Friday, April 28, 2006


So what is it? A bee, or a fly. It's a Bee fly. A fly that looks like a bee so that it can confidently eat pollen and drink nectar without trouble. Yes crab spiders sometimes get them, as they do real bees, but the bee fly is made to look as dangerous as any bee or wasp. They have no such defenses.

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This is a crop of another picture, you can see it's mouthparts again covered in pollen. They do not live in hives or make honey--they simply fly from flower to flower feeding themselves as much as they can to stay alive. They may look like bees but have nothing in common with them socially.

A third shot of the bee fly. Just ahead of my depth of field (the point furthest out from the head when things get a little blurry)--you can see the secret to insect flight. That is actually an ancient wing which looks in this picture like a spot or ball on a twig. It's just below the wing and right above where I wrote my last name (Beasley). That little thing is an organ which beats up and down as the insect flies. They are very sensitive and keep a sort of time--like the sensitive gyroscopes of rockets, they keep the flies mind naturally tuned to flight. Without these two swinging organs which can be more clearly seen in crane flies (I will post a picture of one later) almost all flying insects would be grounded. They act as sensors that I can best explain are kind of like our ears balance so we can ride a bike, only much more complex and of course instinctual. This way the motions of this flies wings are changed very slightly to make all the micro-corrections needed for flight. Scientists are working hard trying desperately to duplicate this kind of flight but last I heard they are still having a hard time. It's a big like a flight computer hooked to sensors that keep many modern aircraft able to fly only based on completely different systems. All flies have them, large and small, including the one below. This kind of sensor lets hover flies stay even in the wind entirely motionless. I used to get up every morning when I was a kid and watch the hover flies in the front yard sun-themselves. They seemed so easy to grab yet every time I tried they moved just a foot or two away and then right back into hovering faster then I could extend my hand completely. I have since been fascinated with how incredible insect flight is.

This tiny fly is almost surely ready to lay eggs. It's very small, too small to notice with the naked eye unless you really look. It came to my lights a few weeks ago. It's filled on something but I am unable to find any info on this very small macro species. I could not even tell where it's head was until I shot this extreme macro shot of it with my digital SLR.

Another extreme Macro shot I got yesterday, this tiny baby jumper is only about 1.5mm long if that. It was too afraid for me to use my ruler. You can tell by my depth of field how small it is if you know what to look for. I was lucky to get this shot. This was done with a camera I put together I call the "X1". This macro level is too high for my macro lenses on my digital SLR. The shot had to be carefully guided because my depth of field was only about 1mm wide. These kinds of shots push the limits of macro into the microscopic level. This tiny jumper will grow to be up to 1cm if it survives--but now it's so small that even other spiders would not notice it. By chance it caught my eye when I was taking a picture of a much bigger spider below. This new setup will let me bring you even higher definition macro shots then ever before. I can't wait to get some more pictures with this new setup I put together. The images are very clear because no cropping is needed. Even with an 8 or 12mp camera--you loose mega pixels seriously when you try to get macro shots by cropping larger shots. Most importantly more mega pixels is not the way to get more macro power. It does help to have more mega pixels but the key is magnification, good optics and good lighting. That's why you should buy a macro lens or setup and you can't just shoot everything with one lens even if you can do good close-up shots. Croping degradation is very visible in any sized camera. It's often more in the optics, the lenses your using--no matter if you have a 6, 8, or 12+ mega pixel digital SLR. I find that older Nikon lenses have a higher quality factor then the new stuff. The difference can be amazing. Here in this "X1" shot--the depth of field due to optics is so much better the small compact camera's f8 limit is not really a problem. There are a number of ways to build these kinds of "poor mans macro lenses" and camera rigs--often due to optical clarity 3.2mp or 4mp is actually plenty because no cropping or digital zooming is used. Digital zooming very quickly degrades the image so I rarely use it with my compacts and on the "X1" setup it's turned off.

A black and white jumper and fully grown. There were two of them in what is like a condo for jumpers. This one is a different species then the baby one in the other picture above. I am surprised at how many were there as jumpers are somewhat territorial. The other one might have been a female. Only this one was brave enough to let me take it's picture. I got about ten shots before it finally crawled into this "cave" of paint until I could not see it anymore.

It took me allot of waiting and good luck to catch honey bees in tulips. They apparently have little to offer the bees, so they don't visit them as much as the smaller flowers that are visited all the time. I got lucky enough to get about a half dozen shots in all. The new shots taken with my "X1" setup are not even on my computer yet. I have new macro power and more is coming. And the "X1" rig uses no duct tape! Or any other tape for that matter. A solid system that looks home-made but really works.

NOTE: I have been doing ALLOT of posts. That means in order to see this month's pictures you will quickly have to go under "all pictures" and go back. Be sure to check a month back if you want to make sure you see everything. I got busy again and am posting more--summer is here and I have my digital SLR. I have plans to buy another possibly better macro lens soon.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


(above and below)
THESE TWO FLY SHOTS are the same picture processed slightly differently. I wanted a reference for myself to see as well as anyone else. These shots where done with a reversed old but nice 50mm Pentax lens. Of course it works well on my Pentax, but reversed and added to my Z10 camera. I bought the Z10 because it has all-internal large and good optics)--and it has many SLR-style menu-features including ISO down to 64, histograms, and and up to ISO400 with an incredible lack of noise not seen in any compact I've ever used! (When the noise filter option is turned on) a huge menu of options concerting files-flash and button controls to make it easy to use and extremely versatile. With an all optical 290 zoom tile-photo built in (equil-35mm).

The plans for exactly how the rig works I won't publish. I'm tired of writing long and complicated descriptions about things that people probably never read.


Once again--these are the first crude shots done with the system I'm talking about. Very painful shots before I had the mechanics that make the camera a whole camera working--in fact I was holding the heavy contraption together over my head-ouch! That old lens made for a higher depth of field then most of my other lenses. It happens to be the right size to fit onto the compact which is now fitted onto a mount so the unit is a solid re-built camera I call the X1--(what else would you name a half home-made cool close up only camera).

This bumble bee was stuck because of the windy cool day, or it had been bit by a spider? Unable to fly--I got this picture and a few other ones. This picture reminded me of some lessons I learned or re-learned when I took it yesterday. Take natural shots-don't try to pose bugs too much, and when you are at it--make sure you got your white balance right! You might notice a problem with this shot. When you are using a digital SLR or an advanced compact with manual functions like white balance, be sure to get your white balance correctly and or shoot in RAW so that you can change it later. With my digital SLR I can change it in-camera before I even get to my computer. After about an hour, I gave up thinking I could really fix my white balance later in Photoshop. I shot this bee in a very large JPEG file to save more space then RAW--but in so doing I sacrificed my ability to truly change the white balance. Check your settings! There are only limited ways to really fix white balance problems in JPEG files. This picture may look really cropped but it's not. The full version is great as I shoot for new depths of field in macro photography. Be sure to shoot in RAW whenever you can so that you are able to post shoot adjust your white balance. White balance is basically the 'color map' of the photo. It is more or less the scope of how colors get recorded in a digital image. It acts like a hue or color control but really it's a control to balance the kind of light that hits the sensor and how that effects the image and it's colors. It is measured in Kelvins. Most pictures are taken from about 2500k to 10000k. Things light florescent lights can seriously effect white balance in a shot because they make pulsed light. Color diffusion from clouds and other factors can also cause changes in white balance. It is important to understand and know how this works to take color-accurate shots. Shooting RAW is the best way since you can change your white balance settings completely even after the shot was taken almost as if you are taking the shot all over again.

This shot is of another stranded bee. I'm guessing it is our spring patterns here. Freezing at night--yesterday it was at least in the 80s. The day before it was in the 60s. Insects can often get stranded and killed by these factors. Like flowers that bloom to early--they die and loose out. This bee was on the edge of a local high wooden fence and I was able to get very close to it easy. Too bad I had not built the "X1" yet. Next time I will be ready for that super-macro!

As I shot some local flowers I was waiting for the moment that I could capture a busy bee. In this case--I just had enough settings to get a partial stop action looking shot of this honey bee at work. I was lucky--it takes hours to get these pictures because you have to keep trying and trying. Small things can move a lot faster and even with a very good AF system that will track for you--your are likely to take at least 20+ shots per shot worth keeping. Except those few really lucky shots!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


These flowers were about 5mm long or so. Very very small. I was impressed at how complex and intricate they are--looking surprisingly like orchids. I have no idea if they are related. The flowers are so small that they are half the size of "bachelor buttons". I'm not sure if these apparently wild-growing tiny flowering plants are called, they don't seem really related to any of the other tiny flowers so I don't know anything about them or where they came from.

NOW HERE is what I like to see the most..this is a very nice jumping spider. She was small, less then 1cm. She will get bigger as time goes on this year. I have two that I "know" well. One on each side of my house that can be seen whenever they are out hunting. I am planning to get another macro lens for my new digital SLR. All 300 dollars of it. For now I'm using the best I have put together. The main problem is that jumpers like to move and get afraid. Even though I can be about 5 or 6 inches away when taking the picture--depth of field is so shallow that I must brace myself.

These flowers are so small I bet you have not seen them. They look like miniature orchids. I have a number of pictures of them. Back when there was still really frozen nights a couple of months ago (go to all pictures--Jan-Feb+) I took allot of shots of a couple of these plants. Then they were not blooming--but stood out like pillars of green that looked really cool with frozen fog on them. I later adapted the picture to make a Photoshop golden image to show how nature reflects itself. (see the last three months under "all pictures")

These tiny flowers are very hard to photograph without a tripod. I have a new really nice tripod, mini and subminiature tripods. The problem is I often forget to take them with me! I need to because they can make shots like this allot less painful.

Spring is in the air, and this busy bee is visiting a flower of some kind that pushed it's way through this leaf in an interesting way. This was shot at stop action to get the allot more clearly.

Another view of the jumping spider. It can be very painful for me to track the spider and try to get the shot as this young and small jumper tries to avoid me and gets camera shy. Catching the image is only possible at high aperture value and a bright flash--even then--too much coffee or pain from kneeling down for a long time can make these shots hard. But I really enjoy these spiders. This is admittedly not nearly the kind of shots I want. But finding a jumping spider that can be shot face on naturally is somewhat of a difficult thing to do. It can take a whole day and sometimes you still don't find one. Or when you do--it frustratingly runs away. My good jumping spider shots can be seen in past posts. I may capture one of these to get some really high macro pictures of the face on these guys. They look allot like Santa with that "beard" on it's palps.

Another shot to get the whole spider focused as pain from kneeling too long had me moving back and fourth closer and further to the spider. 1cm makes the difference between a shot and a blurred mess. I got a few good ones--but I really want to get back to the standards I used to have in previous posts--it will happen as spring slowly works it's magic and really cold nights turn warmer.

Surprisingly it's finally spring--a while back I did an artistic creation with these kinds of tiny plants. When I took all those frozen plant pictures I never thought they would live let alone flower like this.

When I first went outside to take pictures I noticed this maple bug stuck inside a tulip. Thinking it would be fine I left. I took about ten shots of it from different angles as it made for a good addition to the flower shot.

This is not the highest resolution fly I've ever shot but close. I have about ten or twelve more shots of this fly. My macro lens reaches out enough to shoot flies if I approach them slowly and carefully. There is no such thing as "digital zoom" in digital SLRs--so I had to optically line up the fly and take a full-frame image of it. I think this one is an ok example of the ones I got.

And the situation at least an half hour later was not any better--this guy was trapped! The bug could not get out of the flower. This is almost certainly how carnivores plants like the Venus flytrap got started. Dead insects leek nutrients and fluids into plants if they die in them. This trapped bug might have died in the sun had I not turned the flower over and freed it.

The bees seem to love these blue flowers. If I'm careful I will get more honey bee shots and better ones too.


I never was into flowers, and until I started selling pictures did not ever think of them except if it was for a woman I was dating. I have been amazed at how they sell now. The other thing about them is that they attract the insects I like to photograph. But when there are no bugs around--I take shots anyway. A walk down the street can yield a garden kept by anyone here in The Dalles or just growing more or less naturally.

Here in The Dalles this year at least, there are TONS of tulips. But since I never noticed flowers until I started photographing them--I really can't say if this has been a better year for them other then the fact that my back yard is full of them.

I shot all the tulips in this post on a sidewalk garden made by some neighbors of mine. It's great because I do not have to go into anyone's yard to take pictures. It's on the other side of the sidewalk--so I have a full range of motion to capture any kind of shot I want. These relatively small tulips that look like they are on fire or belong in a car show.

Other flowers are highlighted quickly with a method of photographing flowers I figured out about a while ago. It takes care of all kinds of problems like wind and other things. But you have to have a good camera with all-manual controls. It's done basically by stopping up to f8-22 and firing a carefully placed flash--sometimes I use a brighter extra flash unit.

So that way they light-up without any photoshop work. All these pictures are stright from the camera with no edits done in the camera.

A close-up of one of those red hot ones--I find insects here as well, aphids and other small insects are easy to find in flowers even if they are not the big nectar producers that insects love the most.

Here is a shot through the sidewalk garden. You can see how I am able to get around and take pictures without trespassing or stepping into the garden. Carefully done--I could never figure out how to do this. But women like them- and if the flower pictures sell it's well worth it so I hope my yard keeps coming up with them.

Colors are everywhere here. A baby one and a big one. There are many yards here where photography is possible.

All kinds of interesting flowers and plants grow here. I still can't get over the crisp high-resolution power of my new camera. I don't mean to brag but it's just really awesome.

I guess these are tulips as well---I think you can tell them by the looks of there leaves-
the flowers look much different but the leaves all look basically the same as a kind of plant.

A shot straight into the flower showing again the way these flowers work. An insect flies in and touches most of the parts inside--the middle is the organ that gathers pollen. If it's not pollinated by itself (which is most-likely what will happen) then it could grow as a mix. But I know nothing about these bulbs or if they even have seeds.

A tulip at the end of it's glory--it only has a couple days before it will give way and an interesting transformation happens. It's peddles fall completely off quickly--and the only thing left is the center organ. Everything else falls away naturally leavening what looks like a living stick right up into the air.

Spiders and flowers

This is a Photoshop creation I did of a half sized tulip in my yard. The last of the ones to come up late--they added a new number of colors to my collection of pictures. I did this shot with a two layer cutout--you cut out the flower from it's first layer and then blank it--the blur the background--then leave a small edge of whiteness by pasting the flower back into place very carefully. I can make the background as blurred as I want it to be.

Another kind of flower I know nothing about but now have many pictures of. One of my neighbors has a ton of them--and I have not yet process several nice shots of these that include stop action honey bees. These popped up in my back yard as well.

This flower is a microscopic near-match to a relatively huge flower that popped up in my yard. You would think with all these flowers compared to last year--someone had to be behind it! Last year I had the usual dandy lions--nothing more. This year I had a jackpot of flower shots that have already sold. Keep those sales coming---these shots are all done with my new camera in high-res--my price is still the same--$20 for a CD so you can "do it yourself" print and frame--or I can do the frame and matte for you--that will cost you $30 bucks plus expenses at 8x10. I have had to revise my prices. If you live outside of Oregon e-mail me for contacts about pictures. News and other agencies can get these pictures for free. E-mail me. Prints are not available nationwide. CD s are for $20 a peace.

It ends up to be about $50-60 bucks total depending on the picture. NO MATTE pictures still available by request--that's like an 8x10 family picture (see last months posts I have a whole collection of non-matte pictures layer out on my sofa) -non-matte simple frame shots go for only $20-40 a print in frame only.


The flower (below) looks kind of like it but is many, many times larger. The one above I don't think is a tulip--but I'm almost sure just by looks that the one below is a different looking tulip then my others. These straight from the camera shots taken at ISO400 in some cases show how well my new camera handles whites. Very well.

A honey bee racing out of the flower having gotten her load of pollen. This flower is several hundred times larger then the tiny flower above which is only about 3mm long. For an example--this flower is about 70-80mm wide! These flowers are of course not related very much except in looks.

These are some of the smallest flowers I've ever photographed. It takes allot of skill and a steady hand to hold the camera very close to the ground where no-tripod can go. Then I have to focus and get it right. Sometimes better then others---I have a backlog a mile long of pictures like this---SO KEEP CHECKING for more. Tell me what you want to see!

This is the inside of the business end of a tulip. If I recall my biology this flower is both male and female. It has this middle Oregon (don't ask me how to spell it) and the row of male organs around it. It will usually pollinate itself, but for bio-diversity every now and then a bee flies in with pollen from another flower--causing changes and a new kind of flower. The process of color changes and other things thus continues. Most people don’t realize why flowers look like they do. One word and one word only--INSECTS. Every flower on Earth is colored to be pretty to be viewed by Insects for cross pollination permitting more genetic diversity. If it were not for insects no flowers would look anything worth looking at. The patterns we see are only half of what insects can see in the UV spectrum--which reveals an incredible number of more features to many flowers. I don’t have a UV camera but 120 film might be available for that. I’m not sure. Flowers got beautiful to guide insects in and out just like an aircraft carrier with planes. It’s an operation of fuel for pollen. Mutual benefits. One species or orchid has science stuck a bit--how did this orchid evolve to be just the right size and shape and color to look just like a female wasp--not to mention most of all--smell like one ready to mate. The wasp actually mates with the flower and thus catches a pollen packet which it passes to the next flower it mates with. This incredible system is a paradox in a way. Kind of like that one about the chicken before the egg. Which one came up first?

I REALLY like these spiders. This is a "true" grass spider. They are not very common and spend most of there time in very hard to find places. I was shooting 35mill when I found this one. It was just sitting on one of my tulips--I have close-up shots of it as well as more comprehensive showing the whole flower. Once again I ask you--make a request if you want.

Another shot of tiny flowers. They are so small my macro lens has a hard time with the depth of field even at f22. I have more pictures to come of these kinds of flowers that you will want to see if you like this stuff--I need to get them converted for the internet first. This is allot of work. It can take me an average of four hours to do a post five to ten pictures long.

Now this is the fun part--here is the flower--and (below) the bettle that crawled in it to look for nector. This beelte is allmost impossible to see very well without a macro lens or magnifine glass. I first found many months ago and photographed it next to a quarter--these little beetles are so small that a thousand of them could fit in this flower. You can get some idea of how bit it is by the picture below and the flower it is inside (above).

EVEN THE VERY SMALL CREATURES matter. This beetle is smaller then the head of a pushpin. The high-res pictures of it are really impressive but I can't put them up on this site or it would take you half the day to view the picture! Anyway--these surprisingly tiny colored beetles really interest me. It was probably in here for nectar.

Monday, April 24, 2006


Yes-this is a sleeping hornet. But I won't lie to you. yes- this might hurt if you try this. If you find one like this be very careful not to wake her. This is a Sandhills Hornet (Vespula spp.) They are commonly found on a small paper nest (see more hornet pictures after the spiders). This one was not even aware of me. So asleep I could study her. She is pregnant, and was the lucky one that survived to be queen in another nest so that she can make one for herself, raising a family to help protect her. They go to a great deal of trouble to stay alive and are very good mothers.

She holds her head down away from my bug lights like any sleeping animal. I bet you never expected that in an Insect. She has probably flown many miles to find a place to build her small nest and colony in range of the hector and other things she needs. She will start building tomorrow.

And she did not so much as raise her head when I lit her up with my flash and macro-spot light. Now most people would be grabbing for a can of bug spray--but here this, these are living creatures and as I will explain--these nectar eating insects only usually sting when people do stupid things around or with them. Bug spray is only one way get them away. This one never woke up despite having taken several high-powered close-pictures. Shooting at f22 for depth of field--I need a pretty bright flash to get results. She was sound asleep.

WHAT A CATCH This girl caught a big one! This is an example of the sheet web spider at it's best. Spiders use there minds, not just there instinct and weapons. This one was on the side of a wall having caught this massive moth which must have been very hard to subdue. She let me take quite a few pictures of her.

This is interesting because these spiders are pure-web builders. Yet this one strayed out and acted like a wolf spider or crab spider. It's web and hideout were probably destroyed in the attempt to get this moth--it's not necessary. In fact most spiders can be hand-fed--because they are aware of the kinds of insects that they feed on and will respond to help. I’ve actually brought spiders back by hand-feeding them. So here she breaks the "rules" by wrangling down this huge moth and holding it steady in her grip of death. A real show of how spiders use there brains as well as there webs--the unexpected is what has kept me interested in spiders for all these years. You never really know them and what they can do. They are not predictable like chickens, and most insects.

Here is a tiny spider you probably have in your home but never even notice. Being about 3mm large- that’s why. It's web is smaller then a gum wrapper and it can go without food for an entire winter in a garage. These tiny spiders are one of my favorite since they can be found in even the most clean-kept houses. DON"T kill them--not only are they most definitely harmless to humans entirely due to there size--there principle food is ANTS. They work allot better then those little ant traps. I'm the only one between a few of houses here that does not have an ant problem. My ants are all caught by the spiders in the basement and the few small ones that live in corners. The neighbors continue using bug spray and all kinds of stuff you can buy with little or know results. A serialized world, is that what we want? Nature won't give that to us. Human beings have as much right to live as any other animal. We may say we own property--but do we really? We are a part of nature no matter how much we want to try to trick ourselves into thinking that we are not. And we have to live with nature in order to survive-no matter how often we try to tell ourselves it's ok to feel that all other living things don't feel anything and are mindless robots that we can kill just because it's "our house". Inevitably we must find a way to de-bunk the fear and myths we have about ourselves and the creatures that live with us.
The things I do for the right shot! I am not shy with my camera. If I want a shot I will get it. Even here! These wasps are common here. This one has a small colony started. It is a large yellow jacket or Sandhills Hornet as shown sleeping (above pictures). This single female who has already mated with a male to start a new nest will try her best. She has made all the paper for this complex small start with her spit and cleverness. They make paper good enough to write on.

Most people would already have a can of bug spray. But I have an alternative if you care. First off--most people get stung because they do stupid things with these. This one, on a warm spring day--let me take these pictures with less then six inches between my lens and her nest. After a few flashes she got a little spooked, but I did not get stung. Dealing with these hornets if they are in a bad spot is relatively easy. Use a GARDEN HOSE FROM A DISTANCE to spray clean the nest. Hopefully you will have enough hose power to knock the nest off. Keep spraying it day after day whenever you think of it. They will find that the conditions are intolerable and move. Especially when the nest is destroyed they will chose to move on quickly--but you have to keep attacking them. DO THIS FROM A DISTANCE. If they associate you with the water they will sting. But I always deal with them this way and I can't recall the last time I got stung-
the ones in Hawaii are more aggressive then these out here. Sometimes I use a very large jar with a wide lid to cover the nest at night--then move the jar until the nest torn and knocked off into the jar while keeping the jar sealed on the surface so none of them can get out. Then be ready with the lid to CALMLY but quickly trap them. Take the jar anywhere a ways away and throw it. They will probably find a new place to live.

I don't ever use insect spray, or those horrible traps. The traps are a complete rip-off. They attract more hornets then they keep away. The chemicals in them cause hornets to come from all over to possibly die in your back-yard--but not before they might sting someone. Most of those traps and glues bring more hornets then you had before. I don't use spray for more reasons then the hornets. Insect spray does not define what it kills (including humans) and is dangerous to everything it comes in contact with. I don't believe they should sell the stuff. We are part of nature and until we realize how to get along with nature---we will be seriously damaging our environment. The way to really prevent them is to find a way to build a house that does not have a surface they can make a nest on--or a surface that's out of the way which will attract them. I have comfortably lived with rather large hives above me and never been stung. Take it or leave it--my beliefs in these matters are very strong and come from years of experience. If I get stung---I will post it here. I was not even attacked when I shot those very close up pictures but I was pushing my luck getting that close. I should have possibly used a longer macro lens.