Tom’s Springwood Farm

30 06 2008

Click on the photo to enlarge for the full panorama!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Widow Skimmer dragonfly at Springwood Farm

30 06 2008

This dragonfly was so large I didn’t even need my macro lens to capture it full frame! This is a female Widow Skimmer dragonfly (Libellula luctosa). Learn the differences between a dragonfly and a damselfly here.

There are approximately 5,000 named dragonfly species in the world. In North America, there are about 450 species, making them (a little) easier to identify. They hail from every continent except Antarctica, with life span ranges from about six months to several years. They don’t bite or sting and are considered beneficial insects because they eat harmful insects such as mosquitoes, gnats, ants, and termites. They’re fast (30-60 miles per hour), move in all directions like a helicopter (including hovering), and their eyesight is amazing—each eye contains up to 30,000 tiny lenses.

The largest dragonfly recorded from fossil records had a wing span of about two and one-half feet. It was a prehistoric insect from 300 million years ago. Read more about it here on Wikipedia and on this blog– The World We Don’t Live In.

I definitely wouldn’t need a macro lens to record that!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

See another dragonfly I photographed at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden here.

Eensy weensy spider…

30 06 2008

My friend Tom took us out to his farm in Orange County, Virginia, this morning. Tom and Michael commenced to mowing about an acre of grass (more or less) while I went exploring.

This tiny white-as-snow spider stood out in a field of grass and I tried photographing her despite the swaying grass. The first thing I noticed was the big white posterior. Every time I moved in to focus, she did this crab-like sideways dance for several shots. Then another bug flew onto the same grass stalk and was instantly caught. It was already a goner before I realized what had happened (even spiders have to eat). Of all the grasses springing from Tom’s 280 acres, this one unfortunate bug wandered onto this one blade, and the rest is history.

This is a female ‘Misumena vatia’ spider—also known as a “white death spider,” “flower crab spider,” or “goldenrod crab spider.” For some really fascinating information about how this spider can change colors, click here or here. These spiders sometimes aim for prey much larger than they are, as evidenced here. And for some really nice images of one on a cosmos flower, click here. For detailed information on this spider, click here.

I thought the prey looked awfully familiar. A “Hoverfly” made its appearance on a posting I made in May. Click here for the story and photographs.

THIS JUST IN…Tom, said proprietor of Springbook Farm, has informed me that the plant is a Buckhorn plantain flower head (Plantago lanceolata).

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

A garden photographer’s secret tool

27 06 2008

Mist! And lots of it. I was weeding the garden this morning and decided to water it as well. After watering with the dial on “shower,” I changed it to “mist” and noticed these beautiful droplets forming on the Balloon flowers! I don’t know why I don’t think about doing that when I’m out photographing flowers. I usually just wait for Mother Nature to set the scene up for me. About two hours later, we had a thunderstorm. It figures. The backyard needs watering—I’ll go wash the car now. I’m sure it will rain immediately after.

See more Platycodon photos here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Backyard blooms

22 06 2008

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


22 06 2008

On the way home from the Alexandria Red Cross Waterfront Festival last Sunday afternoon, my sister Debbie and I drove past this incredible bank of orange daylilies on Russell Road in Alexandria. I only had two little point-n-shoot digital cameras with me, so you’ll have to bear with me on the amateurish collage effect! I was so taken by this mass of umpteen flowers all in a colorful profusion of orange and green that I just had to turn around to record it. If you live in the Old Towne or Del Ray areas, be sure to check it out! I think it spans the front of at least two to three homes (hidden behind the large trees). If you click on the photo, you’ll see a little bit more of the image.

I should drag out my Fuji Panoramic G617 film camera and try to get a REAL panaromic shot of it. It’s the perfect subject for that camera and I haven’t used it in years.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.   PLEASE CLICK HERE!

Party of six…

22 06 2008

Yet another favorite thing to do—set the table for a small dinner party. I should throw more of these smaller, more intimate gatherings (rather than the large “let’s invite everyone we know—and then some” parties). I picked up the gorgeously graphic tablecloth from a Crate & Barrel outlet (I think), and the table runner was just three cheap twig placemats (bought on clearance, of course) strung together with wire. The small salad plates, a recent acquisition, are from Home Goods, have free-form edges, and are embossed to look like rings on a tree trunk (way, way cool). Tableware was a forged “fiddlehead” pattern from a Pottery Barn outlet (really, really cheap; couldn’t pass them up)—very organic and earthy, even if the three-prong design on the fork requires an attitude adjustment. The etched “grass glasses” were on sale for $1 each at a Pier 1 clearance store…couldn’t pass those up, either. Yes, I have a thing for leaves, grasses, and trees. Oh, and don’t get me started on bird- and feather-related things!

This was a very last-minute gathering (although it was called a “Mexi-fest, we joked about it being “The Last Supper” since my sister Debbie was flying home the next day). Debbie made her signature enchiladas and the rice and beans were from Baja Fresh (we cheated on the sides, which made it so much easier on us!). The salad was gathered from our garden (lettuce only). Regina made her “Nana’s Sweet Pie” for dessert and Tom brought Corona and Sangrias (very appropriate for a Mexi-fest!).

The centerpieces were made with flowers from the garden, too—white lilies, yellow yarrow, “unknown” greenery, and past-their-bloom Purple sensation alliums (very architectural in their current state)—all tucked into two sand- and water-filled square glass vases (cheap, from IKEA).

And those two narrow hutches in the background? They’re unfinished pine cabinets from IKEA. I painted them with leftover Home Depot’s Behr Swiss Coffee (a slightly warmish white color) eggshell paint, slathered on a walnut stain, then rubbed burnt umber acrylic paint onto embossed wallpaper (a leaf pattern from Home Depot) that was cut to fit and glued into the recessed squares on the cabinet fronts. The cabinets were used in my painting studio until I relegated them to service as both a drink buffet and dish storage unit in the kitchen. I’m going to submit the project to the website IKEAHacker. If you’re fortunate to live close to an IKEA store, check that site out. You’ll be amazed at the things you can do with all the inexpensive products from that store!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.