09.01.2014 Not quite, but almost

We went to a bon voyage party last night for some friends who are going on a 6 week walking pilgrimage in  Spain next week.  It was planned for their backyard and, sure enough, it poured.  But when I woke this am, I could see stars..not the kind I get now from standing up too quickly…and thought there was a chance for a sunrise shot.  The last two mornings started dismally and I hoped the third day would be the charm.  I think I gave away the mystery with the title.

This was the view today from the oft visited New Salem Overlook toward Rattlesnake Hill.  The eastern sky was pretty much blanketed in clouds and the only opening for the light was to the north so just a little color.  Peaceful, though.Dawn-over-North-Quabbin-090114-600Web

After that faded away, I figured why not visit another old favorite, Bears Den Falls, also in New Salem, even though I knew the water flow was low after a week of very little rain.  There is a legend that Chief Metacomet, aka King Philip, used Bears Den to plan attacks.

I’ve been here several times and this was the time with the least amount of dead wood lying about.  There is almost always a downed tree somewhere.  The Trustees of Reservations, who own this property, must have cleaned it up recently.Bears-Den-090114-600WebThis is actually a split falls, but right now the left side isn’t very attractive, so I composed for the right.  The hemlock tree is a bit awkward, but that is where it is.  If you would like to see it in a more tradition composition, click here.

Posted in Landscape, Nature Photography, Trustees of Reservations, Waterfalls, Western Massachusetts, Western Massachusetts Waterfalls and Cascades | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

08.31.2014 Peeper

My yard is quite noisy with frogs, toads, crickets and katydids.  Last night I went out with my flashlight to see if I could spot any of the choir in the act.  Most all the sounds were coming from above and I had just about given up hope of spotting anyone when I turned to old faithful…my boneset.  I was thinking either a katydid or moth, but I was pleasantly surprised to see this little Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) sitting on a leaf and hidden from above.  He/she was so low that I shot this from a kneeling position.Spring-Peeper-083014-600WebI never did get to see him/her engage in song, but I think that once mating is past they vocalize a bit less.

I generally don’t “photoshop” beyond the basic contrast adjustments and sharpening.  But for this one I did clone out the flash specular highlights.  I don’t use flash often and have a learning curve in progress.  I believe there is a way to control the speculars and possibly polarize the flash, but I haven’t got that far yet.  I do place a diffuser over my 550EX.

Posted in Animal Behavior, Closeup Photography, Nature Photography | Tagged , , , , , | 28 Comments

08.30.2014 A Planthopper, a Moth and a Wasp walk into a bar…….

Just a little attention getter there.  These guys aren’t actually speaking to each other.

Here’s the Hopper…a Citrus Flatid Planthopper ( Metcalfa pruinosa ).Citrus-Flatid-Planthopper-083014-600WebThe Moth…a ZigZag Herpetogramma (Herpetogramma thestealis).  This is a rare flashed image.Zig-Zag-Herpetogramma-082514-600WebAnd, last but not least, the Wasp… a Double-banded Scoliid (Scolia bicincta).UI-082314-BG.NYou may recognize that the moth and wasp are on boneset.  Surprise!!! :-)

Posted in Closeup Photography, Insects, Nature Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

08.27.2014 Little Stinkers

For some reason, maybe it’s the blueberry bushes, we get a lot of stinkbugs in our yard.  I don’t mind as I find them quite attractive.  These are green stink bugs, but we have been visited by a couple of other varieties.

Here they are hatching back in 2004.  Note the one hiding under the leaf which I have read  is where they prefer to be.Green Stink bugs nymphs and eggs

A nymph on a leaf’s underside just the other day. This is probably the last instar before molting to full adult status…not the forming wings. I find the design and coloration to be quite attractive and enjoyable to view.  Maybe it’s just me. ;-)Green-Stinkbug-Nymph-082414-600Web

Howdy!Green-Stink-Bug-closeup081412-800FBI think it’s the “bug eyes” that get me. :-)

Posted in Closeup Photography, Insect Behavior, Insects, Nature Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

08.26.2014 A foggy day in Amherst town.

That should be days.  We have had a series of warm days followed by cool nights which can often  produce heavy morning ground fogs.  Often happened each of the last four days.  I thought some of the spooky trees on Mount Pollux might look good in the fog.

Most of the trees are dead and have ivies climbing them…many being of the poisonous variety.  It’s most everywhere on this conservation location.  I tried to use the one on the left as a frame for the ones in the middle  distance.  I hope you like the mood.  It could be eerie or it could be serene…take your pick. :-)Mount-Pollux-foggy-silhouettes-082414-600WebA similar tree on Mount Pollux appeared with the full moon here a few weeks back.

Posted in Landscape, Nature Photography, Western Massachusetts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

08.25.2014 Both sides of the story

In this case, the story is a possible False Crocus Geometer.  I say possible because the Genus Xanthotype is a very confusing one with several species that can only be confidently identified by the delicate term…genitallic dissection.  I am happy just calling mine a Xanthotype spp.   There are many insects whose IDs require such close scrutiny, but it isn’t anything we photographers need to undertake.

I was fortunate to find this moth on a tall dried grass stalk with nothing around it which made the top and bottom views possible.  I hope you enjoy these.

Upper Xanthotype-spp-2.-082414-600WebAnd lowerXanthotype-spp.-082414-600WebThe lower view gives us a bit of personality to bond with.  :-)

This individual was just starting to fade a bit, but the fantastic symmetry of the upper view is still able to be fully appreciated.  For some reason the underside is not a mirror image like the upper.

Posted in Closeup Photography, Insects, Lepidoptera, macro photography, Moths, Nature Photography, Patterns in Nature | Tagged , , , , , , | 20 Comments

08.23.2014 Roadside Attractions

This morning was a bit of a disappointment as the sky was quite overcast.  But there is always something to be found and I’ve a couple to share.

I have seen very few caterpillars this year, so it was a happy find with this Yellow Bear which is the caterpillar for the Virginian Tiger Moth (Spilosoma virginica).Yellow-Bear-1-082314-600WebThe water lilies are still flowering, but my attention was grabbed by these colorful pads.  Such nice rich tones.Water-Lily-Pads-082314-600WebBetter weather is on the way for tomorrow morning.    :-)

Posted in Closeup Photography, Insects, Intimate Landscape, Nature Photography, Western Massachusetts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments