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You Can Tell I’m Unfulfilled… January 10, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, macro photos.
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…when I start taking pictures of things around the house to augment my paltry Daily Haul.

A peacock feather decorating the window above our kitchen sink:

They say, “It gets better,” and I’m fully invested in believing that.

Thanks to Ziggy for bailing me out here.

When It’s Ugly Outside… December 7, 2011

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I know, it’s un-citizenly to think of Mother Nature as serving up The Big Ugly, but you know, sometimes She just does.

November and December can be temporal proof of that.  Gone are the colors, out comes the mud.  It ain’t pretty.

Like today, with a thick pall weighing down the world, a pervasive grayness gripping every view.  I didn’t see any reason to break out the camera at work, and afterward it went from gray to black in half an hour.

Then, as these things happen, I came home to a cold house with this little potted violet sitting over the kitchen sink, doing its mating dance for no one in particular, unless it’s you:

She’s plump and expectant, thrusting her sexy bits upward from creamy sheets of crystalline bliss:

This was a nice find on an otherwise  uninspiring day.

Tonight the rain is supposed to turn to snow, and depending on when and where the transition takes place, we could have a reprieve from Teh Ugly by morning.

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see, eh?

Thanks to Ziggy for these macro shots.  They were a nice counterpoint to the larger-world details of getting the wood stove up and running so I can get scantily clad and relax before bedtime.

Which is happening right about now.

G’Night.  😉

Frosted Moss. December 4, 2011

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Early December has its moments.  Like its frosty mornings gilding the still-exposed Little Things:

…and:

Before long the snows of winter will bury this stuff ’till spring.  For now, though, I’ll be trying to get shots of it to share here at LBT.

Hope your weekend was relaxing.

Now, get back to work!

😉

Bull Thistle. August 18, 2011

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Summer is bloom-time for Bull thistle in these parts:

This is the largest of our common thistles, with robust shaving-brush-size flowers atop stalks reaching five or six feet in height:

Despite the gnarliness of its spiny foliage (a thicket of this stuff would be impenetrable; thankfully, it isn’t that gregarious) I love this stuff for its bold color and I-Dare-You attitude.

Bumble bees love it, too!

These last two shots were taken with Ziggy; the first was courtesy of Elliot.

The Quick, The Slow and The Tiny. August 12, 2011

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The Quick:

…The Slow:

…and The Tiny:

Aphids on a milkweed plant.  Creepy if you’re a plant.

Some fellow travelers to break my e-fast.

Sunflowers! August 7, 2011

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I got a little wild with the Sunflowers this Spring, planting no less than three kinds in the back row of our garden.  In theory, we should have knee-high saucer-size cut flowers, head-high reddish Mexicans and, above it all, the 10-12′ Giants descended of Russian stock (stalk?  😉 )

But timing is everything, and the Big Guys won’t be rushed.

So here are a couple of shots of the smaller guys as they make their first appearances at Chez Nous:

…and:

Those were very long (15 second) exposures, on accounta it was getting pretty late when I took them, and I stopped Ziggy down to f.22 to get good depth of field.  The low light wreaked havoc with my autofocus, though, so I’ll have to try again when next the light and wind cooperate.

Later, Peeps.

In The Rain. August 6, 2011

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I spent the morning being productive at the homestead, then headed out on errands and noodling, as is my wont.  I thought I might find interesting light and, after taking care of the necessities, headed down to the Chesterfield Gorge.

But by the time I got there it had begun to rain, and the light was flat as a pancake.

C’est la vie.

Of course I shouldered a bag and went to have a look anyway, and found this:

A Polyphemus moth caterpillar, I concluded after doing a brief web search.  Feel free to correct me if you know differently.

I didn’t have Ziggy, my 50mm macro lens with me, and shot this with Ollie zoomed to 105mm, then cropped it hard; the resulting image is sufficient for web use but will never deserve to be printed.

Still, it’s a fun shot to look at; old Mop-face there looks highly irregular to this mammal, and I had to coax it onto my hand to lower it for this shot – when I first saw it, it was head-high on a maple tree and upward bound at impressive speed, and if I hadn’t managed to lower it I would never have gotten the photo.

But man, it was creepy holding it – between how its suction feet glommed around my fingers to the perhaps irrational fear that it would bite me (don’t I know anything? )

🙂

Chickory. August 1, 2011

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…Or Corn Flower, if you will:

I like both the structure and the color of this elegant wildflower.

Moss And Sundews. August 1, 2011

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Along the road today I noticed a patch of moss clinging to a road cut and stopped – I’ve found sundews here in the past and hoped to find them again.

Well, I did, though it was the Sphagnum moss which caught my eye:

…with sundews poking through on the left.  The moss is in a sort-of jelled state of development (it goes through some significant changes in the course of its life cycle) and has hung onto a few of its spore-bearing structures:

…and of course there’s that little spatulate sundew leaf, obligingly red.

The sundews have magnificent (albeit tiny) flower spikes developing:

I hope to see them bloom soon.

Wasps! July 29, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, macro photos.
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All my life I’ve been terrified by wasps, at least since, at the age of perhaps three, I was badly stung by one.  I was playing outside my country home on a summer’s day when my carefree afternoon was interrupted by a sharp pinching pain in my left knee and, looking down, I saw a wasp sticking straight out of it, affixed by her stinger and doing a crazy Twist as she pumped me full of her venom.  I’m sure I wailed like a banshee, as I was that kind of kid.

At any rate, it’s taken me a fair while to forgive the whole lot of ’em and come to see wasps as a beautiful part of the natural world, to be wondered at rather than feared.  They’re amazing, really – many are solitary, and lead the same singularly productive lives their ancestors did eons before their birth.

On a recent trip to the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls, MA I got to photograph a couple of wasps engaged in what they do best, making love to nectar-sweet flowers.  In this case the flower was an Eryngium,  of the sapphire blue “Sea Holly” variety, and the wasps were of two kinds, Sphex pensylvanicus,  the Great Black Wasp:

…and Sphex ichneumoneus,  the Great Golden Digger wasp:

These are two large specimens, each approaching an inch and a half in length.

Both of these Femme fatales  dig vertical ground burrows with side chambers, then hunt for katydids and crickets, paralyzing them with a nice little sting and dragging them live into those subterranean crypts, where they lay their eggs on them.  The larval wasps hatch and devour their still-living hosts, growing beautiful and strong thanks to Mommy’s thoughtful gifts.

Isn’t Nature wonderful?

And aren’t you glad not to be a katydid?

These shots were taken by Ziggy, my 50mm Sigma macro lens, and were a bit of an experiment – I nearly always shoot entirely manually, preferring to chose all of the parameters involved in this art form, but here I decided to give Shutter Priority and Auto a go because of the windy conditions – I wanted to shoot fast enough to freeze the motion.  They did reasonably well, snagging some shots I doubtless would have missed fiddling with the dials, but the aperture was necessarily set at a low number/large opening, resulting in such a shallow depth of field that large parts of the wasps aren’t in focus.  The effect, while “artsy,” isn’t really what I had hoped for.

I’ll continue to explore these modes hoping to tweak them into compliance, but I’m thinking that if I can’t improve on the results, I’d rather miss a whole lot of shots and bring home a few I’m really proud of.

Your impressions are, as always, welcomed and appreciated.