Posts Tagged ‘insect’

Late in the summer, there is a great abundance of flying and crawling insects—they are everywhere. I enjoy photographing many of them and generally I will try to identify my subjects when I post their photos.

In this case, however, I didn’t get a close enough view or a sharp enough shot of this cool-looking insect for me to be confident in any identification. (Alas, the photo is clear enough for me to realize that I need to clean my camera’s sensor, for I can see a bunch of stops in the beautiful background of what is often called “sensor dust.”)

Still, I really like the insect’s pose at the top of the vegetation, a pose that somehow brings to mind the “King of the World” moment in the movie Titanic.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Last week, I stalked this little insect in my neighbors’ garden, trying hard to get a decent image of it with my 100mm macro lens. When it paused at the end of a leaf, I was able to get this shot, capturing some of the details of its body, which looks like a miniature dinosaur to me. Click on the photo to see some more details of the skin/shell of this little creature.

Normally I try to identify an insect before I post its photo, but in this case I am having trouble figuring out what it is. Perhaps one of my readers can help in identifying it.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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It took some time for this tiny insect to ascend to the top of this leaf, which may have looked like a mountain to him, and once there he seemed relax and pose for me, as though he was really proud of his accomplishment.

I don’t have any idea what kind of insect he is and would welcome any additional information (or even guesses) from fellow bloggers. To aid you in identification, I have loaded a higher resolution view that you can access by clicking on the photo.


Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Yesterday while walking along the banks of Cameron Run, a tributary stream of the Potomac River, I encountered this unknown insect. I have been so starved for insects (photographically-speaking, not literally) that I decided I had to try to photograph it.

The insect was pretty small and would fly (or hop) when I approached, so I decided to give it a shot with the lens that was on my camera, a 135-400mm telephoto zoom. I was pleasantly surprised with the resulting photo, which almost looks like it was shot with a macro lens.

I will try to identify this little insect, but am happy with the shot and am now convinced that spring is here if insects are reappearing.


Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Bees and butterflies seem to get all the love. Where is the love for the lowly wasp? Maybe wasps need a public relations firm to give them a new image.

This photo from a recent shoot suggests one approach to that new image—an edgy, radical image. The wasp already appears to be sporting a mohawk hairstyle and large, dark sunglasses. Some piercings and a few tattoos and the new image would be complete.

The result—a cool new image for the wasp to match the attitude he already possesses.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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You might think that I am going to talk philosophically about a bee, but my title is meant to be taken literally. If you click on the photo, you can actually see reflections of the sky and bushes on the shiny surface of the abdomen end of this bee.

I am pretty sure that this is a carpenter bee for two main reasons. First, the abdomen area is shiny and hairless, unlike a bumblebee who is more hairy. Secondly, the bee is sucking nectar out of the side of the flower rather than going in from the front, a process sometimes referred to as “nectar robbing.” Carpenter bees are notorious for circumventing pollination in certain plants by slitting open the side of the flower.

Perhaps others can see more reflections on the bee. It’s like looking at clouds and trying to see shapes—it’s a lot of fun and everyone sees something different. Life is like that sometimes.

Click the photo to see more details

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I came across this tiny damselfly yesterday when I was visiting a local garden in the late afternoon. Initially I spotted her when she was flying and I was thrilled when she chose to land in a spot where I could photograph her. I apologize to the experts for not identifying the type but I find it impossible to identify damselflies (and even dragonflies are not easy).

Damselflies are particularly challenging for me to photograph because they are so long and skinny. If I photograph them from the side, the eye is often out of focus and if I try to shoot head-on, depth of field is an issue.

I ended up with a photo that I shot from above and to the side. Somehow I managed to reduce the composition to the damselfly, the branch to which she is clinging, and a couple of leaves.

I find special beauty in that kind of simplicity in nature and in my photography.

Unidentified damselfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I have always been fascinated by light and shadows.

Shadows often hide or mask details of a subject, although they also may reveal elements of a subject that might otherwise be concealed. Sometimes shadows are an accurate reflection of the subject (like a silhouette), but other times they distort reality. Shadows intrigue me too because they often pick up characteristics of the surfaces on which they are cast in addition to those of the subject.

My musings on shadows were prompted by this photo of an unidentified wasp (I think it is some kind of wasp) that I shot yesterday morning. The wasp was back lit by the morning sun, causing a hidden part of his body to be revealed in the shadow.

A few months ago I decided to photograph the morning light coming through a small flower in my neighbor’s garden. As I getting ready to shoot, an ant started walking across the back of the flower. It’s not a technically good shot but I like the effect that was produced by the ant’s shadow.

Folks who follow this blog know that I love dragonflies. In early June I took some photos of dragonflies on a sunny day, resulting in lots of shadows. The dragonfly’s shadow makes me think of the position of a person hang gliding and it even looks like the dragonfly is wearing a little helmet.

The undulating surfaces on which the shadow falls really make a difference in the shape of the shadow. I especially like how the shadows of the wings fall on a separate leaf from the shadow of the main body. The shadows of the leaves themselves make this image even more interesting for me.

In this final photo a dragonfly literally is casting a long shadow. The distortion caused by the angle of the sunlight causes his legs to appear much longer and I find that this dragonfly looks much more menacing than is typical of a dragonfly.

Can a dragonfly actually look menacing?

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This evening after work I returned to the site of yesterday’s adventures with the creature that I think is a bagworm caterpillar. Despite some heavy rain last night his sticks-and-silk abode was intact. I stood and waited, wondering if he would reappear.

After just a few minutes of waiting I watched as the bag started to shake and the caterpillar began to emerge from the bag. Unlike last night when he seemed a little coy, tonight he seemed to have shed all inhibitions (or was really hungry).

He rather quickly extended himself more than halfway out of the bag and began to chew on the lavender blossoms. That answered one of my questions from my last posting about whether lavender was a suitable host plant for a bag worm.

I managed to shoot him from a number of different angles to show some details of the caterpillar and the opening in the bag. I think that a couple of my shots captured the texture of the bag. My shooting time was really limited because after his brief snack the caterpillar returned to the comfortable confines of his sleeping bag.

I am sure that I will move on to other subjects eventually, but for the moment I remain utterly fascinated with my creature on the lavender plant. We are developing a relationship but I have not given him a pet name, at least not yet.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This evening I spotted something unusual hanging from a lavender plant in my neighbor’s garden. I like to visit her garden when I come home from work in the evening because there are always flowers and insects to photograph, many of which she photographs and features in her blog.

The strange object looked a little like a misshapen pine cone and seemed to be covered in pine needles and little twigs. It was hanging from the lavender plant, swinging in the gentle breeze.

Suddenly in front of my eyes the “pine cone” thing began to shake a little, an opening appeared in the top, and a caterpillar (I think that’s what it is) began to emerge. Fortunately I had my camera in my hand because I had been taking some shots of bees.

The caterpillar emerged only partially and then returned to the homemade structure. The opening closed shut, leaving no evidence that there was a living creature inside.

My preliminary research suggests this is a kind of bagworm, although it seems a little unusual for it to make its home on a lavender plant. Wikipedia indicates that there are many species of bagworms, including one whose pupae are collected as a protein-rich food.

I don’t know if you noticed the claws on this caterpillar in the close-up photograph, but I may now have nightmares about giant clawed caterpillars (to go along with the soul-sucking robber flies of a few days ago).

Close-up of bagworm caterpillar emerging

Stepping back to see the whole “bag”

Caterpillar has gone back inside

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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What do you want to emphasize in a photograph that you display to others? It is a creative choice that each of us faces every time we take a photo or manipulate an image.

I enjoy shooting subjects with friends and comparing our results. Earlier in the week I was with Cindy Dyer, my photography mentor, and spotted an interesting looking little beetle on a plant in her garden. I did not have my macro lens on my camera and suggested that she photograph the little striped beetle, a type she had never previously encountered. She later identified the beetle as a Striped Cucumber beetle (Acalymma vittata).

Cindy took a wonderful photo of the beetle staring over the edge of a leaf and entitled her posting “The Abyss.” Her photo is graphic and colorful and full of a sense of mystery and contemplation. I took some photos this evening of what is possibly the same beetle. I tried to convey the same impression that Cindy did in my second photo below, but that was not really what I wanted to stress. This first photo shows my “take” on the subject.

I decided that I wanted to contrast the beauty of the beetle with its destructiveness and chose to include the damaged leaf in the initial photo that is most prominently featured on the blog. The rest of the photos are variations of the themes of beauty and destruction, sometimes depicting only one of the two themes or juxtaposing them both in a single frame.

Our choices influence how our viewers are likely to react to our photos.  It is liberating to have that kind of creative freedom. It is who we are and what we do.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Let me begin with a disclaimer—no actual stabbing of bugs took place in the making of this posting. Believe it or not, this bug really is called the Twice-stabbed Stink Bug (Cosmopepla lintneriana). Why? The namer of bugs (whoever that is) decided the two red spots on the bug’s back look like stab wounds.

Yesterday I spotted this little bug while photographing with my friend and photo mentor Cindy Dyer. Cindy has a wonderful posting with a sharper photo of this specific bug and some fun information about him, including the fact that he is also known as the Wee Harlequin Bug. For additional information on the bug, check out his page at Bugguide.

I like the overall effect of this photo, acknowledging that it is far from perfect technically. I’m looking forward to improving my skills as I practice and learn new techniques.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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What’s a harvestman?

a. A man who harvests. like a farmer or a migrant worker;

b. A pocket electronic device made by International Harvester (like a Walkman or Discman);

c. An insect related to a spider; or

d. Spiderman’s adversary in the new Spiderman movie

Until earlier this week I might have responded with selection  “a” if  I had been posed this question—it is the most obvious answer. I would have been wrong. The correct answer is “c.”

As I was finishing up a photo shoot in a local garden one of my friends excitedly pointed to a bush and exclaimed, “There’s your first harvestman.” I did not have a clue what she was talking about. All I could really see in the bush was a bunch of long legs connected to a body. (My friend Cindy D. has some photos of the entire body of a harvestman in one of her blog postings in case you are not familiar with this insect.)

I shot some photos anyways and when I looked at them on my computer I was shocked. There appeared to be two eyes on a stalk in the middle of the insect’s back, with the eyes looking sidewards in completely opposite directions. Could they really be eyes?

Here is one of my photos of the harvestman. It is not a technically perfect photo but it gives you a pretty clear view of the unusual eyes of this strange insect.  If you want to learn more, check out this page, which is full of fascination factoids and photos.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I photographed this Blue Dasher dragonfly (Pachydiplax longipennis) at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens this morning.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

Blue Dasher

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