a high tide pool.  Photographed on Bodega Head on 25 June 2017.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Happy Pollinator Week!

In honor of National Pollinator Weeka Yellow-faced Bumble Bee (Bombus vosnesenskii), photographed on Bodega Head, 17 June 2017

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Silk Road to Enlightenment

On 20 June 2017, I posted some pictures of colorful strands of silk in a spider web.  I was so taken with the phenomenon that I went out to try again yesterday morning.

First, I'll show two photos with the spider.  Although it is hard to believe, these are the actual colors created by diffraction as the early morning light hit the spider web!

Next is a series of close-ups of the strands in the center of the web, some of which are shown in the photos above.  [You can click on the images for larger versions.]

In one photo I captured some of the strands directly adjacent to the spider.  Eric calls this image "The Silk Road."  The diversity of colors is amazing.

I can't help sharing one more series.  This morning I focused on one section of one particular thread.  Its appearance changed, likely depending on when I took the picture and the camera settings.  Remember, this entire series (below) is of the same thread (!).  There are so many colors in these pictures, that I started wonderingif you kept photographing spider webs, could you discover new shades of colors?

Spending time with these spiders and their silk strands has certainly been inspiring and enlightening for me!  :)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Happy Cephalopod Week!

We're in the middle of Cephalopod Week, and we didn't want to miss out!  So here's a short video clip highlighting a local Red Octopus (Octopus rubescens).  Students will observe this octopus as part of a summer course at the marine lab.  Eric had to clean its tank, so he took the opportunity to put together some nice footage.

Watch for curled tentacles; quick color changes (from dark to light and back again); a close-up of the skin featuring the amazing chromatophores expanding and contracting; and a wonderful view of the eye (from above) with silver and gold flecks.



P.S.  For more cephalopod videos, check out this Science Friday page.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Celebration of light

Tonight's post will start with some mystery close-ups.  More clues will be available as you progress through the images.  Can guess what this is?

A similar image, zoomed out a little farther:

Here's a similar pairing, but from a slightly different angle.  Notice that each long band is made up of many fine, colored stripes.  (Click on the images for larger and sharper versions.  These pictures are pretty mind-boggling!)

And now I'll zoom out a little farther.  Do you have a guess yet?  

Eric spotted this in our backyard this morning.  The photos were taken with my camera just before we left for work.

Are you ready?  The next photo will reveal the answer!

Yes!  This a spider web, one section of which was lit up in a very special way. 

Eric was brushing his teeth and looked out the window to see this spider web partly lit by the morning sun.  He rushed me out the back door to take a few pictures before we had to leave.  I struggled with the camera settings, and I didn't really know if any of the pictures had come out.  When I reviewed them later in the day, I was blown away to see the dazzling colors revealed in some of the close-ups.

To learn more about what produces the colors, I did a Web search, followed some threads, and found a few sites that describe optical effects in spider webs.  I'll admit that the physics behind this phenomenon are over my head.  However, it was interesting to note that some of the resulting colors are related to the structure of the sticky strands in parallel rows between the radial lines (or spokes) of the web.  These cylindrical silk threads are coated with adhesive droplets.  The droplets apparently act like miniature lenses!

I'll show one more picture, and will also explain one thing you might be wondering about.  I took these pictures with a relatively slow shutter speed.  The longer exposure time likely captured a small amount of web movement.  The wide bands of colored stripes are an artefact of the camera.  That is, the strands of silk are actually narrower than they appear in the photographs, but these images allow you to see the amazingly varied colors!

What a great way to celebrate the summer solstice — with an incredible light display!

With many thanks to both the spider and the sun...the orb-weaver and the orb!