08/24/15

Green June Bug

Green June Bug in August

Green June bug: although quite common here in the summer, I had never really looked at one until I caught a glimpse of something metallic blue as I took the garbage to the curb for pickup the next day. At first glance I thought maybe it was one of the metallic blue cutter bees I have seen here on roses in early spring. I got my camera, moved the dead insect out of crack in the sidewalk, and proceeded to photograph it. I had to get down on the ground to do it, and I just ignored the people who slowed down driving by who wondered what this woman was doing on the driveway.

It wasn’t until I turned it over that I realized it was a very common green June bug, a type of scarab beetle. The back view is not particularly impressive:

green June bug

Green June Bug, a scarab beetle

I had seen that view many times. It was the complexity and beauty of the underside that I had never seen before.

green June bug

Underside, Green June Bug

green June bug

Green June Bug: Beautiful in Its Complexity. “Facial” View, the Eyes Were Missing

Garden takeaway: green June bugs do not harm the garden.

Photography takeaway: you don’t always have to go looking for things to photograph; sometimes they just appear when people keep their eyes open. :-)

Update: There are two species of Green June Bugs. The one that occurs in the West, from Texas to California (including New Mexico) may also be referred to as the Fig Beetle of Figeater Beetle. More info here. Thanks, Tim.

08/19/15

Green Rose

Green Rose, a Hybrid China

Green Rose really is a rose. It is a sport, or a mutation, made up of sepals. Its official American Rose Society color is “white,” something of a trick question on some of the practical exams to become an ARS Accredited Horticulture Judge. I have never seen this white part, but it doesn’t matter. I enjoy having this rose in my garden.

green rose

Green Rose, a China rose, discovery in US dated circa 1827

Not only is it interesting just to look at, but rose arrangers find it useful as line material in rose arrangements.

In a previous post I mentioned the discussion among friends regarding editing of images, and the use of jpg versus raw files. Here I would like to briefly mention composition. Rule of Thirds can be a very useful composition guideline in floral photography. Those of you who read here frequently know that it is a guideline I use in a wide variety of my photography. When photographing rose sprays, however, my personal preference for my own photography is symmetry and balance. I like to show the structure of the spray, and tend to photograph sprays from that perspective, rather than from the top down. To my eye, symmetry and balance is a good way to show both the structure and beauty of rose sprays, at least in many instances. This image of the Green Rose uses symmetry and balance.

Another example is my image of Dream Weaver:

Spray of Rose Dream Weaver

Spray of rose, ‘Dream Weaver.’ Image awarded ‘Queen’ (Photography) at the ARS Fall 2014 National Convention.

Green Rose, one of the unique roses in the roses in the rose world.

Happy World Photography Day! #worldphotoday

08/16/15

Beautiful Spider and Web

Spider and Web

This beautiful spider and its equally beautiful web greeted me one recent morning. The web had been woven overnight, and blocked my way from the patio to the remainder of the yard. Oh, well… I went in to get my camera, and then walked through the round garden to get to the other side, where the light was better for a photograph.

spider

Beautiful spider and web

Close up view:

spider

Beautiful spider and web, up close

Spiders of a wide variety are found in the gardens of the Desert Southwest. Here in Albuquerque, I expect to find beautiful webs such as this one, some stronger, some less strong, from August until a heavy frost. They may occur at other times, but this is the time I expect to see them. At times, I have had access to the front door blocked by a beautiful web I did not wish to destroy. This was the first web I have had that blocked usual access from the patio to the rest of the yard. Although I would have preferred its location to be elsewhere, I was happy to find such a beautiful web in the morning light.

08/13/15

Sphinx Moth

Sphinx Moth and More

The Sphinx Moth is one part of a life cycle that gives rise to what is known casually as a “tomato horn worm” (not a worm at all). But the critter referred to as such can destroy not only tomatoes, but other plants such as datura, in a very short period of time. The moth phase is the beautiful portion of that life cycle, IMHO (some entomologists might disagree 😉 ).

Recently, as I was picking some cherry tomatoes, I thought to myself how wonderful this year was in that I had not seen destructive activity on my tomatoes, pepper, or datura. Walking into the house with my harvest, what did I see? A sphinx moth! The moth is quite attractive, but spells trouble down the road for my tomatoes.

sphinx moth

Sphinx Moth

Of course, I had to photograph it. But, as I did, I noticed a very tiny moth on the stucco as well.

sphinx moth

Sphinx moth and another tiny moth

Time to get up close and personal.

small moth

Very small moth

I do not know the name of this small moth. I think its pattern is quite attractive, although not as complex as the sphinx moth.

The appearance of the sphinx moth has officially put me on notice to carefully watch the tomato, pepper, and datura for the appearance of the destructive “hornworms.” The beauty of the moth phase, however, cannot be denied.

08/2/15

Cosmos

Cosmos

Cosmos

Cosmos

Cosmos is an annual I grow every year, not only for the beauty of the flowers, but also because the goldfinches and hummingbirds like them. When the seeds develop, the goldfinches prefer them to the nyger seeds I usually provide. For that reason, I do not deadhead these flowers, even though I would get more blooms if I did. I grow them, enjoy them, and then enjoy watching the birds feed on them.

Several days ago I posted some images from my garden, images with no editing (to say nothing of enhancements!) except for cropping and placement of a watermark. That was something of a photography exercise for me. Although I was not unhappy with the outcome, I personally found the exercise itself to lack the “fun” I find in digital photography. Last evening, for the first time in some time, I had a couple of hours to do what I enjoy – manipulate a photograph to create an image that reflected something more (to me, at least) than “a real flower captured by the camera.” What you see is the result.

I firmly believe that developing a raw file is something absolutely necessary to realize the full potential of digital photography, and should always be allowed.

“Enhancing” a photo through the use of many techniques, as this image has been enhanced, is very different from editing a raw file to develop it. I think any discussion of what should be allowed for any given use of an image should clearly distinguish between “editing” to develop a raw file, and “enhancing” to create an image not captured on a sensor.

Back to cosmos – a wonderful annual for its inherent beauty, and as a natural “feeder” for birds. A good flower for the garden in the desert southwest.

07/30/15

Photo Challenge

Photo Challenge

Photo challenge to myself – go photograph some things you frequently photograph, the way you frequently photograph them. But, use only the jpg, with no editing other than cropping and applying a copyright watermark.

Recently some photographer friends and I had one of the very common discussions floating around since the advent of digital photography. Is editing a raw file (digital negative) kind of “cheating,” or absolutely necessary to realize the full potential of digital photography? Anyone who knows me at all knows that developing my own raw files is something I do as part of my standard workflow, and overall will continue to do. It is one of the things I really love about digital photography!

The discussion with friends, however, made me want to go out and see what I would get with jpg rather than raw files, with the only editing being cropping to an 8×10 ratio rather than an 8×12 ratio, and the application of a watermark.

These are the results.

photo challenge

Miniature rose, ‘Climbing Earthquake’

photo challenge

Cosmos, with “imperfect beauty”

photo challenge

Green bee with pollen, on cosmos

The challenge to myself was a fun exercise, but I am a confirmed “photograph in raw” person, just because I truly enjoy the editing process.

LightStalking has a good discussion of the benefits of using raw files rather than jpgs.

07/21/15
garden ornaments

Garden Ornaments

Garden Ornaments from the 2015 Corrales Garden Tour

Garden ornaments can be whimsical, serious, beautiful, colorful – any variety of anything a gardener wishes to have. Here are a few examples from one of the gardens on the 2015 Corrales Garden Tour this past June.

Ever have days like this?

garden ornaments

Ever Have Days Like This?

Some are more serene:

garden ornaments

The serenity of music and angels

Whimsy is always fun:

garden ornaments

Whimsical Bee

When pigs fly…

garden ornaments

When pigs fly…

These are just a few of the ornaments seen in one Corrales garden. They were all interesting, and added a different kind of visual appeal to the setting. All made me wonder what the owner was thinking when they were placed, and what thoughts they continue to bring to mind not only to the owner but to casual visitors.

This was a fun garden to visit on the Corrales Garden Tour.

07/13/15
July Garden datura

July Day in the Garden

July Day in the Garden

This July day dawned clear, and while there were clouds, the sunrise did not have the oranges and pinks seen in recent days. Nevertheless, in its own way, it was typical of the high desert. ‘Blue Hour’ was definitely blue!

July Garden sunrise

July Sunrise

Here in mid-July, the roses are between bloom cycles. But, other flowers are blooming.

Datura is an intriguing plant. It grows wild throughout the Southwest. The bloom is short-lived, opening at dusk and generally wilting as the sun comes up. This morning, however, the cooler temperatures and abundant moisture of this monsoon season so far, a couple of blooms remained relatively fresh for an hour or two longer.

July Garden datura

Datura

One of the brightest flowers in my garden is a gladiolus that generally starts to bloom around July Fourth. This year it began a little earlier, and this is one of the last flowers until next year. I love the vibrant colors!

July Day gladiolus

Gladiolus

The black chinned hummingbirds have been here since mid-April, and will remain into September. But within the coming week, here in Albuquerque we will begin to have a variety of migrating hummingbirds. Where I am, the rufous is the most abundant late summer migrant, but I have seen calliope and other hummers that are not seen frequently. Late summer can be very interesting at the hummingbird feeders.

This July day, however, was very calm and peaceful. A beautiful day in the garden.

07/8/15

Sunflowers and Birds

Sunflowers and birds of all kinds go together naturally and beautifully. Several years ago some “volunteers” came up from the seeds I had been feeding. The birds loved the fresh seeds that formed when those flowers finished blooming! The goldfinches preferred them over the expensive nyger seed. The house finches love them, and the doves hang around under the flowers waiting for the other birds to drop an occasional seed. Since that first year of volunteers, I plant sunflowers each year. Although I always intend to plant them right after average frost-free date, some years I don’t get them planted until mid-summer, giving me and the birds flowers and seeds in the autumn. This year I got them planted early, and the flowers have peaked and the birds are enjoying the seeds. Within the next couple of weeks I’ll be removing the spent ones, and resowing seeds for a second bloom in fall. While this past Fourth of July weekend was an extremely busy one, I did make time to relax one afternoon and photograph some of the birds enjoying the sunflower seeds.

sunflowers and goldfinch

Male Goldfinch

Sunflowers and Birds

Male Goldfinch

sunflowers and birds

Male Goldfinch Taking Flight

Sunflowers and Birds

Male Goldfinch

Sunflowers and Birds

Male and Female Goldfinches

sunflowers and birds

Male and Female Goldfinches

07/3/15

Gemini, A Great Hybrid Tea Rose for the High Desert

Gemini, A Great Hybrid Tea Rose for the High Desert

Gemini is probably my favorite hybrid tea rose to grow here in the high desert of the Southwest, Albuquerque. As beautiful as it is, it is equally tough. It tolerates the summer heat. Mine was not damaged by the extreme cold of February of 2011. The colors are wonderful. The form is close to perfect in almost every bloom.

Gemini rose

Hybrid Tea Rose, Gemini

Gemini rose

Gemini, a Hybrid Tea Rose