Depth of field, part two

The eye and thorax are in excellent focus.

In my post last week I talked about how depth of field is critical to macro photography. I found a couple of photos of that Citrine Forktail where it’s even more apparent, although it’s a bit difficult to tease out what’s a result of the angle at which the photo was taken (was the camera perpendicular to the long axis of the insect or not?) and what is due entirely to depth of field. I suspect that I might have inadvertently rotated the camera slightly.

The first photo was taken at f/11, which is the “standard” aperture for macro photography […]

Shooting through glass doors

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis). Boca Raton, FL, March 1, 2013.

When you have the opportunity for a photo of a bird in a nice setting, you run for your camera. This Northern Cardinal was singing in the starburst and bougainvillea on our neighbor’s property, in perfect view of our glass doors in back. So I went and grabbed my camera and fired off a few shots through the dirty glass before attempting to head outside and get a clear shot.

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis). Boca Raton, FL, March 1, 2013.

Unfortunately, I had neglected to factor the toddler into the equation. Seeing the open door, he rushed to close […]

Spread your wings at Pondhawk


The Monday after Thanksgiving is a great time to get out to a nearby natural area. While most folks are back at work after a four-day weekend, those of us who have the foresight to request this day off get to experience something fairly rare around this time of year: solitude! The prospect of some alone time, combined with the knowledge that two of Palm Beach County’s best birders had reported a juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker at a location near me decided my destination on this fifth day of a four-day weekend: Pondhawk Natural Area, which, as loyal readers of this […]

October 2012 full moon

October 28. 2012 Full moon

The Hunter’s moon rises nearly or completely full over three successive nights at nearly the same time each night. On Eastern Daylight Time this year, the nights of the 27th, 28th, and 29th, at 5:21, 5:57, and 6:35, respectively. Full moon is today at 3:50 p.m. EDT, but this shot was taken last night right around 10 p.m.

It was relatively far away (402 000 km), and the libration was a little over 4 degrees both east (eastern limb tilted toward Earth) and south (southern limb tilted toward Earth). With the eastern tilt, you can just barely make […]

Millipede season


It’s millipede season again here in Boca, although down in the Keys, it started back in August. Don’t worry, though; they’re no threat to your health or safety. From the UF/IFAS factsheet ENY-221/IG093 (available on their website):

Centipedes and millipedes are commonly seen in yards and occasionally enter homes. Neither centipedes nor millipedes damage furnishings, homes, or food. Their only importance is that of annoying or frightening individuals.

That may be true, but they are certainly good at annoying me this time of year. And this year in particular we seem to be experiencing a bumper crop of them. Here’s […]

New backyard bird: Chimney Swift


A bird that’s probably familiar to many of you is Chaetura pelagica (Linnaeus, 1758), more commonly known as Chimney Swift. It’s been described by Alexander Sprunt (1954) as “resembl[ing] in appearance a cigar on wings” because of its tubular body and long, long wings. Most of the time you see it on the wing, flying overhead chasing down its insect prey, and twittering like mad. It always reminds me of the last line of one of the most famous of Keats’s odes, “To Autumn”:

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they? Think not of them, […]

New backyard bug: Ischnura posita


One thing that I’m really enjoying about the new place is that I’ve seen several species of damselfly in the backyard in the little more than a year that we’ve been here. The old place had lots of dragon- and butterflies but, perhaps because there was no backyard pool, there were no damselflies, at least that I recall.

So far I’ve seen a couple of species of Forktail (Ischnura ramburii and I. hastata), a sprite or two (Nehalennia pallidula), a bluet (Enallagma sp., probably doubledayi) and an unidentified spreadwing species (“documented” by perhaps the worst photo I’ve ever taken).

Today […]

New backyard bug: Euphoria sepulcralis


I first noticed a curious little beetle the other afternoon; I was out looking for bees and wasps, and it did exactly what bees and wasps tend to do: make a “beeline” for a flowerhead, then settle in on it and gather pollen or nectar. So of course I assumed it was a bee at first, since it was doing what bees do, and it was hairy and it made a sort of buzzing sound in flight.

On closer inspection, though, it turned out to be much boxier than a bee, it had hardened wing cases (all beetles have these; […]

New backyard bug: Loxa flavicollis (probably)


If you live in south Florida, you probably have a pool. And if you live with little ones, you probably have a fence screening that pool from unwanted incursions by unwary feet. And if you’re interested in nature, you’ll soon discover that the fence does a remarkable job of collecting specimens, not just of dead leaves and other windblown wrack, but live specimens of new and exciting bugs (mostly bugs, a few dipterans, a lepidopteran or two) for a backyard naturalist. Today’s example ( a true bug) is a large and relatively conspicuous member of the family Pentatomidae (400 genera […]

Lacewings in the garden


I was out watering the plants yesterday (seems like the rainy season will never set in) when I noticed these little teeny eggs on stalks on a little bitty blade of grass. I ran inside to fetch my camera, then spent the next 5 minutes trying to rediscover the exact blade of grass. Not quite a needle in a haystack, but harder than I’d expected it to be. Success at last, though:

I at first assumed they were grass skipper eggs (I’m still not very far into my memorization of the butterflies), but after just a teensy bit […]