This flower somehow survived the very early frost we had last week (as this posts). It was on the highest point of the highest remaining flower (not too many left). Between the hail storm in July beating up every flowing plant with a view straight up got destroyed. At a minimum it bruised or at least broke most of the plant up. Just like I have 5 apples on a tree that normally would yield several bushels, I have a few flowers about. The suspicion is that this is high value real estate. All sorts of creatures were around this small bed in a sheltered area getting their fill with the pollen. Bees, Flies, Wasps bugs of all kinds were visiting this island in the middle of a hailed upon desert. The Mantis was staking it’s claim.
I’m sorry to say the cold probably got this one I’m pretty sure. It was a good summer for insects. Particularly grasshoppers. There should be lots of Mantis Egg sacs about. IF I see any I’ll photograph them of course. I have found one in the ranches Walipini Greenhouse already. It’s our 6th generation of them down there.
I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. Patient predators if you ask me 🙂 I was on my knees praying for this shot. However I was all in for good focus as well as a slower subject lol.
Mantis are part of a huge order of some 2400 species under that umbrella worldwide. This is a native Wyoming/Montana species. Though almost all the flowers it hunting have all been imported from elsewhere. Thrilled he was to see my lens coming at him lolol. I have to get about 3 inches away to get this kind of capture. They might see themselves in a mirror. Patient predator if you ask me 🙂 The are constantly moving back and forth a lot to imitate plants swaying in the breeze. They usually don’t stick around in any one place very long on their rounds.
So I’m walking around the homestead. It was the last of the reasonable summer evenings. A bit cool. By “happenstance” I was carrying a specialized 2 foot long macro lens. It has a ring of LED lights around it’s periphery. This requires I carry an external battery back to run it in my pocket. You can NEVER have enough light to capture bugs with a Macro camera. More light = Deeper field of focus possible. Hand held capture.
Starting out, I was thinking to myself…what’s out tonight? I used the LED at the end of the lens like a flashlight (which is basically is). Looking for “Close and Personal” creatures out in the dark. Fortunately for me, this fully mature Arachnid appeared floating in mid air near an outdoor light. An old friend….. Catching bugs is a good profession. I’m glad this fellow has a job. It’s ventral view of course with it’s spinerette and the “Alien” (ET) pattern on it’s Abdomen lol.
In this Ultra Close up, I’m using a 2x macro and I’m about an inch from it to get this Macro shot. I suspect it was chilling down at the time and a little slow with summer hot nights behind us now. Well fed it looks. I’ve seen the many webs it’s been building all summer. You either love or hate these guys. Enjoy those hairy legs either way.
Taxonomy: (I believe the ID is correct).
Larinioides patagiatus, sometimes referred to as “furrow orb weavers” Family: Araneidae / Genus: Larinioides
Larinioides patagiatus (Clerck, 1757)
These guys get around. Found in: North America, Europe, Turkey, Russia (Europe to Far East), Central Asia.
Everyone needs some purple in their life at least once a week. Here’s my contribution to that fix…..
This summer, the flowers about had a rough time here at the homestead. Normally I have thousands to choose from. The hot dry weather is not a favorite of anything trying to grow. We do water flowering plants around the place fortunately. Unfortunately the early July hail storm mostly broke plants. Even big planted pots were beat to chunks of plastic leaving a mound of dirt with stripped stalks on them. All but a few of hard fought for flower pots were generally destroyed in the swath of that storm.
Add to that fun, the grasshoppers this year have been horrible. Worse, I recently photographed a Mormon Cricket (theirrrrr back!) A few of our planting have survived the summer to fight another day. This is a shot of a recovered survivor of the night after the hail storm. This flower was just about the “last man standing” here on the ranch. After 1/2 an hour of hail, most plants were shreds of leaves in a pile of ice laying on the ground. This one was in the shade of a tree trunk at it’s base.
Taken at night in very dark conditions with an LED ring around the lens. 100 mm macro.
Slimy Sunday I guess. We had a pretty good quick rain move over and dump a few 10th’s of an inch. This little 8 inch (or bigger to 14″) Native to Wyotana Tiger Salamander Amphibian decided to come out. Must enjoy the wet while it’s about. It’s unusual to see them in the day as they hunt at night being voracious insect predators.
Known commonly as a “mole” salamander. It has been hiding down a deep crack usually next to foundations of buildings or elsewhere. Where they tend to go deep in the winter, they need some water to keep themselves properly wet. They don’t like their skin to dry out. We have some moving water between two small deck ponds that has been running for 20 years. That is a favorite habitat for them. Most lakes and ponds in the area will have these. Some can live up to 16 years in the wild.
These guys are not fast. A brightly colored creature is telling you something…. This typically means “Warning” do not eat me. It turns out that they secrete toxins all over their sky. (Don’t eat or mouth the skin). Juveniles are way more toxic than adults generally speaking. You DON’T want your dog to eat one or a toddler to mouth one of these. Depending on how much exposure to the Salamander it’s had…. You should even wash your hands after handling any creature. It’s a good idea to double scrub after these guys. The first sign is slobbering but it can lead to death.
They have a wide spread distribution and rank as the largest Salamander in North America. They might be coming out at night right under your nose and you don’t know it.
Bee Flies are Harmless to humans as they do not bite. I have only seen this species a few times and they are “Flighty”/hard to approach. I’m thinking I cheated and used a sex lure. I didn’t intend to of course. I had just mounted a fire fighting mattock tool with a yellow fiberglass handle to the racks on the Raptor. The Yellow Bee Fly must have just fallen in love instantly. I had brought my cameras out to the truck a few minutes before planning to head out shortly. Looking over I froze in my tracks. I got my camera and he was still there…..
Holy Crap I thought. I took 3 progressively closer images until he wasn’t in the view screen anymore. This was from 10 inches away or there about. Natural Sunlight just cooking down. This actually makes the capture harder since bug are very active when fully warm. Hair Triggers so to speak.
Those are HUGE eyes for such a small Bee Fly. This accounts for their tendency to fly quickly. These are good bugs too. The adults just sip nectar but the larva eat some bad bugs in your garden. I like to see these guys. They are just not very common in my area. Pretty small is the word…. It might be 1/4 inch eyes to butt. I’ve seen them more early in the spring on Dandelions though.
Dragonflies are not always loners like this one. They often group into swarms. Bees and Wasps can sting you, Mosquitos bite you but there is something exceptionally magical about Dragonflies (they don’t bite you). That is of course unless your a mosquito in which case they are your worst nightmare. Both the larval and adult form actively hunt mosquitos in their various life stages. They are certainly near the top of the local insect predator chain. I’m pretty sure a preying mantis will make a mess of a dragon fly though 🤔.
During the Carboniferous geologic Period, about 300 million years ago, when coal swamps and high oxygen levels allowed it, Dragonflies grew to massive sizes. With a wingspan of up to 6 feet, they were a force to be reconciled with. They were likely a top level predator of anything they could pick up including small amphibians and proto-reptiles. There were numerous other insects for them to feed on of course.
Currently consisting of around 5000 known species, the identification of which I shall leave to a specialist. Their larval stage lasting up to two years is aquatic where they eat about anything that they can in the water. They are amazing fliers putting most helicopters to shame. They not only hunt on the fly, but they also mate there. Fly United is their only option. They are the best mosquito control out there. I’ve seen swarms covering large areas down in the ranches wetlands.
10 line June Beetles larva eat roots of all sort of good plants so they are a shoot on sight critter. I tend to shoot them with cameras but they don’t necessarily get a catch and release program assignment. Only because they are a marvelous bug from a looks perspective did he survive this long. An inch and a half in length, maybe a 1/4 inch high. I have other captures of this hissy fit fellow.
The species puts on quite a show when you get a little too close or try to handle it. On a general basis I categorically consider them a grump. It’s not much happy here about my big “eye” lens in it’s face. Those 4 hooks on it’s front appendages are to be respected according to him. Waving them like they were big sticks, the still had other legs on the rock. He was standing up telling me in no uncertain terms to “leave him alone”.
This image doesn’t show it but those yellow antenna are made up of layers of antennas. I have another image showing it. This composition was his idea not mine. Bugs are like photographing young children. They do what they want but you can USUALLY get their attention. This one didn’t fly away and pretty much stood his ground if he could. I would look pretty big incoming with a big macro lens plus he would see himself in the lens mirror ….. aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh!..
Widely known as the “Watermellon Beetle” They cause damage. It’s about 1.5 inches long, and take a defensive pose with a hissing sound when picked up. The are a member Family of Beetles called Scarabaeidae or the scarab beetles. This one is named Ringo I think.. I’ve seen some other beetles around here somewhere too….. just saying 😀
THe antennas are the coolest ever. They have a series of overlapping scales called lamellate plates. They are very complex. IT had them folded here. Their long lived life cycle is two years between larval and adult. The larva feed on roots in the top 14 inches of the soil.
So eating on lush succulent sedum I just had to move the pot to the light. He was fine with my invasive macros in his face. Even my very bright led ringed lens that must look like the sun incoming. This is natural sunlight however. It was in and out of the clouds so the timeline was extended. I left him sitting here. They do eat foliage but after the hail, the grasshoppers and now June Beetles in July… I didn’t even have him spend the night in my refrigerator like I normally do big bugs I want to photograph lolol. One sitting, two different macro/camera set ups. Patients exemplified.
If I find many more, I will have to take action though this is the first I’ve seen this year. You have to kill them in the larval stage in the soil. We have Tachnid Flies which parasitize them and keep them in check.
A Daddy Long Legs spider surrounded by it’s 3 dimensional home/web decorated with hundreds of condensed dew drops was a lucky find. Talk about a harmless spider. (I know, some of you REALLY don’t like spiders). Others buy them as pets. I always thought they were too fragile personally as the big spiders crack like an egg. Some of you may not know my wife and myself ran the only pet shop for 6 years in a big college town. Sold that in 1986…. (one of my 9 professional careers). I have sold a LOT of Tarantulas to Frat Houses before. They seemed to like scorpions too. Needless to say I’ve been bitten, stuck, stung, and otherwise generally chewed on for 6 years by all the exotic stuff that went through our pet store.😜 I was much younger then.
Setting the stage:
We are in the middle of a 6 month long drought. That morning was HEAVILY pea soup fogged. The sun was deeply veiled to the point of the fog filter being quite effective at making this possible. Pointing the camera into the sun to capture darker detail is the challenge. Don’t try this with a DSLR camera. Mirrorless cameras won’t blind you in the process. That is a very bright sun at the top. Looking into the furnace as it were.
So when the relative humidity hits 99.9 percent, dew condenses on any cool object. Droplets in the moving air collide with larger drops nucleating around intersections or rough points in the webbing. Anywhere there is a SLIGHT disruption of otherwise smooth air flow, frost or dew will deposit there. That depends on the temperature. For a good google this afternoon, search “triple point of water” in google and see what comes up.
From my perspective there were about 300 simultaneous activities that were necessary to catch this image. It’s sort of a long list but if you start considering what is involved just in the camera. You know, stand on one foot, rub your belly and pat your head….. Oh wait, that’s a sobriety test….
90mm Micros in bright sunlight, F-22 (maximum), set camera at closest focus, bring critter who conveniently perched on one’s finger into sharp focus by adjusting your finger not the camera. The physics of the moment, while a long discussion in an of itself, was complex. The consideration of which was indeed one of those “simultaneous activities” I spoke of above. How close will the lens focus, how deep is the depth of field. How still can I hold my camera with one hand. . (I could have used a tripod but timing is what timing is). List continues ad-nausium to complete the chore lol. Panic Sets in…..how fast is he warming up but to fly fly away. So much stress……😜
Simultaneously add finding the right colors for the background before the click. I considered a Blue Sky, but thought the green bokeh of vegetation would be best. Of course I was navigating the 3-D world around me with tunnel vision through a 10 inch tube one handed spinning dials with every available finger. Except the finger that was the eventual launching pad for the repatriation of this fellow into his environment. He spent a night in my refrigerator after all. So many things to trip over in this process 🤔 📸 .
This moth is beautiful underneath on it’s wings. Brown on top and pink below. They eat nothing but sap/nectar after they hatch while looking for a mate. They they find a Leafy Spurge Plant to lay their larva on. They eat the noxious weed as a larva. Good for biologic control. Canada brought them in and they flew across the border to the Pacific Northwest to here.
We don’t know what other effects they are going to have on the biome here until those show up in the data. Unintended consequences are the big problem with foreign species introduction into naive populations. Just as in genuine exotic novel species introduced into a naive population causing problems, This is true of genetically modified species (of ANY kind) as well as similar ones from say….. “China”..
These big moths are really way more attractive on their pink underside than their dorsal olive tan pattern. Their legs and antenna are white as can be. Without a doubt they are a gardeners/ranchers friend as they lay their eggs on “Leafy Spurge”, a noxious weed. These big moths are active in the day sucking nectar and trying to find some Leafy Spurge. They lay their eggs on the noxious weed with the larva destroying the plant as they grow. Devouring it as they develop as it were.
This moth was introduced (foreign species) into Western Canada years ago. They apparently are spreading with no ill effects noted to the rest of our biosphere so far. Just larva eating Spurge and some nectar use by the adults which competes with other native species of course.
The color scheme here was too obvious to ignore. I adore right primary colors surrounding a “plain jane” subject. Garden plants with big moths flying about is a target rich environment for sure. The hard part is getting them to stay put long enough to capture the scene. Their big bugs which are quick and zip around when warm. They are impossibly hard to photograph well without cooling them down. Usually you can catch them in my experience but it takes some luck. Funny I’ve seen so many of them this year. Wish they ate grasshoppers 😜 📷
It’s not a claw, it’s a tooth. This chomper was a round bone crushing tooth from a good sized predator. Call, name it what you will, Nano-tyrannus, Tyrannosaur rex or some other superceeded/argued label. This is RIGHT out of the outcrop. The tool was used to remove it. A Master Mechanic wood awl. Still wet the fossil is. The white lines are chemical etching on the pretty much original enamel of rootlets. Plants reach a long ways down with their small roots. This fossil was located 6 feet below grade of the original slope.
Sized to fit into the palm of your hand, the awl is a good scale. This is a good sized tooth. I have found them larger than this. It’s always hard to stop and remember to get a photo while your dancing up and down like a little girl having pulled one of these bad boys out.
Basically if you find one of these, you might as well go home that day because there is no way your going to improve on that statistically. Only a few of these a busy year of digging come out. T-rex teeth are less rare than many other fossils I have found. It seems that everybody want’s to own rex teeth but don’t care so much about say a toe bone from the same animal. There are LOTS of T-rex teeth in a mouth but only a few toe bones. Market pressures are amazing things. Just for the record I have never sold a fossil and never will. We are not taking reservations and have a waiting list a mile long so please don’t ask. Sorry. The fossils are going to a museum eventually.
Note: Collecting vertebrate fossils is only possible on deeded private land. The land owner owns the fossils unless they say otherwise in writing. The Bureau of Land Management has extensive rules to follow on federal land. No where are vertebrate fossils of any kind allowed to be disturbed on fed, state or reservation territory.
I have a masters degree in a Paleontologically related field. (Biostratigraphy, Paleo related topic). I’ve been digging Cretaceous fossil here for 18 years now.
This fellow makes up in numbers what they lack in individuality. They all to a one are ravenous. I have seen more “grasshoppers” this year than any other in the last 2 decades. I’m thinking back that I’ve never seen them as thick as they are this year. Having said that, I’ve seen photos of some of the clouds of Locusts eating an 80 acre farm in 15 minutes and some of these swarms are the size of big cities. Asia, India, Saudi, Africa are all having MAJOR issues at the moment. Major famines in those regions may be expected. I’ve heard the US is expecting a major corn crop… We might feed a majority of the planet if we do. Conditions are tough out there world wide.
I still have a yard, and even some green grass. Mostly all the local ranchers are done haying this year with the dryness. It’s not worth the fuel to swath and bale up the sparse grass. I’m not versed on grasshopper biology other than the fundamentals. Isn’t it funny how all of us paid attention to how but not why during those complex high school biology lectures. My undergraduate is a double major “Geobiology”. I could tell you something about fossilization of grasshoppers but not so much their life cycle.
I could google it but then I’d deny you from the same pleasure. Plus you’d get way more info than my distilled version. Google makes us all seem like our IQ’s are 20 points higher than they are. Still knowing how to search then what to do with the information you gather is the game. ….
These big moths are active in the day sucking nectar and trying to find Leafy Spurge. They lay their eggs on the noxious weed with the larva destroying the plant as they grow. Devouring it as they develop as it were. I find these guys pretty calm when they just came out from a party night in my refrigerator. (next to a bottle of wine)….. You may discover what works for yourself if your photographing bugs. Many people pin them or Ether them which makes them pretty cooperative but dead. If you refrigerate them just above freezing, they go into suspended animation and really slow down. I usually over night them and work them in the morning light. I always let them go afterward. This typically will give me 5 minutes in the sun with almost any bug with out it flying away.
These guys were released into Canada to control the Leafy Spurge up there. Ignoring the international border, they have done reasonably well spreading around. . This meaning there is plenty of their favorite food. They are not all over the country but mostly in the pacific northwest through the upper great plains.
These are truly elegant moths in the patterning and coloration. A very patient subject too at least until the sun warmed him up. Another one of the species was flying around sipping on garden flowers coterminously with this photoshoot. Kids!
We have several Pink Lilacs as well as the standard purple. Swallowtails are a little flightly and are hard to get this close on without them heading for the next stop. Typically they fly out of reach. There were dozens of them swarming this bush along with a host of other species of insects.
Finding one tolerant of you is a matter of ‘Becoming the Bush” and don’t move too much. You have to be able to tolerate bees and other bugs flying around you though. Other than that, it’s not hard to so. Don’t wear perfumes as if you smell like a flower. Being stung in a bush is something that hasn’t happened yet. But merging into Lilac bushes and Hollyhock gardens has it’s risks.
Macro lens photography is usually a matter of getting close. But here I’m using a standard 400mm telephoto at about 15 feet. Long telephotos make pretty good macros for subjects you really can approach too much. Handheld. Not a tripod.
Trivia: The first known picture drawn by John White in 1587 of a north American butterfly was a swallowtail. This during Sir Walter Raleigh’s third Expedition to Virginia. That work is named Mamankanois that is believed to be a native word for butterfly in the day/area. I’m sure that it was shown to Queen Elizabeth who was the sponsor of Sir Walter Raleigh’s adventures in the America’s.
When I had this Glover moth over for a stay in my refrigerator for a night (I caught him by a porch light, zip locked eventually cooled him down to 34 degrees). The next day was sunny, bright/blue, warm with scents of various blooms in the air. I definitely put him on these flowers in one of the homesteads many naturalized gardens. . He was happy to hang on though. Being torpid/cool and slow from that stay in my fridge, he was enjoying the heck out of the warming sun. Giving me precious time….
This Glover Silk Moth has a 5 inch wingspan. It’s as big as your hand. Found all along the east/west slopes of the Rocky Mountains from Mexico to Canada. Coincidentally that is also where our ranch is located roughly lol. Liking my backyard apparently. Like most silk moths they eat various plants during the larval stage. The adults do not eat. They are interested in reproduction not ingestion lol.
This one was hanging out on this flower one summer morning. Being chilled from the refrigerator, the Glover Moth had no interest in flying away at first. (He did in about 15 minutes. Forever in my world for a photographic subject actually sits for me. Better, lets me move them from place to place to find the right frame. Here is a thick bundle of columbine in our gardens against a blue sky of my choosing.
That Moth’s antenna system is a magnificent development that I as a ham radio operator am jealous of. 🤔😜 I see several of these guys each spring. Running into them around the ranch headquarters compound I find them near the lights in the cool nights here. They get cold over night and are pretty slow until the sun warms the day. I am usually out pretty early on sunny spring mornings looking for critters JUST LIKE THIS. My “Catch and Release” approach with an over night in a fridge simply slows them down for the night and lets me have a much longer “encounter” with any buy you can catch. Just don’t take them below freezing overnight.🤔📸 Way nicer than Ether and a pin. Lots of photography done that way 😔
I had never seen one of these guys before. Wonderful species as they lay eggs on the nasty weed “Leafy Spurge”. The larva eat the pesty plant. The Adults are pretty big at 3 inches across. First introduced in Canada to control the weed, we are in it’s known range.
99 percent of my work is resultant of random encounters. Finding this 3 inch wide moth was certainly random. Ran to get a camera. Instantly out my back pocket came a plastic bag and into the refrigerator it went. You always carry a baggie with you when doing photography right? 😜 I have found that by cooling any captured bug down to just above freezing, I get to actually photograph them. Going torpid in the cold, they just slow way down. It takes them at least 5 minutes to warm up in direct sun before they usually fly away. So you’ve got a moth that while slow WILL hang on to things. 5 minutes is FOREVER in my world of manual mode spinning dials and manual focus. Catch and Release…
The color scheme is the direct result of a single shaft of light moving through a huge tree. That tree positioned between the sun and my chilled subject sitting on a geranium. So it was really darkly shaded around me. Surrounded in a pretty big garden spot here at the homestead. This geranium was potted. Therefore I could move the pot coincident with the inexorably moving shaft of sunlight. About every 20 seconds I had to react or loose the light. It was a 3 D puzzle for sure. Worse the puzzle changes shape as you go lolol.
Pursuing Ladybugs with a quality macro lens has it’s rewards. This 18 inch square image with a smooth blue bokeh is a favorite summer pursuit. They are usually fast movers, difficult to catch sitting still enough to compose a frame. This one was an exception. It was sipping on the drops of “nectar” from the flowers petal.
The Ladybug didn’t eat the daisy. There were many grasshoppers around, obviously someone seconds before munched the petals. I wouldn’t want to accuse the grasshoppers without any proof ……(apparently outdated morality these days but I digress😟) Anyway, ladybug saw an opportunity to rehydrate and get some sugar. Nature is all about one creature making it either easy or hard on another. This little one is making good from damage. It will go on and eat aphids, scale insects and mites.
Red in nature is usually a warning. It’s a big flag that says they might not be a good choice to eat. Ladybugs blood (yellow) has a foul odor I understand from reading but I’ve never noticed it. I have ordered thousands of Ladybugs for my aquaponic greenhouse. Handled them by the hand full before but never crushed one let alone tasted lol.
I think they are little turtles having photographed them up close and personal for a while. When threatened they “turtle up” and release a little yellow blood from their legs (stinky as discussed above). The red / stinky strategy apparently works as they are abundant up here in the borderlands.
Our Lilacs are Blooming earlier this year than last. We had blooming Lilac bushes the 4th of JULY last year. This year is way drier and warmer. Lilacs beat by at least 2 weeks their late blooming past. Catching a bee on Lilac is nifty. Catching “Maverick and Goose” doing a flyby in their “hornet” is priceless lolol.
Photographic Musings: This image ended up with a particularly deep focus for this kind of work. Much of the image is fairly sharp which is noticable to me at least as I’ve done a few of these lately lolol📸
This particular ultra macro lens has a ring of LED’s around it’s periphery which helps tremendously in cranking up the f stop numbers to give yourself a deep focus. For something less than an inch long….from about 2 inches away…pretty deep field of focus….. So High F-stop = deep field of focus (thick) but you loose light gathering ability the higher the fstop number. Light has to come from somewhere, so make longer exposure speed and or turn up ISO (camera sensitivity) higher. Higher ISO numbers give you grain soo…double edge sword. Anybody got a cell phone photo like this? I’d be interested to see if they could do it…
With ALL Macro shots, more light is your friend. Putting your camera on manual and adjusting to f22 (for deep focus) makes a pin hole in the lens reducing light tremendously. So the more light you have to begin with, the better your image is going to look. Adjusting higher ISO (camera sensitivity) is your only way to get more out of the light you get from a pin hole. You can’t do a time exposure of a moving bee so 1/250th is your floor and I often take images at 1/3000 to freeze wings. Bright sun is always best.
Compositional ART but I did nothing to the image other than clean it up a bit. Oh, and I rotated the image 80 degrees. Originally it was randomly oriented. On the window pane to the artificial horizon created by tilting the camera. This was a pre-dawn window scene on a cool/frosty late April morning with a distant yard light providing the illusionary moon behind the trees. This forest scene is full of fractal frost trees with their “reflection” on a 2 dimensional surface (window pane). The 3 Dimensional perspective was apparent in the lens of this very small portion of a window. This image covers no more than an inch wide area. This hopefully will be the last frost image from this year until October. 🤔📷
Photographic Musings… Little things:
There is so much to take images of in the macro world of ultra close focus lenses. Most “Macro” lenses don’t magnify per se. Only considered 1X, their main ability is to focus VERY closely. There are Camera lens macro’s that go up to 5X but you need a LOT of light to make that work. I note that any of the “unusual” Chinese manufactured macro lenses you might want, you might want to get shortly….. Just saying.. 😔
Rarely do I use a tripod in my own house. For this moment, there was very little light for this. To get that light back, several seconds of time exposure eliminates hand held free wheeling with a camera. I use 4 different Macro lenses. Each for different purposes being tools in my kit. This was a Sony/Zeiss 90mm Macro on a Sony Alpha 7RII camera body. Simply shadowed by an LED sidelight for the depth. The bokeh effect on the yard light is prismatic too lol. I noticed the rainbow only in processing the file on the big screen. I usually don’t miss color like that. …. Some diffraction by the ice going on. Seeing the potential of that light then aligning it to the scene was the goal. 😜
Getting eyebrow close with a big macro lens is always an exercise in “damn the torpedos”. When ever I dive into a flower rich environment to catch bees in action, I run the risk of pissing some body off lol. To date I have never been stung. I’ve had a couple of wasps dive bomb me though. Probably because I was too close to the entrance of their rock nest (cave). I spend hours every month of the summer chasing these guys. I have some new technology this year so we will see how they come out.
I’ll do my best to give you macro fans a slow but steady flow of the little guys this summer. The limitations of the optics are such that deep focus fields in these macro images is not easy to achieve. There is a fine balance between getting closer and getting focus. It depends on what your wanting to do technically.
With ALL Macro shots, light is your friend. The more, the better. Putting your camera on manual and adjusting to f22 (for deep focus) makes a pin hole in the lens reducing light tremendously. So the more light you have to begin with, the better your image is going to look. Adjusting higher ISO (camera sensitivity) is your only way to get more out of the light you get from a pin hole. You can’t do a time exposure of a moving bee so 1/250th is your floor and I often take images at 1/3000 to freeze wings. Bright sun is always best…📸
The science of this is a little complex but here it goes. The light source is the late day setting sun but bouncing off my back Ford Raptors hood…you know…glare..😎 That bounce is important though in getting the photo as it effects the light…
The reason you guys buy polarized sun glasses is due to that reflection. When sunlight hits the hood, the light bounces off with a majority of it being horizontally polarized. Mostly all those reflected light waves are in the same plane, not a bunch of randomly oriented waves. The sunglasses you buy are plastic lenses with all vertical lines which only allow in light that is vertically polarized. This blocks all the glare horizontally oriented.
SO that is called “Crossed Polarizers”. A double filter as it were. Take two pairs of polarized sunglasses and cross them at 90 degrees and try to look through them…. They go totally black.
NOW put something between the source of the polarized light (either the hood or the first pair of sunglasses). I used here a delicate transparent feather that will pass light…. It bends/ refracts light a little bit out of that horizontal plane so some of it makes it through the second filter this side of the feather. So you see the colors as a direct result of a single polarizing filter on my lens (hand held and rotated), the camera on a tripod and pre focused. F22, ISO 300 and 1/100th to get your camera close .. It was very bright but the filter cut out 80 percent of the light but you can change that by rotating the back filter…. . 90mm macro.
Dragonflies are not always loners like this one. They often group into swarms. Bees and Wasps can sting you, Mosquitos bite you but there is something exceptionally magical about Dragonflies (they don’t bite you). That is of course unless your a mosquito in which case they are your worst nightmare.
Both the larval and adult form actively hunt mosquitos in their various life stages. They are certainly near the top of the local insect predator chain. I’m pretty sure a preying mantis will make a mess of a dragon fly though 🤔.
During the Carboniferous geologic Period 300 million years ago, when coal swamps and high oxygen levels allowed it, Dragonflies grew to massive sizes. With a wingspan of up to 6 feet, they were a force to be reconciled with. They were likely a top level predator of anything they could pick up including small amphibians and proto-reptiles. There were numerous insects for them to feed on of course.
There are currently around 5000 known species, the identification of which I shall leave to a specialist. Their larval stage lasting up to two years is aquatic where they eat about anything that they can in the water. They are amazing fliers putting most helicopters to shame. They only hunt on the fly, but they also mate there. Fly United is their only option. They are the best mosquito control out there. I’ve seen swarms covering large areas down in the ranches wetlands.
Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. (Wyotana) Title: Red Plum and Dragonfly
Orchids are growing like wildfire but I have to manually water them as they like to dry out between waterings. Soggy orchids may or may not like what your doing submerging roots. I will confirm they REALLY like the water quality that I give them from my 2000 gallon aquaponic grow system they sit upon. Manually watered living in Hydroton Pellets that drain inside of leaky cups. Several hundred pounds of fish are constantly fertilizing the water. Bacteria convert the waste ammonia to plant fertilizer. This water is very suitable for plants. The 150 square feet of grow area will support a MONSTER amount of vegetation. I have limits growing down in this underground greenhouse. How much time I spend on it restricts how much / efficiently I use the space.
(I’m sorry we don’t do public tours but I do Face Book posts on my personal page regarding this topic occasionally).
I only have about 20 Orchid plants I’ve propagated over the years. They are an afterthought of raising vegi’s down in the Walipini as such taking up valuable room. But there have to be some diversions in chores…. (This is the only Wyoming Walipini we know about. I’d love to know if anyone else is growing 10 feet below grade using earth for insulation and thermal mass for heat retention. )
I have quite a bit of Vanilla bean growing now. That will accumulate over the next decade and I should have a significant crop of vanilla bean before too long. I haven’t seen them bloom yet, they are all in a growing mode currently. Since they grow up the back wall… It’s a matter of time in this WONDERFUL grow environment. This system has been running for 5.5 years at this time constantly/continually.
A Walipini defined : an earth sheltered cold frame green house. If you haven’t encountered the term before. I don’t use any dirt with plants down there. Just water as my media to grow about anything I can get to sprout in that environment (so far).
A tad out of season is this Bee on a Summer Day. I’m still finishing random photos from pretty much the last 3 years so don’t bee surprised to see a few more bee photos incoming lol. I’ve actually seen a few bees about but it’s 37 degrees as I type this and it snowed today.
Its nice to keep the spring season in perspective. Looking ahead 1 month is healthy if you have the images. The limitations of the technology I use are such that deep focus in these macro images is not easy to achieve. There is a fine balance between getting closer and getting focus. It depends on what your wanting to do technically. Bumblers are still sort of rare these days. We’ve been in winter conditions pretty much since Oct 1. That was the last time I was able to photograph bumbler since then. I’ll do my best to give you macro fans a slow but steady flow of the little guys as they start appearing again. 🤠
The Bumblebee family has over 250 species in the genus Bombus. A few related genera to Bombus are found in the fossil record. Bombus is the last genus in the tribe Bombini which also had those fossil species in the classification scheme of things. There are fossil bees found but I point out that the 13 dollar BEE in “Amber” on Ebay might be a fake. Just saying😜 Fossil bees are rare as hens teeth (which, by the way actually exist ).
Here on the high ridges of the borderlands of Montana / Wyoming there are millions of acres of grasslands. This was very bright sky with a sharp sun and a dense cloud deck above the glare. The combination of the two required a foreground for the image to suit me.
To use randomly obtained feather to grace an unveiled sun is not a new effort but is always a worthy target. Anything to reduce the light into the camera (filter).
Feathers contains such an elegant form. Smooth curves abound. Working cameras, my mind wanders to the “filter materials at hand” for this kind of Close / Far perspective. When your in the middle of a square mile of pasture land, you have to act fast with a wonderful sky as behind this shoot and use what is at hand.
I am generally soured on using glass filters in front of my cameras while shooting into the sun to start with. I WAY prefer to use natural filters to reduce the glare from the furnace above. Here the edge reflections create a star shape into the camera. Even a few percent light reduction helps operating a camera outside that normal envelope.
Any attempt at a photo is a light balancing act inside the camera. You only have just three settings to play with . I suggest to you that it would be good to learn to use that camera on Manual Mode finally. (If you don’t already know how). I am happy to keep talking about HOW I take my photos for you guys to follow along. Ask if you have a question. 🤔📷
Everyone needs some purple in their life at LEAST once a week…
Rocky Mountain Columbine comes in many cultivars with various shades and hues from blues to reds with all the spectrum in between. A bicolor nature trends in the species. They are very distinctive if your not familiar with their bell shaped flowers. They have a huge elongated nectar spur . If you are unfamiliar with the flower, you should google it. You’ll see them hanging out in light shade. Stick your nose into one if you can as they are very fragrant.
These are wonderful flowers build/engineered to attract humming birds and phoenix moths. The same flower design prevents bees from penetrating to the nectar bearing parts. Long tongued nectar feeder get a break from these guys. Hummingbirds indeed are the most effective pollinator of the Columbine Flower. We have dozens of Columbine patches of naturalized cultivars mixed with groups that were here when I arrived 20 years ago.. The Homestead here at the ranch has seen many different gardeners over the 100 years of habitation on this site.
I’m pretty sure I’ve done more than all the previous gardeners combined lol. This is not to under cut their contributions. Built into this homestead were wonderful patches of flowers of all kinds. They were present when we moved here. We divided many overgrown clumps and get the fruit of that every spring now. Columbine are all about. Someone liked them a lot decades ago. You find the dandelion seed?
Talk about complex/busy 📸 Anyone see the little “crab” formed by nature?
I see an amazing amount of order within this chaos. There is an inherent depth to this capture. I was standing on my Black Ford’s Winch Bumper to angle straight down on it’s hood . This JUST as the sun was rising. I watched shaft of sun came through the trees lighting up the hood. After I tripped over my jaw I grabbed a macro lens from the front seat of aforementioned portable photographic studio. (my truck). I had just carried the 25 pound “Box o cameras” outside to populate my passenger seat with. I was on the way out a little late that morning. Sometimes I think one is late for some reason in your timeline.
Sequence of events for your minds eye:
The previous night the hood warm from the engine, melted some ice into drops. Those drops FLASH FROZE in the 15 degree air. Next a dusting of well formed snow flakes dusted the surface of the highly reflective waxed black paint under the flakes. Then frost began to grown into 1/4 inch feathers. As the golden rays of the bright unfettered sun hit them, the golden sheen was unmistakable. I didn’t notice the blue flakes in the eyepiece for some reason in my mind but the camera sure saw them. I think it was the fact I was balancing on that bumper lip 3 feet off the ground looking through a tube. What could go wrong😜.
I’ll allow blue snow into my images when it is against a reflective black background lolol. (Inside Joke).
I believe this is a Triceratops Toe (nail)… It’s known as a Pez Ungual to be precise.
The difference between Hadrosaur Dinosaurs (Duck Bills) and Triceratops (Three Horn) is a matter of opinion i believe lol. Wider like this is probably Triceratops. Longer thinner versions of the same bone I usually attribute to either Hadrosaur or PachyCephalosaur (Bone Head with Spikes). . These three and others had hoofs very similar in general shape. The larger ones are probably all Triceratops as they constitute over 50 percent of the fossil record of the Hell Creek Formations. Hadrosaurs only were about 25 percent of the herd.
It’s like the bone that is under your fingernail. Except the cuticle/nail covered it like a horn. The holes and grooves are all venous processes and nerve pathway/holes for those to base around the blood rich toe tips.
Hadrosaurs and Triceratops were both the “cattle” of their day. All the Raptors accounted for less that 5 percent of the fossil record. I have found a dozen of these over 20 years. River transport beat up most… . Often someone chewing/breaking dinged them.. Random breaking in the outcrop is also selective against these being preserved. This particular one is essentially perfect, no glue needed. This needs a serious session under an miniature sandblaster using sodium bicarbonate to blast away the sand on the surface.
Formation: Hell Creek / Lance Cretaceous Terrestrial River / Lake sediments at the end of the reign of the dinosaurs. Circa 66 million years ago.
Here on the high ridges of the borderlands of Montana / Wyoming there are millions of acres of grasslands. This was very bright sky with a sharp sun and a dense cloud deck above the glare. The combination of the two required a foreground for the image to suit me.
To use randomly obtained feather to grace a veiled sunset is not a new effort but is always a worthy target. Feathers contains such an elegant form. Smooth curves abound. Over the years I have found that “you are where you are during the final minutes of sunset”. My mind wanders to the “filter materials at hand” for this kind of Close / Far perspective. When your in the middle of a square mile of pasture land, you have to act fast with a wonderful sky as behind this shoot and use what is at hand.
I am generally soured on using glass filters in front of my cameras while shooting into the sun. I WAY prefer to use natural filters to reduce the glare from the furnace above. Here the edge reflections create a bullseye into the camera. Even a few percent light reduction helps. Any photo is a light balancing act inside the camera. You only have just three settings to play with . I suggest to you that it would be good to learn to use that camera on Manual Mode finally. (If you don’t already know how). I am happy to keep talking about HOW I take my photos for you guys to follow along. Ask if you have a question. 🤔📷