Friday, August 31, 2012

A Fair Damselfly

At the tail end of my Sunday bike ride I did spy this damselfly upon the grass.  My best guess (sorry, I'm not much of an entomologist) is that it might be a Familiar Bluet (Enallagma civile).  This is the most cooperative damselfly I've ever photographed.   It would scoot off and then return back to this same blade of grass, striking the same pose.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Vulgar Beauty

The Bull Thistle (Cirsium vulgare) is a common invasive species that has been in bloom recently.

Presented for your delectation is a macro study of this "vulgar" weed.

The spiny base of the flowering head is covered with some sort of fuzz.  The leaves of the plant are covered with fine hairs, and these apparently extend to the spiny flower head.

The flowering part is a vibrant purple color.  According to Montana, it's belongs to the Aster family.  Read the article, and you'll learn that the plant is "edible."

Putting it all together.  I'd rather see one than eat one.   ;-)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bearsfoot on the rail trail

Meet the Bearsfoot (Polymnia uvedalia).  It's growing all over the place along the Mon River rail trail (at least between Uffington and Opekiska Lock & Dam.  Here's one of many links to its description.

If you were to Google the name, most of the links would point you to sites that discuss the medicinal properties of this herb.  Among other things, its extract was used for hair tonics.

Insects really seem to like this plant.  Below is a Bearsfoot with a couple of Pennsylvania leatherwing beetles (Chauliognathus pensylvanicus).  I think the one on top is trying to help the one on the bottom climb up over the bloom.

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Belle Fleur

Meet the Tall Bellflower (Campanulastrum americanum), a.k.a., American Bellflower.  Interestingly, it's not a bell-shaped flower, being instead rather flat.  According to Wildflowers of the United States, tall Bellflower appears to have 5 blue petals, but those are actually lobes of the corolla rather than real petals.

This specimen was growing along the rail trail between Opekiska Lock & Dam and the Uffington Marina.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Suck it Up

Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) slurping it down at the Butterfly Bush Nectar Bar.  A nice shot showing the extended proboscis.

This was taken on Tuesday, in front of my neighbor's yard.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Monarch on its Bush

Monarch butterfly on a butterfly bush (Buddleja sp.).

We had a power outage this morning, which extended from my workplace all the way to my home on the edge of south park.  Power didn't return until sometime after 1:00 p.m. 

I thought I'd drag my camera out of mothballs (so to speak).  On a lark, I thought I'd try the Canon EF-S 70-200mm f/4L telephoto lens on an extension tube again.  This monarch butterfly in front of my neighbor's yard was the only salvageable shot, I'm afraid.  Besides the difficulties in focusing on a moving macro target, I had also neglected to attach the sun shade tube.  Lens flare was a real problem.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Great White (Egret) Way

Revisiting shots from my laptop that I had previously skipped over, I've retrieved a couple of additional shots of the Great White Egret (Ardea alba).

I like the first one for the sharpness of the foreground detail, combined with the blur of the background.  In an earlier posting of the Great White, the water was reflecting the blue sky.  In this one, you can see the actual greenish funk of a long-used rookery pond.

The following shot takes us into the tree tops, where an egret is coming in for a landing with some nest-building material in its beak.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

My notion of a touchdown

Since my trip to Florida in early July, I have been neglecting my laptop, which contains the photos I had taken while down there.  A second glance at the files today led me to pull out this plum:

Meet the Snowy Egret (Egretta thula), shown here touching down for a landing.  This was shot at the same rookery at which I had seen a Great White Egret.

I've severely cropped the image to show the detail of the bird landing, but I've also made it look more "natural."  Below is the full frame, which doesn't hide the somewhat  urban locale of the rookery.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Perspective be Damned

I've fiddled with this June 8th picture of Woodburn hall perhaps too much (June 10 and June 14), but I wanted to return to it one more time.  Just this last time, I promise.  Yeah, right.

This time, I wanted to do a few things differently.

One is the aspect ratio. Previous shots were all cropped to some "standard" proportion.  This one is as I had framed it within my viewfinder.  Proportions be damned.

Another thing is that I pushed my meager PhotoShop skills to remove the handicap railing that I had previously cropped out or had left in to clutter the bottom of the picture.  It required a bit of reconstructive surgery, but my hope is that the scars and blemishes are not where someone is apt to look.

Finally, I've opted to render this image in black & white, albeit with some sepia tones.  Once again, I used the Silver Efex Pro plugin for PhotoShop to tweak the settings.  The red brick on blue sky has been replaced by a study in tones and shades, FWIW. 

I think I'll submit this one to the amateur photo contest for the county fair.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Pysanka for Dog Days

There's nothing particular about the dog days of August that would inspire me to try a new pysanka design in Illustrator.  It's just been a while, and I felt like futzing.

The main part consists of Illustrator stars -- a couple of eight-points and a four-point.  The "bug antennae" added to the outer white star lend a unique look to the design.

Here's the pattern that I used for the symbol.

The scroll work between the diamonds is recycled from an earlier Poppy design.

Here's the completed egg:

I wish that I could take credit for this design, but I've adopted it from So-Jeo's work.