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iNaturalist, Contributor
Contact:
odophile {at} gmail {dot} com
City, state, country:
California, South Bay Area
Biography:

I’m an engineer and physicist whose training and career, both in business and academia, were in the hard sciences, but whose primary interest has always been natural history. I apply the term “naturalist” to myself because I accept only real explanations for scientific phenomena. I make a strong case against wishful thinking and mythological nonsense in science.

All my subjects are live and natural. I never capture, restrain, or disturb them. I try to insert myself as inconspicuously as possible into an environment, then wait quietly for as long as it takes for its denizens to acclimate to my presence and allow me to record their lives.

I started with birds in Thailand 40 years ago. I specialized for some time in odonates; now I spend equal time on plants, birds, herps, fungi and arthropods. I’m interested in areas where the amateur can make a useful contribution to the knowledge base: predation, parasitism, pollination and reproductive behavior are a few such topics.

In the field I carry a digital camera with a macro lens, a chest pod, a digital voice recorder, and a pocket magnifier. I use Photoshop to prepare shots for web-posting and publication; I never do any processing that would violate the scientific integrity of a shot.

If you see a scale in one of my shots it was done as follows: I carry a small ruler marked in millimeters. If I want a measurement, then immediately upon taking a macro shot I take a shot of the ruler at the same focus. The extremely short depth of field at macro range guarantees that the in-focus ruler is at the same distance the subject was. Later, in a graphic editor, I paste the ruler's image into the subject shot; this provides an accurate scale.

I like nature, especially small critters. I hate chiggers, though; some people say we don’t have chiggers here -- they haven’t been to the right places. I pick up a lot of ticks but I don't hate them. I note whether they’re Wood or Deer Ticks and put them in a specimen jar. I usually get them before they get me, not always, though.

One of my favorite things is to come home with a camera full of macro shots, cable up to a big flat-screen, kick back with a cold beer and go through the day's take. Always something surprising that I hadn't seen or known: maybe a lurking lynx spider, an ectoparasite, or a new detail on a familiar species. And always a disappointment or two -- a bad exposure, too much wind motion -- all part of the fun.

More of my stuff at www.pbase.com/iNaturalist. This site is best for odonates, the order of Insecta with which I am best acquainted, and plants. You’ll find a decent gallery of Bay Area Lepidoptera there, too.
Signature:
iNaturalist, aka Odophile
Cupertino, Santa Clara County, California