Saturday, March 28, 2009

Camera Critters #51

Years ago, I was a Staff Writer for the newspaper at the Air Force base I was assigned to. One of the first jobs I was given was to do a story on the Dive School at the base. To illustrate the article, I wanted a photo which showed what they did.

So told one of the instructors to get in the training pool with his gear on and to swim around. I shot a number of photos looking into the pool and through the viewfinder, but wasn't pleased with what I saw. So I borrowed a dive mask from one of the other instructors, put it in the water, had the instructor in pool start from the bottom and swim up towards me. Using the glass front of the mask as a window, I got on my belly and put the camera on the glass plate and began shooting. One of those photos was used to illustrate the article.

It was the first time I photographed something underwater...but not the last time.

While walking the edge of Fireman's Pond in Redmond, Oregon several years ago, I was surprised to see this huge tadpole sunning itself in a rocky area. I had never seen a tadpole this large. This big boy was at least seven inches long.

Then last year, family from Illinois came to Oregon for a visit. One of the places I took them was to Cline Falls State Park along the Deschutes River west of Redmond. While others were off checking something elsewhere in the park, I was sitting with my aunt and cousin telling them of some of the geology of the area. My aunt suddenly got a puzzled look on her face and asked what something in the water was.

We were a good 30 feet from the river, on a slight rise and had a good view of the shallow shoreline. I looked towards the river and found I was unsure what I was looking at. At first I thought it was a rock in the river. However, I could see it was moving at a slow pace. I walked to the edge and there I found the largest crayfish I have ever seen.

This big guy was at least eight inches in length.

Well, both critters above were under the water when I took their photo. However, the critter below was seen and photographed at the Mitchell Lake Audubon Center south of San Antonio, Texas several years ago.

I was walking along the shore of Bird Pond and would stop once in a while to check trees and bushes near me. When I stopped at one spot, I was scanning the weeds at the shoreline when I caught out of the corner of my eye, something moving between my legs. Looking down, I immediately thought, "Water Moccasin!" and then watched as the creature slithered down into the water in front of me. I quickly fired off a couple of shots and then got this image as it turned and moved parallel to shoreline.

When I got back to the lake headquarters, I showed one of the volunteers the image in the small LCD screen on the back of my camera and he said he couldn't be sure, but thought I might be correct. However, once I returned home and had time to research the snake, I found out it was actually a harmless Diamondback Water Snake.

Although he wasn't under the water, he was in it. Overall, this guy was probably a little more than three feet long.

I hope you enjoyed my post this week. If you would like to see more Camera Critters, just drop by the website here run by Misty Dawn and then join in the fun with an entry of your own.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Camera Critters #50

Friday was the first day of Spring.

And with Spring comes warm weather and Summer's favorite...flies.

Everyone is familiar with the common House Fly and the Green Bottle Fly. Or maybe you see one of their cousins, which are also known as House Flies. There are many of them.

But there are a lot of other species of flies. In the past I have introduced readers to some of those other species, including one of my favorites, the Robber Fly. However, today I want present some of the other members of the family known as flies.

Common House Fly

Green Bottle Fly

Flesh Fly

Tachinid Fly

Bee Fly

Bee Fly

Bee Fly

Bee Fly

Syrphid Fly

Bee Fly

Bee Fly

Bee Fly

Thick Headed Fly

Thick Headed Fly

As you can see, there are many types of flies. The Bee Fly species is one of the largest and my current favorite fly family. However, the colorfulness of the Thick Headed Fly runs a close second.

Once these small critters of the high desert area of central Oregon start flying again, I'll be out trying to capture a portrait of more of them.

I hope you enjoyed my post this week. If you would like to see more Camera Critters, just drop by the website here run by Misty Dawn and then join in the fun with an entry of your own.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Camera Critters #49

A couple of weeks ago, I told everyone about a love/hate relationship I have with spiders.

Well, this week, it's another love/hate relationship...this time with ants.

I don't mind ants outside, I don't even mind if they invade my picnics, but not my house! Every spring, I get a convoy of large black ants moving through my abode, looking for something. I do what I can to get rid of them.

But let me cross paths with an ant outside somewhere, and chances are, I'll get my body down as close as I can and do what I can to get a photo.

I know a few things about ants. They used to be wasps, but long ago, lost their wings in favor of hunting on the ground. They live in a very structured society where everyone has a job and everyone does the job they were born to do. And they can get awful angry if they find you standing in the middle of their home. I didn't mean to do it...really...I didn't.

And now for the photos. If you wonder where the name of the ants are, well, I don't know ants all that well, so I won't put a name on them here. I'll just show you the photos.

OK...who's the wise guy who keeps leaving fake worms at my door?

Oh my god! Is that what I look like?

Popcorn? Popcorn? All I see is Aphids handing out honeydew!

That's the last time I go topless at the beach.

Tag won't be anywhere near as much fun if that Fly ever realizes he has wings!

I hope you enjoyed my post this week. If you would like to see more Camera Critters, just drop by the website here and then join in the fun with an entry of your own.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Camera Critters #48

Keeping with the "Now You See Me" theme of last week, I now present the last group of photos taken with my old lens. It wasn't as sharp and as crisp as my current lens, but it still took good photos...especially when the bird was mugging the camera.

However, the hardest part of getting a good shot of a bird, is getting the critter to smile. If you know how to do it, please let me in on your secret. For now, enjoy these birds who wouldn't smile.

California Quail

Great Horned Owl

Loggerhead Shrike

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Red-winged Blackbird

Juvenile Mountain Bluebird

A couple of people asked how I got the birds to look at me. The technique I use is to find the subject, frame the image, then shoot one or two shots. The sound of my mirror flopping up and down generally gets the critters attention and they turn and look at me. At that time, I am still waiting for them to look, and when the do, I am ready.

If you are using a camera which isn't a single lens reflex style and doesn't make much noise when you trigger the shot, you can prepare for the shot, then make a noise that doesn't spook the creature. I generally make a pishing sound, which is a sound birders make to get a hidden bird to show. The sound is simply "PISSSHHH" made with a soft "P" sound. But make sure to keep your eye on the creature and press the shutter as it is turning its head.

If you enjoyed my photos and want more, drop by Misty Dawn's Camera Critter webpage here and check out some of the other players. If you still can't get enough, join the fun and post your own photo.