February 10, 2014

Focusing beyond the plants

variouscat

Do you ever see a beautiful plant, and then notice there's a mammal, reptile, amphibian, insect, or other creature that adds extra interest to the scene? For example, when I first approached the scene above, I focused on the plants in the foreground and didn't even notice the cat sleeping on the porch.

Sometimes, I don't even realize a critter is on a plant or in the scene until I get back home and review the photos.

stemlizard

foliagekatydid

rose ant

pentabutterfly

oxalisbee

gatecritter

yellowstarfly

Cropping makes them more obvious.

Other times, it's the creature/plant combination that attracts my attention in the first place.

rosebug

rosebee

foliagelizard

irisbee

almondant

blanketflowerbee

When that happens, and the light and composition are good, getting a decent shot of the grouping is the goal.

Since I'm an amateur, I often miss the window of opportunity--especially with fast-moving critters.

postlizard

cornflowerbee

benchlizard

But sometimes I luck out and capture them before they slither, glide, jump, or fly away.

The scene isn't always "pleasant" in a conventional, garden magazine kind of way.

irisbugs

callamites

milkweedspider

But they're always fascinating studies of nature in action.

foliagelizard2

56 comments:

  1. What amazing pictures. I love those lizards, they are adorable.

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    1. Thank you, Chloris! I love lizards, too. Of course, we don't have them here in Wisconsin, but it's always fun to see them when we travel south. The ones that amaze me the most are the ones that can camouflage themselves to blend in with their surroundings.

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    2. lizards are often seen - they dash past out of the corner of my eye as I'm gardening - but very seldom caught by the camera. Your green anole(?) is a perfect capture!

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    3. Thanks, Diana. You are fortunate to have lizards in your garden! I'm so tickled to see them when visiting warmer, drier climates. Apparently we have some here in my state, but not in my garden because the soil conditions aren't right.

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  2. You captured a lot of different creatures on your beautiful photos. Sometimes I really had to take a good look to find them, like the aphids and spider mites. Your cat which on first glance looks like a big caterpillar and the brown lizard on second photo are gorgeous.

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    1. Thank you. Honestly, with some of these photos I didn't even realize the critters were in the shots until I enlarged and cropped them. The surprises make playing around with photography so much fun. I did notice the aphids and spider mites, but I took the photos thinking they would be good illustrations for a post someday. :)

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  3. It takes a lot of patience and good skills to shoot those little creatures in plants and flowers, really well done!

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    1. Thank you, Lula. That means a lot coming from a great photographer like you! I have the patience and I'm working on the skill. Mostly, I'm just fascinated and can't get enough of nature and nature photography. :)

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  4. Great shots! I, too, find a lot of critters in photos that I didn't see when I was taking the picture. Makes me wonder what all is crawling around me that I'm never aware of! That last photo is so interesting - it really shows off his unique feet!

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    1. Thank you, Holley! The light in the last photo was good, which gave the lizard and the plant a pleasant glow. I agree--it's a fascinating little lizard.

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  5. Delightful photos, Beth! I assume the ones of the anoles or whatever the little lizards are were taken in Florida or some place farther south. I've often been surprised, too, by a little creature when I've downloaded a photo--often times, these are the best photos I take of bees. That's why I like praying mantises--they are very slow:)

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    1. Thanks! Most of these photos were taken in New Orleans or Florida. Yes, when the pollinators are plentiful it's pretty easy to capture with the camera--even when I don't intend it! I think often I don't even notice the praying mantises becauses they're so talented with camouflage. I'll have to be more perceptive to capture one! The katydid was kind of a surprise, but I can't remember where that photo was taken. We had so many katydids in our area last summer! I'm thinking the polar vortex may have reduced their numbers, but we'll find out.

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  6. Hi Beth! Love these sunny pictures, and all the creatures make them even better! I'd love to have a little lizard (?) in my garden.

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    1. Thank you, Tatyana. I think photos are more interesting with critters in them, too. Having lizards in the garden would make it even more interesting. We do have reptiles and amphibians here, of course, and somewhere I have some frog shots, but I'll have to look through my files. ;-)

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  7. I want you to send those little lizards my way. They are so cute. I never saw one here, garden or otherwise.

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    1. Oh, I wish I could, Donna. Especially now, with winter in full swing. We don't have many lizards here in Wisconsin, but I was just reading an article about four species that are native here--two types of skinks, glass lizards, and whiptail lizards. But they require sandy soils--more common closer to the lakes and in the central sands region of the state. So, I don't have them in my garden either. Plenty of frogs and occasional snakes and salamanders, though. So I will make that one of my goals this year--to capture more photos of the critters! ;)

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  8. Beautiful photos, Beth!

    I'd be happy to see some of those lizards (or geckos?) in my garden -- but my wife would probably jump 10 feet in the air and then run the other way ;-)

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    1. Thank you, Aaron! I love the little lizards, but I must admit snakes scare me. And salamanders seem so slimy. I'm not a big fan of cockroaches or rats. But they're all fascinating creatures.

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  9. I've often captured some critter, or beastie as we call them here in Scotland, but then the whole picture is never in focus and not worthy of using! Another is the disappearing mammal, in my case, my cats - I often end up with a passing shot of their backside!
    Great pictures Beth and my garden would be a much more interesting place if lizards visited.
    Is the lessons learned meme open for February Beth? I've a post I'd like to do and it would fit with the theme

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    1. Thanks, Angie. Yeah, lizards would be great in the garden. I don't have any here, but I love to see/photograph them when I travel. Yes, the Lessons Learned meme will be posted on March 1. I'll look forward to reading your post!

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  10. The green on green shot looks like an award winner to me. Keep this up and you may have to abandon the "amateur" label.

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    1. Thanks, Ricki. I enjoy it as a hobby! That little green lizard on the green foliage just presented himself and the light was right. Luckily I was fast enough to capture it with the camera.

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  11. Great pictures! How come you get lizards and we don't? I agree that the critters are really an important part of the garden.

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    1. Thanks! No lizards in my garden, but I so enjoy photographing them when I travel. After this post, I'm looking forward to more critter photos this growing season. ;-)

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  12. "Złapać" aparatem naszych gości w ogrodzie, to radość, że się udało. Tobie się udało :).
    "Catch" camera of our guests in the garden is a joy, it worked. You did it :).

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    1. Thanks, Giga. That's a great way to put it, and it's true--documenting the lovely garden visitors to our gardens is a joy!

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  13. I wish I was as "amateur" as you then Beth, so many wonderful shots, however "lucky" or accidental! Though I do know what you mean, I took a photo of some lichen recently, and it was only when looking at it on the big screen that I noticed the ladybird nestled in the middle of it.

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    1. Oh, thanks Janet. So much to learn, but it is very fun. I'm happy to keep it as a hobby. Isn't it funny how some of those images suddenly become apparent after you enlarge the photos? That part of the process is pure joyful luck!

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  14. Beautiful and colorful flowers. So many interesting creatures!

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    1. Thank you! Love the creatures--of all kinds, and their interactions with the plants!

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  15. Wonderful flower pics and critter friends . . .

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    1. Thanks, Lynne! Reviewing these memories makes me long for spring even more. Soon enough...

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  16. Delightful, beautiful illustrations of the surprises and added value that you can find when you're taking the time to see a plant annnd what might be on or around it.

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    1. That is part of the fun isn't it, Lee? The whole interaction of all the creatures and plants together is so fascinating.

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  17. You have captured some wonderful shots, what type of lizard is that? Are they? There might be more then one type, but to my unlizarded eyes I can't tell.

    New camera? What kind.

    Jen

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    1. Thanks, Jen! I must admit I'm not a lizard expert. But I do like to photograph them! I think some are anoles and geckos. No, most of these photos were taken with my Olympus digital camera. It has some nice settings though--including a macro setting and a decent optical zoom. My son gave me his Canon DSLR, so I'm looking forward to playing around with it.

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  18. I love all your critter shots! While I always enjoy photos of lovely plants, add a creature and I am smiling! More than once I have taken a photo, then when I put it into the computer, there was a little anole lizard or creepy spider. Just makes my day.

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    1. Thanks, Deb! I agree, the critters make it so much fun. I do love to find surprises when I get back to enlarge the photos. And it's also fun to purposely capture the critter/plant shot. :)

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  19. Hello Beth, keep warm! You are very right in what you said here, and this article inspires me to do the same for Camera Critters on Saturday. Actually, i had been doing this because there's really a lot of them with the plants. I am happier with a macro lens which showed me a different world beneath those leaves and petals. I can't get the fast moving once as my lens is slow, but i also get some wonderful captures of lovely spiders and insects.

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    1. Thanks, we are warming up a little bit so that's good! I need to be better about linking in with memes--so many of them are so creative. My problem is that I never seem to time things right. Macros are fun, aren't they? An entirely new view of the world!

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  20. You must have a lot of lizards in your area. I see very few lizards here but we do have a lot of skinks. These are great photos. :o) I love finding wildlife on my plants, too. It always feels like such a compliment.

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    1. Actually, none here and only a few species in Wisconsin. Most of the photos (and all the lizards) shown here were taken in New Orleans and various locations in Florida. We have lots of salamanders, snakes, and frogs, but very few lizards. Thanks, Tammy. :)

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  21. Replies
    1. Yes, they are fun, aren't they?! I wish we had more around here, but our winters are so harsh.

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  22. I get very excited when I'm able to take the photo of an insect with a plant. Sometimes I don't even notice they are there until I get home and see the picture on a screen. Sometimes I chase them up and down the hedgerow - if only I could fly! I've never yet managed a live lizard though.

    I'm re-animating the Tree Following on my blog. (Having been a bit absent myself over the last few months because taking photographs in wind and rain isn't enjoyably practical!) Will you still be following your Shagbark Hickories this year - or have you chosen a new tree? I'm experimenting with a Linky box to make it easier for people to keep track of each other's Tree Following posts.

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    1. Your description about running around sounds so familiar! The Tree Following meme! I need to remember that--it's such a great one. Yes, since I've neglected the Shagbark Hickory, I will try to be better about posting about it this year. Thanks for the reminder!

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  23. Hi Beth, wonderful photos, when we manage to capture a critter with our plant, I feel it's like adding an extra dimension. But as lots of people above said, it's a challenge because they move so quickly - and so inconsiderately!

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    1. Hi Sue: Thank you! I agree totally. Their escapades are so enjoyable to watch and to capture on camera!

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  24. Hi Beth, lovely photos, I also often discover insects first when I get the photos up on my computer – and it does make me wonder too what a myriad of life I walk past every day I am out in my garden! I try to capture whatever I see if I am photographing plants anyway, but I rarely set out to hunt down critters for a photo shoot, perhaps with the exception of spiders in the autumn. I hate spiders inside the house, but I don’t mind them in the garden and I have often taken photos of the garden spiders as I think some of them look really beautiful up close.

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    1. Thank you, Helene! I know what you mean--it makes me think about the life all around me in a different way. Sometimes the tiniest creatures are the most fascinating--or at least they're the ones that help me to realize size doesn't designate importance. ;-)

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  25. Like you Beth, I take pictures and usually find the critters after I look at the pics. When I focus on the critters, I am not as successful in capturing them.

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    1. It depends on the situation. Sometimes they freeze, thinking I don't see them. ;-) Those opportunities are so much fun, because not only can I capture them on camera, but I can study them a little bit, too. But, yes, I often see them afterward, too. ;-)

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  26. Great photos Beth! That happens to me too...take a photo of something up close then see a hidden gem when you review the pics later. Love it when that happens. Hope your winter is over soon. I just came back from a week's visit to my Michigan lake home and it was gorgeous! Cold and snowy, but lovely lovely lovely!

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    1. Thanks, Diane! Lucky you, to be able to visit and then take off back to Texas after a week. I hope to be able to do that someday (summer here, winter somewhere in the south). It is pretty here, but brutal and seemingly endless. But the funny thing is, when we have our last snowfall of the season, I always feel a bit nostalgic. Weird, I know. But mid-spring through late fall is my favorite stretch of time in this climate. Will you be in Michigan starting in May or June?

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  27. Oh what a wonderful series of photos! I have a cat that enjoys being the center of attention when I'm trying to take photos! :)

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    1. Thanks, Rebecca! My cats are like that, too. They have a tendency to want to "snuggle" with the camera, though, so it's always a fun game to try to capture them in fun poses.

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