My goodness, I had a good time this week. While the dekeOnline version of me was pimping GridIron Flow (which I quite rightfully love) and celebrating the latest and last dekePod (now officially undead), I was secretly enjoying a few days offline with my young and fabulous boys. During which we immersed ourselves in two of my local area’s finest, the Denver Zoo and the Butterfly Pavilion.
I mention this for two reasons. First, I suffer a largely unrequited passion for nature photography. Second, I engaged in the rare exercise of that very passion this week with an Olympus E-30, one of the most responsive cameras I’ve had the pleasure to use. Witness the cropped sample below. Click on it for the wide shot; zoom in to check out the amazing spiraling proboscis on that sucker.
If I had it to do all over again, I might sacrifice ambition, sail to a remote island, and devote myself to a life spent on foot, stomach, and back capturing wildlife. (I say might because the chances of me actually sacrificing ambition range somewhere between slim and none.) Big or small, mammalian or insectilian, I love them all. Animals are that thing we all long to be: vibrant and organic, primal and engaged, actualistically realized and utterly consumed by the world in the moment. They are us at that second when foot hits the pavement, hand hits the heart, mind hits the wall. And when assembled together, they provide a glimpse into a world that worked pretty damn well before we appeared and gradually ascended to our (still as yet unrealized) position of ultimate biological domination.
By which I mean, you can lose yourself in studying the ways of everything from a bedbug to blue whale. Having said all that, I don’t know what anything is. You know, species or genus or microphylometasmylum (not a word). So here’s this thing:
And here’s another one quite like it, with the butterflappy wings and all, but awfully different-looking in the snazle and feezle regions:
This next one had me spinning over the inherent nature of beauty. The glorious wings, the homely dirt-colored body, the ravages of a hard but justly served life. (See the bites, lower-right quadrant.) Food for thought: If you eat a butterfly wing, is it soft or crackery? Best pan-fried, I’m thinking.
By now, you might be saying, “Enough with the highfalutin biology lesson! What about the camera?” I’m altogether untrained in the art of insect photography. (As my 8-year-old was fond of telling anyone who would listen, “Oh, my dad’s not a photographer. But that picture he’s taking, it’ll probably go in a book!”) Still, it occurred to me midway into things that—just as when shooting people, you generally keep the focus on the eyes—I should lock on the head when capturing a butterfly. In reviewing the images, I couldn’t have been more right. And I was flat-out amazed at the E-30‘s ability to differentiate between the smallest of details on-the-fly. Check out this one—entirely the result of auto-focus, friends. (For you noise enthusiasts, that’s an ISO 400.)
Of course, you gotta give it up for the butterfly who takes a moment to pose on a pretty flower.
I captured a few dozen post-worthy butterflies. (This camera, what a performuh!) But like unicorns, they wear out their welcome after a while. So if only for the sake of contrast, here’s a more rough-and-tumble critter:
(Alas, I could not get the animal to reveal its fangs. I said “Goochie goochie, taranchie ranchie” and everything. Not the most cooperative model; got lots of attitude from this one.)
And nothin’ says lovin’ like a heaping pile of giant cockroaches. Don’t forget to click to enlarge!
No blog of my day with the chillin’ would be complete without a few pics of said offspring. Here’s Max assisting an ailing owl butterfly. Ever the responsible one, he let the insect walk onto his hand (no, he did not scoop it or touch its wings) and then took it to the nearest authority, who happened to be giving a lecture at the time.
Then there are these of Sammy, who enjoys an almost magical relationship with animals. This specimen landed on his face and climbed from his chin to his forehead, taking a moment to stick an antenna in his eye (middle). As the other visitors watched in wonder, Dad went in for the tight shots. Again the E-30 satisfies!
Oh, and yes, we went to the zoo. Not my best composition, but aren’t these billy goats adorable? If only one of their noses glowed, they’d be Rankin/Bass puppets. Watch out for the abominable snowman, little billies!
Finally, don’t know why, but somehow I think every blog post should end with the words “And here’s a hippo.”