Flickr Photo of the Month: Butterflies! [Feb. 2011]

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_MG_8184 by mkerkstra on Flickr.

Posted here with permission.

There are some amazing photographers that wander the halls of HMNS, and when we’re lucky, they share what they capture in our HMNS Flickr pool. Each month, we share one of these photos here on the blog.

This month, we have a reminder that the time of ridiculously chilly weather is almost past us this year, from Michelle Kerkstra, mkerkstra on Flickr. I’m always particularly impressed by the gorgeous butterfly shots that show up in the Flickr pool, as these stunning insects are also notoriously twitchy.

From the photographer:

Butterflies have always been a favorite subject of mine ever since I visited my first butterfly garden in Mackinac Island, MI with my grandparents when I was a little girl. Butterflies are perfect subjects to photograph, especially in an enclosed setting such as the Cockrell Butterfly Center, because you have the unique opportunity to see hundreds of unique subjects up close each with their own splendid color patterns!

This shot in particular was a wonderful surprise as it caught the profile of the butterfly perfectly and the background cast a wonderful halo effect around the wings.

For advanced photographers looking to shoot butterflies, I recommend using a macro telephoto lens at a substantial focal length (I took this photo using a 70-300mm) for more working room and using a tripod.

PS. Michelle has an entire set of lovely butterfly photos – check ‘em out!

Inspired? Most of the Museum’s permanent galleries are open for photography, and we’d love for you to share your shots with us on Flickr, Facebook or Twitter. Check out the HMNS photo policy for guidelines.

Visit our Cockrell Butterfly Center to see – and photograph – these stunning insects for yourself!

June Flickr Photo of the Month: Bananagrams

This month’s featured photographer is Sulla55.

On Valentine’s weekend we had several of our photographer friends from Flickr come to the museum to participate in Wikipedia Loves Art, a contest aimed at illustrating Wikipedia articles. We had over 40 photographers arrive and split into teams to see who could get the most and best shots of our artifacts. Sulla55 created this shot to depict the event. Here’s what Sulla55 had to say about the image.

I created this shot in honor of the ‘Wikipedia Loves Art’ event at the Houston Museum of Natural Science on February 15, 2009. Many thanks to Erin for arranging this opportunity, and for the Museum for being so photographer-friendly. I used Bananagrams tiles (similar to Scrabble) and my HO scale miniature photographers. Not a very complicated set-up: I used an Ott light and the top of my microwave. :)

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Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Sulla55

The photos submitted from the Wikipedia Loves Art event were amazing. I only wish we could show every photo on our blog – but you can check them all out here. Erin and I want to give a big thanks to everyone who came and made this event such a success.

The winning team was Assignmenthoustonone. Thank you to Sulla55, Stephaniedancer, Mockbird, Kinjotx, Skarsol and Jjsala for submitting and sharing such beautiful photos. Each member won a yearlong free family membership and four tickets to see our Terra Cotta Warriors exhibit.

If you’d like to be invited to future photography events at HMNS, join our HMNS group on Flickr.

100 Years – 100 Objects: Kodak Baby Brownie Camera

The Houston Museum of Natural Science was founded in 1909 – meaning that the curators of the Houston Museum of Natural Science have been collecting and preserving natural and cultural treasures for a hundred years now. For this yearlong series, our current curators have chosen one hundred exceptional objects from the Museum’s immense storehouse of specimens and artifacts—one for each year of our history. Check back here frequently to learn more about this diverse selection of behind-the-scenes curiosities—we will post the image and description of a new object every few days.

This description is from Lisa Rebori, the Museum’s Vice President of Collections. She’s chosen a selection of objects that represent our Museum’s history, and our collections of historical technologies, that we’ll be sharing here – and at 100.hmns.org- throughout the year.

baby-brownie-resizedBaby Brownie cameras were one of the many varieties of the Brownie camera made for the Eastman Kodak camera company in the early to mid-1900s. This particular camera, designed by Walter Dorwin Teague in the art deco style, was patented and produced from 1934-1941.

Originally sold for $1.00, the plastic camera ran on 127 film (which was included) and produced 6 x 4 inch images. The Baby Brownie was mainly marketed towards children, and Kodak claimed it was so easy to use that “anybody, man, woman or child, who has sufficient intelligence to point a box straight and press a button” could take successful photographs.

Brownie cameras helped to launch photography as a hobby and the ‘snapshot’ was introduced. Since people no longer needed to understand the technicalities of cameras or the development of film in order to take a picture, cameras became a staple in the American home by the 1950s.

The small size, travel portability, and low cost of the Baby Brownie (developing film cost 40 cents per roll) allowed for a new use of the photographic medium – creating a new window into life in the home, at work, at leisure, and while traveling. Thus, photography was now spontaneous and no longer restricted to the rare family portrait or the work of an artist.

You can see more images of this fascinating artifact – as well as the others we’ve posted so far this year – in the 100 Objects section at 100.hmns.org

100 Years – 100 Objects: Falcate Orangetip

The Houston Museum of Natural Science was founded in 1909 – meaning that the curators of the Houston Museum of Natural Science have been collecting and preserving natural and cultural treasures for a hundred years now. For this yearlong series, our current curators have chosen one hundred exceptional objects from the Museum’s immense storehouse of specimens and artifacts—one for each year of our history. Check back here frequently to learn more about this diverse selection of behind-the-scenes curiosities—we will post the image and description of a new object every few days.

This description is from Nancy, the museum’s director of the Cockrell Butterfly Center and curator of entomology. She’s chosen a selection of objects that represent the rarest and most interesting insects in the Museum’s collections, that we’ll be sharing here – and on hmns.org – throughout the year.

falcate-orangetip-original-detailA local species, this attractive little butterfly only flies for a few weeks in early spring, when the foodplant for its caterpillars (weeds in the mustard family) are abundant. Once the caterpillars pupate they remain in the chrysalis stage until the following spring.

This photo shows what is called “a series” – in insect collection terms, this means a number of individuals of the same species.

Series, especially when they include individuals from different areas and/or collected over a period of time, can provide scientists with important information about the range of variation in a species (in color, size, etc.) as well as its distribution in time and space.

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Learn more about butterflies and their relatives in a visit to the new Brown Hall of Entomology, a part of the Cockrell Butterfly Center– a living, walk-through rainforest at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

You can see more images of this fascinating artifact – as well as the others we’ve posted so far this year – in the photo gallery on hmns.org.