A Rolling Stone

As the old axiom goes, a rolling stone gathers no moss, and Mythbusters proved that to be true. As part three of my trilogy about lichens, fungi and mosses, I was wondering how deep into some of our rain forest areas I’d have to go to find examples of mosses (with Mossvale Park displaying less moss than you’d expect). But with the weather we’ve been having this Winter and Spring, a lot of moss has emerged in our yard, so it was an easy place to begin. Funny how sometimes the things of interest are right around you and under your nose, but you tend to overlook them because they are so familiar.

Moss - Mirboo North Victoria

Moss – Mirboo North Victoria

Now mosses belong to a class of plants called Bryophytes (studied by bryologists – true) and can be found all over the world, much like lichen and fungi. While they thrive in damp conditions, they can also be found in drier climates, though less prolific; but shady, cool, conditions always help. It doesn’t appear to be an issue whether the conditions are fresh or salt water, you’ll invariably find them inhabiting both environments. And, once again, I had great difficulty in identifying the mosses that I found, so I’ve ended up not trying to give them any names. I did find some botanical names, but common names eluded me except for this one, which may be a star moss.

Moss - Mirboo North Victoria

Moss – Mirboo North Victoria

Some of the mosses in our yard were very delicate and tiny things indeed, with the bulbs on one type not much more than 2-3mm in length. And the closer that you got, the more interesting were the details of these wee plants. You really do need to get up close and personal to see more of the fine detail in these tiny plants and, in doing so, required some additional techniques (taking multiple photographs and then stacking them with software) so that more than just one of two or the bulbs were in focus.

Moss - Mirboo North Victoria

Moss – Mirboo North Victoria

Moss - Mirboo North Victoria

Moss – Mirboo North Victoria

And what was even more surprising is that I noticed creatures that were even smaller wandering around in the forest of moss. If you have a look at the previous photograph ( very bottom right) you’ll see a small round and greyish object. It happens to be a small critter that, when enlarged, gives you a better glimpse of what it is (a mite of some sort I assume). Now I’m sure that you’ll find similar in other environments as well, but being so small, they tend to go unnoticed. And who knows, the second one could be the same, or a cousin, as they were taken a day apart.

Moss Inhabitant - Mirboo North Victoria

Moss Inhabitant – Mirboo North Victoria

Moss Inhabitant - Mirboo North Victoria

Moss Inhabitant – Mirboo North Victoria

And just across the road there is a veritable forest of moss clinging to the hillside next to the road, providing purchase for all manner of other plant life. Because the area is predominantly in the shade all year round, it’s a perfect haven for moss to flourish. But most of it is the same wherever you look in this neighbourhood, so finding different subjects hasn’t been easy.

Moss - Mirboo North Victoria

Moss – Mirboo North Victoria

And to round things out, this is what I used to photograph the smallest subjects; various components cobbled together to provide a way of getting high magnification, but without having to be right on top of the subjects. This setup was also used for some of the lichen and fungi photographs.

Macrophotography Assembly

Macrophotography Assembly

Macrophotography Assembly

Macrophotography Assembly

Looking closer at the world reveals things that often take you by surprise, as there’s so much hidden life all around you, if you just stop and take a closer look. Though that tends to be a rare thing nowadays, as staring into mobile phones and the like seems to be a far more rewarding activity for so many people.

9 thoughts on “A Rolling Stone

  1. Ross

    I love these Ray. Thanks for showing these. I must employ my bellows with reversed lenses again too. BTW, I haven’t seen you around a certain forum for a while & miss your input there.

  2. Ross

    Just another thought Ray. It should be good with the new firmware 4.0 for the E-M1 soon & then focus bracketing & stacking too will be a delight then (only for AF lenses though).
    Cheers, Ross

    1. Ray Post author

      Thanks Ross
      I’ve had these contraptions around for some time and thought I really had to put them to some use again. It was a bit of fun and hope to find more interesting stuff now that the weather is getting better. The new firmware should be interesting.

  3. gnarlydognews

    very nice work Ray. Focus stacking is something that eludes me in my attempts, for now.

    1. Ray Post author

      Thank you. All focus stacking requires is some trial and error, a bit of practice and a sturdy tripod or steady hand. Focus stacking software can do wonders, even if the shots aren’t ideally captured.

  4. Ross

    I’ve had one quick try with the “Focus Stacking” feature using the firmware 4.0 in the E-M1 with the Olympus 60mm macro lens & I’m impressed. See here http://e-group.uk.net/forum/showthread.php?t=40289 Unfortunately it is limited to just 3 lenses (for now) but the Focus Bracketing can be used on all (or most) of the M4/3’s lenses so that could be interesting too. I still haven’t tried my bellows with the E-M1 yet, but I’ll still have to try because of the great magnification possible with the 28mm OM reversed on the bellows.
    Hope you’re keeping well & Merry Christmas (it’s not far away now).

    1. Ray Post author

      Fixed. Yes, Christmas is coming up far to quickly. Hope yours won’t be too white and ours not too hot.

      The focus stacking (and focus bracketing) feature is pretty amazing, unfortunately, with my older lenses, I can’t take advantage of the new technology and so must rely on the traditional techniques. That’s not always a bad thing.

      1. Ross

        I’m sorry, I must have given you the wrong impression on where I live with the UK forum (I do have relatives there) as I’m not in Wales but NSW, Blue Mountains (hence the AU$1 coin). 🙂 I do agree, I hope ours isn’t too hot, but at the same time I hope my friends & relatives don’t have too white a Christmas either.

        1. Ray Post author

          Not a problem. I just spent a week at Renmark on a houseboat and we had two days that were 44C. I don’t relish experiencing such temperatures again.

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