Saturday, November 30, 2013

Autumn gold

Autumn gold by andiwolfe
Autumn gold, a photo by andiwolfe on Flickr.
Another spectacular view of Chestnut Ridge Metro Park in its autumn splendor. We visited the park just a day or so after I returned from China. The refreshing and clear air was such a welcome respite from the persistent smog I experienced during my trip. It makes me ever so thankful for the Clean Air Act that was passed in the 1970's in the USA. China could learn a thing or two about government regulation for environmental pollution control....

Friday, November 29, 2013

Autumn at Chestnut Ridge

Autumn at Chestnut Ridge by andiwolfe
Autumn at Chestnut Ridge, a photo by andiwolfe on Flickr.
Central Ohio has many lovely metro parks - areas set aside for preserving some of Ohio's biodiversity, and for giving city dwellers a chance to get out and experience nature.

This photo is from Chestnut Ridge Metro Park - about an hour's drive from Columbus, but with a view of the distant skyline. We had not visited the park before this excursion, and we were pleasantly surprised by the the beech forest here. The maples and beeches were a nice combination for an autumn landscape.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Vervet Monkey

Vervet Monkey by andiwolfe
Vervet Monkey, a photo by andiwolfe on Flickr.
Happy Thanksgiving to my American friends....

This little critter is not invited to dinner. However, vervet monkeys make themselves quite at home at campsites in the Richtersveld, and this one was no exception. The previous campers had left some corn trash - a boon for hungry monkeys.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Euphorbia virosa

Euphorbia virosa by andiwolfe
Euphorbia virosa, a photo by andiwolfe on Flickr.
The Richtersveld is an arid region in the extreme northwest corner of South Africa and southwest corner of Namibia. There is a transnational park flanking the Orange River.

I visited in September, 2013, while doing my field work in South Africa to search for species of Hyobanche. There were a couple of sightings of Hyobanche from the Richtersveld, so this was a prospecting trip for the area.

The side benefit for me was the opportunity to experience this amazing landscape. The aridity of the region is mind-boggling. The geology is laid bare to the eye since there is such a sparse covering of plants that can survive here. One of those that does well is Euphorbia virosa. Superficially, this resembles a North American cactus, but, cut a slice from a stem and you'll find a very sticky white sap.

I made this photo while doing a climb up into a kloof (ravine) that had a bit of moisture. I was hoping to find Hyobanche glabrata. No luck with that, but I did end up with a souvenir which still shows a scar today. I had a run-in with gravity and collided with a dead branch of a gnarled shrub. Huge contusion, huge abrasion and slice in my thigh. Not a pretty image to think about, but it's one of the things I will remember about the Richtersveld. Of course, I remember so many other wonderful things about this area - the night sky, the birds, the geology, the plants, etc. I would love to visit again....

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A Reminder of Spring

A Reminder of Spring by andiwolfe
A Reminder of Spring, a photo by andiwolfe on Flickr.

We're still nearly a month away from the start of winter, but we are definitely having winter weather this week. The temperatures have been well below freezing and we have snow on the ground. I don't mind winter weather, but this year I'm not mentally prepared for it. That's what happens when one spends August and September in the southern hemisphere - two springs in one year spoils the mind for facing gray and dreary days. So, here's my reminder that spring will return - say about April here in Ohio....

Monday, November 25, 2013

Penstemon payettensis

Penstemon payettensis by andiwolfe
Penstemon payettensis, a photo by andiwolfe on Flickr.
A gem from this past summer, as I attended the American Penstemon Society meeting in Boise, Idaho. The day before the meeting started, Paul Blischak (one of my graduate students) and I did a short field trip up into the Boise Mountains. There we found four species of Penstemon in just a short while, including this lovely species.

For more information about it, check out the blog post I wrote:

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal by andiwolfe
Northern Cardinal, a photo by andiwolfe on Flickr.
The bright plumage of our northern cardinals always brings a smile to my face during the advent of winter. I love watching these birds in my yard and in the metro parks around Columbus, Ohio.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My 2014 Ohio State University Calendar

For the past few years I've been making custom Ohio State University calendars for people in my lab group, and as gifts for friends.  After people saw the calendar for this year I had requests for orders for my 2014 calendar.  So, I am making my 2014 calendar available for purchase (not a profit-making venture - costs cover printing and shipping).  I have three versions. The first is a generic calendar that has no OSU-specific dates marked on it. The second one has OSU-specific dates (e.g., first day of the semester, final exams, graduation, football games, men's home basketball, etc.).  The third version includes everything in the second version, but is specifically for EEOB folks who might be interested in some history of biology trivia (e.g., birthdays of famous biologists).

Here is an overview of the calendar:

Here are some examples of specific months, comparing the generic with the EEOB-specific versions.

Generic for January and September:

EEOB-specific for January and September:

Cost of the calendar is $15.  Add $3 for shipping.  Calendars will be shipped for arrival by the end of December.  You can order below (deadline is December 6, 2013).


Generic calendar (no OSU dates) - $15 + $3 shipping:


OSU-specific calendar (OSU dates included) - $15 + $3 shipping:


OSU EEOB-specific calendar (OSU dates and biology trivia included) - $15 + $3 shipping:


Dublin Irish Festival 2013

Dublin Irish Festival 2013 by andiwolfe
Dublin Irish Festival 2013, a photo by andiwolfe on Flickr.

Jon Pilatzke was part of Carlos Nuñez's band for Dublin Irish Festival 2013. I made this photo during the finale.

If you've never attended the Dublin Irish Festival - what are you waiting for? This is one of the best festivals in the world - great music, great performers, great cultural activities, great craic.... A bargain all around.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Bar-throated Apalis

Bar-throated Apalis by andiwolfe
Bar-throated Apalis, a photo by andiwolfe on Flickr.

This is a bird with attitude. As Jessica Rabbit (Who framed Roger Rabbit) would say, "I can't help it, I was made this way...." The markings and intense stare of this bird really give it a huge personality - especially for such a diminutive bird.

Photographed 13 Sep 2013 - DeHoop Nature Reserve, South Africa.

Monday, November 18, 2013


Bokmakierie by andiwolfe
Bokmakierie, a photo by andiwolfe on Flickr.

I love the diversity of birds in South Africa, and I'm very lucky to be able to combine my interest in birding with my field seasons focused on Hyobanche.

The first time I was introduced to this species was in 2004 - a solo field season where I had traveled to the Eastern Cape to work with Hyobanche robusta. On the way back to Cape Town, I stopped at Andrew's Field, near Cape Agulhas. At the time, there was guest accommodation at Tsaba-Tsaba - small self-catering cottages.

The first morning I was there I heard a lovely song just outside the window, just after dawn. I saw a bokmakierie, but didn't know what it was. I bought a bird book in Cape Town and figured it out. Its markings are so striking. I didn't expect this to be in amongst the shrikes and butcher birds based on that lovely song.

This photo is from September 13, 2013 - DeHoop Nature Reserve, the last bit of camping from the 2013 field season. DeHoop is a magical place for plant and animal diversity, and I really enjoyed the early morning birding opportunities.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Cape Shovelers in flight

Cape Shovelers in flight by andiwolfe
Cape Shovelers in flight, a photo by andiwolfe on Flickr.

DeHoop Nature Reserve, just east of Cape Agulhas in South Africa, is a wonderful place to camp and to see a wide variety of birds. The place is magical for animal and plant diversity, in general, but especially great for birders.

You can camp right along the vlei, which is sometimes very calm in the early morning. This pair of Cape Shovelers flew low across the water, right below our campsite. The calm water made a mirror reflection, allowing all of the details of the wings to be seen.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Richtersveld landscape

Richtersveld landscape by andiwolfe
Richtersveld landscape, a photo by andiwolfe on Flickr.

This area of South Africa is a wonderful place to visit, but one needs a sturdy 4X4 to travel here. An excursion to the Richtersveld needs careful planning. Water, food, fuel, and shelter, plus spare parts are required to have a comfortable trip through this arid region.

It looks like a barren landscape, but there is an incredible amount of diversity in plants, insects, reptiles, birds, and mammals here.

Friday, November 15, 2013


Kokerboom by andiwolfe
Kokerboom, a photo by andiwolfe on Flickr.

A remote and arid landscape describes Richtersveld National Park, but that is such an understatement of the sheer beauty of this area. The magnitude of such beauty is hard to describe in words, and photos barely do it justice.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Portland Head Lighthouse

Portland Head Lighthouse by andiwolfe
Portland Head Lighthouse, a photo by andiwolfe on Flickr.

This morning I needed to find my August, 2011 photos, which were buried in my old Aperture libraries. I imported all of my raw files into Lightroom to manage them, and found that most of them needed tweaking with some reprocessing. Here's the first one of the new series.

Photo from 21 August 2011.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Kokerboom by andiwolfe
Kokerboom, a photo by andiwolfe on Flickr.
The landscape of the Richtersveld in South Africa is stunning in its stark beauty. The kokerbooms are endemic to this region of southern Africa, and it's amazing to see them in this arid landscape.

The two days spent at Kokerboomkloof were important for me - not in the sense that the Hyobanche hunt was successful (it certainly wasn't in this part of the country), but for the participation in such a remote landscape. The night sky here was so beautiful. Seeing the Milky Way and all of the Messier objects by naked eye was quite humbling on the one hand, but very spiritual on the other.

The kokerbooms are sentinels for the safety of such places in the world. I draw comfort from the fact that they exist and thrive in such a harsh environment.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Kokerboom silhouette

Kokerboom silhouette by andiwolfe
Kokerboom silhouette, a photo by andiwolfe on Flickr.

Kokerboomkloof; Richtersveld National Park.

This was the photo I had planned for 24 hours - since I had seen this potential the previous sunset. So, just as the western mountain shadow was creeping over the area, the one person we encountered within 100+ square kilometers, who was staying at our campground, decides to walk the road, and stand there in my scene. Dennis (one of my field companions) and I tried to get his attention, but he didn't hear us, or ignored us - not quite sure which it was.

This was a one-shot opportunity. I had scouted the area pretty thoroughly to find some kokerbooms where this scene would work. Frustrated? You betcha! Fortunately, I was able to make the photo as the guy walked behind one of the shrubs, but then he walked into the scene.

Later that evening, Dennis went to the guy's campsite to apologize for us yelling at him. Turns out the guy didn't hear us at all. Dennis did have to contain himself when he spotted a photography book on the guy's camp table. The title? "Digital Landscape Photography for Dummies."

Monday, November 11, 2013

Self portrait

Self portrait by andiwolfe
Self portrait, a photo by andiwolfe on Flickr.

September 5, 2013: South Africa.

Me and my shadow, plus that of a Kokerboom at Kokerboomkloof, Richtersveld National Park. Camping in the wilderness allows one to wake up before sunrise to take advantage of the warm tones of the early morning light.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


Kokerboomkloof by andiwolfe
Kokerboomkloof, a photo by andiwolfe on Flickr.

This is a scene from the second campground we used in the Richtersveld - a very arid and stunning landscape with all of the kokerboom trees. These are tree aloes (Aloe dichotoma), endemic to the region.

Sunset in this area is preceded by the sun being blocked by the mountains to the west. The mountains in the east are illuminated until the shadow of the western mountains climb them. The kokerboom trees are in shade, but the mountains behind are in full sunlight - an interesting combination.

Seeing this scene the first night we arrived, I planned for a photo shoot for the next evening… That became an interesting story.

Saturday, November 09, 2013


Kokerboom kloof by andiwolfe
Kokerboom kloof, a photo by andiwolfe on Flickr.

Second campground in the Richtersveld - a very arid and stunning landscape with all of the kokerboom trees. These are tree aloes (Aloe dichotoma), endemic to the region.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Kokerboom architecture

Kokerboom architecture by andiwolfe
Kokerboom architecture, a photo by andiwolfe on Flickr.

One of the delightful sights in Richtersveld National Park is the contrast between the stark desert scenery and a kokerboom tree. These are also known as tree aloes - one of several different species.

I photographed this particular specimen at Kokerboomkloof campground, where we camped for two nights. I love the symmetry of the architecture for the stems of this tree. It's a good way to take advantage of the available light.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Richtersveld National Park

Richtersveld National Park by andiwolfe
Richtersveld National Park, a photo by andiwolfe on Flickr.

Another Adventure in South Africa - searching for Hyobanche glabrata in one of the most interesting landscapes I've seen. Didn't find it there, but enjoyed the hunt.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

South Africa sunrise

South Africa sunrise by andiwolfe
South Africa sunrise, a photo by andiwolfe on Flickr.

I usually work in Color, but I thought this was more dramatic in monochrome. I used a Fuji X1 for this photo, and it has a black and white setting, which was perfect for this dramatic sunrise at Houthoop Guest House. We camped there September 2, 2013, so this was the sunrise on September 3.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Phoenix City

Phoenix City by andiwolfe
Phoenix City, a photo by andiwolfe on Flickr.

Hunan Province, China - this is an ancient city built largely from wood. It was on the post-conference tour for the International Wood Culture Society for obvious reasons - to take a look at the use of wood in an old town. It rained so hard the day we visited that it made it a bit of a challenge to navigate the streets with the crowd of people maneuvering umbrellas. On the other hand, it was very photogenic.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Phoenix Town

Phoenix Town by andiwolfe
Phoenix Town, a photo by andiwolfe on Flickr.

Hunan Province, China - visited this ancient city on October 30, 2013. It was a very rainy day, which made the visit a bit of a challenge. I enjoyed the colorful umbrellas and rain ponchos, though.

Sunday, November 03, 2013


Koi by andiwolfe
Koi, a photo by andiwolfe on Flickr.

I visited Yueyang Tower in Changsha, China on October 22, 2013. There was a pond with dozens of koi - very beautiful to see and mesmerizing to watch.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Phoenix City, China

Phoenix City, China by andiwolfe
Phoenix City, China, a photo by andiwolfe on Flickr.

I just returned from China last night to cap off a two month marathon of international travel. Here's one of my photos from the post-conference tour for the International Wood Culture Society Symposium on Taxodiaceae. Stay tuned for some blog posts about the trip (along with ones from South Africa and Australia). I have a lot of catching up to do, including photo processing, but I'll try to make a series of blog posts over the next several months.

October 30, 2013 - pouring down rain for this morning in China. The old town of Phoenix City was built around 1000 years ago. The workers work brightly colored rain ponchos and traditioinal hats. This woman was taking a break from the rain, sheltering in one of the gateways between sections of the old town.