Revisited: Dogbane Leaf Beetle (Chrysochus auratus)

16 07 2011

Originally posted July 11, 2010

I stalked this beetle at the McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area this morning for at least 20 minutes—it wasn’t hard; he moved up and down the same sunflower leaf the entire time. I was just mesmerized by his rainbow coloring! In researching what type of beetle it was, I came across this site here, which describes this insect’s beautiful coloring:

The dogbane leaf beetle has a special type of color that shines and changes as the insect changes position or we change position looking at it. This changing color is called iridescence. The beetles’ iridescence is produced by special body structures and light. The surface of the body parts of this beetle is made up of stacks of tiny, slanting plates, under which is a pigment (substance that produces color). Some light rays reflect from the surface of the plates, and other light rays reflect from the pigment underneath. At different angles, the light reflects at different speeds, causing interference and resulting in our seeing different colors that shine.

Adult beetles feed on Dogbane (Apocynum cannabinum)—hence its name—and milkweed. I’m glad I didn’t touch the little guy—apparently they avoid some predators by giving off a foul-smelling secretion when they are touched!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Revisited: Sunflower closeup

16 07 2011

Originally posted July 11, 2010

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Margot

14 07 2011

I was going through my archives to find stock photos for a client and found this photo of Margot that I had overlooked during my initial editing of the session in April 2010. I want to get her and her sister back into the studio for some shooting play time—they both take direction well and are very photogenic.

See more photos from that session in the links below:

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2010/04/17/margot/
https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2010/04/18/sisters/

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2010/04/17/hannah/

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2010/04/18/margot-again/

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2010/04/18/this-ones-for-karen/

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2010/04/18/and-finally/

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2010/04/17/karen/

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Be still my heart!

13 07 2011

So, I’m still dreaming about possessing the Nikkor 200mm micro lens. It would really come in handy when I want to do macro shots of butterflies and other insects that won’t let me get close with my beloved 105mm Nikkor micro. Occasionally I will look at various vendors online to see their pricing for the lens (pointless—it’s as if I expect them to go on sale). I did just that a few minutes ago in a Google search, with some really strange (but laugh-out-loud) results this time around. Keep in mind that this lens runs anywhere from $1475-1700+ retail.

My search began in Google with the words, “200mm Nikkor micro.” Here is the first screen I saw:

I click on the top one because I’m thinking, “37 bucks? For that lens? No way! It must be a lens cap or a filter for it.” So, I click on that first link and this is what I get:

Apparently, Amazon is (accidentally) selling my coveted lens for just $36.99 (and I’ll save a whole penny)! Let’s check this one out pronto. I know it has to be priced wrong, but I’m going to quickly order it for $36.99 before they realize the mistake they’ve made! (In fact, I’ll order a couple dozen of them and resell!) When I click on the top link for Amazon, here’s what I get:

The last link in the previous listing was for eBay-eastwestphoto and showed the lens listed at $100 but that link leads you nowhere. Well, it was fun while it lasted. Back to reality, folks!

Then again, if just 1,700 of my 285,818 visitors-to-date sent me a dollar, I’d be set. Not that I’m hinting or soliciting or begging, mind you. I’m just sayin’.





Bell Agapanthus

13 07 2011

Native to South Africa, the Bell Agapanthus (Agapanthus campanulatus) is commonly known as Lily of the Nile, although it is not a lily. This herbaceous perennial blooms in summer and is hardy from zones 8 to 10. Several cultivars and hybrids are winter hardy to zone 7. I photographed this emerging bloom yesterday at Green Spring Gardens.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Every cloud has a silver lining…

13 07 2011

Yes, more clouds! Want to know where that expression comes from? Check this site out here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Here comes Peter Cottontail…

12 07 2011

Photographed at Green Spring Gardens this evening

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Blue Chicory

12 07 2011

Blue Chicory
It has made its way, on wind
far into the city, and it nods there,
on street corners, in what July wind
it slips garner. Since childhood
I have loved it, it is so violet-blue,
its root, its marrow, so interred,
prepared to suffer, impossible to move.
Weed, wildflower, grown waist-high
where it is no one’s responsibility
to mow, its blue-white
center frankly open
as an eye, it flaunts
its tender, living lingerie,
the purple hairs of its interior.
Women are weeds and weeds are women
I once heard a woman say.
Bloom where you are planted, said my mother.

Catherine Rankovic (reprinted with permission)

Learn more about Catherine here: http://www.catherinerankovic.com/

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Field of sunflowers

12 07 2011

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Wide open spaces…

12 07 2011

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Windmill in hallelujah light

12 07 2011

I photographed this windmill in Bulverde, Texas yesterday. My sister and I were out scouting for locations for me to photograph those wonderful cloud-filled vistas found only in Texas!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Texas sky

10 07 2011

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Oriental Lily ‘Marlon’

6 07 2011

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Halloween Pennant Dragonfly

5 07 2011

Halloween Pennant Dragonfly (Celithemis eponina) photographed at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in Washington, D.C.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

5 07 2011

An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) dines on a Stoke’s Aster (Stokesia laevis) against a backdrop of Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea purpurea)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Buffet line

5 07 2011

A Fiery Skipper butterfly patiently awaits its turn behind a Bumblebee on a Stoke’s Aster.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on Stoke’s Aster

5 07 2011

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) on Stoke’s Aster (Stokesia laevis)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Firework photos the easy way!

2 07 2011

How to: Fireworks in D.C. without the crowds

Originally posted July 4, 2008

Always wanted to see the fireworks in D.C. but heard so much about the crowds that you avoid it at all costs? I have the solution! Buy a $50 assortment pack of fireworks at Costco, invite a few dear friends (neighbors will join you or peep through the windows when they hear all the commotion), head to a cul-de-sac in your community, and fire away! Photograph the fireworks, add a shot of the Washington Monument (from your own archives, of course), and superimpose the two in Photoshop. Presto! It’s a grand celebration on the 4th of July without the crush of passengers in the metro, vying for a coveted spot on the grounds, the unsightly trash left behind, and the mad rush to get home. No one need ever know.





Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms

2 07 2011

Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms was one of the exhibitors at the annual Hearing Loss Association of America Convention, held last month in nearby Crystal City, Virginia.

HAYLEIGH’S ROCKY START
Before Hayleigh Scott was born, a sonogram revealed that she had a congenital diaphragmatic hernia, which displaced her organs. Her parents, Rachel and Andrew, were given options to terminate one baby, in-utero surgery, or to just “watch and wait.” They opted for the latter, with much prayer and support from family and friends. Her twin, Vienna, was healthy at birth; Hayleigh was not. She was in the ICU for two and half months and had to be quarantined for the first two years of her life. They noticed her hearing loss when she was 18 months old. She was diagnosed with severe-to-profound hearing loss and has been wearing hearing aids (and decorating them!) ever since.

AN ENTREPRENEUR IS BORN
When Hayleigh was five, she decided she wanted to show off her hearing aids with some “bling.” She started drawing sketches with her sisters and a few years later, their mom helped them make the designs into jewelry. With the help of her mother, father, twin sister Vienna and younger sister Sarah, Hayleigh turned this kitchen table venture into a full-fledged business, Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms. She encourages her customers to celebrate their uniqueness by embellishing their hearing aids and cochlear implants and not trying to hide them.

She and her two sisters make all the jewelry, which includes more than 50 hearing aid charms (see sample at left). They also create cochlear implant bling, bracelets, earrings and necklaces. Their newest creations are colorful and fun Tube Twists (shown at right) and Snake Tube Twists. And they’re not just for girly girls (and big girls)—they create charms for boys and tomboys, too! The charms are reasonably priced—from $10 to $25—and shipping on all orders is free in the U.S. and international shipping is just $5. Hayleigh is committed to giving back to the community she serves—ten percent of all proceeds are donated to furthering hearing research and education of the hard of hearing and deaf community.

A PASSION FOR BUSINESS
Her parents then applied for a provisional patent for her invention. A three-year process, this meant she couldn’t wear the charms, promote them or advertise them during that time. Now that’s what I call an extremely patient entrepreneur. Hayleigh and her sisters are so engaging and lively, and their enthusiasm for their products and their business is contagious! As a self-employed person for more than 20 years, I can relate to their joy and enthusiasm for their passion. Their booth was always busy and Vienna later told me that they did really well in their first time as exhibitors at an HLAA Convention.

Audiologist Douglas Beck conducted an interview last year with Hayleigh and her mother about Hayleigh’s hearing loss and her blossoming business for The American Academy of Audiology website. From that interview, I learned that Hayleigh and Vienna are “mirror twins.” I wasn’t familiar with that term until now. It means they have opposite identical features, like left versus right handedness and their hair parts on opposite sides. Read that interview transcript here. Author Maureen Doty Tomasula wrote about Hayleigh in her article, Sharing Her Special Charm, published in The Hearing Journal in September 2009.

SHARING A COMMON BOND
Hayleigh may not know this, but she shares an honor that I was privileged to receive a few years ago. She is the first place winner in the Student Category of the 2010 Oticon Focus on People Award. Congratulations, Hayleigh! I received first place in the Adult Category in 2008. Hearing Loss Magazine editor Barbara Kelley secretly nominated me for the award. Oticon flew all the winners and a guest to Denver for the ceremony, and I wrote about that amazing experience (thanks again, Barbara!) on my blog here.

To continue in the “six degrees of separation” vein, I met my friend and HLAA member Lynn Rousseau while in Denver at the Oticon Awards event. She was a first place award recipient in the Advocacy Category. We became fast friends and her life story was so interesting that I suggested to Barbara that we profile her in Hearing Loss Magazine. She made her cover feature debut in the May/June 2011 issue, which I wrote about here.

I photographed the entire Scott family (including Hayleigh’s adorable cherub of a brother, AJ) at the end of the Convention. Look for Hayleigh and her family in a future issue of Hearing Loss Magazine!

All photos (except product photos) © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Same time, last year

1 07 2011

Originally posted July 1, 2010

We’ve had two days of strangely cool weather here in Northern Virginia—which were preceded by a long row of 90+ degree days! It actually feels like spring today (and it’s July—unheard of!), so I got out for an hour to shoot at my favorite local garden (and donate 40+ gardening books to their library while there—don’t feel sorry for me, though, the loss hardly made a dent in my stash—I’m almost embarrassed to say).

I’ll concisely identify the plants below later, but I think that #1 is an allium—possibly Allium stellatum x nutans or something similiar (located in the lovely rock garden at the visitor center circle driveway), #2 is on the tip of my tongue (please stand by), #3 is a Ptilotus exaltatus ‘Joey’ or Pink Pussy Tail (also in the rock garden and a plant that I’ve not seen before today), #4 is one of my (and the bees) favorites—Purple Coneflower (Echinacea), and #5 is a type of Clematis. I’ll be diligent and get back to you with exact identification on the questionable ones.

The imaginative gardeners at Green Spring Gardens have added a new feature to the gardens near the visitor’s center—a wonderful summer-sky-blue stucco-textured wall atop a brick raised bed. They’ve mounted several “living sculpture” framed boxes filled with various succulents on the wall and the raised bed contains other desert-loving plants. It looks very southwest inspired and adds a great pop of color to that area of the garden. I’ll get photos of the blue wall feature on my next jaunt. The garden was buzzing with both bees and people—artists from a local art club set up to paint, joggers and walkers were out in full force, kids on tricycles circled round, and a group of kids on a field trip flooded the garden. Enjoy this most unusual weather while you can, folks—it won’t last long!

ID UPDATE: I’m pretty confident that the top photo is a Nodding Onion (Allium cernuum). These plants prefer sun to part sun, thrive in average well-drained soil, and are drought tolerant. They self-sow aggressively and need deadheading to prevent them from doing so. Deer resistant and hummingbird friendly! I had so much fun photographing these plants that I’m going to try to add a few to my own garden next year.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.







The culling process

1 07 2011

When I return from photographing any subject, I immediately delete (or cull) out the images that are out-of-focus, too overexposed or underexposed, and the occasional experimental image that didn’t quite pan out. I’m immediately drawn to specific images—sometimes it might be a great composition, a combination of colors that moves me, or an expression on someone’s face. These are the very first images I prepare for my high resolution stock files and for this blog. Sometimes when I revisit a session, even years later, I will occasionally find an image or two that didn’t get my attention initially but now deserve a second look. Below are just a few that made it out of oblivion to the light of day!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.