Hide ’n seek

31 08 2011

Photographed at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake, Wisconsin

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





A window of blue

31 08 2011

Beach on Lake Superior in Wisconsin

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





American Pelecinid Wasp (Pelecinus polyturator)

31 08 2011

I photographed this insect on the side of my friend Mary Ellen’s house in Minong, Wisconsin last week. My immediate thought was that it was some kind of wasp, but I hadn’t seen anything like it before. Good guess, though, since my hunch was confirmed with a visit to my favorite bug ID site, www.whatsthatbug.com. The perfectionist in me would loved to have photographed this creature on a leaf, of course.

Learn more about this insect (docile and harmless to humans; but to other bugs—not so much!) on the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Field Station website here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Agastache

31 08 2011

Agastache bloom photographed against a backdrop of native prairie grasses at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat in Shell Lake, Wisconsin, 8.25.2011

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Minong Flowage (Nancy Lake), Washburn County, Wisconsin

31 08 2011

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Monarch Butterfly

31 08 2011

Monarch Butterfly on Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa), photographed in the Demonstration Garden at the Spooner Agricultural Research Station, part of the College of Agricultural & Life Sciences at UW-Madison. One section is an official All-America Selections Display Garden, one of only seven sites found in Wisconsin. The Demonstration Garden showcases plants that are suitable for growing in zone 3 and is a joint effort between the Research Station, the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Extension Service and area UW-Extension Master Gardener volunteers.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Wisconsin cloudscape

30 08 2011

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Wisconsin sunflower field

30 08 2011

I’ll prepare a panoramic photo to show you that this entire field was three times wider than this shot—just spectacular!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Red-legged Locust

30 08 2011

(unidentified) grasshopper photographed at the Monarch Butterfly Habitat, a restored native remnant tall grass prairie in Shell Lake in northwestern Wisconsin

UPDATE: Thanks to my fellow naturalist/blogger/writer, Jane Kirkland, for her identification of this little critter. It’s a Red-legged Locust (Melanoplus femur-ruburm). (Thanks, Jane!) Jane was a bestselling computer book author and after sighting a Bald Eagle flying over a grocery store parking lot, she began writing award-winning nature books! She is the recipient of the National Arbor Day Foundation’s Education Award, a Writer’s Magazine Book Award and two Teacher’s Choice Awards. She has been featured on PBS, Animal Planet, and is a regular guest on WXPN’s Kids Corner radio program in Philadelphia. I met Jane while I was on assignment photographing the American Horticulture Society’s National Children & Youth Garden Symposium in 2008 at the University of Delaware’s Newark campus. While at the Symposium, I bought one of her books and it helped me to identify this Halloween Pennant Dragonfly (Celithemis eponina) that I photographed at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens a few years ago. Learn more about Jane on her website here and see the books in her Amazon store here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Shell Lake, Wisconsin

30 08 2011

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Along Lake Superior in Wisconsin

30 08 2011

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Sunset over Minong

30 08 2011

Photographed 8.24.2011 in Minong, Wisconsin

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Drum roll, please…I’m featured on Nikon’s website!

24 08 2011

Look what I’ve been up to lately with Nikon.  ;-)  I’m featured on Nikon’s website—click on the link below:

http://www.nikonusa.com/Learn-And-Explore/Photography-Techniques/gr35ffdt/1/How-To-Grow-Your-Garden-Photography-Skills.html





Come, sit, stay

23 08 2011

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Whimsy in the garden

22 08 2011

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Talking about knocking your socks off!

20 08 2011

I just saw this link on a local fellow photographer’s blog (Nikhil Bahl Photography). Technology never ceases to amaze. Be sure to click on the photo of the purple flowers and test drive the technology!

How in the world do they do this?

CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/22/technology/22camera.html?_r=4&hp

MORE ON LYTRO HERE: http://www.lytro.com/





Come hither

19 08 2011

I found this photo in my archives yesterday. Although I had prepared several really nice photos of Karen from this session, I had overlooked this one! I used a Nikon soft filter when I shot it to give it that romantic, glowy effect. I told her that I did not do a lot of retouching on the final image (but I don’t think she believes me—and she should!).

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Last night’s sky…

19 08 2011

…courtesy of Michael’s iPhone (always work with what you have!)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Same time, last year: Skipper butterfly on White Ginger Lily

18 08 2011

Unidentified type of Skipper butterfly on the very fragrant White Ginger Lily (Hedychium coronarium), photographed at the Atlanta Botanical Garden

UPDATE 8.19.2011: Thanks to Harlan Ratcliff from The Roused Bear blog for identifying this butterfly as a Fiery Skipper!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Design Studio: Walk4Hearing DVD cover and label

15 08 2011

I recently designed this DVD cover and label for the Hearing Loss of America’s Walk4Hearing program.

Design and photography © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





In the studio: Anna

13 08 2011

Anna (as herself in photo #1 and playing with wigs in #2 and #3). I used my Spiderlite TD5 cool lights for this session.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Eeek…city folks! Run for your life!

10 08 2011

This isn’t the shot I was going for, mind you. We were driving through the farmlands of the Shenandoah Valley and saw these goats behind the fence and since I think goats are adorable, we stopped to get some photos. As soon as we got out of the car, they scrambled back to the barn, ears a’floppin’! So, I got the tail end of goats instead. Look at that goat looking back (the only one not running yet)—probably thinking, “They look pretty harmless to me and they might have snacks. Why the rush? Waahhhhhh…”

Farm animals galloping…this reminds me of the “one that got away.” Picture this: Spring. 1990-ish. A day trip to Harper’s Ferry, camera gear in tow. Michael and I drive by a truly bucolic scene…a tall sloping hill crowned by a bright red barn with crisp white trim. Black and white cows dotting the landscape, white fence in the foreground. Cornflower blue sky, puffy white clouds, lovely trees, bright green pasture. Idyllic!

“Quick! Pull over!” Michael pulls over and I start setting up the appropriate camera and lens combo from the trunk of the car. He crosses the road to lean over the fence and survey the scene. I hear mooing. My hearing being what it is, I assume it’s a real cow. It is not. I didn’t know it was really Michael, sounding remarkably cow-like. What can I say? It’s probably something that only city slickers do when they see a farm animal. An attempt to be a cow whisperer, perhaps?

I start to cross the road to capture what clearly will be the best saleable stock shot of a farm EVER. I get to the fence and there are no cows on the hill. Nary a one. Just an immense field of green. I ask, “Where did they go? Spontaneous combustion?” Michael looks over at me sheepishly (no farm pun intended) and says, “Oooh, sorry. They’re all down here.” The cows, hearing his moo, had galloped (bet you didn’t know they could move that fast) down the hill to the culvert below the fence, where you couldn’t see them unless you were leaning over the fence. “Thanks a lot. You’ve now ruined our future earnings on the best farm stock shot EVER.”

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Not too shabby for a point-n-shoot, huh?

10 08 2011

Yesterday Michael and I took our guests out for their first vineyard/wine tasting experience and to see the Blue Ridge Mountains. Since I don’t drink, I wandered around the three different vineyards looking for things to photograph with my “baby camera,” the Nikon Coolpix L110. It has macro capabilities and this is really the first time I’ve used that feature since I bought it last year. I like to carry a small point-n-shoot in my purse at all times, and this is my fourth one—and by far my favorite. The Nikon Coolpix L110 has 12.1 megapixels, 15x optical zoom-Nikkor glass lens, 3 inch display, VR image stabilization, motion detection, 720p HD video recording with stereo sound, and can shoot up to 6400 ISO. The macro function gets you as close as 0.4 inches!

While Michael, Sean and Anna tasted wines, I stalked this Great Spangled Fritillary (Speryeria cybele) on the patio at Gadino Cellars in Rappahannock County, VA. The critter was quite focused on the task at hand, so I was able to get several decent shots using the macro function (and without a tripod, I still got a sharp image). I also recorded a short video of it with the camera (it won’t win any documentary awards, unfortunately), but it does show that with this little camera you get quite a lot of bang for your buck (under $300). I recommend it if you’re looking for something small that also has video capability—and the macro feature is pretty amazing, too!

UPDATE: My Hearing Loss Magazine editor, Barbara Kelley, was looking for a point-n-shoot recommendation and says the Nikon Coolpix L110 has been discontinued and is now replaced by the L120, which is 14.1 megapixels and has a longer zoom (21x). It’s available for about the same price ($279 at Target and on amazon.com).

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Hallelujah light over the Blue Ridge Mountains

10 08 2011

Day trip 8.8.2011, going south on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park, lovely weather (especially for August!), lovely sky (dramatic cloud formations and rays of light), and lovely company (Michael’s nephew Sean and his wife, Anna—visiting from Columbus, Ohio)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Ant condominiums (also known as Lantana)

6 08 2011

I watched a multitude of ants coming in and out of the tiny flowers of this Lantana camara bloom and immediately thought the individual florets functioned like little condos or cubicles. (You might be able to see the two ants on the left side of the bloom; upper left going into a ‘condo’ and lower left coming out.) I think this plant is the Lantana ‘Pink Caprice’ cultivar.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Hosta ‘Green Fountain’ bloom

5 08 2011

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Cindy’s camera craftily captures clover–chewing cottontail

5 08 2011

This alliteration title is for my father (who helped craft it). I was able to get within five feet of this cottontail to get this shot at Green Spring Gardens.

Here are some facts I gleaned from www.bunnyhugga.com:

• Rabbits can’t see directly in front of their nose but can see behind them (to keep an eye out for danger approaching)

• Rabbits can sleep with their eyes open (a useful trick but disconcerting for us!)

• Rabbits noses twitch 20 to 120 times per minute (faster when excited or stressed and slower when relaxed or sleeping)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Hosta ‘Green Fountain’

5 08 2011

Although hostas aren’t known for their flowers, I think they are the most sculptural and elegant blooms, don’t you? We incorporate them into our gardens because of the wide variety of shades of green (and blue!), their easy-to-care for nature, and their longevity throughout the gardening season—but we sometimes miss their lovely blooms!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





My cover shots for Hearing Loss Magazine

5 08 2011

I design and produce the bimonthly Hearing Loss Magazine for the Hearing Loss Association of America. I also provide photographic services and have shot 23 covers to date. (There is one more in production right now. Stay tuned, it’s going to be a super one—our first concept cover ever!). While anyone visiting this blog knows that I love photographing flowers and bugs and such, you might not know that equally love photographing people.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Leaf casting

4 08 2011

Updated 8.04.2011. Originally posted July 2008. This is one of my top visited posts of all time with 10,259 visits on this blog and 1,272 on my gardening-only blog!

My friend Debbi and I have been making these concrete leaf castings for several years now, and my Garden Club members have also tried their hand at it. We have used Portland cement type 1 for our earlier creations, but then started making them with Quikrete instead. Several artists recommend using vinyl patch instead because it’s stronger, lighter in weight and picks up more detail from the leaf texture and veining. It’s also more resistant to flaking and cracking associated with traditional cement mixtures. The next batch I make will be with the vinyl patch product!

This site here has step-by-step instructions (plus a youtube video). The steps are the same no matter which product you’re using.

Click here for Craig Cramer’s blog posting, “The Secret to Great Leaf Casts.” He recommends using Quikrete. Click here for another site with an extensive gallery for inspiration. David, the artist, recommends waiting 30 days before painting your creations. (I’ve never waited that long—don’t know if I would have the patience!) He mixes Quikrete with his concrete mixture, but I’m not sure what the ratio is. At the very least, his photo gallery will endlessly inspire you!

Since most of the leaves we create are smaller, we don’t often do the chicken wire reinforcement. Larger elephant ears do require a bit of reinforcement, though, and we have made some of those (the larger the leaf is, the more likely you’ll need two people to move it when it’s dry!). Most of the ones we have done are made with leaves from hostas, pokeweed, grape leaves, caladium leaves, and smaller elephant ears. Leaves that have nice, deep veins work best. If you want to hang your leaf on a fence or wall, insert a curved piece of clothes hanger or thick wire (formed into a loop) into the back before the leaf is cured.

Artists Little and Lewis  suggest using powdered pigments to color your concrete before creating the leaves. Read more about their approach with hosta leaves here. They have created some really beautiful (and large!) ones using Gunnera leaves, which grow well in the Pacific Northwest.

We haven’t tried the “color-in-the-concrete” approach yet. We do ours in the natural color and then paint after curing is done. Our favorite style is to paint the front and back with black acrylic paint, then rub on powdered metallic powdered pigments (the type often used in Sculpey jewelry projects). We used the Pearl Ex powdered pigment series, and we find silver, gold, bronze, blues, greens, and purples work much better than the pastel colors. We only apply the additional coloring and metallic powder to the front. The back remains black only. Check out Pearl Ex pigments on the Jacquard Products website.

I buy my Pearl Ex pigments from Michael’s or A.C. Moore. They sell them in sets of 12 different colors, or you can buy a larger bottle of one color. It doesn’t take much to cover the leaf. We use a soft cloth (and end up using our fingers) to rub in the pigments, which are very concentrated and go a long way. We find it best to paint the leaf with black acrylic craft paint in order for the metallic pigments to be intense in color when they are applied.

The metallic pigments are stunning and you can get a variegated look using various colors! If you try this style, you’ll need to seal the front of your leaf with an outdoor spray sealant to keep the pigment from rubbing off. I seal the front of the leaves with Krylon’s Make It Last!® Sealer, which has a satin finish and dries (for handling) within two hours.

Don’t expect the colors to hold up 100% in direct sunlight over a few years, though. The paint will chip a little but you can always paint over it and do it again to freshen it up. They still look good chipped and faded, though…sort of a shabby chic, relic-look! And you can try a new color scheme the next time around. Remember to seal after every repainting. Even if you hang or display yours indoors, you’ll still need to seal the pieces so they can be handled. And they certainly won’t fade as soon if they’re used as indoor art.

If you want a solid colored metallic leaf, you can use inexpensive acrylic craft paint instead of the powdered pigments. First, paint the front and back of the leaf solid black (the leaf is porous so it will soak in the black) and then paint the entire front with your colored metallic acrylic paint. After everything is thoroughly dry, seal the front of the leaf with the Krylon Sealer.

The good news: supplies for this project are CHEAP, CHEAP, CHEAP and the results are incredible! The downside? Those bags of quickrete, etc. are HEAVY!

Whichever method you decide to try (Portland cement type 1, Quikrete, Quikrete + vinyl patch, vinyl patch only), I’d love to see your results and will share them on this blog!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.








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