Necklace for Macie

28 07 2011

I crocheted this little wire necklace for my niece, Macie. Made of non-tarnish silver wire (26 gauge), it consists of two rows of crochet stitches with a separate wire-crafted bird nest containing three blue freshwater pearl “eggs.” I normally make the bird nests with 24 gauge wire, but this is what I had available when I was crafting with my sister in San Antonio a few weeks ago. It required more “revolutions” of the wire than 24 gauge would have to achieve the thickness of the nest, but the end result looks very similar. I’m working on a larger version for an adult to wear. Learn how to make the bird nest on Cathe Holden’s crafty site here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

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A Vibrant Morning Wake by Daniel Scott, Jr.

28 07 2011

A few months ago, Daniel (who is a graphic designer in Ft. Worth) contacted me and asked for permission to use a photo I shot of a cluster of Spiderworts blooming at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in March. My college roommate, graphic designer/artist/Austinite and dear friend Sonya (see her whimsical paper clay “Bugs with Attitude” here) took me there for an afternoon of shooting (it was my first visit there).

Daniel gave me a link to his mosaic work and I was duly impressed, so I gave him permission and anxiously awaited the final result. It is nothing short of gorgeous! I’ll be interviewing Daniel for this blog in the not-too-distant future, but wanted to share his inspirational piece now.

From Daniel’s blog, Recycled Consumer Mosaics:
I create artwork entirely from candy wrappers, drink labels, gum wrappers, sugar packets, tea packaging, etc. to utilize marketing brand awareness and color recognition from the marketplace. My swatch palette takes shape as marketing strategies change their client’s image. As each mosaic is made, more layers and techniques are worked through for the best results. That’s what makes this process fresh and unique with each blank slate, ready to be transformed into a work of art.

Below is Daniel’s beautiful mosaic along with the photo that inspired him. Stay tuned for my interview with him!





Be still my heart! (Installment #2)

28 07 2011

So I’m investigating teleconverters and extension tubes for my 105mm Micro-Nikkor lens and after reading a few suggestions on various Nikon forums, I start researching the first product—a Nikon TC 14A converter. A Google search reveals this item is available from Sears Marketplace (really?) for just $61.70!

Hey, isn’t this thing supposed to cost anywhere from $300-450? Let’s check it out pronto!

I click on the Sears Marketplace entry and here is what I get—Renal formula tablets for pets. (Am I the only one in the universe this is happening to? This makes twice this month!)





768.5 GB = 152,016 photos!

28 07 2011

I had no idea that I had shot that many digital images since I switched from film to digital about seven or eight years ago! (Of course I’ve shot more than that; I delete the really bad ones before I close out the folder and back it up after each photo session). These images include client events (meetings, conventions, awards and staff portraits), portraits of friends/family/clients, pets, nature, still life, craft projects, home renovation projects, travel, lifestyle stock, assignment work, weddings, parties and garden club gatherings, and of course, my botanical/garden/insect images.

A couple of months ago I got a deal on Seagate’s FreeAgent GoFlex Desk 2TB external drives ($109.99 at Best Buy; now they’re even cheaper—$100.90 on Amazon; $99.99 at OfficeMax, B&H Photo and WalMart.

This drive works with both PC & Mac (I’m on a Mac) and will work with USB 2.0 and 3.0. I started with 250 and 500 GB drives years ago and began rapidly filling them up. I think the 2TB drives will cover me for some time! And these aren’t space hogs—they measure just 4.5 x 7 inches.

I copied all my photos (and all my client design files—86,476 items which include Photoshop files, Illustrator drawings, fonts, and Pagemaker/InDesign files!) onto one drive and am backing that entire drive onto two more drives.

You can never have your data backed up in too many places; trust me on this one! If you only have it backed up on one drive, it’s simply not enough insurance. I think you should have at least two complete backups—and no, your computer does not count into the tally). Taking my fellow photographer friend Ed’s advice, I will keep one of the drives off site at a friend’s house. Now that’s extra insurance!

If your images are as important to you as they are to me, please consider buying two drives and back up those treasures! The price is so miniscule compared to paying someone to recover data from a drive (trust me on this one; I speak from experience!). Get the largest storage capacity you can for your budget—this Seagate model just happens to be one of the best deals out there, in my opinion.

I hadn’t looked at the number of photo-only files that were transferred on the first drive, but I did notice it on this second transfer. It’s a grand total of 768.5 GB and a total of 152,016 photo (and about 9 hours to transfer!).





Foxy on the bench

27 07 2011

My neighbor Eric’s cat, Foxy, is a frequent visitor to our garden. A few months ago, she discovered that the newly-placed cushion on the wrought iron bench was apparently put there just for her. She allows me to photograph her, but she still hisses at me if I get closer to her. I’ll extend my hand and she’ll lean in a few inches from me, never averting her eyes from mine. And then comes that nonplussed hisssssssssssssssssss. Every single time. I’d say she’s a bit ungrateful for a feline who was just given a comfy bed on which to languish in the afternoon shade! Ah, well…she makes a great (and frequent) model, doesn’t she?

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Same time, last year: Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on ‘Zowie’ Zinnia

27 07 2011

Originally posted July 27, 2010

Overcast and very pleasant day, perfect for a quick (and fruitful) lunchtime shoot at Green Spring Gardens. This is an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on a ‘Zowie’ Zinnia.

Note: I was actually trying to get a shot (with the tripod in place) of just the two Zinnias when the Swallowtail landed on one of the flowers. I held my breath and got just two shots before it flew off. I live for moments (and wild color) like this!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





American Goldfinch

25 07 2011

Finally—my first-ever shot of the elusive, quick-moving American Goldfinch (male), photographed at Green Spring Gardens yesterday morning. My friend Gina saw one of these in her garden yesterday too (perhaps he followed me home?) and thought for sure she had discovered something rare and exotic—much like a sighting of Bigfoot or even rarer, the Dodo bird. She even thought it was perhaps a flyaway pet looking for its home. That is, until she started a web search and learned what it really was. She was so excited doing the research that she is contemplating a career change from flight attendant to ornithologist. This morning her voice had morphed into that of the character Miss Jane Hathaway (the love-starved-pith-helmet-wearing-avid-bird-watching perennial spinster) from The Beverly Hillbillies. (P.S. I advised Gina to not quit her day job.)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Blackberry Lily

24 07 2011

The Blackberry Lily (Belamcanda chinensis), also known as Leopard Lily, is native to China and Japan. Although it is called a Lily, it is actually in the Iridaceae (Iris) family. The leaves look exactly like the leaves of an Iris. This drought-tolerant perennial bulb sprouts two inch flowers in mid-to-late summer (in both yellow and this orange variety) and forms clustered black berries (hence the name!). The flowers only last one day and when they dry they twist into corkscrew-like spirals that fall as the seedpods develop. The seedpods will split open in the fall, allowing the plant to self-sow. Blackberry Lilies can be grown in sun or part shade in containers, beds and borders and can reach 24-40 inches in height. They are propagated by division of rhizomes or by seed in the spring and are hardy from zones 5-10.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





52 fish pile-up

23 07 2011

Sorry about the lame title…my other contenders were “a fine kettle of fish,” “fish soup,” and “koi calamity.” Photographed at the Marie Selby Botanical Garden in Sarasota, Florida

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Harvest time

21 07 2011

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Love only the sunflower

21 07 2011

Ancient Aztec Flower Song (anonymous)

Be indomitable, Oh my heart!
Love only the sunflower;
It is the flower of the Giver-of-Life!
What can my heart do?
Have we come, have we sojourned here on earth in vain?
As the flowers wither, I shall go.
Will there be nothing of my glory ever?
Will there be nothing of my fame on earth?
At most songs, at most flowers,
What can my heart do?
Have we come, have we sojourned on earth in vain?

Photos © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Orange Dead Leaf Butterfly

20 07 2011

While sitting (in the butterfly-shaped chair, of course) and trying to cool off in the Wings of Fancy observatory, I glanced over at the plethora of butterflies gathered to feast on rotting fruit (yum!) and saw a leaf moving. Is that a leaf? Is that a leaf eating that rotten banana? I had never seen anything like it—it was a butterfly camouflaged as a leaf! I learned from a volunteer that it is the Orange Dead Leaf Butterfly or Oakleaf Butterfly (Kallima inachus), native to tropical Asia, India and Japan. Although I never saw it open its wings to reveal the intense complementary colors of blue and orange, I did see it on an ID sign (see inset photo). This species, just like the Morpho Butterfly (that brilliant blue butterfly that never stays still long enough to let anyone photograph it!), is very dull-colored brown and tan on the outside, but so striking when the wings are open.





Brimstone Butterfly

20 07 2011

Brimstone Butterfly (Gonepteryx rhamni), photographed at Brookside Gardens’ Wings of Fancy exhibit

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Cairns Birdwing Butterfly

19 07 2011

Cairns Birdwing Butterfly (Ornithoptera euphorian), Australia’s largest native butterfly species; photographed at Brookside Gardens’ Wings of Fancy exhibit

Love butterflies? Check out more of my photos from the Wings of Fancy exhibit in 2008 here and here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Monarch Butterfly

19 07 2011

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Sunflower closeup

19 07 2011

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Here comes the sun(flower), do do do do…

19 07 2011

I shot this image at McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area in Montgomery County, Maryland. The sunflowers are shorter (once again) this year (some barely knee high), so it’s a challenge to get shots head on without groveling in the red dirt. The field was buzzing with honey bees, bumblebees, Cabbage White butterflies, cucumber beetles and various other flying critters. Very few of them cooperated for this photographer, though. I was bombarded several times by wayward bumblebees who tried to fly through me to get to a prized sunflower on their radar. Michael and I shared the field with only three other photographers (and a poorly constructed scarecrow that we thought was another person). I used a wide angle lens (atop a tall ladder) to get this shot.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Revisited: Dogbane Leaf Beetle (Chrysochus auratus)

19 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.





Malachite Butterfly (Siproeta stelenes)

19 07 2011

Photographed at Brookside Gardens’ Wings of Fancy exhibit

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





A Monarch for Mary Ellen

19 07 2011

Monarch Butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. http://cindydyer.zenfolio.com/





Same time, last year: One shot and he was off!

19 07 2011

I posted this photo last year around this time. Michael and I are headed up to McKee-Beshers in Maryland to photograph the sunflower field this morning (otherwise, this gal would not be up and typing this early! 😉 I hope to capture a slew of new photos—stay tuned for the results.

Originally posted in July 2010

Unlike the Dogbane Beetle, who let me photograph him for almost 15 minutes, I got just one shot of this Cucumber Beetle before he was off to another sunflower. I wish I could have had time to add some ring flash light to add extra sharpness to his body, but the composition draws me in, so I’m giving myself a brownie point for that!

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Revisited: Cool and green and shady

17 07 2011

Originally posted July 17, 2009

This shot of one of our pond plants (the center “poof ball” is a type of Dwarf Papyrus, as I recall) reminded me of a song from John Denver’s “Back Home Again” album. It’s called “Cool and Green and Shady.”

Saturdays, holidays, easy afternoon
Lazy days, summer days, nothing much to do
Rainy days are better days for hanging out inside
Rainy days and city ways make me want to hide
Someplace cool and green and shady

Find yourself a piece of grassy ground
Lay down, close your eyes
Find yourself and maybe lose yourself
While your free spirit flies

August skies, lullabies, promises to keep
Dandelions and twisting vines, clover at your feet
Memories of Aspen leaves, trembling on the wind
Honeybees and fantasies
Where to start again
Someplace cool and green and shady

Cool and green and shady
Cool and green and shady
Cool and green and shady
Cool and green and shady

Words and music by John Denver and Joe Henry





Revisited: Orange you glad(iola)?

16 07 2011

Originally posted July 15, 2009

About the title—admittedly, very bad. I had to go with my first thought. Sorry.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

http://cindydyer.zenfolio.com/

OrangeYouGladiola





Revisited: Sunflower closeup

16 07 2011

Originally posted July 11, 2010

© 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.





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.





Wide open spaces…

12 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) at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.

© 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, photographed at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond, VA

© 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.





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.