With the first week of June coming to a close, the warm late spring weather has finally arrived. Today I again visited the local municipal park / well field and was pleased to see that dragonflies had at last arrived in substantial numbers. Many of the species have proven to be difficult to identify – perhaps they are juvenile forms, or maybe they are just absent from my field guides. In any rate, several of the subjects remain unidentified.
The park – the McLinden Nature Trails – have large areas of tall grasses. It’s not a native prairie by any measure, but rather cultivated grasses that have just grown out wild. Many areas are pressed flat where deer sleep. The dragonflies are thick in some of these grassy areas, and the lush green grasses behind them make for an attractive background, though getting a clear shot – both front the perspective of grass stalks in front of the subject as well as behind it.
Today I saw several different dragonflies and damselflies – including Indigo Jewel Wings, several species of bluet damselflies, 12 spotted skimmers, basket tails, and countless common white tails. In addition, the grassy areas were also full of wood satyr butterflies, which flit around the vegetation with their characteristic ‘lazy’ flying style.
This spring is also bringing some unusual insects that, in my experience, are more common later in the summer. Monarch butterflies, lace wings, and grasshoppers are out in abundance. The Monarchs are particularly early, since in the last several years they haven’t shown up until late August. Hopefully this is a good sign and indicates that the monarch population is healthy.
Over the weekend I did the usual spring yard work, but the kept the camera handy to snap opportunistic shots of the insects that popped up. Some old favorites appeared on hand – syrphid flies, lace wings, and the ever present common housefly.
Syrphid flies, with their bee-mimicking appearance, always make for interesting subjects. The don’t seem to be as abundant this spring as in past years, but hopefully things will pick up.
The golden eyed lacewing also makes an interesting subject. As mentioned, lacewings are out in great force this year, and the golden eyed’s are particularly striking, especially when looking at it through the camera lens. These delicate insects are actually fearsome predators, consuming aphids and other small insects.
The common fly makes for yet another interesting subject. Ok – so these guys are disgusting, but still marvelous in the intricacies and detail of their physical structure. These insects can be unpredictable, with incredibly quick reflexes. The Pentax TTL flash system utilizes a preflash, that measures light levels a split second before firing. Some insects – mostly flies – are fast enough to jump into flight when the pre-flash hits, resulting a blurred shot of a fly in flight.
Today and over the weekend I shot using the *ist-D, 200mm macro lens, flash, and monopod setup. With the monopod it’s possible tog et sharp images at shutters speeds as low a 1/60th of a second (though the reliability of shots at this speed is low). This opens up more avenues to balance the flash with the ambient light, hopefully creating an effective lighting setup.
Here are more shots from today: