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Discussion in 'Araceae' started by ChrisR, May 12, 2008.
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Very interesting discussion and photos!!
I've noticed this liquid coming out on my Anthurium spadixes (what is the plural of a spadix??) but it was clear. Great shots Steve!!
I usually have ants, mosquitoes, flies and Stink beetles on mine that I have observed
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Huh? You posted an image which I adjusted a little in photoshop & posted right back on here. To which you replied in the next post and said.
Which is what I did. So I don't think there is any need for you to subsequently read me a riot act much later on in this thread?
I don't think Steve was reading you a riot act, Chris as he gave you permission to manipulate the photo. I think it was more of a general comment to people who may be reading the forum who may be thinking of using the photo, thats all. : )
Not quite sure what the point is you're making here. You posted an image onto a public forum & I thought I was being helpful by adjusting it in order to hopefully bring out the area of interest you were mentioning? In fact, in the next post you told me to "manipulate away" which is what I did! Maybe you could highlight the area in question in Photoshop yourself and post that for all of us to see? As I for one am still not sure what I am looking for in your picture.
Anyway, that apart, this got me generally thinking about taking images and some questions began to form in my mind. You said:
and also -
With regards the first quote, I thought to myself. "Why don't you just turn a brighter light on?" That will help you see & focus your camera easily. I assume you're using a tripod? With the camera on a tripod, it will be a trivial matter to line up the camera at the spathe with the light switched on, since once lined up, neither the plant or the tripod are subsequently going to move.
If your conservatory doesn't have mains lighting you can always run an additional light from an extension lead or alternatively use a powerful torch to aid initial focusing. You mentioned elsewhere that you were using "a large professional bounce reflector". I'm curious, what make is it? Since these always come with modelling lights (a tungsten bulb usually concentric with the main flash tube, used as an aid to lighting the shot) The modelling light depending on the make of the flash unit, is powered either from the electronics within the head of the light itself or, through a separate stand alone power pack. Why not use that?
Lastly, I got a bit confused when you said you are obtaining these images using a macro lens when you are sat some 2.5 meters away. Macro lenses are normally used to produce magnified images of objects from very close up, typically like a few inches. So I thought to myself, 'how is he using a macro lens?' Perhaps you meant to say you are using a telephoto(?) given you are well over 2.5 meters away? In which case you will definitely need a tripod. You can always stop the lens down to get more depth of field if that proves to be a problem. Alternatively, you could use a standard lens and then crop (in Photoshop) into the relevant portion of the image where the spathe is if of course, your camera has sufficient resolution to allow you to do so.
On the last quote, I'm very puzzled why you are seemingly making this difficult for yourself by shooting in complete darkness since you needn't be, as you're not after all photographing in infra red? Hope this helps! :)
Hi Steve, thanks for your kind offer but I'll decline. Like I explained, my background is electronic design but mid-life I did a bit of career u-turn & became a freelance photographer having "worked my way up" through assisting. I was a freelance professional for eight years studio based, working mostly for various magazines generally photographing a diverse range of product. I was then offerred a permanent position at Haymarket Publishing in Teddington, who had by then become a major client for me.
After a lot of deliberation, I took the 'Haymarket shilling' and subsequently worked on Stuff, (Glossy life stye, gadget mag) which was great fun and usually very challenging technically. What Hi-Fi? - an audio hifi mag, Gramophone (for a short while) all for a further six years before I finally left London behind and moved to Gloucestershire.
When I photographed my Philo, I pretty much mounted my camera on a tripod, composed & focussed the shot & then left it be. When I did the timelapse, the conservatory was in complete darkness towards the end so I used an external light source now & again just to check if I had inadvertently knocked the focus off, which I hadn't. Not really that hard. So once set up, the 'setup' subsequently didn't really need touching. I thought that may be helpful for you if I explained how I went about photographing my philo here as I'm still not sure why you felt the need to photograph your plant in complete darkness? Would the light have effected it in some way? My apologies if I had touched a raw nerve with you. :)
I've done that for nocturnal insects. I'll testify that it's very difficult to get a clear shot or even be sure that you've got the subject in focus. However when it does turn out, it's spectacular.
For example, I must have taken 300 shots to get this one, but I think it was well worth it.
Hi Liz, for you. :)
My Kew visit.
I had a very interesting meeting this Monday (9th June) at Kew, following an invitation from Dr Marc Gibernau to meet with him and also Simon Mayo (Kew Botanical Gardens Herbarium Library Archives) Link here: http://www.kew.org/collections/herbcol.html
Over lunch, in Kews beautiful Orangery on a lovely sunny monday, Marc explained the process of pollination and 'dissected' a closed bloom from my philo which I'd brought along with me on the off-chance it might be of interest. It had fallen off my philo that very morning and I'd shoved it into my bag on an impulse and brought it along with me. After Lunch, Marc quickly set to enthusiastically ripping it apart to show me the various structures inside. Brilliant stuff! :)
I learnt that the closed spathe produces an antiseptic which eventually fills the spathe from the bottom up in order to prevent any foreign matter from rotting inside, quite an ingenious solution to an open problem. The antiseptic was clearly visible in the bottom part of the closed bloom, resembling a brown gel in colour and consistency. It occupied the first 2 inches or so of the ~12 inch non pollinated bloom and had the bloom been pollinated, would have eventually filled it to protect the berries.
Marc pointed out the sexless flowers (in the middle heat producing part of the spadix) were rich in Lipids and provide a nutritious & tasty meal for both the male & female visiting beetle (pollinators) who, attracted by the scent of the bloom (and maybe... by IR radiation - more on that later!) are enticed to come & stay the night.
If memory serves, Marc mentioned that ordinarily, the female beetle would produce a scent to attract the male. In this instance the female had lost this ability and instead the plant had taken over that role. I found this to be utterly remarkable!
Once the beetle guests have arrived and have made themselves at home for the night. The spadix finishes emitting heat (i.e thermogenisis is over) and the beetles are cosily ensconced for their nights stay within the base of the bloom. These beetles are afraid of daylight, so are more than likely content for the time being. At this time, the spadix doesn't fully switch off as I first thought, instead it settles down & maintains a steady 'idling' temperature for the remainder of the night of about 28c ~ about 8c above the ambient night temperature.
Marc said that this warmth, is an extra "reward" for the beetles. It has the effect of keeping them active within the base of the bloom. It also ensures they certainly mate if they hadn't already as other wise the lower ambient night temperature would cause them to become listless & rest. This warmth also ensures they do a thorough job of nicely trampling around within the base of the bloom where the receptive female flowers are.
Come morning, the spadix cools & the spathe starts to close, forcing the beetles upwards. At the same time, the spathe produces a very sticky goo. Marc told me a story about a researcher who left some of this goo outside in a dish on his window sill just to see what happened to it. After a year, it was still viable (as a glue) and still sticky. Quite a potent substance by the sound of it!
As the spathe closes during the course of the following day, the beetles are slowly squeezed upwards and the sticky goo gets on their bodies. As the spathe closes even more, the male flowers at the top of the spadix produce densely packed fine filaments of pollen. For the beetles, there's no way out, other than to walk through this fine filament forest of pollen. You can see the pollen the beetles will have to walk through in my photo, towards the very start of this thread -
- at the time I was wondering what it was...
The beetles, wearing their sticky overcoats, of course become coated in pollen.
I like to think of it this way:
After attracting it's visitors, the plant "tars and feathers" it's guests before expelling them. Maybe a bit like a grumpy landlord with a guest who has stayed too long. As they leave, they're nicely 'prepped' to pollinate the next bloom they encounter. All marvelously ingenious.
At this point, the beetles have ~two days to pollinate another plant, before the pollen isn't viable as pollen any more.
Hearing that, it immediately started me wondering about the philos distribution in the wild. For instance, I wonder if you would find a solitary philo by itself outside some cluster of other philos perhaps some > 100 meters apart. 100 meters being the radius at which Marc was saying the beetle may be able to pick up the scent of the bloom. Beyond that, the chances of the beetle getting to another plant diminish. That got Simon, Marc and myself enthusiastically discussing the merits of mathematical modeling in packages such as Matlab. Simon mentioned their use of R Project, a freeware equivalent I'd not heard of. It all got very interesting. Since the plant and the beetle are inextricably linked/dependant on one another I imagine the population densities of each should reflect in the locations of one another. This is further complicated by the means of dispersal of the berries which are eaten and carried by animals. Possibly, I think a future topic for research by someone who enjoys mathematical modeling, probability, statistical analysis & botany combined. (A good taster for anyone interested is James Lovelocks & Andrew Watsons, Daisy World)
After lunch, Marc gave a presentation to a number of people from Kew to which I was invited. Towards the end of his talk, I think I recall correctly, he mentioned there were ~4,000 or so species in this genus(?) and only 23 had been researched in any depth with regards pollination. I found this quite staggering given the present age of information we live in & how our knowledge of 'all things' seems to be increasing at an exponential rate. Very refreshing that there are still large areas open to new discovery & research - right under our very own noses.
In a round about fashion, that brings me back to infra red, but I'll leave that for a further posting. As I have gone on for long enough tonight I think. :)
Good information there Chris, to which I will peruse when I have more time.
Sounds like you had a ball!!
Fascinating, thank you for sharing.
Thankyou very much. Sounds a bit like a bed and breakfast for beetles :) Beaut description.
An interesting resume. Btw, when did you work at the Nikon School?
Play nice, boys. Without the argument over photographic techniques, this is a very interesting thread and brings up some fun research concepts....
Chris - do you think there's merit in trying to track beetles to see just how big their ranges are? I'm thinking of sticking little transmitters onto their carapaces, then tracking their flight habits. Because this may also have an impact on the distribution of the plants in the wild, vis their successful pollination and fruiting...