BELINDA GROVER PHOTOGRAPHY

STOPS ALONG THE WAY


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DRAGONFLY

As the long days of winter drag on continue, I dream of warm weather and plan summer projects. One of these is to do more insect photography. I never really appreciated their variety and beauty until I took up photography more seriously. Dragonflies are favourites of mine for their colour and delicacy and how they seem to pose so thoughtfully for the camera.


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CURE FOR THE WINTERTIME BLUES (TWO PHOTOGRAPHS)

A perfect summer day; sunny and green and the dragonflies were there for the taking. I took these handheld with my Nikon 70-200mm lens (I’m not one for carrying multiple lenses when I’m out for the day). I love this lens for nature photography like this. It’s a great all around lens.


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CABBAGE WHITE IN BLACK AND WHITE

A bit more summer on display. I aways enjoy these butterflies with their delicate tones. I thought a black and treatment might be interesting to try. Unlike many butterflies, cabbage whites tend to linger a little longer on their perches making them easier subjects to photograph.


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SMALL MILKWEED BUGS (TWO PHOTOGRAPHS)

More summertime visitors. The milkweed bug’s bright colour acts as a warning to predators to stay away but attracts photographers as they stand out on most flowers. Both of these photographs were taken handheld with a 105mm lens. The first photo was taken using a flash at F14, 1/250 sec, the second at F11 at 1/1000 sec (no flash).


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LADYBUGS (TWO PHOTOGRAPHS)

With the cold weather closing in, it’s nice to go back in my files and look at summer scenes, when it was warm, colours were vibrant and you could take your time with a photograph without stamping your feet to keep warm! Ladybugs seem to sum up that well.


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CLOSING IN (THREE PHOTOGRAPHS)

With the cold weather fast approaching there won’t be many more photo opportunities like this.
When I looked at the photograph on my computer screen I was struck by the background and couldn’t decide whether to make it the focus of the shot or the bee. As I couldn’t choose I thought I’d show three versions of the photograph altered only by the crop.


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PAINTED LADY BUTTERFLIES (TWO PHOTOGRAPHS)

As we veered off the main path at the reserve we were treated to a slew of painted ladies. They were flying in great numbers and I kept my camera trained on a few as they lingered on the clover. These were taken with my 70-200mm lens and I took well over 100 photographs. More to come…


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HOVERFLY

Not only attractive little insects, hoverflies also serve a useful purpose. They are pollinators, their larvae prey on aphids and other plant destroying insects. Their appearance wards off predators as they mimic wasps and bees and yet they are generally harmless. They pack a powerful punch in a tiny package!


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A FINE BALANCE (TWO PHOTOGRAPHS)

I rarely carry more than the lens on my camera when I set out to do some photography, so I pretty much have an idea of what I’d like to photograph. On this particular day I had my 105mm and was looking for flower and insect subjects. I wasn’t disappointed by these red milkweed beetles.


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SLIPPING INTO SUMMER (TWO PHOTOGRAPHS)

With all the greyness and rain we’ve had it would be easy to think that summer forgot to arrive this year. So when the sun does shine everyone comes out to enjoy it. I spotted these ladybugs while on a walk in my neighbourhood. We don’t see too many insects in the city centre so I was feeling pretty lucky that afternoon.


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ON THE FLY

I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to get out with my camera and this will be the case for a while yet. The other day however, while out in the neighbourhood with a macro lens on my camera, I stopped beside a hedge and had a look around. I spotted some ladybugs (for a future post) and this little fly. When I got home and viewed the insect on my computer, I was delighted to see it was blowing a bubble. A perfect macro moment!


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THE FLOWER AND THE BEE

Although it’s still spring, the temperature has been in the low 30Cs the last few days. The birds and their offspring are scarce but the wildflowers and insects are everywhere you look at the reserve. My first bee and flower photograph of the season, always a cheerful combination!


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FIRST DRAGONFLIES (TWO PHOTOGRAPHS)

In the past week we’ve seen our first dragonflies of the season. Once these insects appear summer is truly on its way. Since I rarely carry more than one lens with me, and had set out to photograph birds that day, these were taken with my 300mm lens. I took plenty of shots, the dragonfly was in no hurry to fly off, and though some were discarded I had quite a few keepers. I look forward to the weeks that follow with more dragonfly varieties emerging as well as the appearance of damselflies.


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WILDFLOWERS (TWO PHOTOGRAPHS)

The Anemone in the first photo was taken in its prime. The New England Aster in the second, though still lovely, was beginning to fade. It is a more durable wildflower and was around to enjoy and photograph for weeks longer than the first. I used to prefer photographing colourful flowers over the white varieties. However, lowering the exposure brings out the fine detail in white subjects, as in this example, revealing a subtle beauty that holds its own against its more colourful rivals.

 


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OPPORTUNITY

I don’t mind flies, as long as I don’t find one in the house or landing on my dinner plate! In the woods, however, all’s fair. I was hoping for a dragonfly to photograph but this fly landed on the reed instead, and didn’t move. There was no wind either which made taking this tiny insect much easier. He was attractive (for a fly), I liked the background so I took his portrait.


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FASCINATOR

I thought the Pearl Crescent butterfly perched on the flower looked like a fascinator you might see at a cocktail party. The tilt of the butterfly, the position of its wings and the richness of its colouring created this illusion. Only its face and the flower are in focus, I would have needed a larger F stop to have got all of its wings in focus. But in this case I don’t think it mattered.


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UNEXPECTED

As I walked along the path I glanced to my side and saw this bald-faced hornet looking my way. I was struck by its bold colouring which made it stand out against the brown of the bark. This hornet is a member of the wasp family. They are known to attack if their nest is disturbed but generally aren’t a problem when away from their nests. They can be quite beneficial too as they eat flies and other insects. I was surprised that the fly in the picture did not try to fly way. The bald faced hornet has an impressive but rather sinister look. I took this photo at a distance of about five feet, a respectful distance given my subject.


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BEAUTY OR BEAST

I was pleased to get as near as I did to this Japanese Beetle. I’m beginning to photograph insects at a closer distance so that I don’t have to crop as much and to get more detail. I took this with my 105mm lens with a flash to slow movement and a diffuser to soften the light. The beetles can be tricky to take in the bright sun as they reflect light. The diffuser helps tone down the highlights.

Japanese Beetles are very destructive insects, eating through many crops, plants and trees. But as subjects to photograph, their iridescent colouring is very attractive.


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DRAGONFLIES (TWO PHOTOGRAPHS)

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The breeding period is quite short for dragonflies and by mid-summer you are practically bumping into mating pairs. They don’t seem to mind and go about their business undisturbed. These meadowhawks caught my eye as they stood out so strikingly against the green of the leaves. As we near the end of winter, with the cold and snow still very much with us, the colour and life in these photographs make me restless for the spring to come.

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FUN WITH FALL FLOWERS (TWO PHOTOGRAPHS)

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I find that photographing flowers once they’ve begun to fade often more interesting than taking a flower at it’s peak. These photographs are good examples. In the fall new colours emerge and old ones fade. I worked with the backgrounds to enhance the images. Backgrounds can play a central role and frame the subject, hopefully never distracting the viewer’s eye.

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MEADOWHAWK

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Dragonflies were the first insects I shot when I started photography and remain among my favourites. I took this Meadowhawk last July with my faithful 105mm lens. A nice thing to know about dragonflies is that most of the time they will return to their last perch. Even if they are startled they’ll usually come back to the same leaf/twig. I just set my lens on that spot and wait for them to return😉


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TOP DOWN

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Two of my favourite subjects are insects and flowers and getting both in one shot was a bonus. I don’t usually like to take photographs at this angle, I prefer straight on shots. However, given the detail and colour in the fly I found the composition interesting. This was taken with my macro lens and flash, a wonderful combination for this kind of photography.


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BUILD ME UP BUTTERCUP (TWO PHOTOGRAPHS)

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I borrowed the title from the song of the same name by The Foundations, a 60s British soul group (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iol0B-clFFM). Another cold grey day here and a sunny looking flower was just the thing to lift the spirits. Buttercups are common flowering plants and I love to see them carpeting the fields every spring. I applied a radial dial in Lightroom to lower the highlights on the flower caused by the strong sunlight. I thought it would lend itself to a black and white treatment as well.

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CARRIED ON THE SUMMER BREEZE

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Like a lot of people this time of year, I’ve had enough of winter. It’s cold and snowy and I miss the sun. Looking through my files I came upon this fritillary I took in June. It was a reminder of a time last summer when the whole day stretched before me and I could enjoy the outdoors with camera in hand.


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ANTICIPATION

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The temperature has been up and down the last little while, it was -20C earlier in the week and +4C today but the skipper above is pure summer! They are pretty common in our area and a favourite of mine to photograph. I started doing more insect photography last year and look forward to a lot more when the warmer weather returns.


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SUNNY DAYS AHEAD

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Today was a cold cloudy day with more snow in the forecast. Not being a fan of winter, I thought the perfect antidote would be a colourful summer scene. I took this shot of a metallic bee with my 105mm lens and flash. Although pleased with the result, I stood a bit too far back so I had to crop more than I would have liked. (I am new to macro photography and still getting comfortable with insects.) When the warm weather returns there will be plenty of opportunities to try shots like this again from a closer perspective. It’ll be fun to compare the results.
Happy New Year All!


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SPREADWING DAMSELFLIES (TWO PHOTOGRAPHS)

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Spreadwings’ larger size distinguishes them from other damselflies; they aren’t as common either and seem to have a shorter lifecycle. While the smaller damselflies begin to appear in May, the spreadwings appear later in the season. I took the first photograph in mid summer, the second in September as the landscape began to take on a a fall feel. As with most things, we tend to prize the less common, but in this case I believe it’s because time is limited for capturing these lovely insects.

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FLOWER AND THE HOVER FLY

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This little fly made me think of “Droopy”, the classic cartoon character created by Tex Avery. He was an endearing character that the hover fly reminds me of. The insect is tiny and the leaf it’s resting on gives an idea of scale. The photo was taken with my 105mm lens and flash but I should have moved closer to the fly to get even more detail. I liked the composition though and I believe this photo is as much about the flower as the insect. Next year once spring arrives, I am determined to get closer to my winged subjects as often you only get one chance at a shot.


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CABBAGE WHITE (TWO PHOTOGRAPHS)

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This butterfly is another example of how something common is still quite appealing. It might not have the brilliant display of other butterflies but it has a delicate beauty that makes it stand out. It’s widespread in our area and I’ve seen it as early as May and well into August. It’s a good insect to photograph because it tends to perch a little longer than others, giving plenty of opportunity to take your shots. They’re also a nice addition to any flower!

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BUSY SEASON (TWO PHOTOGRAPHS)

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These photos were taken late in the summer when the bees were really stepping up production. They were everywhere you looked and though I had set out to take some bird photographs, I tend to try for whatever is at hand. The light was perfect that morning, and when I saw the bee against the flower. I took some shots. Taken with my 300mm lens and teleconverter, a bit of a challenge at such close range. I was able to get more insect photos well into September because the early fall was nice and mild.

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A LITTLE COLOUR IN THE MIX (THREE PHOTOGRAPHS)

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These are all very different flowers, what makes them similar is that they’re all found in the wild.  The poppy was growing in a local wildlife garden, the white trillium (Ontario’s provincial flower) in a wooded area and the lily in a laneway.  The trillium is one of our first spring flowers, reaching full bloom in May; the yellow and green contrasting nicely with the white of the petals.  The other flowers were taken in July. Once the cold weather gives way to spring, I look forward to watching the cycle of new growth begin again.

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JULY IN OCTOBER (TWO PHOTOGRAPHS)

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Damselflies are at their height in July but we have seen them earlier in the season and often well into August. These insects seem to symbolize summer and remind me of the warm sunny day when I took these photographs. I believe the damselfly in the first shot is a spreadwing, not as common as the bluets in the second photo. I think one of the bluets is having a snack, a bit distracted from the business at hand.

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WALK IN THE WOODS (THREE PHOTOGRAPHS)

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We had been running some errands and I brought a 50 mm lens with me, thinking if the opportunity arose… When we had finished, we weren’t far from a small woodland area and had a look around. The colours along the path were beautiful and I stopped for a few shots. I was particularly happy to see some mushrooms. They were the first ones I’d seen in decent shape after the hot dry summer. The rain has finally caught up with us now. I hope there’s still a bit of fall foliage remaining once the wet and wind taper off and that I have a wide angle lens with me next time.

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BRIGHT SPOT (TWO PHOTOGRAPHS)

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Another grey rainy day. It calls for some colour, so I thought I’d post some butterflies. A bit of summer therapy! Skippers have a short season here but when they make their appearance they’re everywhere. The three on a blade of grass were a perfect example of leading lines, they couldn’t have been more cooperative!

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COUNTRY PATCH (TWO PHOTOGRAPHS)

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I took these photographs of wild flowers in mid-September. Although they were beginning to fade they were still beautiful. The flowers were growing in a garden bed on municipal land in the downtown core. They caught my eye not only for their beauty but because they were the same variety of wild flowers you’d see growing along a country road. Although planted with some thought for colour and form they replicated what you’d see in nature. When I got closer, I was also pleased to see that they attracted bees and other insects just like their country cousins.

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SUMMER DRAGONS (TWO PHOTOGRAPHS)

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In going through my catalogues of photos to decide on today’s post, I came across these photographs that I took in July. The air was thick with all kinds of dragonflies and damselflies then. Now in October, when the sun is at its warmest, there is still the odd one to be seen. The tail end of the season is always bittersweet but looking at these photos goes no small way in bringing back the pleasure and the warmth of the summer that has just ended.

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SILVER-BORDERED FRITILLARY (TWO PHOTOGRAPHS)

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This lovely butterfly can be seen in our region June-August but I only saw it a few times this summer. It’s known to be a fast flying fritillary but this one flew at a leisurely pace allowing me to take a number of photos. Although we’re having a warmer than normal fall, it was grey and rainy today. A butterfly was just what I needed!

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MIMIC FLY IN JULY

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I’m putting this post up on a dark rainy afternoon at the end of summer. In going through my photographs I came across this scene taken back in July. The warm colours and the industrious mimic fly was the perfect antidote for the scene outside my window.


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CABBAGE WHITE BUTTERFLY (TWO PHOTOGRAPHS)

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I like the way the purple of the flower contrasts with the butterfly. They do make you work for their portraits though as they move from flower to flower at breakneck speed. At first glance their colouring isn’t very remarkable but if you look more closely they have attractive markings and pale green eyes.

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