Sunday, July 4, 2010

The Curious Naturalist

Digital Camera Adventures is pleased to introduce a note and some pictures of who I believe is one of the naturalists, explorers and photographers that has had the most exiting adventures for over last fifty years in Venezuela. This is my friend, and why not, one of my most important mentors, Dr. Charles Brewer Carias. His inventiveness and curiosity has been encouraging to his mates who share with him the innermost secrets of nature in Venezuela's uncharted regions. This expeditions have led him to achievements and discoveries, envied by some and admired by others, especially those, who have shared with him the efforts to discover and document the natural history of Venezuela as few have. I hope this email, that was sent to me this morning, and then copied to DCA, will allow our readers to learn from this passionate naturalist, as this brief note is a clear evidence, of how a photographer inventiveness contributes to achieve unbelievable goals.

Greetings and see you on the road

Leopoldo García Berrizbeitia


TEXT AND PHOTOS: Charles Brewer Carias


I want to share these pictures I've got from a mosquito which is very small (1 mm), which is one of the 81 species of the genus Lutzomyia sp. that have been reported in Venezuela and that is popularly known as the "no seeums" because of its transparent wings make it almost invisible when it settles on the skin of man. 

This mosquito does not tend to escape when a finger comes close to kill him and as I have no idea to what species it belongs to, I will need the intervention of a taxonomists to ID it. The purpose of showing it is not to talk about the taxonomy of the genus, but to make this dangerous vector of Leishmaniasis known as it is living in the forested surroundings of Caracas where it flies near the ground to jump and hitch a ride on its mammalian hosts which serve as a food source These photographs are extraordinary, as the subjects'  small size, make it very difficult to photograph while it is feeding. The images may serve well to tropical disease specialists, as this insect transmits the cutaneous Leishmaniasis, a disease that infects man accidentally and is commonly called as "sore line" or "Brasa "because of the permanent wet sores that form on the skin.

The tiny mosquito is part of the 14 species of Lutzomyiaque that have been studied which I found to be very active at dusk and dawn in the forested areas, but may extend its activities throughout the night during the full moon. It prefers damp places and it usually does not enter houses that are kept dry and away from the jungle.  

These photographs were made at 5:30 am when it began to suck the blood in my left hand. And, as thisphlebotomine sandflies is almost unflappable when feeding, I decided to get myself a picture of its feast, using a Canon 5D MKII with a macro lens 65 M PE. So I had to hold the heavy camera with my right hand and use a lighting technique I designed  for this occasions. We took pictures during the five minutes while the bug sucked and spit up blood from my hand. Obviously, the darkness of the lens (which is completely manual) and size of the insect were factors that influenced the photography we worked on it, so we've got a few keepers from the 20 frames we took while it fed.

I hope I will not be re-infected with Leishmaniasis, as happened to friend of mine, who was infected during an expedition to the Rio Paragua twenty years ago.

Charles Brewer-Carias

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