It’s a Natural World: Some Summer of ’09 Photos

Greetings, all:

I’ve been writing in various places, but I didn’t realize that so much time had passed since my last post here. I thought I’d spend a little time sharing my “best of” nature photos from the last few months. All of these photos were taken with my Nikon D300 with a Nikkor 105 mm 2.8 VR macro lens, better known, in all loving ways, as Bellatrix. So here we go. . . .

1. Preflight. This first picture was taken at Full Moon Farms in Finksburg, MD. My son and I were on our bellies in the grass as my daughter was in the middle of her horseback riding lesson. Suddenly, Braeden found this little guy, and I snapped a few photos. As is the case with most of the pictures in this lot, you need to get into their world with a little respect before you can capture it accurately.


2. Cycle of Maturity. Taken in Marriottsville as we hiked with a close friend. What astounded me most about this cluster of berries is the staging of maturity, all in one tight group. Sometimes, growing up can be a little less attractive than who we turn out to be. . . .


3. In Flight. Taken in Ocean City, MD, on the beach. We were surrounded by hundreds of sun worshippers, and yet it seemed that nature still presented itself in so many ways. Sometimes, all we have to do is be still and open our eyes to all that surrounds us beyond the bikinis and the beach towels. . . .


4. Sleepy Slithers. Taken at Oregon Ridge Nature Center, a baby black rat snake in captivity. I was fortunate that this little guy was so tired and still, as it gave me a little time to play around with my settings. I switched over to aperture priority to increase my depth of field as much as possible. Fortunately, I was able to place the edge of the lens against the glass and stable it for the long, half-second exposure time.

black rat snake

5. Youth Descending. Taken at the Oregon Ridge Nature Center, a juvenile Northern Diamondback Terrapin, in captivity. One of the nice features of the D300 is that it has 51 focal points, a powerful option that, when mastered, will be used quite frequently. I see now, in hindsight, how I could have used that here to manipulate the focal point to the terrapin’s nose to ensure greater focus on the most important part of the picture–his expression. Lesson learned, and I look forward to playing around with this feature more during my next shoot.

diamondback terrapin juvenile

6. Deep in the Drill Zone. Taken at Oregon Ridge Nature Center, outdoors in a wild butterfly garden; subject is a Silver-Spotted Skipper. I need glasses for just about everything in my life, including putting one foot in front of the other. What I like so much about the D300 is that the eye piece has a corrective lens, and so I can shoot without my glasses and still focus manually to get shots like this.

silver spotted skipper closeup

7. Spatial Relations. Taken at Full Moon Farms, while waiting for Madelyn to tack up for her lesson. I don’t find this photo particularly strong, especially in its focus. There was the gentlest of breezes blowing, but it was significant enough to move the leaf while taking this shot.  However, it was the first macro shot I took with Bellatrix, and I am deeply fond of it for the memory of my reaction when I viewed it in the field.


8. Everlasting Ripples. Taken at Full Moon Farms. This knot in an old log, long since chopped away for unknown and seemingly forgotten reasons, reminded me of the song “Ripple” by the Grateful Dead, where there is no pebble tossed, no wind to blow. Still, the ripple remains as a reminder of the “forever effect” we have on other’s lives. May what we leave behind be as beautiful. . . .


9. Steady Wins the Race. Taken at Loch Raven Reservoir, Box Turtle. My kids found this little guy in the grass, and at first he was predictably shy. I got down in the grass, and we all stayed very still. Within a few minutes, he summoned the courage to move, and once he did, he moved very, very quickly! It took him less than a minute to clear the field and seek cover under the brush by the water.


10. Sunset at Assateague. Like the title implies, this was taken at Assateague National Seashore, at sunset. I was meticulous in the timing of this shot, and I received a little bonus with the boat on the water.


11. Floral Floatation. Taken at Full Moon Farm, by the stables; this flower was one of dozens exploding out of a hanging basket. This was the first picture I shot on “Raw” setting, which takes full advantage of the camera’s 12 million-plus pixels. Unfortunately, when you take a photo like this, and the file is a whopping 16 mb in size, you lose so much of the brilliant, 14-bit color when you have to reduce it to a 1.5 mb file to upload here or place on Facebook. When I print these professionally, the color resolution will be much more vibrant in its full size.


12. Clover Connection. Taken at Full Moon Farm, outside of the indoor ring. I’ve had the opportunity to shoot a lot of bumblebees this summer. I think I like this one the best, though, because of the detail in the wings as well as in the clover.


13. Dunes Infinitum. Assateague Island National Seashore. Once again, shot on my belly.


14. Following Zen. Taken at the exit at the Assateague Island Marsh Trail, just before sunset. Sometimes, you have to go in the other direction to find balance. . . .


14. Thistle To-Be. Taken at Loch Raven Reservoir on a particularly humid mid-morning. Went back a few days later to see how it had bloomed, and it had disappeared completely. . . .


Now it’s your turn to tell me which is your favorite….and why. Thanks for stopping by!

9 thoughts on “It’s a Natural World: Some Summer of ’09 Photos

  1. I love the grasshopper one — especially when Annie thought it was one of those stock photos that came with your computer. That was great.
    And the sunset one.


  2. My favorite photo is not posted here. I absolutely love the Marsh Trail at Assateague photo! I love the colors and the way the trees form a canopy over the trail. Also it looks so serene, so calm. The depth is great, and I love that the trail leads to wherever you want it to at the time you are looking at it….just a fabulous photo to me. Thanks for sharing.


  3. Preflight and Dunes are my favorites, buuuuuuddy, and you seriously need to consider selling some of these on iStockPhoto or something similar. Very nice work. And thanks for the exceedingly generous offer to give me your camera…. What? No? Oh. I thought…. Oh. Nevermind…. 🙂


  4. Rus!
    So glad you are back and so happy you have explained who exactly Bellatrix is! I knew Bellatrix was your camera, but I am glad to now have her birthplace and specifics!
    My favorite photo is one that tricked me. I like # 8. I would say that I would have had no idea what that was without your explanation. I also loved: Cycle of Maturity. Beautiful colors! Possibly I liked what you wrote as much as the photo. Next, I could have lived without the snake………but that is just me. 😉 I also have a question about your bee photo. Is that a bumble bee? Honey bees that I know (& I have known a few) are streamlined and golden. Bumblebees that I have seen have the fuzziness and broadness to their upper body. The 2 are similar in that they won’t hurt or sting you unless really provoked…unlike a wasp or hornet. If I am not correct ‘honey’, please tell me. Maybe I don’t know all that I think I know.
    This was a difficult task in choosing. I want to nominate the trail at Assateague Island and the last one: green thistle… too many great choices.
    Thanks again for a great post. Cindy w


  5. Thanks for sharing Rus!
    I stumbled here looking at black rat snakes, I like your close-up.
    I’m from northern Virginia so my summer photo subjects are similar to yours, it was nice to see this photo group. I’m trying to develope my skills with a camera and it’s encouraging to see someone’s pics of the kinds of things I find to shoot.
    I nominate the thistle, I don’t think most people know how amazing they look close-up. I like them after they get the beautiful color but your “green” shot shows another side I must explore. They’re a subject and they’re in a lot of my butterfly shots. Much overlooked, I guess because it’s a weed.
    Again, thanks for sharing sir!


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