Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Treasure in a failed photo

The drier areas of Iona Island were clothed in a variety of mosses. We took a bunch of photos, of which more later. This one didn't turn out:

Looking straight down at the moss, the camera balked at the contrast between sunlit "flowers" and shady ground, so that it washed out the colours, but left the background almost black. I was going to toss the photo, but zoomed in first to see if I had missed any clues to the identity of the moss. That's when I saw the lichen.

I have never seen lichen like this. It's a club lichen, standing upright like Cladonia, but is weirdly branched, and in spots, almost leaf-like. And on those branches, it has tiny fruiting bodies, like little balls. Little purple balls. (It helps to click on the photo to see it full size; the fruiting bodies are really small.)

I tried adjusting the colour balance of the photo, thinking the fruiting bodies should be grey, but the closer the moss came to its true colour, as we saw it, the bluer the fruiting bodies grew.

I finally gave up, and over-saturated the colours; even the grey body of the lichen turned out to have a purplish tinge.

I don't know what these are. They're not in my book. I am going to browse through the thousands of photos on the Sharnoff Lichen website to see if they're there. Wish me luck.


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