Tuesday, September 2, 2014

You're so judge-y: county fair photos are RATED.

At the end of this post, I also share a few of my favorite photos other folks took.

The Me Wall

SPOILER ALERT: I got zero 1st place ribbons. Bupkis.

However, I did get a few other-place ribbons, much to my delight. =)

In the novice/intermediate enlargement category for insects and lizards:

MOSTLY I'm just psyched I did this.

It was 100% new for me
& I was nervous
& had no clue what I was doing
& I did it anyhow.

WOOT! =)

In the novice/intermediate enlargement category for plant life/natural environment:

I have no idea how many entries they got,
and I'm dying to know.

They say if it's crowded, they reserve the right to
just display placing photos.

Novice/intermediate snapshots, insects and lizards
 (plus other categories to l & rt.):

The 3 Best In Shows I saw were:
photo of an old man's face
photo of a child's face
photo of corn.

None of the above are photos I'm likely to take or enter.
I'm native species and non-human animal biased. =)

I do love a Good Underdog.
Which, incidentally, was my FAVORITE cartoon when I was TINY.
Probably not a coincidence.


The Them Wall

This might be my very favorite of other folks' photos:

Isn't it LOVELY? I think it's YUMMY.

This one is also great. WAY better in person.

So simple, and so good.

This one's also nice and abstract, w/lovely shapes & colors.

The professional group stands out, even from a distance. =)

So much great color and simple, strong composition.


There you go.
I got six ribbons in all,
and got to see a lot of other photos I really enjoyed.

Same Time, Next Year

Next year I'm making LARGER prints,
and I've got ONE category that
I'm for SURE breaking into, so...



Wishing you all good health, good times, and good photos.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Show off

 Photos I may have submitted to the county fair.
DH suggested you might wanna see. =)
Warning: these may look familiar...

Probably my favorite bee shot. Was TOTALLY watching me. =)

It may have been a strategic error to have SO many of my photos in the insect category
but I'm apparently obsessed w/bugs.
Nevertheless a few non-bug shots got in, too.

 This one I EXPRESSLY submitted 'cause YOU people had said you really like it.
So, THANK YOU!!! =)

Another benefit to this process:
I learned to cut & mount photos which is
exacting, precise and a wee bit stressful.

However, it's 100% absorbing,
and for ONCE I have some of my photos enlarged & mounted.



Thursday, July 31, 2014

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Super Exuvia! (plus wildfire cloud sexiness)

It flies through the air
with the greatest of ease,
that daring young exuvia
on the flying trapeze.*

Found this near the bottom of a dahlia, suspeded somewhat invisibly.
Pretty sure it's the exuvia of YET another bordered plant bug.

I say "yet another" 'cause just before dark, the day before, across the garden, I found:
eep! I'd NEVER seen this sort of thing happen in person. SO COOL.

Obviously some kind of beaked bug shedding its old exoskeleton.
However, bug colors can change as they dry out & inflate wings, etc.

40 minutes later:
Beauty, eh?

Pardon plant cage wire, but it was basically dark,
I couldn't really see and I didn't think to engage auto focus,
so this is the ONLY shot I took that was clear.

Next morning I rooted around the VERY same dahlia plant and found:

A VERY fresh looking bordered plant bug, Largus spp.
I'm guessing it's the same individual, just all dried and hardened,
and maybe L. californicus 'cause we're in California & it looks right. =)


Looking at Largus images on bugguide
I ran across images of the nymphs,
which I'm convinced are the TINY, shiny bugs
that earlier this year crowded our zinnia plants:

As you can see, that zinnia stem indicates these little dudes are LITTLE.

Yesterday morning, peering up from a basil leaf:

It's a very snouty little creature that I find adorable.
  I'm thinking Scolops genus, one of many plant hopper species.

I just love that face with the dreamy eyes. =)

The ONLY reason I knew this dried lavender leaf was actually
a crab spider is that it ran out & posed when I arrived.

Amazing camouflage.
Imagine flying around, trying to find nectar & pollen in a super dry year,
zooming past a dead lavender leaf & it GRABS AND EATS YOU.

Yikes! Nature is NOT kidding around.

I was in the above spider's neighborhood 'cause I'd spied this
and wanted to know who it was:

Looks a lot like our friend on the basil--though this one didn't fare so well.
But, a spider's gotta eat.

A relative: an exuvia of a fulgorid nymph (another adorbs plant hopper) I found days ago.
Even its exoskeleton is cute. =) This thing is pinky nail tiny or smaller.


This photo was taken from our backyard Saturday at 5:22 p.m.
The El Portal Fire started ~3:30 that day.
I love the (presumed) lenticular cloud forming over the pyrocumulus cloud. Wow!

Two minutes later, lenticulars are pretty much gone.
 SO much amazing texture.

Once again, felt the wildfire feelings:
awe at this powerful, weirdly beautiful phenomenon,
AND concerned our house might burn down.

Never fear, though, it's on the "other" side of Merced River from us,
and the "French" fire (east of Oakhurst, CA) is bigger & more out of control, 
but is much further from us.

In the meantime, we will be breathing a pretty smoky palette.

Never seen a forecast like THAT before. =)
However, better smoke than fire...

And there's always the smoky sunsets: delicious!


*This is based on the Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze song, from 1867, inspired by the super successful trapeze artist, Jules Leotard. Presume the name of the close fitting article of clothing favored by dancers comes from his last name. 
An image of Jules Léotard in the garment that bears his name (in public domain due to its age).

=) He's probably wearing rather unusual attire for the late 19th century, but I imagine he's wary of clothing that may catch on things...

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Foto Fling

and Happy Flehmen Response Friday!*

Ridiculously beautiful day at Mono Lake. Kinda stormy.

Driving home. Road trips are ROUGH when there's nothing to look at... =)

View during (brief) traffic stop at Yosemite. Again, hard to bear. =)
Note debris on road at right. Brief, intense rainstorm washed stuff onto the road, hence road work.

Finally landed on a term for dahlias: absurdly beautiful.

iPhoto plot: it opened onto May 22, 2014 & I saw this guy. HAD to re-post. Cute little hopper!
 LOVE those eyes...

I added mulch one day and I SWEAR the NEXT DAY everyone looked happier.
Gaillardia infront of chrysanthemum. 

Perusing lovely images of gardens (& listening to gardening podcasts)
it occurs to me that many people don't have the
gophers, rabbits, deer, bears, etc. that we have.

Their plants are just OUT THERE, and all's well.
Can't. Even. Imagine.

Here's the deer's eye view of our dahlias:
Looks like flower prison. For the criminally gorgeous. And tasty.

Moby trying to figure out how to GET to those tomato plants.

Nevertheless, I still enjoy gardening; miracles abound.

Soaked these pups 1.5 days, and they had ALREADY started to germinate.

Which may be why this happened 5 days later:
=) Hard to see, as I MUST disguise baby bean plants so birds don't get them all. 

Next day:
SO amazingly fast. SUPER gratifying.
They're scarlet runner beans, so when they mature,
not only will they be beautiful and shade-making,
but also I'll finally have something for the hummingbirds. Hooray!

Have a fabulous weekend, cherished peeps.


*To perk up your Friday, just google image search Flehmen response.
It's PG rated, a real biological thing, and SUPER entertaining. =) Plus, tapirs!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

An embarrassment of riches

 I was SUPER excited to find this ambush bug (possibly Pacific ambush bug, Phymata pacifica)
in my mint this week. 
Actually, the above photo should be rotated 180 degrees
to indicate its actual position ...

Looks like its beak is going straight for the neck. Look elsewhere for mercy.

Common buckeye. LOVE these guys.
So beautiful, but subtle, so from a distance they just look brown.

This dahlia makes me think about math: fractals, specifically.

Wee moth sipping mint plant nectar; I bet it's extra refreshing. =)
According to Dan Rubinoff, my mothy friend, it's in the pyralid family
which bugguide.net succinctly describes as "cosmopolitan." =)

Ridiculously glorious dahlia bloom: but wait, there's more!

If you look very closely, the petals have cinnamon sparkles in them (near the lower edge).
An embarrassment of riches, to be sure.

This tachinid fly (tribe Cylindromyiini?) worked this flower
moving its buns in swoopy circles,
very much like how phalaropes feed.

Trying to figure out what this wasp is (still not sure, maybe a sand wasp?),
I kept repeating, while flipping through field guides,
Because, I'm a professional biologist. =) 

Dahlia bunk bed for bumblebees (Bombus sp.).

Close up of how top bee has feet hooked onto petal edge.


While I enjoy all of these flowers & animals,
and I have more to ID and post later, 
 I'm EXTRA stoked my garden has an ambush bug--that was a first! =)