Meet Your Neighbours Co-Founder Clay Bolt was honored to accept the North American Nature Photography Association‘s 2015 Environmental Impact award on behalf of Meet Your Neighbours during the annual summit in San Diego last week. Clay writes, “The last recipient was the incredible James Balog so its significance isn’t lost on me. More importantly, I was so touched to be on stage with many of my dearest friends and colleagues who have really been the ones to make the project a reality.” From the left: Chris Linder, Kevin FitzPatrick, Paul Marcellini, Roy Toft, Sheri Mandel, Nathan Dappen, Krista Schlyer, Clay Bolt, Neil Losin, Gabby Salazar, Karine Aigner and Paul Hassell. Other contributors who were present but unable to join us on stage were Andrew Snyder, JP Lawrence, Matthew Cicanese, Kika Tarsi Tuff, Todd Amacker, Steven David Johnson, Dave Huth. Photo © Gaston Lacombe / iLCP.
-By Neil Losin, Colorado, USA: Costa Rica covers just over 50,000 square kilometers. For comparison, that means the entire country is less than half the size of my home state of Virginia. But within this tiny country lies a wealth of geological, meteorological, and topographic diversity… and of course, the biodiversity that comes with it.
I’m not the first Meet Your Neighbours contributor to work in Costa Rica – Twan Leenders and Sean Graesser have been doing some really lovely work there, and my latest contributions are best described as “dabblings” by comparison. I was in Costa Rica earlier this month to teach a filmmaking workshop for early-career scientists through the Organization for Tropical Studies. My wife Liz came down with me before the workshop began to get away from the “polar vortex” and celebrate the New Year in the tropics. I didn’t spend much time taking photos during my vacation, but I couldn’t resist grabbing a few of the large insects that were attracted to the lights at our lodge on the central Pacific coast.
When I say “large” insects, I mean it. The grasshopper in the above photograph, Tropidacris cristata, was the biggest insect I had ever seen – almost as long as my hand. The green katydid, Steirodon stalii, was over 3 inches long. My only macro lens, a Sigma 180mm f/3.5, proved to be too long for these magnificent critters, so I resorted to my trusty Canon 24-105mm f/4 zoom. A couple of chairs from our room at the lodge provided sturdy support for my white plexi backdrop, and I used two flashes – a Canon 580EX behind the backdrop, and a Canon 430EX with a small softbox in front, both triggered wirelessly with the ST-E2 – for illumination. Liz helped me manage the insects and flashes!
The masterful leaf-mimic Choeradodis rhombicollis was my favorite find. Even the venation in its wings recalled the intricate vasculature of a leaf. Like every mantis I’ve ever photographed, it watched my every move, keenly aware of my presence. It stood out against the white Meet Your Neighbours background, of course, but when I released it back into the forest, it virtually disappeared as soon as it landed in the foliage. What a lovely creature!
Special thanks to Piotr Naskrecki for his help with some of the IDs.
Meet Your Neighbours photographers have been sharing their work all over the world and this past weekend two events of special note took place: In Jacksonville, Florida MYN co-founder Clay Bolt and contributors Paul Marcellini, Nate Dappen and Krista Schlyer presented during a 2-hour at the North American Nature Photography Association’s annual Summit. Across the Atlantic, Dutch contributor Joris van Alphen presented in Amsterdam during PIXperience. In fact, Joris’ presentation featured the largest MYN panel to date at nearly 200′ across! He presented images from his recent expedition to Borneo with the Dutch edition of National Geographic. Way to go Joris!
Many thanks to Neil Losin and Nate Dappen of Day’s Edge Productions for including MYN in their work on the Ibiza Wall Lizard in the Spanish Mediterranean! Neil has written an excellent post on National Geographic‘s Explorers Journal detailing how the technique was used to showcase the amazing diversity within this species on the islands of Ibiza and Formentera. You can read the article by going here.
As you can see, there is a tremendous amount of variety in color and shapes within this one species. It is a beautiful mystery! As Neil writes in his article:
“During the expedition, as I approached the project one day at a time, I don’t think I fully appreciated the diversity of the lizards. But now that the adventure is over and I look back on our photos from dozens of different islands, the variation from one population to another, particularly the diversity in color, is stunning! Some of the most amazing inter-island differences occurred between islands that were barely separated at all. Even between islands just a few meters apart – islands that shared similar terrain, climate, and biological communities – there were often stark differences in the color, size, or behavior of their lizard inhabitants.”
Thanks again Neil and Nate! The images that they have produced will be used in an upcoming coffee table book on the endemic lizard. To learn more visit their website at www.daysedgeproductions.com.
MYN Contributor Neil Losin and his fellow Day’s Edge Productions team member Nate Dappen recently returned from Formentera, Spain on an expedition to document the Ibiza Wall Lizard. Their images will be used in a beautifully illustrated book entitled “The Symbol,” which is intended to raise awareness and ultimately lead to preservation of wall lizard habitat and the continued survival of the species. We’re so pleased to share this video, not only because of the valuable work that Neil and Nate are conducting, but also because they used the MYN field-studio technique during their trip to showcase color variation among individuals.
From the Day’s Edge Productions blog:
“As evolutionary biologists it fascinates us that these lizard populations are so close, yet look so different. The situation on Esparte and Espartar exemplifies the mysteriously high color diversity among island populations of this species, which has some of the highest color diversity observed among all reptiles. Our understanding of how these uniquely color populations evolved to be so different is poor. Nonetheless, one of our goals on this expedition was to capture, photographically, the color diversity of these lizards among island populations. To do this, we used a technique called “Meet Your Neighbours.”
Backyard Naturalists, the children’s program co-founded by Meet Your Neighbours co-founder Clay Bolt and Sonya Carpenter from the Highlands Biological Foundation has released a video that has been created to teach kids three easy ways to discover the wildlife in their own backyard and community. By following these three easy techniques viewers can immediately begin to discover a few of their own wild neighbours!