Tag Archives: awesome photos

What has 8 eyes?

Spiders seem to define the ultimate in creativity. True spiders of the order Araneae are the largest group of carnivorous animals on Earth!

YES, ALL SPIDERS ARE PREDATORS. They hunt and capture prey–mostly other insects and other invertebrates, but some large spiders may even prey on vertebrates such as birds.

Why are spiders fantastically successful as hunters? There are many reasons. One might think it is because most spiders have 8 EYES. Even so, the fact is few have good eyesight. Instead they rely on touch, vibration and taste stimuli to navigate and find their prey.

This jumping spider’s main center pair of eyes are very acute. The outer pair are “secondary eyes” and there are other pairs of secondary eyes on the sides and top of its head. Photo by JJ Harrison

Head of a Net-casting Spider, Deinopis. Photographer:Reg Morrison

Most spiders detect little more than light-dark intensity changes. Some spiders have median eyes that detect polarized light and they use this for hunting.

Eye shine from a Wolf Spider, Photographer: Jim Frazer

Spider’s eight eyes are typically placed in two rows, on the front of their carapace. Their direct eyes, or AME, differ markedly in structure from their other indirect eyes (ALE, PLE, PME). The direct eyes appear dark, whereas the indirect eyes usually have a layer of light reflecting crystals, behind the light sensitive retina, giving these eyes a silvery appearance.

Tropical Jumping Spiders are spider specialists. They prey on both hunting and web building spiders. Photographer: Robert Jackson

The following are more stunning photographs of the jumping spider, captured by macro photographer Thomas Shahan.

For a few spiders, good vision is vital for hunting and capturing prey and for recognizing mates and rivals. They include the day active jumping spiders (Salticidae), the flower spiders (Thomisidae), the wolf spiders (Lycosidae) and net-casting spiders (Deinopidae), more often seen by twilight or later at night.

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You may ask “why 8 eyes?” Burke museum curator Rod Crawford explains, “It almost certainly has nothing to do with the 8 legs… While 99% of spiders do have 8, almost 1% have 6, and a few have 2 or 0. All harvestmen and solpugids have 2… The functions of the 4 different eye-pairs vary widely among different groups of spiders. Details would be a whole dissertation in itself.”

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You guessed it–there is no universal answer as to why spiders have 8 eyes. We’ll just leave it with, “mother nature has her reasons,” and why not for ‘just’ beauty’s sake? Or for curious photographers to discover?

Yes it is true, we need nature more than nature needs us. Please share what you think about spider eyes–and especially your theories as to why they have eight eyes. And of course your photographic techniques for capturing their glory.

Thank you for reading my post. My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursuing long term creative quests in my book and website.

Awed by Eagle Huntress Photography

I recently viewed the Eagle Huntress documentary in utter awe by the beauty and sweeping photography filmed on location in Mongolia–not an easy place–and wondered how on earth did they film it?! I was shocked to learn that it was filmed by only two people–not 200 people–thanks to modern technology! The director of photography, Simon Niblett, succinctly sums up the equipment they used to accomplish this extremely challenging feat in the video below:

Aisholpan, a teenage girl from a nomadic family in Mongolia, in “The Eagle Huntress.” Credit, Asher Svidensky, Sony Pictures Classics

The film is a masterpiece due to the photography: It follows Aisholpan, a 13-year-old girl, as she trains with her father to become the first female in twelve generations of her Kazakh family to become an expert eagle hunter. It was filmed in real time, there was no re-shooting of scenes, which makes this feat even more amazing. It chronicles how Aisholpan rises to the pinnacle of this tradition that has been handed down from father to son for centuries.

With her father Nurgaiv’s help, Aisholpan learns how to train golden eagles, and then captures and trains her own eaglet. Although she faces disbelief and opposition within this exclusively male tradition, she becomes the first female to enter the competition at the annual Golden Eagle Festival.

 Credit, Asher Svidensky, Sony Pictures Classics

The Altai mountains are ruggedly gorgeous. Renowned photographer Asher Svidensky said, “I knew I had to find another way and tell a new story that was not yet told in the snowy Mongolian mountains. I tried coming up with new ways of photographing the eagle hunters. Should I use different lenses? Ask them to perform tasks other than hunting? How could I tell a more interesting story than the usual “Even today, there are eagle hunters in Mongolia”?

Credit, Asher Svidensky, Sony Pictures Classics

Modern Mongolia is a relatively young unitary sovereign state in East Asia that exists from just after the fall of communism in 1990. It is landlocked–sandwiched between China to the south and Russia to the north. Today’s Mongolia is going through a transition – it’s no longer communist and is not yet modern. Approximately 30% of the population is nomadic or semi-nomadic; horse culture is still integral. The film beautifully captures this uniquely nomadic way of life.

Credit, Asher Svidensky, Sony Pictures Classics

Against all odds, Aisholpan ends up winning the competition, and her eaglet breaks a speed record in one of the events.

 Credit, Asher Svidensky, Sony Pictures Classics

Most of us have not visited Mongolia. This is a wonderful British-Mongolian-American collaboration to document a heart-felt story. It is the winning photography team–of two!–who brought us this rugged land, and an understanding of the lifestyle of its adaptable nomadic occupants. The dialogue was in the Kazakh language but the photography connected us all.

Credit, Asher Svidensky, Sony Pictures Classics

Thank you for reading my post. My core message of ‘everyone is creative’ resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become–the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests–in my recent book and website.

Need inspiration? Milky Way is our AMAZING home

This is my third post continuing with the theme of finding inspiration to boost our own creativity. Please think about how these photos impact your head, heart and gut intelligence centers. How does each voice speak to you when you consider them?

When I need inspiration to kick-start creativity it helps me to look up… I am mesmerized when I think about riding in our Milky Way galaxy— home to 400 billion stars and our own moon, sun and solar system. Our spiral galaxy is nearly 120,000 light-years across and is a fairly typical barred spiral–with four major arms in its disk, at least one spur, and a newly discovered outer arm. The galactic centre, which is located about 26,000 light-years from Earth, contains at least one supermassive black hole (called Sagittarius A*).

The Milky Way began forming around 12 billion years ago and is part of a group of about 50 galaxies called the Local Group. The Andromeda Galaxy is part of this group as are numerous smaller galaxies, including the Magellanic Clouds. The Local Group itself is part of a larger gathering of galaxies called the Virgo Supercluster of galaxies. Is your head spinning yet? We belong to a ginormous neighborhood of galaxies.

Lets delight in some of the most amazing views of our Milky Way galaxy ever captured by amateur and professional astronomers… or “MW” as I affectionately say.

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Image of the night sky above Paranal, Chile on 21 July 2007, taken by ESO astronomer Yuri Beletsky. A wide band of stars and dust clouds, spanning more than 100 degrees, is seen. At the centre of the image, two bright objects are visible– the planet Jupiter and the star Antares.

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During a road trip in 2015 to a wedding Mark Lehrbass spent the night out of Snoqualmie Pass, WA. “Epic light pollution from Seattle’s suburbs, multiple wild fires, and the 90 interstate winding through the mountains made for some incredible lighting to frame Mt. Ranier and the Milky Way rising above it,” he said. All I can say is WOW…

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Here MW glows over an old windmill in this stunning image shot by an amateur astronomer and astrophotographer Sean Parker. This (14-shot panoramic view) is over Paulden, Ariz. The planet Jupiter, bright star Sirius, constellation Orion and open star cluster–the Pleaides–can also be seen toward the right in the photo.

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In 2014, astrophotographer Shreenivasan Manievannan photographed MW arching over a rock arch in Joshua Tree National Park, California.

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The Milky Way and green airglow are captured over the Isle of Wight in this image taken by Chad Powell on Oct. 4, 2013.

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MW is seen in all its glory, as well as, in the lower right, the Large Magellanic Cloud. Credit: ESO/S. Guisard

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The bright Perseid meteor streaked through skies in Hungary on August 8, 2010. In the foreground is the Church of St. Andrew ruin, with bright Jupiter dominating the sky to its right. Two galaxies lie in the background: our own MW, and the faint smudge of the more distant Andromeda Galaxy just above the ruin’s leftmost wall.

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A view of MW toward the constellation Sagittarius (including the Galactic Center) as seen from the Black Rock Desert, Nevada). The bright object on the right is Jupiter, just above Antares. Photo by Steve Jurvetson.

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MW arching from the Cerro Paranal, Chile, on the left, and sinking into the Antofagasta’s night lights. The bright object in the center, above the Milky Way is Jupiter. The Magellanic Clouds are visible on the left side, and a plane has left a visible trace on the right, along the Vista enclosure. Photo by Bruno Gilli/ESO.

This detailed artist’s impression shows the structure of MW below, including the location of the spiral arms and other components such as the bulge. This image includes the most recent mapping of the shape of the central bulge from survey data from ESO’s VISTA telescope at the Paranal Observatory, credit NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESO/R. Hurt.

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Where is our sun relative to our gigantic MW neithborhood?

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Yes our sun is located close to the “Orion Spur.” In my own sky above Santa Fe, New Mexico–I can always depend on finding Orion! The constellation is located on the celestial equator and visible throughout the world, named after a Greek hunter in mythology.

Lastly photographer Antoni Cladera shows why “shooting the Milky Way is contagious” with photo below.

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Our Milky Way is just one of countless galaxies in the universe. Our view of the universe is expanding. Less than a century ago, astronomers thought that our Milky Way galaxy of stars might be the whole universe. Today, we can observe the splendor of galaxies far beyond our own. We can see the estimated 100 billion galaxies that make up our “observable universe.”

We are all creative creatures living in a God ordained, ever-creative, and expanding universe. How is your head, heart and gut inspired by these photos in distinctive ways? Which is your favorite and why?

Thanks for reading my post. I am an organizational and business consultant living in the mountains of Santa Fe, New Mexico with my husband and dogs. My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves in my book and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests.