Alien Lifeform,
. . . or indoor hibiscus

  With its spiked and red satellite dishes pointing into the gloom and globules of yellow fruit clustered on stalks midway down its prickly trunk, is this or isn't this an alien lifeform?

Alien lifeform
  It's a hibiscus flower, as seen in a 1:1 ratio macro photograph. (The ratio 1:1 means that the object photographed is as large on the film as it is in life.)

The satellite dishes are the flower's stigma (to catch pollen), and the clusters of yellow fruit the anther (from which pollen is released).

The hibiscus came indoors last fall before the start of the freezing weather. Neither Sue nor I expected that it would have enough light indoors, but to our surprise, after shedding a few leaves, the hibiscus began to thrive and has given us flowers throughout the winter and early spring.

The hibiscus also became an excellent plant to test out my various lenses, including my using a tripod. Although my natural tendency is to use cameras handheld (without a tripod), it is quite difficult holding any camera steady enough to allow a 1:1 ratio. Move an eence and the photo is out of focus. Therefore, I brought out a trusty tripod, and the above is the result.

The following photo was taken later the same day but of the whole flower:

Hibiscus flower
  Photo note: The first photo was taken on 20 April 2003 with a Pentax LX and the Voigtlander 125mm macro lens, and the second was taken with the Pentax SMC 85mm f2.2 soft focus lens (at f5.6, to minimize the softness). The soft focus has proved to be a terrific way of photographing flowers whose colors are somewhat too intense for normal lenses.

Earlier catkins in bloom   |   Soft wetlands

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