Catching the fleeting scenes of many splendored life with a camera.
'Look closely. The beautiful may be small' — Kant

29 December 2012

Autumn Treats. Delicious Organic Pomegranate

When I cut open this organic pomegranate, it turned out to be so beautiful that I couldn't resist the temptation to take some pictures as you don't come across such a magnificent deep cerise (reddish pink)-ariled specimen every day.

Open pomegranate. (© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

25 December 2012

Summer / Autumn Colours, Dark orange.
Hedging Plants. Trumpet vine (Campsis radicans)

Despite the nip in the air, there're still flowering plants left to please the eye and brighten the view.
Campsis is a genus of flowering plants in the bignonia family, Bignoniaceae.
Trumpet vine or trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans), also known as "cow itch vine" and (in horticulture) as "hummingbird vine", is a large and vigorous woody vine of the family Bignoniaceae with showy trumpet-shaped flowers. It is native to woodlands and riverbanks of the southeastern United States.

Trumpet vine, Campsis radicans, close-up
(© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

17 December 2012

Horses (Equus caballus) and Draught Horse Showing

As long as I can remember, horses have always been my passion. I take special joy in horse riding, I still believe that horse is the best means of transport, and getting off the horse is one of the worst mistakes humanity has ever made.  History of human kind is inextricably linked to the horse — equine has been our indispensable companion for thousands of years, and look what has become of the world in the last 100-odd years.
Yet, people dope horses to make them win competition, geld male horses to make them docile, or slaughter them for food as a sign of gratitude for their help throughout the centuries. The very thought of humans eating horseflesh makes me sick — to me it's not much different from cannibalism.

Apart from its obvious utility (mind that neither the horse nor any other animal has ever needed us for its survival, but we do need animals for ours), there's something very romantic about this beautiful animal, largely due to its mane and tail streaming in the wind.

Anyway, last week we chanced upon a draught horse showing and had a lot of fun.
It was one of those halcyon days of splendid weather filled with joyous, festive atmosphere, and thankfully, I had my camera with me.

Flaxen Chestnut Pony (Equus caballus) portrait
(© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

29 November 2012

Geometry of Shadows

Back in my university days my favourite part of Descriptive Geometry (although I basically slept through the course, I still managed to pass the exam with flying colours) was its application for construction of projected shadows and perspective. Shadows provide a great deal of nuances and undertones both in painting and photography, with the former being superior to the latter in terms of subtlety, thus creating atmospheres and moods.

In photography, which is essentially recording patterns of light, shade, and colour (while painting is the individual’s interpretation of these patterns, hence its unparalleled subtlety), "highlights" and "shadows" are the brightest and darkest parts of a scene or image. The challenge for a photographer is to adjust photographic exposure (unless you want special effects) so that the film or sensor, which has limited dynamic range, records detail without clipping the shadows and highlights.

Geometry of shadows. Wicker chair
(© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

22 November 2012

Summer Colours, Pink.
Zimbabwe creeper (Podranea brycei)

Podranea brycei or Zimbabwe Creeper is a beautiful climber, native to South Africa that produces cascading bunches of pale pink flowers, with thin lined hairy throats, hanging at the ends of the long, thin stems that grow up to 15 feet. If you lean towards the flowers you'll smell their delicate lemon scented fragrance.
It propagates from spring-sown seed or cuttings and grows rapidly, easily scaling walls or a framework.

A sunny position is preferred although too much heat, as well as too much water and mulchy soil could have a negative effect on the flowering.
At this time of the year it's still in full bloom.

Zimbabwe creeper, Podranea brycei flowers
(© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

17 November 2012

Autumn Treats. Pomegranates and Feijoas.

I harvested these delicious fruits while walking around in the local park.
Pomegranate (Punica granatum), is a fruit-bearing deciduous shrub or small tree growing between five and eight meters tall.
Native to the area of modern day Iraq and Iran, the pomegranate has been cultivated in the Caucasus since ancient times. From there it spread to the Himalayas in Northern India. Today, it is widely cultivated throughout the Mediterranean region of southern Europe, the Middle East, northern Africa and tropical Africa, Indian subcontinent and the drier parts of Southeast Asia. It was introduced into Latin America and California by Spanish settlers in 1769.

The fruit of this beautiful tree is extremely beneficial for health — in the Indian subcontinent's ancient Ayurveda system of medicine, the pomegranate has been used as a source of traditional remedies for thousands of years.
The rind of the fruit and the bark of the pomegranate tree is used as a traditional remedy against diarrhoea, dysentery and intestinal parasites. The seeds and juice are considered a tonic for the heart and throat, and the astringent qualities of the flower juice, rind and tree bark are considered valuable for a variety of purposes, such as stopping nose bleeds and gum bleeds, toning skin, (mixed with mustard oil) firming-up sagging breasts and treating haemorrhoids. Pomegranate juice (of specific fruit strains) is also used as eye drops as it is believed to slow the development of cataracts.

Pomegranate has been used as a contraceptive and abortifacient by means of consuming the seeds, or rind, as well as by using the rind as a vaginal suppository. This practice is recorded in ancient Indian literature, in Medieval sources, and in modern folk medicine.
A lot of natural remedies would probably do just as well as the pill without its side effects (such as cardiovascular diseases or breast cancer, to name but few), but the pharmaceutical industry would flip its collective lid since that would make it lose part of its succulent benefits.

Pomegranate aril juice provides about 16% of an adult's daily vitamin C requirement per 100 ml serving, and is a good source of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), potassium and natural phenols, such as ellagitannins and flavonoids.
The edible seeds are rich in fibre and unsaturated oils and other micronutrients.
Juice of the pomegranate may be effective in reducing heart disease risk factors.
In a limited study of hypertensive patients, consumption of pomegranate juice for two weeks was shown to reduce systolic blood pressure by inhibiting serum angiotensin-converting enzyme. Juice consumption may also inhibit viral infections while pomegranate extracts have antibacterial effects against dental plaque.

Feijoa or Acca sellowiana, a species of flowering plant in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae, is native to the highlands of southern Brazil, eastern Paraguay, Uruguay, northern Argentina and Colombia.
Not only is feijoa fruit an exquisite treat, but also its pulp is used in some natural cosmetic products as an exfoliant, what is more, the sweet scent of the fruit resembles fine perfume.

Pineapple guava (Feijoa sellowiana) fruits and pomegranates (Punica granatum)
(© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

16 November 2012

Geometry of Perspective

Perspective, in the context of vision and visual perception, is the way in which objects appear to the eye based on their spatial attributes. Perspective foreshortening is essential to our depth perception (among other depth cues) —the visual ability to perceive the world in three dimensions and the distance of an object.
Perspective foreshortening is caused by the way the human eye perceives the world due to its physical structure (for example, excitation of cone cells in the retina), and to the optical geometry of light rays (due to the nature of light itself).
As objects become more distant, they appear smaller because their visual angle decreases. The eye is at the vertex of a triangle with the object at its base, so the greater the distance of the object from the eye, the greater is the height of this triangle, and the less the visual angle (Euclidean geometry).

Canopied footway in perspective
(© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

6 November 2012

Summer Colours: Red.
Flowering Trees, Flame Tree (Brachychiton Acerifolius)

Brachychiton acerifolius, commonly known as the Illawarra Flame Tree, is a large tree of the family Malvaceae native to subtropical regions on the east coast of Australia. It is famous for the bright scarlet red bell-shaped flowers that often cover the whole tree when it is leafless. Along with other members of the genus Brachychiton, it is commonly referred to as a Kurrajong.

The flowers with 5 partially fused petals resemble baroque lampshades. The pod-like dark brown boat-shaped fruits (technically known as follicles) contain masses of thin bristles that stick in the skin, as well as yellow seeds which are nutritious and were eaten by Aborigines after toasting.
When in full bloom this splendid tree is an expression of joy of life that brightens up any view. If I had my way, I'd plant this tree in every street.

Flame tree (Brachychiton Acerifolius) in full blossom
(© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

5 November 2012

Insects. Red-Veined Darter, Speckled Wood (Pararge aegeria aegeria), Giant Slant-Faced Grasshopper, Six-spot Burnet (Zygaena filipendulae)

To my eye, dragonflies are nature's idea of a helicopter, although their flight mechanics are quite different (flapping flight vs. propeller flight). Or it's rather the other way round, chopper is humans' idea of a dragonfly. Apart from red, local dragonflies come in yellow, green and blue, glittering in the sun like Christmas tree baubles.

The Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) is a dragonfly of the genus Sympetrum. It is a common species in southern Europe, including most Mediterranean islands; in Africa, the Middle East and south-western Asia including India, Sri Lanka, and Mongolia; Azores, on the Canary islands and Madeira.

Red-veined Darter (Sympetrum fonscolombii) male
(© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

31 October 2012

Flowering Trees. Mountain Ebony (Bauhinia Variegata)

Bauhinia variegata, aka Orchid tree, Camel's Foot Tree and Mountain-ebony, is a species of flowering plant in the family Fabaceae, native to south-eastern Asia, from southern China west to Pakistan and India (Kachnar in Hindi).
It is a small to medium-sized tree growing to 10–12 m tall, deciduous in the dry season, with broad rounded bilobed leaves and showy bright pink or white flowers. The fruit is a pod 15–30 cm long, containing several seeds.

I didn't pay much attention to this tree the first time I saw it until it flowered.
This is a very popular ornamental tree in subtropical and tropical climates, grown for its scented flowers.

Bauhinia variegata, Camel Foot Tree, Mountain-ebony flowers
(© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

21 October 2012

Flowering Trees. The Silk Floss Tree (Ceiba speciosa)

The silk floss tree (Ceiba speciosa), is a species of deciduous tree native to the tropical and subtropical forests of South America. One of its numerous local common names is palo borracho which means "drunken stick" in Spanish, and here's the rest of the list:

yucan, samohú, samuhú, copadalick, mandiyú-rá, mandiyú, palo borracho rosado, palo rosado, palo borracho de flor rosada, algodón, algodonero, palo botella, palo barrigudo, árbol de la painera, painera de Corrientes, painero, peinera, árbol botella, árbol de lana, toborochi, toborochi rosado, paina de seda, árvore de la, paineria fêmea, lupuna, ávore de paina, barriga dágua, bomba dágua, paineria branca, paineira de espinho, árbol de la seda, ceiba de Brasil, kapoc.

Palo borracho (Ceiba speciosa) in full leaf. (by-nc-nd)

18 October 2012

White Ducks, Mallard Duckling and a random Coot

Swimming into darkness.
'Sorry, no bread, no posing — that's how it works.'

Domestic duck swimming on dark water
(© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

12 October 2012

Strelitzia Reginae. Play of Light, Colour, Shadow and Form

Strelitzia (named after the duchy of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, birthplace of Queen Charlotte of the United Kingdom) is a genus of five species of perennial plants, native to South Africa. A common name of the genus is bird of paradise flower,  in South Africa it's commonly known as a crane flower, though these names are also collectively applied to other species in the genus Strelitzia.

Its large leaves (30–200 cm long and 10–80 cm broad) are similar to a banana leaf, and form a fan-like crown of evergreen foliage. The flowers are pollinated by sunbirds, which perch on its spathe when visiting the plant; the weight of the bird opens the flower and the pollen is dumped onto the bird's feet, which is then transferred to the next flower it visits.
I never stop wondering what triggered the emergence and development of this beautiful symbiosis logic; or what determines the flower's shape and colour, in other words, why it is specifically the way it is (broader question: Why is everything the way it is?). Evolution alone doesn't provide a comprehensive answer, in my humble opinion.

Strelitzia reginae is indigenous to South Africa. To me some of the most stylish and elegant flowers, Strelitzia reginae florescence looks like a bright-coloured bird's head, hence the name Bird of Paradise.

Strelitzia reginae (Crane Flower) Bird of Paradise
(© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

8 October 2012

Imprisoned for Beauty. Birds in Cage (Parakeets)

"What is it that should trace the insuperable line? ...The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?" (Jeremy Bentham, philosopher)

I remember once reading that as a child Leonardo da Vinci used to buy birds in cages at the local market and set them free in the nearby forest or field. It pleases me to think that I share values with this genius ;).

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a special fondness for animals, and I can’t stand seeing them suffer. It wasn’t something specifically instilled into my mind, but rather an inborn trait. I never, ever wanted to have a pet bird, rodent, fish or any other animal I would have had to keep in a cage or bowl, nor did I enjoy going to the zoo or to the circus because it’s always hurt me to see creatures meant to fly and run, in other words to be free, kept in confined spaces. Partly it might be due to my acute sense of freedom — I wouldn’t like to be in their place.
Not that I didn’t chase cats, ducks and hens (out of love, of course, and for fun) as any other child, but once I became aware they didn’t enjoy it too much I left them alone.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Jesus. — One of the most important moral rules that a civilised society should go by.

The budgerigar (Melopsittacus undulatus), also known as common pet parakeet or shell parakeet informally nicknamed the budgie, is a small, long-tailed, seed-eating parrot, and the only species in the Australian genus Melopsittacus. Wild budgerigars are found throughout the drier parts of Australia, where the species has survived harsh inland conditions for the last five million years. Naturally green and yellow with black, scalloped markings on the nape, back, and wings, breeders have created a rainbow of blues, whites, and yellows, greys, and even forms with small crests.
‘Budgerigars are popular pets around the world due to their small size, low cost, ability to mimic human speech and playful nature.’ That’s careless cruelty par excellence: turn a blind eye and enjoy.

Imprisoned for beauty- Green budgies in a cage
(© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved) 

2 October 2012

Summer colours. Garden Flowers: Pink, White, Yellow, Purple

I'm still clinging to summer, I just can't let it go, ;) so here go my bits of aestival joy.

I stumbled upon this beautiful bush growing wild in the field in an unexpected place. It turns out it's Garland chrysanthemum, botanically Chrysanthemum coronarium or Leucanthemum coronarium, also known as chrysanthemum greens or edible chrysanthemum, native to the Mediterranean and East Asia. It is a leaf vegetable in the genus Chrysanthemum.

Garland chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum coronarium, Leucanthemum coronarium). (© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

28 September 2012

Dung beetles and Other Things on a Sandy Beach

Dung beetles are beetles that feed partly or exclusively on faeces, that is, they are nature's garbage collectors. All these species belong to the super family Scarabaeoidea. This roller beetle in particular is also referred to as the scarab beetle, and as most species of Scarabaeinae (often dubbed true dung beetles), it feeds exclusively on faeces. Apart from being important at providing ecosystem services, it's also an example of nature's feat of engineering — I'm referring to its wings. It's fascinating the way this amazing creature unfurls its transparent foldaway wings and takes off like a chopper, or folds its wings after landing along the veins, and then carefully tucks them under the elytra (a shell-like protection).

Roller dung beetle digging a burrow. (© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

22 September 2012

Flowering trees. Lace Bark Tree

The lace-bark tree is a tree native to Jamaica, known botanically as Lagetta lintearia from its native name lagetto. It belongs to the family Thymelaeaceae The inner bark consists of numerous concentric layers of interlacing fibres resembling in appearance lace. The fibre is used in the manufacture of collars and other articles of apparel, as well as whips. But I especially love it for its thick petalled velvety pink flowers.

Lace-bark tree (Lagetta+lintearia) flower. (© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved) 

16 September 2012

Blue Passion Flower (Passiflora Caerulea).

I’ve always had a fascination with nature, that is, animals, plants and the rest, especially the unusual ones.
The first time I saw this flower it struck me as otherworldly — its complex structure makes it look like an alien artefact, but it's yet another nature's beautiful creation.
 
Passiflora, the passion flowers or passion vines, is a genus of about 500 species of flowering plants that belong to the family Passifloraceae.
Passiflora caerulea, commonly known as the Blue Passion Flower or the Common Passion Flower, is a vine native to South America (Argentina, Paraguay where it is widely known as the Mburucuyá in Guaraní, Uruguay and Brazil). These names may also be applied to the passion fruit (Passiflora edulis).

Blue Passion Flower (Passiflora caerulea)
(© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

15 September 2012

Scarce Swallowtail and Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies

Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius), aka Sail Swallowtail or Pear-tree Swallowtail, is a Palearctic swallowtail butterfly found in gardens, fields and open woodlands. It is widespread throughout Europe with the exception of the northern parts. Its habitat extends northwards to Saxony and central Poland and eastwards across Asia Minor and Transcaucasia as far as the Arabian peninsula, India, and western China.
The Southern Swallowtail (Iphiclides feisthamelii) is a butterfly found in Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.
Honestly, I'm not sure which one is which and how to tell them apart, so I put both names in the captions.

Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius)on a pomegranate twig
Scarce Swallowtail (Iphiclides podalirius) / Southern Swallowtail (Iphiclides feisthamelii) on a pomegranate twig.
(© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

12 September 2012

Wildflowers. Flowering Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus), Moth Mullein (Verbascum blattaria), Teasel (Dipsacus), Moth Plant (Araujia cericifera), Carpobrotus, Ulex and Australian Hollyhock
Summer Colours: pink, Yellow, Lilac and White

Let your garden overgrow and a lot of beautiful wildflowers will pop up, especially if you avoid cutting the grass with a lawnmower and use a scythe instead — not only an excellent workout, but also a way to cut down on petrol consumption.

Bramble or blackberry (Rubus fruticosus) belongs to the rosaceous family, genus Rubus. It has thorny stems and black or purple glossy edible berry-like fruits (drupelets). There are lots of wild blackberry bushes growing near my house, but they are so prickly that it's quite a pain to gather them.

Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus) flowers
Blackberry (Rubus fruticosus) flowers
(© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

5 September 2012

Seasports. Fun In The Sea

Kitesurfing or Kiteboarding is an adventure surface water sport considered by many to be a medley of wakeboarding, windsurfing, surfing, paragliding, and gymnastics. Well, any activity at the seaside is a lot of fun...

Kitesurfers
Kitesurfers. (© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved) 

2 September 2012

Mirabilis Jalapa (Four O'Clock Plant)

As its name reflects (Mirabilis in Latin means wonderful, while Jalapa is a town in Mexico), Mirabilis Jalapa aka The four o'clock flower or marvel of Peru) is a fascinating plant and the most commonly grown ornamental species of Mirabilis. The flowers usually open in the late afternoon onwards, giving off a strong, sweet-smelling fragrance, hence the first of its common names. It's believed to have been exported from the Peruvian Andes in 1540.

What I especially love about these flowers is their random colouring — flowers of different colours can be found simultaneously on the same plant and an individual flower can be splashed with different colours as if God or an invisible painter had taken a brush and coloured the flowers at their whim with watercolour touches.

But the peculiarities don't end here, the most unusual trait being the plant's colour-changing phenomenon. For example, in the yellow variety, as the plant matures, it can display flowers that gradually change to a dark pink colour. Similarly white flowers can change to light violet. The plant creates a wide range of 'Broken Colours': from all sorts of combinations of yellow, white, purple, deep pink or red petals to watered down purple, red or yellow flowers stippled with yellow, white or purple.

Yet another curious aspect of this plant is that, when red-flowered plants are crossed with white-flowered plants, pink-flowered offspring, not red, are produced. Similarly, when yellow-flowered plants are crossed with red or purple-flowered plants the offspring are pale orange-flowered. This is an exception to Mendel's Law of Dominance, because in this case the red, yellow and white genes are of equal strength, so none completely dominates the other. The phenomenon is known as incomplete dominance.

Moreover, the plant isn't just a pretty face — an edible crimson dye obtained from the flowers is used in food colouring. The leaves may be eaten cooked as well, although only as an emergency food.

It also has medicinal properties — parts of the plant may be used as a diuretic, purgative, and for vulnerary (wound healing) purposes (leaf juice may be used to treat wounds). The leaves are also used to reduce inflammation and decoction of them (mashing and boiling) is used to treat abscesses. The root is believed an aphrodisiac, as well as diuretic and purgative.

The only downside is that each individual flower blooms for just a day (an afternoon, to put it more exactly), lasts all night and then wilts.
Anyway, enjoy their beauty.

Mirabilis jalapa (The four o'clock flower), yellow pink purple
Mirabilis jalapa (The four o'clock flower), yellow pink purple
(© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

26 August 2012

Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus) Butterfly and Clouded Yellow (Colias croceus)

The Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus) is a small butterfly in the family Lycaenidae, widespread over much of the Palaearctic. Their uppersides and undersides have different patterns: male uppersides are irridescent blue, while females are rather brownish. Undersides are greyish colour in the males and more brownish in the females.

Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus) male
Common Blue (Polyommatus icarus) male. (by-nc-nd)

11 August 2012

Spiders, Cobwebs and Wasp Nest

Even wandering around an ordinary garden you can bump into a variety of different cobwebs,

Communal spider web
Communal spider web
(© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

3 August 2012

Summer colours, pink and white.
Flowering Trees — Oleanders.

I've always had a particular fondness for oleanders, every time I see them I know the sea is somewhere close and it comforts me. In summer their blossom fills the air with sweet fragrance; to my eyes, there's no true garden without oleanders.

Nerium oleander is an evergreen shrub or small tree in the dogbane family Apocynaceae, toxic in all its parts. It is so widely cultivated that no precise region of origin (probably southwest Asia), has been identified. Oleander is one of the most poisonous of commonly grown garden plants, and can be very toxic if ingested in sufficient quantity. Clearly, this beauty can stand up for itself!

Oleander flowers
Oleander flowers. (© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

24 July 2012

Red-Eared Sliders (Trachemys scripta elegans) Basking in the Sun

Like all reptiles turtles need to warm themselves up.
The red-eared slider (Trachemys scripta elegans) is a semiaquatic turtle from the family Emydidae and is a subspecies of pond slider.
Red-eared sliders (from the distinctive red patch of skin around their ears) slide off rocks and logs into the water quickly when approached, hence the "slider" part of the name.
Red-eared sliders are almost entirely aquatic, but leave the water to bask in the sun and lay eggs, are aware of predators and people, and generally shy away from them. They are deceptively fast and are also good swimmers. These turtles are omnivorous and hunt for prey.

Contrary to the popular misconception, red-eared sliders do not have saliva. They, like most aquatic turtles, have fixed tongues, so they must eat their food in water.

Red-eared slider (Trachymes scripta elegans) basking in the sun
Red-eared slider (Trachymes scripta elegans) basking in the sun
 (© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

20 July 2012

Summer Colours — Flowering Trees.
The Blue Jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia)

Summer is all about the baking hot sun, bright light, busy insects and the beauty and fragrance of flowering trees.
The Blue Jacaranda, Jacaranda mimosifolia, or simply the "Jacaranda", is a sub-tropical tree native to South America that has been widely planted elsewhere because of its beautiful and long-lasting blue flowers. It is also known as the Black Poui, or as the fern tree. The curious thing about this tree is that when its leaves wither, the tree gives off a pleasant vinegar-like smell.

Jacaranda tree in full blossom
Jacaranda tree in full blossom. (© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

10 July 2012

Cotyledon orbiculata (Pigs ear) in flower

A few years ago I found in the street a thick succulent leaf of this plant and stuck it into a free flower pot, although I didn't know at the time what it was. It grew into a beautiful small bush that rewards us with dainty flowers every year.

Cotyledon orbiculata, commonly known as Pig's Ear or Round-leafed Navel-wort, is a succulent plant belonging to the Cotyledon genus. It grows to approximately 1.3 m (4.3 ft) in height. Its gray-green leaves have a white powdery substance on them that helps reflect sunlight and conserve water. The shape of the leaves looks like a pig's ear, hence the common name. Cotyledon orbiculata is native to South Africa; in the wild, it grows naturally in rocky outcrops in grassy shrubland and the Karoo region.

Cotyledon orbiculata (Pigs ear) plant
Cotyledon orbiculata (Pigs ear) plant
(© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

27 June 2012

Flowering Trees. Yellow Acacia (Robinia pseudoacacia)

Another one from my flowering trees series, this time it's yellow acacia — or at least that's the name I know it by.

Flowering Yellow acacia
Flowering Yellow Acacia. (© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

19 June 2012

Butterflies. Green Veined White Butterfly (Pieris napi)

If Paradise really exists, there have necessarily to be there birds and butterflies (among other things). At least that's how I envision it.
Anyone who has ever tried to take pictures of butterflies knows that it takes a lot of patience to catch them at rest, which is easier when they are busy mating.

Green veined white butterfly (Pieris napi) on a grass leaf
Green veined white butterfly (Pieris napi) on a grass leaf
(© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

6 June 2012

Pale salmon pink poppy (Papaver)

I've never come across pinkish white poppies before, just a few ones popped up in the field among — touches of white on the red carpet of common poppies.

Pale salmon pink poppy in the wind
Pale salmon pink poppy in the wind. (© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

30 May 2012

Black Poplar (Populus nigra) Fluffy Seeds and Fluffy Clouds

These days black poplar (Populus nigra) trees' fluffy seeds float in the air, wrapping everything in a kind of cotton like down (hence the name cottonwood).

Black poplar fluffy seeds
Black poplar (Populus nigra) fluffy seeds.
(© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

25 May 2012

Spring Colours. Pink and Red
European Redbud, Judas Tree (Cercis siliquastrum), and Red Poppy Field

More spring postcards.
Cercis siliquastrum, commonly known as Judas Tree (probably from Arbre de Judée meaning tree of Judea), is a small deciduous tree from Southern Europe and Western Asia.
It grows up to 12 metres in height and 10 metres in width. The deep pink flowers are produced on year-old or older growth, including the trunk in late spring (cauliflory). The heart-shaped leaves with a blunt apex, which occasionally has a shallow notch at the tip, appear shortly after the first flowers emerge. The tree produces long flat pods that hang vertically.

European Redbud, Judas tree (Cercis siliquastrum) flowers
European Redbud, Judas tree (Cercis siliquastrum) flowering twig
(© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

22 May 2012

Beach on a cloudy day

Even on a cold cloudy day there's always something on the beach that will catch your eye — like the reflection of a lonely water motorcyclist in the wet sand,

Water motorcyclist on the beach on a cloudy day
Water motorcyclist on the beach on a cloudy day
(© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

11 May 2012

Flowering Trees.
Tamarix, Bottlebrush tree, Pōhutukawa, Silky oak and Goldenrain tree.

A flowering tree is always a feast for the eyes, and springtime is when most trees come into blossom.
The genus Tamarix (tamarisk, salt cedar) comprises about 50-60 species of flowering plants in the family Tamaricaceae, native to drier areas of Eurasia and Africa. The largest, Tamarix aphylla, is an evergreen tree that can grow to 18 m tall. They usually grow on saline soils, and also tolerate alkali conditions.
I ran into this beauty by chance while strolling in the pine forest.

Pale pink tamarix tree in full blossom
Tamarix aphylla tree in full blossom
(© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

5 May 2012

Medieval Castle

Yet another walk around the ancient fortress. I love its air of shabbiness — such places always make me feel at ease. Now think what kind of emotions shabby modern builidngs call forth.

Ancient castle prison
Ancient castle prison. (© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

2 May 2012

Spring Colours: Red.
Poppies (Papaver rhoeas and Papaverum somniferum)

Spring is the best time to gather wildflowers. They pop out on every patch of soil, and so did a few tussocks of poppies in the nearby field. Unfortunately they wither too fast.
Common poppy or Papaver rhoeas (aka corn poppy, corn rose, field poppy, Flanders poppy, red poppy, red weed, coquelicot) is a species of flowering plant in the poppy family, Papaveraceae. This poppy, native to Europe, is sometimes considered an agricultural weed (hence the "corn" and "field") and a symbol of fallen soldiers.

Poppy flower (Papaver rhoeas) and glass. Red and Black.
(© 2012 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

22 April 2012

Spring Colours. Orange Ice Plant (Lampranthus Aureus)... again

I know, I already posted the pictures of my orange ice plant in full blossom last year. But I can't help sharing some more shots — this year's flowers look even more gorgeous.

Orange ice plant Lampranthus aureus in full blossom
Orange ice plant Lampranthus aureus in full blossom
(© 2011 LightColourShade. All rights reserved) 

16 April 2012

Ancient Fortress. Turrets and Merlons

Old architecture was and is intrinsically in harmony with nature, while modern architectural forms in most cases clash with or are clearly antagonistic to the nature. Apart from the styles and shapes, in large part it's due to the fact that ancient architects used natural building materials — the only substances that are 100% biodegradable, recyclable and environmentally friendly. That's why even ancient ruins look beautiful and magnificent, in contrast with ugly and toxic debris of modern buildings. No synthetic chemicals will ever meet these conditions, much as technocrats try to fool themselves and us.
Mind that, for some reason, we usually turn to old architecture for a picturesque and romantic air...

Turret and merlons
Turret and merlons
(© 2011 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

27 March 2012

Green Parakeet (Aratinga holochlora) — sorry, Monk Parakeet / Quaker parrot (Myiopsitta monachus), having lunch

The other day I bumped into this lovely feral Green Parakeet (Aratinga holochlora) — I stand corrected: it's actually Monk Parakeet / Quaker parrot (Myiopsitta monachus), perched on the branch of a jacaranda tree, nibbling at the morsel of bread it had previously swiped from local pigeons.
Monk Parakeet, aka the Quaker Parrot (Myiopsitta monachus) is a species of parrot (genus Myiopsitta). It's native to the temperate to subtropical areas of Argentina and the surrounding countries in South America. Self-sustaining feral populations occur in many places, mainly in North America and Europe.

Examining the loot.

Green parakeet (Aratinga holochlora) eating a piece of bread
Green Parakeet (Aratinga holochlora)
Monk Parakeet / Quaker parrot (Myiopsitta monachus) 
looking at the morsel. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

20 March 2012

Spring Picture Postcard.
Flowering Trees — Mimosa (Acacia dealbata)

Once again yellow mimosa trees in my street are in full bloom, giving off sweet fragrance. So here's my small homage to this splendid tree.

Mimosa, Silver wattle (Acacia dealbata) flowers
Mimosa, Silver wattle (Acacia dealbata) flowers.
(© 2011 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

16 March 2012

Seashells

Obviously, I still enjoy playing with seashells, which includes piling them one upon another and making them float.

Drifting seashells
Drifting seashells
(© 2011 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

14 March 2012

Life In Inanimate Things. Objects.

Ancient artisanal tools and objects retain the warmth of human hands that manufactured them. Simple machines have always fascinated me, they work without any secondary energy source, rarely fail and are more reliable than modern gadgets. As a child I used to tear down old mechanical appliances such as clocks to look into their inner workings and played with wheels, cogs, pinions and springs, or whatever was inside them. Clock wheels made especially good spinning tops — devices that make you wonder at physical laws. I still keep some of them.

Simple machine
Simple machine. (© 2011 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

12 March 2012

Backgrounds and Textures.

If you just take a look around you'll see a lot of textures, and macro photography
 — the art of taking close-up pictures that reveal details which can't be seen with the naked eye — opens new horizons.

String theory, inside the Trembling Aspen tree fluff
String theory (inside the Trembling Aspen tree fluff)
(© 2011 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

8 March 2012

Life in Inanimate Things.
Light and Shade in Still Lifes.

Lighting can change the mood of the scene or, in this case, still life.  The same still life can express different atmospheres depending on the lighting.
Rather gloomy.

Still life with honeycomb candle
Still life with honeycomb candle.
(© 2011 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

1 March 2012

Medieval Fortress.

Wandering about an old castle  you can discover curious nooks and crannies.
The walls of this gloomy old crypt must be soaked with sighs and prayers.

Inside an old crypt
Inside an old crypt
(© 2011 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

21 February 2012

Flowering Trees. Pineapple Guava (Feijoa sellowiana)

Aka Acca sellowiana (Genus: Feijoa), feijoa, pineapple guava and guavasteen is a small slow-growing tender evergreen perennial tree with thick grey-green leaves and pink-white flowers with fleshy petals and red star-burst stamens that grow into exquisite edible fruits.

The Plant loves moist, humus-rich soil and sun or part shade. It doesn’t like cold or too wet and is drought resistant once established (although lack of water will cause fruit to drop). It belongs to the myrtle family, Myrtaceae, and is native to the highlands of southern Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay, and northern Argentina.

The German botanist Otto Karl Berg named feijoa after João da Silva Feijó, a Portuguese botanist born in the colony of Brazil. The green ellipsoid chicken-egg size fruit matures in autumn. It has a sweet, aromatic flavour and juicy flesh divided into a clear gelatinous seed pulp and a firmer, slightly granular, opaque flesh nearer the skin — its gritty texture resembles the closely related guava. The fruit drops when ripe and at its fullest flavour, but may be picked from the tree to prevent bruising. Feijoa fruit has a distinctive, potent aroma due to the ester methyl benzoate and related compounds it contains.

I stumbled upon the trees by chance while strolling in the local park and took pictures of these beautiful flowers. I was thrilled to discover it was feijoa — I hadn't tasted the fruit in a long time (a rare and expensive treat here), so in the autumn we rushed to reap what we hadn't sown and were rewarded with a succulent organic crop for free.

Pineapple guava, Feijoa sellowiana flowers
Pineapple guava, Feijoa sellowiana flowers
(© 2011 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

10 February 2012

Life In Inanimate Things. Sea Stones.

I haven't changed much since my childhood — I still gape at simple things that catch my eye. Not surprisingly, every time I go to the beach I can't help trying to take home half of it, which means I'm hell bent on filtering out the most peculiar ones from all the available pebbles. I especially love finding pebbles with holes, though they aren't among the most beautiful ones.
This is a small part of my treasure trove.

Mediterranean beach pebbles
Mediterranean beach pebbles.
(© 2011 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

4 February 2012

Places.

Has it ever happened to you, you see a place and suddenly feel sad for no apparent reason?
Well, none of the following scenes actually filled my heart with sadness, but rather the opposite is true. Anyway, every place has its unique spirit, mood or vibes and can evoke a wide range of emotions.

Here's an example of an unconventional way of life. Mind, there're no children living here.

Unconventional Lifestyle
Unconventional Lifestyle
(© 2011 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

25 January 2012

Old Fortress. Gates and Doors.

I love those massive wooden doors with a lot of ironwork that today can only be found in old houses and castles. Their impregnable and at the same time warmlook always give me a sense of cosy security.

Old+shutters
Old shutters
(© 2011 LightColourShade. All rights reserved)
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