A spectacular day bathing in color, texture, beauty, light, and life ...
The bees were extra gentle and calm today. Their presence was therapeutic. I loved the buzzing sound and their easy going demeanor. They were slower in flight and less frantically hunting for nectar. Some days are like this. They welcomed me holding a flower steady in the wind for them. So much beauty is such small things....
Lots of little critters were out today ... (click images to see more of nature's art)
It wasn't until this year that I started exploring macro photography. It all began with one bee that I was photographing in February of 2011. I followed the bee around from branch to branch, thrilled to be seeing a bee in winter. She led me to her thriving bee hive in a nearby tree. Since that day, I began photographing bees and soon found all kinds of bugs to photograph. It's a fascinating, and quite secret little world out there all around us if we care to pay attention.
I've watched bugs interacting with each other. I've seen a mosquito on a flower with two different kinds of bees. The three of them were tolerating each other, but one bee was the alpha bee. The mosquito would put its leg on one of the bees every chance it got. It wouldn't leave her leg very long. It was more like reaching out and touching as if to test what was going to happen. The three of them circled the flower for several minutes together. The bees got into a scuffle once, but it ended peacefully. The mosquito stayed back, out of the way and just watched, while the bees rolled around like a couple of guys in a small bar fight. It's amazing to witness the life that these critters live. I've seen dragonflies eating damselflies and damselflies eating other bugs. I've watched spiders and ambush bugs catching bees, and wasps eating some sort of winged insect.
After an ambush bug catches its prey, " it sucks body fluids by means of its rostellum, or beak. Other types of bugs use this organ for sucking plant juices, but not the ambush bug. These stealthy critters sit very still on or near flowers, their superb camouflage allowing them to remain undetected while an unwitting butterfly or other unfortunate happens by to gather nectar. They then seize their prey using front legs adapted for the task - these legs resemble the front legs of the praying mantis. It is a ferocious bug indeed that takes prey 10 times its own size." Source: http://www.cirrusimage.com/bugs_ambush.htm
I spent some time with this jumping spider today. I watched him catch a green bug (partially pictured below) and then I just experimented with his temperament to get him to interact with me. At first he was jumping from rock to rock and was interested in getting away from me until he found the green snack and the only 'away' he was doing was munching. Sometimes he would look directly at me. It's so interesting to have eye contact with such a tiny creature. He was less than a half inch. After that, I got him to crawl on a stick and a small leafy branch, but he didn't readily climb on. I had to 'encourage' him. Some bugs will grab hold of whatever I give them. This little guy was more independent.
Sometimes he would drop from the branch on his silk thread and I would wind the thread up to keep him from dropping to the ground, but he was quick. He managed to drop down from his thread quicker than I could reel it back up sometimes. Once he crawled back up his thread! He was getting used to me, and was less fearful as time went on. In person, he's very tiny and not intimidating. I can't make out much of the detail you get to see in these images. (That's part of what makes macro photography so fascinating.) When he jumped, he jumped quicker than I could actually see. It was like he was being teleported! He was on a rock one second and in less than a blink of an eye he was somewhere else. Interestingly, after he got more familiar with me, he stopped jumping and allowed me to fool with him, for lack of a better way of describing it.
The autumn colors are at their peak in the high country. The drive from the mountains to the city today couldn't have been more beautiful.
I took these photos today while hiking. It was one of those perfect fall days with that crisp air, plenty of sun, but not too warm or too cool, and not too windy. The autumn colors are near their peak at 11,000 feet elevation. I grew up around this area and raised my children here. The mountains get in a person's blood. There's not any place I'm more comfortable being than when I'm in nature.
This image makes me smile. I don't know what it is, but something about this bee just warms my heart. It was barely 50 degrees when I headed out this morning to commune with my fuzzy little striped friends at my favorite park. Not many bees were out that early, but there are always a few dedicated ones filling up on sweet flower juice. It won't be long before all the flowers are gone and temperatures take a dive.
I think this is a bee (below), but I'm not sure yet. I've just been seeing this breed
in the last couple of days. She's so beautiful and gentle. She flies with such grace.
I saw the bee fly into the flower but it's a flower that shuts tight! I kept waiting for the
bee to come out and when I got impatient, I opened the flower up to see if the bee
found a different exit. The bee was in there! It was pretty cute seeing her expression
when I opened the flower. It was like, "Who are you?" I closed it back up and waited
a little longer. I checked again, and she was still filling up on nectar.
I know them as granddaddy long-legs. I always thought they were spiders, but they're not. They have only two eyes, whereas nearly all spiders have eight eyes. Spiders have two main body parts. Their head and thorax are fused together and then they have an abdomen. The granddaddy long-leg has one main body, similar to a tick. Unlike spiders, granddaddy long-legs can't make webs because they don't have silk glands or spinnerets. Their diet is much different than a spider's. They prefer animal and plants that are decomposing. Spiders attack live prey for their main course using venom to paralyze and kill.
"Jumping spiders are active hunters, which means that they do not rely on a web to catch their prey. Instead, these spiders stalk their prey. They use their superior eyesight to distinguish and track their intended meals, often for several inches. Then they pounce, giving the insect little to no time to react before succumbing to the spider's venom. They are capable of learning, recognizing, and remembering colors." [SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA]
I was just kneeling down to photograph this spider today (pictured below) when a bee flew into the web at the exact same moment. The spider immediately pounced on her. It all happened so fast. The spider then began wrapping the bee in a web by circling around the bee over and over and over. The bee was struggling, but the spider had her good. When the spider took a break, I had to intervene. I know it was just lunch for the spider, but I thought about the many times I've felt myself helpless and would have welcomed a helping hand. I freed the bee from the web and she flew off. I wasn't sure if the spider had pierced her or not, but when she flew off, I figured she must be okay. Maybe the bee will go back to her hive and tell her harrowing story!
It's an extraordinary feeling each time I connect with a form of life. I'm learning how to recognize when an insect is curious enough about me to land on me or crawl over to me. This dragonfly was interested in me as I clicked photos of her. She (thanks to my fellow photographer friend, Ron, who pointed out the gender), would let me get inches from her face. When that happens, I can usually begin some sort of communication. I put my finger up to her and she stepped off the weed she was perched on, and slowly stepped over to my finger. After she flew away, she circled back and landed on me again. That's really an amazing feeling to hold my finger up like I would for a bird and have a dragonfly land on me.
I left him to photograph the bees and other creatures. When I came back to look for him, he was in the same general area. I usually talk to the insects so they have one more familiar way to recognize me. I wanted to test whether the dragonfly remembered me. He landed on me again, which I take as proof that he did! I noticed he was more preoccupied though, and soon discovered he was munching on a damselfly!
I went on a second photo shoot where I know a lot of red dragonflies
hang out. These are White-faced Meadowhawk males.
This piece 48" high was on display at the Carla Wright Gallery where it sold.
I haven't done metal work in a few years. I hope to make time to get back into it someday. I've shifted into photography and writing books since my metal art period. Wish there was more time in each day so I could do all three ...
"Art is very much a reflection of one's life. I used to randomly break pieces of gypsum board and paint on whatever shape came from the broken pieces. The metal and gypsum board guitar piece pictured is an example of that period in my life. It was very much the way I lived. Life at that time was unplanned, unstructured, something I felt little control over, yet I enjoyed making the best of what came my way much the way we are often left to play the hand we're dealt.
It was a period of rebirth in some ways and coming full circle with myself in other ways. My 18-year old marriage had ended. I was in a new relationship and back in school going after a new profession. I thrived on being able to go with the flow and was wide eyed as I discovered (and rediscovered) new things about life and my place in it. Sometimes I would reach for a color because it was there or because I was drawn to it on almost an unconscious level and the designs and patterns emerged as I painted. I loved the freedom and spontaneity of that period."
I began welding the year I turned 50. I would paint on sheet rock and then frame with old pieces of welded metal. What you see between some of the metal is old sheet music.
I love being hands on in life ...
Except for the photos of me being on Kaew (the elephant) and petting the tiger
(both taken in Thailand), I photographed all the other pictures using one hand.
I found a baby garter snake yesterday evening as I was walking from my car to my front door. It was masterfully playing dead! It was no bigger than a short, thick shoelace. I picked it up to get a closer look. It was limp and not moving, but his body felt soft and cool. I thought it had died a very short time ago. I started to photograph him so I could identify him later (I know little about snakes) and then his mouth opened! I was so glad he was alive! It kept opening and closing, but not a muscle in his whole body moved anywhere else. I could pick him up and position him anyway I wanted and he wouldn't so much as flinch. What an incredible self defense mechanism! It's funny how "baby life" of any sort can be cute. I don't normally describe a snake as cute, but this little guy was so tiny I have to admit he was pretty adorable although the pictures don't offer the size perspective to capture the cutie pie that he was.
This is my new website to showcase my photography, books and art. The name of my website: Getting In Touch With Nature describes the essence of my passion, and the focus of my photography.
I have calendars, 100's of limited edition framed prints, posters. greeting cards, and ceramic cups with my photography. I'm just getting started with this website, so please stop back and see what's new and watch it grow.
I'm launching 3 books this month. Check them out under MY BOOKS in the main menu. Thanks so much for stopping by.
The company I use for this website is Weebly and for some unknown reason random photos of mine appear throughout my postings unrelated to what I uploaded. If a fox appears on a blog about a moose or some other animal or photo unrelated to the blog, you'll know why! It's unfixable.