Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Nature's Beauty

The more I pay attention, the more I see. And the more I see, the more I pay attention. I'm like a kid in a candy store. I hope these photos encourage you to enjoy the nature around you.

A bee on the grass, still sluggish in the cool morning

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A spider's web coated with water drops

spiders & water drops

Amazing flowers

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Bizarre caterpilars

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Hibiscus - one of my favorites

Hibiscus

My friends the fishing spiders

six-spotted fishing spider

And an orgy of dragonfly sex

Striped Meadowhawk ?

It's a wonder I make it to work at all these days!

See all 16 photos as a slideshow or overview

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Print of the Week

This is from a trip a few years ago hiking along the Oregon Coast Trail. I think this was from near the campground in Ecola State Park, close to Seaside.

I was initially going to print one that included the lighthouse, but I decided I liked this one better for the simplicity of the sea and sky. One of the things that makes it interesting is that the ocean is lighter than the sky, the reverse of what it normally is. It's verging on abstract, but it's still recognizable. (click to view larger)

sea and sky

See other Print of the Week posts

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Photo of the Day

A frog's eye view of the pond at Innovation Place in the morning light.

Innovation Place Pond

Taking advantage of the articulated screen on the RX100

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Tale of Two Spiders

Since discovering the Goldenrod crab spider on the daylily in the back alley I've been peering into all the daylilies I come across, unsuccessfully. But then I was watching bees visit a flowering bush and I spotted one. This one definitely looked like an ambush predator with his legs poised to grab. I wouldn't want to be a fly that landed on this flower! (as usual, click on a photo to view it larger)

Goldenrod crab spider

Meanwhile, each day when I arrived at work I would look for the fishing spider at the pond. I found a fishing spider at the same spot, but it looked smaller. It was half hidden so I couldn't see clearly but it looked like it was on top of a ball of something. I did a bit more research and found that they carry and guard their egg sac. So it appeared I was correct that it was "pregnant" initially. I tried to get a photo of it with the egg sac but it kept hiding where I couldn't get a good angle on it. I came back after work but a group of people had had the nerve to sit right beside where the spider was, blocking my access.

When I arrived this morning, the water lily plant where it had been was gone! The grounds crew rearranging the plants, presumably. I figured that was the last I'd seen of my fishing spider, but I took a look around at nearby water lilies. And there one was! I couldn't see any egg sac so either it was a different one, or it had lost the eggs in the move.

I stopped by after work again and there was a spider in the same spot, but with an egg sac. Again I tried to take photos but it was in an awkward position. I tried to nudge it but that was too much and it dove underwater. I could just see it and the egg sac under the surface.

I knew Shelley was out with SSAR training to save lost souls (other than me) so there was no hurry to get home. It was a beautiful warm evening so I made the ultimate sacrifice and went next door to Boffins - strictly to give the spider a chance to come out. The glass of wine was just to keep me occupied :-)

My sacrifice paid off and when I came back the spider was in a much better position - even lit by the evening sunlight.

Six-spotted fishing spider

According to my research, the next step is that it will make a "nursery" web to protect the hatchlings. I will keep my eyes peeled :-)

See all 4 photos as a slideshow or overview

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Color and Form

Flowers are showy, gaudy even, hardly subtle. But that's because they're trying to attract pollinators. (Not to mention having been manipulated by plant breeders.) I just finished reading Seeing Flowers (available at McNally Robinson) which has made me more conscious of the forms and types of flowers (but not much better at identifying them!)

The irises are mostly past now, but the lilies are out, including the pond lilies (which aren't really lilies).

Lilies

I'm afraid I don't know what this next one is (sorry Penny)

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Or these:

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The water lilies are easy (as long as I don't have to specify the particular kind!)

water lily

Apart from the colorful flowers, there is an abundance of lush greenery around, a result of all our rain. It's hard to believe it's the same bare, stark, almost black and white place that is Saskatchewan in the winter.

See all 11 photos as a slideshow or overview

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Spider

When I walk to work at Innovation Place I usually go by the pond to see the flowers and whatever else might be around. I happened to look down at some water lilies and caught a glimpse of a very large spider. But it disappeared and although there didn't seem to be anywhere to hide, I couldn't find it. (From what I found out later, it might actually have been hiding underwater.)

The weather was nice so I ate my lunch by the pond. I went back to look for the spider, moving more slowly to not scare it away this time. Sure enough it was back in roughly the same spot. It's one of the largest spiders I've seen in Saskatchewan, the body was about an inch long, and it was probably over two inches across including the legs.

spider

Here's a closeup of that photo:

spider

And another angle:

spider

I stopped by again on my way home and it was still there. You can see its eight eyes. Most spiders have eight eyes (although not all) and yet they often don't see very well, except for the hunting ones.

spider

On the water you can see several dragonfly wings. I wonder if it's been catching the dragonflies that make the mistake of landing on this water lily.

From my Audubon Insects and Spiders app, I would say this is a six-spotted fishing spider. It hangs around water and water plants and will even dive to catch its prey.

As I was crouched beside the pond taking photos of the spider, a few feet away there was a photographer shooting a wedding party. Personally, I'd rather photograph spiders than weddings, which is why it's a good thing I'm not trying to make a living from photography :-)

I recalled taking a photo of a spider last year near here. It was also in July, and also on the water lilies. It looks like the same kind, but the current one is much "fatter" - maybe getting ready to lay eggs?

These were taken with the little RX100. It does quite well at macro shots, except that it will only focus close with the zoom at its most wide angle. Which means you have to get really close! I was afraid the camera would scare it away, but I moved slowly and even though the end of the lens was only a couple of inches away, it didn't move.