Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #146: Focusing on the Details

A few weeks ago we spent a few days in middle Georgia where I enjoyed wandering around the fields of an old dairy farm. As I walked around I saw spring flowers and new growth all around me.

It was easy to spot this brightly colored thistle growing in the middle of a field.

New growth on pine tree

Many thanks to Patti for this Photo Challenge: Focusing on the Details. Please be sure to visit her original post at Lens-Artists Challenge #146: Focusing on the Details

Hungry Monarch Caterpillars

Our Lens-Artists challenge from guest host Priscilla at Scillagrace is to “present a “Getting To Know You” post showing your relationship with a subject you’ve photographed. The subject could be a Person, a Place, a Culture, an Object…anything that has captured your attention, won your affection and taught you a thing or two.”

I’ve always enjoyed watching butterflies as they fly from one flower to another so I planted a butterfly garden several years ago. The more I watched them the more I wanted to learn about them. Monarchs frequently fly through the area to feed and lay their eggs on milkweed plants.

Monarch butterflies will feed on many different nectar plants. I have found Mexican Sunflowers to be a favorite for them and many other varieties of butterflies. By summer the garden will be covered with zinnias, Mexican Sunflowers, coneflowers, and other nectar plants.

Right now my garden is in it’s early stages with very few blooms. I’m afraid the few Monarch butterflies that have come by my garden have been disappointed in the slim pickings. The only nectar plant blooming right now is a single Mexican sunflower with multiple blooms. I’ve been watching the butterflies drink their fill.

Monarch butterfly on Mexican Sunflower

Every year I enjoy getting to know the caterpillars before they move on to become butterflies. I’ve learned their job is to eat so they have the strength to transform into a chrysalis.

The only plant that Monarch caterpillars feed on is milkweed (Asclepias). This year the female Monarchs laid their eggs on just about every available milkweed leaf they could find. The eggs hatched into tiny caterpillars and for the second year in a row they have devoured every leaf on every milkweed plant.

I observed the first group of caterpillars for several days and observed how quickly they grew before crawling off to make their chrysalis.

The caterpillars like to spin their chrysalis in a safe place and I very rarely can find them. Hopefully all the these caterpillars will emerge as beautiful Monarchs.

Many thanks to Priscilla at Scillagrace.com for this Photo Challenge. Please be sure to visit her original post at Lens-Artists Challenge #145: Getting to Know You

Lens-Artists Challenge #134: From Forgettable to Favorite

For this challenge Tina has asked us to demonstrate how we use editing to improve an image. This was a fun challenge that took me out of my comfort zone. Usually, I crop the photo and I’m done. For this challenge I experimented with a few other editing techniques using Photoshop Elements.

The camellias are blooming and I’ve been trying to get a perfect shot of them. To focus on the flower I cropped this original into a square and applied the Watercolor effect. The finished image below shows the details of the flower and the rain drops on the petals.

On the left is the original of a Great White Egret in the salt marsh. I wanted a close up of the Egret so I cropped it before adding the Rough Pastels effect.

This last image was taken in Denali National Park in Alaska on a cloudy, overcast day. I replaced the dull sky with a brilliant blue sky to add more color and enhance the image.

Many thanks to Tina for this week’s Lens Artists photo challenge #134: From Forgettable to Favorites.

Lens-Artists Challenge #133: My Photography Journey

I am not a professional photographer. Photography is something I do for fun and I enjoy sharing my photos here on my blog.

I had so much fun getting out my old cameras and going through old photo albums for this challenge. My husband has an old video camera that’s been in a closet for a long time so while I was working on this post he was going through his videos. I would have had this post done yesterday but I am easily distracted and got side tracked watching some of his videos!

Some of my old cameras

I began my photography journey as a kid in elementary school with a Brownie camera. My pictures were pretty bad but it’s fun to look back on them now. I can still remember taking the film to be developed and impatiently waiting to see how the pictures turned out. The first animal picture I can find is of our pet turtles lined up on the sidewalk in front of our house.

Unedited photo of my pet turtles

When we started scuba diving in the late 1980’s I became interested in under water photography. I would just aim the camera in the general direction of whatever I was trying to get a picture of. After many epic fails and lots of wasted film I finally gave up and just enjoyed the diving. Occasionally, I actually captured the fish but they were usually out of focus. Here are a few that kind of turned out. These are cropped and edited to bring out the colors.

Back on land I had better luck with landscapes. Two of my favorite landscapes were shot with the two old Sony Cypershots. At the top of the page is a landscape from Oahu in Hawaii and the image below is of the Pitons in St. Lucia.

I got interested in wildlife and bird photography after we began traveling in the RV. I managed to get a few decent shots with the Cybershot if the subject was pretty close to me.

Bison in Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)
Elk in Yellowstone National Park (Woming)

A few years later I graduated to a Sony DSLR with a zoom lens after I tried in vain to get a close up shot of a pair of eagles on one of our trips. This was as close as I could get with my old Cybershot.

Pair of American Bald Eagles in south Florida

The next year Henry got me a Sony A550 DLSR camera with two lenses. There were times when the 400 mm lens was too much so I added a smaller zoom lens later.

What a difference these zoom lenses made! I could now get the close up shots of wildlife I wanted. This eagle was high up in a tree in Alaska.

Bald Eagle at Chilcoot Lake State Park, Haines, AK

In addition to the landscapes and wildlife I enjoy close up photography of flowers and critters from the garden.

Camelia

I’ve never been very good photographing people. Other than taking family pictures I think I’ll stick to nature and landscapes.

Many thanks to Patti for this week’s Lens Artists photo challenge #133: My Photography Journey. Also shared with Terri’s Sunday Stills – your favorite landscape

Bird Weekly Challenge #33: Birds on a wire or fence

This challenge reminded me of a Great Egret we saw perched on the end of a dock at an RV Park in Cedar Key, Florida more than a few years ago. It ignored me as it kept on preening and I kept snapping away.

After browsing through my archives I came up with few more birds that meet the challenge.

Great Blue Heron, Ft. Pickens National Seashore, Florida
Hawk on Fence in Coastal Georgia
Lark Sparrow – Montana
American White Pelicans and Cormorants – Texas Gulf Coast

Thank you Lisa. for this Bird Weekly Challenge: Birds on a wire or fence