Archive for the ‘garden’ Tag

He’s So Shy   6 comments


He's So Shy

~

With apologies to The Pointer Sisters.

“When I first saw him standin’ there
I wanted to speak but did not dare
Something inside whispered to me
You’d better move in carefully.

By the end of the summer, we get to know our Carolina Anoles pretty well. There are those that like to hang out on the string beans; those who frequent the vines covering our garden gate; or in this case, our guardian of the back deck. This one can often be seen scouting for delicious bugs, and is the same one featured in my previous image, “I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues.”

This night, after a(notherdamn) rainfall, our buddy was seen slinking his way across wet blades of lemongrass. He had been looking right at the camera, and at the last second… well, he’s shy.

~

Sony NEX-7 with 55-210 lens, f/8, 180s, ISO 1600. Initial toning using Photoshop CC’s “Color Lookup” filter. Further mods with Nik Color Efex Pro and Silver Efex Pro

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I Gotta Right to Sing the Greens   7 comments


I Gotta Right to Sing the Greens

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During the dog days of summer here in the South, backyard critters will still find a way to keep cool, and to be cool.

This Carolina Anole seemed to be singing his heart out toward the end of a long day of catching bugs. We noticed him through the glass doors leading to the back deck, so I grabbed the new Sony NEX 7 with the an 18-55 lens and got right up against the glass.

~

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Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?   4 comments


Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?

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One evening, I was wandering around the garden with my new D600 and a sweet hunk of glass, the Nikkor 24-70 f/2.8, when Susan told me of a bee sleeping in a nearby purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea), a plant with many uses not the least of which is… attracting bees.

Now, I don’t know what they put in that stuff, but it’s not the first time we’ve seen bees passed out after collecting a load of pollen. One time, we witnessed a bee waking up on a flower, stumbling around in a bit of stupor, then clumsily flying away to what we presume would be his home base.

Gardens are lovely because as you spend more time in the relatively confined space, you begin to focus in on little things that you might ordinarily miss. And if you sit long enough, nature comes to you, and you begin to recognize the patterns that individual creatures take through the landscape.

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Where Food Comes From (3)   3 comments


Where Food Comes From (3)
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Continuing on the theme of Where Food Comes From, we have a new subject for you to identify. Can you guess what this is? (* Answer below.)

We had been concerned about this plant over the winter, as it looked a bit gangly. But as this year’s new growth flushed in, the plant became much larger and fluffier just before sending out these beautiful flowers laced with various purple tones.

We don’t harvest the leaves of this plant while it’s blooming, but otherwise, we clip off the leaves, rinse and dry them, and then sauté or pan-fry them in butter and olive oil. (Okay, more butter than oil for this treat!) Don’t make them too dark, or they’ll get bitter.

After about five minutes, you take the leaves out of the butter and cool them on a paper towel. IF there are any remaining after we snitch them, we put the leaves on pasta, on salads, or any other dish that could use a come-up. It always surprises us when the toasted leaves make it to the plate.

* Somewhere on the ‘net, a woman asked what to do with all the excess sage she had growing in her garden. Someone else responded with the above idea, and voila… no more excess sage.

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This is another macro-focus-stack image, derived from five separate images taken at various focus points along the plane. Using Auto-Align Layers and then Auto-Stack Layers commands in Photoshop CS6 produces a good result with few artifacts.

Where Food Comes From (2)   5 comments


Where Food Comes From (2)

~

Okay, so the identity of this one is a bit of a trick question, as it is not edible. What is it? *, and what is its relation to food production?

This plant, located in several places around our garden, has a large central tap root and huge, lush leaves. It puts out these delightful flowers ranging from purple to white, yet the plant does not reproduce via the flowers, as it is sterile. (Whatever you do, though, do not cut the tap root, or the plant will pop up everywhere!)

It is highly advised not to eat the plant, as it can lead to liver failure with its hepatotoxic pyrrolizidine alkaloids. However, with a country name of “knitbone”, topical application can encourage cell division leading to faster healing.

Why did we plant about ten of these big boys? Because the leaves make excellent, nitrogen-rich compost and fertilizer! The large tap root, which can extend dozens of feet into the soil, pulls nutrients from well below the surface, concentrating all the mineral goodness into their leaves and stems. Whether we add the leaves to the compost pile, drop them where they are, or make a “tea” from the leaves, this is one of the best forms of ‘free fertilizer’ for the other, edible plants.

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* Russian Comfrey (Symphytum × uplandicum)

This image is created from a focus-stack of eight images, with a Nikkor 105mm macro lens.

BUGS!   2 comments


Bugs!

~

Is there an entomologist in the house? I’d love to know what he’s feeding.

Continuing on the theme from “A Mother’s Kiss”, here’s the papa House Sparrow with his offering for the babies. When the kids got to be this size, the male and female parents were constantly flying to and from the house in an effort to keep the babies satisfied.

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Busted! My Position Has Been Compromised   4 comments


Busted! My Position Has Been Compromised

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While the mother and father House Sparrows were busy bringing food (bugs, actually) to the new babies, I was able to set the camera on a tripod behind a few fava bean plants and fire frames using a remote trigger.

Either the noise of the lens closing, or the blink of the lens, must have startled the mother a bit.

Fortunately, she went about her business of conducting nearly constant feeding trips. Clearly, the largest baby found a good way to snag most of the bugs: Block the hole.

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Where Food Comes From (1)   1 comment


Where Food Comes From (1)

~

I recently rented a couple of macro lenses from BorrowLenses.com, testing them out in our gardens.

Springtime is in full swing around here; lots of plants are budding out and blooming. As I honed in with the macro lenses, I was astonished at how well these lenses show us details that we might otherwise pass by without noticing much of anything. Some plants the we believe we’re familiar with take on a completely different appearance when seen closely.

As I was shooting, I recalled a scene from a movie we watched recently, Forks Over Knives, a documentary that examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods. The scene showed a school teacher holding up various vegetables to a group of young students. Many of the students failed to identify potatoes, tomatoes, and other “common” vegetables. Their experience of these foods tends to come only from highly processed and brightly packaged commercial product.

I find that sad.

In the next few weeks, I’ll be posting some of the macro images I’ve taken (and will continue to take!) Can you identify the plants? We’ll start out with something relatively straightforward.* Answer below.

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* It’s a baby blueberry. :)

REALLY Angry Bird   5 comments


Really Angry Bird

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He probably has every right to be angry, what with a camera pointed at his bath.

Mockingbirds are particularly cantankerous. They’ll squawk, sing countless songs, and chase interloping birds out of their territory. And around here, they’re everywhere.

This image was captured by setting the Nikon D7000 behind some cover foliage, then using a wireless remote trigger to take the shot. One thing we have over the birds is technology.

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A Mother’s Kiss   8 comments


A Mother's Kiss

~

Love, for some, is another mouthful of juicy bugs.

We’ve set up a couple of birdhouses out in the garden. This one was made by Jeff Garvey, who creates beautiful birdhouses made entirely from reclaimed pieces of abandoned barns and houses. (Be sure to check out his Facebook page Recycling is for the Birds.)

Mom and Dad have been working tirelessly to bring the young ones all the food they need. One day, as Mom stopped at the birdbath nearby, she looked up as though to say, “I’m just so tired,” and then flew off in search of more food.

The day after this image was taken, the little ones left the nest. They’re still hanging around the homestead, getting the lay of the land and more bug chow from the parents.

~

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