Friday, June 30, 2017

Picture a butterfly, or dragonfly

My first question for the day is: have you ever seen the cute films of a skunk's read end as it waddles away from the camera? Yesterday, I got to watch something even better, a senior and junior skunk waddling along the road side by side  as I came up behind them. Just after I passed the skunks, who had disappeared into the roadside grasses by then, I came alongside one of the neighbors out for a late day walk. I mentioned the possibility of company just down the road and my neighbor decided she had gone as far as she needed and could head home then. I understand that perspective.

Second question: have you seen some of the stunningly clear photos that have been taken of butterflies? Like these, for example? This morning a red admiral butterfly was flitting about the driveway and around the south side of the garage. I already had a few mediocre pictures of red admirals and many more not so good at all photos of them. My collection of dragonfly pictures has a similar breakdown. None are as good as I'd like them to be. For one thing, my reflexes aren't as quick as a butterfly's wings being raised, after very briefly having been lowered. For another, dragonflies often don't sit still for very long either.

Is the answer to better pictures to have the camera set on burst mode? Shoot video and then pull single "frames" from it? Most likely I still need to review several of the online butterfly photography tips and focus (pun intended) on a more structured approach, rather than my usual helter-skelter "try it and see if it works." The following pictures were taken this morning with my smart phone's camera, another toy tool I need to learn more about how to use, since it's more likely to be readily available than my DSLR. Maybe improving my butterfly photography will also help my dragonfly pictures, a "twofer." I suspect that getting one only half-way decent shot out of 5 is probably a good indication of why many really good photographers take so many pictures to get a really good one. Poets often go through many revisions and rewrites before the poem announces it's done. Something to keep in mind.

wings (almost) down: yes
wings (almost) down: yes
Photo by J. Harrington

wings up: no
wings up: no
Photo by J. Harrington

wings up: no
wings up: no
Photo by J. Harrington

wings up: no
wings up: no
Photo by J. Harrington

wings up: no
wings up: no
Photo by J. Harrington

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday weekend. Wish me luck as I start to pull some buckthorn. Getting rid of buckthorn and increasing the amount of wildflowers should offer more chances at both butterflies and dragonflies. Who knows, if I manage to get organized with my different flies photography, I may next follow up on my long-standing threat to organize my dry flies. That would be a major step toward independence, actually being able to find things and having a better sense that I actually know what I'm doing, instead of making it up as I go along.

Summer of the Ladybirds


By Vivian Smith


Can we learn wisdom watching insects now,
or just the art of quiet observation?
Creatures from the world of leaf and flower
marking weather’s variation.

The huge dry summer of the ladybirds
(we thought we’d never feel such heat again)
started with white cabbage butterflies
sipping at thin trickles in the drain.

Then one by one the ladybirds appeared
obeying some far purpose or design.
We marvelled at their numbers in the garden,
grouped together, shuffling in a line.

Each day a few strays turned up at the table,
the children laughed to see them near the jam
exploring round the edges of a spoon.
One tried to drink the moisture on my arm.

How random and how frail seemed their lives,
and yet how they persisted, refugees,
saving energy by keeping still
and hiding in the grass and in the trees.

And then one day they vanished overnight.
Clouds gathered, storm exploded, weather cleared.
And all the wishes that we might have had
in such abundance simply disappeared.



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