Thursday, March 30, 2006

Flies, Ants, Flowers, Mountains, birds- The Dalles

This is one of my all-time favorite pictures. It shows the power of my new digital SLR. This tiny fly was about 1/3rd the size of any housefly you might notice. It was nearly the size of a gnat. I'm not sure what family it's in or what it is. Not well labeled due to it's size--I just don't know. I am very proud of this shot and how it shows what I can do now. This picture was also taken with one of my home-made add-on micro-macro lenses that can extend a normal macro lens or extension tubes by as much as 5 to 15X. Yes, that is a blade of grass! I like my macro lens.

Here is when having good macro power is worth it. I am fascinated by the macro and micro world. Here is an ant which is less then 2mm long. I wish I had this system a few years ago! When I was traveling, I saw lots of weird ants. Some of them stung BAD--others were just annoying. In the Martial islands one of the most fascinating ants I saw is less then 1mm long! Literally microscopic--it was about 1/3 to 1/2 a millimeter! Not only was it there size that amazed me--it was there speed. They jolted around faster then any ants or for that matter insects, I've ever seen. And I've been from Java to Norway looking at bugs. They say the Tiger Beetle is the fastest Insect for body size--but those tiny ants could run at nearly half or a bit more the walking speed of a normal person (the ants probably were doing 1mph). There super speedy ants followed sent trails as at that speed. The eyes and brain could not respond to anything else. When I go back to the martial Islands I will get some pictures. Unfortunately I still don't know if I can ever put a movie or video clip in this site to show you. This is something you almost have to see to believe.

And here is a size perspective. I was not really aiming well as I had to hold the ruler and the camera at the same time. That's hard when doing very careful macro shots. But this gives you an idea of size. I can get even closer then this but most insects and other stuff don't require that. As the ruler says--it's in millimeters (here about 4-5mm across)

Thank you for all the comments you have made and continued sales. I could really use more sales--my budget is low. And I want to thank my Mentor in Photography Ron Beasley, for helping me build this site. I cannot afford a full commercial website. So e-mail me if you are interested in buying the full sized file version of any of these pictures. I can mail a CD or send full size pictures to anyone via high-speed Internet. I very much enjoy suggestions or comments or questions--notice you can leave one without leaving your e-mail address but you must remember to leave your e-mail address for me to reply to a question or request. Thanks for all your compliments and acknowledgements so far. Hopefully my URL and insect names will keep people looking for insect and spider pictures as well as the rest of my pictures with my new website name.

I had this camera as my main video camera. If anyone has a 3CCD or pro-cam out there and wants to give it to a good cause-- please let me know! I could sure use it and any camera/video gear. I would be glad to pay for shipping. I am a low budget artist trying to get known and can use any help I can get. Thank you.

Above--A starling I think, that wildlife lens I got really does the job. I love it. I can sit out there for hours watching these strange little birds. It's incredible they keep warm given there size.


I saw this as I walked home from my photo-walk yesterday. Dusty dirt roads, old buildings and many machines and cars from all ages, if The Dalles has a soul it's that timeless quality that does not go away. A small town can be good--or bad. One thing is for sure--I hate first impressions. In small town like this I've more then once done a very good job and making horrible ones! Living in a small town can be hard--so I go see my dad and Step mom in California whenever I can.

I thought I would show some of the views we have here in The Dalles. Even though I can't find a woman and it can be really boring sometimes--you cannot beat The Dalles. A small town which from the top of the ridge you can fit into a 50mm film lens. The views, shades and lighting are incredible here. These pictures were taken not far from my home. Make sure to click on these shots for large views!

More hills painted with many colors. From snow to greens now. They look small, but this is very much a mountain ridge. There are several highways with full sized semi-trucks on them which cannot even be seen on these mountains. Not until you zoom in with a high powered lens do you really realize how big those mountains are. This is across the Columbia river to the Washington side.

Another shot from a slightly different place. The hills are on each side of the gorge,
but the Mountains are on the Washington side. It's deceptive how large those hills
are. I will do some closer zooms sometime and post the highway up there. These
mountains are a long ways away.

Less then a month ago these Mountains showed the snow we had far longer then we had it on this side of the river. These mountains change color and I've taken way too many pictures of them. You just can't get over the view here. It is incredible.

On the other side of the scale, my wildlife lens is able to capture birds as I already have posted. I got this one just yesterday as the sun went behind the ridges. These starlings (I think that is what they are- I need a field guide) are often only 3-4 inches (70 to 85mm) high.

This is the same fly from a defend angle. This is not a fly you would normally notice. It's about 1/3rd the size of a normal house fly. I'm not sure what species this is but it's a super small one. My new digital SLR lets me get very clear pictures in-field of insects and spiders smaller then two (2) millimeters! By far the best setup I have ever had. Not to brag--but I added over 5X the power of my macro lens with an add-on I put together.

I found this and another one under my house. Guess what it is? It's a praying mantis egg sack. Those praying mantis shots from last year are probably the same mantis which laid this egg. It has not yet hatched but it will when it gets a bit warmer here. The praying Mantis is one insect that in some places is not all that common--and it's every bit of a "good bug"--eating only insects or other arthropods--even more then the ladybug--it's an insect you want to have around. The praying mantis does not eat any plant material and so if you see one of these you should let it be--if you have a garden you might have allot of help against pest insects.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


I have many pictures of this lone flower which popped up in my back yard. I have no idea what kind of flower it is yet. I just take pictures of them. This flower popped out of nowhere. There are lots of plants of all interesting kinds growing in my yard. I'm going to let it grow until it gets dry so I can get some good insect and wildlife shots. Most of the local areas I've got my old pictures of bees and other stuff--sadly are gone now. They are developing like crazy here.

And here is one weird crab spider. The "blackish flat kind". They do not seem to change color like there white or yellow cosines. I have yet to identify this species.

This flower is less then 3mm across. I'm so exited and glad--my new macro setup could shoot the hairs on a flea's back if I had one. I don't mean to brag. It's not like I have a $700 macro lens yet. I am just very glad I have been able to get this setup finally and figure out macro shots with it. I was doing some really nice shots with old video camera lenses and a $100 simple digital compact camera when I first started out doing digital stuff before I even had a computer let alone a website. I began to build my own lenses back in my 35mm days before my website for my film camera. Then I learned a great deal that way and was able to move up the technology latter. When you can finally afford it, it really pays to get a good digital SLR and also know how to build your own lens attachments. At least get a basic understanding of optics is a good idea. I would recommend to anyone starting in photography to start from the bottom like I did. I was broke when I got started and found an old film SLR in a local thrift store. With that I began my new life taking pictures. An old all-manual film SLR. Learn how to use a manual mechanical Film SLR and work your way into new stuff. Learn how to process B&W film and learn film (because digital emulates it) and learn light as well as optics. Get comfortable there before you jump into digital and digital SLRs. You should learn how every control on your camera works and what each control does. If you leave your SLR on manual most of the time you may as well have bought a point and shoot-- you are just showing off with a big camera! I'm very glad I did things that way. There is no way you can take shots like this without knowing the basics of how optics and cameras work. Auto just does not cut it now matter how advanced things seem to get. Learning manual controls and how they work in both new digital cameras and old ones is a good idea. The settings are all still the same. CLICK ON THESE PICTURES for a better view.

This is the same spider--it's only about 2cm long from right to left. Your looking at it face on now as it has fallen carelessly to escape me and got tangled up in some old spider webbing! Crab spiders do not spin webs. They do use silk to make egg cases, and sometimes manage food, but they are solitary hunters that can bring down insects much larger and more dangerous then they are. A classic shot I did a few months back under "all pictures" you can see one holding a honey bee seemingly effortlessly from a flower. The bee must have weighed at least twice as much as the spider. I made sure this potentially unlucky tangled spider was released before I left it.
However normally I do not interfere in nature and try to minimize my interference as much as possible. I do not agree with killing spiders or insects these days for collections. High resolution digital cameras at a relatively low cost can provide very good shots for identification. The last thing we want to do is add to the number of creatures we kill in this world. I tried and even was tutored by a real entomologist at the University of Guam. I made my own collections, and insect collections-- once I saw the potential of digital photography I found that most surveys done on insects and spiders are useless killings. One shot can provide positive ID these days if it is done by someone who knows what they are doing. Some species are threatened and there are even endangered species of spiders that are illegal to harm.

This is some kind of gal wasp I think. I am not sure the exact species.

I have become more interested in birds since I have been able to take pictures of them with long lenses. These finches? (I think) are an incredible 3-4in' tall. They are almost as small as some humming birds. They are very tiny but my new digital SLR gives me views I thought very difficult or impossible before.

And here this same bird cleaning itself. I spent nearly an hour watching them again. Catching a lot more pictures I may post later. These are low light shots with a long zoom lens.

And another word comes to mind--is that a "starling"? Words come into my mind but I'm not sure. I do not have a bird field guide and need to get one. One thing that I just can't get over is that they may look large here, but as I say-they are very small birds and interesting to watch. They have some social actions and calls--especially when birds of pray come around. Not that common to see. I've already got one shot. It's rare but Bald Eagles sometimes fly right over my roof. I might someday be able to get a good shot of one. I practice with anything--small aircraft and clouds--so that I know what to do to set my camera for catching a large bird flying above. I am learning more and more about using digital SLRs (DSLR) every day but I still carry my macro kit for my DX7630 and in some cases it could be an advantage due to it's small size when the bugs get more active.

Monday, March 20, 2006

About the Maple Bug or Boxelder Stink Bug

Leptocoris trivittatus
Or the much hated--"Eastern Boxelder Bug" Harmless and comical, they do not destroy homes as some people have suggested.

These two need to get a room!
This pile gets down and dirty in the sun! Don't ask me what's in there. These bugs commonly
mate in piles and just two. I do not know how to tell males from females but I presume the females are larger. That is the usual insect rule.

It is also the so called "Maple stink bug" or just "stink bug" if your dumb enough to grab one. You might fear your house is under attack when you see countless numbers of them. Don't worry---they feed on tree sap. They spend the winter huddled, often under homes and buildings but do not eat buildings or wood. Piles larger then this are common--they will eventually leave until next season. Who would want to? They are interesting, as long as you don't scare one! Like most "true bugs" they spray a stinky "bug mace". They only spray if you grab them or they get caught in clothing. Scrubbing with a bar of soap should get most of it off hands.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


A NOTE HERE: I apologize for some errors recently in my blog. Continue to visit because I've got some new pictures like nothing I've ever shown coming up. As of oct. 2011 I began a huge effort to reformat the text and fix the many spelling and text errors in my site. Clean it up and make it look good. I have thus saved many articles and pictures which will not be available until I get them re-written. As much as 65% of my site will not be accessible until I get these posts re-done. This will take time, so please keep coming back and checking back for added posts 2005 and on.
--G.Beasley 2011
Have you seen my train trip through the snow when I got to ride in the back where the crew are? --it's a few months back. Check it out if you want to cool off.

Or if your still cold like us here in The Dalles, checkout some of the spiders that share the beach with you in California, to which I will add a great deal to on my up coming trip back down there to see family.

Friday, March 17, 2006

FSTOP and PHOTO TIPS --Spring pics

SOME OF THESE PICTURES ARE EXTRA LARGE, so don't forget to click on them to see a larger view! Read on for info on F stop and ISO as well as how I store my photos and important info on digital photography.

SUNRISE in The Dalles. The sun comes up at new angles every week as it is easy to notice. Both sunrise and sunset here can be beautiful off the Washington mountains and ridges. They are seen here covered in a low fog. The hard to catch rainbow below shows the same ridge-lines as are in this picture with a different lens. Both these shots were done with my new digital SLR. A wide angle lens is definitely something you want to get if your going to get a digital SLR. Most kits or lenses are all purpose an include lenses that can be used for this kind of picture as going to the old 35mm equiv. 50mm lens format.

The sunrise so fast over the hills that I have to almost run to get my camera gear I forgot for this shot shot.

Many very interesting insects have come to my lights, this is one of many which can be found through the Northwest.

Here is a moth that was so cold it did not care as I picked it up and stick to my finger. Had it been warm this moth would not even have gotten near me. In "insect hypothermia" it does not care and the warmth of my finger might have been desired. Eventually I had to force it off my finger--even moving around quickly to try to scare it did not work. It was not harmed in release. One way of getting bugs off of you without hurting them is very simple-- blow air at them with your mouth quickly! As if blowing out a candle. The blast of air will scare off and usually just blast the spider or insect off of you without damage. It may take a few tries but it works. I've done that since I was a kid--it works very good for ants and other insects that are very hard to touch without killing or harming them.

Some more pictures from the frozen ground here in The Dalles. These plants are propping up everywhere. I don't know what they are but I've gotten some interesting shots of them and other backyard stuff I just let grow.

A FEW WORDS ON ISO AND F-STOP--(amended oct. 2011)
Many kinds of plants are frozen--making macro and super macro shots very good. A digital SLR that can shoot fast pictures well (above 800) is a good idea for early morning shots. Flash only becomes useful when you need to supplement natural light so turn your flash down to compensate or your picture will be washed out dark or bright. Not even Photoshop will be able to fix such a picture. This shot could be done at 200iso but you need to adjust your f-stop for a good depth of field. The higher the number-- the higher depth of field. Meaning that more of the picture will be in focus. Depth of field is the area where your camera is in good or perfect focus. The human eye does this all for us automatically. When we are using a camera in order to get good pictures you have to learn how to adjust this for the results you want. This becomes even more critical in macro shots since a low ISO will lead to very shallow depths of field. (an insect will be in focus only in a very small area) There is no way to do it automatically if you want specific results. For example--if you want to see a object that is very close to the camera such a flower, and then the ground along with the flower you need a high F-stop and almost certainly also a flash or long exposure. The higher the f-stop the more light is required for the shot. F22 or so may let you show a flower and the ground in good focus at the same time. F4 or so will leave the ground or the flower almost totally out of focus. Just experment with your f-stop control until you understand how this process works. If you want really use f stop to effect your pictures you should invest in a true SLR. A DSLR will give you many options and higher settings then a cheaper point and shoot or super-zoom camera. ISO is also important but keeping it lower will make sure your picture has low noise and turns out well. Most modern digital cameras operate well even above 3200iso -- but if you want a really great shot keep your iso lower on purpose and make sure your high ISO noise filters are ON. I usually shoot no higher then 1600 and like to keep my ISO below 800. Most of my shots are done at about 200. Most of my macro shots are done from F8 up to F40 at 200iso. At about F64 an interesting thing happens--everything becomes in focus. In fact a camera with this small an aperture does not even require a focus. Most standard SLR lenses max out between F22 and F40 or so. Even if your hand is in front of the cameras view, you will also see the background in very good focus. The tradeoff to this is that a truly HUGE amount of light is required for just a shot. The brightest sunny day is not enough unless your using impractical ISO settings. So a long exposure will be needed to get the shot. Few lenses can go to F64, you will probably have to buy a special one to get there (Very expensive!). F stop is effectively an iris or aperture that closes to smaller and smaller sizes based on what you set it for. At F22 it's almost too small to fit a pin through. At F2.8 you could fit your finger through the aperture. A functional understanding of F stop and ISO is extremely important for doing any serious photography.

A strange plant I've photographed but I don't know what it is.

This is the picture that shows you the rainbow from my position in one of the old roads here in The Dalles. The rainbow was amazing and I got many more shots. What was interesting is that it was sun and rain in this small area at the same time. These conditions make for great weather shots. Several commercial rain protectors are sold for cameras and some DSLRs are water resistant. If I really wanted to get into storm photography I would probably get a full waterproof housing for my camera. This protects your investment very well.

I know I've put Rainbows up before, the appear here often in The Dalles, sometimes stunningly close. I shot this with a long-lens, but the shot above this one was nearly an eye to camera perfect perspective. We had a warm period last month that looked like spring. Wrong. Many plants were hit with temperatures as bad as the depths of winter this morning.

(Article re-edited oct. 2011)
If your like me, you have a full hard drive and or a huge stack of CDs full of pictures but yet you keep taking them. Forgetting some of the nice shots. Printing them is nice but the prints are not perfect and will fade eventually. Sometimes I enjoy Photoshop cleanups-but getting them ready for the internet is a lot of "homework" that I don't like to do. When even the smallest articles are done, it takes me at least 1 hour per picture on this site of work. For every picture on this site there is at least an hour of work I spent on getting it ready, writing whatever I did, and waiting for computer issues. An hour of work per picture. This is not a smartphone with a "post it button". I want my pictures to look right and I have to put my name on them as well as make them small enough. Over time, good shots can get buried very quickly and can be lost if you don't organize fast and as soon as you upload your pictures from your camera. Due to the large size of my shots now, I use external hard drives to backup my pictures only. They are very hearty and are more easy then DVD backups. It is a good idea to do both but I found it a costly difficulty. I worry in any case however about technology becoming obsolete so keeping them on a hard drive can be a good idea as you can keep them up to date by transferring them on the latest drives that you get. I fear that 90% of digital pictures taken these days will be destroyed or lost on outdated media. Unlike negatives which can always be re-printed, digital 'negatives' such as RAW and JPEG files may quickly get lost on outdated media and be nearly impossible to access. If lost in an attic or something, in 100 years will you be able to find any way to print or see them again? Or just 20 years? With technology moving so fast--I fear many photos will be lost forever. Even if they survive on a CD or drive the cost may be too high or it may not even be piratical to access digital pictures that don't get moved on to the latest storage media. This is one reason I was very resistant to digital photography at first. To say nothing of disasters both man made and not.

By the time old digital photos are found they may be as hard to get at as data on an old huge floppy disk is to get at now or worse. One reason why I still shoot many family pictures in film. Negatives can last 100s of years or longer if taken care of. There is no such digital equivalent to this kind of hard copy. Most people never think about that but it is really worth considering. Year after year thus using external hard drives is probably a better and far more easy-- even cheaper option then berrying them in huge collections of CDs or DVDs that could take months to upgrade when CD/DVD tech is being phased out. Remember VHS? Batamax? The 8-track? It is nearly impossible for me to find a picture in a large database of 1000s of DVDs. Also, DVDs can be damaged and only have confirmed life spans of less then a decade! Everything from sunlight to mold can destroy them. I take A LOT of pictures--1000s of gigabytes of them!--but only a small number of them get published into website at a time. The pictures on this site are NOT necessarily my best pictures either. I just post the one's I want to. If you have your photo library on hard drives then it will be VERY much faster to find and go through your pictures. If your like me, you will get many drives and do double backups when ever possible so that if one drive fails you don't loose all.
This wildflower I shot last year. There are many interesting kinds of wildflowers out here. I don't know a thing about flowers or gardening--am amazed at all forms of nature and what I can find with my macro lenses. Will spring ever arrive this year?--if it does not, I have a very large number of pictures just like these that were not published and got buried in archives. As I said--my blog is not my "best pictures" and sometimes it's a bit random.

This is a very small moth I have yet to identify. It's only about 2cm at most from wing tip to wing-tip. The body is less then 1cm long. I have countless moths I have yet to publish here.

Today was looking like the first real sunny day we have had here in what seems like weeks but it's now overcast. And cold. I love winter-and prefer cold to hot many times over. White winters and lots of cloths don't bother me, I'd rather have that then a muggy island averaging at 100 degrees Fahrenheit! Most insects are not out there yet, and even less spiders. Because of this bizarre long winter--it will be interesting to see what spiders are most common after this spring. I took this shot last year as well. The copyright is not right. When you make as many pictures as I do it's amazing I don't have more mistakes. Steve from Steve's spider pics (there is a link to his site on the sidebar of mine) reminded me of some of my jumping spider pictures that might have never been published for whatever reason. So I found a few out of the huge database I don't think I have posted before. Steve's been doing very good with jumping spiders and has an impressive macro lens as well as a place where there are live jumping spiders! They are all hiding or in egg sacks still here. Someday soon they will come back.

This jumping spider used to be my favorite last year, I have dozens of photographs of her. She lived above my door and caught insects for her whole life in a little hole up there she had made over my outside light. She was immortalized when I got video of her catching this very lacewing and also shot stills with my DX7630. I can almost say that this spider got used to me being around and taking her pictures. She sure did change when I caught her and released her. Jumping spiders are one of the few species of spiders that have eyes capable of identifying human beings from threatening creatures (so I have read) --I have many pictures of her. I have caught her once, and I don't think it's going too far to say that spiders can get an impression of the fact that human beings are not going to kill them. It's a theory--I know. I really noticed changes in her behavior after hours of trying to get pictures while she still ran away as soon as I approached. She seemed to eventually understand my camera and me were not going to hurt her. Spiders do learn certain things--real scientific experiments done prove that.

Whenever the spring happens here, there will certainly be more tiny wildflowers. In my picture sales they are a hit. It takes serious macro gear to shoot some of these flowers, this one was simple and not that small. I've got at least a thousand more pictures I could put up here on
my site that just got forgotten in a new series of pictures or buried. I need to go back to my archives every now and then and insure that I keep them in mind--especially on days like we have been having here. All these shots were taken last year with my Kodak DX7630 before I got my new digital SLR. Coming this summer I'm going to take more shots like these if I can find a way to get to the spots.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


COLD! ICE COLD. These two "flowers" or whatever they are, I used in a different angle photograph to make that "LAVA LIFE" series of shots. These tiny weeds interest me despite the cold.


And the spiders are few and far between, but they are around. This is a free-roaming species called the "white tip". It's toxic venom, extreme speed, and eating habits have earned it that name. It will eat anything that moves. As with all spiders--respect and care should be used if you find one of these in your home. Remove it with a glass jar and a peace of paper. They are very afraid of people however, and often hard to find let alone catch. THEY are NOT as dangerous as the dreaded black widow or Brown recluse. Mostly there venom is highly toxic to other spiders and insects.

Another angle, I've been able to get only one chance to photograph these in the wild. They are so fast and so afraid that the flash on my camera caused them to run quicker then my own eye could track. This puts them among the fastest running spiders but they by no means chase humans! Like all spiders, they should be treated with respect and removed if found inside your home with a peace of paper and a large jar or vase.

More tiny weeds. Those blades of grass are regular lawn grass or very close to it--they are not any bigger. Many small plants grew up only two be frozen over and over again. Some of them have died but some remain green despite the cold.
This is lawn grass out of control and frozen stiff.
Another angle shot of whatever kind of growth on some of the greens that grow in my back yard. I don't have any books to find out what they are, I just through they were cool! literally! These were painful shots. I had to nearly be a contortionist to get in the right angle and focus of these tiny plants.

Another strange plant I don't recall seeing. Birdseed pours out of local bird feeders. Where ever these plants came from they were all very frozen--as I was when I spent an hour out there doing macro shots in the mud! That was difficult. A tip here---use a garbage bag or old shopping bags to keep your pants warm and isolated from the ground--or do a 'teli-macro' with your tripod. These are some of the most painful shots I've ever taken!

I have at least 40 pictures of frozen greenery outside. This is just another one. I'm looking for "the best" but often I find way to many to do that. People all have there different tastes in pictures.