Gray Areas — A Black and White Perspective on Laos

The little landlocked nation of Laos in Southeast Asia ambles along while the rest of the world whizzes past. Quiet but ever so compelling, it imposes a realignment of priorities, drawing one into thoughtful introspection and a careful consideration of beauty, peace, and contentment.

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Lychas mucronatus: the Ornate Bark Scorpion

All too often, my encounters with creatures in the wild are too brief: some take flight, while others hop, jump, scurry, or slither away, sometimes even before I am able to photograph them. Often, I let a subject go because I do not wish to stress it too much. But once in a while, everything comes together perfectly, giving me the time to fiddle around and play with photographic composition and lighting — this Lychas mucronatus let me do just that.

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Hunting the Giant Hunstman — Heteropoda maxima

I first met Dr. Peter Jäger in July 2016.

I had been following his work for several years: he had described several new species of spiders from Laos, and I love spiders and Laos alike. I had even mustered enough courage to send him an email in 2013, asking if we could meet when he visited Laos next.

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Heterometrus Laoticus: the Laos Black Forest Scorpion

Just about everybody who comes to know me as a friend or acquaintance soon becomes highly aware of the fact that I am a nature lover, and that I take photographs (mostly macro) of arthropods and herpetofauna every chance I get. A few months ago, a colleague of mine brought me a gift: a live Heterometrus laoticus he had found along the rice fields near his house.

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Euphaea impar male

Euphaea impar: the Blue-Sided Satinwing

During my four years in Singapore as a young adult, I spent most of my free time taking photographs of arthropods (and the odd reptile or amphibian) in the reserve forests of Singapore, which became my learning grounds. On one particular trip to the MacRitchie Reservoir Park I decided to venture off the trail and into a little stream, hoping to find some new subjects to photograph. It was a shallow, sandy stream, and quite heavily shaded by the forest canopy. My detour paid off, and I was exhilarated to find and photograph both a male and female individual of a beautiful species of damselfly: Euphaea impar.

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Ceriagrion cerinorubellum: the Orange-Tailed Marsh Dart

Singapore, although a tiny island nation, is blessed with a prodigious biodiversity that has been impressively well documented. Among the many orders of fauna that one might encounter on the island are the Odonata, which comprise the dragonflies (suborder Anisoptera) and the damselflies (suborder Zygoptera), both of which are fascinating insects with semi-aquatic life cycles. The Odonata also play a very important role in the ecosystems they inhabit. This post illustrates the behaviour of some  interesting damselfly species I photographed in Singapore — in particular, the species Ceriagrion cerinorubellum.

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Aplopeltura boa (Boie, 1828)

Aplopeltura boa: the Blunthead Slug Snake

While in Malaysia in June 2014, I had the opportunity to spend a few hours in a forest one night, looking mainly for herpetofauna along with a friend, who sighted four snakes, among several other creatures. One exciting find was this Aplopeltura boa (Boie, 1828), a rather docile and easy to handle species commonly known as the Blunthead Slug Snake.

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