From Michigan to Missouri

During my hikes around Snowball Hill Prairie, I ran across a couple of Michigan Lilies (Lilium michiganense) that had just begun blooming! This was a new wildflower for me, one I had not seen before. Quite a lovely find in the middle of a prairie! Here are a couple of images I captured:

Michigan Lily wildflower

Michigan Lily wildflower

After capturing a few images, I captured a series of 12 images for focus-stacking:

Michigan Lily wildflower

This beautiful wildflower grows from 3-feet to 8-feet tall. The ones I found were about 3-feet … what a sight seeing 8-foot tall bright orange/red wildflowers would have been! This wildflower likes moister areas of the prairie … I found them on the downhill side of the hilltop prairie, where they can gather more rainwater when the rains run down the hillside.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Bogen 3221 tripod with ballhead
  • ISO 400
  • Aperture f/11 and f/16
  • Shutter 1/80 sec. and 1/100 sec.

Focus-stacked image:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Bogen 3221 tripod with ballhead
  • ISO 400
  • Aperture 3.5
  • Shutter 1/2000 sec.
  • 12 images captured, varying the focus point on the wildflower/images were stacked using Helicon Focus software

 

 

Posted in 2016, Blog, focus stacking, Macro Photography, Nature Photography, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Enter the Dragon’s Lair, Part 3

In Part 3 of this mini-series, I’m featuring a Banded Pennant dragonfly that was photographed last week at a local Missouri Conservation Area:

Banded Pennant dragonfly

Banded Pennant dragonfly

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark 2 body
  • Canon EF 100-400mm, f/4.5 to f/5.6 IS lens
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 500
  • Aperture f/8
  • Shutter 1/200 sec. to 1/250 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2016, Blog, Insect Photography, Nature Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
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Enter the Dragon’s Lair, Part 2

In part 2 of this mini-series, I’m featuring some of the many Eastern Amberwings dragonflies that I found at a local Missouri Conservation Area last week. These are some of my favorite dragonflies. They are such a beautiful color, although sometimes a bit more difficult to find due to the transparent amber coloration of the wings, especially the males.

Here are a couple of images of the male:

Male Eastern Amberwings dragonfly

Male Eastern Amberwings dragonfly

The wings of the females are definitely different from the males:

Female Eastern Amberwings dragonfly

Female Eastern Amberwings dragonfly

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark 2 body
  • Canon EF 100-400mm, f/4.5 to f/5.6 IS lens
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 500
  • Aperture f/5.6 and f/8
  • Shutter 1/800 sec. to 1/1000 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2016, Blog, Insect Photography, Nature Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Fun Friday: A Little Camera Shy!

If you’ve been following my blog for a little while, you are probably aware that I have been monitoring a pair of Barn Owls that have taken up residence in a Cass County barn, and possibly beginning to nest in a nest box I built and installed for the landowners.

I have a trail cam that monitors their activity and I pick up the memory card and change batteries every 2-3 weeks. The last time I picked up the card was about 10 days ago. Although I’m still not sure if they are actively nesting, they continue to utilize the nest box and the number of owl pellets I’ve been finding continue to indicate they are busy in the barn. Today’s post contains one of my recent photos of one of the owls:

Adult Barn Owl in flight

as well as links to 3 short videos from the last card I picked up.:

This first video shows one of the owls inside the nest box, while the other owl is seen moving his head in front of the trail cam:

Video #1:  https://youtu.be/zKfHdVsPN1Y

 

In the second video, again one owl is inside the nest box and the second owl is in front of the trail cam:

Video #2:  https://youtu.be/IePDIiOgQ4w

 

And in this last video, the owl has figured out the camera and apparently doesn’t want his picture taken:

Video #3:  https://youtu.be/-uOG1c-gg6w

 

I’ll return to the barn next week to check out their most recent activity :o)

 

 

Posted in 2016, Bird Photography, Birds, Blog, Fun Friday post, Nature Photography, Video | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Enter the Dragon’s Lair, Part 1

Last week while photographing wildflowers, I noticed an awful lot of dragonflies now active. So Tuesday morning I decided to exchange my macro lens for my favorite wildlife lens, the Canon 100-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens and go “dragon hunting”. I was not disappointed … several species were observed and photographed.

Today’s post features one of our most common dragonflies, the Eastern Pondhawk (Erythemis simplicicollis). The images are of a female of the species. Here are a few of my favorite images:

Eastern Pondhawk Dragonfly female

 

Eastern Pondhawk Dragonfly female

Eastern Pondhawk Dragonfly female

Eastern Pondhawk Dragonfly female

The Eastern Pondhawk is a unique creature. The are one of our largest dragonflies and usually cannot be missed when one is flying around the meadow. Both females and newly-emerged males have green and dark brown body coloration (as in the above photos). But the males begin to change colors, from green to blue, starting at the abdomen and moving forward. I did see a single male Eastern Pondhawk during my outing, but could not get close enough to grab a photo of him. I also saw a male Eastern Pondhawk in the middle of changing colors. The rear portion was blue, but the forward portion was still green. Also, not able to capture an image of him. But I will be back and working on grabbing more images of this wonderful dragonfly.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark 2 body
  • Canon EF 100-400mm, f/4.5 to f/5.6 IS lens
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 500
  • Aperture f/8
  • Shutter 1/100 sec. to 1/640 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2016, Blog, Insect Photography, Nature Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Tea, Anyone?

Today’s post is another “lifer” wildflower for me, one I first became acquainted with during the recent tour of nearby Snowball Hill Prairie. New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus) is an interesting wildflower with an interesting story behind it. According to several references, American colonists brewed a black tea from this wildflower’s leaves during the Revolutionary War. And Native American women used the fragrant flowers as a soap. I’ve also learned that this plant was used to make several different colors of dye. As this shrubby wildflower is a host plant to several butterflies, it is a very beneficial plant for the prairie.

Here are a few of the images I captured earlier this week:

New Jersey Tea wildflower

New Jersey Tea wildflower

New Jersey Tea wildflower

Coming up … some more wonderful wildflowers from Snowball Hill Prairie.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Bogen 3221 tripod with ballhead
  • ISO 400
  • Aperture f/3.5 to f/8
  • Shutter 1/160 sec. to 1/2500 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2016, Blog, Macro Photography, Nature Photography, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Snowball Hill Prairie

Named for it’s “winter look”, after a good snow, this 22-acre hilltop prairie remnant was recently purchased by the MPF, or Missouri Prairie Foundation (of which I’m a member and supporter) when the owner decided to put it up for sale. Purchase of the land will assure it stays a natural prairie for a very long time.

According to all known historical records, including discussions with long-time residents of the area, Snowball Hill prairie has never been plowed, making it one of the last remaining such unplowed, undeveloped prairie habitats in the Kansas City area. The prairie supports about 150 varieties of native plants, some of them on state and federal endangered species lists. Last Saturday, I attended a prairie tour of the area with top MPF officials. During our nearly 2-hour prairie tour, we discovered 5-6 native plants that don’t even show up on the current species list! So this prairie gem promises to be a wonderful place for some not-so-common wildflowers. The hilltop prairie exists within a larger, 74-acre property the MPF bought to protect “the Hill”. Future plans are to weed out the invasive, non-native plants, maintain a healthy prairie by regularly controlled burns, and even collecting some of the wildflower seeds and sowing them in the surrounding area, to expand the prairie to more what it would have looked like during the prairie hayday.

Yesterday morning, I went back out to Snowball Hill Prairie to photograph some of the wildflowers there. It was quite foggy, but “the Hill” was quite an interesting site. Here are a few of the many images I captured in the early morning fog:

Snowball Hill Prairie

Snowball Hill Prairie

Snowball Hill Prairie

Snowball Hill Prairie

Snowball Hill Prairie

Snowball Hill Prairie

I ended up capturing several “new” wildflowers for me yesterday, and will be sharing some of those over the next few posts.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon EF 28-135mm IS lens
  • Handheld, with IS “On”
  • ISO 400
  • Aperture f/22 to f/23
  • Shutter 1/60 sec. to 1/200 sec.

 

 

 

 

Posted in 2016, Blog, Landscape Photography, Nature Photography, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Scurfy Pea

Another new wildflower for me … Scurfy Pea (Psoralidium tenuiflorum), from Snowball Hill Prairie. Resembling a large, bushy weed, the Scurfy Pea grows to about 4-feet tall and has abundant small purple pea-like flowers. The Scurfy Pea has been blooming on this prairie for the past few weeks and will likely be fading out very soon. Here are a few of my favorite images:

Scurfy Pea wildflower

Scurfy Pea wildflower

Scurfy Pea wildflower

Scurfy Pea wildflower

Coming up … more wildflowers from the area.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 5D Mark 3 body
  • Canon 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Bogen 3221 tripod with ballhead
  • ISO 400
  • Aperture f/3.5 to f/20
  • Shutter 1/20 sec. to 1/160 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2016, Blog, Macro Photography, Nature Photography, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Ox-eye Daisies

Today’s post features the abundant Ox-eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare), which seems to be growing everywhere right now … especially along roadways and highways. After a morning at Snowball Hill Prairie, I decided to find a place where I could safely park my truck and capture some images. Here are my favorites:

Ox-eye Daisy wildflower

Ox-eye Daisy wildflower

Ox-eye Daisy wildflower

Ox-eye Daisy wildflower

The toughest part of trying to photograph these beauties falls somewhere between finding a safe place to park to get to them, and stopping the action of these lightweight flowers as they sway back and forth! The Ox-eye Daisy is a native of Eurasia, but is very common in our parts.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark 2 body
  • Canon 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Bogen 3221 tripod with ballhead
  • ISO 400
  • Aperture f/3.5
  • Shutter 1/4000 sec. to 1/8000 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2016, Blog, Macro Photography, Nature Photography, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,
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The Strange Side of Nature

Yesterday morning, I spent most of the morning photographing wildflowers in the area. The first stop was the “new” natural prairie in the area, Snowball Hill Prairie. I’ll put out another blog post on this natural gem, but today’s post features one of the many wildflowers that is now blooming there, the thistle:

Purple Thistle wildflower

Purple Thistle wildflower

Purple Thistle wildflower

As I was leaving the prairie, after photographing the abundant display of wildflowers, I came upon a couple of large patches of thistles, in various stages of bloom. As I wandered among the patches and photographed the beautiful, purple wildflowers, I noticed that the American Goldfinches were also interested in them, flying in to forage among the many flowers.

But as I moved about the thistles, one clearly stood out … a white one! I don’t know how common a white thistle is. In fact, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen one before! But moving closer to the “odd ball”, I captured these images:

White thistle wildflower

Then I noticed another white bud, coming off the same plant stem:

White thistle wildflower

Certainly different! I don’t know if this is a form of leucism (spelling?), like is sometimes found in birds. Have you ever seen a white thistle?

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark 2 body
  • Canon EF 100-400mm, f/4.5-f/5.6 IS lens
  • Bogen 3221 tripod with ballhead
  • ISO 400
  • Aperture f/3.5 to f/22
  • Shutter 1/13 sec. to 1/160 sec.

 

 

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