Spotted this on the beach near one of the Common Purple Snails shown the other day to you. Looked at first like a shell on top of some dark sand. Moving to the side so that I didn’t cast a shadow on it I saw the vertical clear “sail” on top. It is a By-The-Wind-Sailor (Velella, aka Sea Raft. It makes sense that I saw it near one of its predators, the Common Purple Snail. The By-the-wind-sailor is related to the Men of War. This one was only a couple of inches in size; not sure how large they can become. I continued to be amazed and humbled by nature’s designs. Brand new miracle found (witnessed?) this morning!
These evergreen trees were planted as a privacy wall by a nearby neighbor that faces an open field owned by Commonwealth Edison, our electric company. This winter, their matured growth serves as a sturdy barrier, collecting some of this record-breaking season’s wind-blown snow. What wildlife is huddled down inside keeping relatively dry and warm is left to my imagination; it would be unkind of me to disrupt the dense fortification to seek answers to my wonderings.
These trees are most likely American Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘American’), used often for the purpose previously described: to act as a hedge wall. The brown elements showing through the snow are most likely opened cones absent of seeds.
For more information: http://www.na.fs.fed.us/pubs/silvics_manual/Volume_1/thuja/occidentalis.htm
Prairie winds torment photographers. Dusk’s side lighting with the sky’s gentle ambient glow soothes the soul. This evening the winds were gusty as a cold front drew near and the sun began its descent. A lens shade and polarizing filter are usual additions to my lens for such settings.
Yellow Coneflower (Ratibida pinnata) danced chaotically. Each petal on each bloom seemed to have its own different idea of which way to go. Don’t be fooled by the delicacy of this flower. Nature’s resilience gives strength to prairie blooms so that they can withstand the frequent and ever changing winds. Yellow Coneflower survives urbanization better than most prairie natives.
Ah, the thrill of a new toy, which for me is a new camera. These images were taken with a Nikon AW110 using the macro setting. Reading the manual, yes, I’m one of those people, I couldn’t resist testing out their claim that it could focus as close as 1cm.
My subject choice today was a variety of three-dimensional flowers, resulting in an overall soft effect except for one sharp focal point. Macro photography often creates images with shallow depth of field. Of course it was breezy outside as our 95 degree heat wave began to be pushed eastward by a cold (less warm) front. Patience and timing were required to allow the camera time to focus on such close range subjects.
No-wind is rarer than one realizes until one tries to photograph a flower or grass. My preference for hand-held image creations along with nature’s continual animation provide continual challenges in creating crisply sharp, artistically lit and composed images. This just means I must spend more time outdoors which for any nature photographer is an appreciated gift.
- Check out:
The dancing Milkweed seeds begin about 2 minutes into the dance.
The prairie is known for its wind; even on still days I find it a game of patience to capture a plant’s likeness. The prairie plants are never still for more than a brief moment at a time. This morning was windy, so a challenge for portrait photography of a subject. What I enjoy is finding a subject that somehow is relatively still while surrounded by a blur of motion. The Milkweed is relatively sturdy compared to surrounding grasses so it appears there is more depth of field in the image than usual from my use of a long lens. The background yields a more out-of-focus appearance because of the plants’ continuous movements. The Goldenrod seed heads are also relatively sturdy so they appear more in focus in the background.
Wasn’t sure what I was looking at when I walked past a large display of thistle along the street. I did see a spider quickly vanish behind a bloom, but the white fuzzy mass did not look like spider web. This is actually non-blown collection of feather-like tufts of hair attached to the end of seeds. Each flower can produce 40-80 seeds, so with little wind to disperse the ripened seeds they were just hanging out on top the plant.
My best guess for this mass of roadside weed is that it is Canada thistle (cirsium arvense); and no, I do not welcome it in my yard,, though I actually have not witnessed any attempt for it to enter.
For more information on thistles check out: http://bulletin.ipm.illinois.edu/article.php?id=64