Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Day 33: Foggy Morning in Boxford

Stop at the pond by my house on the drive in this morning to see if that pesky beaver was out.  It was fairly foggy and I couldn't even see the beaver den, and no beaver.  So I grabbed a photo of another Boxford nuisance.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Day 32: 1st Day as a Salamander Larva

Not the sharpest photo.  These guys don't look too great after hatching.  My personal theory is that their gills are still developing somewhat outside of the egg.  I had to shoot this guy from an angle above, through the glass, which distorted the photo a bit.  He has only been out of the egg for a couple of hours.  I hope to get a clear shot in the next day or two after they grow a bit.

Day 31: Hatching!

Same guy from Day 30, but you can see that he is halfway out of the egg mass and heading for a new world.

Day 30: Growing Embryo with Full External Gills

This is the final stage of embryo development.  You can clearly see the developed external gills and eyes, though still closed.  This guy hatched from his egg the next day (see Day 31 photo).  I wish I had something in the photo to show the proportional size, but trust me, this eggs is about 1/4" in diameter.

Day 29: Tron

Close-up of a RAM stick from an old PC that was upgraded.  I can't even give these away on Craigslist nowadays.

Day 28: Liquid Gold

Still trying to improve my water drop technique, lighting, and coloring.

Salamanders are finally hatching the past 2 days and I am behind in my posts.  However, I have been shooting each day and will catch this blog up tomorrow with the latest on the little critters.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 27: Ok you know-it-alls...what is this?

Equipment: Nikon D300, Nikon 105mm micro VRII w/ teleconverter

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 26: Guess What This Is....

Yes....It is Kiwi.  I need to make these more difficult in the future.

Please post your guess!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Day 24: Oatmeal Facial

School vacation week and Patriots Day today, so vacation for me as well.  For those of you who don't know what Patriots Day is, don't worry, it's a Massachusetts holiday.  Revolutionary War stuff and the Boston Marathon.

So what do two pre-teen cousins do on such a glorious day?  Stay inside and make their own version of an oatmeal and yogurt facial, of course.  Smelled pretty bad to me, but they kept it on for a while, complete with cucumber slices for their eyes.  Nicole is in the photo with Emily.  I'm trying to talk them into a hike today, but no luck so far.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Day 23: Backyard Critters

Lots of family over today, so when everyone left the critters came out.  We had a nice hawek and groundhog come out today before sunset (not at the same time).

Day 22: Water Drops on a Rainy Day

Couldn't pick just one today (actually Saturday).  I decided to try my hand at some water drop photography using a super short flash time with my Nikon SB-800.  Mary and Barb were laughing at me getting all geeked out for this photo setup.  I definitely will try this some more and experient with different lighting angles and water drop sizes and drop distances.  You can see more photos from this session on my website at:

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Day 21: Taillbud Stage

This photo was taken Friday, only 2 days after the photos of the neural tube folding!  These guys are developing quickly.  They are about a 1/4" in length, about the size of a pencil tip.  This is the tailbud stage and you can easily make out the start of the tail, eyes, mouth, and backbone.  I can't tell if the buds under the neck area are arms or what will be the external gills of the larval stage.  We'll find out soon.

Nikon D300, Nikon 105mm AF-S VRII macro, SB-800 flashes
Settings: ISO 200, 1/100 sec, f/29

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day 20: Bruins Hockey Playoffs

At least I snapped a photo today.  Went to The Tavern in Cambridge straight from work to catch the Bruins 1st playoff game.  Very dimly lit bar.  Had to push the camera to an ISO 3200, trying to capture the ambience without a flash.  Bruins lost 2-0 to Montreal.  At least the Wings won last night.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Day 19: Neurulation

This morning was 5 days after Emily and I collected the salamander eggs, and probably 7 days after the egg mass was laid in the vernal pool.  The photos above show the earliest stage of organogenesis (organ formation).  What you see in the photo on the left is the very start of neuralation, or neural tube formation.  In the photo on the right there is one egg that is in the middle of the neural stage and another (egg on right) that has completed this stage and the egg is now elongated.

At the end of this stage, the neural fold closes (inward) and forms the neural tube that will contain the central nervous sytem, including spinal cord.  I'm impressed with how this lens performs as these photos are fairly sharp and I am shooting through aquarium glass, a thick outer jelly covering over the eggs, and then the thicker jelly that surrounds each individual egg.  That is a lot of gunk to shoot through including 2 inches of gelatenous gunk.

Equipment: Nikon D300 camera, Nikon AF-S VRII 105mm f/2.8 micro lens with TC-14EII teleconverter; Nikon SB-800s and SB-600 flashes

Settings: ISO 200, 1/125 sec, f/25, handheld

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day 18: Days Gone By

I've seen this old boathouse on Spofford Pond, across the street from Emily's school, almost every day for the past 5 years.  I happened to like the flat light of the evening and the reflections it cast on the water.  One day I will get a photo of that pesky beaver that resides on this pond, but not tonight.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Day 17: Red Sky At Night

Went back to the pond with the beaver, in hopes to catch him/her swimming by at sunset.  No such luck, but I did witness a nice sunset full with spring peepers peeping.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Day 16: Blastula

Today's photo(s) was taken at different times today and shows the rapid cell division of the salamander eggs.  No wonder why early cell biology was done with amphibian eggs, as it is clearly easy to see with a good microscope, or in this case an excellent macro lens.  These photos were taken 6.5 hours apart and show the change from 16-cell stage embryo to a blastula, in which the center of the ball (egg) becomes hollow.

These photos were taken through the glass of Emily's aquarium, with Nikon flashes on the sides and (remotely fired).  The macro lens is the Nikkor 105mm VRII.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Day 15: Successful Egg Hunt

Emily, Harry, Aunt Carleen, and I had a great hike out to the vernal pools today (Mary is out in NY with friends).  Today's blog will border a bit on the geeky side, but it is soooo wicked cool.  We found several spotted salamander eggs masses today, a few days after the night time migration that Emily and I observed.  Photos from today's hike are further below in this blog, but I have to lead off with the really cool nerd stuff...

The photos below are of the same eggs in our aquarium setup, taken about 3 hours apart.  In the photo on the left, you will see that most of the eggs are a single sphere (1 cell) or start to split with some cleavage (2 cell).  If you compare the egg by the arrow point in both photos, you will see that it divided from an (almost) 2 cell stage to a 4 cell stage in this short time period. 

We were extremely lucky to observe the start of the cell division from a singel cell stage.  Emily is following along and we expect to have a blastula sometime tomorrow (thousands of cells).  Okay, so here are other photos from today....

Vernal Pool:

Egg masses attached to twigs in the vernal pool:

Harry and Emily climbing a rock and screwing around:

Emily's aquarium setup with one of the egg masses collected today.  You can see that each egg is encased in some thick jelly, and the entire egg cluster is encased in a more transparent jelly covering.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Day 14: Signs of Spring

The crocuses are up in the backyward.  Macro shot of a Pickwick Crocus from earlier today.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Day 13: Beaver Moon

I did not have time to take a photo of any national monuments while in DC today.  As a fall-back, I was going to shoot the Jefferson Memorial from the taxi with my cell phone while driving by.  However, I left my phone on my desk.  As soon as I got home tonight (about 10:30 pm), I drove down the road to a pond where I had an clear view of the setting moon, with no tree obsrtuction.  While taking this photo on the edge of the pond, in total darkness and absolute silence, a beaver splashed the water with his tail no more than 10 feet from me.  I nearly soiled myself....

Day 12: Portrait

So I have to shoot a photo every day.  Day 12 and 13 were difficult because I had to travel to DC for work.  However, I did actually take photos.  On Day 12, I had to shoot a head shot while in the office, before leaving for DC.  For kicks, I morphed the photo with watercolor/poster filter.  At least I did not break the streak of taking a photo a day....

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Day 11: Night Hike With Emily

This evening Emily and I went on a night hike in Wildcat Conservation Area, down the road from our house.  The first warmish (47 degrees) rain was last night and today we had light rain and in the 50s.  So we thought our chances were good to catch the salamander migration to the local vernal pools.  We were rewarded by seeing about 20 salamanders, with more expected this week.  The Spotted salamander above was about 6-7" long, pretty good size.  Emily got real excited when we also found a mass of Wood frog eggs near these salamanders. 

Here is a close up shot of the same guy.  The males come out first and lay down multiple spermatophores in the water.  These are the white clumps you see in the photo below.  The females will arrive at the vernal pool later tonight and over the next couple of evenings, pick up the spermatophores and hold them internally for several hours to a day, and then lay masses of eggs over the next few nights.  So, Emily has her vernal pool staked out to collect some eggs and start her observations.  Yes...this is quite geeky, but I can't think of a better way to share nature with your kid and teach them about our endangered environment.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Day 10: Spring Mist

Stevens Pond is in Boxford and along my drive to and from the highway.  It looks different every day depending on the light, weather, and season.  Today there was a misty drizzle with a little fog.  This is the same pond as in the Day 5 photo, but the ice finally melted.  I think Spring is finally here.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Day 9: Old Turtle or Salamander Serenity?

The day went by much too fast today.  Didn't pick up the camera until late this evening.  Emily and I are expecting to collect a mass of spotted salamander eggs this coming week, so we setup her aquarium over the weekend.  Nothing in here now except rocks and plants.  I thought the gray rock on the left looked a bit like a prehistoric turtle, maybe it once was.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Day 8: Defying Gravity

Hung out with Emily and Taylor today.  Taylor's shirt gave us the name for today's blog....something from "Wicked", I guess.  I really don't have a clue, but they keep singing some Defying Gravity song.  Tonight we watched the KCA's.  If you don't know what this is, don't was on Nick.  Tomorrow, Coco Keys for Emily's birthday.  Indoor waterpark with hundreds of screaming kids and chlorinated, fun, fun.

Day 7: April Fools Snow

First Congregational Church in Boxford on Friday morning.  There was a nice snow falling at the time of the photo and Spring is no where in sight.