Standing Tall & Proud

Today’s post comes from a visit to nearby Dorsett Hill Prairie, about a week ago. Tall Bellflowers (Campanula americana) are beautiful wildflowers that tend to grow at the edge of woodlands. While hiking this prairie, I found a nice stand of these wildflowers growing in the meadow near the entrance to the wooded trail. Often, the flowers are torn or not filled out very well, but this day’s find was in extraordinary condition. Here are a few of my favorite images:

Tall Bellflower wildflower

Tall Bellflower wildflower

Tall Bellflower wildflower

I hope to be back on a more regular basis, sharing some of my natural surroundings, in a short time. I’ve been busy getting things organized for a “Celebration of Life” memorial service for my late wife, which is scheduled for this weekend.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark 2 body
  • Canon EF 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Bogen 3221 tripod with ballhead
  • ISO 500 and ISO 1250
  • Aperture f/3.5 to f/11
  • Shutter 1/8 sec. to 1/1600 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2016, Blog, Macro Photography, Nature Photography, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Woodland Beauty

First, I want to thank the many messages of encouragement and the many prayers for me and my wife during her unexpected illness and subsequent passing. Me and my family are humbled by the many cards, e-mails and messages sent via social media. They are all much appreciated!

Over the last few days, arrangements for a Celebration of Life have been finalized, as well as a lot of activity pertaining to my wife’s personal matters. With that done, I felt the strong need to get back out with the camera and clear my head and rejoice in the wonders of nature. Today’s post features one of those moments.

While hiking one of the nearby prairies, I came upon a Common Wood Nymph (Cercyonis pegala) butterfly at the edge of the woods. As I approached, it fluttered off, but not very far, so I carefully closed in and captured this image:

Common Wood Nymph on a prairie leaf

The Common Wood Nymph is a medium-sized, brownish butterfly with an “eyespot” on the underneath side. They belong to the family of satyrs (Satyridae), so called because of their dancing flight through the woodlands. Once disturbed, the satyrs can be difficult to follow. They immediately fly rapidly away, but often drop into grass or land against a shaded tree trunk, or on a leaf. Remaining still with their wings held together and tilted to avoid casting a shadow, they can be very well hidden. Fortunately for me, I kept both eyes on this little fellow as he flew off and dropped into a clump of prairie plants, landing on a leaf.

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 7D Mark 2 body
  • Canon EF 180mm, f/3.5 macro lens
  • Bogen 3221 tripod with ballhead
  • ISO 1250
  • Aperture f/16
  • Shutter 1/13 sec.

 

 

Posted in 2016, Blog, Butterfly Photography, Insect Photography, Macro Photography, Nature Photography | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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In Memorium

It is with much sadness that I write this final post concerning my wife, Karen. Yesterday at 5:36 pm, she left this world for her new home in Paradise with our Saviour. With that, I have lost my wonderful traveling companion, one of the world’s best moms and grandma, and my wife of almost 20 years. My heart is heavy with grief, but I know she is in a wonderful place where she will never feel pain again.

Yesterday morning, I arrived at the hospital early as I was told on the previous evening that her kidney doctors would likely be in early. After a meager 3-4 hours of sleep (quantity was less than hoped for, but the quality was good), I awoke, showered and drove to the hospital. After talking to the kidney doctors, I learned that her kidneys still had not started functioning, and they still were unable to get a reaction when they peered into her eyes with a flashlight. All this information was disturbing as it seemed to be telling the doctors that she likely had brain damage from the estimated 40 minutes cumulative time of blood not being circulated to her brain and organs, when her enlarged heart had gone into a very rapid, but shallow beating.

About an hour later, the head nurse for Karen’s critical care approached myself and Karen’s daughter. She told us that Karen’s blood pressure, which had been slowly decreasing for some time, had suddenly started dropping very rapidly and that a decision on whether to resuscitate or not would be needed very shortly. As we were waiting for her son to arrive at the hospital, we instructed the nurse to apply CPR as needed, until he showed up. Within 5 minutes, a Resuscitate Response Team was assembled and began CPR, as Karen’s heart had stopped. They were able to get the heart beating again and no further efforts were needed before her son arrived. We then instructed the nurse that, with an apparent neurological condition to the brain, to not conduct any additional resuscitation effort.

We also learned that Karen’s sister and her twin brothers (and spouses for each) were on their way from Minnesota. Fortunately, they all arrived before we would be asked if we wanted to again resuscitate Karen. In fact, Karen remained with us until 5:36 pm, when she left us for the final time.

In accordance with what we all felt Karen would want to do, we had earlier called in the local organ donor organization to discuss potential organ harvesting. We all knew that Karen, being such a kind and giving person (in fact, we saw that she had indicated herself as a donor on her driver’s license), would want to live on by helping others. Unfortunately, the only potential organ that the donor organization felt might be an option, was Karen’s liver. Her heart was not acceptable (enlarged, and very weak). Her kidneys were not acceptable (still not functioning). With the onset of pulmonary infection, the lungs were also not acceptable. And to even consider using Karen’s liver, they would have had to aggressively treat Karen with more drugs and keep her alive for another 24-48 hours. All the family felt this was more than Karen and the family could endure, with such little chance of using a single organ.

However, we had an option of possibly using Karen’s eyes and tissues to help others. And there would be no need for further drugs needed. So we all agreed that this would be what Karen would want to do.

With Karen giving us all an extended time to be with her, we all were able to spend some quality time beside her bed with her. As Karen left us, I kissed her and softly spoke to her, while holding her hand. “I love you. You have left me with many wonderful memories. I will see you again one day.”

Did we have a perfect marriage? No, but is there such a thing? Did we have the same interests? Yes, and no. Being individuals, we both had our own likes. While I loved watching the KC Royals and KC Chiefs, she would rather find a knitting or crocheting show to watch. But where we really came together was our love for family, traveling and for being in nature. I will never forget experiencing watching her pet a baby gray whale from one side of our Mexican ponga (small fishing boat), as she looked to me with a big smile on her face, as she watched me petting the same whale on the other side of the boat. Or watching her ride a mule up a mountainside in Baja, Mexico, where we witnessed age-old cave drawings. I could go on and on, but I won’t put you through that. I think that by now you have the picture. Our experiences could fill a book … probably a multi-volume one, at that. We were both blessed to be able to witness firsthand what others can only see on tv.

As you might imagine, I’m grieving right now, and I need some time alone. I plan on trying to get caught up with responding to each of the wonderful, loving comments and best wishes/prayers that so many have shared with me. I appreciate everyone’s kindness to Karen and me during our recent issues. I truly have regained a wonderful insight into how wonderful people can really be to each other, in our seemingly broken world.

I stand by my words, “I’ll see you again one day”.

Note:  A memorial service will be scheduled for a little later in July (most likely), when family members have returned from scheduled vacations and other conflicts. If you are reading this and are one of Karen’s many personal friends, and would like notice of the service, please e-mail me at:  showmenaturepix@hotmail and I will put you on a list to be notified when we schedule the service.

 

 

Posted in 2016 | 10 Comments

Status Update: 06/28/16

For those of you reading my blog post yesterday (if you missed it, you can read it by clicking here) and sending prayers, best wishes and healing energy to me and my wife, Karen, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. This is not an easy thing to go through and certainly not a quick one. But I certainly appreciate everyone’s help! In time, I am planning on getting back with everyone who has left comments or well wishes, but that may take some time. My first priority is being with Karen.

For those interested in the progress (and to help me communicate changes without taking extraordinary time from my schedule), I plan on publishing an updated post as things change … probably every 24 hours or so, as changes warrant and I have time. I will post this on my blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter. If you are not interested in keeping updated, please just dismiss reading the post. As soon as we get things in order, I hope to resume nature postings. But until then, I’m only concerned with, and working on the important issue to me … my wife.

As of today (06/28/16), the following status report is being communicated:

Early this morning, the doctors informed us that her kidneys had worsened overnight (this was predicted by the kidney specialist who has been monitoring Karen). This was confirmed by the creatine levels in her blood, as well as a rising potassium level. One of her Critical Care cardiologists, in conjunction with the kidney doctor, recommended that they insert a catheter in her neck (or leg, if the neck veins were not suitable) and initiate dialysis on a continuous basis.

So after some discussions and the consent signed off, the catherization began. As things went, she was able to get the catheter into her neck (preferable as there is less chance of infection here) and dialysis began late in the morning. The hope was that dialysis would remove the toxins and drug residues from her blood, particularly since her kidneys were not functioning. And the hope was that after she was weened from all the paralytic and sedation drugs, her kidneys would start functioning again. And if not, long-term dialysis would certainly be an option. At that point, our main concern was if she would breathe on her own, if her heartbeat could be maintained at a normal level, and determination of any lasting neurologic issues.

As of this evening, it appears she now has an infection, possibly pneumonia. Sputum and blood samples were taken for analysis. And the cardiologist has ordered antibiotics to be initiated. Her oxygen levels have lowered (after rising yesterday), but Lasix has been given to her (and so far, seems to have leveled off the oxygen level). The only other concern of the moment is the lack of pupil response when a flashlight is shined into the eyes. The nurses say this is a bit abnormal, not to have a response by now, but not necessarily a bad thing. Karen will be checked regularly to see if/when a response is achieved.

I plan on arriving early Wednesday morning so I can talk to the kidney doctor and see how she is doing. I plan, time allowing and sufficient changes, to post again tomorrow. Until then, please continue to hold Karen in your prayers.

 

 

 

 

Posted in 2016, Blog | 2 Comments

Prayers, Please!

First, I want to say that you may have not seen any new posts from me lately.  Last week, I traveled to Des Moines, Iowa, for the “2016 Artsfest Midwest: the Other Art Show”, which was held this past weekend. When I drove up to Des Moines, I had multiple images prepared for blog posts. The problem was my hotel had super undependable internet service, so I was unable to post for the couple of days leading up to the art show. And with the following information, I want to let you know that I will not be posting new posts for a little while, as I’m sure you will understand.

Yesterday (Sunday, June 26), my wife Karen had an unfortunate event at the art show, with her heart getting into a “frenzied” beating, causing blood to not be pumped to her brain. Subsequently, she passed out and had multiple cardiac arrests. After receiving several shocks from an AED (automated electronic defibrillator) that was available at the show auditorium, she was transported to a local hospital, receiving two additional shocks on the way.  In the emergency room, breathing stopped and CPR was administered for a short time, before she regained her breathing.

Following emergency care there, she was moved to a Critical Care Unit where she is now on a ventillator, with tubes down here throat and nose, and is being sedated with both paralytic drugs (to prevent muscle contractions/movements) and sedation (to prevent awakening). She also was introduced to hypothermic cooling, via a “cooling vest”, to lower her body core and brain temperatures.

What happens next? She undergoes hypothermic cooling for 24 hours (which ended today at 12:00 noon) and her body temperature is now being very slowly raised back to normal temperature. This process will take several hours … well into this evening, and maybe into the morning. Once her body temperature is back to normal, the paralytic drugs will be slowly eliminated from her system, followed by elimination of the sedatives. At that point, we will begin to know more about her condition … can she breathe on her own? can she respond to external stimuli? is her brain activity ok?  Lots of questions to get answered! And the doctors are telling me it could be 24-72 hours before we really know the answers.

As this is being published, her body temperature has risen a bit, but still many hours of warming to go, before the drugs can be weened. In the meantime, I ask for your prayers for Karen. She is a strong-willed person, but a little divine help is strongly encouraged! I am doing ok … not a lot of sleep and cramped in the hospital. But my focus is on getting Karen well again. If you have it in your heart, please say a little prayer for Karen! Thanks much :o)

I also want to publicly thank all the EMT’s, art show volunteers, the art show sponsors, and all the wonderful hospital personnel (we’re in Mercy Hospital, with everyone doing a wonderful job with Karen). And all the wonderful artists at the show who not only ran my booth for me while I was at the hospital, but who also took up a collection to help cover associated hospital costs, and so graciously assisted with the teardown and loadup of my booth displays after the show. And for all the “best wishes” directly communicated to me. And all the prayers that have already been sent for Karen’s health. I think my experiences with so many wonderful people at the show/hospital have given me a new, positive outlook on how wonderful people can be to each other!  Thank you, to all my friends and followers!

 

 

Posted in 2016, Blog | 4 Comments

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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