Saturday, September 23, 2006

CAMPING ALONE and The Sandhills Hornet

"The Dalles"
If I picked a picture that would show the great views out here--it would be something like this. One thing about living out here is the sun and mountains make for incredible views and colors. Just outside on my deck I can see for several miles all the way to Washington State--seen here in this picture shot through a long lens. These are mountains--a long ways away. I do love the views out here.

This shot is towards Portland down the Columbia river. The sun paints these mountain views in sometimes breathtaking ways. If you are a dedicated photographer--get up a weird hours and know you only have a few minutes to get a shot like this. Often by the time I get to my camera I've lost the shot because the sun has changed position or a cloud has quickly moved in. A nice shot can last less then 5 or 10 min out here.

Here is a more realistic view. This is what I see right of my porch here--in my house--out here in The Dalles. As I said, this place can be incredible. Here I had to take this shot quickly and all manual--I think the sun shines for about 10-15min like this before it goes behind the ridgeline behind me here.

I HAVE TONS of shots from my recent trip. I went on a 24 hour one day and one night photo-survey in the middle of nowhere. You won't ever see me at any camp grounds. In order to get decent pictures I have to get away from dogs and people. So I setup camp sometimes in dangerous places to get the shots of insects and spiders that are just not compatible with people. Those pay to camp places are to me like another Motel 6. I can't stand having to worry about other people, theft, and all that crap. I have TONS of shots to process before I can show you that trip I took a couple weeks ago---so checkout this incredible tiny Hornet. It is literally half-sized. I know very little about them and was able to snap a few shots before it flew away. These hornets are probably not a very common problem for people.

This hornet is literally half-sized as I said, it's only about 1.5cm or there about. Not aggressive, I was able to get in range. It is not a "baby hornet" as they emerge from there hives fully grown.

I took as many shots as I could get-a few of them turned out well. I have no idea where this shy hornet lives but I would love to find out. I doubt it is seriously aggressive. It is probably more like the somewhat-timid Sandhills hornet. Sadly people see those and think they are all dangerous and terrible like the far more aggressive yellow jackets. The tiny reclusive HORNET (ABOVE) is NOT one of the YELLOW JACKETS (below) and I do not believe it poses any serious risk to people.

I recently had to have a huge yellow jacket hive removed from my house. It became so bad that the City was going to force me to destroy it. I felt terrible because I love nature so much--but I had absolutely no choice. I made an effort to do away with them as soon as I noticed them but was unable to do so. Half of my wall is now full of bug-toxins. It makes me sick but at least I know it was not my choice. A bee-suit costs about $500--the only way I could have removed the hive and seen the queen. HORNETS are different from YELLOW JACKETS. The two often get mixed up. . And I nearly was able to touch a nest without being attacked with the local hornets here. This species of Hornet probably lives in areas that are not frequented by people. There are many species of small wasps and bees that do not effect people or rarely effect people exist. Don't over-react to a nest but if you have a huge buzzing hazard the city will make you remove it if you don't. That I can't stand sometimes. These things are really neat but they sting baddy. The one thing I do not agree with is the use of pesticides in any form. I was forced to remove this nest after shooting these pictures.

This was a really relaxed bee, iridescent and incredibly let me take nearly 20 shots of it. It did not fly away and I actually got tired of shooting it! That does not happen very often!

I used my closed Circuit TV system built out of a flip up video viewer and an old television camera that lets me watch spiders or anything else from at least 50 feet away. The male is in the background--blurry here due to depth of field. The female is in the foreground. This was nearly the last shot taken with my main macro lens. A short spill of Gatorade probably was the cause of it to lock at f16 and slowly stop working entirely. It's one very expensive lens--I am upset about it but very glad I bought a couple of cameras for backup. One is a super-zoom and the other is a highly technical Cannon compact which has everything from time-laps to very good in camera cropping. --but there are other ways to see things live and record them.

(BELOW) Now you get an idea of scale here--I could have zoomed into the spiders far more but I had to leave the whole web open to watch them. I did not get it on tape--but they did mate and the female is now going to have an egg sack when she's large. I know she did not eat the male because she gained no weight. He stayed by her web for several days and then apparently just left after they mated. It's incredible this very tiny and harmless house spider was able to find a mate at all. The male found her web--and shared it for a few days. If you see one of these in your house or basement--let it be! They are HARMLESS and will eat ants as well as other "pest" insect species. The monitor below shows the two tiny spiders so I can watch them when I am not in the bathroom from a distance--they are way to small to be seen unless you watch the screen. These are the pipes below my sink.

My closed Circuit TV system I rigged up with a 50ft telephone wire. Amazingly there is no noticeable noise and the picture is very clear. I could connect sound from this old TV camera but don't need to. It's a TV camera with far higher resolution that what you see in banks and small stores, it can operate continuously without needing a tape or anything but an outlet and does not require a battery. I can watch what's going on outside all day. The old TV camera does not have night vision, but I am really glad to have it as you can see here I can watch spiders from a distance. That's why I put it together in the first place. I could watch the bathroom in of course, REAL TIME (as it happens--live, that is what closed circuit TV is) from my computer area on screen shown here. The old TV camera was a gift and basically this system cost me next to nothing unless you count the video monitor and disk reader which I got from my mom a few years ago.

It's a really good idea to learn as much as you can because that knowledge can come in handy in the future. Without my electronics training--it would have been completely impossible to have closed circuit TV in my house or on my lights outside (what I built it for) let alone one in TV quality color. Buying a system like that even with low-res is way out of my budget. Building it myself cost me basically nothing because I know how and already had the stuff. I collect lots of junk and keep it on hand for ideas like this I know might happen.

This bee looks deceptively big. In fact, it is smaller then a honey bee. A little fat for a sweat be but that is almost certainly what it is. I need to spend some more time getting names for the insects I keep forgetting to look up. It takes a great deal of work to bring this stuff to you. I have to downsize the pictures, write this text in my word processor program, paste each caption in separately because my high-security Internet protection does not let spell-check work here. When it's all said and done on average--it takes me at least an hour per-picture to do this even with very small captions because I like to post lots of new pictures and not just one. I am a bit obsessive to say the least about Internet fears. To rebuild my main data-base would have been nearly impossible but now I have several hard-disks and a new DVD-RW DL drive. That is the latest in Light Scribe technology. You get twice the amount of data onto one side of a CD. The data is stored in these 10$ (approx) disks is not compressed and works by focusing on a different deeper layer on the disk. So two layers can be accessed by how the laser focuses. It’s awesome because I can nearly store 9GB on one disk but they are too expensive when it comes down to the basics so I usually use regular DVD-Rs.

This is a shot I am proud of. The ant here is less then 4mm long. This is a crop and done with my Minolta backup digital camera. The original has incredible detail and even cropped could be printed higher then 8x10' even as cropped as this. My high-def laptop screen gives me a very good idea of how well prints will turn out. Matching qualities to prints I can be very sure about myself when I go to make prints of how well it will do. (generally) I was told I was pretty dumb for buying a couple of backup cameras--but I was right, one big digital SLR is not all you need especially when it breaks down.

This tiny sweat be was really nice to me--acting as if it wants to be photographed I took dozens of flash pictures of her from several angles. She was un-harmed and I think what slowed her down was the cool air. It's feeling like winter here.

In this view you can nearly see all five or so eyes. Most insects have 3 extra simple eyes used for navigation. The two main big eyes are more or less there vision--but three eyes on top of there heads allow them to tell where the sun is in the sky.

Another shot with a bit more detail in other places. Notice the wings--they do get battered over a bees lifetime. This sweat bee is only about 7mm or so.

A very small fly I got near one of my lights. I have found a number of species I wonder about. When was the last serious entomological survey done out here?

MORE SHOTS FROM A SECRET SPOT of mine for camping. This area is right on a game trail and is ideal of wildlife shots of all kinds. From birds to deer to insects in and around the near-by creek that runs all year. It is an incredible place I will now continue to go out there again ASAP--I love it out here. This is no camp-spot for people who need necessities or comforts. You have to hike in fast from the road--not very far but with lots of camera gear it can be hard. I usually go armed just in case of animal or human problems but really have never had any in really remote or unspoiled places.

A full moon long exposure. I happened to be out there in a complete full moon. I should have brought my Minolta for a close view. It was beautiful out there and despite fears most people might have--it regenerated me. I love it out there. It's mainly high desert with one thing very important for insects and spiders--a creek.
Watter skippers--these guys are cool to watch. They eat poor insects that fall into the watter and can stride like this because they distribute weight not heavy enough to break surface tension. Water can be compared a bit like glass--you can stand on it without it breaking but if you jump you will break-through if it is thin--a better example might be an iced over pond.

The creek--I walked right out into the middle of it to get several natures capes. Very dangerous for my gear but I had to do it. THERE IS MORE TO COME ON THIS TRIP!

Wildlife was everywhere and this whole area was an untouched nature scape. I was completely enthralled and entirely alone. I can't wait to go back but it's getting cold and I may have to wait until next year as it gets rapidly colder and I have some serious camera problems. I need my grandma or ask a friend to drive me out there and then pick me up---for one thing I can't drive out there and park anywhere. I DO NOT camp in posted "no trespassing" And often do not make fires (generally). This is what camping really is. When your cell phone does not work anymore.

A regular camp-ground is about as interesting to me as Motel 6. I have a few ways to defend myself against angry wildlife but I worry far more about people! I don't worry about it much at all because I'm in the middle of nowhere. I'd take my chances with mountain lions anyway before I would with people in pay-to-camp-campgrounds! A note here-- camping alone can be dangerous and also can be psychologically difficult--even for one night. Especially during the night. For some people it is frightening and those who are not ready should not try it. It's almost like being on a drug to go out in the middle of nowhere or to a remote distant place and camp by yourself. You can't be sure how that will effect you until you go. Definitely have lots of camping experience with other people as I did, before you ever try to trek out on your own.

COME BACK! MANY MORE SHOTS OF MY TRIP THEN THESE including the crayfish shots and a spider called the “big jaw spider” for good reason! I went on this photo-camping trip for one day and one night in the middle of nowhere. You won't see me in any of those regular camp-grounds. I like to be able to leave my stuff in my tent! People and dogs and animals change and or scare wildlife off. So I camp near creeks wherever I can find a spot and hope I don't get shot by somebody for camping on there land (that would be murder in Oregon). I had a very good trip this time after my grandma picked me up the next day. I made a video record but I also took dozens of still pictures I want to post ASAP. I will get to those shots soon and do a special on this incredible trip. I have to do some work on the pictures first.

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