Capturing the world with Photography, Painting and Drawing

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In the October woodlands 3 :Lichens, but they aren’t quite what we thought they are !

A little more detailed this post than my usual Friday posts but I found this articular very interesting, if only for the fact that its amazing just how much there is to be found in our local woodlands and just how much study is being carried ou,t even after so many years to revival the hidden secrets to the life that surrounds us on our daily walks along a forest path …..

Lichens aren’t quite what we thought, shocked scientists discover

Most people know lichens, such as this wolf lichen, as those flaky, light green things that grow on tree bark. You probably learned in school that they’re a mutually beneficial partnership or “symbiosis” between fungi and algae, but many lichens have now been found to include a third partner, a yeast. (Tim Wheeler Photography)

Most people know lichens as those flaky, light green things that grow on tree bark, and learned in school that they’re a mutually beneficial partnership or “symbiosis” between fungi and algae.

But lichen scientists have made the shocking new discovery that many lichens are also made up of a previously undiscovered third partner — a new kind of yeast.

Not only does that potentially alter the fundamental definition of what a lichen is, but it “should change expectations about the diversity and ubiquity” of the organisms that form them, says a new study published Thursday in Science.

University of Montana researcher Toby Spribille samples Bryoria or horsehair lichens. He first started studying lichens 15 years ago in British Columbia. His new study was inspired by a mystery flagged by B.C. lichenologist Trevor Goward. (Christoph Rosche)

The new yeast has apparently gone undetected in lichens for more than a century, despite the fact that scientists all over the world have devoted entire careers to studying lichens closely with microscopes and genetic testing.

That seemed so unlikely that the scientists working on the project had trouble believing it themselves.

“It’s so surprising that you kind of doubt yourself for a long time,” said John McCutcheon, a microbiologist at the University of Montana and a research fellow with the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research who co-authored the new study published today in Science.

“We had to check our data more than 10 times,” recalled Toby Spribille, lead author of the paper. “It seemed to me so unlikely that so many people would have missed that.”
Lichen mystery

Spribille, a University of Montana botanist who first started studying lichens in British Columbia 15 years ago, was inspired by a mystery flagged by B.C. lichenologist Trevor Goward in a series of essays.
Wila or edible horsehair lichen, also known by the scientific name Bryoria fremontii, is a brown-coloured lichen that was an important traditional food for many First Nations in northwestern North America. (Toby Spribille)

It concerned two lichens that grow in B.C. and Montana and considered separate species for 100 years. One called wila or edible horsehair lichen, also known by the scientific name Bryoria fremontii, is a brown-coloured lichen that was an important traditional food for many First Nations in northwestern North America.

The other, called tortured horsehair lichen or Bryoria tortuosa, is yellow and poisonous. However, a recent genetic analysis showed that they were genetically identical — they were made up of exactly the same species of fungus and the same species of algae.

“There’s something really weird about that,” Spribille said.
Tortured horsehair lichen or Bryoria tortuosa, is yellow and poisonous. However, a recent genetic analysis showed that its fungus species and algae species are genetically identical to those in edible horsehair lichen. (Tim Wheeler)

He brought the problem up with McCutcheon, an expert in new, sophisticated genetic techniques that he typically uses to study insects.

Traditional DNA analysis relies on probes or lures to fish out certain characteristic regions of genetic material, partly based on what scientists expect to find — like calling out names in a dark room to see who’s there, Spribille said.

Newer techniques instead look for all genes that are in the process of being translated into proteins via “messenger” molecules called RNA. Spribille likens the technique to turning on the lights.

McCutcheon says that gives a sense of what an organism is doing at any given time.

To the researchers’ surprise, the RNA they found came not just from the fungus and the alga known to be associated with the lichens, but a mysterious third organism.

Further analysis showed it to be a new kind of yeast, belonging to the taxonomic group Basidiomycota, the same one that button mushrooms belong to. It was not at all related to the yeasts used to brew beer or bake bread. Yeast cells and DNA were extremely common in the yellow, poisonous lichen, but rare in the edible brown lichen.
A fluorescent microscope image shows the location of different cell types in a bryoria lichen, cut at the ends and lengthwise through the middle. Green are the yeasts, blue are the fungi, red are the algae. (Toby Spribille)

After running the experiment enough times to convince themselves the signal wasn’t due to contamination and pinpointing the yeast cells in the outer skin of the lichen, the researchers decided to see whether other lichens from around the world also contained the yeast. Sure enough, many did.

“Each lichen has a specific strain of the yeast,” McCutcheon said. “These form several new fungal families.”

DNA analysis suggests the yeast has been part of lichens for more than 100 million years — since the end of the Early Cretaceous, when dinosaurs like spinosaurus and allosaurus roamed the Earth, and flowering plants first appeared.

Spribille said the discovery “seriously challenges” a lot of assumptions that have been held by lichenologists for a century.

“At the next level up, it gives us insight into how one of the most fascinating symbioses works.”
‘Really major finding’

Goward, whose essay inspired the research, said he was delighted by the discovery.

“It’s all very exciting to me,” he added. “If Toby’s idea proves to be correct, this is the second really major finding that changes how we see these organisms” — after the 1860s discovery that lichens weren’t one organism, but made of two separate organisms, an alga and a fungus.

Irwin Brodo, an emeritus scientist at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa who has devoted himself to the study of lichens for decades, said the discovery was “plausible” but “not proven yet.”

Brodo, who first gave the horsehair lichens the name Bryoria, said he was surprised that the new yeast cells were discovered in a part of the lichen that a lot of lichenologists, including himself, have examined carefully.

“I never saw them,” he said.

But he added that the presence of the yeast might also explain other longstanding mysteries about other lichens that look very different but have been found to be genetically identical.


Irish Landscape Images – A Land so green

Irish Landscape images
A Land so green
Nigel Borrington 2018

Following one of the driest summers in Irish history and with some recent rain fall in the last three weeks, the Irish landscape is slowly returning to it wonderful colour of green ….


What is life, if We have no time to stand and stare ? A Poem by: William Henry Davies

What is life
By : William Henry Davies

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.


After the wild fire, Littleton Bog, Country Tipperary : Capturing the Irish heat wave of July 2018

After the Wild fire
littleton bog, tipperary Nigel Borringtpon

The six week long heatwave that we are experiencing here in Ireland during June and July has brought with it some of the best summer weather many can remember, yet it has also at this stage created water shortages and with the ground being so dry we have also had many forest wild fires along with fires on the open bog lands.

I enjoyed capturing these pictures a lot! as the atmosphere on the bog was amazing, the smell of smoke and the cracking of still burning small fires, with dead wood smoking all around me, nothing but deep ash on the surface.

I took these pictures this morning, they show the results of a large wild fire on the bog lands at littleton, county tipperary. Most of the trees and heather have all been burnt, these fires are mostly just on the surface and when we see the return of some rain the environment will recover very quickly. The question is just when will we see our usual Irish summer return , with its rains at least once or twice a week ?


Summer Heat Wave, In pictures ….

Irish landscape photography
County Kilkenny
The heat wave of 2018
Nigel Borrington

Ireland’s is currently in heat wave conditions with no big change on the horizon, so today I headed out for a walk and started to capture our local landscape in these conditions. Here in County Kilkenny we have not been affected quite as badly yet as in county Dublin but as you can see from these images the hedgerows and fields are starting to turn to a light brown and some of the trees are only just hanging on.


Images from the Garden , Clematis

Images from the Garden
Clematis
Nigel Borrington
2018

Each May and June the Clematis planted in our Garden flowers and produces some of the best colour during the early and mid summertime , I love just how full of flowers it becomes. My mid July most of the pink flowers have gone but the leaves still offer a full canopy above pergola and give some great shade on warm and sunny days.

Description

Clematis is a genus of about 300 species within the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae. Their garden hybrids have been popular among gardeners, beginning with Clematis × jackmanii, a garden standby since 1862; more hybrid cultivars are being produced constantly. They are mainly of Chinese and Japanese origin. Most species are known as clematis in English, while some are also known as traveller’s joy, a name invented for the sole British native, C. vitalba, by the herbalist John Gerard; virgin’s bower for C. viticella and for C. terniflora; old man’s beard, applied to several with prominent seedheads; leather flower for those with fleshy petals; or vase vine for the North American Clematis viorna

Etymology

The genus name is from Ancient Greek clématis, (“a climbing plant”). Over 250 species and cultivars are known, often named for their originators or particular characteristics.

Botany

The genus is composed of mostly vigorous, woody, climbing vines / lianas. The woody stems are quite fragile until several years old. Leaves are opposite and divided into leaflets and leafstalks that twist and curl around supporting structures to anchor the plant as it climbs. Some species are shrubby, while others, like C. recta, are herbaceous perennial plants. The cool temperate species are deciduous, but many of the warmer climate species are evergreen. They grow best in cool, moist, well-drained soil in full sun.

Clematis species are mainly found throughout the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, rarely in the tropics. Clematis leaves are food for the caterpillars of some Lepidoptera species, including the willow beauty (Peribatodes rhomboidaria).

The timing and location of flowers varies; spring-blooming clematis flower on side shoots of the previous year’s stems, summer/fall blooming clematis bloom only on the ends of new stems, and twice-flowering clematis do both.

Taxonomy

The genus Clematis was first published by Carl Linnaeus in Species Plantarum in 1753, the first species listed being Clematis viticella. The genus name long pre-dates Linnaeus. It was used in Classical Greek for various climbing plants, and is based on κλήμα (klēma), meaning vine or tendril.

Gallery


County Kilkenny by cycle, Taking the high road to the Slieveardagh hills ….

County Kilkenny by cycle

This weekend on Saturday morning, 12th May 2018 and I achieved one of my cycling aims for 2018, cycling all the way up to what well could be the highest road (at some 333 meters) in county Kilkenny, in the Slieveardagh hills at Blanchfields bog, with its wind farm of Ballybay.

There are some stunning views of county Kilkenny and Tipperary from here and on Saturday the weather was perfect, It was just a great feeling after some weeks of lower level cycling, to get ready.


Film Friday, Irish landscape photography, Sally Gap, Wicklow Mountains, The drama of 35mm slide film

Irish Landscapes
Sally Gap
Wicklow Mountains
Nikon f90x
Kodak 200iso slide film
Nigel Borrington

From all the possible 35mm films you could use for landscape photography, I feel that slide transparency film offered the most drama and colour depth to each shot you took. Clearly you still needed to me there at the time you found the best lighting and weather conditions but to myself there was no better film available that captured dramatic colours and tones.

This image was taken on a very moody evening, sometime back as I was walking alone the road of the Sally Gap….

Sally Gap, Wicklow Mountains

On the road to Sally Gap, there are spectacular views of the surrounding blanket bog and the Wicklow Mountains. Sally Gap is one of two east-to-west passes across the Wicklow Mountains. Sally Gaps is a cross-road that leads you North to Dublin, West to Blessington, South to Glendalough or East to Roundwood.

the Sally Gap got its road after the Irish rebellion of 1798. It was built by British Army forces looking to flush rebels from the hills, and to this day is known as the Military Road.

Whatever about giving the army a better view of the rebels, the Military Road certainly provides an enviable view of some of Ireland’s most filmed scenery.

Highlights of this winding, twisting feat of engineering include the Glencree valley, the dark waters of Lough Tay, Kippure Mountain and Glenmacnass Waterfall.

Two more unusual stops are Glencree’s Visitor Centre, originally built to house soldiers guarding the pass (and now a centre for Peace and Reconciliation), and the Glencree War Cemetery, a resting place for German soldiers who died in Ireland.


Film Photography, Was it as good as we think ?

Thanks to Sharon Walters Knight a fellow WordPress blogger and Facebook friend , I have in the last three weeks started to take a look again at 35mm film photography.

Over the last three years or so Film is starting to make a big come back, mainly with the help of film suppliers and film fan supporters lomography, they sell and process films along with camera bodies and offer some great new ideas as to how to use film and get some creative results from it.

I have just finished shooting my first role of 35mm black and white film supplied from Lomography Europe, using my Nikon FM2 and when I get time this week I will post this roll of film off to them and wait for the negatives and online scans to appear!

For the moment I have been looking at some of my old negatives and scanning them, the results are good I feel for these old black and white frames, My impression of how film compares to current Digital cameras is one of surprise, I love the grainy and organic feel to black and white films!

I had not realized since I stopped looking at film as my main photography medium, just how much digital has moved forward year on year! I feel that even when scanning a film frame at 10 megapixels with a good scanner, even with ISO 100 film the detail is so much less that can be found in todays digital sensors. Film grain is loved by many, yet when you look closely a lot of the image details are lost in this grain. A simple fact however when using film is that while digital cameras have kept developing all the time, film scanner have not. Another fact often lost today is that film was not designed with scanners in mind but with wet/dark room printing on light sensitive photo-papers, often designed by the film suppliers to match the film being used. Thus it could still be true that the best results when printing from film can be achieved in the dark room and not using a scanner at all!

I still love the idea of using a film camera at times when you want to use a simple process and travel light, just packing a film camera, a few lenses and rolls of film, without the need to take battery chargers and laptops with you. Another fact is that Film cameras work better when your outside and need to keep changing lenses, you never have to worry about dust and dirt getting to your sensor!

Here are some film shots I have taken over the years, at some point this week I will post more on them, including some closer looks at just how much detail is in the full sized images and just how film grain looks at 100% print size.

Ilfords Black and white film Gallery


TTOPOLOGY – Dennis McNulty, at the Carlow Visual arts center – OMG I am so confused about Contemporary art ?

This afternoon I took sometime off and visited the County Carlow , Center for Visual arts, having read a description of an exhibition by the Contemporary artist Dennis McNulty LINK HERE!.

Its about a month since I last visited this Gallery, when I did I came away as so often just a little confused as to just what I had witnessed? the work consisted of a single image of a sunset that did not change for 30mins (maybe the video was frozen?) to the sound of bird song in the background!

The latest Exhibition By Dennis McNulty I am afraid to say just left me with the same head scratching feeling, it was described as follows

Dennis McNulty
TTOPOLOGY
03 February – 20 May
TTOPOLOGY, an exhibition of new and retrospective works by Dennis McNulty considers the technologies and systems that have been developed, cast aside, or revised in order to advance our human potential. Coupling technology and art, McNulty explores the fields of science, engineering, built environment, retro technologies and future possibilities. See this link for more details ……

——-

All my life I have been a lover of art , a viewer of many forms of artistic expression, open minded and well able so soak in new ideas – yet I feel it must be many years since a visit to an art exhibition from a currently working artist has produced anything other than a feeling of massive disappointment and total confusion as to the state of modern art.

Personally I feel the time has come for me to stop looking deeper and doing my very best to find that small percentage of good – within the work I take the time to go and see!

I feel its time that the art loving public as a whole start to make it very clear that we are getting sick and a little drawn out with looking at exhibitions that we are just meant to get or at the very least in some way forgive the artist for because at the end of the day, well they art artists aren’t they! and they get something we don’t?.

Fact is however Most people who walk away from a modern art exhibition these days do so with nothing other than confusion if not a little anger, because basically they feel cheated, let down and taken for fools!

I have felt for a long time that currently working modern artists have no interest what so ever in what the viewers of their work think, In fact I wonder just who they are producing their work for? it cannot be for the 99% of the public! I don’t feel that its acceptable any longer to just act as if its the responsibility of the viewing public to get on board or just be dismissed because they don’t get what is at the end of the day trashy, Lazy and ill conceived work!

From my basic understanding of formal art study, artists spend four to five years in an art school taking a degree of some form. During this period the work they produce can be of many kinds and make use of many forms of artistic media, this type of work by itself should not and does not need to be presentable to the public. At the end of each academic year there is usually an end of year show building up-to the final degree show held as a presentation of the students work put forward as their final degree submission.

When you understand these levels that go into passing an art degree, maybe just maybe you can start to understand the kind of work your looking at in some current art exhibitions!

There is also another factor that the viewing art minded public needs to understand and that is that many art tutors in art school are required to hold their own exhibitions each year so that they can show that they are at the very least practicing artists and not just a teacher. Still however these artists work relates in form very closely to the kind of experimental work produced during art school study , basically because these tutors are the very people who are judging their students work!

So here are some questions !

Is the art work that most of the public views in public galleries these days, no more than art school/student level and experimental level work and not the work of professional artists would have not only passed an art course of some kind but also spent many years building on their art study to become a professional artist and with an understanding of the real world?

If this is the case, then would it be fair to say that the confusion around modern art is that we are just not being told about the level at which the artists involved in some if not most of the exhibitions we see, site in their level and progression of work ?

My own feelings are that, the current type of modern art works that I view in most of the exhibitions I take time to go and see, is for me personally for whatever reason basically lazy, fuzzy, repetitive and unacceptable ( well under worked, not over worked for sure!) IMO!. I feel that Modern art finds itself in a position where it is being produced for other reasons than for my pleasure as a viewer of it! I also wonder if the formal art world is not just feading on itself until there is basically nothing left and the bottle is empty!

Will I keep going to art exhibitions, Hell yes! just in the hope that one day I get to see something that I truly do understand and end up walking out of the door once again with a smile on my face !

If Dennis McNulty ever reads this post, not likely ! I have respect that your putting your work out there , its just not for ME!!!

Gallery of an exhibition.