Category Archives: Animals

Artist Inspiration : Igor Simanowicz

Most photographers have their niches or chosen subjects. Some specialise in landscapes, or street photography, or flower macros, or water drops, or animals, or architecture, or travel etc. It’s what they have found that they excel in, or that they truly enjoy. More often than not, it’s a calling or vocation, rather than a commercial requirement.

Igor Simanowicz’s specialty is in insects, reptiles and arachnids. Yes, the creepy crawlies. The ones that, if I met them on a sunny day, I’d normally be running from, screaming “Eeeek eeek eeek!” I can’t help it, the only insects I actually like are ants, bees and ladybirds/ladybugs. The only reptiles I like are those safely behind glass. As for arachnids…shudder!! Hey, I’m only human.

Having admitted that I’m not a big fan of insects, Igor Simanowicz’s photographic skills are amazing, in how he manages to seemingly anthropomorphize them or capture his subjects posing and doing creepily human-like things. Things like hugging, or smiling, or posing cheekily with raised arms a la Village People and YMCA!

Igor is a scientist foremost, and photographer second. In the lab where he works, he studies how insects capture their prey. This entails close-ups of parts such as insect jaws. It naturally flows that close-up or macro photography is a useful tool for this purpose.

Igor took up photography around 10 years ago, to keep his mind off the winter blues, and to satisfy his own quirky sense of humour. He uses the same kind of lighting and staging that a fashion photographer would use, only Igor’s “models” are of the winged and scaly kind.

Here are some interesting articles I found on Igor while searching Google:

http://www.hhmi.org/bulletin/spring-2013/beautiful-beasts

http://www.pxleyes.com/blog/2010/10/mindblowing-macro-photography-from-the-micro-cosmos-by-blepharopsis-with-exclusive-interview/

I had a look at other Google Image hits, and it appears Igor Simanowicz has also ventured into Micro photography and photo manipulation. He’s also won several photography awards, most notably the Olympys Bioscapes Comptletition http://www.olympusbioscapes.com/gallery/photographer/igor-siwanowicz

The following images are all curated from Google Images. Enjoy!

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And here’s the man himself.

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A Bird In The Hand…

…and I mean literally. I used to have 2 hens, their names were Alice and Bella, after the Twilight movie series characters. Bella passed away a month ago in March, and as an only hen is a lonely hen, I searched for 2 more suitable companions for Alice my remaining brown hen.

I bought 2 Leghorn pullets, beautiful but flighty white birds. Which I named Alice and Bella. Yes, again. The Kid and I have agreed that from hereon, all our chickens would be called Alice and Bella.

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So now the 2 new girls have settled in. And Alice is still top hen, bossing them around in her funny, cute little way. Leghorns are known for being flighty, and my 2 are no exception. They like nothing better than to fly up onto the roof of their henhouse, and chase the native Australian pigeons that come visiting looking for tidbits.

And I also found out recently that my ladies are not averse to a bit of hunting and cannibalism. I found the 3 of them snacking on the remains of a native pigeon the other day. Presumably one that they’d managed to bring down and kill themselves. Perhaps I was wrong and they’re not Leghorn chickens, but fine young cannibals falcons in training?

This morning, I came across a pigeon that had managed to get itself caught between 2 layers of netting that prevents the hens from flying out of their enclosure. I went to release it, but instead found myself with a bird in the hand.

It seemed unafraid, and did not struggle to escape from my clutches. So I took the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take some photographs of it before releasing it.

Isn’t it just beautiful?

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Artist Inspiration : Karla Mialynne

I can’t draw. Wait! I know someone who can, and amazingly well too. So amazingly good that your jaw will drop when you see her photorealistic/hyperrealistic Art. Don’t believe me? I’ve come late to the party, as usual, but I read on Bored Panda (love that name!) here that because so many people did not believe that Karla actually drew her exquisite artworks, she’s taken to photographing them alongside the actual pencils, pens and markers and paints that were used to create any particular drawing. Which is an excellent idea, as the photos then serve as a visual reference for herself, to remember which colours or type of markmaking tool she used.

Just Google “Karla Mialynne” or simply “Mialynne” and you will find dozens of write-ups about this talented young New York based artist. You can also be one of her over 30000 Instagram followers (@mialynne177). Or follow her blog.

I just want to share with you my favourite Karla Mialynne images, which I found on Google. Enjoy!

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Happy Lunar New Year 2015

You don’t have to be Chinese or even Oriental, to ring in the Year of the Goat 2015, which falls this year on February 19th. Goat, ram, sheep …it doesn’t matter, as the Chinese word “yang” covers all ovine animals. (I’m reminded of that famous scene in the movie “Babe”, where our ubiquitous porcine hero has to recite the Ovine Oath of “Baaaa ram ewe” to a flock of sheep he’s herding at the championship trials).

The UK’s Telegraph has written an interesting segment on various aspects of the Year of the Goat. Read it here.

For those curious about what Chinese Astrology has to say about people born in the year of the Goat, and what this New Year holds for them, here is a very interesting article covering many aspects of it:
http://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/chinese-zodiac/goat.asp

Some famous Goat people: Bill Gates, Nicole Kidman, Zhang ZiYi, Bruce Willis, Mel Gibson, Leonard Nimoy, Clint Eastwood, Coco Chanel, Marc Chagall, Camille Saint-Saens, Mark Twain, Franz Liszt, Vangelis.

This festive season also marks the world’s biggest annual mass migration of people, as they head back to their ancestral homes (the homes of their parents, grandparents or great-grandparents) where the Family Reunion Dinner will be held on the first day of the Lunar New Year. That’s when the entire clan will meet and sit down for a sumptuous banquet, gifts of mandarin oranges are exchanged and married people give children red money packets (hong bao).

And then there are the long strands of Chinese firecrackers snap-crackle-and-popping all over the place, creating carpets of scarlet confetti, and lots of fireworks in the sky. Don’t forget the Lion dances, real feats of acrobatics, as shopkeepers dangle heads of lettuce from poles out of 2nd storey windows or balconies, for the Lion to catch in its mouth. There’s a red packet tied to the lettuce, it holds money for the entire troupe. The Lion will then ritually “eat” the lettuce, then throw shreds of it all around.

(Image source: Google)

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It truly is a case of Eat, Drink and Be Merry.

Here is a Chinese Baidu heatmap of the Mass Migration in China during the festive season, where more than 1 billion people will make the journey Home. Imagine the traffic chaos and the crowds on trains.

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Last year was the year of the Horse, and I created a digital Chinese New Year card that I shared online as a Freebie to anyone and everyone.

This time, it’s my Year of the Goat offering. Feel free to copy and share my Goat card (it rather reminds me of a “hong bao” money packet) with your family, friends and social circles.

GONG XI FA CAI!
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My Brush with Fame (or rather, Infamy)!

Every kid and kidult loves Lego, right? Me too. Until I discovered just how litigious they are as a company.

Nearly 5 years ago, when I first started out in my mobile photography art career, I put up my images for sale on Print On Demand sites such as Zazzle, RedBubble, Fine Art America, Society 6 and deviantArt. Over the years, many of those sites fell by the wayside, and today I’m only active on Society 6, and even that has slowed to a trickle as I explore other areas to showcase my creative output.

With RedBubble, I had not posted up anything new for over 3 years now. Imagine my surprise today when out of the blue, I received this email from them:

We have removed the following content from Redbubble as a result of having received a complaint from Lego System A/S, the claimed owner or licensee of related intellectual property, and in accordance with Redbubble’s IP/Publicity Rights Policy:

Lego the Octopus: http://www.redbubble.com/people/alyzen/works/7484841-lego-the-octopus
As you will be aware from our IP/Publicity Rights Policy, Redbubble requires a certain amount of information before it acts on such a complaint, including that:

the relevant content is specifically named;

the complaint came from the owner of the respective rights (or someone authorized to act on their behalf); and

they have a good faith belief that the use of the relevant content is not authorized by the content owner, its agent or the law.

If you believe that removal of the above content is the result of a mistake (for example, that you have authorization to use the relevant content from the content owner) or misidentification, you can send us a counter notice. Such counter notice must provide the following information:

an electronic or physical signature of the person authorized to act on behalf of the owner of the relevant matter;

a description of the content which we have removed, including the URL on which the content was located on the Redbubble site;

your address, telephone number, and email address;

a statement by you that you consent to the jurisdiction of the Federal District Court, San Francisco County, California, United States and that you will accept service of process from the person who provided notification described above or an agent of such person;

a statement by you that, under penalty of perjury, you have a good faith belief that the material was removed or disabled as a result of mistake or misidentification of the material to be removed or disabled;

If you would like to send a counter notice please email the required information above to dmca@redbubble.com.

Please note that in some circumstances, if the work does not comply with our User Agreement and/or IP/Publicity Rights Policy, we may not be able to send your counter notice on to the complainant, rather we may inform you at the time of receipt that we cannot reinstate the work. We may also request further information from you in order to determine whether the work can be reinstated.

However, you should be aware that in most circumstances we will inform the complainant that you have provided a counter notice, as well as provide the complainant with a copy of your counter notice, which will include your personal contact information. The complainant will have 14 days to bring legal action against you in the United States. After 14 days, if they do not bring legal action and you would like your content restored to the Redbubble site, you may contact us to request that we reinstate your work. Redbubble may restore the content at that time if it otherwise complies with our User Agreement and IP/Publicity Rights Policy.

Further information regarding Redbubble’s IP/Publicity Rights Policy and User Agreement can be found here:

https://help.redbubble.com/hc/en-us/articles/201579195

http://www.redbubble.com/agreement

Regards,

Redbubble Content Team

Because the image “Lego the Octopus” had been posted to RedBubble such a long while ago, at first I scratched my head trying to figure out WHY indeed I had named my artwork “Lego the Octopus”. I certainly would not have called it that to mislead anyone, or to gain any pecuniary advantage. I couldn’t just click on the link RedBubble had sent, as they had already removed the image from their site.

Then I remembered a family outing to Bunbury Dolphin Centre in 2011, and I also remembered their aquarium displays of fish, seahorses, starfish. And their fortune-telling octopus. WHO WAS NAMED “LEGO”. The Centre claimed that their Lego The Octopus could predict sports and talent competition outcomes as accurately as the famous Paul The Octopus with FIFA matches.

So, here is my response to RedBubble by email.

Dear Sir/Madam,

I refer to your email informing me that my image “Lego the Octopus” has been removed from RedBubble as a consequence of Lego the Company making a complaint.

Excerpt follows, for your own ease of reference:

“We have removed the following content from Redbubble as a result of having received a complaint from Lego System A/S, the claimed owner or licensee of related intellectual property, and in accordance with Redbubble’s IP/Publicity Rights Policy:

Lego the Octopus: http://www.redbubble.com/people/alyzen/works/7484841-lego-the-octopus

My response:

While I fully understand Lego the Company’s rights and desire to defend the use of its name, in my own defense, the image is of an octopus actually named “Lego”, and said octopus resides in Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre, Western Australia.

So, if Lego the Company wish to take this further, they should really be speaking to the good folks at Bunbury Dolphin Discovery Centre. As all I did was photograph their octopus that they had named “Lego”, and call it exactly what it is, “Lego the Octopus”. There was no malice or ill intent on my part, or any attempt to deceive or gain monetary benefit from it.

Here’s a link to where you and Lego the Company can find the real life “Lego the Octopus”. (I don’t know if that octopus is still alive and predicting soccer results, it’s been 4 years since I was at Bunbury).

https://www.radioinfo.com.au/news/lego-octopus-predict-australia%E2%80%99s-got-talent-winner-radio-west

I anticipate your response in due course.

Sincerely,

AlyZen Moonshadow
Mobile Photography Artist

Then I sat back and waited for a response. I received a standard acknowledgement from RedBubble within 15 minutes of sending my email.

An hour later, I received this email response from RedBubble:

Redbubble Content Team (Redbubble)
Jan 19, 16:51

Thank-you for contacting Redbubble.

As you have been made aware, Redbubble has moderated the content that was reported in accordance with our [IP/Publicity Rights Policy[(https://help.redbubble.com/hc/en-us/articles/201579195-Redbubble-IP-Publicity-Rights-Policy), as it was specifically named in a valid Notice and Takedown report received from Lego System A/S.

We have not explicitly said that the work does or does not infringe intellectual property or publicity rights, but we have a legal obligation to act on reports filed in accordance with our IP/Publicity Rights Policy where the content is specifically named.

Unfortunately, we are not always privy to the reasons that complainants’ submit notice and takedown reports or the specific reasons that they find each of the specified works a violation of their rights, nor can we presume to speak on their behalf. Please understand that Redbubble is not making any judgement on the work and as we are sure you are aware, this is why the counter notice provision exists in our IP/Publicity Rights Policy. Filing a counter notice is the most effective way to contact a complainant regarding their notice and takedown report.

You can do so by following the instructions in our initial email to you, or in our IP/Publicity Rights Policy.

Regards,
Redbubble Content Team

I’ve fired my shot. I’ve told them where I got the inspiration for the title “Lego the Octopus” from. And you know what?

I don’t care if the image has been removed from RedBubble permanently. I’m not wasting my time or energy going up against a multi-billion dollar company, for the sake of getting one image put back on a site that I don’t even frequent anymore. I won’t be filing that Counter Notice RedBubble so helpfully keeps suggesting to me. Life’s too short, and I could be spending my time better making more Art, so I will.

Some battles are won by simply not engaging in them.

Here is my last email to RedBubble:

Dear Sir/Madam,

Thank you for your standard reply. I shall not be filing a Counter Notice, because I have better things to do with my time than waste it going up against the brutal might of a multi-billion dollar corporation, only to win back the right to have an image of mine on your site. Especially when I no longer frequent your site as I used to 3-4 years ago.

That is not to say that RedBubble is not a good Print On Demand site, or to question the integrity of your policies. I simply mean that I have found other sites that better suit the requirements of my creative output, and that is where I am concentrating my efforts on. Should RedBubble offer items that are not found on competing sites, I will of course use your services again.

Yours sincerely,
AlyZen Moonshadow

Meanwhile, here are 2 more images of my (in)famous “Lego The Octopus”, that I managed to find online. These are from Fine Art America, another site that I don’t use anymore. Notice the artwork isn’t even entitled “Lego the Octopus”, but if I remember correctly, the tags would’ve contained those words. I wonder how long it will be before the mighty LEGO Corporation come after those images too…

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Ravens vs Crows

Is it a raven? Or a crow? I see these huge big fellas in our garden and I know they are ravens. Yet some of my friends insist that they are crows. The Queen of England to this day keeps (or, rather “enlists”, as they are considered soldiers of the Kingdom), ravens in the Tower of London, following a long line of tradition. See Queen’s Ravens. I’ve seen them, and they bear a very strong resemblance to the fellas in my garden. We may be half a world apart, and there may be some variation in the species, but my boys are definitely ravens.

So, what are the main differences between Ravens and Crows? Here’s a couple of visual infographics that will help:

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These infographics are comparing American Ravens to crows. The Australian Raven is corvus coronoides, the American Raven is corvus corax, and the English Raven is essentially the same as its American counterpart, and indeed in the Northern Hemisphere they are collectively known as the “Common” Raven.

For further information on Ravens, common or otherwise, here is Wikipedia’s link.

Adult ravens have a black pupil encircled by white. Juveniles have dark eyes. (I always thought it was the other way round Duh!) Australian Ravens are easily distinguishable from crows by their “hackles” or shaggy beard that appears under their throats when they call. Their call goes like “Ca ca cawwwwww”, with a long drawn-out final syllable.

Anyway, I was lucky enough to photograph an Australian Raven up close on Rottnest Island a few days ago. So here he/she is.

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This YouTube video, which I found, clearly shows what an Australian Raven looks and sounds like:

http://youtu.be/S6YhVOHX-ws

And yes, Ravens are extremely intelligent birds. Here’s just one video showing their depth of reasoning. Just how they are able to make the connection and solve the puzzle, I don’t know, but they sure have my respect!

Rottnest Island for the Quokkas

Here we are on Rottnest Island, just off the coast of Perth, Western Australia. A daytrip for us that started with waking up before 6am, rushing to feed and water the chickens, Japanese Quail, budgies, weiros, koi, tropical fish, dogs and cat, before leaving the house at 7am to catch the Rottnest Express ferry from Fremantle to the island.

What a day! First hubby was tardy getting ready and we left the house 15 minutes later than planned. Then McDonald’s drive-thru mucked up our breakfast order and we were delayed by another 10 minutes. Then Google Maps gave us the wrong directions, and we ended up at the wrong ferry terminal and had to rush over across to the other side of Fremantle to find the right terminal. Then the roadsigns led us on a merry chase before we found the “B Shed” terminal. Then the parking ticket machines just had to be out of order, so it was a mad rush to find one that worked, pay for a ticket, run back to the car to display said ticket, run to the tail end of the rapidly disappearing queue to board the ferry…

We just made it. But had to then stand for 30 minutes on the ferry, which was chock-a-block. We sure are a family that doesn’t do things by halves!

And then at last we were on Rottnest.

It’s a lovely place to bring the family. Sun, surf, snorkelling, scuba-diving, water sports, bicycling, Segways for hire, chalets to rent, bbq areas, camping, a strip of food places and bars, even a mini cinema, the list goes on.

We hired bikes. They had weird rubber bands around the gears, instead of the usual bike chain. There were only 3 gears, 2 of which didn’t work. Mine lacked a bell, so I had to yell at pedestrians and other cyclists. The roads were hardly flat – if you weren’t able-bodied and fit, you would struggle up the hills. And there were LOTS of hills. Going downhill at breakneck speed is a lot of fun. Cycling in the scorching sun with a cloud of flies around your head is not.

But the best part of Rottness has got to be the Quokkas. Here’s what Wikipedia says about the Quokka:

The quokka was one of the first Australian mammals seen by Europeans. The Dutch mariner Samuel Volckertzoon wrote of sighting “a wild cat” on Rottnest Island in 1658. In 1696, Willem de Vlamingh mistook them for giant rats and named the island “Rotte nest”, which comes from the Dutch words rattennest meaning “rat nest”.

The word quokka is derived from a Noongar (Aboriginal) word, which was probably gwaga.

So today, here are some pics of Quokkas we saw on Rottnest. They are really cute and totally unafraid of humans. They are a protected species and the public are not allowed to touch them. (Shhh but I did tap a couple of them on their noses when they came sniffing around for food. And I poured some water into a container for them, poor thirsty souls).

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Here’s a joke. A quokka walks into a bar. No, seriously, it does.

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Artsy Quails

Just messing around with an App called Photomania. It’s a very simple App, with set filters, no way of modifying anything, no undo or redo buttons. Handy for on-the-fly photo editing, but not for any “serious” mobile photography art. Some of the effects are quite good, I must say.

I’d taken some photos of a few of my Japanese Quail today, in preparation for them going to a new home. The lady meant to collect them let me down, so I’ve still got them in my aviary. I did get some pretty good close-ups, though, so I thought I might as well put Photomania through its paces and see what the results might look like.

Here they are:

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Artist Inspiration : Terry Jackson

Teresa “Terry” Jackson currently lives nowhere and everywhere, on the Seven Seas, a boat travelling around the great big continent of Australia.

In Terry’s own words, from this site:
“I’m a self taught wildlife artist from beautiful South Australia. I began drawing in 2005 and never really stopped. My favourite medium is graphite but I also work in soft pastel and coloured pencil”.

This amazing artist’s favoured medium is a graphite pencil. Sometime using just ONE single pencil, and hours of intense concentration, mixed in with a whole lot of love for wildlife, Terry creates wonderfully detailed photorealistic drawings such as these:

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“Pride and Joy” by Terry Jackson

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“Tiger” by Terry Jackson

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“Feeling a little cocky” by Terry Jackson

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“Dos Lobos” by Terry Jackson

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“Tanklet” by Terry Jackson

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“Nice Scarf!” by Terry Jackson

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“Oh hey!” by Terry Jackson. Graphite and pastels.

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“Zac” by Terry Jackson. Pastels. Commissioned work.

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“Owl Whisperer” by Terry Jackson. Graphite and pastels. Wild Whimsy series.

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“What a Galah!” by Terry Jackson. Wild Colour Series.

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“Fennec Fox” by Terry Jackson. Wild Colour Series.

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“Mouse Opposum” by Terry Jackson. Wild Colour Series.

Just amazing!! Check out Terry’s website Drawn Wild, where you can find out more information about her, including where to buy prints of her truly amazing work.