Some thoughts on atmospheric conditions, focus and the illusion of islolation

Hints of the changing season. Black and white, close up shot of raindrops on Loropetalum chinense (chinese fringe flower) leaves. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

All it takes is a change of focus to see what lies beyond us. Raindrops on Loropetalum chinense (chinese fringe flower) leaves. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

I woke this morning to find the world beyond my street has disappeared.

A mist has rolled across the harbour and made an island of this, slightly elevated, piece of land I call home. Beyond the neighbours’ roofs, a stand of macrocarpa trees fades softly into a flat, grey void.

The still air carries the sound of motorway traffic in the distance, but like shapes in the mist, the sound is muffled and indistinct — a mere hint of life beyond this temporary island.

For this time I am alone; the drivers, dog-walkers, joggers and cyclists either still at home or invisible to me.

For this time I can enjoy the quiet and solitude, the safety and peace, of my island. Soon it will be gone; evaporated by the climbing sun. Once again I will be part of a bigger, messier, noisier whole.

I can’t ponder this without thinking of John Donne, and THAT poem:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.

Devotions upon Emergent Occasions
John Donne

I imagine all over the world right now, good people are reading and quoting this rebuke of isolationism, even as the sound of guns being cocked and drawbridges being pulled up echo through the mist.

For those of us who have a safe place — a home, a friendly neighbourhood, a peaceful country — it is tempting to build a fence, patrol the boundaries, create rules for entry. It is tempting to hold on to what we have and create a mist to obscure that which is beyond.

It is tempting to zoom in and focus on what is near. But however blurred by our lens, there is always a background in shot which must share our attention too.

Written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally.

DP Photo Challenge: surprise, take 3


Praying mantis devouring Monarch caterpillar. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Now this was a surprise! I’ve always thought of praying mantises (manti?) as kind of cute. Until I saw this one enjoying lunch.

Daily Post Photo Challenge | Surprise

DP Photo Challenge: Surprise, take 2

Close-up shot of praying mantis on photographer's arm. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

The surprise is that the photo was in focus, given how I was holding the camera while coping with a praying mantis climbing my arm. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

After witnessing a praying mantis snacking on the last (yes last) Monarch caterpillar the other day, I’ve taken to patrolling the milkweed plants and surrounds to protect the remaining chrysalis and new butterflies from these cute, but lethal beasties.

Daily Post Photo Challenge | Surprise

Another butterfly update: with video

Ready to fly. Close-up shot of one of fourteen monarch butterflies that emerged from it's cocoon in our garden today. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Ready to fly. One of fourteen monarch butterflies that emerged from it’s cocoon in our garden today. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

The Big T’s monarch rescue programme is proving to be incredibly successful. Over the last few days about twenty five butterflies have emerged; fourteen of them today.

Here’s a video I made this afternoon; just a few of the hatchlings getting ready to take flight and leave us forever. Apologies for the slightly out-of-focus bits.

Regular random: five minutes with some cool fluffy stuff

Close up shot of burst milkweed seed pod on black background. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Burst swan plant (milkweed) seed pod. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Photographically, the swan plants in our garden have proved to be the gift that keeps on giving: caterpillars, chrysalis, butterflies and now the plant’s decaying seed pods.

I’ve become quite a fan of photographing objects on a black felt background, and I think it works especially well with the slightly other-worldly fluff balls that emerge from the pods.

This week, as well as posting these images for Five Minutes of Random (the RegularRandom challenge), I’m adding a YouTube clip. I’ve had this song — Mud and Stardust — looping in my head ever since I took these photos.

Regular Random is a weekly photo challenge hosted by Desley Jane at Musings of a Frequently Flying Scientist.