Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sneaky Sneaky

One of the more amusing aspects of nature photography is the quest to locate your subject. Buildings and mountains don't move, you can ask people to pose for you, but if it's animal photography you're after, you must lurk and hunt and wait until the moment arises.
Many animals specialize in avoidance - venom, claws, or camouflage. For the latter group, finding them is, of course, no easy task. At the same time, leaning in for a shot of a flower only to discover a cleverly concealed crab spider can be a delightful (or perhaps alarming) surprise.
Indeed, we strive in many instances to highlight wildlife in photographs. However, for some species, demonstrating their concealment is more appropriate.
Lighting is key in the composition of this photograph. The light reflecting off of the leaf this anole is perched upon allows him to stand out against the green background. This photograph both demonstrates the efficacy of his camouflage and permits the viewer a detailed look at his lizardy form.
When I first came upon this caterpillar, whose texture and color matched the concrete he was walking across almost exactly, I was actually confused. What the heck was that thing booking it across the cement?
Oh, right, a bug.
You know how I love bugs.
At any rate, I am torn between loving and hating this photograph. On the one hand, I find it visually interesting, particularly because photographs essentially never show a caterpillar in motion. On the other hand, it is confusing to look at. The blurred elements of the photograph are almost more prominent than the sharp ones, obscuring, rather than highlighting, the subject. The sharp part of the image, the caterpillar's head, blends in with his background so seamlessly that it is difficult to distinguish them visually. So I'm still on the fence about this one.
What do you think?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Brief Lesson in Entomology

As a nature photographer, I make it my goal to not only document, but also to learn about the creatures I am photographing. Knowledge engenders respect, and respect is an important element in the photographer - wilderness relationship.
It means that we think about our impact on the landscape, and not simply how we might get the most impressive photograph.
On a smaller scale, I believe that identification of subjects is educational and can sometimes even be of scientific interest. As a friend of mine once said, "I get angry when I don't know the names of things."
Laypeople often feel confused by the myriad of buzzing, crawling, and climbing critters around them and resort to calling them all "bugs."
This is all right if you are pointing to a critter on a flower and exclaiming to your friend, "look at that bug!" But, in the age of the internet, I know many of you will further be uploading images of said bug and would like to title it something accurate and informative. There are several websites which can help you with this, one of them being . But I will also try to help. Here is a common mistake:
Many people see this unoffending critter and exclaim, "Bee!" 
But this isn't a bee. This animal isn't even in the same order as a bee. This is a hover fly (order Diptera, for those who are interested).
This, on the other hand, is a honey bee (order Hymenoptera):
Here are a few things to look for:
-eye shape - a fly will have large, broad, flat eyes. A bee's eyes will be generally be smaller and set on the sides of the head
-hair: bees are generally much more fuzzy appearing than flies
-wings: bees actually have four wings, while flies have two (this can be hard to see though, as their wings are clear)
-antennae: bees usually have longer antennae than flies
And here is another kind of bee, a carpenter bee, for comparison:

Again, you can see his hairy body, long antennae, and offset, tall oval-shaped eyes.
I hope this was helpful and, as always, thanks for reading!

Photo info:
Nikon D70 + Sigma 105mm f/2.8 macro lens

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Wisdom of the Flowers

I like bugs.
Insects are great subjects for photography because they are unique, exotic, and varied - albeit very small. Their size often necessitates a macro lens to capture their true beauty and detail.
Also, they are accessible.
Many of us nature photographers, myself included, do not have the luxury to jet off to Africa, South America,  or some other locale populated by strange and vibrant megafauna - elephants, monkeys, zebras, leopards - you know.
Bizarre and wonderful insects live in  your backyard. In fact, you can find them even if you don't have a backyard. I found this fellow in a flower pot outside in my apartment complex. I quickly grabbed my camera for a little photoshoot.

He sat rather still for a rather long time, allowing me the luxury of exploring different compositions and depths of field.
I know when I see an animal, particularly one that's flighty, like a bird, come into my viewfinder, I tend to automatically leap to set composition stored away in my brain. Many times, I snap a somewhat generic shot just in time before the critter scurries off. 
But is it worth it?
A still subject allows one the time to think and compose with precision, bringing more creativity into the photographic process. Hopefully this sort of practice will let me have more interesting compositions ready on hand for when the occasion strikes.
I need to stop taking exclusively this picture, basically:
Thanks for reading!
And, as always - get outside people :) Bug season is starting! (At least in the US)
Picture info:
Grasshopper Nymph
Taken with Nikon D70 + Sigma 105mm f/2.8 macro

Friday, April 20, 2012

Hello Hello!

Hi, so this is my second photography blog (you can also follow me at
The main purpose of this blog will be to share my love of nature and the natural world with you. If nothing else, I hope these posts will at least inspire you to take a walk outside and see what you can find!

I'm still figuring out how to use Blogger, so please excuse the mess!