June butterflies

Posted in Uncategorized on June 23, 2015 by maxpho

Lately, my main activity has been the search and identification of butterfly species and habitats. A few trips in southern Dobrogea (Constanta county), in some woods in Dambovita county, in Comana Woods (Giurgiu county), and in the Rasnoavei Gorges (Cheile Rasnoavei, Brasov county) have been very successful, with new species for myself and some new localities for some species previously not recorded in Romania.

I won’t get into details in this post regarding the exact locations, rather I will post a few images of some of the more interesting species, and also of some individuals of well represented species populations in the investigated areas.

1. Zerynthia cerisyi ferdinandi, one of the rarest large butterfly species in Romania due to it’s only one general location in Romania:

zery 1 zery 2 zery adult a zery adult b

zery adult c

zery c

zery d

zery e

ZERYNTHIA CERISY 12. Parnassius mnemosyne transsylvanica, one of the three subspecies found in Romania, this one being the one flying at the highest altitude:

parna 1 parna 23. Gonepteryx rhamni rhamni, a species that hibernates as an adult and has it’s first true generation in June, with tens of individuals flying in a few square meters in some locations:

lamaiata 1

lamaiata 24. Lopinga achine achine, one of the more endangered species in Europe due to habitat lost, and found in one of my trips in rather large numbers at one location:

lopinga5. Argynnis paphia paphia, perhaps the best well observed butterfly species of June, due to it’s large size and highly contrasted color, but also due to large numbers of individuals that sometimes gather on the roads or in the woods to drink water (to extract minerals):

ARGYNIS6. Brenthis daphne daphne, another well represented species which can be observed in conjunction with the above due to similar habitat requirements:

brenthis 1

brenthis 2

brenthis B

brenthis7. Euphydryas maturna partiensis, another endangered species, which can also be found in some locations in rather large numbers. Unfortunately these locations are subjected to human intervention and thus, these localized populations are highly endangered:

maturna 1

maturna 2

maturna 3

maturna 48. Boloria dia dia, a nice small butterfly that can be observed in many locations, but in small numbers:

boloria9. Satyrium spini spini, a lovely small butterfly that is to be seen in large numbers only in specific locations, and usually rather hard to photograph:

satyrum 1 satyrum 210. Lycaena dispar rutila, one of the most beautiful small butterflies in Romania due to it’s intense red color on the upper part of the wings. Unfortunately I did not get a chance at that view, so only ventral images are posted. Also an endangered European species:

lycaena 1 lycaena 211. Aglia tau, a rather hard species to photograph due to it’s high speed zig-zag flight. This one was a female preparing to lay one egg:

aglia 1 aglia 2 aglia 3These are just some of the many species found in this month, but photographing them is not so easy as identifying them. I hope I’ll get more shots in the following trips.

Mud Volcanoes Art – April 2015

Posted in Uncategorized on May 17, 2015 by maxpho

On April 12 this year I had the pleasure of making my second visit to the Mud Volcanoes, in Romania.

Since they were in a high activity period, I’ve shot a few hundred photographs with very short exposure times in order to catch the small details of the mud droplets coming out of some of the volcanoes. Their continuous activity created some very interesting shapes (at least for fractions of a second), so I’ve decided that the following shots should be processed and named in an artistic way. I’m not very good with artistic nomenclature or art altogether, but hopefully the images and their associated titles will bring some smiles to the readers deciding to look at this post.

First, a panoramic view of the region:

pano vulcani

And now, a view (color-processed) depicting perhaps an alien planet:

The Sun from Mars:


The activity of the volcanoes is driven by the gas emerging from way down below, and it was this gas that I’ve wanted to catch in the images. The following shot is one of the very few in which the gas is well visible atop the mud bubble.

The gas flower:


Complex structure:


Undefined shape:


Alien hedgehog:


Alien shape:


The Mud Turtle:




The Phoenix:


The Monster:


Alien spacecraft:


The beginning:


Alien helmet:


The face behind the helmet:


Mud lava:


The tree of life:


The Sea Monster:


The Citadel of the future:


OK… maybe naming artistic images is not for me, but still, the complex and strange shapes the mud can form into are a joy to look at.

Spring butterflies -April/May 2015

Posted in Uncategorized on May 17, 2015 by maxpho

It’s been a long time since I’ve last posted here, and the main reason for this is that I’ve been very busy searching for different insect species and new habitats around Bucharest and in other places in Romania.

I will do a more in-depth post regarding one of these species, but for now a small list of butterflies which can be observed in April and May. Some of these species are rather localized, meaning that it is not easy to observe them, and the locations which they inhabit should be protected in one way or the other.

If there is anyone who can help with this (conservations of habitats in Romania), please feel free to contact me at the e-mail address jupiter182002atyahoodotca (change the words with the corresponding signs).

And now, the butterflies:

Zerynthia polyxena polyxena



zerynthia 2

3rd instar larvae:


Parnassius mnemosyne distincta


parnasius a mare

parnasius b

parnasius c

parnasius d mare


parnasius I MARE

parnasius h

parnasius g

parnasius e

And a male with a female, both on the same plant:

parnasius f

Iphiclides podalirius podalirius

coada randunicii alb

Araschnia levana levana (f. levana)

levana 2


Anthocharis cardamines cardamines (females)

antocharis 3

antocharis 2


Hamearis lucina lucina


There are, of course, many more butterfly species observable in this period of the year, but for now, these are the only shots that I’m able to post.

Two planets with two clusters – April 11, 2015

Posted in ASTRO on April 17, 2015 by maxpho

These days two beautiful gatherings are taking place up in the sky after sunset.

Venus is passing by the Pleiades (Messier 45) above the western horizon, while Jupiter, high in the sky, is also passing by another open star cluster, M44.

The following shots were acquired at an elevation of 1000meters, near Sinaia, on a night with good transparency, using three instruments (a 50mm Sigma Macro lens, a 100mm Canon Macro lens and a TS APO65mm F/6.5 Refractor). The camera was the Canon 550D at ISO 800 and 1600, with exposures of 60 to 200seconds on a NEQ6 equatorial mount.

The first shots are of planet Venus close to M45.

First, the 50mm view:

venus and m45 50mmThe 100mm view, showing some of the Pleiades blue reflection nebula:

venus and m45 100mmAnd the 420mm two-shots mosaic:

Venus and M45 420mmAnd now for the Jupiter-M44 gathering…

The 50mm view:

jupiter and m44 50mmAnd the 100mm view:

jupiter and m44 100mmNice coincidence having the two brightest planets in the sky passing by two of the brightest open star clusters in the same time-frame…

Looking in the eyes of a…

Posted in Comana, Supermacrofotografie on April 9, 2015 by maxpho

…jumping spider.

This female jumping spider of the genus Aelurillus was found in the Comana Woods in early April.

The following shots were acquired in the same manner as the ones from the previous post, in which the male of this species was photographed.

First, a “wide” shot:

salticid 2And a more detailed view:

salticid 1Also, a higher magnification view, using more optics in the setup. Only a grayscale view this time, since the chromatic aberrations of the 2x teleconverter used were quite annoying.



Some details from the insect world – March 22, 2015

Posted in Comana, Supermacrofotografie on April 2, 2015 by maxpho

Almost two weeks ago, on a short trip to the Comana Woods to see how Nature is waking up after the long winter, I’ve found some of the first invertebrates of the year.

Among them, a small jumping spider and a bee-fly.

I’ve spent a lot of time photographing this two small beings. The first one, the spider, was a little less cooperative due to the fact that it was very much alive at the time of the shot, and moving all-around.

I’ve used for both subjects the old super-macrophotography setup, the Canon 550D and the SMC Pentax-M inverted objective. The light used was from a macro-ring flash, not the best choice for artistic shots, but very efficient for high-resolution images showing small details on insect bodies.

First, the spider. Notice the reflection of the macro-ring light in the frontal eyes.


And the bee-fly (a fly that mimics bees) of the species Bombylius major, found already dead on the ground. First shot presents the head and most of it’s proboscis:

fly head

A detailed view of it’s right eye (large image!):

fly eye

And another of it’s wing:

fly wing

Spring is here now, so I’m very sure that many more shots like these (or better) will appear on this blog, since a lot of possible subjects are now emerging from their winter cocoons/shelters.

Partial Solar Eclipse of March 20, 2015 – Part II

Posted in ASTRO on March 30, 2015 by maxpho

I was mentioning in a previous post that I shall present soon some new images from the March 20th Partial Solar Eclipse.

Well, it’s not really soon, but better later than never…

The first new image was shot not in the usual way, meaning that due to the rather thick cloud layer, the Sun’s luminosity was greatly diminished, and it was necessary to remove the frontal solar filter of the refractor used (a 115mm F/7 APO). This should never be done without some serious thinking ahead (and risk management), since any luminosity variation (due to cloud movement across the Sun’s disk) could damage either the camera or the eye!!! But, since it was the camera that was actually seeing the Sun, I’ve gambled and won…the camera remained intact, and some shots were taken. The following is just one of them (acquired at 09:24 U.T.), where both the Sun and some clouds are visible in the same frame:

9 24 utThe above image is just a single shot, but the following one is a stack of 44 frames acquired in just one minute (at 09:29 U.T.), when the clouds did not interfered with the eclipse. A distinct sunspot group can be seen, and also some mountains/craters on the lunar limb!

09 29 UTTo better discern the lunar mountains/craters, a rotated view is presented below. Look especially at the left part of the lunar limb, where the lunar South Pole’s mountains/craters are more dramatic.

LUNAR LIMBAnd now for a brief sequence of the event, up to the maximum phase visible from the location where I was observing:

toateAgain, some of the frames were acquired through clouds, so the solar filter was removed; this is obvious for the center five frames in the above sequence.

To perhaps better understand the actual event, a more artistic view is shown below, with the Moon rotated to see which general lunar regions were near the limb during the eclipse:

COMPOSITIONAnd now for a small video made by my wife during different moments of the eclipse, using a 127mm Maksutov telescope and Canon 550D in Full HD filming mode:

My wife also shot this view at the end of our imaging session (ended by the very thick cloud layer), showing one of the instruments and the sky conditions:

pano eclipsaEven if this was not a total solar eclipse, the event, despite the clouds, was surely a memorable one.


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