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Posts Tagged ‘lavender’

I love bees and spent quite a while on Monday in the garden of my friend and neighbor Cindy Dyer observing them and trying to photograph them. I had no idea that lamb’s ear plants produce flowers, but the bee in the first photo certainly was aware of that fact when I spotted it busily at work. The bee in the second shot decided to try an acrobatic move to gain access to the nectar in the lavender plant that swung wildly each time the bee landed on it. In the final shot, I captured the bee as it was crawling all over a flower of a cool-looking globe thistle plant.

I am not very good at identifying bees, but I think these bees are all Eastern  Carpenter Bees (Xylocopa virginica). Unlike bumblebees that have fuzzy abdomens, carpenter bees have shiny, relatively hairless abdomens.

 

lamb's ear

lavender

globe thistle

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Cabbage White butterflies (Pieris rapae) may look very ordinary at first glance, but when you look more closely, you find that they have amazingly beautiful, green speckled eyes.

cabbage_A_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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The response was so positive to my recently posted photos of a bee on a lavender plant that I decided to post a couple more of my favorite images from that session. Unlike my previous shots that attempted to capture a bee in flight, these ones were taken while the bee was busily working. The light was starting to fade, so both of these were shot with my pop-up flash and I am happy that the flash did not totally blow out the highlights.

Using flash is an area that I have not paid much attention to, but it looks like it’s worth spending some time learning more about it and experimenting with different ways of adding additional light to my photos.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Have you ever tried to take photos of a bee in flight? In the past, I have managed to get a few such shots accidentally, when a bee took off as I was shooting.

However, a few days ago when the light was fading in the early evening, I decided to try to photograph a bee in flight using my pop-up flash. I knew that timing would be critical, because the time required for the flash to recycle meant that I would get only one shot each attempt, and not a burst. It was a fun little challenge, even though most of my shots were out of focus.

I especially like the first image, in which the bee appears to be attempting to hover in mid-air. The second shot makes it look like the bee was free-falling, waiting for the optimal moment to deploy his tiny parachute.

It’s easy to get ultra-serious about photography and get bogged down thinking of settings and exposures and composition—it’s nice sometimes to just have fun and then share the results of the fun time.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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When I get the urge to take some photos and don’t have much time, I like to walk over to a neighbor’s house and take photos of the bees that are usually buzzing around the lavender plants there.

A little over a week ago, I did a posting that had a super close-up shot of a bee. Today’s shot was taken from farther away and has the blurry background that I really like, with the bee still in pretty sharp focus in the foreground.  I like the way that the image shows the way the lavender droops a little from the weight of the bee and I also like the the second stalk of lavender standing tall in the mid-range area of the shot.

It’s a pretty simple composition, but the result is a pleasing image of a bee happily at work.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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One of the first rules of photography that I learned was the importance of keeping a subject’s eye in focus and I managed to accomplish that with this bee that I photographed yesterday. However, the depth of field turned out to be so shallow that only a few other parts of the bee are as precisely focused as the eye.

I was hand-holding my macro lens, which is not image-stabilized, and the sky was overcast, so I had to open up the aperture and keep the shutter speed fairly high to get a decent shot (f/6.3, 1/100 sec, ISO400). The bee was moving all around a patch of lavender in a neighbor’s garden, gathering nectar with its tongue, which is visible in the photo.

I stalked the bee for quite a while and a lot of my shots turned out to be blurry, but I ended up with a few that were ok. This is my favorite of the bunch and I think that the shallow depth of field, which is a shortcoming in many situations, is the primary reason that I like it.

lavender1_blog

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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One of my neighbors, fellow blogger Cindy Dyer, now has lavender blooming in her garden. It smells wonderful and this Cabbage White butterfly (Pieris rapae) seemed to be really enjoying it earlier this afternoon.

cabbage1_blog

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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