Identification, Images, & Information
For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin
For the United States & Canada
iNaturalist, Contributor
odophile {at} gmail {dot} com
City, state, country:
California, South Bay Area

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 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.

All jpegs I post on the web are free for the taking. People who are up tight about getting ripped off should be aware that publication in print requires 300 ppi of resolution. The little 560 X 560 thumbnails on this site won't print any larger than a postage stamp at decent quality; nobody’s going to pay you for those, so why not just let them disseminate your stuff?

Of course, an image with a reasonable number of original pixels is well worth copyrighting and protecting, assuming it has good sharpness, composition, detail, interest and a non-busy background. An original that is, say, 1200 pixels wide can print 4 inches of column width in a magazine.

For jpegs that I post on the web, feel free to take them -- attribution appreciated, but I won’t bother to demand it. Most of my posted jpegs are 900 to 1500 pixels per side, which will print at around 3-5 inches. I create them in the hope of enhancing the planet's knowledge base, so be my guest -- spread them around. My images have been published in several guides including Merrill Peterson’s new “Pacific Northwest Insects” (Seattle Audubon), “Checklist of Symphyta of the World,” (Germany) and I got a cover on “Biology Review” (Netherlands).

If you’re a publisher and want high-resolution TIFFs shot in Adobe RGB color space, I have them, just ask. I usually can provide 1200-2400 original pixels per side. I can always give you a column’s worth -- usually a half page, sometimes a full page at 300 dpi. I also offer literate text to support my images. In many cases I can provide a series of shots to support an article.

959 images submitted by this contributor
iNaturalist, aka Odophile
Cupertino, Santa Clara County, California