Tag Archives: photography

Nature pics from Lake Mohonk

Below are some recent photographs I took near Mohonk Mountain House near New Paltz, New York. All pics are linked to iNaturalist observations if you have a comment or would like to correct my identification (thanks in advance).

I think this is Dermatocarpon luridum (brook stippleback lichen). Apparently subaquatic, so one only finds it in locations that are always wet. This clump was growing on the vertical face of Shawangunk conglomerate. It’s sometimes called “brook stickleback lichen” but shouldn’t be (that’s just a typo). More details here.

Another lichen (species TBA) peeking though ice.

I liked the diversity of bryophytes in this clump so thought I’d try my hand at identifying them. The central puff is, perhaps, Leucobryum albidum. There’s another species in the genus, L. glaucum, but I think that has longer leaves. The ferny-looking one is possibly Hypnum imponens (brocade moss). And, finally, that wispy moss could be either Dicranum fuscescens (dusky fork-moss) or D. scoparium. Mosses are hard, and there are apparently 177 in the Shawagunk Mountains (Tessler et al. 2016).

Some sort of conifer that had been hit by lightning. I looked around for the bark that had been blown off but couldn’t find it. It’s interesting there are no scorch marks. I gather that the explosion can launch bark at bystanders, which is another good reason not to hide under trees during an electrical storm. Fun fact: I’ve been hit by lightning. Actually, that wasn’t fun.

I think the white areas on this Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel) are where the waxy layers of the leaf have separated. Which doesn’t seem like a good idea so I’m curious why this was so common — every plant had dozens of leaves with similar spots. Frost damage, perhaps?

Just a fruit from Liquidambar styraciflua (American sweetgum). Very common, this one was more photogenic than usual because of the ice.

I’m pretty sure this is Dacrymyces chrysospermus (orange jelly spot) because it was growing on a dead conifer that had no bark. This saprobic species is often confused with the parasites Tremella aurantia and Tremella mesenterica, both equally colorful and gooey but which grow on (=eat) Stereum hirsutum and Peniophora spp., respectively (see Overall 2017). Identification of Tremella species can be tricky because their hosts are not always visible. And, sometimes, a jelly can be found near both Stereum hirsutum and Peniophora, in which case you’d need to examine spores to figure out which Tremella you have. If you want to read more, Thomas Roehl has a great post.

I think this is Trichaptum biforme (violet-toothed polypore) but I’m not confident because it’s the first time I’ve encountered the species. I’m fairly confident of the genus because of the toothy underside, but I guess it could be Trichaptum abietinum, instead, if the host is a conifer. I don’t think it’s Trametes versicolor (turkey-tail; has pores) or Stereum hirsutum (false turkey-tail; smooth underside) but those two were my first guesses.

I’ve eyed this sad-looking Salix matsudana (Chinese willow) for years and wondered what disease it might have. My current guess is Agrobacterium tumefaciens (crown gall) but fungi can cause cankers, too.

This took me forever to identify so I’ll be sad if I’m wrong: Callirhytis quercussimilis (Cynipidae). Here’s the BugGuide page. I know it’s not an amazing photograph but I just love these wasps. There were thousands in the area.

I think this is a wolf spider (Lycosidae), perhaps something in the genus Pardosa. That ID is based on overall look but especially on the eyes (I rely on this page heavily). In years of walking on the snow looking for something to photograph, spiders are far more common than insects so I tend to adjust my search image to look for spiders, not insects. There’s even a large literature that explores how spiders survive (e.g., Murphy et al. 2008).

This is an American black bear (Ursus americanus), the only bear species in the area and thus easy to identify. I used a 70-200 mm lens with an attached 1.4x extender, then heavily cropped the image. So not as close as it appears, which is really just as well. It didn’t look amused.

More photographs of Mohonk Mountain House (and nature) are here, if you’re interested.

Adding image credits to lecture and research talk slides

Here’s an annotated example of how to include photograph title, copyright status, photographer’s name, and URL on a slide. The most critical parts are the photographer’s name and the URL.


You can change the color of the box and the text, of course, and even orient the information vertically if that fits your talk scheme better.

How to find creator’s name

When you find an image via an online search, sometimes (usually!) it’s not clear who made it. But you should figure it out even though it takes time. To track down the name of the photographer or artist, try Jeffrey’s Exif viewer, Tineye Reverse Image Search, and Google Inside Search. If you can’t find the author, find a different image to use. Aim for a talk in which every image has a credit.

Image location

Providing a name is important, but it’s also critical to display where the original image is located. For most images, that means providing the URL on the photographer’s website. I.e., you might initially have found the image on a different site (e.g., Pinterest), but using the image search techniques above you should track down where the photographer houses the original. Similarly, if the original is in a book or magazine article, provide that source information. If you can’t be bothered to track down this information, don’t use the image. Photographers spend tens of thousands of dollars on fancy equipment and spend years accumulating quality shots, so honor that effort.

Be a role model

If you have a room full of impressionable students, please pause once during your lecture (or semester) to comment about why image credits are just like attributions for copied text. Explain that, yes, it does take some time to track down the photographers’ names and image locations but that it’s important to do so. Make it clear that providing image credits is part of the academic honesty policy of your school. Indeed, make sure “add image credits” is part of your syllabus if you require students to make presentations of their own.

Is it OK to post your talk slides online?

If you have used copyrighted photographs or illustrations, the answer is “no”. The answer is the same if you are an academic at a non-profit institution. I.e., although you can claim “fair use” to include copyrighted visuals in a presentation without getting permission from the creators, current United States copyright law does not allow you to publish those images, even if you think that’s part of your job. So if you promise your students “I’ll post these slides online later”, you are legally required to delete the copyrighted images before doing so. Note that this prohibition against publishing other people’s copyrighted work applies even if you post your slides on a content management system like Blackboard, Moodle, or Google Classroom. Sorry, I’m just the messenger here.

Useful reads on using images in slides

  1.  The Educator’s Guide to Copyright, Fair Use, and Creative Commons,
  2. Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for OpenCourseWare,
  3. Washington State University Fair Use Guidelines,
  4. UCLA Drops Copyrighted Videos From Course Web Sites After Legal Threat,
  5. The TEACH Act.
  6. Cite and Attribute Your Sources.

Tumblr tips for photographers

Photographers tend to loathe tumblr and related sites because they operate by using other people’s copyrighted material, gathered into collections to compete for Likes and Reblogs.  So I decided to take tumblr for a spin to see how alarmed I should be. In particular, I was curious how images get loaded onto tumblr pages and whether the company promotes conscientious copyright etiquette.  Screenshot of my site (http://colinpurrington.tumblr.com) is below if you’ve never seen a tumblr site before. [More below the image…]

Colin Purrington's tumblr site

And below is typical upload screen, toggled slightly to show how one can use an image’s URL to post.  There is a separate field on the right-hand side to paste the content source URL.  Because I host my photographs on SmugMug, I paste the photograph’s “gallery” link in the content source box, and that URL is automatically duplicated by tumblr into the “set a click-through link” box.  Now, if anyone ever clicked on one of my images (it might happen!), they would be transported to the photograph in question, but it would be displayed amid other photos in the same gallery (that’s good, because adjacent photographs might also be of interest).

tumblr upload windowSo when posters conscientiously specify source and click-through URLs, that information will then (sometimes) be displayed.  Here’s an example:

tumblr reblogBut the above scenario is rare, and usually your photograph will be displayed without any of the embedded information.  This is where I have the most misgivings about tumblr HQ — they are in a position to dictate that all “themes” (tumblr accounts can be equipped with one of thousands of styles) must show image source/credit, but they do no such thing.  If Tumblr has the look and sound of Myspace, and your credit information is lost in the mess. That’s why you really should watermark all of your images.  For me, I’ve just placed my name on them.  But you could also put source URL on the image itself.  Just do something.

Many photographers stay away from tumblr because they think it will promote image theft, but I think it can go both ways.  When you post your own images on tumblr, it gives a way for people to share your images in a controlled way, albeit imperfect. Doing so could actually drive traffic back to your site, since people these days rarely come out to browse photographers’ web sites. I.e., the same reason photographers are starting to duplicate their galleries onto facebook.  It also gives you insight in how to craft your “using my photographs” paragraph that you might have somewhere on your main photography site.  E.g., if you know the details of tumblr (or Pinterest, or We Heart It, or whatever thefting site is popular tomorrow), you can use the proper language to tell people how they may properly credit your work.  Or, if you don’t want your work used at all, having knowledge of how the sites work will improve your ability to find technical fixes that block that use.

Whether you have a tumblr account or not, you’re going to find your stuff on tumblr if you search for it (find it by tineye.com, or search tumblr for your name). Just contact the tumblr user and ask them to adjust the settings so that the image is specified by a URL and that it has the click-through destination you prefer — they can change those in under a minute, and some of them like this woman specifically ask for corrections:

yourdailyintake tumblr text

Of course, that only works if you can contact the owner of the tumblr account, and I’d estimate only 1% of pages have contact information (don’t ask me why).  If you have a tumblr account and “follow” them, then you can send Fan Mail. Or if you don’t want to deal with the violator of your copyright, just shoot a take-down request to support@tumblr.com (details) and they’ll pull the image within hours (I’ve found).