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Flower and Nature Photography: The Many Hazards

 hooligans being hooligans 
Hooligans being hooligans.  

Hooligans: Taking close up shots of flowers does involve some hazards. One of the biggest nuisances I have is while trying to take pictures of butterflies. I don’t like to use a telephoto lens when shooting butterflies.  I think I get a sharper and better quality photo by using a regular lens. You chase one around for a while, and finally it decides to light, and you finally get the angle you want. Just about the  time you get ready to press the button one of the hooligans decides that the butterfly or flower is going to attack you and bites at it, or all 3 decide to stampede through, scaring your subject or breaking off the flower. Whenever Levi sees my camera he bugs me until I take his picture then he goes off. He’s such a ham. Other times it’s either a nose under your arm or pawing at the time the picture is snapped results in a sky or ground picture. If you pet that one, the other two jealous hooligans also have to have attention and a tussle starts between them which results in me sitting on the ground with all 3 on top giving you a face wash. It must be a ploy so that I’ll pay them attention. Patches and Levi are scared of gunshots and thunder, so with dove season they are right underfoot or sitting on my foot making themselves a tripping hazard. Not to mention, they scare off the birds. I use the sports setting on my Canon Rebel Xti when taking pictures of birds or butterflies. Close up setting is used for flowers. 

While on the hooligan front, another hazard is the holes they create from digging up field mice or moles. However hooligan holes are an everyday gardening hazard.

   Levi scaring the hummers off 
I was wondering why the hummingbirds weren't coming around. 

 3 hummers at feeder 09132011 

Insects: Of course you also have the bugs to contend with. I have several re-blooming iris which bloom in the spring and again in late September to October.  The fall bloom season seems to have a longer blooming than the spring one. They are usually still blooming when frost hits. I was taking pictures of one re-blooming iris called Harvest of Memories when all of a sudden I had claws coming across the view finder. A huge praying mantis decided that the camera lens was a good place to hang out while hunting for bugs. After calming down, I placed it back on the iris bloom and got a picture of it.  I have found several paper wasps nest this year on the ground or just above the ground. Wonder if this is a prediction for the type of winter we are going to have?  I was almost stung by bees getting the picture of the swallowtail on Joe Pye weed.  I was so focused on getting shots that I ignored the numerous bees on the plant.  

   Harves of Memories iris 
Harvest of Memories re-blooming iris 

wasp on plant tag swallowtail on Joe Pye weed 114 
Swallowtail on Joe Pye weed 

Buckeye on Profusion zinnia  

Mowing neighbors: A neighbor (Mom) who constantly mows their grass is another issue.  This doesn’t affect flower photography, unless she sprays grass clippings on the flower you want a picture of. The mower will scare off any birds or butterflies you’re trying to capture, though. Big low flying helicopters are unsettling to birds also.

   neighbor Mom 
Neighbor Mom 

Crawling things: Then there are the long crawling things such as Fred. Fred is a very large what we in the south call a chicken snake, and the biggest one I’ve seen. Fred has lived under my house for several years feasting on the colony of field mice I built my house over. Fred comes out from under the house by way of my central unit every once in a while to get some sunshine.  I first learned of Fred from the termite inspectors a year or so after building the house. They would come out from under the house talking about the huge snake skins they were finding. The first time I saw Fred was right after I got Patches. Patches had this thing about dragging sticks. She can’t pass by a stick without picking it up and dragging it or putting it in my face while weeding. I was working out in the yard one day, and there was Fred all stretched out having a nice snooze in the sun. Patches saw this big stick and tried to pick it up in the middle, and it was too limp and she couldn’t drag it well. Then she decided to drag the stick by the head end. Fred decided that he had enough and didn’t like the idea of being drug by his head and reared back flicking his tongue. Patches decided real fast she didn’t like that stick. Once I had to rescue Fred from the hooligans, so he’s not so friendly now. 

This weekend he surprised me while I was making a video to send to my landscaper friend for recommendations for replacing Pittosporium shrubs, which cannot take the cold.  I was concerned that the hooligans would see him. 


   hand of God 
I call this one the 'Hand of God' 

Traffic: Trying to pull over in traffic to get a shot of something. Nuff said, that one’s self explanatory.  

Missed shots and timing issues: I took 1671 hummingbird pictures last Saturday, filled up my card, came around the corner of the house and there posing so nicely on a cone flower were 3 gold finches, ugh!!  The other morning while driving to work I noticed a couple of dozen crows hanging beautifully on corn stalks in a combined field. After I stop I should have rolled the window down. As soon as I opened the door, they took off. Another ugh!! 

Sunrises and sunsets: There is a narrow time window as far as getting the best color in your shots.  One sunset I took a picture of an upturn cloud with sunrays coming off. I called that shot the hand of God. Five minutes later, it looked like a dinosaur. 

Same cloud a few minutes later, now a dinosaur. 

Camera straps:  For some reason I hate to wear the camera strap around my neck. It’s just a nuisance and if you try to reach closer to something you have to take it off.  With it hanging, it gets caught on a flower that you are reaching over and breaks it off.  The strap hanging will scare off butterflies.  I saw one of the professional photographers at the W C Handy Festival with a wrist strap on his camera. I need to find one.

Trying to weed around a flower to clean up the scenery a little gets you the same results as the camera strap, flower on the ground or full of trash or dirty

   El Despardo daylily 
El Despardo daylily 

   camera strap victim 
Camera strap victim 

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On the hooligan home front, we had several weeks of near 100 degree temperatures without rain.  Sunday of Labor Day weekend, tropical storm Lee hit. From Sunday at lunch until Tuesday morning we had 7.44 inches of rain with a record low high for the day of 61.  Previous low high record was 70.  After all the hot weather, 61 seemed like a winter day.  I considered breaking out a space heater. 

With the cooler weather, the hooligans have been very active.  They are busy chasing field mice and rabbits around the garden. Vegetable gardening has been a bust again this year.  My tomato plants are all plants and no fruit.  What tomatoes I had rotted during the several weeks of near 100 degree temperatures.  When we had rain, it would be several inches in a few hours only to be followed by no rain for weeks with around 100 degree temps.  Blackie must have a little beagle in her somewhere.  Levi and Patches will lie around the house until they hear Blackie yipping and it’s off to the chase.  Yesterday while trying to get pictures of some of the hummingbird migrants feeding at my feeders, I kept hearing Blackie fussing.  She had something trapped in an ten foot long sewer pipe I use to hang shade cloth. She kept running from end to end and started pulling the pipe across the yard. Fully expecting a field rat, it turned out to be a full grown rabbit. I carried the pipe across the wireless fence and dumped out the contents into a ditch near the dry creek.  The poor bunny looked dazed for a moment, and then took off in the opposite direction away from the hooligans.