Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Pretty in Pink!

I think I'm becoming the House Finch king!! I have a jillion images of House Finches built up in my image files now. This morning wasn't any different. There were a lot of Finches coming into the bird feeder one after another. I decided to push the envelop a little bit with some bright pink and a Lupine blossom. Here are my pretty in pink images from this morning. God's love and blessings to all, chris All images created with a Canon 7D and a Tamron 150-600mm lens. A Canon 550EX flash was used as a fill flash. Camera settings used were AV mode, ISO 800, F 5.6 at 1/200th of a sec.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Last of the Wild Woodpile

I saved the little boldest and brightest critter to be recovered from the wild woodpile for last. Their bright yellow spots send out a clear message that the aren't to be messed with. If that doesn't work they will they will send out a squirt of Hydrogen Cyanide which can be quite harmful any small forest creature dealing with them. For humans it isn't particularly harmful it just doesn't smell that great. It smells to some people like bitter, burnt, almonds. Though I would imagine if you got it in your eyes it might be slightly more annoying. These little detrivores are called the Yellow-spotted Millipede,AKA Almond-scented Millipede or the Cyanide Millipede. Like other millipedes they provide a great service for the forest floor. They estimate that millipedes consume a third of the conifer needles that fall to the forest floor. So they are the many legged little garbage disposals of the forest breaking needles down into duff to create a nutrient rich environment for plants to grow in. Pretty cool little critter. God's love and blessings upon your week, chris All images were created with a Canon 7D and a 100mm macro lens. Camera was set to Manual mode, ISO 200, Shutter speed of 1/200th of a sec. F stops varied. Light source used were two Alien Bee 1600 studio flashes.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Good Guys or Bad Guys?

One of the little critters I inevitably find in our wood piles are Bark Beetles. Bark Beetles provide an important role in our forests. They attack diseased and dying trees and eat the phloem and cambium layers of the tree. They also bore through the bark into these same layers to lay their eggs and allow their larvae to feed, grow up and hatch out. This allows fungus into the tree and it weakens it and many times the tree will start to die. Weakened trees give woodpeckers a a smorgasborg of places to eat larvae. With the softer wood they can bore out nest cavities for themselves and other birds. Bears and other creatures can benefit from eating the larvae as well. As you can see bark beetles provide a great benefit to the forest as food and by helping to break down the wood for other creatures. Eventually the trees will rot and turn into forest duff for other plants to grown and nurture in. There can be too much of a good thing however. Drought ridden and improperly managed forests can lead to a population explosion of Bark Beetles leading them to attack healthy trees as well as the weakened ones. There are huge swaths of trees being decimated by Bark Beetles in parts of North America. I'm unsure of the answer to that one but it is a huge problem in some of our forests. On that note I hope that you are having a beautiful day. God bless, chris All images were created with a Canon 7D and a 100mm macro lens. Camera was set to Manual mode, ISO 200, Shutter speed of 1/200th of a sec. F stops varied. Light source used were two Alien Bee 1600 studio flashes.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Pacific Chorus Frogs

With the coming of spring some of the the most common amphibians in our area are making their presence known in our little backyard garden pond. Nightly we get a little concert from the Pacific Chorus Frogs that come there to breed. Right now as I am typing I can hear them out there croaking away. For those of you in the know. Indeed they used to be called Pacific Tree Frogs but then they changed the name on us. Here are a few from the "Woodpile Series". Yes, I found three of them in there as well. God's love and blessings to all, chris All images created with a handheld Canon 7D and a 100mm macro lens.Manual mode,exposures varied. Lighting was provided by two Alien Bee 1600 Studio lights

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Wild, Wild Woodpile Series

Continuing onward with the woodpile series. Brush piles and woodpiles make for a great addition to any habitat as they provide a refuge for many creatures to live. Among these critters I found several North American Millipedes. Millipedes are pretty amazing. With all those legs they are fascinating to watch. If you look closely you can see little waves travel down the lengths of their body on the sets of legs as they travel along. Millipedes are detritivores meaning that the eat the detris or rotting vegetation on the forest floor. Being nocturnal they prefer to stay out of the light and in dark places under logs or leaves. For protection from predators they will roll up into a spiral shape. If that doesn't work they will release a foul and burning chemical that will convince many small creatures not to eat it.Luckily they didn't release it as I handled them rather gently when I was photographing them. I wasn't so lucky with one of the other creatures. God's tender love and mercies to all, chris All images were created with a handheld Canon 7D and a 100mm Macro lens. Manual mode, ISO 200, Exposures varied. Lighting was provided by two Alien Bee 1600 Studio lights. #TeamCanon

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

More From the Woodpile

Yesterday afternoon found me moving the last of the firewood from the driveway. There were plenty of surprises along the way as creatures were uncovered. The most interesting of them all was this young Western Skink. Young Western Skinks have amazingly bright blue tails. The general belief is that this attracts the attention of predators towards the disposable tail which will break off if it is grabbed. It will grow back later. I can still vividly recall the first time I spotted a juvenile Skink near Spring Lake in Santa Rosa. We had just moved to California and I couldn't believe anything could be such a bright neon blue. I wasn't quite sure what I had seen. They have got a pretty cool looking tongue too! God's love and blessings to all, chris All images created with a handheld Canon 7D and a 100mm macro lens in manual mode. Exposures varied. Lighting was provided by two Alien Bee 1600 Studio lights. #teamcanon

Monday, May 23, 2016

Giant in the Woodpile

Yesterday afternoon I was moving one of our wood piles to make some parking room in our driveway. When I got down towards the bottom of the pile I could sense something looking at me. It's kind of weird that as humans we can have that sense isn't it? Sure enough when I looked down to my right and I could see these dark brown eyes looking up at me from under a piece of wood. At first I thought it was a giant toad covered in dirt. Then it dawned on me that it was a giant salamander. In the area where I live they used to be called the Pacific Giant Salamanders but now after some reclassification they are now known as Coastal Giant Salamanders endemic to California. The family of Pacific Giant Salamanders are the biggest terrestrial salamanders in the world! They can grow to be 15 inches or more in length. Their skin is covered in a really amazing camouflage pattern. They also have teeth in both their upper and lower jaws. The coolest thing about them is that they can vocalize kind of a bark similar to a dog though I have only heard one do it one time. It's really cool to find one as they are primarily nocturnal so they are rarely found in the daytime. One other strange fact is that adults of this species may be terrestrial or aquatic. The aquatic ones have gills.I captured the salamander and photographed it with a macro lens. After the woodpile was rebuilt I let it loose back into the pile so that it could have a safe place to live. God's love and blessings upon your week, chrisImages created with a Canon 7D and a 100mm macro lens. both handheld and on a small Slik tripod.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Queen is in Residence

This morning when I was restocking the bird feeders I noticed Queen Papaya the Cat surveying her domain. She was sitting on the corner of the deck as she is wont to do on many mornings. I grabbed my camera with a telephoto lens and took her portrait while she was on her throne. May you have a blessed week, chris Images created with a Canon 7D and a Canon 100-400IS v1. #TeamCanon

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Red and Yellow

Someone should have told me not to go photographing birds yesterday morning.It was cold and the wind was blowing. The blind would shake in the wind and the birds would fly away. I sat in the blind for about three hours and I took eleven images and I photographed three species of birds. There were House Finches, Oak Titmice and White Breasted Nuthatches. One American Goldfinch came in but I wasn't able to capture any images of it. After coming home and editing the images there were only two that had merit. Here they are. Though the conditions weren't great it was better than any morning working in an office! God's love and blessings upon your weekend. Both images were created with a Canon 7D and a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM. AV mode, ISO 800 f 8.0 1/500th of a sec. Fill flash was provided by a Canon 550 EX flash at -2 stops.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Oh It's Just a Dumb Old Moth

This morning I was out in the backyard clearing some branches away from one of our apple trees. While heading back indoors I noticed this poor beaten up moth lying on our patio. For some reason it got me to thinking about how important moths really are. They are the often overlooked ugly cousin to the butterfly and they occupy an important part of our environment. Their primary role is that they are food for most everything else. They are eaten by other insects, spiders,bears,frogs, toads, lizards, shrews, hedgehogs, bats and birds. Caterpillars are one of the most important things that moths offer in the ecosystem. In springtime returning migrating bats rely on moths as one of their sole food supplies. Roughly ninety five percent of baby birds are provided a diet of insects by their parents and a significant part of that is in the form of caterpillars from moths. So moths play a critical role in the lives of many species. By the way I don't think they are ugly. Moths come in an amazing amount of sizes patterns and colors. God's love and blessings upon your day, chris both images were created with a Canon 7D and a 100mm macro lens on a tripod.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

You've Got Mail

Yesterday afternoon when I went to check the mail. I found a little surprise. There was a small Walkingstick Bug crawling around our mailbox. I looked for a container in my pick up to put it in and I couldn't find anything. A light bulb went on in my head and I proceeded to very carefully put it into a bag of birdseed I had. I gently rolled the top shut being careful not to squish the poor little thing. When I got inside the house I transferred it to a jar. This morning I photographed it and then set it free out in the forest. Curious to see what kind of Walkingstick it was I looked it up on the internet. I found that it is a Conifer Bug and that it was indeed part of the Walkingstick family. May you have a blessed day, chris Image created with a handheld Canon 7D and a 100mm macro lens. AV mode, ISO 800,F 8.0 at 1/60th of a sec.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Few More Birds

Yesterday morning I went out to my photoblind in the Little Lake Valley and photographed birds. Not too many birds came in to the bird feeders. I'll probably have to switch to a meal worm feeder to get more action at this time of the year. As usual the local Lazuli Buntings taunted me by feeding all around me on the native oat grass seeds. Just out of camera range of course! Once the male came in close but he was perched on a very unphotographic two by four. When I got back home I edited my images there were two images that I really liked. One of an Oak Titmouse (one of my favorites) and a male House Finch. Not bad for a short morning in the blind. God's love and blessings upon the rest of your week, chris both images were photographed using a Canon EOS 7D camera with a Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens. AV mode, ISO 800, F 8.0, 1/2,000th of a sec and 1/640th of a sec. Fill flash was provided with a Canon 550 EX flash set to high speed synch at -2stop exposure. The camera was supported with a Manfrotto 055 XPROB tripod with a Bogen 3055 heavy duty ballhead.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Wind, Waves,Flowers and Birds etc.

Way back on the twenty eighth of April I was going to go to the coast early in the morning. When I got up the wind was blowing and I went back to bed. Later on the wind seemed to settle down and I decided to head out to the coast. When I got there the wind was blowing like crazy. Of course by then it was the middle of the day and the lighting wasn't very nice either. I headed up north to the Ten Mile Marine Reserve and found some flowers to photograph. I would click the shutter between gusts of the wind. I also found a couple of sleeping Harbor Seals. It's great when you can photograph them without disturbing their behavior or sleep. They look like big bratwurst sausages! I headed south to one of the beaches after that and I photographed some Black Oystercatchers and some gulls. Later on I went back up north photographed the waves. There were some really big ones coming in too. Their power is most humbling. Anyone swept off the rocks where I was at would stand little chance of survival so I kept well back from the surf zone. Enjoy the images and have a blessed day, chris All images created with a Canon 7D and a variety of lenses. #TeamCanon