I live in a camper van with a West Highland Terrier for company.
My passion is creating images but it is a work in progress.
I am always willing to share what knowledge I have and can be contacted through the comments on this post or e-mail ADRIAN

Saturday 28 March 2015

STUNNED BY A STICK. (28/03/15)

It was vile this morning, pouring with rain and there was appreciable wind chill. On the way back for breakfast I grabbed a bit of stick with a view to focus stacking the lichens growing on it. I have also spent considerable time reading about them. To be honest ninety percent of it I couldn’t understand until I happened across this PDF document. It’s a Scottish Natural Heritage booklet titled Lichens by a chap called Oliver Gilbert. Here is his description:

What is a lichen?
A lichen (pronounced li'ken) is a dual organism consisting
of a fungus and a photosynthetic alga or blue-green alga
(cyanobaterium) which live in close association. The
photosynthetic partner manufactures food for the whole
lichen and the fungus provides a stable, protective
environment for its alga. The fungus forms the main
body of the lichen, and in most cases, the alga lies
sandwiched between upper and lower fungal layers.
Where a lichen has a green algal partner, the green
algal layer can often be seen by scratching the upper
surface of the lichen. Lichens are often quoted as a
classic example of symbiosis - a mutually beneficial
partnership between two organisms.
Other interesting facts:
• some crust-like lichens on rocks have a 'legendary
slow' growth rate, sometimes as little as 0.1 mm
per year,
• in undisturbed conditions, some rock-dwelling
lichens can survive to a great age (many hundreds
of years) and are among the oldest living organisms
in Scotland,
• many lichens have a remarkable tolerance to
drying out, during which state they can survive
extremes of heat and cold; this means that they can
tolerate being scorched by the sun in summer
months, yet also survive ice and snow, and are
therefore able to grow higher up in the mountains
than other plants.
Scottish lichens are many colours: white, grey, black,
yellow, orange, sulphur, apple-green, pink or scarlet.
Most grow as crusts, some are leafy (foliose), while
others are shrubby. They are completely different from
the mosses and liverworts with which they often grow.
The majority of mosses and liverworts are green, leafy
and photosynthesise their own food.

Thank you Mr Gilbert. Even I could understand this and it did help and hopefully will help in the future.

_MG_3127     Here is the stick, it’s 4.5” long or 115mm. You will notice that I’ve included both Imperial and Metric measurements today. I hope you read this Frances as two scales is not even half as good as one.

After breakfast the stick was drying out and the colours were not as vibrant so I wet it again but the reflections were horrendous. I played with the ring flash and ended up just using one side and a polariser but it didn’t make that much difference and I had to take it and the flash off so that I could see to focus. I let it dry off a bit and then tried focus stacking but to be honest f16 worked as well so that was the route I took. I focussed on a macro rail, had 56mm of extension on the lens, speed 160s and the strobe set to full without bias but mode set to ETTL so it used what it needed. The lens is the Canon 100mm macro, it’s a grand bit of kit with aperture from f2.8 down to f33. It’s not brilliant over F18 but as good as stacking.




_MG_3122   I find them beautiful but almost impossible to identify. It’s amazing how many individuals can inhabit a bit of twig.

I’ll try and think of something else for the next post as I realise that they aren’t everyone's idea of scintillating entertainment.


  1. gotta love a geek. Hugs to Mol and Alf

  2. That explaination is clear adn very good adn easy to understand. That is amzing what you can see in those macro shots Adrian.. Have a good weekend.

    1. I prefer insects but this lichen is very attractive.

  3. These are great, I really loving looking at lichen. Very rarely at such magnification though, sadly id wise I haven't a clue but the 3rd&4th images are fascinating to look at and superb clarity

    1. Douglas the stick was a bit fatter in the last two which made focusing easier. I think I can see about five different specimens in each picture. What they are is a different matter.

  4. Some very clear photos to go with a clear piece of text, thanks for that.


    1. Peter, it is easy to focus using EOS Utility and shooting tethered. I can see everything full screen with a big LED light. I generally focus wide open then stop down to get more DOF.

  5. In the last one I see a dragon staring at me. (Just sayin'...)

    1. Monica, don't panic it is a friendly dragon.

  6. Fantastic pictures Adrian!

  7. Superb photos Adrian. You might find this guide to lichens on twigs useful http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-online/life/plants-fungi/lichen-id-guide/index.dsml

    1. Thanks Phil. The link is a good one. I can understand it so many articles assume a hundred times more knowledge than I have. I have been using
      for IDs it has plenty of photographs but it can take ages to plough through the as they are catalogued alphabetically.

  8. Prachtige foto,s met een duidelijke uitleg.

    1. Bas, volgende zal ik hun namen te leren. Ze zijn mooi.

  9. Astonishingly beautiful and intriguing.

    1. Graham, they are but I keep hoping for an ant to wander into the frame. I think they would look good printed large.

  10. I'v e always had an inteest in fungi and lichens but not enough so I woud do any reserch on them.So when a guy like Adrian comes along I learn something . thanks.

  11. Excelentes imagenes y documentación, Adrian. Un abrazo.

  12. The scales are great for the info they provide, but there are fine pics under the scales.

    I thought Brits pronounced it litchens?

  13. Ah....focus stacking and ring flashing. They sound like ancient country dances.

    Lovely pics, as ever, and thank you kindly for the inches.

    1. PS I hope none of your readers take that last phrase the wrong way....

    2. Frances, you are welcome.