Last December…

Today was my final exam for principles of ecology. The snowshoe hare came up in a few of the exam questions, so I thought this would be a good day to publish a post I started earlier this year and finished a few weeks ago.

A little after sunset, on December 9th 2017, the white rabbit appeared, well a hare actually, or more precisely a snowshoe hare or Lepus americanus. Snowshoe hares have shorter ears and bigger feet than white-tailed jackrabbits (also hares), and unlike white-tailed jackrabbits, which can sometimes be spotted hopping on Edmonton lawns, they tend to hang out in forested areas, like those that line the river valley. Mountain cottontails are the only other Albertan Leporidae species, but Edmonton is north of their usual range. Snowshoe hares and white-tailed jackrabbits both wear white fur in the winter whereas mountain cottontails stay brown.

I was heading up the wooden stairs, out of the Queen Elizabeth Park river valley, a touch downhearted that my home-to-creek-to-river loop hadn’t yielded any exciting bird species, when my heart did a snappy little cartwheel. Oo!

Have you guessed that I rarely see these cuties? And on the rare occasions that I do, they usually hop away pretty fast. But this one decided to stick around. A spruce canapΓ© caught its attention.

Yummy! I giffed 3 photos together for some slightly choppy chewing and ear-twitching action.

Then the hare turned its eyes and nose and ears in my direction. Cute!

And here’s the partial turn look.

Hopping away. Not very far. Slow hops.

Someone was coming down the stairs.

The hare’s ears and nose got pretty active.

Under the stairs the hare went.

And out the other side.

A little more nose action.

That was the only snowshoe hare I saw last winter. This winter, I’ve seen three so far, including one that was darting away from a coyote. I’ve seen them occasionally in other seasons too, with light brown fur.

I got my instructions for making a gif here. As a quicker, future reference, I typed a condensed version of my gif-making workflow. And maybe someone else will find it useful too!

How to create a gif from a sequence of photos in Photoshop CS6

  • File -> Scripts -> Load Files into Stack
    This opens all photos as different layers in one Photoshop document.
  • Order layers. First gif image is bottom layer.
  • Align one photo at a time. Start with second from bottom; set that layer’s opacity to 60% so that you can see layer below. Set layers above to not visible. Use Move Tool to move layer. When you are satisfied with the new placement, toggle the visibility of this layer to check if its placement still needs some adjustment. When totally satisfied, set layer opacity to 100% and align layer above.
  • Crop if necessary. All photos get cropped to same boundary.
  • Select -> All Layers
  • Open the Timeline window (Window -> Timeline). Bottom layer (first photo) will appear as first frame.
  • To add other layers as frames, select Make Frames From Layers from Timeline menu (top right of Timeline window).
  • Below each frame, set the time delay. Or use shift-click to select all the frames and give all frames the same delay.
  • Set number of loops in the bottom toolbar of the Timeline window: forever or a finite number of times.
  • Press Play to preview GIF.
  • Save and export GIF. File -> Save for Web. There are a bunch of GIF options. You can choose no dithering to make the file smaller if your images consist of solid colours. If your images have colour gradients, choose dithering (there are a few options… preview them all to see the difference). Unless your images consist of a few solid colours, choose 256 colours.


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