The Daily Disappearing Act

I had a last minute opportunity to travel to my favorite place and took a path that I have never traveled on. There was nobody around except for the changing of the guard that occurs each day as the sun sets and the second shift of crepuscular creatures make their grand and vocal entrance.

It was me, a raccoon, and some great-horned owls nearby. I I was really excited to see these beautiful pink streaks above these magnificent clouds.

The Daily disappearing Act

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Magnolia Green Jumper – Lyssomanes viridis

This little jumper gave me just enough time to snap a couple photos before he jumped out of the frame.This was the smallest magnolia green jumper I have come across. I didn’t expect a worthwhile shot because I wasn’t using my extension tubes at the time, but am pleased with this effort.

Magnolia Green Jumper - Lyssomanes viridis

Background:

In Florida and other southeastern states, the Magnolia Green Jumper is one of the most easily recognized of all the jumping spiders. Its vibrant green coloring along with that stupendously orange cap and huge, forward-looking eyes give it an eerily cute appearance. But have no doubt, this little spider is a balls-to-the-wall predator, easily hunting and capturing prey many times its own size.

Jumping spiders are small to medium in size, stout-bodied and short-legged, with a distinctive eye pattern. The body is rather hairy (pubescent) and frequently brightly colored or iridescent. Some species are ant like in appearance. The jumping spiders forage for their prey in the daytime. They approach prey slowly and, when a short distance away, make a sudden leap onto the unfortunate animal. They are good jumpers and can leap many times their own body length.

Jumping spiders have excellent vision, with among the highest acuities in invertebrates. The eight eyes are grouped four on the face (the two big Anterior Median eyes in the middle, and two smaller Anterior Lateral eyes to the side), and four on top of the carapace (two medium-sized eyes toward the back, and two very small eyes in front of them). You can think of the Anterior Median eyes (AME) as acting like our fovea, with high acuity but small field of view, and the remaining six eyes acting like our peripheral vision, with lower resolution but broad field of view.
The AME’s are long and tubular, which helps their resolution (longer focal length, more magnification) but which means they have a narrow field of view. Since the AME’s have a narrow field of view, the spider needs to point them in different directions to see different things. To some extent this is done by moving the carapace, but the eyes can move as well. This is not done by moving the whole ‘eyeball’, since the lenses of the eyes are actually built into the carapace. Instead the retina moves around, while the lens stays fixed. This retinal movement is accomplished by extremely tiny muscles.

Source: http://www.cirrusimage.com/spider_magnolia_green_jumper.htm

Looking back just prior to Sunset

This shot was taken after 8:00pm the other night when the sun was already below the horizon. I decided to look towards the east and noticed this varied cloud formation. My biggest regret when taking landscape photos during sunset is leaving too soon. The sun is great and all, but the real magic happens just after it is gone.

I snicker when I see other photographers leaving before the sky reaches this dramatic peak. It’s a gamble; never knowing when it’s going to occur. It can change from one minute to the next in the most unbelievable way.

There is something to be said about having patience…

Looking back just prior to Sunset

From wiki: As a ray of white sunlight travels through the atmosphere to an observer, some of the colors are scattered out of the beam by air molecules and airborne particles, changing the final color of the beam the viewer sees. Because the shorter wavelength components, such as blue and green, scatter more strongly, these colors are preferentially removed from the beam.At sunrise and sunset, when the path through the atmosphere is longer, the blue and green components are removed almost completely, leaving the longer wavelength orange and red hues we see at those times. The remaining reddened sunlight can then be scattered by cloud droplets and other relatively large particles to light up the horizon red and orange.

Mars Convergence

In my opinion some of the most spectacular sunsets occur just minutes after the sun disappears below the horizon. Under the right circumstances the sun illuminates the clouds and turns them into the most spectacular backdrop. This was taken on 11-26-2014 at 6:42pm at the Arthur R Wildlife Refuge.

I shot other photos beginning 45 minutes prior that I also enjoy. Place them side by side and the difference is staggering. It’s amazing how much our surroundings change in a matter of minutes.

The sky reminded me of Mar. It was as if I was this awestruck 5 year old. The enthusiasm. I was fumbling with my phone to snap pictures. I was nervously trying to study my camera settings to make sure everything was perfect. It was one of those moments that I had to act fast and I knew I only had s small window of opportunity.

If you look just above the silhouette of the land you will notice what looks like wavy plumes of smoke. It reminded me of the Aurora Borealis! It was dancing as I stood taking pictures. Taunting me to take more – so I did!

I think this was my closest experience to visiting another planet…
Mars Convergence

The Smallest Damsel

Damselfly
Order – Odonata

I have never seen a Damselfly this small. I have always enjoyed photographing them because they never seem to sit still enough to capture anything worth keeping.

This was the smallest Damsel I had ever seen and it clung to the tiny branch and didn’t seem to care about my inspection. It was as if the animals had mentioned that I am a regular and harmless.

The Smallest Damsel

When you are able to land a keeper it makes the entire process more satisfying.

Nothing that comes easy is satisfying to me…Especially when I shoot photos. There has to be an obstacle involved. There has to be a race of sorts or some proverbial monkey wrench or hurdle that takes effort to pass.

It could be purely logistical in nature. Having to race to beat the sun to shoot a sunset shot in a distant place. Like the time I had to race west close to Belle Glade because I had a particular shot in mind. When you have spent as many hours in nature as I have you start to understand the timing of the sun. This insight made things more urgent because I knew I had little time.

I finally found an area out west, but now I needed to travel parallel with a field to look for a clearing. The sun was getting low at this point which means my window of opportunity was running out. I still had to stop in a suitable place, erect my tripod, mount my camera, figure out how I would compose the shot, and other decisions only a photography would understand. So here lyes my obstacle. As far as the eye could see I was surrounded by mature sugar cane serving which only served to obstruct my view. I was beginning to think my frantic journey was in vain until I finally stumbled upon a clearing without a moment to spare. My celebration was short as I rushed to setup my gear. The photos that day were some of my favorite landscape photos.

Disciples of Light

Or the time I had envisioned a bumble bee. The angle on the flower, the composition, it was etched in my mind ahead of time and I knew exactly what I wanted the photo to look like. I don’t know if any of you have had much experience with bumblebees, but I assure you they do not take orders and could care less about your desire to photograph them. I spent a month going to a particular bush day after day trying to land this shot. It took an entire month, but knowing what I went through to get it always puts a smile on my face.

Bumblebee Closeup 2

Today was wet, windy, and cold. It was difficult to operate my camera because my hands were painful. It was tough to walk. Every year of my 40 years was reminding me of it and keeping me woefully honest… The experience today was a good one. We had to cover a lot of ground in the cold.

Riverbend Landscape 2/14/15

Riverbend Dew

For that I am grateful.
“When something comes easy, you usually let it go the same way.” – Nora Roberts
http://www.robertoaloiphotography.com

Capture before the sun takes it away…

We traveled to a section of the park that is typically ripe with insects for macro shooting. Instead this area just adjacent to the battlegrounds looks like it was sprayed with pesticides and run over with vehicles in the process. The bushes now lay flat and are dying. Luckily whoever administered the poison missed some sections.

There were small spiderwebs riddled with dew that were parallel to the ground. Here is an effort to capture the web prior to the sun evaporating the dew

Riverbend Dew

Umbonia crassicornis – Thorn Treehopper

Umbonia crassicornis - Thorn Treehopper
Umbonia crassicornis – Thorn Treehopper
Crassicornis is actually Latin for thick horn
11/22/2014 – Awesome camouflage. At a normal viewing distance they look like thorns on a tree until you get close and they begin walking around…

From Wiki:

Thorn bugs, due to their unusual appearance, have long interested naturalists. They are best known for their enlarged and ornate pronotum, which most often resembles thorns, apparently to aid camouflage. In some species, the pronotum is a horn-like extension, but can form more bizarre shapes. The specialised pronotum (or helmet) may not be simply an expansion of the prothoracic sclerite, but a fused pair of dorsal appendages of the first thoracic segment.

These may be serial homologues of insect wings, which are dorsal appendages of the second and/or third thoracic segments. Evidence for this theory includes the development of the helmet, which arises as a pair of appendages attached to each side of the dorsal prothorax by an articulation with muscles and a flexible membrane that allow it to be mobile. Also, the same genes are involved in development of the helmet and the wings.

The Monk Skipper who Stopped to Smell the Roses! True Story!

Monk Skipper (Asbolis capucinus)

Monk Skipper

Deanna has a garden outside that apparently is an insect rest stop of sorts. This little skipper not only stopped to smell the roses, but stayed on them beginning in the afternoon until mid morning the following day. This behavior is known as roosting and this typically occurs during inclement weather.

This particular skipper is common in south Florida. Whether at first glance you called this little guy a moth or a butterfly you would be partially correct ; they have characteristics of both insects.

If you notice my second photograph you more easily see the beautiful scales that make up the wing. In fact the group that encompasses moths and butterflies is lepidoptera which means scaly (lepido) winged (ptera).

Monk Skipper Closeup

The average lifespan is said to be about 7 days so it’s pretty fascinating that this insect chose her plant outside to spend a sizable chunk of it’s life.

I love these skippers because they are often very difficult to photograph. They typically spend a brief amount of time darting and skipping from each flower and can be especially skittish. I was very fortunate to find this one.

This skipper is called a monk skipper due to it’s coloration. Think of a capuchin monk!

It’s a bee?… It’s a fly? No, It’s a bee fly!

It's a bee?... It's a fly? No, It's a bee fly!

Meet bombyliidae!

I remember taking this shot in 2011 at Riverbend park in Jupiter Florida. Most photographers that I know use the park to shoot deer and birds. I typically visit a small grassy section that is often overlooked.

The area is host to a chimney that is surrounded by uncut grass, weeds, and a ridiculous number of insects. It’s a scene that looks like some post apocalyptic world that was long forgotten providing you take the pristine asphalt and wooden fence out of the equation. The title above? It’s the conversation I had with myself when my brain was trying to decipher the bee-like thick hair and the obvious fly eyes.

By the way… in case you haven’t figured it out it is actually a fly that resembles a bee. The resemblance is said to possibly be aposematic; a characteristic in which the fly could possible be perceived as a bee. This affords the fly some protection.

Think of it as his God-given halloween costume except no wardrobe changes are necessary.
This is from wikipedia –

Bombyliidae is a large family of flies with hundreds of genera, although their life cycles are not well known. Adults generally feed on nectar and pollen, thus are pollinators of flowers. They superficially resemble bees, thus are commonly called bee flies, and this may offer the adults some protection from predators. In parts of East Anglia locals refer to them as ‘beewhals’, thanks to their tusk-like appendages.

The larval stages are predators or parasitoids of other insect eggs and larvae. The adult females usually deposit eggs in the vicinity of possible hosts, quite often in the burrows of beetles or wasps/solitary bees. Where most often in the insect world parasitoids are highly specific in the host species that they will infect, some bombyliids are opportunistic and will use a variety of hosts.

Life is a Series of Endless Little Details

A mountain is composed of tiny grains of earth. The ocean is made up of tiny drops of water. Even so, life is but an endless series of little details, actions, speeches, and thoughts. And the consequences whether good or bad of even the least of them are far-reaching. – Swami Sivananda

This weevil originates from Costa Rica, Panama, and southern Mexico. I spotted two of them by a cypress swamp on the edge of the Florida everglades.