Walking Rocks?

Query: When I was in Death Valley earlier this year, I saw some enormous 750-pound rocks that appear to travel across the desert on their own. I remembered your article about rock tortoises, and wondered if that’s what these rocks could be?

Corn of Plenty (Part 4 of 4): A Field Guide by Dr. Midas Welby

Corns of the Air: Air-corns utilize their horns for jousting, playing tic-tac-toe, and spearing food in mid-flight. Air-corns often lurk undetected in trees, wood piles, and rain gutters. When bored, they use their horns to ring the doorbells of unsuspecting humans. When the door begins to open, the air-corn flies away.


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Going On Hiatus

December 6, 2014: I am loving college, but I have to admit, I’m overwhelmed.

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Pine Cone Feeders

A Present For Imaginaries: When winter comes, I get concerned about providing extra shelter from the elements for Imaginaries. Recently, I read about people who build wildlife brush shelters out of branches and plants in their yards, and thought this was a great idea.

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The Essentials: Two pieces of equipment I take with me wherever I go, but especially when I go out looking for Imaginaries, are my camera and a little sketchpad.

My camera is small and fits in my pocket, and it’s easy to use. But just because I have a camera with me doesn’t mean I can get a good photograph. Sometimes the light conditions are poor, or my subject is moving too quickly, or I’m too far away. That’s what the sketch pad is for.

I like to go out in winter and look for Imaginary tracks, but learned that it’s very hard to get good photos of snow. All that white throws off the camera’s light meter, and all of my photos were coming out bluish, or dark, or fuzzy.

So I’m learning how to adjust my camera to get good snow pictures. Some cameras have a setting on them for “snow shooting,” but mine doesn’t. So I learned two tricks, which I’m passing along to you.

The first is that I set the “exposure compensation” to +1. That overexposes the setting by one F-stop, which lets more light into the photo so that it doesn’t come out so dark.

The second trick is that I can focus my camera on a darker object and press the shutter button down halfway. That lets the camera meter the darker object. Then, without taking my finger off the halfway-down shutter, I re-focus the camera on the scene I want to photograph, and push the shutter button down the rest of the way to take the picture.

If I think the photo might not turn out very well, or I don’t have a chance to take a photo at all, that’s what the sketch book is for. If I can, I draw from the subject directly. When I’m drawing track-marks, I can sit down next to them to draw, and take care to make my drawing accurate and to scale. But sometimes, when I only catch the smallest glimpse of something, I have to try and draw from memory.

I’ve started taking a step-by-step online class on how to draw from nature, so that I can get better at drawing pictures of any Imaginary I might see. But I’m learning that what matters more than my ability to draw is my ability to observe, because if I don’t see it, how can I draw it? To practice that, I try taking mental “photographs” of other non-Imaginary creatures, such as birds, and then go home and draw them from memory. Since I can check my drawing against pictures of birds in a bird-book, I’m able to see what I missed when I took my mental “photograph,” which then helps me sharpen my powers of observation if I should happen to catch a glimpse of a real Imaginary.

As you continue to keep your eyes open for signs of Imaginaries, I hope these tips can be helpful to you. – BUG, Field Agent, Iranigami


Copyright © 2012, 2013, 2014 by Penelope Stowell. All rights reserved. This website is a work of fiction and does not depict any actual persons, creatures, places or events.