While photographing wildflowers I noticed yellow spiders hiding among the foliage. I believe they are in the crab spider family. They seemed to be waiting for prey to come by. That was, in fact, the case. (See some of my previous posts.)
I’d been photographing these yellow spiders on purple thistles. Then I noticed a similar spider on a yellow flower. While I was taking his picture, a soldier beetle landed on the flower. I wondered what would happen.
After taking a few photos, I decided to switch to taking video. I remembered nature films I’d seen where an alligator snatches an unsuspecting antelope that stopped for a drink. I thought this, on a decidedly smaller scale, might provide the same kind of drama.
I only got a short, six seconds of video. It looked like the solider beetle bumped into the spider and then flew off. Not too dramatic. However, when I slowed the video down, it turns out it was a much closer call than I originally thought.
Watch the video below and pay particular attention to the slow motion footage. When slowed down, you can see the spider actually grabs the leg of the soldier beetle in its jaws. The beetle is able to pull away before the spider can get a better hold. The best way to view it is to click the full-screen icon in the lower right corner of the video box.
Click on the photo at the top to see a lager version.
I discovered yellow spiders hiding among the the thistles. I assumed they were waiting for unsuspecting prey. I took some photos, downloaded them to my computer and posted them to this blog under the title Dangerously Alluring Beauty.
As you can see, a small bee, buzzing from flower to flower, attracted by the thistle, received an instant invitation to lunch.
The image on the right is the same scene from a different angle.
I wish I had hung around long enough to catch the action live. However, it just so happens, when I finished photographing this carnage, I noticed a similar yellow spider, poised with arms open wide, waiting for a its meal on a yellow flower. Then a bug came along. I started snapping pictures. The bug walked around the flower until it finally came face to face with the spider…and then…
You’ll have to watch for those images in a future post to see how it turned out.
To view larger versions of either of these photos, just click on them.
I went for another walk in the Missouri woods with my camera and noticed something new among the thistles.
If you look closely at the image above, it looks like some of the thistle is twisted in strands to the side – giving the spider easier access to any prey that might land on the top of the flower. Is the spider smart enough to make an easier path to the kill or is it just a naturally occurring coincidence? I wonder.
The photo to the right show another spider snugly tucked deep in the strands of the thistle. Waiting…waiting…waiting…
Now that I look at them, maybe I should have waited to see and document what happens. It might have taken a long time with me just a few inches from the blossoms. The spiders are more patient than I am.
You can get a closer look at either photo by simply clicking on them.
I took a walk through the woods in Missouri and came across this clump of thistles.
I have a difficult time walking outdoors with my camera and not photographing every flower of color I encounter…even if I have a dozen images of the same kind flower…even when they’re weeds.
Here’s a little of what Wikipedia says about thistles…
Thistle is the common name of a group of flowering plants characterised by leaves with sharp prickles on the margins, mostly in the family Asteraceae. Prickles often occur all over the plant – on surfaces such as those of the stem and flat parts of leaves. These are an adaptation that protects the plant against herbivorous animals, discouraging them from feeding on the plant. Typically, an involucre with a clasping shape of a cup or urn subtends each of a thistle’s flowerheads.
In the language of flowers, the thistle (like the burr) is an ancient Celtic symbol of nobility of character as well as of birth, for the wounding or provocation of a thistle yields punishment.
The thistle has been the national emblem of Scotland since the reign of Alexander III (1249–1286) and was used on silver coins issued by James III in 1470. It is the symbol of the Order of the Thistle, a high chivalric order of Scotland. It is found in many Scottish symbols and as the name of several Scottish football clubs. The thistle, crowned with the Scottish crown, is the symbol of seven of the eight Scottish Police Forces (the exception being the Northern Constabulary). The thistle is also the emblem of Encyclopædia Britannica, which originated in Edinburgh, Scotland. Carnegie Mellon University features the thistle in its crest.
According to a legend, an invading Norse army was attempting to sneak up at night upon a Scottish army’s encampment. During this operation one barefoot Norseman had the misfortune to step upon a thistle, causing him to cry out in pain, thus alerting Scots to the presence of the Norse invaders.
You can see a larger image of the thistles by clicking on them.
Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It’s what sunflowers do. – Helen Keller
The sunflowers are in bloom! In our area, we are blessed with several fields of sunflowers every summer – thanks to our good neighbors, the Kuehl Seed Farm.
When the field is on a main highway, it is quite common to see people pull over, jump out and snap a couple of pictures with a digital camera. And who can blame them. A field of sunflowers in full bloom is so bright and cheerful it’s natural to want to take it home with you. This field of flowers is on Highway 42, Just north of Kewaunee, WI. (While I was taking these photos at least four other cars stopped to do the same.)
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(Click either image to see a larger version.)
This is an image that dates back to 2006. This photo was the initial inspiration for my experimentation and reasonable success with macro photography.
My old camera, a Kodak Easyshare DX7590, did an exceptional job with macro shots. When I saw what was possible – after taking this image – I started to major on the minors. I can spend hours crouched down by a flower bed, moving slowly, trying to be unnoticed while I position my camera as close as possible to any tiny creatures I can find. I was just a few inches from this bee when I snapped this photo.
I love seeing the normally, unseen details of God’s creation. For instance, in this image, I am facinated by the bee’s wings, the pollen on the flower and bee’s legs, that little dongle thing protruding from the bee’s head, it’s eyes and the orange tipped spears of the cone flower.
If you find this image appealing, please feel free to share it with friends. (If you’re on Facebook, simply click one of the Facebook links below this story.)
To see a larger version and even more detail, click the photo.
There is uncommon beauty all around us that we often miss because we fail to “stop and smell the roses.” These aren’t roses, but petunias that Sara has in a planter by the back door. I pass by them several times a day with hardly a notice.
Well, I stopped for a moment to notice…with a camera in my hand, of course.
For me, that’s one of the great benefits of photography. It increases the awareness of my surroundings. With a camera in my hands, my eye becomes acutely sensitive to beauty, symmetry, bold colors, subtle hues, the dramatic, the sublime. It is a good thing for my soul.
In your all-to-busy life, every once in awhile, pick up a camera and take some time to stop and smell (and snap) the roses.
(To see a larger version of this image, click on it.)
One of the things I love about digital photos is the way you can easily manipulate the images. I almost never post a photo straight out of the camera. There’s always tweaking to be done. It might be simply cropping the image for maximum effect, straightening a crooked image, correcting the color, contrast, brightness, etc. Even beyond making a photo look it’s best, you can easily make a photo look totally different. This is a perfect example.
The other day I returned a book to the Algoma Public Library and on my way in I noticed a group of hollyhocks. My artist’s eye thought that would be a good image to experiment on. I liked the colors and the texture of the stone wall behind them. To the right is the original photo I snapped. I left myself plenty of room to crop it. When I look at the original, I really don’t see anything particularly special about these flowers.
I opened the image in Photoshop and tweaked the brightness and contrast, cropped it, then saved it. I then opened up another image editing software called FotoSketcher. It’s a free program I recently found and am just starting to play with. It allows you to convert a digital photo to a variety of different art styles, such as pencil sketch, oil pastel, watercolors, etc. It also has a number of options for aging a photo, increasing saturation and adding a frame or text.
I imagine any real artist who works with oils would probably snicker and scoff at this type of creation. Yet, if I were to actually pick up a paint brush or pastels, you’d get a lot of stick-people level images. Not being familiar with those kind of mediums, I really don’t know what I’m doing with things like brush size, number of strokes, edge intensity and such, so I trust the software to do the heavy lifting. There are a lot of adjustments the software allows you to make. I just fiddle around until I find something that appeals to me. A true artist, could probably do much better.
On the image above, I simply selected one of the oil painting modes and fiddled. To help you see more detail in the changed image, I’ve enlarged and cropped the image to a certain section and created some samples for a side-by-side comparison.
This first comparison is the original and the oil painting image – seen larger above.
Here’s a comparison of the original and a colored pencil sketch.
And finally, a comparison of the original and an oil pastel version.
I’ve only shown you three, but I’m sure there are literally millions of variations one could make to the same image.
My artistic medium is digital photography, and I don’t expect that to change, but adding another digital twist to the images and a free tool to the digital tool box keeps things interesting.
If you’re interested in the FotoSketcher software (remember, it’s Free) you can down load it here: http://www.fotosketcher.com/
To see a larger version of the main image at the top of this post, simply click on it.
I don’t have a lot of time to travel to scenic places around the world – or even in my own area – so a lot of my photos are taken around my rural Kewaunee County, WI home. I often take a walk around my yard and photograph whatever catches my eye. Here’s what caught my eye recently.
I enjoy experimenting with macro photography. Getting a close up view of small things and capturing detail that is not apparent to the casual observer gives me a kick. Like in this image – that little thing that sticks out of the bee’s head and the cellophane look of the wings interests me. I think the eyes look more like a pair of over-sized sunglasses, too.
This photo was taken at one of my wife’s flowerbeds on the side of our house. There were a number of bees working over these little yellow flowers.
Thankfully, no bees or humans were harmed in the process of getting this image.
(To see a larger version, just click on the image.)
Make a note on the calendar – the first lily to display its beauty at our house this season happened on Wednesday, June 29th. As you can see, there will be many others to follow, but there’s something noteworthy about the first one.
I’ve been keeping my photographer’s eye on the flower bed and could see the bloom was about to begin. The slender, green pods were beginning to blush.
For comparison, I took a picture of the same lily at the beginning of its opening, in the early morning light of the rising sun. (The smaller image on the right.) This would have been a good time to set up a time-lapse camera – if I had one.
The “grand opening” continued through the day until full bloom, as captured in the larger photo, taken in the early evening of the same day.
(You can see an even larger view of the top image by clicking on it.)