Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Day at Como Park

I attended my first photography meet-up today.  It was held at the Como Park Conservatory bright and early, allowing us an opportunity to use our tripods and pose for photos.  The big draw was the Holiday Flower Show - an area filled with poinsettias. Those photos I won't share.  I've never been a fan of the big red blooms and I think my photos show it.  In fact, looking at all the photos I took (245 of them), I think its evident that what I really enjoy is macro photography.  So right now I'm regretting the 75-300 mm lens I just bought and am wishing I had gone for a macro lens instead.

I loved the big fans and the patterns that they make.  I took a lot of photos of them and then had some fun seeing what they looked like in black and white.

I like the patterns and the way the light shines through them.  

Best of all is just pretending there's no snow on the ground and that it really is summer.  It's a beautiful building and a great place to go in the summer.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Photography Bug

I have another bug.  Photography. While I come from the old school of film cameras that only advanced the film when you moved a lever with your thumb, I've really wholeheartedly accepted digital photography.  It wasn't an easy transition.  I still clung to the view that nothing compared to Kodachrome 64. But then I started exploring other photographer's websites and attending our local nature photography meetings. The colors were so vibrant that they seemed surreal.

Those vivid colors had me questioning my camera equipment. Should I get a new lens? A new camera? Did I need more megapixels?  Of course, all of that might help, but I'm discovering that post-production has a lot to do with it, too.  I've been having fun with a free trial of Adobe Lightroom and here are my results.

I was in Duluth in October and forgot to change the white balance on my camera.  This is what I got:

Then I played around with Adobe Lightroom and this is what I got:

Imagine what I could do if I really knew how to use the program.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

More Than Butterflies

I'm not ready for winter. So, I spend my time looking back at the photos I took over those warm summer months. While you might not realize it from my blogs, there were more than butterflies in my garden.  I also found these beautiful beetles I'd never seen before. They're milkweed beetles.  And each one seems to have a different pattern on its back.

Then there were the grasshoppers.
What big teeth you have, my dear.

And the green tomatoes.  It was the first year I'd ever tried growing tomatoes and not all of them turned red. So there was another first -- green fried tomatoes.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Watch a Monarch Caterpillar's Heart Beat

This is really an amazing video.  You can see the pulsing heart beat of the caterpillar.  I'm having trouble getting my links to show up, but if you hover your cursor next to the colon, you should find it: A Monarch's Heartbeat.

Meanwhile, I only have one caterpillar in the chrysalis stage right now.  When this little guy emerges he or she will fly off, mate and produce the eggs of the generation destined to migrate all the way to Mexico or California for the winter.

A monarch lives 6-8 weeks, from egg to butterfly.  Each year there are four generations of monarchs. The migrating butterflies head north and lay their eggs in March/April, giving life to that year's 1st generation.  When they become butterflies, they will begin the cycle again in May and June for the second generation.  The third generation is born in July and August and the fourth in September/October. This last generation is unique.  They do not die.  Instead, they migrate south to Mexico and California, where they will hibernate until February or March and they start their long flight back north where the cycle will begin again.

The flowering milkweed smells like honesuckle
But to continue this miraculous cycle, monarchs need milkweed.  It is the only plant they lay their eggs on and the only plant the growing caterpillars feed on.  Without it, they cannot exist.  Unfortunately, the fields and pastures where these plants once flourished have been uprooted by shopping malls and houses.  So, I urge you to set aside a small corner in your garden and plant some milkweed.  Don't like to garden?  Plant some anyway. It will grow in spite of you.  And next summer you can enjoy watching this cycle of life play out in your own backyard. It's worth it.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

It's A Boy!

Getting up to work out at 5:30 in the a.m. more often than not ends up with me hitting the snooze button on the alarm a couple of times.  Then I remembered there was a butterfly about to birth.  Nothing like the right motivation.

My timing was perfect.  Here is the sequence of events.

You can barely see it, but if you look at the lower left wing, you can see a spot in the vein. This indicates it's a male.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Monarch Butterflies

monarchs flight day_40Amonarch eggNewly hatched 6.6.11Monarch 6.10.11Monarch 6.18.11indoor monarchs_20
indoor monarchs_17In the wildin a jarmonarch chrysalismonarchs flight day_7Emerging from a chrysalis
monarchs flight day_44monarchs flight day_41Amonarchs flight day_48monarchs flight day_26Wings still wetmonarchs flight day_82
monarchs flight day_61monarchs flight day_77monarchs flight day_117monarchs flight day_95monarchs flight day_146monarchs flight day_131

Monarch Butterflies, a set on Flickr.

Photostream of the butterlies

Butterflies are Free!

You can see his wings

I went to bed on Friday night feeling anxious. One of the monarch chrysalis' was changing.  The wings could be seen beneath the pale green of its cocoon. I didn't want to miss watching the butterfly burst forth from its shell, but it was late and I was tired.

small wings, large body
Still, I was up early on Saturday, checking on my butterfly's progress. Happily, he was still in his shell.  In the short time it took me to feed the dog, he had begun to emerge.

wings are uncurling, getting larger

At first his wings seemed much to small and I worried that he was deformed in some way.  I took him outside into the sunshine. He began to move his wings, opening them, soaking up the warm morning air.  He sat on my finger, weightless, his feet sticky.

I went into the house and found another of the butterflies had emerged from her chrysalis.  I had two of them now.

They both hung on the bird feeder for awhile and then, worrying that a bird might think they looked too enticing, I moved them to the garden.  And that's where they stayed until they flew away.  They're both females, so I hope they'll soon mate and lay more eggs in my garden.
Free at last