Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds

This week, compose your subject off-center, obeying the Rule of Thirds.

I live on a farm in the NW Province in South Africa.
We have really beautiful sunsets,
Here are some of my favourites

DSC01509x 1 ??????????????????????????????? Sunset Nov 08 023 DSC01903 DSC01788

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds

This week, compose your subject off-center, obeying the Rule of Thirds.
The Rule of Thirds is a photography concept that puts the subject of the photograph off-center, which usually results in blank space in the rest of the image. If you focus closely on your subject and use a wide aperture, your photograph’s background will also be beautifully blurred in that blank space. The blurred area behind your focal point is referred to as bokeh, and when executed well, it adds depth and artistry to an otherwise simplistic photograph.

This photo was taken after a 3-day fire-fight on our farm.
The fire affected 7 farms, taking the grazing.
Thankfully, all of us had just finished harvesting the corn.
It was bad!

where there is smoke...

where there is smoke…

Quote

Weekly Photo Challenge: New

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “New.”

New: Climate Change

Within just 4 months of 2014,
we experienced our first earthquake;
our first massive sandstorm,
which hit 4 provinces of South Africa on this day;
a fire that burned for 3 days, and over 6 farms;
and a flash flood, with hail and wind that wiped out a couple of our roads.

If you hover over the photo, it will briefly explain…

Is this the “new” world we have made for ourselves

Radical reptiles: Blue-Throated Agama

I was visiting my son on the farm he managed in Pretoria. I was hanging out in the hammock between two trees, simply gazing around, while the Grandies slept. It was absolute bliss, the breeze very gentle, but keeping it from being unbearably hot. As I looked across towards the paddock, I noticed a quick movement and flash of blue on a tree trunk. So I ‘observed’. It was what we call a ‘bloukop’, which translates as ‘bluehead’!

male

Male Agama

female

Female Agama

Oh my word! I hadn’t seen one of these since I was a child in Zambia! I was fascinated, but equally terrified of them then! They lived in the trees around the boundaries of the garden. They’d scuttle around, going about their business and I adored watching them. But their quick rush from one place to the next always gave me palpitations!

These South African Agamas were a breeding pair, as I soon discovered. The male resplendant in his mating colours and the female pretty in her Sunday best. They got used to me over the next few days, as I never came too close, but only watched, chatted about them to Gaz and took photos. They stopped running and hiding, and just ignored us, posed for photos, and watched us with as much curiosity.

I was thrilled to see them again!

Information:

SWAHILI NAME FOR LIZARD: Mjusi, Mijusi (plural)

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS:

The Blue-Throated Agama, Agama atricollis, is a very large agama, reaching a maximum length of 15 inches.

Its head, particularly in males, is large and triangular. The head and body are distinctly separate. The ear openings are larger than the eyes, and the tympanums (eardrums) are visible.

Agamas have strong limbs. Their bodies are compact and spiny. The scales on the body are small and keeled, with those along the back larger and mixed with scattered, enlarged, spiny scales.

Breeding males have a dull blue to bluish back, with bright blue to straw-yellow spines. The head is a coppery-green to brilliant ultramarine on top, blue-green on the sides and peacock-blue on the throat. There is a large black spot on each side above the shoulder, and a broad, blue-green to yellowish vertebral stripe. The tail is dull green to olive-brown.

Females and non-breeding males are olive to green-brown, marbled with black above, with a black shoulder spot. Juveniles have a similar ground color, with dark X-shapes surrounded by white blotches along the sides. The tail is banded with dark brown-black.

DISTRIBUTION and HABITAT:

These agamas are found in the open savanna, and along the edges of forests in Kenya and Ethiopia, extending through East Africa to Natal.

BEHAVIOR:

These beautiful lizards are frequently seen nodding their heads in display while clinging to a tree trunk. Most Agamas are terrestrial, but this species is arboreal. They come to the ground only to cross to another tree, and occasionally to eat.

When threatened, they retreat around the tree trunk, always keeping the trunk between themselves and danger. They will gape the mouth widely, showing the bright orange mouth lining, and will deliver a painful bite if caught. Contrary to popular belief, they are not poisonous.

They sleep at night in a hollow branch or under peeling bark.

DIET:

Agamas are fond of flying ants and termites, and supplement their diets with grasshoppers and beetles.

REPRODUCTION and GROWTH:

The female lays 8-14 oval, soft-shelled eggs in a hole dug in moist soil. They hatch after about 90 days. Hatchlings measure 70-80 mm (about 3 inches). They triple in size in their first year, but growth slows thereafter. They become sexually mature in their second year.

 

Another Creepy Crawler: Baboon Spider

In South Africa we also have tarantulas.
Ours are brown,
and we call them Baboon Spiders.

This is a lady that was washed out of her burrow next to the kitchen drain after very heavy rain one day. We brought her in to show the grandsons, as part of their ongoing wildlife education and conservation. We spread her legs out from her ‘death curl’ and I managed to get some nice close-ups. You can see her size, her fangs and some eyes and we turned her over to photograph her underside. We left her to one side to add to our Curiousity Collection.

Suddenly she waved gently, and slowly. I thought I was hallucinating! But, no, as she warmed up, she revived! Before she went scuttling off, to inevitably pop up to terrify me, we placed her safely in the garage to recover and choose a new home.

Females stay in their burrows, or close by, while males roam around.

 

Here is an excerpt from an article about them.

The Baboon Spiders of South Africa by Dr Ansie Dippenaar-Schoeman
Baboon spiders or tarantulas, as they are known outside Africa, are the giants of the spider world. The last two leg segments resemble the finger of a baboon hence, the common name, baboon spiders. The first South African spider known from literature was a baboon spider mentioned in 1702 by Petiver. More than a hundred years later in 1832 the first baboon spider Mygale atra was described from South Africa and only in 1871 the first genus Harpactira was established for Southern African baboon spiders.

Southern Africa has a rich fauna of baboon spiders, represented by seven genera and 42 species. They belong to the family Theraphosidae, a very diverse family, represented by 86 genera and about 612 species worldwide. The theraphosids have a pantropical distribution and are known from Africa, the Far East, Australia as well as parts of South, Central and North America.

The baboon spiders are large, with a body size varying from 13-90 mm. They are very hairy and their colour varies between hues of brown, grey, yellow to black. The carapace is frequently decorated with radiating bands while the abdomen has variegated markings.

They are easily recognized by their large size, strong, hairy bodies, and the thick pad of hair present ventrally on the last two leg segments.

A Baboon spider may live up to 25 years and take about 10 years to mature.

Baboon spiders prey on a variety of small animals such as: insects – ants, beetles (e.g. tenebrionids), cicadas, cockroaches, Orthoptera (e.g. grasshoppers, locusts, crickets), Isoptera (termites), Lepidoptera (mostly Saturniidae and Sphingidae, Hymenoptera (driver ants of the family Dorylidae); arachnids – spiders, solifugids and scorpions; millipedes, reptiles, amphibians and snails: frogs and lizards.

Some theraphosids are known to deliver painful bites. Harpactira lightfooti,a baboon spider known from Cape Town and the Paarl region in South Africa are fairly aggressive and people sometimes get bitten. They produce a neurotoxic venom. Bites in humans results in a burning pain at the bite site. The patients, after about two hours, start to vomit; they show marked signs of shock, become pale and have difficulty walking. Bites are however, never fatal.

This one lives in my bathroom

baboon spider

 

Stock photo to give you an idea of size

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