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Author Topic: ~ THE BEAUTY OF EVIL ~  (Read 16968 times)
JohnKoerner
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« on: June 06, 2008, 01:13:32 AM »
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[span style=\'font-size:14pt;line-height:100%\']Robber Fly killing Dragon Fly[/span]


This robber fly just blindsided this dragon fly (itself a predator) ... right in front of me at twilight ... and they both plummeted down to the ground ... where the robber fly continued to drink from the dragon fly's dying body, standing upside-down on his head.

The robber fly's kill was so big he couldn't move it ... but he could kill it and drink from it as he landed.




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Ray
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« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2008, 02:32:31 AM »
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Can't quite see what's happening here, John. Could be two dead flies by the roadside. How about an enlargement of the action?  
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HiltonP
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« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2008, 03:45:22 AM »
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John,

Your photo is a wonderful capture of a fleeting moment in insect life. Well spotted. I do however have a problem with your using words such as "evil" and "sinister" in its description. Those are human terms, and have no place in the animal world.

Regards.
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Regards, HILTON
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« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2008, 08:20:59 AM »
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Not evil - just the circle of life.  If the predator doesn't catch some prey, it dies.  It's not what you would call a lifestyle choice.

But certainly an eye-catching headline.
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HiltonP
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« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2008, 09:47:59 AM »
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Not evil - just the circle of life.† If the predator doesn't catch some prey, it dies.† It's not what you would call a lifestyle choice.

But certainly an eye-catching headline.
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Iím sure John is a nature fan, and I am too. I am also sure that he did not mean to attach human characteristic words to his photo (or I hope he didnít!   ), but you will be surprised how many people take these terms very seriously. One needs look no further than the wolf to see how, when an emotive tag is attached to it, itís existence becomes challenged to the point of possible extinction.

Similar tags have been attached to owls, eagles, peacocks, tortoises, pigs, etc.

I have noticed a distressing tendency recently in National Geographic programmes to sensationalize wildlife filming. Predatory animals such as sharks, crocodiles, etc are portrayed as ďman-eatersĒ who actively seek out and hunt down individual people. The more thoughtful amongst us will see this for the rubbish it is, but too many folk do not, and when the opportunity arises they vent their beliefs on the unsuspecting wildlife.

The animal world is amazing enough just as it is, we do not need to sensationalize it further.

Having said that, I think Johnís photo is an amazing capture of a moment which could all too easily have been passed by.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2008, 09:48:34 AM by HiltonP » Logged

Regards, HILTON
JohnKoerner
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« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2008, 10:16:19 AM »
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Can't quite see what's happening here, John. Could be two dead flies by the roadside. How about an enlargement of the action?†
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Ray, the fly on the left is a robber fly. He is "hugging" the larger (blue-eyed) fly, which is a dragonfly, thrusting his deadly proboscis into his body-meat, killing him. Attached is a larger image. The dragonfly was sitting on a wire projecting from the roof of my house, when he was blindsided by the robber fly. Dragonflies are aerial predators too, who likewise "hug" their victims with their legs and chew them to death. The robber fly has larger, more functional legs but instead of "chewing" they have what looks like an icepick sticking out of their face that they thrust into the body of their victims, drinking their juices.




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John,
Your photo is a wonderful capture of a fleeting moment in insect life. Well spotted. I do however have a problem with your using words such as "evil" and "sinister" in its description. Those are human terms, and have no place in the animal world.
Regards.

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Not evil - just the circle of life.† If the predator doesn't catch some prey, it dies.† It's not what you would call a lifestyle choice.
But certainly an eye-catching headline.
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No, I do not think they are "evil," but yes I do think it was an eye-catching headline




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Iím sure John is a nature fan, and I am too. I am also sure that he did not mean to attach human characteristic words to his photo (or I hope he didnít!†  ), but you will be surprised how many people take these terms very seriously. One needs look no further than the wolf to see how, when an emotive tag is attached to it, itís existence becomes challenged to the point of possible extinction.
Similar tags have been attached to owls, eagles, peacocks, tortoises, pigs, etc.
I have noticed a distressing tendency recently in National Geographic programmes to sensationalize wildlife filming. Predatory animals such as sharks, crocodiles, etc are portrayed as ďman-eatersĒ who actively seek out and hunt down individual people. The more thoughtful amongst us will see this for the rubbish it is, but too many folk do not, and when the opportunity arises they vent their beliefs on the unsuspecting wildlife.
The animal world is amazing enough just as it is, we do not need to sensationalize it further
Having said that, I think Johnís photo is an amazing capture of a moment which could all too easily have been passed by.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=200068\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

LOL, I was not looking to get into a philosophical debate about the nature of evil, I just thought it was a catchy slogan to get yall to check out the photo. Had I put the more technically-correct heading "Fly Species Feeding," most of you wouldn't have even looked

Jack




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« Last Edit: June 06, 2008, 10:17:14 AM by JohnKoerner » Logged
Jay Kaplan
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« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2008, 12:20:26 PM »
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John -

Were you using the same camera as used on your butterfly shots?

Jay
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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2008, 06:50:28 PM »
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John -

Were you using the same camera as used on your butterfly shots?

Jay
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Yes I was Jay




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Ray
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« Reply #8 on: June 06, 2008, 10:39:51 PM »
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LOL, I was not looking to get into a philosophical debate about the nature of evil, I just thought it was a catchy slogan to get yall to check out the photo. Had I put the more technically-correct heading "Fly Species Feeding," most of you wouldn't have even looked
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=200071\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Nevertheless, such shots do raise interesting philosophical issues about the nature of evil.

I think we are all totally fascinated (and some of us horrified) when we first see a close-up on TV of a snake swallowing its prey, or a lion biting into the jugular of a wildebeest then tearing it apart.

From our human perspective of avoidance of pain and suffering, availability of medical facilities and social networks to make life comfy; from the perspective of perhaps the average, rather cosseted suburban dweller, such scenes can be a shock.

Can there be anything more terrifying than being swallowed alive by a giant snake; torn apart by a lion, bitten in half by a crocodile or a shark?

In such situations, our imagination is perhaps our worst enemy. I think in practice, the appearance is worse than the reality. The snake's venom will paralyse the victim which possibly will feel no more pain that a human under the surgeon's scalpel. The wildebeest brought down by the lion will likely be in a complete state of shock and feel nothing after the initial adrenalin rush of the chase.

What is far more disturbing (and truly evil) is human torture if its victims who are deliberately kept alive and aware so they can experience the maximum suffering.

I don't believe this happens in nature, red in tooth and claw, but I might be wrong.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2008, 11:25:50 PM by Ray » Logged
Petrjay
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« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2008, 09:26:20 AM »
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It happens in nature - just watch a cat toying with a disabled rodent for no apparent reason other than the cat's amusement. I don't know what the cat's motives are or if it even has any, but it's disturbing to watch. BTW, thanks for sharing your picture, Jack - very interesting. I've seen a lot of robber flies, but I never knew what they were or how they made their living.
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gr82bart
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« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2008, 11:38:57 AM »
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Why is this "evil" ?

Regards, Art.
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Visit my website at www.ArtLiem.com or my online portfolios at APUG and Model Mayhem
Petrjay
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« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2008, 03:25:41 PM »
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I doubt that anyone with a usable IQ believes that predators are evil. Jack was just having a little fun with with a headline, that's all.
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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2008, 10:21:33 PM »
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Nevertheless, such shots do raise interesting philosophical issues about the nature of evil.

True evil involves awareness and intent, which insects don't have.




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I think we are all totally fascinated (and some of us horrified) when we first see a close-up on TV of a snake swallowing its prey, or a lion biting into the jugular of a wildebeest then tearing it apart.

This is very true. In fact, what I find equally horrifying to contemplate is the way this dragonfly died. If you can imagine being seized and immobilized by enormous, bony talons (as the robber fly's legs), while your assailant rams a giant spike protruding from his face deep into your ribcage ... and then begins to drink your fluids while you are struggling in impotent agony ... you might find a certain amount of "evil" in this





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From our human perspective of avoidance of pain and suffering, availability of medical facilities and social networks to make life comfy; from the perspective of perhaps the average, rather cosseted suburban dweller, such scenes can be a shock.

True again. When we walk out of our homes, we typically don't worry about being seized and made a meal of, right there on the spot. But the rest of the animal kingdom isn't so fortunate




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Can there be anything more terrifying than being swallowed alive by a giant snake; torn apart by a lion, bitten in half by a crocodile or a shark?

Yes, being the above dragonfly




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In such situations, our imagination is perhaps our worst enemy. I think in practice, the appearance is worse than the reality. The snake's venom will paralyse the victim which possibly will feel no more pain that a human under the surgeon's scalpel. The wildebeest brought down by the lion will likely be in a complete state of shock and feel nothing after the initial adrenalin rush of the chase.

I agree on the lion, but would say it depends on the snake. A lion will kill a wildebeest pretty quick, but some snake venom is excruciatingly painful. Cobras and coral snakes inject neurotoxic venom, which arrests the heart and breathing, but doesn't hurt too bad. Other snakes like rattlers inject haemotoxic venom, which destroys the tissue and blood, and hurts like @#!$. Fortunately, it will kill the comparatively small prey animals a snake feeds on a lot quicker than it would kill you or me.




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What is far more disturbing (and truly evil) is human torture if its victims who are deliberately kept alive and aware so they can experience the maximum suffering.

Yes, that would be an example of true evil. The infliction of suffering can be broken down into "existential" suffering and "non-existential" suffering, meaning the inflicted suffering is either necessary to existence or it is superfluous and unnecessary.

Animals killing other animals to eat and survive is part of nature, and necessary for the existence of the predatory species. (Sometimes, if predators are wiped-out, the prey species are left to reproduce and overpopulate so fast they will eat themselve out of food and can die off en masse through starvation.) So the predator-prey relationship is critical to the balance of any ecosystem.

The American Indians killing buffalo to survive was "existential" to these people ... while the white man riding by in railroad cars and killing thousands of buffalo senselessly was "non-existential" and therefore evil.




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I don't believe this happens in nature, red in tooth and claw, but I might be wrong.

Sometimes animals will kill just to kill, but they are amoral and simply don't have the capacity to understand right from wrong.




Jack




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« Last Edit: June 07, 2008, 10:24:49 PM by JohnKoerner » Logged
JohnKoerner
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« Reply #13 on: June 07, 2008, 10:32:56 PM »
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It happens in nature - just watch a cat toying with a disabled rodent for no apparent reason other than the cat's amusement. I don't know what the cat's motives are or if it even has any, but it's disturbing to watch.

True, and that is a good example. We humans have the capacity to "feel" for the rodent, but a cat simply doesn't have this capacity. In fact (and this is a whole other subject) it is arguable that truly evil people are simply "defective" people, in that they likewise lack the capacity to feel for another being, which is a distinctly human trait.




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BTW, thanks for sharing your picture, Jack - very interesting. I've seen a lot of robber flies, but I never knew what they were or how they made their living.

Sure. I knew what robber flies did, but I have only seen them go for considerably smaller prey. I would never before imagined that a robber fly would go after another (and larger) aerial predator like a dragonfly! This would be tantamount to a leopard going after (and actually bringing down) a lion

That was one bold robber fly ... and pretty "smart" too ... in that he hit the dragonfly from the side, avoiding both the legs of the dragonfly as well as its own biting mouthparts, thereby avoiding any retaliation.

I just found it very, very interesting and thought I'd share

Jack




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« Last Edit: June 07, 2008, 10:36:01 PM by JohnKoerner » Logged
dalethorn
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« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2008, 06:33:01 PM »
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When you consider what has usually happened when a more advanced human civilization has encountered a less advanced civilization, you have to wonder what an alien civilization would do with us (if such a civilization exists).  Charlie Sheen played in an interesting film (The Arrival) where the Earth was being prepared for aliens by "terraforming".  Or you could imagine that the real cause of global warming is just that.  Scary, huh?
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Ray
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« Reply #15 on: June 08, 2008, 11:21:17 PM »
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I've been accused once or twice of straying off topic. However, in view of the nature of this photo from Jack and the provocative title, I think that what I'm about to write is still connected with the original shot. It's still about photography.

We can see quite clearly that most comments on the photos from others are along the lines of, 'Nice shot!', 'Lovely shot', 'I like that', 'Amazing', 'Fantastic', 'Thanks for sharing', etc.

That's all right, in a sense. It's positive and encouraging and it might also be truthful in the sense that one simply likes the shot, even though one might not be  exactly sure what it is about the shot that one likes.

Jack's shot is a bit disappointing in that it's a bit confused. He's raised the spectre of evil, but on my monitor the robber fly and dragon fly could be just two dead flies on the road. He hasn't got close enough with his G9 to show the metaphorical evil that's contained in the title.

He has to amplify verbally what the shot is about. There's nothing in this shot, without the verbal description, that would provoke in anyone a sense of evil.

But let's suppose that Jack actually had got a lot closer with his G9 and showed us the action with the Robber Fly's proboscus injected into the Dragon Fly. Would that be more disturbing than the average hospital scene? From stories of ancient Roman senators committing suicide by slitting their arteries whilst sitting in a warm bath tub, I understand it's a relatively benign way of dying.

A broader issue is the symbolism and import of the shot , after having understood what it actually is through verbal description.

Perhaps we shouldn't venture there because Jack has not shown, in photographic terms, what he's described verbally.

But I'd like to comment that this issue is connected in general to the capacity of the photographer to capture 'character'. We often capture just appearances. To get behind the appearance is true art.
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dalethorn
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« Reply #16 on: June 09, 2008, 10:50:21 AM »
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If you haven't been faced with life-or-death in your own experience, you can at least appreciate the enormous energy, resources, and effort humans are willing to make to survive.  The Independence Day film is an example, or in real life, the sacrifices made during WW2.  So, when various animals or insects don't seem to mount the same level of struggle we do, or publish their struggles in countless emotion-filled volumes of literature, does that make their lives and deaths less significant, or their adversaries less evil?  Our enemies are always evil, and that's not Mr. Nobody saying that, it's the leaders of the world saying that.  So if the photo indicates a predator and prey in a killing situation, we should be capable of filling in the blanks.  Art should expect imagination in response, like a good novel.
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JohnKoerner
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« Reply #17 on: June 09, 2008, 09:11:03 PM »
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If you haven't been faced with life-or-death in your own experience, you can at least appreciate the enormous energy, resources, and effort humans are willing to make to survive.  The Independence Day film is an example, or in real life, the sacrifices made during WW2.  So, when various animals or insects don't seem to mount the same level of struggle we do, or publish their struggles in countless emotion-filled volumes of literature, does that make their lives and deaths less significant, or their adversaries less evil?  Our enemies are always evil, and that's not Mr. Nobody saying that, it's the leaders of the world saying that.  So if the photo indicates a predator and prey in a killing situation, we should be capable of filling in the blanks.  Art should expect imagination in response, like a good novel.
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That is a great response dalethorn.

To Ray, I can only say art is a funny thing (and I make no claim to artistic talent). What I do know about art is that all of it has both admirers and detractors. For example, some people even scoff at the Mona Lisa to this day, and yet the painting stands as a timeless icon of art to most of the world, so who is right? Art is always a matter of perspective.

As for my photo, two things are true: one was captured in dalethorn's statement, which is "art should expect imagination to fill in the blanks" ... so if all you see are "two dead flies" then I question your imagination if not your basic knowledge of insects in general. You also said that some people "might not be exactly sure what it is about the shot that (they like)," but you are speaking of your limited perspective as if they are all perspectives.

The other point is you are right: there is no way I could capture the full drama of what I saw transpire on a mere still photo. The buzzing sounds of the dragonfly as he plummeted earthward with his assassin affixed to his side; his continued struggling and buzzing in his death throes during the photos I took (that you could hear 10' away), etc., etc. I agree with you that I couldn't possibly capture all of the drama I both saw and heard in a mere photograph. At the end of the day what I had were two insects that plummeted to the earth and landed standing on their head, one killing and the other being killed.

Speaking of the differences in the perception and imagination of two people, your saying of this death scene I captured ... that to have your thorax pierced by a giant object of the relative size (to you) of a railroad spike, and to have your juices sucked out of you via this unholy intrusion into your being seems "a benign death" to you ... similar to someone slitting their wrists in a warm bath ... certainly defies all belief as far as my understanding of death and pain goes. Which again has to do with differences in perspective and imagination of two people.

As far as my being able to capture the moods and horror on an insect, I believe this is impossible, as insects don't have facial expressions of any kind ...

And finally, as to your saying I have "to amplify verbally what the shot is about," in point of fact most wildlife motion pictures carry with them some sort of verbal narration along with the footage, so certainly a still photo of a rather bizarre killing warranted a narration too, as these aren't exactly the kinds of animals most people see killing each other every day.

Further, the use of words and descriptions can itself be a form of art

Anyway, I do appreciate the comments, though, as I agree with some and disagree with others. Yet they all got me to think and try to see things from a perspective which is not my own. Hopefully my comments do likewise

Jack




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Ray
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« Reply #18 on: June 09, 2008, 10:47:20 PM »
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The other point is you are right: there is no way I could capture the full drama of what I saw transpire on a mere still photo. The buzzing sounds of the dragonfly as he plummeted earthward with his assassin affixed to his side; his continued struggling and buzzing in his death throes during the photos I took (that you could hear 10' away), etc., etc. I agree with you that I couldn't possibly capture all of the drama I both saw and heard in a mere photograph. At the end of the day what I had were two insects that plummeted to the earth and landed standing on their head, one killing and the other being killed.

Jack, I understand. But you could probably have captured that drama if you'd used an HD video camera with a macro capability. Don't get me wrong, I think the shot is worth taking. It's just difficult to express in a single shot the drama you've had to verbally express.

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As for my photo, two things are true: one was captured in dalethorn's statement, which is "art should expect imagination to fill in the blanks" ... so if all you see are "two dead flies" then I question your imagination if not your basic knowledge of insects in general. You also said that some people "might not be exactly sure what it is about the shot that (they like)," but you are speaking of your limited perspective as if they are all perspectives.

All anyone can do is speak of (or from) their limited perspective. (Is there anyone who thinks they have unlimited perspective?)

I have used my imagination here and filled in the blanks, but in a less alarmist manner. Imagine the thoughts of someone from a primitive tribe, seeing for the first time a blood donor lying on a bed with a needle (proboscis) stuck into his arm and at the other end a bottle slowly filling up with his vital juices. What is a fairly normal and innocuous event to us might seem terrifying to a person who had never seen or heard of such a medical procedure as blood donation.

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As far as my being able to capture the moods and horror on an insect, I believe this is impossible, as insects don't have facial expressions of any kind ...

Of course they do, albeit maybe a fixed facial expression. Some of them look like the personification of evil; plain horrific. But you'd have to get closer for that to be apparent.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2008, 10:50:57 PM by Ray » Logged
JohnKoerner
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« Reply #19 on: June 10, 2008, 12:35:03 AM »
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Jack, I understand. But you could probably have captured that drama if you'd used an HD video camera with a macro capability.

Wish I had one




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Don't get me wrong, I think the shot is worth taking. It's just difficult to express in a single shot the drama you've had to verbally express. All anyone can do is speak of (or from) their limited perspective. (Is there anyone who thinks they have unlimited perspective?)

And that's pretty much what I did do

I agree that the shot was worth taking, and in fact it was taken just around dark, where I had to prop myself up on my elbows and use a flash on the ground right next to them.




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I have used my imagination here and filled in the blanks, but in a less alarmist manner. Imagine the thoughts of someone from a primitive tribe, seeing for the first time a blood donor lying on a bed with a needle (proboscis) stuck into his arm and at the other end a bottle slowly filling up with his vital juices. What is a fairly normal and innocuous event to us might seem terrifying to a person who had never seen or heard of such a medical procedure as blood donation.

Again, I respectfully disagree with the analogy. There is no one who is going to be mortally-wounded from a tiny pinprick just past the skin's surface, just barely into the wall of a vein. However, if I thrust a railroad spike through your ribcage, piercing your lungs and heart, that is simply a much bigger "intrusion" into your body mass, with much more dire consequences, than the non-incident you describe ... and any intelligent being (tribe or no tribe) should be able to see this dramatic difference.




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Of course they do, albeit maybe a fixed facial expression. Some of them look like the personification of evil; plain horrific. But you'd have to get closer for that to be apparent.

Again, I respectfully disagree. The word "expression" comes from the word "express," which means to convey an emotion. Thus the facial expressions of joy, sorrow, fear, anger, etc. from other people are actually conveying these feelings.

The face of an insect carries with it no such expression of emotion. Insects have faces, yes, but expressions no.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2008, 07:25:55 AM by JohnKoerner » Logged
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