Wilhelm Photography Blog

I am excited to get back to my A to Z blogging challenge in the New Year. If you are a fan of my photography or follow my facebook page, I am sure you have seen macro (close-up) photos of bugs, spiders, and plants popping up here and there. I love macro photography, and I love tiny critters! I realize, however, that some of my fans follow my page for my portrait work and don’t love seeing hairy eight legged things showing up in your newsfeed.  I still have to post a favorite now and then, but the majority of my artwork is posted here on my blog. I hope to post more frequently with all my growing styles of artwork. With my nature photos my goal is always to photograph them in a mix of artistic and documentary styles so that you can enjoy the little creations from afar and learn a bit about their mini world.

I have to show you our “babies.” My kids collect praying mantis egg sacks, and patiently waiting for them to hatch. They are easy to spot in bushes in the winter.  This year, we had a surprise in our Christmas tree and on New Years day our tree had about a hundred nymphs jumping across the pine needles.

This is what an egg sack looks like- a bit foamy.

Praying Mantis Eggs Sack www.wilhelm-photography

When they hatch, there are anywhere from 50-100 praying mantises!

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And they are SO tiny! We release most of them when we raise them, but keep a few and separate them so they don’t eat each other.  We feed them aphids, that is what the green specks are in the photo below. Since we are raising some of our New Years babies, I actually bought flightless fruit flies that I can farm at home to feed them. It is working well, but I think I am among the very few that have willingly brought fruit flies into my home! Here is a day old nymph on the needles of our blue spruce. A Christmas light is the “sun” you see in this shot.

Sunrise in the Christmas Tree

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They are perfect replicas of the adults. As they grow they molt their skin.  It looks like a dead mantis at the bottom of the jar, but it is just a shell of one. They are fascinating to watch.

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This is Praying Mantis Yoga 🙂

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No doubt you will see more of these guys as they grow! Thanks for checking them out! I am hosting a challenge on Viewbug for Praying Mantis photos. If you want to join- it is free! GO TO VIEWBUG CHALLENGE

 

L is for Ladybug. These are by far my most popular macro subjects. I hope today you enjoy them and learn a bit about them! This is a great one to share with curious kids.

This year, my kids and I found a ton of ladybug larvae while collecting aphids (it is amazing what you find when you search for a garden pests such as plant lice!) Many people do not know that ladybugs go through a complete metamorphosis from egg (which hatches in five days) to adult.  Let me show you what to look for next time you are in your garden.

Lady bug eggs. Tiny. This cluster is on one pine needle so you have to really be looking for them!

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This is a lady bug larva. Although larvae only grow to about one centimeter long, when they hatch they eat like crazy for three weeks. They don’t eat plants so don’t kick them out of your garden; ladybugs chow down on pests like aphids.

Lady Bug Larvae

After getting their fill, they enter into the pupa stage and attach themselves to a leaf or stem for about 5-7 before emerging as ladybug adults.

Becoming Lady

Becoming Lady

They will have their spots within twenty-four hours of emerging, and as they reach maturity their wings often darken from an orange to deep red.

Lady Bug and Bud

Lady and Umbrella

Ladybug and Umbrella

I was just discussing with a friend how this beetle is usually liked and considered cute unlike any other beetles or insects for that matter (with the exception of butterflies.) Funny how some polka dots and the name “lady” have changed our perspective.

Center Ring

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Lady on a Flame

Lady on a Flame

Lady on the Edge

Ladybugs are definitely a favorite for me to photograph!

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My daughter found this ladybug, “that is really different looking.” She is referring to the unique spots of an Eye-spotted Ladybug which are black with white rings around the spots.  The spots are designed to look like eyes which warn and scare the bugs that might be predators.  She was too pretty not to photograph so I thought I’d share my two favorite shots from the mini session with her.

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By a Thread

I also have a ladybug image in my Enchanted Forest Collection

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E is for Escargot in my A-Z blog challenge because I didn’t want to wait for S. My photo, “Dangling Snail” seen later in this blog was chosen for the Editor’s Picks for the Best of Bugs category hosted by the Weather Channel. You can see it here image #12: http://www.weather.com/news/news/best-of-bugs

So on the heals of that announcement, I thought I would revive my blog on snails this week.

I knew that the success of this blog post was going to be decided by whether or not a snail was going to cooperate with me.  My daughter brought me two snails this week. Considering that the snail is thought of as the slowest animal, you would think that photographing one would be easy. I found out that snails are either shy, or moving in strange circular movements that require lots of shifting and strange shooting postures from me. They are silly little things.

Wilhelm Photography: Snail on Creature Feature Friday

Not to be confused with a slug which does not have a shell, this species of snail has two pair of retractable tentacles in front with the eyes found at the ends of the longest pair of tentacles.  The shell holds all the internal organs and a foot moves the snail forward and provides the suction requires to hold onto surfaces.

Wilhelm Photography: Snail on Creature Feature FridaySnails have to maintain moisture. On hot days they will pull their body all the way into the shell. Snails are nocturnal which is why this guy probably wasn’t too thrilled about a morning session.

Wilhelm Photography: Snail on Creature Feature Friday

Wilhelm Photography: Snail on Creature Feature FridaySnails are known for the trail of slime they leave behind. This slime is what is allowing him to maneuver these acrobatic feats you see. The slime acts like a glue and is very strong. How strong you ask? Well, I guided him to this flowering hosta stem for some photos…

Wilhelm Photography: Snail on Creature Feature Friday

I thought I had finally found a place to photograph him where he couldn’t get away. WRONG. He produced a long string of slime to lower himself just above the ground and then dropped. I couldn’t believe it.

Wilhelm Photography: Snail on Creature Feature Friday

Here are a few facts and myths about snails:  1) Snails move at a rate of approx. 55 yards per hour.

Wilhelm Photography: Snail on Creature Feature Friday

Fact 2) Snails live anywhere from 5-15 years

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Fact 3) Snails are hermaphrodites (they have the reproductive organs of both males and females.)

Wilhelm Photography: Snail on Creature Feature Friday

Fact 4) Snails are very strong and can lift up to 10 times their own body weight in a vertical position.

Wilhelm Photography: Snail on Creature Feature Friday

Fact 5) Their slime or mucus protects and lubricates the surface they are on so well that they could move across a razor blade without getting cut.

Wilhelm Photography: Snail on Creature Feature Friday

Fact 6) It is a common myth that the slime of a snail is full of bacteria. You should always wash your hands after handling an animal, but they don’t excrete anything harmful.

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Wilhelm Photography Snail Collection

Although they can be tricky, I find snails to be great macro subjects… First of all, they can’t fly away. That is a big plus, especially if you are new to the macro scene. Patience is key when photographing any insect, but it is nice when your hours don’t involve picking up your tripod every few seconds. That is not to say that snails are slow and easy. They move really fast when you are trying to nail focus on a small depth of field.  None-the-less, they are easier to coax in the direction you want, and don’t offer too many surprises.

Wilhelm Photography Snail Collection 2

Another reason snails are nice to photograph is that they aren’t shy. It usually takes five minutes tops for a snail to “come out of his shell.” They always seem less threatened each time I touch them and have a faster recovery time of reappearing. I often spend two plus hours photographing a subject for a full length CFF so that is a gift to me.

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Snails can be really beautiful if you give them a chance. They all have different nuances in their shell design, they have lovely curves, and if you expose them to a flattering light, they have a rare translucent quality that is unique to the snail. Okay, I know many of you look and snails and say, “ewww, slimy.” That is true, but it is irridencent slime.

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Snails convey personality. They seem curious. Whenever a creature can come across as having a personality they become a favorite for me.

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This one seems confused.

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As always, my blog is Pinterest friendly so share and pin your favorites, and check back next Friday!

Those of you who follow my artwork know I have a passion for macro photography- especially “creepy crawlies.”  Of all the little ones I photograph, spiders are one of my favorites! I realize most people are not exactly in love with spiders. I don’t appreciate them sneaking up on me or living in my house, but I think they are both delicate and mesmerizing in front of my lens. I  like to know a good deal about the creature I am photographing so I will share some fun facts with my artwork.  Let me show you a few old and recent favorites.

 

This was my first published piece: Best of College Photography Annual 2003

That is a VERY large Banded Garden Spider silhouetted by the setting sun. I had shivers standing in the middle of the field being that close to it,  and every time I turned to leave I came face to face with another. I will admit, I ran out of that field!

Daddy Long Leggers or Harvestmen: This guy has the most graceful lines of all arachnids with it’s delicate thin legs splayed out at different angles. However, he is technically NOT a spider. Although in the class Archnida, harvestmen are in the order Opiliones. The most obvious difference between harvestmen and spiders is that in harvestmen the connection between the cephalothorax and abdomen is broad, so that the body appears to be a single oval structure.

The crab spider is one of my favorites probably because they come in many colors. Instead of the traditional web strategy for catching dinner, crab spiders blend with the petals of a matching flower and wait for its prey to land to collect pollen or nectar and that is when they pounce. In addition to their ambush hunting they a closely resemble actual crabs with the posture of the two front pair of legs and the way they scuttle from side to side. I will blog on Crab spiders again in the future since I have many images of them.

I believe this to be a large variety of Orb spider, but I took this image before I was reserching my subjects so I am not sure. I did however allow him to live in my sunroom for three weeks until I had the right light for this photo. I also tried a flour dusting trick on the web to help in stand out. I wasn’t overly impressed with the change it made and haven’t used that technique since. On a side note, I used this image for a personalized credit card and it is so funny to watch cashiers try to swipe it without touching it that I have renewed the image twice.

Unlike the spider above that was large and hairy, this one was incredibly tiny-” head of a pin” tiny! You know the little gnats that swarm around your head on summer evenings that are like annoying specks of dust? That is what he has caught in his web, and he isn’t much bigger! It was almost a strain on my eyes to photograph him.

One last old image.  I am always fond of spiders on flowers for my images.  It is something most people love and hate mixed together, but both are exquisitely designed.

As I continue to blog some of my favorite artwork before I start unveiling the new in the spring, feel free to share, like, and pin your favorite images!