High Speed Photography

You can click on the image or name for any of the following photos and travel to the website of the artist.

High speed photography involves both artistry and technological wizardry.

A standard photographic flash lasts around a thousandth of a second (a millisecond). But high speed photography creates a flash of light around a microsecond (a millionth of a second). This allows the photographer to freeze time at a precise moment.  Check out the delicate beauty these ingenious artists  have created.

High speed photographer Jim Kramer uses food coloring, water, and dishwater soap to help thicken the water, and captures the moment a drop of liquid explodes into a multicolored splash in these incredible images.

Using a timer to track the path of falling drops, a flash is set off at the exact split second of impact and captures the shot.





Alan Sailer likes to shoot bullets through inanimate objects, then capture the resulting carnage at the moment of impact.

Using an air rifle, he has set up a system that lets him take a photograph at the exact moment the bullet pierces the object.  Knowing that the pellets shot by these rifles can reach speeds of up to 656 feet (200 meters) per second, an elaborate triggering system was needed. When the pellet is shot, it goes through a laser beam which itself triggers a 17,000 volts flash and the photography is taken during a microsecond (or 1 millionth of a second.)



play dough

The liquid sculpture of Martin Waugh is amazingly intricate.

“Sometimes I have a very specific goal, like, “create a splash in the shape of a
martini glass,” and I design a method for doing that. Other times, I might think, “I
wonder what happens if I increase the viscosity of the drop’s liquid?” Then I set out
experimenting. In both cases, serendipity is a rich source of new ideas and effects.

I can spend several days getting things ready to take a shot. I may have to build
equipment or electronics, and work to get the lighting the way I want it. Then the
liquids will get uppity and require taming. This process can burn a few thousand
shots. Then, I have everything cornered right where I want it, and I can get
dozens of shots that are keepers. Those I choose from.”

From an interview posted on:   liquid-imagination.com

Martin Waugh kindly shares his techniques on his blog, and he also sells prints of his work.

Here’s a video where he discusses how he works.


Heinz Maier started photography only about a year ago, but his high-speed water drop photos are stunning.





Here are more photos using high speed techniques.

by Wayne Fulton

By Muhammad Ahmed

by Corrie White

by Corrie White

Corrie White

Corrie White

Flower by fotoopa



by Fotoopa

Now feast your eyes on these images by Marcus Reugels.



As if the above aren’t unique enough, Reugels devised a different approach, using the vibration from a speaker to jostle liquids.   To create this work he stretches a black balloon over a bass reflex tube which sits over a speaker. He adds a spoonful of water to the middle of the balloon, drops in some coloring, cranks some techno basslines through the speakers.





Finally, here is a sampling from his refractions series. Single droplets of water with images refracted within them – apparently focus and lighting are the tricky parts.


The world on a string


The Moon


Evil clown


Big World in a Little Drop

Finally, if you want to sit back and enjoy a slideshow with music and high speed images posted by Corrie White, here you go:



Thanks to Merry for getting me started on this.

Thanks to huffingtonpost.com for post about Jim Kramer.

Thanks to www.demilked.com for images from Heinz Maier and weburbanist for images and quotes.

Thanks to Hadro at  feedonthis.blogspot.com for images and info about Alan Sailer.

Thanks to  artsintherightplace  for images by Marcus Reugels.

Albino Animals

Fifteen-year-old photographer Marlin Shank was fortunate enough to capture

several images of a rare albino ruby-throated hummingbird while in a park in

Staunton, Va







By R D Watson










Poor skunk with no stripes



Even ladybugs





 Not all albinos are pure white.








Thanks Tim Little for getting me started on albinos, and


dumpaday and




Imagination for Hire

Don’t miss the punny titles.  These creative images were created by Shannon Calvert on his website  hireimagination.

Emotional Outlet




Bored of education


Light rock and lead balloon







Athletes foot






Under the weather




Food coloring


Light reading


Off the wall




Shannon Calvert also shares his artistic sensibilities with nature photos.




Here’s another chance to wander through the images on hireimagination.

More of the best Street Art


The image below is by Banksy, probably the most well-known street artist/graffiti criminal.




























The following are by Julian Beever, 3-D artist.

For more 3-D street art by Julian Beever go to mind-bending 3-d art on my site ,  or the artist’s site.

For more Banksy go to:  graffiti with a chuckle or the artist’s site.

Many thanks to Gary Whitney.

How different can a life be?

I can’t stop thinking about what life would feel like if I used  paints, parts of various plants, nuts, feathers, fur, whatever I could find from  nature to make spectacular headpieces and body accessories for myself, family and friends, and I did this  2 -3 times a day!

Thanks to German photographer Hans Silvester we can witness the dazzling artistry of the Surma and Mursi people of the Omo Valley in southern Ethiopia as they perform their ancient tradition of temporary body decoration on themselves and each other a few times each day.















Here’s a link to Hans Silvester’s book about people of the Omo Valley at Amazon.

Thanks to Claire Elizabeth.


Birds: the fast, intrepid, distinctive, gorgeous and cute

The Fastest Animal

The peregrine falcon can fly at 90 mp, and reach 200 mph (322kmh) while diving to catch prey.


The longest migration

Every year the Arctic tern flies  around 50,000 miles (80,500km) from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back again, further than any other bird during its migration .  It performs almost all its tasks in the air.

The Arctic Tern flies as well as glides through the air. It nests once every one to three years (depending on its mating cycle); once it has finished nesting it takes to the sky for another long migration.


 A poisonous bird?

The Pitohui bird of New Guinea is the only known poisonous bird.   Its toxic skin and feathers protect it from predators.

A bird with no wings

 The kiwi is the only bird with no wings.  He looks like he has fur rather than feathers, doesn’t he?

The Champion, both fast and intrepid

The great snipe can fly non-stop over a distance of around 4200 miles (6760km) at a phenomenal 60mph (97kmh). Swedish scientists put tiny data chips into 3 snipes and found that one bird flew 4225 miles (6800km) from Sweden to central Africa in just 3.5 days. The other two birds flew 3833 miles (6169km) in three days, and 2870 miles (4619km) in two days.

The peregrine falcon is fast.  The arctic tern goes far but not particularly fast.  Scientists have long known that snipes are incredibly fast birds. The word ‘sniper’ originated in the 1770s among soldiers in British India: if a hunter was skilled enough to kill an elusive snipe, he was called a sniper.

For more on the Great Snipe you can go here.

Now on to the gorgeous and cute.

Next is a Silver-Laced Sebright Bantam.

By Mark Robinson, UK.

by Mark V.Muller

Thanks Gary, and http://sites.google.com/site/animalbiologyspring2010/class-aves/interesting-facts

and http://planetearth.nerc.ac.uk/news/story.aspx?id=983

Whimsical Art

Hanoch Piven and  Mark Jenkins are two artists that seem to share a sense of  whimsy and humor.


While on vacation this summer I happened upon an exhibit of  these colorful and witty works  by Israeli artist Hanoch Piven.  He uses common everyday objects to create amusing portraits of notable people.  A closer look at the particulars of the objects  only makes it more fun.

If you’re not sure who is represented, hold the cursor over the image.

















Mark Jenkins has been busy since my first post of his Scotch Tape Sculptures.  Here are some of the new ones, still deserving of chuckles.  In some of the images you might have to search to find the sculpture–the baby.

In Dublin






Bordeau, France


Baltimore, MD

Canary Islands


Canary Islands

Fairfax, VA


Washington, D.C.


Washington, D.C.

Martinsberg, W. VA

More Mixed Species


Vote for your favorite combo in the comments.

And don’t miss the videos at the end.


Oops, not sure these next ones are friends.









Yes, it’s a kimodo dragon.




Make sure you notice what this bear is hugging–that is a hug, right?



Thanks, Ginny for the video and Jean for the cactus cat.


Karst Topography: from misty mountains to caves and sinkholes

Karst towers, the rocky formations by the Li river in China near Guilin, are truly natural wonders.


By jacklee




By Karamochi


by bouti blog

Below is the town of Guilin.


By eric finlanson


Guilin rice harvest.

 The following image is so striking, I had to check to make sure it was real.  The story that goes with it makes it even more striking.   Here’s a description by photographer Michael Anderson at his website.  ” I wandered alone on the riverbanks and met a cormorant fisherman who showed me his traditional methods. They fish at night and the lantern attracts fish toward the raft so the cormorant can dive in and catch them. The fishermen tie a loose string around the cormorant’s neck so they can’t swallow it completely, and the men pull out the fish and store them in a basket. This method of fishing has existed for over a thousand years.


The Guilin tower karsts are an example of karst topography,  land formations caused by rainwater combining with carbon dioxide in the air to become slightly acidic.

The acidic water works its way into any crack, fault or fissure in limestone rock and chemically erodes the rock.  Over time, the openings caused by the acidic rain are widened into passages or caves and initial trickles of water become streams.  Sometimes the cave ceiling collapses forming  sinkholes or a cenotes.

The following are examples of the breathtaking variety of karst  topography from images taken around the planet.

Viet Nam, Halong bay

By steve vidler

Viet Nam

Viet Nam

By Paul Smit

Viet Nam

Viet Nam

Viet Nam

by Michael Buckley

Karst Forest, Madagascar

Via Flatrock.org

Haiti Karst

By Tequila Minsky

Bryce Canyon Karst, Utah


El Torcal de Antequera,  Spain

El Torcal de Antequera,  Spain

Shilin, South China

Akiyoshidai Karst pinnacles in Mine, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan

Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, U.S.A.

Mammoth Cave is the longest cave in the world, with over 350 miles explored so far.

 Corn karst, Chocolate Hills, Philippines

Australia, Nambung National Park

Sarisarinama sinkholes of Venezuela

Large sinkhole, Mitchell Plain, Indiana

 Sinkholes, Winslow, Arizona, U.S.A.

 The Zacatón cenote, Mexico

The “islands” in this cenote are made of floating reeds.

Thanks to Bukisa and DarkRoastedBlend

Food fun and art


By Adriana De Barros




  Turkish airlines offers a new food service.

Eggregation by Shannon Calvert


Biotechnology by Shannon Calvert


Food Coloring by Shannon Calvert




by Pierre Javelle & Akiko Ida


by Pierre Javelle & Akiko Ida

by Pierre Javelle & Akiko Ida

 Take a careful look at these next images.

Everything in these images by  Carl Warner is made from food.  The mountains are bread, rocks are cheese, the cloud is cauliflower.   Each scene is photographed in layers from foreground to background taking two to three days to build and photograph.


And the ocean is salmon.

Below is Carl at work.

Making this image.

The image below of a Chinese junk is made from Chinese food.

Image of Tuscany is made from food common in Italy.

Singapore Out-Disneys Disney and Dubai

I’m not much of a fan of high rises, or huge construction projects. But these photos of the gravity-defying “Sky Park” atop the Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore had me double-checking to make sure it wasn’t photo-shopped. 

The Sky Park stretches longer than the Eiffel tower laid down or four and a half A380 Jumbo Jets, with  40682 square feet (12,400 square meters) of space, the Sands SkyPark can host up to 3900 people.

The Sky Park sits on a highrise hotel, and the resort includes a convention center, “ArtScience museum” two large theaters, ice skating rink, casino and of course many shops and restaurants.

Thanks to Claire Elizabeth de Sohpia.

Meet talent in ads

When advertising manages to give visibility to talented people and entertain us, I say great.  Plus these are all too long to fit into the 15 second slots that overwhelm, so you won’t see these on tv, only when passed around the internet on sites like this.

Piano Stairs

Volkswagon sponsored a contest on a website called “The Fun Theory” “dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behavior for the better.”  Here’s my favorite entry.

For more winners of the fun theory click here.

American Apparel highlights one talented kid, “Lil Demon” and Jalent Testerman in this breakdancing video set to the perfect music.

Next up, Samsun in France got this cool dude to do something I’ve never heard of, finger tutting, to sell their Galaxy 2S cell phone.  Don’t give up until you see the light marvels.

California condors

By Yoram Shplrer

This remarkable image got me started thinking about the California condor, the largest flying bird in North America.  This is probably not a condor but it sure is a big vulture, like the condor.

Here are some interesting things about condors and the efforts to save them from extinction.

1)  Condors have a wingspan of 9 ½ feet, and can weigh up to 25 pounds as adults.

2)  Using thermal updrafts, condors can soar and glide up to 50 miles per hour and travel 100 miles or more per day in search of food.

3)  They feed primarily on large dead mammals such as deer, elk, bighorn sheep, range cattle, and horses.

4)  They can live up to 60 years in the wild, and become sexually mature at six or seven years of age.

By Meng Tang

5)  Condors mate for life and females lay a single egg, about five inches in length and weighing around 10 ounces, every second year. Male and female condors share incubation shifts.

6)  California condors are curious, intelligent, and playful. They are very gregarious and often feed, bathe, roost, and play together.  According to Sophie Osborn of the Peregrine Fund’s California Condor Restoration Project in Arizona, “tug-of-war and punting empty water bottles around with their bills are two of their favorite “games.”

Am I crazy for thinking this fellow (or gal) looks sorta cute?

7)  They are more closely related to storks than birds of prey and are close to ravens in personality.

8) The populations’ low point was in 1982, with only 22 remaining, 21 in the wild and one in captivity.  Their numbers were decimated by years of shooting and poisoning. The poisoning came in two forms: condors became indirect targets when they fed on carcasses that had been laced with poisons to kill predators such as coyotes; condors also succumbed to lead poisoning by eating the remains of animals killed by hunters using lead bullets.

9)  In 1987 the controversial decision was made to bring all remaining condors into a captive breeding program before it was too late.

10)  Because condors only lay one egg every two years, captive breeding techniques were developed in which eggs are removed as they are laid, usually causing the captive condors to lay a second and sometimes third egg. The extra eggs are incubated.

11)  These chicks are raised by caretakers using a hand puppet shaped like a parent condor head. The puppet prevents the young condors from imprinting on people.

This is a puppet mom or dad, in case you couldn’t tell.

This video shows a puppet feeding a two-day-old chick.

12)  Condor chicks that are not raised by puppets, are raised by their parent birds. As a result of captive breeding, condor populations have increased dramatically from 22 birds in 1987 to more than 270 birds in 2005.

For information and thanks to:  California Literary Review article by Paul Comstock


Arizona Game and Fish Department

More Exquisite Animal Images

Again, the artistic quality of the image is what drew me to these animal pics.  Here’s a quick link if you want to see my original exquisite animal images.  And thank to Pixdaus which provided most of these.

By Allan Wallberg

The Sardine Run by Alexander Safonov

by Miguel Angel de Arriba Cuadrado

By Sam Lim

By Brad Wilson

bird tornado by Nuray Gonulalan

Wall-to-wall reindeer by Mik-Mak

By Sam Ho

Shepherd riding camel in Mongolia by Amy Para.

By greg mclemore

Combat by Bonali Giuseppe

By Sam Lim

Akuna Matata by Alex Tish

Animal Camouflage

This post is divided into sections:

I) Animals disguised as leaves

II) Animals as flowers

III) Larger animal camo, with hints–for this part I number them.  Some are easy to see and some not.  So if you are having a hard time finding the animal, you can look at the end of the section and I will give a hint.

IV.  HELP! This section has a few images I have found in other posts about camouflage, stared at for longer than I can tolerate, and not been able to find the animal.  So I invite you to find it and post a comment that describes where to look and what to look for.

V.  Videos–Don’t miss the videos at the end.  A chameleon and an octopus like you’ve never seen.


Bugs are some of the best at camouflaging as leaves, but did you know frogs, lizards and snakes do a pretty convincing job too?

Note:  a decaying-leaf bug.

An unfolding leaf stick bug.

A praying mantis mixture of dead and alive.

Fresh leaf.

By Igor Siwanowicz

Half dead leaf.

A leaf-mimic katydid

A dead leaf butterfly

Praying Mantis

Frog leaf

A cryptic frog.

Lizard leaf.

These leaf-fish in the Amazon are remarkably stealthy.

Leaf fish


Some bugs prefer mimicking flowers more than leaves.

By Igor Siwanowicz

Crab spider.

This praying mantis is looking for the right flower.

III.  Larger animal camo with hints

No. 1No. 2

No. 3

No. 4

No. 5

No. 6

No. 7

No. 8

No. 9

No. 10

No. 11

No. 12

No. 13


No. 15

No. 16

No. 17

No. 18

No. 19

No. 20

No. 21

No. 22

No. 23

No. 24

Can you spot the green chameleon?

How about now?

Names and hints:  1) Cheetah  2) Three toed sloth  3) Grizzly in snow  4) Kangaroo (on left)  5) Owl  6) Python  7)  Wolf (on right)  8)  Jaguar  9)  Something in the deer family  10)  Lion cub 11)  Lizard  12)  Crocodile  13)  Elephant  14)  Frog  15)  Rocky Ptarmigan chick in nest  16)  Mimic Octopus  17)  Giraffe  18)  Snake  19)  Owls  20)  Ermine weasel  21)  Waterfall frog  22)  Some kind of reptile  23)American Bittern bird,  24) tawny frogmouth bird.


If you see a wolf in the image below, please explain where.

Please post a comment if you see anything in the following images.

Many thanks to Moominmom3 who explains where to find and explain where to look for two wolves and some kind of reptile under the comments section below.

O.K.  Now you just have to check out this chameleon.  Sorry if you don’t like the music but wait until the end.  It’s the best.

Super chameleon

This octopus video is a section of a TED talk by David Gallo. It’s hard to believe it’s real, but it is.  The whole talk can be seen here.

Here’s another way to point out the animals hiding in my “help!” images, thanks to Mel in Scotland.

Ok Go: behind the clever, whimsical videos

Ok Go is a rock band whose videos are phenomenally creative and a phenomenon on the web. They are famous for making intricate, amusing music videos done in one continuous take.


When OkGo told Roland Sonnenburg at the Talented Animals training company they wanted to make a video with dogs that was “magical and charming” AND they wanted to film it in one continuous take, they were told that sounded impossible.

“Working with animals we use cuts and optimal camera angles for everything. Without cuts, the animals would have to all work at the same time with their trainers far away, and we would need to get each dog and trainer and bandmember and crewmember to nail every single behavior all in the same take,”  according to Sonnenburg.

This is how they did it: 12 trainers, two furniture movers, 12 dogs, one goat, 38 buckets, a bunch of furniture, spreadsheets, flow-charts, and recorded audio instruction, four weeks, 124 takes and practice, practice, practice.

They rehearsed the routines with each dog practicing their own moves with their trainer. When things started looking good the band came in and got integrated with the dogs. They started practicing at half speed. The last four days they began filming. Around take 49 things started clicking. Around take 60 a new problem arose: the dogs were getting so good and enjoying it so much they starting doing it faster than the music. Finally they settled on take 72.

Thanks to Jesus Diaz at Gizmodo for this info and more.

OK Go – White Knuckles – Official Video from licked on Vimeo.


The video for this song showcases a Rube Goldberg machine with moving parts that take exactly the length of the 3.5 minute song to unfurl.   The machine rolls metal balls down tracks, swings sledgehammers, pours water, unfurls flags and drops a flock of umbrellas from the second story, all perfectly synchronized with the song.

The requirements were that it had to be interesting, not “overbuilt” or too technology-heavy, and easy to follow.  The machine also had to be built on a shoestring budget, synchronize with beats and lyrics in the music and end on the same moment as the song, play a part of the song, and be filmed in one shot.  To make things more challenging still, the space chosen was divided into two floors and the machine would use both.

“We wanted to make a video where we have essentially a giant machine that we dance with,” said the band’s Damian Kulash, Jr., in a short “making-of” video posted on YouTube.  Synn Labs, a Los Angeles-based arts and technology collective was hired to dream up the most outlandish and elaborate mechanism they could to “dance” along with the music.

It took about 55 – 60 people about a month and a half of very intense work.

This includes eight “core builders” who did the balk of the design and building and another 12 part-time builders.  Additionally Synn Labs recruited 30 or more people to help reset the machine after each trial run. Because of the machine’s size and complexity, even with all those people helping, it took close to an hour to re-set it.

It took more than 60 takes, over the course of two days, to get it right. Many of those takes lasted about 30 seconds,  getting no further than the spot in the video where the car tire rolls down a ramp.  “The most fiddly stuff, you always want to put that at the front, because you don’t want to be resetting the whole thing,”  says Adam Sadowsky  president of Syyn Labs.

Below is the music video, followed by a short video about making it.

Here’s a short video about making the Rube Goldberg machine.

If you want to see an interactive map of the floor plan in the Rube Goldberg machine, go here.


This video was choreographed and directed by Trish Sie, the sister of OkGo lead vocalist Damien Kulash.  It took a total of seventeen attempts to complete.  According to Kulash, “We were really lucky that my sister had this great idea to do this dance on treadmills and we had a week off so we could actually do the whole thing and it didn’t cost too much money.”  This video too was made in one continuous take and is the first that went viral.

To see more OkGo videos go here.

Cuckoos and Honey guides

Check out this confused “mother,” a reed warbler, feeding it’s “baby” cuckoo sitting atop a nest it has long outgrown.  Does it notice how different this baby is?

By Per H. Olsen

Cuckoos  are famed for laying their eggs in host species’ nests, leaving unwitting “foster” birds to raise their chicks.  Known as “brood parasites” they are able to specialize their eggs’ appearance in order to disguise them in the nests of other birds.   In a mere ten seconds, the cuckoo hen swoops down and lays an egg very similar to her host’s, and flies off with one of the host’s eggs in her bill.

By John Markham, Bruce Coleman Ltd.

When the young cuckoo hatches, its first act is to dispose of any other eggs: it heaves them out of the nest, leaving itself as the sole occupant.

What happens next is peculiar. The foster parents don’t appear to notice they are rearing a monster. Instead, they work hard to satisfy the demands of the chick, even though it sometimes becomes so large that it no longer fits inside the nest, and has to sit on top. It’s one of the oddest sights in nature.

By Roger Wilmshurst/Photo Researchers, Inc
Confused “Mama” feeding its “baby”.
Now the Honey guide bird and the Honey badger.  They have a symbiotic relationship, providing mutual benefit.

Chicken-wire Apparitions

These ethereal sculptures are the creation of Milan, Italy-based artist Benedetta Mori Ubaldini. She describes her pieces made of chicken-wire as coming “from a childlike side of my imagination. What I love is creating installations as three-dimensional pictures. The simplicity of this material contains the magical power of transparency that is capable of giving each piece the lightness of an apparition, a ghost-like quality, like a trace from memory.”

Red Riding Hood

Donkey and friend.

Click on any picture to reach the artist’s website.


You don’t have to be a bird lover to appreciate this mix of beautiful, funny and a couple weird bird images.

by Beeboo Hani

By Adrie Hubregtsen

By Adrie Hubregtsen

By John Zimmerman

By Larry Bennett

By Alec Ee

By Kjartan Trana

The Birdie Sisters in concert by To-To

By David Paeme

Thanks to Pixdaus for many of these images.

Break Dancing and Yo-yo Ma

This video, filmed by director Spike Jonze, captures Los Angeles street dancer Charles “Lil Buck” Riley as he performs an amazing interpretation of “The Dying Swan” from Camille Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals with a live musical accompaniment by the award-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma.  Lil Buck specializes in a dance called the Memphis Jook, and exhibits superhuman balance, grace and  flexibility.  Thanks to Wine and Bowties for turning me onto this.

Architectural Oddities


Ferdinan Cheval was delivering mail in April, 1879.  He tripped on a stone and  inspired by its shape, he started collecting stones.   For the next 33 years, Cheval carried stones from his delivery rounds and at home used them to build his Palais idéal, the Ideal Palace. First he carried the stones in his pockets, then a basket and eventually a wheelbarrow.

Cheval spent the first two decades building the outer walls. The Palace is a mix of different styles with inspirations from the Bible to Hindu mythology.  The stones are bound together with lime, mortar and cement. Cheval also wanted to be buried in his palace. However, since that is illegal in France, he proceeded to spend eight more years building a mausoleum for himself in the cemetery of Hauterives. Cheval died on August 19, 1924, around a year after he had finished building it, and is buried there.

For more info and photos go to oddity.


Everything in Eliphante, a property in Cornville, AZ, USA is made from found materials.  The three acre site was created over 28 years by Michael Kahn and his wife, Leda Livant and includes a  residence, Hippodome, which has 25-foot ceilings and incorporates rocks and scraps from construction sites and a studio, one wall of which is the Ford pickup that brought the couple west.

Hippodome has electricity, heat, a phone line and water, but no bathroom or toilet. To wash, one goes across the property to the bathhouse, where the solar-heated shower is a length of chopped hose but the windows are stained glass.


Ceiling fan

The kitchen

For more info on Elephante follow this link to the New York Times.

The Mushroom House, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

Another unique home made with found and used materials of wood, glass, tiles, and shells selected to make the building “look like it belonged in nature.  Terry Brown spent over 14 years building this home with the help of his architecture students.

The Ryugyong Hotel in Pyongyang, North Korea


This monstrosity is a testament to North Korea’s bizarre totalitarian leadership.  Construction began in 1987 and was designed to be 105 stories, have 3000 rooms, 7 revolving restaurants, casinos, nightclubs and Japanese lounges.  Originally scheduled to be completed in 1989, by 1992 construction was completely halted due to funding problems amid electricity shortages and famine.
Japanese newspapers estimated the cost was US $750 million, consuming 2% of North Korea’s GDP.

Even more strange,  the North Korean government denied the building’s existence for many years!  Though mocked-up images of the completed hotel had once appeared on North Korean stamps, the government manipulated official photographs in order to remove the structure, and excluded it from printed maps of Pyongyang.  Imagine denying this!

Stone House-Guimarães,Portugal

The Crooked House-Sopot, Poland

Low impact woodland house                     (Wales, UK)

Boeing-727 house in Benoit,Mississippi

This house cost Joanne Ussary $2,000, cost $4,000 to move and $24,000 to renovate.  The stairs open with a garage door remote and one of the bathrooms is still intact.  Check out the jacuzzi in the cockpit.

Bird Island Zero Energy Home (Kuala-Lumpur)


Cubic Houses (Kubus-woningen) Rotterdam, Netherlands

Earth house Dietikon Switzerland

Forest Spiral, Darmstadt, Germany

The Church of Hallgrimur Reykjavik, Iceland

The Piano House, Huainan, China

The old Mill House in Vernon, France

Cactus House Rotterdamn, The Netherlands

Dar al hajar house, Wadi Dhahr, Yemen

A House in a maze, Cordes sur Ciel, France

Hang Nga Guesthouse a.k.a Crazy House, Vietnam

Kansas City Library, Missouri

Lotus  Temple, Delhi,  India

Olympic Stadium Montreal, Canada

Shoe house Abel Erasmus Pass, Branddraai, Mpumalanga South-Africa

Spaceship house , Chattanooga , Tennessee

The Basket Building, Ohio, USA

Thomas Point Lighthouse, Maryland, USA

Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain

The National Library, Minsk, Belarus

Okinawa tree house at entrance to Onoyama Park

House Attack Viena, Austria

Outdoor sculpture at the Museum Moderner Kunst

For more details about many of these buildings go to weburbanist.

Thanks to Claire Elizabeth for inspiring this post.

Exquisite Animal Images

These images were chosen for the artistry of the photograph more than the animal/s themselves.

By Roger Becker

Camels crossing oasis.

The Unbald Eagle

by Andrew Wong

Check how this flock of flamingos in the Gulf of Mexico are in a bird shape.

Goat watching man watching goat.

by Tom Leeson

Lone bull elephant by Victoria Falls, Zambia, Africa

By Mike Bueno

by Jason Wickens

These are fireflies with timed photo.  The white circular lines are stars moving.

Cattle egrit.

by Troy Lim

A timed photo of moths coming to a light.

Golden pheasant.

by David Castor

By Octavianus Darmawan

Thanks to:






View from Space

On September 22, 2010 Astronaut Douglas Wheelock took command of the International Space Station and began sending images back to earth via Twitter as did Astronaut Soichi Noguchi from Japan before him. All photos below are by Wheelock unless otherwise specified.


Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

The Nile River.

The Nile River at night.

Mt. Fuji by Noguchi.

London and Paris.  Note fog around London.

Sunrise over the Andes.

The space station makes one rotation around the Earth every 90 minutes, at a speed of 17,500 miles (28,163 kilometers) per hour or 5 miles (8 kilometers) per second.  Therefore, according to Wheelock, “We watch sunsets and sunrises every 45 minutes.”

Patagonia lies at the southern end of South America. This view includes rugged mountains, massive glaciers, fjords and seas.

Italy.  Note the boot.

Pico De Orizaba, Mexico’s highest mountain by Noguchi.

San Francisco, California’s Golden Gate Bridge by Noguchi.

The dome through which these images were taken.  This pic was taken by Russian astronaut Fedor from the window of the Russian docking compartment.  It shows Wheelock preparing the camera for the evening flight over Hurricane Earl.

View from inside the dome.

Space shuttle approaching the space station.

Shuttle about to land at space station, by Noguchi.

The moon from space.

Space station.

Astronaut Douglas Wheelock.

Thanks to cousin Mike.

Buddhist Monastery Engineering Marvels

Ancient Buddhists in the East seem dedicated to constructing engineering feats.

Let’s start with the Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Bhutan.

This temple complex was first built in 1692, around a cave where a revered  Guru Padmansambhanva is said to have meditated for three months in the 8th century.  Padmasambhava is credited with introducing Buddhism to Bhutan.

The monastery buildings consist of four main temples and residential shelters designed by adapting to the rock (granite) ledges and eight caves.  All the buildings are interconnected through steps and stairways made in rocks. There are a few rickety wooden bridges along the paths and stairways also to cross over. The temple at the highest level has a frieze of Buddha. Each building has a balcony, which provides lovely views of the scenic Paro valley down below.

Special permission is required for non-Bhutanese to visit the monastery, usually granted only to practicing Buddhists on a religous retreat.

Young monk peeks out of temple.

Next is The Hanging Temple or Hanging Monastery in China.


Built into a cliff (75 m or 246 ft above the ground) in Shanxi province , the Hanging Monastery was built more than 1,500 years ago.

The temple was constructed by drilling holes into the cliff side and inserting crossbeams halfway to serve as the foundation.  How did they do this 1,500 years ago?

If you look carefully above, you will see somebody walking on this uninviting stairway.

Many thanks to fly_silence@163.com for photos of the Hanging Temple.  If you want to see a video with music of these photos go here.

Next up:  Popa Taungkalat monastery in Myanmar, formerly Burma.

Rising to 2,417 feet (737 meters) from the flat, surrounding plain, the Mt Popa Taugnkalat Monastery is built on the core of an extinct volcano last active 250000 years ago.  At one time a Buddhist hermit, U Khandi, maintained the stairway of 777 steps to the summit of the pedestal hill named Taung Kalat.  It is said the shrine is home to 37 Nats, or spirits, with statues depicting them at its base.

Above, a close up of the 777 stairs.

Now to central Java in Indonesia, and the 9th-century temple, Borobudur.

The monument comprises six square platforms topped by three circular platforms, and is decorated with 2,672 relief panels and 504 Buddha statues.   A main dome, located at the center of the top platform, is surrounded by 72 Buddha statues seated inside a perforated dome.  Some scholars think that this massive monument is a gigantic textbook of Buddhism. To read this textbook in stone requires a walk of more than two miles.

For more info on Borobudur go here.  And thanks to Sacred Destinations for info and photos.

Back to Myanmar/Burma for Kyaiktiyo Pagoda also known as Golden Rock.

This small pagoda (7.3 metres (24 ft)) built on the top of a granite boulder is covered with gold leaves pasted on by devotees. According to legend, the Golden Rock itself is precariously perched on a strand of the Buddha’s hair. The rock seems to defy gravity, as it perpetually appears to be on the verge of rolling down the hill.

Now Tibet

Location, location, location.

Finally, Tongtian Avenue, in China is a long road cut along side the mountain to the tourist attraction of Tianmenshan.

This  “Avenue”  has exactly 99 turns. Heaven supposedly has 9 palaces.

Thanks to cousin Mike for the link that started this exploration of Buddhist Monastery wonders.

Animals, Funny and Cute

Here are random animal images that have tickled me in one way or another as I roam around the web.  I’m curious.  I’d like to know what people like so PLEASE VOTE ON YOUR FAVORITE image in the comments at the bottom.  Thanks.  Coming soon:  Exquisite Animal Images, where the photo itself is the delight.  Enjoy.

This is a 4-hour-old orangatan.

Baby platypuses.

O.K.  Now we’re getting into dangerously, purely cute.

During a severe drought in Australia, some koalas were so thirsty they approached humans for water.

Above is a mizra zaza.

Photo by: floridapfe on flickr

A fennec fox.

I confess, baby snubnosed monkeys are so cute, they get two photos.

Photo by Chris Otto

O.K.  That’s it.  Now please go to comments below and VOTE on your favorite.

Thanks to the people and places below:


Monica and Kathleen

Peculiar Bird Mating Rituals

I wouldn’t believe this video was real if it weren’t presented by  respected writer and narrator of BBC’s “Life” and “Planet” series, David Attenborough. The male lyre bird’s remarkable mimicry repertoire goes far beyond imitating over 40 different song birds.

The lyrebird’s syrinx (the bird equivalent to the human larnyx) is the most complexly-muscled of the songbirds, allowing its extraordinary, unmatched vocal repertoire.

This bird of paradise performs an amusing dance to attract its mate.

The Manequin bird does a little moon walking to show off to a potential female mate.

Albino peacocks prefer having the male wear the wedding dress.


Weird Weather

This post was inspired because I happened on this photo and thought, “This can’t be a real cloud.  Must be a photoshopped flying saucer.”

Turns out this is a lenticular cloud and for people who live around certain mountains  it’s relatively rare but not as surprising as it was to me.

Mt. Rainier, Washington, By Tim Thompson

My policy on this site is not to say anything I can’t understand myself.  So after reading about 15 sites explaining how this cloud is formed, I still can’t say I understand.  I do know these clouds look like they are stationary over the mountain.  Actually they are air currents, which usually run horizontally, going vertically over a mountain and creating a pattern on the down-wind side that oscillates and  forms clouds, then evaporates, then forms, in a wave pattern….or something.   http://www.collthings.co.uk/2008/06/10-very-rare-clouds.html gives the best explanation of all kinds of clouds along with photos.

Photo by Cindy Diaz

Next are Mammatus clouds.

Below are fallstreak clouds.

Photo by Tyla Healton

Guess what.  It’s a wave cloud.  Over Mt. Shasta, California

Photo by Beverly Shannon

Photo by Clare Lewis

Also known as a kelvin-helmholtz wave cloud.

These roll clouds look ominous.

Photo by Rob Sharrock

Above, a cousin of the roll cloud, a shelf cloud.

This is a super cell cloud.  Yes, indeed.

More mean-looking storm clouds.

Friendlier weather.

Can’t talk about weather without lightening.

Photo by Igor Kovalenko

Lady Liberty takes a hit.

Photo by: Malcolm

And a combo of our previous and next weather topic:

Now hurricanes

Hurricane Hugo, 1989–notice Florida

Hurricane Wilma, 2005, from higher satellite.  Notice, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico.

After tornadoes and hurricanes, ice storms don’t seem so bad–but this was a bad one.

More ice than this tree could handle.

Photo by Marc F. Henning

For more weird weather go here.

Thanks to the sites below for several images and explanations.  Each offers many additional weather photos.




As always, when I could find a photo credit, I put it in with a link to the site.

Bugs–like you’ve never seen

I am NOT into bugs or generally creepy crawlies of any kind.  But these remarkable macro photos by  Igor Siwanowicz have changed me.  And that is his intention–to help us see and hopefully come to appreciate these creatures in a new way.  Join me in a new attitude.  Cute bugs?  Funny bugs?  See for yourself….If you can resist regular bugs, try the caterpillars below.  If that doesn’t do it for you, at the end I’ve added a couple non-bug cuties by the same photographer/artist.

This next one almost creeped me out because its fuzzy nature reminded me of a spider.  Hopefully it’s not. His antennae finally won me over.   If I ever do a post on cool spiders, you can be sure these wonders have transformed me into a new person.

I know they are bugs, but maybe because they are associated with butterflies, caterpillars seem less buggy.

The photographer, Igor Siwanowicz, calls this one “bad hair day.”

The following are chameleons and geckos.

Rosette-Nosed Chameleon

For hundreds more amazing small creatures captured up close compliments of Igor Siwanowicz , go to:


Graffiti with a Chuckle


Graffiti meets Academy Awards

New graffiti by street artist and notorious recluse Banksy  is popping up in L.A. ahead of the Academy Awards in what might be the most unusual Oscar campaign in history.   The film directed by Banksy, Exit Through The Gift Shop, was nominated for Best Documentary.

The most interesting aspect of this nomination is that many people (including me) believe that Banksy’s film is a hoax;  not a documentary but a continuation of his satirical, irreverent humor,  providing political and social commentary.  For a synopsis of the movie’s plot go to The Atlantic.

Execs at the Academy are in a tizzy.  “The fun but disquieting scenario is if that film wins and five guys in monkey masks come to the stage all saying, ‘I’m Banksy!’ Who the hell do we give it to? […] That’s the fun part of this job. There’s always some crazy-ass wrinkle you never thought of before.” And with that, Academy executive director Bruce Davis is plotting a “procedure” by which the elusive graffiti artist can claim his Oscar should Exit Through the Gift Shop win.

When Banksy was nominated Jan. 25, he put out a statement: “This is a big surprise. I don’t agree with the concept of award ceremonies, but I’m prepared to make an exception for the ones I’m nominated for. The last time there was a naked man covered in gold paint in my house, it was me.”

Note below, bullets are crayons.

If you’re familiar with Banksy, scroll past his work to see other graffiti artists.

The above graffiti is by the elusive graffiti artist Banksy, probably the most famous anonymous artist alive.

Banksy started as a teenage tagger in Bristol, England and has managed to become a well-known artist making million-dollar art while keeping his identity a mystery.  His stenciled graffiti continues to pop up on streets, walls and bridges throughout the world.

In his book, “Wall and Piece” he claims that as he was starting to do graffiti he was always too slow and was either caught or could never finish the art in the one sitting. So he devised a series of intricate stencils to minimize time and overlapping of the color.

This piece depicts “the gray ghost,” a New Orleans local who makes it his job to rid the city of graffiti–and who has successfully covered over this work and several others by Banksy that appeared in that city in 2008.

The next three were painted on the West Bank barrier wall in Israel on the Palestinian side of the wall.

Sometimes he just makes a comment.

When new graffiti is found in a style similar to Banksy, various people, photographers and websites debate whether it’s a genuine Banksy.  Photos of some of his work appear on his website so there is no disagreement.  But many don’t.  Click here if you want to visit his official site.

A well-received documentary was made by Banksy, “Exit Through the Gift Shop.”  It is the source of much speculation about whether it is a spoof or straight-up story.  Here is a link to Vanity Fair’s take on it.

A London artist, known only as Slinkachu, calls this unusual graffiti  ‘Inner City Snail – a slow-moving street art project’.  Slinkachu is keen to point out that non-toxic paints were used.  The 28-year-old said: ‘No snails were harmed – they just had their homes vandalised.’

Peter Gibson (a.k.a. Roadsworth) was frustrated with the lack of safety provided for cyclists in today’s cities.  The Montreal artist began (illegally) spray painting extra bike lanes onto the streets in 2001. It wasn’t long before he began to branch out and address other civic and environmental issues.

In 2004, Gibson was arrested and charged with over 80 counts of public mischief. With public support on his side, his sentence was lenient: a minor fine and 40 hours of community work which entailed creating legal artwork. Today he is often commissioned to create works of art.

Misc. other graffiti art

Photo by San_Tiago on flickr

Photo by : *luis*l* on flickr

Photo by: bo2krocketman on flickr

Photo by Michael Hughes on flickr


Pangolins are African mammals that can roll themselves into such a tight ball that it takes considerable force to unroll them. They use powerful muscles and the cutting action of their armor-plated scales to inflict serious wounds on any animal that tries to get between the plates.  The weight of the protective keratinous scales and skin make up about 20% of the pangolin’s weight.  They clean themselves by using their hind claws to reach under their scales and scratch their skin.

Photo by: J. Dennis / www.nhpa.co.uk

Pangolins have anal scent glands that emit strong, foul smelling secretions.  They are toothless so they have  gizzard-like stomachs for grinding food.  The grinding is helped along by the small stones and sand they eat.  They have no external ears, although their hearing is good. Their sense of smell is well-developed, but their sight is poor.

Pangolins have tongues up to 16 inches long.  In a resting position the tongue is pulled back and stored in a pouch in the chest. They use their sense of smell to locate termite and ant nests.  Large salivary glands coat the long tongue with a gummy mucus to which ants and termites stick.

The young are 6 inches long and weigh 12 ounces at birth. Their pale, soft scales begin to harden by the second day. The baby is folded in the mother’s lap or rolled-up body.

Photo source: CBC Radio As it Happens

Nursed for 3 to 4 months, babies begin to eat at 1 month. At this time the infant begins to accompany the mother, often riding on the base of her tail.  When Mom senses danger, she rolls up with Baby inside.

Pangolin’s have prehensile tails that can grab branches and allows them to hang upsidedown in trees, like monkeys.

Thanks to http://www.awf.org/content/wildlife/detail/pangolin for info.

Living Bridges

For hundreds of years the people of Cherrapunji, India have been crossing the chasms and  rivers in their area by growing bridges from live trees.  Living in one of the wettest places on earth, timber bridges would quickly rot.  The rubber fig trees they use have roots that grow well above the soil surface as well as below.

By guiding these roots, villagers can slowly grow a strong, permanent bridge.  In fact, because they are living, the bridges get stronger over time.  Some can hold up to 50 people.

In order to make a rubber tree’s roots grow in the right direction—say, over a river—the Khasis people use betel nut trunks, sliced down the middle and hollowed out, to create root-guidance systems. The thin, tender roots of the rubber tree, prevented from fanning out by the betel nut trunks, grow straight out. When they reach the other side of the river, they’re allowed to take root in the soil.

They take ten to fifteen years to become fully functional.

But then they last for hundreds of years, growing stronger.

Above is the longest known root bridge, about 100 feet.

There’s even a double-decker.

In Japan’s remote west Iya valley, locals use wisteria vines, growing from opposite sides of a river and woven together to form a bridge.  They then weave planks into them at 6-12 inch intervals.

While some (though apparently not all) of the bridges have been reinforced with wire and side rails, they are still harrowing to cross. With planks set 7 inches apart and a drop of 4 1/2  stories to the water, they are not for those with a fear of heights.

Mice Acrobats

Harvest mice siblings hang out together.

These stunning and rare photos document the lives of the elusive harvest mice.  Louis Klein and Marie-Luce Hubert  spent 12 months photographing these tiny, acrobatic creatures in Alsace, France.  They weigh .2 ounces, or less than a penny.

This mom keeps watch from the safety of her nest made from reeds.

Inside her nest, a female regurgitates to feed her ten-day-old babies.

Mom rolls her baby carefully up a plant stem towards her nest.

Like a monkey, the harvest mouse has a prehensile tail, using it as a fifth leg. The tail is mainly used to keep balance while climbing among grass stems. That way, the mouse is free to use both his hands.

Heads as well as tails can be convenient for exploring an interesting object in the distance.

It takes three siblings to get a good, safe grip.

Reaching for a flower.

Getting a drink while balancing.

Having a grasshopper dinner while balancing.

Checking out a camera while balancing.

The photographers shot the maternal behavior in a studio using mice from captivity.  They wouldn’t have been able to get this in the wild without disturbing the mother and there was a danger a wild mother might have abandoned her babies.

When shooting in the wild, they didn’t need to hide. They just had to find a good spot, lay very still for a long time, and wait for the mice

Above photos via:



Thanks Daily Mail.

The All England Lawn Tennis Club is donating tennis balls to help The Wildlife Trust in Avon, Glamorgan and Northumberland, England provide safe places to nest.  The grain fields where Harvest Mice live are threatened by intensive farming techniques.

These mice are nesting in one of the tennis balls.

Floating Islands

On Lake Titicaca in Peru, people called the Uros, live on islands made of living reeds that float in the lake. Hundreds of years ago they were forced to create these floating islands when the Incas expanded onto their land.

There are over 50 floating islands, each with about 4 or 5 families living on them.

The Uros use the totora reed, which is plentiful along the edges of the lake, to make their homes, their furniture, their boats, and the islands they live on.  The islands are fixed in place by long stakes that are shoved through the reeds to the bottom of the lake, 60 feet deep. If they want to move they can pull up the stakes and push the island around.

Once a week the top layer of reeds needs to be replenished as they rot from underneath.

by Jill Scoby

These boats are also made from reeds.

By Marivi Jimenez

Thanks to Myates at www.travelpod.com for the travel blog.

Surprising and zany logistics

Thanks to www.darkroastedblend.com where most of these photos were found.  I’ve picked my favorites out of many hundreds more.  Don’t miss the bowler at the end.  I’ve saved the best for last.

Check out where this boom box came from.

Note the passenger.

Helpful mule.

Oops, lighten that load.

Lighten this load too.

Note they each have a load.

Yikes, be careful.

Mind-bending 3-D Street Art

These photos are by Julian Beever, an English artist who makes these 3-D chalk drawings all over the world.  My eyes can’t understand what my brain knows is true–these are flat drawings.

Note people walking around the “whole in the sidewalk” and the “lid”

Here’s a video that shows Beever in the process of making a drawing:

Giant Crystals

These crystals are chambers in the Naica Mine in Chihuahua, Mexico, discovered in 2000 in a lead mine.

Interesting facts:

  • They are made of a kind of gypsum, the same material as in dry wall.
  • The chambers are along a fault line with magma heating them up to 150 F.
  • The largest crystal is 36 ft long, (11 m), 13 ft wide (4m) and weighs 55 tons.
  • The gypsum is so soft it can easily be scratched and damaged by tool, boots, even a fingernail.
  • The chambers are 1200 feet below the surface.

For more info:




Social Weavers, Hippie Birds

Social weavers are small birds that live in communes, building joint nests for up to 300 pairs. The nests up can be as large as 25 feet wide, 5 feet high, weighing over one ton, and with an individual room for every couple. One known colony is over 100 years old.

Sometimes the trees they are in collapse and die from the weight.

Thanks to telephone poles, and power lines, the social weavers are expanding their range.

Twigs, coarse grass and straw are the main building materials.  Nest interiors are lined with fur, feathers and soft plants.  They offer a stable micro climate for hot days and cold nights in the Kalahari desert.  The birds use them for sleeping as well as breeding.

They enter from the bottom.

Another sub-species of the weaver bird weaves intricate individual nests.

The best weaver birds have the ability to tie dozens of different shaped knots and loops for which they use their feet as well as beaks.

Photo by:  Phil Strange

Designs and neatness of construction vary widely among the different species of weaver birds. Some are simple and scruffy, with a small tube and roundish nests. Other species build much more elaborate nests, with the strands of grass carefully interwoven to form a well-defined structure. The main part is a hollow sphere, lined with nesting material, accessed through a long tube which has a small entrance hole. The nests are usually tough and well-secured so a high wind will not blow them down.

Above photos by:  Edgar Thissen

Mixed Species

Dogs are definitely the winners when it comes to connecting across species.

This post starts with species that are NOT household pets.  Then onto dogs, cats and  the surprising animals they hang out with.

I end with stories of unusual relationships.  If you want to read more about a particular story, click on the image and you will go to the website with the details.


Rabbit and hedgehog

Red winged blackbird hitching a ride on a red-tailed hawk.

On to dogs, cats and their unlikely friends.

O.k., I have to allow a couple too-cutenesses

Stories of Mixed Species

A baby hippo loses its mother in a tsunami and bonds with  a 120-year-old male turtle in Kenya.

This lion, tiger and bear were rescued when young from a raid on a drug lord in Atlanta, GA. The Noah’s Ark Animal Rescue Center kept them together because they had already bonded.

Dog adopts piglet runt abandoned by its mother.

A deer and bunny become friends in a place run by tanja-askani, in Germany.  It seems to be about animal rescue, but a lot of the info is in German.

Noah is a one-legged homing pigeon at the Wild Rose Rescue Ranch in Texas who adopted three bunnies after their mom died.

After the bunny, Noah went on to adopt other rescued animals.

Chimp adopts baby white tiger in TIGERS rescue in S. Carolina.


This is a photo of 15,000 square meters of rice paddy fields in Inakadate, Japan.  Hundreds of thousands of plants have been strategically arranged after months of planning by farmers and villagers.  Four different colors of rice plants are used.

Watch the process from planting to harvesting.

In September the plants have matured and they harvest the rice crop.

Rice-paddy art was started in 1993 as a local revitalization project, an idea that grew from meetings of  village committees.  The designs grew from a simple mountain, each year becoming more complicated and attracting more attention.

In 2005, agreements between landowners allowed the creation of enormous rice paddy art.  A year later, organizers used computers to precisely plot planting of the four differently colored rice varieties that bring the images to life.

Napoleon on horseback

Japanese warrior on horseback

A close-up of the warrior’s hand and sword.

Microscopic Photos as Art

The following images demonstrate the beauty and artistic order of nature at the microscopic level.

Nikon and Olympus camera companies each hold annual contests of photos taken through microscopes.  Winners use a variety of techniques (like polarizing, fluorescence, lasering) and magnifications ranging from 40 times the actual size to 50,000 or more.  Clicking on photos will take you to the winning galleries of the two companies.

by Albert Tousson/High Resolution Imaging Facility/University of Alabama at Birmingham

This is a lily of the valley petal magnified 1300 times using laser light.  The green and yellow balls are starch granules.

by John Hart/Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado

The photographer mixed sulfur, a blue dye and an antiseptic to create this crystal with bubbles and tubes.  His specialty at the University of Colorado is fluid dynamics.

by Mr. Karl Deckart Eckental, Germany

Soap bubbles.

Dr. Jonatas Bussador do Amaral and Dr. Gláucia Machado-Santelli São Paulo, Brazil

Ant thoracic salivary gland.

Lars Bech, Naarden, The Netherlands

Nicotinic acid amide melted with lidocaine (50x)

Dr. John H. Henson Department of Biology - Dickinson College

Sea Urchin embryo dividing (1000x)

by Charles Krebs

From the eye area of a jewel beetle, these colors are all taken with natural light, enlarged 40 times.

By Marc Van Hove of Centexbel in Belgium

A chystalized solgel chemical magnified 50 times.  I tried finding out what solgel is.  It was too complicated for me.  Here’s the simplest explanation:  Sol gel is a colloidal suspension of silica particles that is gelled to form a solid.  See what I mean?  But  it’s delicate stained-glass beauty was too hard to pass up.

Dr. Giuliano Zanchetta Milan, Italy

Liquid Crystalline DNA

Jens Rüchel Department of Zoology - University of Osnabrück, Germany

aquatic worm) (10x)

Dr. Margaret Oechsli, Jewish Hospital, Heart & Lung Institute, Louisville, Kentucky

Anti-cancer Drug,  Mitomycin

Dr. Tsutomu Seimiya Tokyo Metropolitan University

Soap film

Algae, green and red

Dr. Stephen Nagy, Helena, MT

Some other kind of algae


Dr. Sondra Barrett Sebastopol, CA


White Wine

See comment below.

Sea Slugs

Also called nudibranches

These creatures have amazing variety of shapes, patterns and colors.

How do these snails survive without shells? Why are they so varied and colorful?

By Stephen Childs

They eat the stinging or toxic cells of sea anemones or coral without discharging them. The cells then pass from the slug’s digestive tract to the feathery structures on the back where they are used for defense. The bright colors and patterns combine with a sour or toxic taste so fish notice them and are repelled.

Some glow by eating luminescent algae and passing it through to their skin.

by Dan Hershman

By Minette Layne

By Scott Stevenson

By Glylow71



Smiling Animals


but first


Bet you could never guess what kind of familiar animal this is.  Hint:  what looks like hair are legs.  It’s a squid!  A piglet squid to be precise, named because of its rotund shape.

It’s the size of an orange, lives about 320 feet deep, that is deeper than light can travel, and is a lousy swimmer because of its shape.

The body is clear except for the occasional cells containing red pigment.

From www.wineandbowties.com/nature/the-crested-smiling-aucklet-2


From www.darkroastedblend.com/2008/03/funny-animals-part-10.html

Looks like a two-toed sloth to me, a contented one.

O.K.  I couldn’t resist the temptation to have at least one cute, smiling cat.

Had to put this guy, the Axolotl in again even though he’s got his own solo post.

Blue Footed Booby

Cool Facts (Besides the name and the blue feet)

1)     First the male flaunts his brilliant blue feet with an exaggerated high-stepping silly-looking strut.  Then they spread their wings and tilt their bills upwards while they whistle and groan (see below, including video).

2)    The male presents nesting materials to the female like twigs and grass, but then she lays the eggs in a shallow depression on flat ground.

3)    The female lacks the extra skin birds have to fold over eggs and keep them warm—So she uses her blue-webbed-feet which have extra blood flow to incubate them.

4)    Once hatched, the female balances the chicks on top of her feet for one month while both parents feed them.

The dance

By peter-gene

Reflections in Raindrops

These stunning images are by  Light❖’s photostream on flickr.   The wonder of these photos is in both the artistry of the photographer and in the magic of reflected light on raindrops– so this post is in both human ingenuity and natural wonders.

None of these images are photoshopped, including the last one.

Click on an image to visit his site.

The following image is taken from a tiny dot on the edge of a leaf on this tulip.


Sea Dragons are close relatives of sea horses, having larger bodies and leaf-like appendages which enable them to hide among floating seaweed or kelp beds.

Leafy Sea Dragons


Like seahorses, male sea dragons carry and incubate the eggs until they hatch.  But sea dragons carry the 250 eggs or so on the underside of the male’s tail.  Only about 5% of them survive to maturity (2 years.)

(c) David Hall/www.seaphotos.com

“Pregnant” male leafy sea dragon with pink eggs underneath his tail.

Sea Dragons grow to about 18 inches so are larger than sea horses.

Weedy Sea Dragons



Ring Galaxies

Ring galaxies are a special kind of colliding galaxy formed when a smaller galaxy passes through the center of a larger one.

The space between stars in a galaxy is vast, so when galaxies collide, the stars don’t actually crash into each other. Instead, it’s their gravity that makes a mess. It’s somewhat like ripples in a pond after a large rock has been thrown in.  As the ripples plow outward, clouds of interstellar gas and dust collide and compress creating their own gravity.  Eventually these gas clouds collapse and form new stars.  The ring is blue because the countless stars being formed by the gravity-ripple are new and hot.  The bright yellow light in the middle shows the older stars in the  galaxy.

This photo shows a ring galaxy on the right and the smaller galaxy which passed through it on the left.  This is the only sighting so far that shows the smaller galaxy also being ring-shaped.  We see it nearly edge-on.

The Double Ring Galaxies of Arp 147 from Hubble
Credit: M Livio et al. (STScI), ESA, NASA

Other colliding galaxies

Most of these photos from Hubble telescope via www.geology.com


When I first saw this photo, I thought it must be a stuffed toy, not an animal or a fish.



It’s a salamander.  Besides its looks, it’s unusual in that it stays in its larval form, like a tadpole that never matures into a frog.  It never develops full lungs, retaining its gills and fins, so it lives under water.  The axolotl becomes sexually mature in the larval stage.


The axolotl can completely regrow a lost limb.

They are endangered in the wild because of habitat loss, but they are used in labs all over the world because of their ability to regenerate limbs and their embryos which are large and robust.

The only place on earth you can find them in the wild is at Lake Xochimilco in Mexico.

Sea Horses

Cool Facts

1)      Seahorses have heads like horses, tails like monkeys and pouches like kangaroos.

2)       It’s the male seahorse that becomes pregnant!

3)      They are monogamous, mating several times with the same partner during one season.

4)      They mate during the full moon.   Male seahorses try to impress females by having tail pulling competitions, dragging each other around on the bottom of the seabed and displaying their pouches.

5)  Then they have a courtship ritual that includes changing colors and synchronized swimming.


Photo courtesy of Rudie Kuiter and NOVA Online

The above photo shows the male and female mating when the male’s pouch meets the female’s egg duct.  She injects 200-600 eggs directly into his pouch where they are fertilized by his sperm.

The pouch lining becomes like a placenta, each egg forming an umbilical cord to supply oxygen and nutrition for the next six weeks.

Credit: iStockphoto/Kristian Sekulic

This couple are performing their daily ritual during pregnancy, entwining their tails and spiraling to the surface in a dance of celebration.

Francesco TURANO

You can see babies emerging from the top of this guy’s bulging belly and others newly born swimming nearby.  The males go through up to 72 hours of labor and contractions to release the babies.



Here’s a Dad and some newborns clinging to the grass.


Seahorses can change colors in the blink of an eye to camouflage themselves.

©David Hall at www.seaphotos.com


©David Hall at www.seaphotos.com

©David Hall at www.seaphotos.com

Seahorses anchor themselves with their prehensile tails to sea grasses and corals, using their elongated snouts to suck in plankton and small crustaceans that drift by. Voracious eaters, they graze continually and can consume 3,000 or more brine shrimp per day.

(c) David Hall/www.seaphotos.com

Great shot of a seahorse eating a brine shrimp.

Seahorse bodies have bony plates arranged in rings, that act as body armor. The body has exactly 11 rings and the tail has 34 to 35 rings.

The sharp points on the body have the ability to numb whatever it pricks.

They range in size from 1 ½ inches to one foot.


Star fish/Sea stars


Marine scientists have re-named star fish to sea stars, because they are not fish.  They belong to a group of animals called echinoderms, which means “spiny skin.” They are related to brittle stars, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and sand dollars.  There are about 1800 species of sea stars and they live is oceans around the world.

Cool Facts:

1)       A few species of sea stars can grow an entirely new body just from a portion of a severed limb.  They accomplish this by housing most or all of their vital organs in their arms. Others require the central body to regenerate a new limb.

2)      Sea stars use sea water instead of blood to pump nutrients throughout their bodies.  They have no brain, instead they have one or more rings of nerve tissue surrounding the esophagus to lend some coordination to their movements.   They detect light with five purple eyespots at the end of each arm.

3)  They have an organ that creates a mighty suction at the end of hundreds of tube feet under the arms by pumping water through the tubes.  With this suction  they can pry open even the most tightly closed shells such as mussels and oysters.

4)  They then force their stomach out of their mouth (which is on their bottom side) and insert it into a tiny crack between the two shells of the mussel or oyster.  They secrete a digestive enzyme which turns the animal’s flesh into a puree that the stomach absorbs.

5)      Sea stars can have up to 40, even more “arms” though five is the most common number.




Bleeding seastar

Had to put this in:  chocolate chip seastar


Had to put this in:  chocolate chip seastar


Looks like Gumby




Biscuit seastars


Detail of the upper surface of a Firebrick Sea Star

The following Basket Stars are one of the stranger cousins of starfish. These plantlike creatures coils into a knotted ball during the day.  At night they stretch out into a basket-like shape fishing for plankton and other microscopic critters.

(c) David Hall/ www.seaphotos.com

(c) David Hall/ www.seaphotos.com




Sand Sculptures

See below for info on how these are made and links.

Cinderella trying on glass slipper

Seven dwarfs

Probably these are not the sand castles you made as a kid– me neither.

There are international competitions on beaches around the world.  The biggest international competition is at Harrison Hot Springs in  British Columbia, Canada where I happened to vacation several years ago–so some of the above pics are mine.

In recent years many artists have formed companies specifically geared towards creating sand sculptures. These companies have found a niche market with corporate and private clients looking to promote a business or product or simply to wow their guests at a special event.

Corporate team building has been a growing part of the business of these groups (you and your co-workers build a sand sculpture together.)

From Team Sandtastic

The following photos and information show Jenny Rossen at www.jennyrossen.com making a 75 ton sand castle.

(you order a size by tons of sand, 25-100 tons.)

You start with wood forms, boxes that have no top or bottom.  Each layer is smaller.  The forms  hold the sand and also act as scaffolding that the sculptors can stand on.

Form from teamsantastic.com



Water is mixed with the sand and tamped down.


The top form is taken off and carved, then the next, and on down.


The 75 ton sandcastle finished.


Links:   www.jennyrossen.com



(See below for kangaroo and dog story)

By cskk


1)  A female kangaroo can nurse two babies (joeys) of different ages through two teats, each with a different formula appropriate to that joey’s age?

2)    The formula in a female’s milk changes weekly to suit the nutritional needs of the infant as it grows?

3)   Kangaroos are the size of a jelly bean when they are born—and can grow to 6 feet?

4)  A female kangaroo can slow the growth of her suckling young during drought conditions and hold a pregnancy in her uterus up to two years, until the food supply is replenished.


A baby is born only 4 weeks after conception and is not fully formed.  It is eyeless, earless, all but skinless and with only buds where its hind legs will be.

It crawls about 4 inches to the pouch where it clamps onto a teat.  It can’t even open its mouth for about a month.

Newborn with teat.


At 2.5 months– the milk is low in fats and high in sugars and vitamins to help develop the nervous system.  The joey is the size of a mouse.

At 5 months– the milk becomes higher in protein to support the growth of muscle tissue and tendons.

At 6 months– the milk is low in sugars and high in fats to support growth.  The joey is the size of a squirrel.  Its eyes are beginning to open and it’s starting to take in the world although it’s still firmly attached to the teat.  Its vital organs are now complete.

At 7 months– the joey can feed when it chooses and can also begin to peek out of the pouch and leave its mother’s pouch occasionally.

At 9 months the joey leaves the pouch permanently, but continues to nurse until 18 months.

Photo: Georgios Kefalas/Associated Press

Photo: Georgios Kefalas/Associated Press

Kangaroos can jump up to 30 feet in a single leap, and move up to 40 mph.

By Mundoo


A mom and twin joeys.


“By all accounts the baby kangaroo should have not survived the road accident that claimed its mother…but then along came Rex the wonder dog.

The pointer discovered the baby alive in the mother’s pouch and took it back to his owner.

“I’d taken Rex for a walk and we’d gone past the dead kangaroo that morning, and later I was working out the front and he started pointing,” his human, Ms Allan said.

“I was worried he’d found a snake and called him back, but when he returned he dropped the joey at my feet.  He obviously sensed the baby roo was still alive in the pouch and somehow had gently grabbed it by the neck, gently retrieved it and brought it to me.”  Amazingly, the 10-year-old dog had been so tender with the joey that it was both calm and unmarked.

“The joey was snuggling up to him, jumping up to him and Rex was sniffing and licking him,” Ms Allan said.  The joey, to be named Rex Jr after his saviour, is now being cared for at Jirrahlinga Wildlife Sanctuary and when he is 18 months old will be released back into the wild.”

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-551330/Best-mates-baby-kangaroo-wonder-dog-saved-it.html#ixzz0lypnbyVI

Slot Canyons


by TTVo

A slot canyon is a narrow canyon significantly deeper than it is wide.  Some slot canyons measure less than three feet at the top and can be more than 100 feet deep.

by funkandjazz

They are formed  by water rushing through rock, most often sandstone and limestone rock.

by alienwatch

by Vin60


Only a small number of creeks will form slot canyons due to a combination of the particular characteristics of the rock, regional rainfall and wind.


By JcOlivera.com

The above photographs are all from the Antelope Slot Canyons on the Navajo reservation, near Page, Arizona.  Though there are many other slot canyons that are deeper, narrower or longer, and some have rock that is even more colorful and sculptured, conditions at Antelope Canyon  are ideal for catching light to make these majestic photographs.

By 12fh

Labyrinth Canyon, Utah

Utah has the largest concentration of slot canyons in the world.  Most are usually filled with pot- holes of ice cold water, and explorers wear wet suits and wade and swim through the narrow slots.

By rangergord

By tkellyphoto

Little Wild Horse Canyon in Utah’s San Rafael Swell.

Saturn, its rings and moons


1)    Saturn has over 60 moons.

2)    The smaller moon in this photo, Epimetheus, is only 72 miles across and has a very uneven shape.

3)    The larger moon, Titan, is 3,200 miles across.

4)    The moon Titan is larger than the planet Mercury.

5)    Like Earth, Titan has lakes, rivers, dunes, mountains and possibly volcanoes.

6)    Like Earth, Titan has clouds, rain and snow.

7)   A day on Saturn is 10 hours and 39 minutes—it spins on its axis very quickly.

8)    A year is equal to 29.5 Earth years.

This composite photo shows the relative sizes of Earth and Saturn.

1)    Saturn’s rings are made of ice chunks and rocks that range in size from the size of a fingernail to the size of a car.       Although the rings are extremely wide (almost 185,000 miles), they are very thin (as little as a few thousand feet ).

2)      Though this looks like just a few rings, it is actually tens of thousands of thin “ringlets.”

3)       Rings form when asteroids or comets pass too closely to a planet or moon and tear it apart.  The parts continue in orbit.

A moon shadow (on Saturn’s rings) for Cat Stevens

Saturn’s north is a seething cauldron of rolling cloud bands and swirling vortices. This image was taken at a distance of approximately 336,000 miles.

See the tiny white-dot-of-a- moon in the middle of the black space in the rings.

This photo shows how gravity from a passing moon disrupts the orbit of one bright and one faint ring.

Most of these stunning photos were taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft as shown at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1172205/Saturn-close-Sensational-cosmic-images-bring-ringed-planet-life.html#ixzz0kL0wy11R

Bower Birds

Male satin bowerbirds like blue because female satin bowerbirds like blue.

A male collects up to 1000 short sticks to construct a bower.  Then he decorates it with blue, all to convince a female to mate.  Rather than fancy plumage or beautiful song, the male can spend as much as 9-10 months constructing his bower and decorating it.  Sometimes they even steal adornments from rival’s bowers.

Once the bower is completed, the male sings and dances puffing out his crest to any interested females.  Female’s visit a few bowers, deciding who to mate with.  When she’s selected a male, she builds a nest nearby.  Then she returns and stands in the bower while the male continues his song and dance routine, singing, struting, hissing, and adding more objects to charm her.  Eventually they mate in the bower.

A mature male with a specially fancy bower and decorations might successfully entice several females in one season to mate, while some males might completely fail.

Photo by The Waterboy

The volgal bowerbirds use a variety of colors and shapes from flowers to berries to any shiney or interesting object.

mdeboer{at}var.nl. I believe this is the person who took this pic and put it on members.tele2.nl/michiel.1/papua/West%20Papua.htm


Check out this bower and the size of the bird that built it!

By greyherbert

This is a Vogelkop Bowerbird who has built a “maypole” bower, like a wild head of hair on a pole.  The bird is in the lower right of the photo, tiny compared to his bower.

There are about 20 species of bowerbird in Australia and New Guinea.