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Posts Tagged ‘cone flower’

I love to watch bees as they gather pollen—they seem so industrious and focused as they systematically work their way through a group of flowers. This honey bee had both of its pollen sacs almost completely filled when I spotted it yesterday on a cone flower in the garden of one of my neighbors, fellow photographer Cindy Dyer.

One of the joys of shooting with a macro lens is that it lets you capture so many fine details, like the pollen grains on the legs of this bee and the slight damage on the trailing edges of the bee’s wings. Bees are also a great subject to practice macro techniques, because they often let you get really close without being spooked and flying away.

honey bee

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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A macro lens helps to open up a whole new tiny world that is often beautiful and occasionally a little scary. I think that a tiny insect that fellow photographer Cindy Dyer pointed out to me in her garden yesterday fits into the latter category. The insect in question was moving about on an orange cone flower and at first we thought it might be a spider. When we counted the legs and looked a little closer, we realized it was probably a bug, a bug with massive spiked front legs and additional spikes on its body. It was a bit chilling to learn that this was the nymph of an assassin bug, a Spiny Assassin bug in the genus Sinea.

As I was taking this photo, I was reminded once again now much I enjoy macro photography. It has its own set of challenges, but it is rewarding to be able to get shots like this. In this image I particularly like the way that the spikes in the center of the cone flower mirror those of the fearsome little insect, which would be a real monster if it were larger.

Spiny Assassin Bug nymph

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

 

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Whenever I have my macro lens on my camera I seem to be irresistibly drawn to bees, like bees to honey. No matter what else I am shooting during the summer, I always seem to have some images of bees interspersed among my other photos. Here are some of my recent favorite bee shots.

bee_yellow_blogbee_white_blogbee_red_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I usually think of bees as being yellow and black, but I encountered this cool-looking metallic green bee (of the Agapostemon family) yesterday at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, Virginia.

I remember The Green Hornet on television when I was a child, but I had never seen a green bee before. At first I was not even sure that it was a bee, but as I watched it gather pollen, I concluded that it had to be a bee.

It seems appropriate that I would be suffering from color confusion at that moment, because the bee was perched on a Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea purpurea), a flower that in my experience is rarely purple—they normally appear to be more pink than purple.

Now that I have freed my mind and broken the bonds of my conventional thinking about the color of bees, perhaps I will be able to bee all that I can bee.

green_bee1_blog green_bee2_blog green_bee3_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I continue to be amazed at the insects that visit my neighbors’ garden and yesterday I was thrilled to see this Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly (Speyeria cybele). The beautiful butterfly moved around a lot among the flowers and even returned after flying away, which gave me time to change lenses.

I took this shot of the butterfly on a cone flower with my 100mm macro lens. I wanted take the photograph at eye-level with the butterfly, but initially the background was too cluttered and there was too much light coming from the back, which caused the butterfly to be shadowy.  I decided to use my pop-up flash, suspecting that the background would go black and the detail of the butterfly would be revealed, which is what happened.

The result looks a little bit artificial, but I like the effect that I managed to achieve. I am working on a couple more images of the butterfly taken in natural light, so you may see it again soon.

fritillary2_crop_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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The cone flowers have lost their petals and have dried up in the summer heat, but the loss to my eyes seems to be a definite gain for the birds. The seeds in the cone flowers appeared to be the favorite food of an American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis) that I spotted today at Green Spring Gardens.

Normally I see the goldfinches only as a flash of bright yellow zooming past my eyes. In the past when I tried to photograph them they seemed to startle very easily at the slightest movement. Today I was able to creep up closer and got some relatively unobstructed shots of a goldfinch.

I may post some more photos later, but here is one of my initial favorites.

American goldfinch on a cone flower (click to see the photo at a higher resolution)

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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