This is not a crop so it’s a BIG image for a salamander lol. This guy was a good 8 inches long and more or less happy in the water it was in. The hard part was getting him to stay still long enough to focus/click. He was hunting.
Brightly colored says “Stay away” as mouthing these guys will get your pets or kids sick. Even touching and then transferring it to your mouth can be detrimental to some individuals. Pretty much nobody bothers them but BIG one eyed (Cyclops to his perspective) photographers. IT had just rained probably wetting the crack he was in enough to entice him out to hunt. They are voracious eaters. I’ve found them along with toads by yard lights at night. The insects that are attracted to the light attract the Salamanders to the area.
Taken during the day is a rare thing for me to find them out. Usually not enough bugs out for them to attack. They go deep in the white season going torpid from the cold. Suspended animation.
An ancient heritage: Their development in the Late Carboniferous Period. An “Ancestor” started gulping shallow breaths of air with primitive lungs somewhere along the line. Eogyrinus (dawn tadpole) was a thin Crocodile (ish) critter that was fairly big at 15 feet in length. Modern Amphibians are distantly related to those early forms. The early paleontological developmental history is the topic of some debate not for this forum.
Pretty up close and personal. She will get fat on Sweet Clover if she doesn’t bleed out from all the Coumadin in the plant.
Just a taste the sweet clover the bees are so busy with at the moment. There is a LOT of sweet clover this biannual year when it appears in mass quantities. A California Honey Company sends out hives to harvest the pollen from billions of blossoms up here in Wyotana. We are paid in honey every year. About two cases lol. We do our best but it does store for ever. There are jars of honey from the Egyptian tombs that is still viable as a food source. The high clover makes it hard for me to go across open fields for fear of running over Pronghorn Fawns in the grass. I can’t see in front of me with it over the hood.
This female Pronghorn has the coolest ears ever. They remind me of Mr. Spock of Star Trek fame. I’ve never seen this on other antelope which have pointy ears. I have to assume it was frost bite when she was young. I also have a photo of this animal from behind at another location/time where those little extra points on it’s ears look like horns. I had to do a triple take to make the decision boy or girl. I couldn’t see the dark cheek patches on the other isolated photo which I was looking at out of context. Obviously the same animal, different time… I determined the other photographed animal a doe too. This one is certainly a Doe. I’m not sure what to call her but I’m thinking “Saavik”. (classical reference).
I was watching this long eyelashed gal from afar. I wanted to see what she was getting into. It was a choice between photographing her or a heavily clouded sunset. That sunset held little appeal to me. I drive a Black F-150 Raptor in the backcountry. It has been accepted by many of the local inhabitants. This gal was totally unbothered by my presence. She even let me move around a bit.
Living on a small ranch surrounded by REALLY big ranches pretty much is living in the wilderness. No mistake, this is a wild animal. She has just accepted me as no threat. This animal has been hanging around the easy water holes about my homestead. We have kept 4 stock tanks open for any comers for 20 years now. The wildlings like easy clean water. I go out onto the ranch land several times most days. I’m seen a lot by the local denizens. If I behave properly, the animals accept me now.
Sweet Clover is a biennial plant. The Sweet Clover is abundant so mule deer and antelope use it for forage throughout the year. It gets way less palatable later in the year getting “stemmy” and coarse. It makes a lot of noise under your truck then too. Burns hot too….. Wildfire concern every other year (this year). The pollen is problematic to some (me too) but the bees take full advantage of it. We have a California Honey company show up every few years here. They put out hives and give up several big cases of honey each time. It’s payment enough for me lolol.
I have no idea of how the physic of the color center of the flake operated. It is not false color and I didn’t do it in the digital dark room. It’s not a digital artifact. Somehow there must be a polarizing film such as melted water there? But the physics say there must be a second polarizing film to draw color out of white light like this. I worked polarizing optical microscopes used in mineral analysis for years. Somehow “crossed polarizers” formed for this image to occur.
Captured using a 1:1 “macro” rated lens. (90mm Zeiss/Sony) I was able to zoom into this piece of natures artistry. As they say, no two flakes are ever the same. There are MANY different kinds of macro lenses. If you have questions about this PM me. I used an LED flashlight for the source of light hand held but there was not a polarizing lens on either the camera OR the flashlight. How this happened is beyond my level of understanding. I’m just happy to have captured it lolol. 📷
Geometric purity always amazes me. The geometric forms created under the rules of nature become phenomena… One thing I have observed and confirmed personally as a scientist over my travels, is that growth of any crystalline substance is orderly. A repetitive process, the materials used in the construction of the snowflake arrange themselves into a limited number of predetermined orientations. Science right in front of us.
This is the third image I finished from this photo session with a Gold Tachnid Fly. Tachnid Flies as a group are wonderful things to have in your garden. They kill major insect pests that destroy our crops. Kind of a big fly, really bristly and quite a vivid appearance highlights this Tachnid Fly Gardeners Friend #3.. This capture is by far the best of 3 in the series technically. Also artistically really from this time line of finished images. The Asters were post frost pollen providers here.
In an unusual manner, SOME species of Tachnids actually have their eggs develop in their bodies. Thus giving birth to live larva which they deposit readily in caterpillars and other crop eating insects. As a group they do a tremendous service to us in general. The adulst are around your garden to drink nectar through that have their ulterior motive for visiting your garden. They inject their larva (or just eggs under the skin so the larvae will slowly digest the host bug. Killing the host as it develops. (more on this later).
Sounds like an early Japanese Horror Film. Some species of Tachnids lay a live larva on a leaf and it will crawl around looking for a host to burrow into. Then it will eat and digest it slowly from the inside out. The larvae (of course) start on the least important parts of their host to keep it alive longer. Kind of like Cow birds and Cuckoos laying their eggs in another nest.
But these guys have the added feature of killing the host. Classy Lifestyle if I may say so. . Parasitic reproduction for sure but these are not animal carrion flies that carry disease about. As I’ve said, they are our friend. Good thing they only pick on other bugs that tend to eat our crops. The eat nectar, pollens and saps as an adult. This one is munching on pollen from the surviving asters after the first heavy frost. Not much else to eat out there.
The lens I used for this is a little odd being about 2 feet long. It is only an inch in diameter. It has LED lights at the end around the lens. They tend to be a bit yellow in general but yellow plus gold is vivid. . Being “Ultra macro” with a very deep focal field is rare. Getting the fly and mostly the flower in focus is an amazing performance . Even more so considering the “plus” size that these Flies are. He’s at least 1/2 inch long if not a tad larger. Getting this close to a fly feeding with a bright light….. Esier than without the bright light 🤔📸 or so I’ve noticed.
“My What Long Eyelashes You Have”: Pronghorn Doe was about as close as I’ve ever been to a living Pronghorn while it was still bedded down. You can see just a little grass in this image to the right of her head. I have pull backs of course but I thought I’d look into those lovely eyes up close and personal where she needs a breath mint. In her mind I needed the mint being a smelly/noisy human. She was being tolerant of me though and relatively happy to stay where she was bedded. I completely circled her at distance and left her where she was resting. Bear in mind it took me an hour to circle her. I spiraled in as I did it and some of the last shots I took were these eye shots (which I have a long timeline of at all angles). 📸
These Pronghorn do get used to my vehicles not being a threat and are very casual at times with me around. They consider me just another grazing animal. I start and stop. Wait and seldom turn down the music lol. They are aware of me but don’t care much by the end of the summer. I’m just another animal out on the grasslands with them seeing them several times a day. I get pretty close sometimes. I’m trading off my jeep though and I suspect my new truck will take them a while to adjust to 😫
Geologic Musings: Antilocapra americana is a Pronghorns Scientific name and it’s not an Antelope or a Goat. It’s a relative of the giraffe and the only Antelocapra to survive the extinction of the megafauna at the end of the last ice age. It was good at getting away from the tiger/lion/bear population that fed on such animals here in North America just at the end of the last glaciation. 12(ish) thousand years ago. Rough neighborhood and no 7-11 on the corner…. Just saying 🤔
To freeze a Dragonfly in Time and Space, you need to be patient and persistent. You also need to understand that dreaded M for Manual on the top of your camera. A cell phone isn’t going to do this, a DSLR on anything but manual has no chance either. Sooooo, here’s the trick… (catching a fly in between 2 chops sticks is easier) 😂
Photographers notes: This is an 800mm telephoto in direct bright sun (requirement) with your f stop on that long telephoto being f22 ish for a longer depth of focus field. He had to fly into a little zone about an inch thick at 15 feet away (minimum focal distance for my 800). That lens acts like a macro at 15 feet. IT is on a Sony Alpha 7RII giving me 70meg raw files or 40 meg .jpgs depending on what I tell it to do.
So I’m following a moving dragon fly and trying to catch him in an inch wide zone, and almost fill the frame at the same time. (this is a full sized image not a crop except for the sides of the formerly landscape aspect). I’ve never used autofocus, I don’t think it would work on this anyway. I set up a zone and let the dragon fly…fly into it. Machine gun clicks at 10 frames per second.
I digress, the faster shutter speed (which sucks up light) has to be fast fast fast at least 1/2000th of a second or more to freeze wings.. I was about 1/1500th here… Just a TAD too slow and a compromise to get more light… . Faster shutter = less light and your already loosing light from the f22 adjustment). You give up light for focal depth and fast shutter…. You have to compensate somehow….. (only three things you really can adjust on a camera , ISO, fstop/aperture size and shutter speed)
So that leaves ISO (camera sensitivity) to balance your image and gain that light back…. Less is better when it comes to ISO since too much will make your image grainy. Note how fine the grain is on this image. IT’s the last priority though because it lets you get the shot which is an important thing lolol..
I got to shoot “Close and Personal” this fully mature Cat Faced Spider. (the best cat face is from behind but you can clearly see one from the front too. The ears and markings on his abdomen are mimics of a good cats face.
In this Ultra Close up, I’m using a 2x macro and I’m about an inch from his eyes to get this close a shot. He was cold at the time and a little slow. Well fed he looks and webs he’s been building all summer.
You either love or hate these guys. Enjoy eitherway. He’s not moving fast today as it’s still below freezing outside for as it has been since the storm started (a week before this posts).
Your not trying as a photographer if you can’t make a Fly’s butt look good lololol…. The Apple had fallen and a host of insects were taken advantage of the free meal. This guy was at the feed trough and some how I got in there up close and personal.
Sneaking up on a fly to get this kind of photo using a lens with a minimum focus of about 1 inch is not a quick process lol. Moving slowly is the game….really slow….📸