Readers’ wildlife photos

Don’t forget to keep those photos coming in, folks! I’ll be here all year.

We have more greenery today, as reader/naturalist/photographer Lou Jost sent some photos from Ecuador. His notes:

 In honor of your recent post on lichen symbioses, here are some photos of lichens and bryophytes, groups that don’t get much attention otherwise.These are all from cloud forest at 2100m elevation in the Banos area in Ecuador, except for the last one which is from 1200m. They remind me of coral reefs…

I can’t tell you anything about their biology, but readers may like to know how they were photographed. These are taken with an Olympus 60mm macro lens and PEN-F body (small micro-4/3 sensor). The interesting thing about this camera and lens is that it solves the macro photographer’s constant dilemma: at higher magnifications there is very little depth of field, but if he or she uses a smaller aperture to increase the depth of field, diffraction (unavoidable due to the wave nature of light) makes everything slightly unsharp. This camera does “focus bracketing”: when I press the shutter button the camera automatically takes a stack of up to 999 photos, each focused a bit farther away than the previous one. So I can use the lens’ best aperture, f/4.5. The depth of field for any one picture at this aperture is grossly inadequate, but there is software (I use Zerene) which takes the sharp parts of all the photos in the stack and combines them into one completely sharp picture. That’s what I’ve done here. Each image is merged from between twenty and eighty individual photos. Though this is best done with a tripod, several of the ones I am sharing here were taken hand-held.

Most of these pictures are dominated by lichens, with some liverworts. The last picture is of a new species of liverwort —see this post. It is special to me since the discoverer is going to name it after me!






A new species of liverwort:



  1. rickflick
    Posted February 2, 2017 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Really nice shots. Depth is superb. I never knew the technology existed. Interesting.

    • Posted February 2, 2017 at 9:42 am | Permalink

      Stacking changes everything. It is one of the least-appreciated perks of the digital photography era. In the days of film this was very difficult and extremely high-end.

      Another digital perk is high dynamic range photography, which we sometimes see here in Stephen Barnard’s landscapes.

  2. Dominic
    Posted February 2, 2017 at 9:26 am | Permalink

    Very nice. I have heard of photo stacking but never tried it…

  3. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted February 2, 2017 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    Totally cool! I have yet to become a ‘stacker’, but I can appreciate the convenience of a camera that starts the process for you. I’ll be back later.

    • Posted February 2, 2017 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      Mark, you should try it! By the way I really like your contributions to the photomacrography forum, glad you went there.

      • Mark Sturtevant
        Posted February 2, 2017 at 9:54 am | Permalink

        I’m glad you like it. I lurk around a couple different macrophotography sites now. I like the camaraderie and general nerdyness of the people. You might want to check out <a href= Y>this one.

      • Mark Sturtevant
        Posted February 2, 2017 at 9:54 am | Permalink

        ?? This one:

        • Posted February 2, 2017 at 10:42 am | Permalink

          Thanks for the tip, I will check it out.

  4. Posted February 2, 2017 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    I live in a lichen paradise (western Oregon) and have never seen lichens like those. Interesting! And great photos.

    • Posted February 2, 2017 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      Thanks. These are fairly common here, but very specific in their requirements. In my yard I find these high diversity “reefs” mostly on moderately exposed trunks of a species of tree, Monnina in the family Polygalaceae. Trunks that are too shaded get covered with moss instead.

  5. phar84
    Posted February 2, 2017 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Didn’t know lichens and liverworts (!) were so photogenic..thanks for sharing.

    • Posted February 2, 2017 at 11:14 am | Permalink

      Glad you liked them. There is much hidden beauty in the world…

  6. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted February 2, 2017 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    So… liverworts… This species is a bit different from the one that I am familiar with, but the biology should be the same, and I hope you don’t mind my describing it because it is kind of weird.
    Liverworts are members of the ‘primitive’ non-vascular plants. They lack vascular tissue, like mosses, and also like mosses they depend on water for fertilization and they exhibit a strongly differentiated form of the life cycle of plants known as alternation of generations. This means that the leafy plants you see are the haploid generation called gametophytes. These produce gametes, and fertilization between egg and sperm probably takes place in those weird cup-like structures that are seen on the ‘leaves’. The next generation that comes from this is diploid, and are known as sporophytes. The sporophyte plant (and it is a plant) grows on top of the haploid gametophyte. The sporophytes I know are a tall stalk, with a mushroom-like cap, but I don’t know that this species does. Perhaps here the sporophytes are what seems to be plugging the cups. Anyway, sphorophytes set aside cells that go thru meiosis to make haploid spores. These disperse, and elsewhere grow into the haploid gametophyte generation.

    • Posted February 2, 2017 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for adding that. This species does have stalked sporophytes with spherical structures on the stalks.

  7. Heather Hastie
    Posted February 2, 2017 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Great pics Lou, and fascinating about the photo stacking.

    Also congrats on having that liverwort named after you! That’s so cool!

  8. Anna
    Posted February 2, 2017 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    Wonderful images, Lou, thank you. I absolutely love liverworts. It’s always a treat to find them. That lichen looks amazingly green and luscious too.

    • Posted February 2, 2017 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

      Yes, these look like something to spread on toast or crackers!

  9. Posted February 3, 2017 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Very green – anything like that edible? It would look very pretty on the plate, too.

  10. Posted February 3, 2017 at 7:16 pm | Permalink

    Japanese make salads of algae, so maybe yes. Would look good as a garnish for sushi.

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