Project 52 No 5 – backlit flies

20 05 2011

This is the final posting in my “bugs on plants” series this week.   Previous images include a true bug on a dandelion and a pair of Tibetan butterflies frolicking among ferns.  Today’s image shows the shadow of a fly perched on the other side of a plant.  This was taken in a weedy lot near my home last summer, which had gorgeous diversity of plants.

I liked this image for the dramatic green leaf with its yellow veins and red-trimmed edges, and how the fly’s shadow was so clearly seen through the leaf.

The shadow of a backlit fly against a leaf

For folks in Canada, have a great Victoria Day long weekend!


Project 52 No 7 – a plant bug on a dandelion

17 05 2011

For my birthday several weeks ago, Cosmoboy gave me a snap-on Raynox macroscopic lens converter for my 4/3 camera (Pansonic Lumix G2 HD). It is a nifty little tool which clips on to the end of a lens to enable macro pictures in a hurry.  I’ve been having some fun experimenting with this, and found that it creates lovely  bokeh when using a shallow depth of focus.

This image of a true bug (Hemiptera) on a dandelion was taken two weeks ago on a rare sunny evening in between rainstorms.  It was steadily making its way across the flowertop, then flew off into the sunset.  This tiny bug was one-third size of my fingernail, and I was pleased with how well the macro lens converter allowed me to capture its details so well.  Furthermore, the green grass provides a very nice painterly bokeh background for the little bug.

A true bug on a dandelion

Natural history note:  People who study insects only use the term “bug” (or true bugs) for the insects falling into the Hemiptera order.  Those insects, which are not beetles (Coleoptera), share certain characteristics including the way its wings fold and its proboscis mouthparts.  I think this little bug falls into the Lygus genus.

Project 52 No 16. From Bees to Butterflies: a full circle

4 03 2011

I’m just back in Kingston, after travelling for 3 days from Bariloche.  Now that my field work in Nahuel Huapi National Park in Argentina is over, it is time for us to take stock of the samples and get them ready for laboratory analyses.

This week’s Project 52 picture was taken in the very same spot where  I took the one of a bumblebee at the beginning of the month (No. 19).  Four weeks later, the thistles are starting to shrivel up, and a few trees have even started to turn yellow early. In other words, despite it still being the heyday of a beautiful summer, there are clear signs that fall is coming to this part of the world.

I particularly enjoy how the colours of the butterfly and the thistle complemented each other in this image.  The purple lines around the wings and the wing spots as well as the purplish tinge on its body complement the thistle beautifully. By using a shallow depth of focus, I was able to make the sunlit green wings and its eyes stand out against the green grassy background despite the similarity of the colour.  I also like the symmetry of how taking this insect photograph on my last day at the CAB campus, mirrors the one of the bee taken at the beginning of my stay.

Colias spp. Butterfly on a thistle in Nahuel Huapi

My tentative identification of this lovely butterfly species is that it’s within the Colias genus. Without an Argentina butterfly guide with me, I was not able to narrow this down to species level, although several photographs of a very similar butterfly found online claim that this is a native C. lesbia pyrrhothea. (Any help with identification?) This genus falls under the English common name of “clouded yellows”.

Very recently, this species has become fairly common in flower fields around Bariloche. Those butterflies were not easy to photograph as each one only stayed at each flower for a fraction of second. To get this image, I had to pick a suitable flower, focus on where I hoped a butterfly would land, and then wait. My goal was to capture the effect of the sunlight shining through its wings while minimizing any lens flares, especially as I did not have a lens hood or macro lens. This particular butterfly decided that the thistle was worth visiting, despite the human crouched by it, and dropped by for a quick sip.