GETTING IN TOUCH WITH NATURE: Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves
of strength that will endure as long as life lasts." ~ Rachel Carson
Contrary to what most people may conclude, I don't love spiders. I do like seeing and photographing these jumping spiders because they're so interesting and non-threatening. They're also usually very small and furry instead of all leggy. They have a low creep factor rating, in my book. This little guy is Sydney. He is my inspiration for a character I'm working on in my children's book. .
These lovely girls are sure carrying heavy loads! Many times I have been asked (mainly by guys) how I KNOW these are females. My answer: ALL worker bees are female. The male honey bees, called drones, don't gather pollen or do any of the work.
The middle pic and the one on the right are photos of bees rearranging their pollen while resting on my arm.
What you rarely find in researching about insects are details relating to their behavior. I've spent a lot of time out in the field with my camera while crawling through tall grass, elbowing over dirt, and on my knees in the weeds following around the many insects I spot. With my macro lens it's like peering into a whole other world humans seldom see.
Insects often don't want to have me look directly at them. They seem to find comfort in hiding their eyes like a game of childhood peek-a-boo or hide-but-don't seek, where if they can't see you, it seems they hope you can't see them. I've had butterflies land on me and dragonflies too, but at first they will rotate so that I can't see their eyes. Usually, only after some trust has been established will they look directly at me. Once the trust is confirmed, as it will typically get with dragonflies, I'll have them cock their head in curiosity like a dog does, as they examine me and seem to try to get a beat on who I am.
Grasshoppers are especially cute about it. They will rotate around branches and back away and then when I find them, they hide some more sometimes rotating completely around a branch. What I've discovered, and few people know this, but it's a great photographer tip for insect photographers, is that almost all insects have a defense mechanism when feeling cornered where they drop off of whatever plant or structure they're on and free fall as far as they can. Often this lands them safely deep inside some plant or bush. Ladybugs are excellent at doing this. If you anticipate in advance, you can usually catch a ladybug and then gently put her on a flower to photograph.
BEE INSPIRED, is a book I began working on in 2011 after I met a honey bee. I was delightfully photographing her when she led me to her thriving hive in a hollowed out oak tree. The book is my story about that journey and the healing power of bees.
From the Foreword by Dr. Stephen Buchmann:
“Bee Inspired is an intimate book; you’ll be captivated, caught in its spell. It feels as if you are there in the garden exploring, tiny game-hunting with Betsy, peering through the lens of her camera. Here we find the rare talent of crisp, clean writing, along with an eye for composing and taking many of the best anywhere color photos of bees foraging at blossoms.”
Click on the photo to go to my first blog about bees. Click here to read more about my book.
These adorable photos of the magical praying mantis will add wonder to a child's spirit and equally adorn the wall of a girl's or boy's room. What a great way to get them started on 'getting in touch with nature' and to begin looking at tiny life in a whole new light.
One early, sunny morning, a tiny life was out exploring a land of luscious leaves.
The light and shadows danced in harmony against a backdrop of greens in many shades.
I finished this today and will continue designing a collage with a collection of my nature photography that will soon include animals and birds along with scenery. When I'm done, it will be a long, long banner that I'll display at my solo exhibition in the spring. Yesterday's blog explains my adventures behind-the-scenes with my camera when I'm out in the field.
To me, photography is more than just taking photos. It's about learning something from each life I encounter and telling their story. I spend time with my honored subjects. There's a difference between taking a photo of a butterfly that you see for a second and one that you followed through a forest or a bee that you followed from flower to flower, and a grasshopper you held in your hand and played with on a stick.
I remember the day I took each one of these photos in this TINY LIFE collage. More to the point, I remember each experience with each one of these tiny lives. I can tell you where I was for each one of these beautiful creatures. The dragonfly was almost as big as my whole hand. The sight took my breath away. I'd never seen one so large. I was on my stomach when I captured the image of the grasshopper. The lens almost touched his face. When I look at insects I see so much more than just a bug. I've interacted with them. I've witnessed their strong desire to live. I've seen their curiosity piqued. I've watched them go from being fearful to trusting. I find it entertaining. And the feeling of making a connection is memorable every single time.