Photography Workshop Update

Alberta Summer Photography Workshops 2014

Click the links for more details!

5 August. Ellis Bird Farm: Introduction to Photography with the Digital Single Lens Reflex Camera (DSLR)

19 August. Ellis Bird Farm:  Close-up and Macro Photography with the DSLR

9 September. MacEwan University, Open Studies Program Intro to Close-up and Macro Photography (3 Tues., 6:30-9 p.m. and 1 Sat, Sep 20, 10 a.m.-5p.m.) .

Note that  Small Group Macro Workshops and Private Coaching will occur on a bespoke basis only until 30 September when new workshops will be scheduled. If you are interested, contact me and I will schedule your sessions.

Posted in Alberta, Canada, Education, Equipment, macro, photography, Season, Summer, Technique, Workshop Tagged , , , , , , , |

Yellowjacket with prey

I had the chance to photograph the goings-on at a convenient wasp nest that is developing on the garage-door frame at our home. Because of its situation, I can take photographs fairly safely by opening the garage door, and standing in the shady interior, out of the flight-path of the wasps. By using the door frame as a background, I was able to do a  few ‘white studio’ shots of wasps as they flew back to the nest.

Common yellowjacket, Dolichovespula arenaria

Common yellowjacket, Dolichovespula arenaria

Seeing these workers returning home with prey items, already pre-processed into a conveniently sized meatball ready for feeding to the larva, made me wonder if anyone had used this fact as the basis for a bio-surveillance study, much as Cercus fumipennis is used to survey Buprestids. I would guess that the ‘meatballs’ themselves would need to be identified through DNA testing, as they are mostly unrecognizable in that pre-chewed condition.

Posted in Alberta, Bugs, Canada, Edmonton, garden, Hymenoptera, Insect, photography, Predator, Summer, Vespidae, White Studio Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Big Bumble

I am in the process of  tweeking a macro photography presentation for tomorrows workshop at the Ellis Bird Farm, when I came across this pic. Photographed in the front garden, this Bombus nevadensis queen is visiting the flowers of blue indigo (Baptisia australis), a favorite of the many smaller leaf-cutter bees we have had in the garden this year. The E.H. Strickland Entomological Collection page has a great description on the life history of this bee, authored by L. Vandervalk (2011) and based on D.V. Alford’s book, Bumblebees (1975):

Once a suitable nest has been found, the queen constructs an apple sized hollow structure within it. The queen deposits her eggs in parallel rows within a mound of pollen on the floor of the structure; she also constructs a honeypot for storing nectar. Newly hatched larvae begin consuming the pollen mound, requiring the queen to continue provisioning it. The queen periodically incubates her brood by sitting upon it and respiring to generate body heat. The larvae spin cocoons in the final instars, as do the pupa; the cocoons may be re-used later for storage of pollen or nectar. Upon pupation, the emerged adults take nectar from the honey pot. Once the nest consists of the new young workers and the queen it can be considered a social unit and is referred to as a colony.

Yes, this queen incubates the young! Read the complete description at the species page.

Thanks to Gary Anweiler for the ID!

(3 July, 2014. Canon T2i with Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens with a single diffused Canon Speedlite 270EX II. ISO 200, 1/100 sec. @ f11.)

Posted in Alberta, Apidae, Apinae, Camera, Canada, Canon, Equipment, Flash, garden, Hymenoptera, Insect, Lenses, macro, Pollination, Season, Summer Tagged , , , , , , , |

Cladonia Lichen

Cladonia sp.

Cladonia sp.

 In the process of looking for bugs, I often come across other delightful little subjects. In this case, I caught a glimpse of  little points of red scattered over the forest floor, and a closer look revealed they were the little red caps of  gnomes lichen. (This small divot had been dislodged, most likely by running deer, so I snugged it up against a dead pine branch to take some photo’s). Cladonia sp. are found in circumpolar regions of the northern hemisphere. This photo was taken in the Halfmoon Lake Natural Area north of Edmonton, where the jack pine forest has large patches of the lichen growing. Lichens are an organism composed of a fungi partnering with algae, the fungal filaments providing the ‘body’ while intertwined algal elements produce food through photosynthesis. This combination, plus the ability to recover from dehydration, allows lichens to grow in very inhospitable habitats. The above photo is probably C. bellidiflora – showing the pale green squamulose (covered with scales) thallus with podetia topped with red apothecia, the fungal reproductive structure.

Sources: Lichens: Life History & Ecology. Thanks To Dr. Charles Bird for the ID.

June 2014.


Posted in Alberta, Canada, Ecosystem, Lichen, macro, photography, Season, Selective focus, Spring Tagged , , , , , , , , |

Enjoying the view

Lacewing in the garden

A green lacewing pauses on a leaf tip in the home garden.

(Purchase at Zenfolio)

Posted in Alberta, Anthropomorphism, Canada, Chrysopidae, garden, Insect, Neuroptera, photography, Season, Selective focus, Summer Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , |

Another look at D. triton

In the temporary bucket habitat.

In the temporary bucket habitat.

Earlier this month while I was in the Devonian Botanical Garden I intersected with an school field-trip class and Shelley Ryan-Hovind. They had captured a fishing spider and I had the opportunity to photograph it while it was floating around in a deep white bucket. As long as I moved slowly, it stayed quietly resting on the water surface, usually over or in contact with some floating leaves. When I disturbed it would make a mad scramble around the edges of the bucket, sometimes even managing to climb a few inches. This behavior negated the chance of raising the water level to have a better angle for photographs, however, by slowly tilting the bucket towards myself, I was able to get a few shots that were better than a straight dorsal view. I also managed to scoop the spider into my ever-handy white bowl to allow me to take an even more detailed shot at higher magnification. Not ideal conditions, but I think the photos still display how beautiful this water-walking spider really is.


6 June, 2014. Top left image: Canon 5D Mk II with Tamron Telephoto SP AF 180mm f/3.5 Di LD IF Macro Autofocus Lens  and diffused  Canon Speedlite 270EX II. ISO 200, 1/200 sec. @ f14. Image above: Canon T2i with  Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro Photo Lens and diffused Canon MT-24EX Twin Lite Flash. ISO 200, 1/200 sec. @ f16.

Posted in Alberta, Arachnid, Araneae, Camera, Canada, Canon, Devonian Botanic Garden, Equipment, Flash, Lenses, macro, MP-E65, photography, Pisauridae, Portrait, Season, Spring, Studio, Technique, White Studio Tagged , , , , , , , |