First Snowflake of the Winter


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I woke up yesterday and was greeted with large clumps of snow falling from the sky. The snow was wet and difficult to photograph, but I made the best of it and came up with this image:

These pillars of ice are snow crystals that form at warmer temperatures. Because the snow was clumping together, occasionally I noticed these pillars of ice in odd structures worthy of photographing. So there you have it, the first “snow flake” of the season – with many more of them to come!

Studying Frost


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It has begun! Temperatures are dropping below zero at night, allowing me to photograph frost in the morning. This winter I intend to spend a lot of time photographing frost, ice crystals and snowflakes in preparation for a book on snowflakes I’m publishing next year. I can’t wait!

These two photos are taken from the black trim around my car’s windows. This one shows what appears to be rectangular crystal formations. Interesting, as water usually freezes into 6-sided crystals. One study published in 1954 shows ice forming rectangles at very cold temperatures, but I think the more likely explanation is that this is the rectangular edges of hexagonal crystals. Science!

The below photo shows growth of a much more smooth design, almost looking like leaves.

Much more to come at the temperature continues to drop. Stay tuned!

 

Busy Bee: Focus on a Leaf-cutter Bee


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I like setting a goal for myself when I am out taking pictures. On a recent trip to a patch of wildflowers, I heard something unusual. It was a bee, but with a high-pitched sound coming from its wings. I traced the sound to this little gal here:

After some research, I have concluded that this is a female Leaf-cutter Bee. In the Megachile genus, probably M. rotundata or M. brevis. They store pollen on the underside of their abdomen and not cavities in their legs, like most other bees. This little one was sticking her backside in the air when she entered a flower, likely to prevent any pollen from falling off from abrasion against the flower.

I really didn’t know much of this when I was taking the photos, but I learned a lot about my subject after I took the image! Anyhow, back to goals: I set a goal to grab a photo of this particular bee species in flight. They would jump very quickly from flower to flower, which gave me plenty of opportunities. I got this after about an hour:

Part random chance, part skill, part patience. I would have gotten that shot if I didn’t tell myself exactly what image I wanted to walk away with. I would have been happy with the first one. Macro photography is a great way to learn about nature!

The World at Our Feet: Insect Macros


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As many of you know, one of my favourite areas of photography is macro. Seeing a world that we never pay attention to, or normally cannot admire the details of, fascinates me to no end. Take for example, this image of a honey bee in flight:

The proverbial bee’s knees of bee knees in action! Or, a red dragonfly resting its wings for only a moment before continuing its hunt:

Many of these images are taken between 1:1 lifesize and 3:1 lifesize. However, one of the wonders of this type of photography is that the closer you get, the more details you see. This image was taken at 6:1 lifesize and cropped significantly, giving you the eye of a Deer Fly filling the frame:

Check out the gallery, I’m sure you’ll be fascinated. I have more of these – I’ll post more soon for those interested. 🙂 and hopefully get out photographing more before the end of summer!

Flower Refraction Shots


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A while ago, I posted my photo called “Web of Wonders”. I didn’t invent the idea by any means, but I have been experimenting more with it. Here’s another image, created with the seed of a dandelion-like flower instead of a spider web:

The method is simple: spray the seed’s “webbing” with water from a mist bottle, place flower in behind, and shoot. Because I’m using an off-camera flash, I’d need three arms to properly set everything up. I was in the wildflower fields in Barrie at the time, so I simply waited for a passerby and asked for their help. They were amazed at what the camera created as much as I was.

I created another one with the help of my lovely fiancée Desi right here at home. We used a spider web and a rose to create this “web of love”:

The most difficult part about taking these images is the extremely shallow depth of field. We’re dealing with less than a millimeter of focus, and no tripod. It takes patience, but its worth it. I have another one that I’m still working on that I will post some point soon. 🙂

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