A New Season

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.

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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.

Prairie Dew

My favorite time to shoot macro is at sunrise, closely followed by those occasions where dew is present.  I can shoot with just one of them, but prefer having both at the same time.  I have been very fortunate over the last several weeks to have both.  Dew adds another whole dimension to a photograph of small subjects, including flowers.

This photo is a 9 shot image stack, all shot at the same setting, but at different focus points.  I was actually leaving the Lawther-Deer Park Prairie Preserve last Saturday, when out of the corner of my eye, I saw this flower glistening in the sunlight.  Upon closer inspection I realized I wanted to capture it, and in turn I’m sharing it with you.

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Silky Aster (Symphyotrichum pratense)

Damselfly in Dew on Lawther-Deer Park Prairie Preserve

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.

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Fragile Forktail Damselfly Ischnura posita

Small Things in a Big Way

The Lawther-Deer Park Prairie Preserve contains 300+ grasses and plants to date that have been identified, and listed in a database.  Many of them are readily seen by scanning your eyes over the prairie.  Many of them are small, and require closer inspection.  The same thing holds true for the subject of this post.

While Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardi) is tall and beautiful, this Yellow Jacket Hoverfly (Milesia virginiensis) at 1/2″ length can barely be seen without a closer look.  Photo taken Sunday September 19, 2014.

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