We have had huge amounts of rainfall in Deer Park over the last several months. Everything is green and blooming, bugs are happy and it is time to get the cameras out and back in use. The Lawther-Deer Park Prairie Preserve is the perfect place to break out the camera gear. While I do use some high dollar equipment, it is not necessary to come away with memorable photos.
Damselfly in Dew
Photography is all about the light. It can be early morning or it can be late evening, but that choice will have more to do with a successful photo than the gear you use. The quality of light at those times is exceptional, almost golden as it sweeps across the prairie. All you have to do is place yourself there at the right time and frame up that beautiful scene. You can shoot wide or you can choose to shoot up close, allowing that light to fall on your subject and bring it to life. It is the easiest way to share that beauty with your friends and family.
The Lawther-Deer Park Prairie Preserve is quickly becoming one of my favorite locations to photograph nature. One of the big pluses is the fact that I can be there in about 6 minutes. The prairie is located close to where I live. It has so many different subjects I can capture in camera that I actually feel bad when I go longer than a week without shooting there.
I also realize what a treasure the prairie is for our community of Deer Park. We get to enjoy this through the hard work of the Houston chapter of the Native Prairie Association of Texas (HNPAT) members, and as a result of the Bayou Land Conservancy who spearheaded funding to purchase the site.
In this post, I highlight some flowers and insects I have seen and photographed over the last several weeks. Many of these are smaller than 1″ in length or diameter. Some are smaller, some are larger. You have to look close to see many of them. That means I am using macro and close-up lenses to try to fill the frame with my subject. The best time to shoot is early morning, right at sunrise. The wind is usually laying low as the sun comes up, and the light is a warm golden color. As these photos also indicate, you can get them covered in dew to really make them stand out.
Prairie Gaillardia (Gaillardia aestivalis)
White Prairie Aster (Symphyotrichum falcatum)
Long-necked Seed Bug (Myodocha serripes)
The Fragile Forktail Damselfly Ischnura posita is one of the smallest damselflies, measuring about 1 inch long. The only thing that helps to locate them hiding in the grasses, are the big colorful eyes, and the colorful markings on their thorax. It is difficult to tell from this angle, but Fragile Forktails are identified by having two distinguishing exclamation marks on their thorax. They are most active spring through early fall.
In order to spot them you have to stop, crouch down low, and slowly scan a small area in front of you. I can usually only spot one peripherally (from the corners of my eyes) as it slowly hovers back and forth, low to the ground.
Damselflies differ from most dragonflies in size, and by the fact that their wings are usually (not always) folded back onto their body when at rest. They eat mosquitoes and flies, but will eat most anything they can catch.
At sunrise one morning, I spotted this one hovering as I slowly scanned the grasses in front of me. Fortunately for me, it landed on a small twig with a great colored background.
Fragile Forktail Damselfly Ischnura posita