Many interesting marine creatures were spotted during an 1.5 hours Intertidal shoot at Changi Beach organized by Nature Photographic Society, Singapore on 29 April 2017.
At the end of the last 2 year, I enjoyed going through my photos and picking my favourite nature images. It’s a fun exercise but I didn’t manage to do it on time this year. It is almost 3 months late!
While I still enjoyed macro photography, 2016 was my least active year since I took up this hobby in 2007! With fewer shootings, it is normal that I don’t have many great photos. Only 10 images made the list this year!
#1 – Cousins of Hoppers
Grasshoppers and katydid are related and belong to the Order Orthoptera (meaning “straight wings”). Although they were probably cousins, it was an unusual moment to find them resting happily on the same dewy perch.
#2 – Change
It is not uncommon to see moulting of leaf-footed bug but this one stands out for the nice colour contrast which is really pleasing to the eyes.
#3 – Complicated Relationship
This is not a fantastic photo but I like it because it is really rare to find three giant millipedes doing some kind of business together. Were there mating or what?
#4 – Sex competition
Mating leaf beetles at Zhenghua Forest is quite a common sight. On 16 April 2016, there were at least 10 pairs within a radius of one metre. We were delighted to spot 2 pairs on the same perch. It was a real challenge to get both couples in sharp focus. I am glad this image turns out well.
#5 – In Love with Tawny Coster
Butterfly is one of the most difficult subjects to shoot as they do not stay at a position for more than a few seconds. The best time to shoot them is when they are mating. I was fortunate to get this beautiful pair with clean background.
#6 – Mating Ladybirds
The strong sunlight at the back helps to bring out the details and lines of the leaf which makes this shot interesting.
#7 – Katydids Love Flowers
Two katydid nymphs enjoying their favorite breakfast. A LED light was placed behind to get a backlighting effect.
#8 – Mushrooms Crossing
It was interesting to watch this caterpillar crossing from one mushroom to another. It can crawl pretty fast and I was surprised that it could hold its body in midair for a few seconds during the crossing as demonstrated in this photo.
#9 – Rob and Fly
Robber flies are also called assassin flies. They are impressive predators that specialize in hunting almost all flying insects including this poor long-legged fly. They have always been my favourite subjects but I have not shot them with prey for a fairly long time. Glad to add this one in my collection.
#10 – Luminuous Mushrooms
This a just an ordinary photo of a small cluster of luminuous mushrooms known as Mycena manipularis. I have included here as it has been on my shooting wishlist since 2009!
That’s all folks!
Due to work and family commitments, I was less active in macro photography in the 2nd half of 2016. Although I visited a few macro sites during this period, I just couldn’t find the time to write about it until today. Here are some highlights:
Gaharu Forest (2 July 2016)
It is a narrow nature trail that will lead all the way to Bukit Timah Visitor Centre. This place is popular with trekkers, cyclists and nature lovers especially during weekends.
Zhenghua Forest (13 August 2016)
During Loop (13 September 2016)
Segar Nature Trail (17 September 2016)
Bekok Recreation Foresst, Malaysia (27 August 2016)
Panti Recreation Forest, Malaysia (24 September 2016)
Holland Woods (8 October 2016)
Venus Drive (5 November 2016)
Old Ford Factory (26 November 2016)
That’s all folks! Looking forward to a fruitful year in 2017!
Lentor Forest is a secondary forest located around the junction of Yio Chu Kang Road and Lentor Drive. It has two rare freshwater streams and houses endangered mammals such as the Sunda Pangolin, Banded-Leaf Monkey and Sunda Slow Loris.
Sadly, it was reported in the news that Lentor Forest is slated to be cleared to make ways for private homes. Construction works will commence in 3rd quarter of this year.
Here is a video of my visit to this beautiful piece of nature before it is gone forever.
I visited many places during the 2nd quarter of 2016 including my favourite hunting grounds at Zhenghua Forest, Rifle Range Nature Trail, Jurong Wood and Venus Drive. There were 3 interesting new macro sites discovered by my friend Endy namely, East Wood II, Gardenia Forest and Gaharu Forest.
On 16 April, I led a macro outing to Zhenghua forest. We was upset to see that part of the areas was under construction. I have taken some of the best pictures here and so, I am afraid that this piece of precious greenery might be completely destroyed in the near future.
Despite the super hot weather in the past weeks, we were lucky to find insects covered with morning dew such as this Leaf-footed bug nymph.
There were many adorable orange leaf beetles. We saw a group of more than 10 within a radius of one metre. We were particularly delighted when we spotted two mating pairs on a same leaf. We took turns to shoot but it was not easy to get both couples in focus.
At Rifle Range Nature Trail, a metallic blue robber fly sit quietly on a leaf. My previous encounters with this species was that they were rather skittish in nature. Hence, I was pleasantly surprised that this individual allowed me to get close and to take some decent shots.
A large cluster of wild mushrooms was spotted not too far away. They should belong to Mycenoporella sp.
Here is a close-up shot showing the details of the underside pores.
It has been more than a year since I last visited Jurong Wood. It is a good place to find crab spiders with preys. This time, we found two crab spiders enjoying a delicious grasshopper and housefly as breakfast.
There were many butterflies here but they were too skittish to photograph. Robber fly, skipper, praying mantis, red hopper nymph and dragonfly were much easier to shoot.
Eastwood II is new a site near Upper East Coast Road. The catch of the day was this lovely pair of Tawny Costers.
Another interesting shot from this outing is two ants with some white subjects. Were these Aphids? I read that Aphids are sucking insects that feed on the sap of plants and secrete a substance called honeydew. This sticky resin is a favorite food of ants, who actually “milk” the aphids for it by stroking their abdomen. The relationship between aphids and ants is symbiotic in that both receive some benefits from the arrangement
Gaharu Forest is another new macro site situated somewhere along Rifle Range Road. It is is a narrow nature trail that will lead all the way to Bukit Timah Visitor Centre. This place is popular with trekkers, cyclists and nature lovers especially during weekends.
We found many different species of spiders with preys including two big-jawed spiders known as Leucoge decoratus and Striated tylorida, both having winged ants as breakfast.
Another winged ant became a victim for lynx spider. They seemed to an easy meal for spiders.
We had two night macro shoots and our target was to find luminous mushroom. We found only a cluster of four at Gardenia Forest.
There were more luminous mushrooms scattered at Venus Drive but mostly were only one or two individuals.
We were glad to find two cute little frog at Gardenia Forest namely Black-eyed Litter frog and Masked Rough-sided frog, my first sighting of these beautiful amphibians.
Scorpions were easily spotted at Gardenia Forest.
Bekok is a town located at the eastern side of the district of Segamat, Johor, Malaysia. It has a Recreation Rainforest known as Hutan Lipur Sungai Batang. It lies on the south western entrance to Taman Negara Endau Rompin, the second largest national park of West Malaysia. The locals go there to picnic and to dip into the cool fresh waters of the mountain stream.
I joined Nature Photographic Society, Singapore on a macro photography outing here on 23 April 2016. This was my third trip to Bekok waterfalls. The meeting point was at the first Petron Petrol station after Tuas Second Link. 21 of us gathered at 6.45 am, drove to Kulai, Yon Lai Restaurant, for breakfast. Thereafter, we took the North-South Highway and exit at Yong Peng. Then moved north pass Chaah along Jalan Labis and arrived Bekok at 10.20 am, approximately 200 km of driving.
Before we commenced our photography, let us take group photo at the entrance of Bekok waterfalls.
There is a crystal clear stream near the entrance which was the main area for our macro photography.
As in our previous outing, the Black-Spotted Rock frogs were plentiful mostly cling on rocks just above the swift flowing stream.
When the frogs were in abundant, it was not difficult to spot 2 of them together.
Frogs are photogenic subjects and it was no surprise to see our photographers trying to get the best angles.
We found a few Giant Asian Toads. They were huge and looked grouchy but still attracted many of us to photograph them.
We spotted a few damselfly species. The most common one here should be Heliocypha perforata. This is an elegant damselfly where the male as a distinctive blur markings on its thorax and abdomen. The female, in comparison, is less colourful.
One of the most interesting behaviours of this sun-loving species is when two males are involved in aerial territorial fight. Getting both males sharp while they are fighting in mid-air are extremely difficult.
Another gorgeous damselfly species is the common flashwing. It has metallic green colouration and attractive clear wings that can sparkle with purplish iridescence when photographed at a correct angle with fill flash.
Butterflies were not difficult to find too.
There are many mini waterfalls, small in terms of height but not in terms of volume of water. Swift flowing stream making its way through numerous big and small boulders form the waterfall.
We stopped for lunch at about 1 pm. Most of us bought packet nasi lemak from Yon Lai Restaurant.
After lunch, we walked through the forested path towards the upper stream where there are nicer refreshing waterfalls.
Along the way, we spotted two lantern bugs. As they are very rare in Singapore, it was not surprising to see most of us taking turns to add this to our collection.
At the upper stream, a small slender snake was spotted near the edge of the fast flowing water. It should be a Haasi Bronzeback, a rare species of Dendrelaphis in Singapore. It was extremely cooperative that didn’t move an inch for more than half an hour. Here are two images, one taken with fill flash and the other with full flash.
There are more waterfalls in the upper stream which were relatively taller and wider. Does it give you a sense of peacefulness and relaxation?
We called it a day at about 4.30 pm. After washing up, the iMOG (Informal Macro Outing Group) leaders posed for a group photo. This was their first overseas outing where all 7 leaders were present.
It was a tiring but rewarding trip. We headed back to Kulai for a well deserved yummy dinner!
There were very little photographic activities in the first quarter of 2016. I injured my back early this year which took more than 8 weeks for me to completely recuperate from the pains. I could visit only two macro sites, one at Zhenghua Forest before I hurt myself and a night shoot at Chestnut Nature Trail after I recovered from it.
At Zhenghua Forest, there were many different species of grasshoppers. Hence, I was not surprised to find these two friendly ones resting happily on the same dewy perch.But I was certainly amazed to find three giant millipedes doing some kind of business together. Were they Mating? And why three of them? After about 15 minutes or so, each went their separate way. It is not uncommon to see moulting of leaf-footed bugs as there were so many of them here. The nice colour contrast of this image is really pleasing to the eyes. in almost fluorescent green colour. It was my first time seeing a light brown oriental whip snake. It was already 1.20 am when we called it a night!