Thursday, February 25, 2016

Photo challenge: Day 4 of 7

The photo above required a different sort of technique than the others so far. This is the fourth of seven daily “nature” photographs, and I said about it:
"Above". This photo is of taro plants that are growing wild next to our house. They're actually a weed, but I like their tropical look. The corms are edible, though I don't like it. The plants are growing about a storey below the level of our deck, so shooting from above was the best option.
Taro (Colocasia esculenta) grows wild in much of New Zealand, the northern parts in particular, and these plants arrived all on their own—somehow. They especially like damp soil, like around streams and rivers, and where they’re growing is near a partly natural drain (that leads to a creek, and, eventually, to the sea), so the soil is often damp. But they’re hardier than that.

Taro’s corms (thickened underground stems), leaves, and petioles (leaf stems) are all edible, but the leaves must be prepared properly or they can be toxic (due to high oxalic acid in them). Apparently eating foods high in calcium at the same time helps prevent any damage (like kidney stones…). In 2003-2010, taro was the ninth most common plant about which people rang the poison hotline in New Zealand (the things the Internet tell us!). Despite the apparent risks, taro is thought to be among the earliest cultivate plants.

Yeah, not the sort of thing I’d eat, though I did try a Fijian dish made with taro once and didn’t like it at all. I just like the tropical look of it, and it helps suppress other weeds, which is good, since the place they’re growing at our house is hard to get to.

As I said when I posted this photo, the deck is about two storeys up at the point. So, I needed a little ingenuity to get this shot.

First, I took the phone holder off my selfie stick. It has a universal camera mount, which means I can attach it to a tripod or, in this case, my monopod (basically, a telescoping stick with a camera mount at one end and used to steady a camera for quick shots. Mine is fairly low end, but it’s been very handy.

To take the photo, I needed to use the timer: I put the phone in the selfie-stick holder on my monopod, hit the “shutter” button with a 10-second timer, and lowered it down to above the plants, and waited to hear the shutter sound. As usual, I did this several times to get a photo I liked.

So, basically, I used a pole to extend my reach and also the timer to take the photo so I had time to lower my phone down to take the shot.

All of the “techniques” I’ve used on these photos so far are really common, which figures: I’m just an amateur photographer, so I make do with what I have available. I’m sure a professional photographer with better equipment, or just more experience, could take some amazing photos, even with a phone. I’m just happy to have a little fun and to try and meet a challenge.

Mostly, though, it’s about having a bit of creative fun. I suppose in this case, I was kind of playing with food, though.

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