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Archive for August, 2014

When I encountered this spider hanging on a branch just above eye-level, I knew I was going to have a problem getting a stable shooting position, so I decided to use my popup flash. It added some additional light and a little drama, though it is pretty obvious that I used it. Like the spider image that I posted earlier today, the image has a really narrow depth of field, a consequence of having to shoot hand held, and only a few of the spider’s legs are in focus.

spider2_small_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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This summer I haven’t been seeing any of the large orb-weaver spiders at my local marsh that I observed in previous years, but the small spiders can be equally beautiful.

I spotted this little spider when I was hiking through the woods. There wasn’t really enough room to set up my tripod, so I ended up taking the shot handheld with the available light, which meant my depth of field was pretty limited. Although my normal instinct is to move in really close, I decided to take some shots from a slight distance and I like one of the resulting images so much that I am presenting it with almost no cropping (which is unusual for my insect shots). I especially like the interplay of light and shadows on the different elements in the scene, which together produce a sense of drama.

spider1_small_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I don’t know much about the intimate life of wasps, but it sure looked to me like one of them is giving the other a loving nibble on the back of its neck. Both of them were covered in a lot of pollen, like they had just had a roll in the hay, figuratively speaking.

The two of them had flown to this flower in what appeared to be a mating position, though I can’t tell if the wasps are actually hooked up in this shot. My experience with dragonflies, however, has shown me that insects can mate in all kinds of unusual positions.

I am comfortable with moving in close for photos of bees, but I decided that in this case it was prudent to maintain a respectful distance from the wasps.

wasp kiss

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Why was this Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) crouching in the water? Was he playing hide-and-seek with his heron friends? Was he seeking shelter in the shade?

The more that I watched the heron fix his attention on the eye-level branches, the more I became convinced that he was stalking dragonflies. Several times he advanced forward slowly, never once looking down at the water, but I never saw him make the rapid thrust that he uses when catching fish. It seems to me that he would get a better reward for his efforts by catching fish and frogs, but maybe he simply wanted some variety in his diet.

When I departed, the heron was still crouching and the dragonflies remained hidden.

Great Blue Heron

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Goldenrod seems to act like a magnet for all kinds of flying and crawling insects and earlier this week I was fascinated by a large beetle crawling around and through the goldenrod. I haven’t yet been able to identify the beetle, but I had a lot of fun trying to move in close with my macro lens and capture its image from various angles.

lightning1_bloglightning4_bloglightning3_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Dragonflies are so beautiful that I sometimes forget that they are also fierce predators. Last weekend at my local marsh, I captured this image of a female Eastern Pondhawk dragonfly (Erythemis simplicicollis) feeding on another dragonfly, which looks like it might be a female Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis).

The dragonfly is perched on the end of one of the slats of a railing that along the edge of an inclined section of the boardwalk. I cropped the image to focus viewers’ attention on the dragonfly, but I also like the second version of the same photo, which is close to the original view when I took the shot. Somehow those three slats remind me of a row of tombstones, a memorial to the predator’s prey.

Eastern Pondhawk

Eastern Pondhawk

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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I never realized that I was surrounded by cannibals. No, I did not discover a pile of skulls or a string of shrunken heads, but almost every time recently that I have gone out into my local marsh, I have spotted Red-footed Cannibalflies (Promachus rufipes).

These insects are big and they buzz as they fly by me, so they are hard to miss. I have read that they are vicious predators, but I had never caught one red-handed with prey (or perhaps I should say red-footed) until yesterday. I can’t quite identify the prey, but it looks like it might be some kind of small bee. If so, it wouldn’t bee too surprising, given that one of the nicknames for this species in the “Bee Panther.”

I know that I shouldn’t be worried about these cannibals, but a slight chill went through me yesterday when one of these insects landed on the lenshood of my camera and looked up at me, looking very much like he was sizing me up

Red-footed Cannibalfly

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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