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

10 December 2013

Eurasian Eagle-Owl (Bubo bubo), Great Grey Owl (Strix nebulosa), Harris Hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus), Spanish Imperial Eagle (Aquila+adalberti) and Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

This post is a sort of collection of gazes, looks and stares.

The Eagle Owl has a wingspan of 160–188 cm (63–74 in). Females weigh 1.75–4.2 kg and males weigh 1.5–3 kg.

Eurasian Eagle-Owl (Bubo bubo) portrait. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved) 

26 November 2013

Dragonflies. Red-veined Darter, Nomad (Sympetrum fonscolombii) female

The Red-veined Darter or Nomad (Sympetrum fonscolombii) is a dragonfly of the genus Sympetrum. It is widespread in southern Europe and from the 1990s onwards also in northwest Europe, including Britain and Ireland.

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

16 November 2013

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea), Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) and Little Egret (Egretta garzetta garzetta)

The Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea), is a wading bird of the heron family Ardeidae, native to temperate Europe, Asia and parts of Africa. It is resident in the milder south and west, but many birds migrate in winter from colder regions. It is a large bird, measuring 84–102 cm (33–40 in) long with a 155–195 cm (61–77 in) wingspan and creating an impressive hovering silhouette against the sky. Unlike storks, cranes and spoonbills which extend their necks in flight, grey heron flies slowly with its long neck retracted (S-shaped), which is characteristic of herons and bitterns. However I captured this one flying with its neck outstretched (and performing acrobatics in the air), apparently because the bird was trying to eat the fish it was holding in its claws.

Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea) in flight with its neck extended
(© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

13 November 2013

Dragonflies. Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope)

The Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope) is a dragonfly of the family Aeshnidae found in Southern Europe, north Africa and Asia.

Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope) on dry grass stalk
(© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

29 October 2013

Cute Scenes. House Sparrow (Passer Domesticus) and Mallard Ducks with their chicks

What a cute sight it is to see a brood of ducklings with their mum.

Female mallard duck (Anas platyrhynchos) with her chicks in the lake. (by-nc-nd)

29 September 2013

Dragonflies and Moths. Crimson Marsh Glider (Trithemis aurora), Crimson-speckled Flunkey / Footman / Moth (Utetheisa Pulchella) and Lesser Emperor (Anax Parthenope)

Against the light this crimson marsh glider really looked like a fairy.

Crimson Marsh Glider (Trithemis aurora) male. (by-nc-nd)

24 September 2013

Dragonflies. Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope), Blue Marsh Hawk (Orthetrum glaucum), Crimson Marsh Glider (Trithemis aurora), Scarlet Skimmer / Crimson Darter (Crocothemis servilia)

Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope) is a dragonfly of the family Aeshnidae. It is found in Southern Europe, north Africa and Asia. It took me quite some time to identify this dragonfly since it’s very similar to the Emperor Dragonfly / Blue Emperor (Anax imperator), except for being smaller and less colourful. Besides A. parthenope tends to hold its abdomen straighter than A. imperator. Unlike blue emperor A. parthenope has a blue saddle with a yellow ring at the base, the rest of its abdomen is brown and the eyes are green. It’s common in much of southern and central Europe, across Asia to Japan and China, and north Africa.

Lesser Emperor (Anax parthenope)in flight over the water
(© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

19 August 2013

Full Moon and Street Lamp

Earthly light and celestial light.

Full moon and street lamp. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

13 August 2013

Australian Silky Terriers Keeping Guard

It's not a question of size, but of attitude.

Australian silky terrier sticking its head through a balcony railing
(© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

3 August 2013

Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus), aka Artichoke Thistle

The cardoon (Cynara cardunculus), aka artichoke thistle, cardone, cardoni, carduni or cardi, is a thistle-like plant in the family Asteraceae. It is native to the western and central Mediterranean region, where it was domesticated in ancient times. The wild cardoon is a spiny herbaceous perennial plant growing 0.8 to 1.5 m (31 to 59 in) tall, its flower buds can be eaten much as the artichoke (which is still very common in southern Italy and Sicily), and the stems are usually braised in cooking liquid.
Cardoon leaf stalks, which look like large celery stalks, can be served steamed or braised, and have an artichoke-like flavour.
Cardoons are used as vegetable rennet for cheese production, and has recently  been considered a possible source of biodiesel. The oil, extracted from the seeds of the cardoon, called artichoke oil, is very much like sunflower oil.

On top of this, cardoons are also grown as ornamental plants for their showy beauty.

Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus), artichoke thistle flower
(© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

10 July 2013

Shield Bug (Codophila varia), Bush Cricket (Platycleis sabulosa), Green Veined White Butterfly (Pieris Napi), Wild Carrot (Daucus Carota) and Heath snails (Helicella itala)

Codophila varia is a species of 'shield bugs' belonging to the Pentatomidae family and Pentatomidae subfamily. It is common around most of Europe. These beautiful bugs feed on Asteraceae (especially on Echinops spinosus) and Apiaceae species.

Codophila varia shield bug on grass stem. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

17 June 2013

Garden Nasturtium (Tropaeolum Majus) and The Forest Cockchafer (Melolontha hippocastani)

Garden Nasturtium (Tropaeolum Majus), Indian cress or monks cress) belongs to the family Tropaeolaceae and is native to the Andes from Bolivia to Colombia. Garden nasturtiums are grown for their showy flowers and as a medicinal plant. Besides, both their leaves and flowers are edible — they add beauty and a delicious peppery flavour to salads.

Deep orange garden nasturtium (Tropaeolum Majus) flower
(© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

15 June 2013

Setting Sun

'How can you keep a ray of sun in your hand?
How can you make stay a wave on the sand?'

According to the official scientific definition, our Sun is "a medium-sized star located in a spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy, orbited by all of the planets and other bodies in our solar system and supplying the heat and light that sustain life on Earth.
Nuclear fusion produces tremendous amounts of energy in its core reaching the temperature of some 16 million degrees C (27 million degrees F), while the surface is about 6,200 degrees C (11,200 degrees F) hot. The energy then radiates through a radiation zone to an opaque convection zone, where it rises to the surface through convection currents of the Sun's plasma. The Sun's surface is constantly disturbed by turbulent phenomena, such as magnetic storms, sunspots, and solar flares. The Sun was formed along with the rest of the solar system about 4.5 billion years ago and is expected to run out of its current hydrogen fuel in another 5 billion years, at which point it will develop into a red giant and ultimately into a white dwarf."

But I think there's much more to it than just nuclear reactions...

'The sun shone as if there were no death' —Saul Bellow.

Sun setting into the sea. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

11 June 2013

Tree Mallow (Lavatera Arborea) and Birch Tree

Since I'm eclectic by nature most times I grab my camera I'm not after a particular subject for a picture, but rather looking for something to catch my eye — I just love to leave it to the play of chance.
It can be a lonely wildflower bush in the forest, or

Lavatera arborea (Tree Mallow) bush in the forest. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved) 

8 June 2013

Wild Garlic, Crow Garlic (Allium Vineale) and Iridescent Blue Beetle

This iridescent blue beetle was performing some sort of acrobatic stunts. Unfortunately it was too windy to get good shots, I hope I'll do better next time.

Blue iridescence scarab beetle on grass stalk. (by-nc-nd)

Blue iridescence scarab beetle. (by-nc-nd)

22 May 2013

Midday Activities. (Coots, Mallards and Feral Pigeon)

A midday meal. Caring parents will teach offspring the right eating habits.

Coot, Eurasian Coot, Common Coot (Fulica atra) feeding its chick
(© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

4 May 2013

Volare. Birds In Flight

Flying free.

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta garzetta) in flight. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

26 April 2013

Random Encounters. Sardinian Warbler, Barn swallow and Red Eared Slider

Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala) is a common warbler from the Mediterranean region. I find the Sardinian Warbler's song a bit too rattling for a songbird ;)

Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala) male singing in the foliage. (by-nc-nd)

21 April 2013

Egyptian Grasshopper (Anacridium aegyptium)

I bumped into this alien-warrior-in-armour like creature laying eggs on a footpath.

Egyptian grasshopper (Anacridium aegyptium), or the 'Egyptian Locust', is a species belonging to the family Acrididae present in most of Europe, in eastern Palearctic, in the Near East and North and tropical Africa. It is one of the largest European grasshoppers: adult males can be up to 30–55 millimetres (1.2–2.2 in) long, while females are up to  65–70 millimetres (2.6–2.8 in) long. They are usually gray, brown or olive coloured, while hind tibiae being blue and hind femora orange. They have distinctive eyes with vertical black and white stripes. This solitary species is folivore and not harmful to crops. Adults can mainly be encountered in August and September in warm and dry habitats. Spawning occurs in spring just under the soil surface and the nymphs appear in April.

Egyptian grasshopper (Anacridium aegyptium) female spawning in the soil
(© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

Homage to small flowers. Houndstongue, Scarlet Pimpernel, Yellow clovers

“Look closely, the beautiful may be small.” — Kant.

That should be the slogan of macro photography. It’s a unique tool that allows us to discover and display, among other things, discover the beauty of small flowers that would otherwise go unnoticed since it’s too small to be perceived in all its splendour with a naked eye.

Cynoglossum creticum. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)  

19 April 2013

Black and White Mask-and-Mantle Cat on the Tree

Things do indeed look different from a high vantage point.

Mask and mantle cat on the tree. (by-nc-nd)

8 April 2013

Spring Sketches. Mainly Birds

The Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica), the most widespread species of swallow in the world, is a passerine bird with blue upperparts, a long, deeply forked tail and curved, pointed wings. It is common in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. Their cheerful warbles and flutter fill the air with joy.

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica) perched on a reed
(© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

31 March 2013

Concepts. Syncopation and Transition

When I studied design, my favourite task was conceptual composition or the art of composition (the only branch of modern art I can actually tolerate), which is also the basis of creative photography.
What I love most about illustrating a concept is the intellectual game that it provides — as with solving creative puzzles, it takes a lot of lateral thinking, and the more disparate the ideas you manage to associate seem, the smarter you look.

Syncopation — a shift of accent in a passage or composition that occurs when a normally weak beat is stressed, in other words, a shift of attention to the secondary subject (in this case from the object to its shadow).

Syncopation. Shadow of a glass vase. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

27 March 2013

Flowering Banana and Banana Palm

Banana (Musa acuminata, Musa balbisiana or hybrids Musa acuminata × balbisianais, depending on their genomic constitution) is a herbaceous plants of the genus Musa, family Musaceae, native to tropical South and Southeast Asia, likely to have been first domesticated in Papua New Guinea.

The banana plant is the largest herbaceous flowering plant, in other words, it's a grass that decided to think big. The plants are normally tall and fairly sturdy and are often mistaken for trees, but their main or upright stem is actually a pseudostem that grows 6 to 7.6 metres (20 to 24.9 ft) tall, growing from a corm. Each pseudostem can produce a single inflorescence, also known as the banana heart that will in turn grow into a single bunch of bananas. After fruiting, the pseudostem dies, but offshoots may develop from the base of the plant. Many varieties of bananas are perennial.

Banana flower (Musa acuminata) close-up
(© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

26 March 2013

Flowering Bushes: Spanish Broom, Cistus, Henbit Deadnettle, Potato Bush, Augustusbossie

Spartium junceum (the sole species in the genus Spartium), known as Spanish Broom or Weaver's Broom, is a perennial, leguminous shrub native to the Mediterranean region in southern Europe, southwest Asia and northwest Africa, where it grows in sunny sites, usually on dry, sandy soils.

Spartium junceum, Spanish Broom, Weaver's Broom flowering bushes
(© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

24 March 2013

Flowering Trees. Parkinsonia Aculeata (Jellybean Tree)

Parkinsonia aculeata is a species of flowering tree in the pea family, Fabaceae. Common names include Mexican Palo Verde, Parkinsonia, Jerusalem Thorn, and Jellybean Tree. It is native to the southwestern United States (western Texas, southern Arizona), Mexico, the Caribbean, South America south to northern Argentina, and the Galápagos Islands. The tree has a lovely pastel hazy appearance due to the small leaves and long thin stems.
It grows 2 to 8 m (6.6 to 26 ft) high and sheds leaves in dry or cold weather, leaving the green petioles and branches to photosynthesize. The branches grow sharp spines 7–12 mm (0.28–0.47 in) long. The fragrant yellow-red flowers grow from a long slender stalk in groups of eight to ten.

Parkinsonia aculeat (Jellybean tree) flowers
(© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

23 March 2013

Allium ampeloprasum

Allium ampeloprasum is a member of the onion genus Allium. The wild plant is commonly known as (Broadleaf) Wild Leek.
Elephant garlic (Allium ampeloprasum var. ampeloprasum) is a plant belonging to the onion genus. It is not a true garlic, but actually a variant of the species to which the garden leek belongs. However, its bulbs taste more like garlic than leek.
Additionally it's cultivated as an ornamental plant in flower gardens, as it also discourages pests.

Allium ampeloprasum flower. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

22 March 2013

Random Picks. Time, Seeds and Regular Hexagons

'As the waves make toward the pebbled shore, so do our minutes hasten to their end.' — William Shakespeare

Reflections in a clock. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

20 March 2013

Feral Cats and French Bulldog

I love alley cats, together with birds and stray dogs, they are the closest thing to wild animals of considerable size that those of us living in the "civilized" world can get in contact with.

Sitting on the fence.

Cat on a fence. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

19 March 2013

Sea Holly (Eryngium Maritimum)

The Sea holly (Eryngium maritimum) belongs to the family Apiaceae and is native to most European coastlines. Its burr-shaped flower resembles a flowering thistle, though it's metallic blue, rather than mauve. The protected dune plant grows to a height of 20 to 60 cm.

In Elizabethan times in England, these plants were believed to be a strong aphrodisiac.

"Let the sky rain potatoes;
let it thunder to the tune of Green-sleeves,
hail kissing-comfits and snow eringoes [sea-holly],
let there come a tempest of provocation..."

—Falstaff, Act 5, scene v, "The Merry Wives of Windsor", William Shakespeare

Sea holly (Eryngium maritimum) flowers. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

17 March 2013

Artisan Crafts

I'm always warmed by the sight of old handicraft and the associated way of life, so much cosier and friendlier than modern hustle and bustle.

Antigue two-pan balance scale and wheat flour. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

14 March 2013

Lost Wedding Ring

Matrimony, like a dip in the sea, first stimulates, then chills. But once out of the water the call of the ocean lures the bather to another plunge.

Golden wedding ring lost on a sandy beach and seashell
(© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

13 March 2013

All Flesh is Grass

The voice said, “Cry!” And he said, “What shall I cry?” “All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field." — Isaiah 40:6

There's something very romantic about the grass undulating, swaying, and blowing in the wind.

Ammophila (synonymous with Psamma P. Beauv.) is a genus consisting of two or three very similar species of grasses: Marram Grass, Bent Grass, and European Beachgrass.
Ammophila arenaria grows in the coastal zones of Europe and North Africa, and is the dominant species on sand dunes where it is responsible for stabilising and building the foredune by capturing blown sand and binding it together with the warp and weft of its tough, fibrous rhizome system which can grow laterally by 2 meters (7 feet) in six months. One clump can produce 100 new shoots annually.

Mediterranean dune vegetation. Ammophila arenaria, Pancratium maritimum,
Carpobrotus chilensis. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

12 March 2013

Hybrid White Duck and Feral Rock Pigeon Posing

This cuties were just eager to be photographed.

Domestic duck hybrid portrait. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

11 March 2013

Sea Algae

Floating algae often seem to have taken on a life of their own as they drift with currents and adopt strange shapes.

Algae in transparent sea water. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

9 March 2013

Shades of White

When I studied classical painting I learned that there's no such thing in nature as absolutely pure white and black colours (which is also true for any other hue), but rather the play of tones, tints and shades created by the indirect light bouncing of  surrounding objects. It may be cold or warm, depending on the environment lighting and colour scale of the scene itself.

Shades of white. White quartz pebble on ceramic.
(© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

5 March 2013

Palm Trees.

To me palm trees represent hot weather, tropics, seaside, warm parts of the world, holidays, in other words the closest thing to paradise we can find in this world.

Palm trees on the beach
(© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

3 March 2013

Birds of Prey: Eagles, Owls and Falcons

The other day I happened on an exhibition of birds of prey. Sad as it is to see birds in captivity, it gave me the chance to take a close-up look at these magnificent predators that I would hardly otherwise ever get to see in the wild.

The Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) belongs to the family Accipitridae. Once widespread across the Holarctic, it has disappeared from many of the more heavily populated areas, but is still present in Eurasia, North America, and parts of Africa.

Captive Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos). (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

28 February 2013

Field Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) and White Morning Glory (Ipomea)

I love capturing the play of light and shade on flowers, and convolvulus flowers provide rich chiaroscuro effects.

Convolvulus arvensis (Field Bindweed) is a species of bindweed, native to Europe and Asia. It is a climbing or creeping herbaceous perennial plant. Despite blooming by day, I find their violet colour to be quite nocturnal.

Convolvulus, Morning glory blue flower close-up
(© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

Night Scenes. Quiet Night or Tree under a Street Lamp

"Night is the half of life, and the better half." — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Tree in the streetlight reflecting in the water
(© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

21 February 2013

Golden Sunset on the Sea

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”  ― Rabindranath Tagore, Stray Birds

Sunset on the beach. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

20 February 2013

Concepts. Addiction

"Arm-wrestling" with an addiction.

The bottle wins.

Losing the battle against the bottle. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

14 February 2013

Abutilon Pictum (Redvein Abutilon)

Although these beautiful flowers open by day, they display showy nocturnal deep red cerise colour.

Abutilon pictum 'Nabob', Flowering maple, or Redvein abutilon (Family Malvaceae) is a species of Abutilon native to Brazil and Argentina. It is an erect evergreen shrub growing to 5 m tall, with large, 5–15 cm long, three- to five- (rarely seven-) lobed maple-like leaves and nodding, deep cerise crimson bowl-shaped flowers 6-7cm across with five petals, prominently veined darker red.

Abutilon Pictum (Redvein Abutilon) flowers and buds
(© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

11 February 2013

Mediterranean Gulls (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)

The Mediterranean Gull, Ichthyaetus melanocephalus, is a small gull that breeds almost entirely in the Western Palaearctic.
This gull breeds in colonies in large reed beds or marshes, or on islands in lakes. Like most gulls, it is highly gregarious in winter, that's when a sizeable flock visits our pond and hangs around until spring. It is not a pelagic species, and is rarely seen at sea far from coasts.
The Mediterranean Gull's an opportunistic omnivore, feeding on fish, worms, scraps, insects, offal and even carrion.

Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus) on the water
(© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

10 February 2013

Snug Places

Some snug places to spend an afternoon.

Palm trees on the beach
(© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

7 February 2013

Ganoderma applanatum (Artist's Conk)

Ganoderma applanatum (Artist's Bracket, Artist's Conk, or Flacher Lackporling; syn. Boletus applanatus, Fomes applanatus, Fomes vegetus, Ganoderme aplani, Ganoderma lipsiense, Polyporus applanatus, and Polyporus vegetus) is a wide spread wood-decay bracket fungus. The fruit bodies ("conks") are are perennial, woody brackets, also called "conks" up to 30-40 cm across, hard, leathery, woody-textured, and inedible; they are white at first but soon turn dark red-brown and typically grow in a fanlike or hooflike form on the trunks of living or dead trees. Ganoderma is a common cause of decay and death of beech and poplar.

Ganoderma applanatum (Artist's Conk)
(© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

5 February 2013

Night Scenes. Flowering Mimosa in the Street Lamp Light

Mimosas or Silver wattle, (Acacia dealbata), are in full flower now, spreading around sweet fragrance and delighting the eye. This particular tree seemed to be embracing the streetlight, and the scene gave me the warm feeling of cosiness despite it being rather cold.

Mimosa, Silver wattle (Acacia dealbata) flowers in the street lamp light
(© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

2 February 2013

Purple Bougainvillea

In my humble opinion any garden worth its salt should have a Bougainvillea hedge.
Bougainvillea is a genus of flowering plants native to South America from Brazil west to Peru and south to southern Argentina (Chubut Province). The plant was classified by Europeans in Brazil in 1768, namely by Philibert Commerçon, a French botanist accompanying French Navy admiral and explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville during his voyage of circumnavigation. Shouldn't it be named after the man who classified it, rather than upper class invader?
Bougainvilleas are thorny, woody vines up to 1-12 meters tall, scrambling over other plants with their spiky thorns. The thorns are tipped with a black, waxy substance. They are evergreen unless there is a dry season and bloom almost all year round.
The actual flower of the plant is small and generally white, but each cluster of three flowers is surrounded by three or six bracts with the bright colours that make the plant so attractive: pink, magenta, purple, red, orange, white, or yellow. The fruit is a narrow five-lobed achene.

Purple Bougainvillea bracts and flowers
(© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)

29 January 2013

Light and Shade. Stone and Crystals

Some of the most beautiful effects in nature are created when two or more textures or materials, especially contrasting ones, meet. Crystals and stones, for example, fall into the same category, and yet they exhibit different qualities.

Quartz, amethyst and rock. (© LightColourShade. All rights reserved)
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