May 9, 2012 — Crazy Spring

I got creative one weekend and took my macro lens into the back yard.  I put extension tubes between it and the camera body, which provides a lot more magnification, but much less depth of field.  I measured the width of the field of view at 1 centimeter.  With a tripod, I got some interesting effects, but the wind was a pest.  I intended to get just water droplets, but picked up a few flies as well.  I find that flies have really interesting eyes, as well as bizarre body hairs.

From April 2012

From April 2012

This fly is maybe 2 mm long.

I took the extension tubes off and went out for another round.  My elderberry bush was in full bloom, and I captured one of my best images in a long time, a honeybee hovering in front of the flowers of an elderberry bush.

From April 2012

Two weeks later, one of my students came into my office and told me I should enter an Earth Day Leatherman photo contest on Facebook, since there were only about 30 entries so far.  I submitted the above honeybee photo, even though there was only about an hour left in the contest.  I posted my entry on Facebook and asked my friends to vote for me.  They must have done so, because two days later I was notified that I had won.  I was pretty excited.  I’ve won contests before, but this one was a real surprise, and paid with some nice goodies: a Leatherman tool, a head lamp, and a sweet pair of Hi-Tec boots.  I was scheduled to do a POLIS talk that afternoon, but, battling a cold, I wasn’t anticipating that it would be my best effort.  Thanks to winning the contest, I went in high as a kite (natural high, that is), and nailed the talk. 

I found a garter snake nearby with much of its tail missing.  I call him Stumpy.

From April 2012

Maybe a lawnmower victim?

One day a student told me there were pelicans flocked up by the lock and dam in Quincy.  I sneaked down there and, naturally, a barge was locking through.  All the birds were on the other side of the river.  By dumb luck, I ran into my former student who is now a park ranger for the Army Corps.  He offered to take me over the dam to see the birds.  Perfect!  They weren’t very spooked by us.  I got American White Pelicans, along with Double-crested Cormorants and a Turkey Vulture in flight.

From April 2012

Swimming in formation, except for the one nonconformist.

One fine Wednesday I was expecting delivery of a new camera.  I dashed home after wrapping things up at the office only to find a note from UPS.  They had to have a signature.  I called them and they said they would attempt delivery again that evening.  I said I would be home, unless we had a fire.  So, of course, we had a fire.  Not the typical false alarm dry run that sends us home after 20 minutes, but a bona fide house afire, with flames coming out the sides as we pulled up.  I took a hose line with my assistant chief.  We went in and put out a lot of flames, but as we were backing out a part of the roof fell on our heads.  It felt pretty warm, which I took to mean it was still on fire.  I quickly got it off myself and was trying to get it off the hose while the asst. chief was trying to calm me down.  We dowsed more fire before we got out for a break.  My gear was all filthy with ashes and debris.  We and others continued pouring water on smouldering portions for quite awhile.  During the break I called UPS.  They would hold the parcel at their distribution center, which was open until 7:30.  Stacey and I got done cleaning up at the station just in time to race down to Palmyra and pick it up.  Oh, and we almost ran out of gas in the process.  I’ve never felt more like my life was a sitcom than on that night.  They ran a close-up of my profile, including my sweet mustache, on the local news.

Fortunately, the next day I had my class out and was able to put to the test the new Canon EOS 7D.  It’s a more complicated camera than the 40D, and I certainly haven’t mastered it yet.  It does produce some nice images.  Nearly everything  below was taken with it.

From April 2012

Unusual white morph of the wild geranium

From April 2012

I’ve been seeing these caterpillars all over. I took one from the willow in the back yard and reared it. It has pupated, and I’ll soon know what species it is.

From April 2012

Most of my class hikes are filled with wildflowers, but a student noticed this gray tree frog beside the trail.  I don’t want to overload this blog with wildflower pics, but if you click through to the online album, you’ll see plenty.

The camera club attended the awards ceremony for the John Wood Community College Photo contest.  We had quite a few entries, and scored 7 awards.  I was glad my friend Dan had finally won a prize.  He’s one of the best (if not THE best) photographers in our group.  The only problem is that we won’t be able to tease him about it anymore.   We got 7 awards overall.  I won 2nd place in the animal category and Best Color Photo overall with an image of a butterfly I took last summer.

From Greatest Hits

After the meeting we had a festive dinner at a Mexican restaurant, then all ran home to get out of the weather.  There was a spectacular lightning show on the way home.  Naturally, I went out to photograph it.  It’s rare that we get lightning without rain or even wind.  I set up in several different spots.  This is the best one I captured.

From April 2012

I was parked on the side of a hill, looking out over Canton, which you can see in the foreground.

From April 2012

This was an old barn on the site of the Steyermark Forest Conservation Area in Hannibal. It was the first time I had been to this place. It was a nice woods, with lots of wildflowers.

One morning I went down to the river and there were some birds flying about. I set the camera on my usual Bird In Flight settings, parked at the waterside, and fired away.

From April 2012

This was the only shot with a catchlight in the eye, as it was cloudy most of the time and that black cap makes it hard to distinguish the eye at all. This occasion was the first time I’d been able to take advantage of the Canon 7D’s superior focusing ability. It’s perfect for this kind of work.  Later I looked through the bird book to confirm that this was, in fact, a life bird for me, the Common Tern.

A pair of house finches had built a nest on our front porch light.  It’s been 4 years since the last pair of birds, also house finches, had set up there.  I watched their progress and reported it to Nestwatch.org.  On the second to last day before they fledged, I set up my turkey blind in the front yard and caught the female feeding the young.  It’s not the best shot, but it’s a start.  Next time I’ll use flash.

From April 2012

Feed me! No, me! No, ME!

We went up to Keokuk for a camera club gathering at Jamie’s family farm. They set up some props in a field for a photo shoot.

From Camera Club on the farm

Jamie blows bubbles in the bathtub.

I also took advantage of a nearby bluebird.

From April 2012

Eastern Bluebird

Flocks of Red Admiral butterflies have invaded our area as they migrate through.  The have been too skittish to get near until recently.  Our ninebark bushes were swarming with them, as they were one of few plants in bloom. 

From April 2012

Red Admiral

As usual, click on the link below any of the images to visit the photo album of origin, where there will be many others to enjoy.

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