Readers’ wildlife photos

June 16, 2017 • 7:45 am

Reader Tom Gula sent some photos converted from Kodachrome slides (back in my own photo days, when I had three Nikon bodies, about seven lenses, and a Leitz-Minolta CL, I shot with Kodachrome 64. Now I have over 10,000 slides that are virtually useless–unless I scan them). Tom’s notes are indented:

This is a retro collection of animal and plant photos, some nearly 40 years old. All were originally shot with Kodachrome 25 slide film. I used an inexpensive slide scanner to convert them to digital images, with some obvious loss in sharpness and color. The photos were all taken in northeastern Brazil, where I was a Peace Corps volunteer from 1977 to 1980. I was stationed at the Tapacura Ecological Station (aka “the Estação Ecológica do Tapacurá”), about 50 kilometers west of the coastal city of Recife for two years, and spent a final year in the coastal city of Salvador, Bahia state. The ecological station near Recife was dedicated soon after I arrived, and I spent a memorable two years there conducting basic animal surveys, particularly identifying the birds present on the remnants of Atlantic Rain forest contained within the reserve. I brought along a Minolta SLR with a macro lens and flash attachments, and took pictures of whatever I encountered of interest, limited of course by my supply of about 40 roles of film. These days digital cameras allow you to take as many exposures as you’d like of a subject, selecting out the best of the lot. Kodachrome could not be developed anywhere in Brazil, so I would take 2 or 3 shots of an interesting find, bracketing the exposures and hoping for the best when I finally saw the developed film back in the U.S. months (or in some case years) later. I don’t have definite identification on many of the photos, especially those taken in Brazil. Perhaps some of your knowledgeable readers will be able to supply some taxonomic information. [JAC: readers can help with the IDs.]
This reptile was found on a dirt road after a several days of heavy rain, probably driven up from underground by the saturated soil conditions. I believe it’s known as a white-bellied worm lizard, a species of amphisbaenian, probably Amphisbaena alba. They’re limbless, burrowing lizards with powerful jaws. You can see the highly reduced eye. Photo taken at the Tapacura Ecological Station in 1978.
An unidentified cryptic moth, resembling a dead leaf. It even has a extension off the front of its head resembling a dried petiole. Photo taken at the Tapacura Ecological Station in 1979.
An unidentified katydid, a beautiful leaf mimic. Photo taken at the Tapacura Ecological Station in 1978.
4. An unidentified spiny caterpillar. Its spines certainly looked as if they might sting – I didn’t touch them to find out. Photo taken at the Tapacura Ecological Station in 1978.
An unidentified cryptic Orthoptera 0n on a lichen-covered tree trunk. Photo taken at the Tapacura Ecological Station in 1978.
This is probably a brown vine snake (Oxybelis aeneus), exhibiting a threat display typical of this species. Photo taken at the Tapacura Ecological Station in 1978.
  I found this unidentified stink bug (Pentatomidae) on the underside of a leaf in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil (1980). The young bugs had recently emerged from their whitish egg cases, just visible under the adult. I’ve no idea if this is typical stink bug maternal (or paternal) behavior. Perhaps one of your readers will provide information.

42 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos

  1. Can’t help saying I had lots of those Kodachrome slides as well and sent them in to a firm to get them digitized. Makes one think of the old Simon & Garfunkel song, Mama don’t take my Kodachrome away. Always loved the first line of that song.

  2. Great pics!

    I’ve got a bunch of Kodachrome slides from the ’70s that I need to get digitized some day. Maybe I’ll do that this summer.

  3. I hope all you guys get your slides scanned, then sent in here for PCC(E) to post. I love the wildlife photos – they are fantastic.

  4. I digitized my slides on an Epson Perfection V500 scanner (the size that does QTY=4 2″x2″ slides at once costs about $150). (The newer model is V600.)

    I did not find loss of sharpness or color with this scanner (backlit LED through scanning). In fact, I found that, with a little help from Photoshop or Lightroom, I could produce nice images from slides that were slightly off-exposure and which I never would have projected.

    These scanners (there is a QTY=12 slide per go version) will do 12,000 dpi. I never used 12K dpi; but at 6400 dpi (slow scanning), I got around QTY=9 pixels for each grain of emulsion in Kodachrome 64.

    I ended up using 2200 dpi (or was it 2400?) for the vast majority of my scanning of slides and negatives (QTY= around 15,000). At this resolution, they print beautifully at 13 x 19 inches and they look MUCH BETTER in these digital prints than they ever did by printing from the slides (back “in the day”). I have direct comparisons to look at.

    I can highly recommend:

    Epson Perfection V600 scanner
    CANON PIXMA Pro9000 MkII printer

    1. About how long did it take you? Did you spend much time manipulating images after you scanned them or were most of them simply scanned and done?

      1. Hi darrelle,

        It took about 3-4 years, working 30-60 minutes per evening (week nights) and much longer stints on weekend, to complete the work. (This did annoy my wife.)

        Almost none of the scans were use-as-is coming off the scanner. In nearly every case, I needed to spot out dust (also see below). Which is easy in PS and LR; but still time consuming.

        When I imported the images to LR, I applied a preset (named “Kodachrome 64 Import”, naturally) which included:
        – Lightening shadows about 20%
        – Adding about 10% saturation
        – Blacken blacks about 5%

        This saved a ton of time and produced images that were very close to the appearance of the projected slides.

        Then I would open then files and spot out dust and sometimes make local edits to the image. In LR, I often did this on a virtual clone image to preserve the original settings and the revised ones in LR — a very fine feature of LR.

        Another thing I did is carefully name the scans to provide useful data on what the image is. This is done in the scan step in the scanner SW; but you can also “process multiple files” in PS and PS-Elements (I mostly use PSE, only full PS if I need to) to revise names.

        Dust control: This is huge. You will save yourself time by controlling dust upfront.

        My regime was:

        Get a good anti-static film brush, sized appropriately for your originals!

        1. Always keep the scanner covered with a cloth when not in use.

        2. At start of session, dust the upper part glass (back light source), then the base glass.

        3. Place the slide frame on the base glass

        4. Load slides to the frame, dusting each carefully front and back before placing them

        5. Scan

        6. Repeat the base glass dusting of Step 2 and Steps 3-5 for every set of 4 slides scanned.

        7. Every 20-30 slides, repeat the dusting of the upper glass (very important).

        I also made the scan area constant for all scans, always oriented one way (landscape or portrait) and oversized slightly. This ensures you capture the entire slide (don’t trust the out-crop feature in the scanner SW). Place every slide in the frame in your chosen orientation. You can mass-rotate them in the processing SW or even in Window Explorer, super fast.

        Your will need to crop the images in SW; but you’d probably want to do that anyway; and oversizing the scans gives you the entire image to work with. (Sometimes the film is slightly rotated in the slide frame itself, and oversizing gives you room to correct this too.)

        The Epson Perfection scanner gave superb results with B&W negatives as well.

        A couple of examples will follow. These are “dumbed down” (resized) for web posting; but you will get the feel of the results.

        1. jblilie,
          Excellent information and tips (and the resulting photos you posted) about using your Epson Perfection slide scanner. I used an Minolta Dimage Scan III slide scanner that I purchased at least 10 years ago (probably more) to scan old family slides from the 60s and 70s, as well as some of my Kodachrome slides. The maximum resolution of this old beast is 2,820 dpi, but it did a decent job for what I wanted (mostly scans that could be viewed on computer or iPad, or projected in some of the classes I taught). As you noted, it is a time-consuming process, often with lots of post-processing required (I mostly used Photoshop Elements). I hope other readers (and Jerry!) with some old gems stored in boxes or slide holders can find the time to scan some of them, and post them for all of us to enjoy.
          Tom Gula

        1. jblilie,

          Wow! Very nice pictures! Definitely worth the time and effort to save.

          Thank you very much for taking the time for such a detailed response to my questions. I am eager to convert my slides but doing a proper job of it myself, and I won’t be able to not do so (or at least try very hard to do so), sounds daunting enough that I am now afraid to get started!

          1. I hope you do take it on! Just think of doing 50 slides (each time) and take that first step.

            I did mine myself because I’ve had too many of my originals come back from processing houses with fingerprints on them … 🙁

  5. Fascinating creatures. Things I’ve never seen.

    It’s amazing to be able to revisit the old slides. I’ve probably scanned about 1000 slides and a couple of thousand negatives myself. It’s nice to be able to tweak the color, exposure and crop images in Photoshop. It can be tedious but I had fun doing it.

    1. “It’s nice to be able to tweak the color, exposure and crop images in Photoshop. It can be tedious but I had fun doing it.”

      Me too! And it’s nice to be able to archive your images on discs in various locations for safety. 🙂

  6. A great source of pleasure for me is the wonderful assortment of wildlife and different locations I can see on PCC’s website. Certainly admire the photography skills here as well. Always look forward to my daily fix. Tnx to PCC and all contributors.

  7. As for the pentatomid guarding young — yes, that’s typical if not universal behavior among stinkbug mums.

  8. The snooty moth is one of the snout moths. The snout is a pair of elongated palpi. The spiny caterpillar is an Io moth larva. Its spines are indeed mildly poisonous, and the larva should not be handled with bare hands. Io moths range into the U.S., although I have never seen one.
    The lichen-mimicking Orthopteran is probably a katydid, but I am not sure on that.

    1. Mark,
      Thanks for the ID information. Your comment on the spiny caterpillar as an Io moth is supported by the fact that I have a photo from the same location of an adult Io moth with the typical hind wing spots (although unlike the North American species I found on a Google search, the wing spots are primarily bright red, with a black outer ring and a white central spot).
      Tom Gula

  9. “Now I have over 10,000 slides that are virtually useless–unless I scan them).”

    Film is the best storage medium for the long term. No hard drive failures, not bit rot, no obsolete file formats. A good scanner will suck every detail out of it, and then permit digital manipulation too. If you have any important slides there, Jerry, I’ll be happy to run them through my Hasselblad Flextight scanner and send you the results, along with returning the slides. Kodachromes are especially good at retaining faithful colour in storage, unlike colour negative films.

      1. I have seen this in person many times. They also scratch, burn, etc.

        Digital archives, multiple locations … About 4X or 5X redundancy for me.

        And — I still have my originals, just in case!

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