Wilhelm Photography Blog

O is for Orchard Orbweaver

You might not like spiders, but if you are a bug-hater in general this guy is really on your side. The Orbweaver usually makes his webs low to the ground or in bushes. His main mission is to control the insect population in your garden. Well, his main mission is to eat, but that is a bonus. My favorite thing is the crazy vibrant colors on this species of spider.

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The orb weaver spider’s web is often oriented horizontally, with the spider hanging down in the center.


They are tiny. I am sure that no spider is tiny enough for you, but this guy is atop a hosta bud to give you some size reference.


Hairy legs



I love how clear and iridescent his long eight legs are. This shot captures the morning dew still clinging to the web.


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!


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



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


I was looking through my portfolio trying to find a “K” and came up wanting. This will be short and sweet because I have exactly two images of a Katydid. Quite frankly, the first Katydid shot I capture was entered and won a commendation in the International Garden Photographer of the Year Competition, and I figured I wasn’t going to top that anytime soon.

Katydids are in the cricket family of Tettigoniidae. They are also known as bush crickets or long-horned grasshoppers. They are easily identified by their body which mimics a leaf. You have probably heard their loud chirping noise in the trees during the summer months. The males are competing- loudest wins the female.

My two photographs of the Katydid are as different as night and day. That is possibly because one was taken during the day and the other at night.

This one was the one that placed well with IGPOTY.

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This one was taken on tripod, lit by moon light just after sunset. I pumped up the already rich colors and it has a totally different almost cartoon feel.

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Which do you prefer? Let me know!

Next week, is L is for Ladybugs and you will get to see each stage of their lifecycle and some of my most popular art! Don’t miss it!


J is for Jumping Spider #AtoZblogchallenge

I get it. Spiders are creepy. I don’t like them sneaking up on me, but the jumping spider is worth taking a closer look. He’s fuzzy, has big puppy dog eyes, and can hug you with not four, but eight legs! What’s not to like?

You might actually like this spider… Creature Feature Friday

The jumping spider is easy to distinguish from other spider families. The rectangular head and eye pattern is a dead give away. This one was wet so you can really see his head shape without that crazy hair sticking up.

You might actually like this spider… Creature Feature Friday

I see these guys scuttling across my picnic table all the time. They are diurnal, so they are actively hunting during the day. Don’t let that worry you. You are not on the list. Most spiders have the potential to bite, but the jumping spider tries to avoid you and is not considered a medical threat. Gentle. Remember? Like an eight-legged teddybear. Not convinced?

You might actually like this spider… Creature Feature Friday

DSC_0466You might actually like this spider… Creature Feature Friday

Jumping spiders come in an array of colors. Some have vivid iridescent chelicera which are the green-blue mouthparts you see below.

You might actually like this spider… Creature Feature Friday

I am sure you were thinking “fangs” not  “mouthparts.”  And all though I know it won’t make them more endearing, there are fangs at the base of the chelicera. Jumping spiders don’t make webs. They live up to their name and pounce on their dinner. They rely on the back legs for their super jumps which propel them 10 to 40 times the length of their own body size.

You might actually like this spider… Creature Feature Friday

Just because they don’t spin webs doesn’t mean they don’t have silk producing spinnerets. They use strands of silk to create safety lines when jumping. They also build themselves shelters to lay eggs and survive bad weather. You can see the dragline in the photo below.

You might actually like this spider… Creature Feature Friday DSC_9580

Still see him as just plain scary? Let’s talk about how he sees you…

You might actually like this spider… Creature Feature Friday

The jumping spider has four pairs of eyes and the sharpest vision of any creature his size.

You might actually like this spider… Creature Feature Friday

Here they are…

Jumping spider eyes- incredible!

The large front eyes (AME) have the best visual acuity, but due to the distribution of the four sets, he virtually has a 360 degree view of the world! Incredible.

You might actually like this spider… Creature Feature Friday

As far as spiders go, this is as lovable as it gets- at least for me. I see how they are misunderstood. But let’s view them more like the movie villains of old. Sure they make a good monster movie, but they aren’t really larger than life. They want to be left alone as much as you. Before you squish a jumping spider, take a look at those big round eyes looking up at you! Then just try to catch that bugger- he is fast!

You might actually like this spider… Creature Feature Friday

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One of my favorite stories is the Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. For years, I have wanted to create images based on the beautiful descriptions penned by Irving. This year, I finally was able to capture my two favorite characters in the peek of autumn. Let me quickly introduce you to my two models for this project.  I feel that I need to post a regular portrait of each because both guys were kind enough to let me exaggerate their features or decapitate them all together, and they really are both too dashing to deserve such treatment. I am glad, however, that they were willing to help me bring Ichabod and the Headless Horseman to life. Thanks to both of them! They spent a considerable amount of time working with me on this. I love the characters in this book, and maybe someday I will come back to it and explore more of them.
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For the rest of my blog I will let Washington Irving quotes show you what inspired me with these images…


“The cognomen of Crane was not inapplicable to his person. He was tall, but exceedingly lank, with narrow shoulders, long arms and legs, hands that dangled a mile out of his sleeves, feet that might have served for shovels, and his whole frame most loosely hung together. His head was small, and flat at top, with huge ears, large green glassy eyes, and a long snipe nose, so that it looked like a weather-cock, perched upon his spindle neck, to tell which way the wind blew. To see him striding along the profile of a hill on a windy day, with his clothes bagging and fluttering about him one might have mistaken him for the genius of famine descending upon the earth, or some scarecrow eloped from a cornfield.”

“thus going the rounds of the neighborhood, with all his worldly effects tied up in a cotton handkerchief.”

Sleepy Hollow comes to life in photos

“The school-house stood in a rather lonely but pleasant situation just at the foot of a woody hill, with a brook running close by, and a formidable birch tree growing at one end of it.”

Sleepy Hollow comes to life in photos

Sleepy Hollow comes to life in photos

“As the enraptured Ichabod fancied all this, and as he rolled his great green eyes over the fat meadow-lands, the rich fields of wheat, of rye, of buckwheat, and Indian corn, and the orchards burthened with ruddy fruit,”

Sleepy Hollow comes to life in photos

“On all sides he beheld vast store of apples; some hanging in oppressive opulence on the trees”

Sleepy Hollow comes to life in photos

Sleepy Hollow comes to life in photos

“He was a kind and thankful creature, whose heart dilated in proportion as his skin was filled with good cheer; and whose spirits rose with eating as some men’s do with drink. He could not help, too, rolling his large eyes round him as he ate, and chuckling with the possibility that he might one day be lord of all this scene of almost unimaginable luxury and splendor.”

Sleepy Hollow comes to life in photos

Sleepy Hollow comes to life in photos

“He was, moreover, esteemed by the women as a man of great erudition, for he had read several books quite through…

Sleepy Hollow comes to life in photos


Sleepy Hollow comes to life in photos

“…and was a perfect master of Cotton Mather’s history of New England Witchcraft, in which, by the way, he most firmly and potently believed.”

Sleepy Hollow comes to life in photos

“His appetite for the marvelous, and his powers of digesting it, were equally extraordinary; and both had been increased by his residence in this spellbound region. No tale was too gross or monstrous for his capacious swallow.”

“Another of his sources of fearful pleasure was, to pass long winter evenings with the old Dutch wives, as they sat spinning by the fire, with a row of apples roasting and spluttering along the hearth, and listen to their marvellous tales of ghosts and goblins, and haunted fields, and haunted brooks, and haunted bridges, and haunted houses, and particularly of the headless horseman, or galloping Hessian of the Hollow, as they sometimes called him. ”

“But if there was a pleasure in all this, … it was dearly purchased by the terrors of his subsequent walk homewards. What fearful shapes and shadows beset his path amidst the dim and ghastly glare of a snowy night!”

“How often did he shrink with curdling awe at the sound of his own steps on the frosty crust beneath his feet; and dread to look over his shoulder, lest he should behold some uncouth being tramping close behind him!”


“Local tales and superstitions thrive best in these sheltered long-settled retreats…”

Sleepy Hollow comes to life in photos

“It was the very witching time of night that Ichabod, heavy-hearted and crest-fallen, pursued his travel homewards, along the sides of the lofty hills which rise above Tarry Town, and which he had traversed so cheerily in the afternoon. The hour was dismal as himself.”

Sleepy Hollow comes to life in photos

“Over a deep black part of the stream, not far from the church, was formerly thrown a wooden bridge; the road that led to it, and the bridge itself, were thickly shaded by overhanging trees, which cast a gloom about it, even in the daytime; but occasioned a fearful darkness at night. This was one of the favorite haunts of the headless horseman; and the place where he was most frequently encountered.”

Sleepy Hollow comes to life in photos

“The dominant spirit, however, that haunts this enchanted region, and seems to be commander-in-chief of all the powers of the air, is the apparition of a figure on horseback without a head.”

Sleepy Hollow comes to life in photos

Sleepy Hollow comes to life in photos

Sleepy Hollow comes to life in photos

“It is said by some to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper, whose head had been carried away by a cannon-ball, in some nameless battle during the revolutionary war; and who is ever and anon seen by the country folk hurrying along in the gloom of night, as if on the wings of the wind.”

Sleepy Hollow comes to life in photos

Sleepy Hollow comes to life in photos

“Just then he saw the goblin rising in his stirrups, and in the very act of hurling his head at him.”

Sleepy Hollow comes to life in photos

I am probably not finished perfecting any of these, but projects like this never feel perfect enough when I am working on them. This was definitely a tricky  project. I especially wrestled with the edit where I decided to play with a bit of an optical illusion with the trees- I wanted to see my horseman without spacial boundaries. I am not sure that I am comfortable with that, but I didn’t want to wimp out on posting it. Even as I post this, I already see things I want to retry, but its time had come. If you have never read the original work, I encourage it. I read it every fall.

If you love this story too, leave a comment! I hope this added some magic to the end of your autumn.

H is for Hands

This year, I was with my family on a trip to the mountains. We drove into a little town that was having a fair and took a walk. To my surprise I found a home with these amazing hand sculptures. As soon as I saw them, I started planning my return to photograph them. The crazy thing is that in getting permission I learned the person living there had put the concrete sculpture in, but later abandoned the home. That is all the back story I was able to get. I will let you interpret these pieces on your own. It is more fun that way!


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If this inspires you or you want to share your interpretation, you can comment or share!

My blog is Pinterest friendly too!

Watch for extra Halloween themed posts this week!

Thanks for joining me for week 3 of my #atozblogchallenge. This is a revived post from last year. Since some of you are still holding onto summer, I thought I’d share a favorite beach Creature Feature! I have had several photographs published in a magazine local to Long Beach Island called Echoes of LBIYou can see the images in the issue here: http://issuu.com/echoesoflbi/docs/echoessummer2014

Each year I enjoy a week on Long Beach Island, NJ with my family and some extended family.  Of course, we can’t go to the beach without beach combing, and that means we always find a creature or two.  This year we tried to identify all of our shells and the livings things we came across, so I thought I’d share a few with you so that you can keep an eye out for these neat sea treasures the next time you are at the beach.  Don’t miss the Common Shell Identification Chart at the end!

Among my favorite finds this year were these Coquina Shells.

Wilhelm Photography- Beach Creature Feature

Sometimes called a Butterfly shell due to the bright pearly colors and because the Coquina is bivalve meaning the mollusk produces a lower and matching upper shell. You can often find empty shell open and spread out.

Wilhelm Photography- Beach Creature Feature

The shells are shiny, banded, and multi-colored. If you have never seen them before it is because 1) they average in size at about 1/2 an inch and 2) they hide in the sand.

Wilhelm Photography- Beach Creature Feature

Coquinas are filter feeders and they rely on the tides to move them around. They are often found together in high concentrations. The tide will wash the sand off of the shells, and then they will stick out their muscular foot, stand on end, and dig quickly into the sand.

This guy is sticking out his foot to start digging before a seagull finds him!

Wilhelm Photography- Beach Creature Feature

The size of the specs of sand around them should clue you in to how tiny they are.

Wilhelm Photography- Beach Creature Feature

Once they get a “foot hold” they stand on their side and dig straight down.

Wilhelm Photography- Beach Creature Feature

Wilhelm Photography- Beach Creature Feature

Wilhelm Photography- Beach Creature Feature

They hide quickly so if you don’t know what to look for they are hard to find.

Wilhelm Photography- Beach Creature Feature

Fun fact: beds of compact dead shells form a rock called coquina which has been mined for centuries as a building material.

Wilhelm Photography- Beach Creature Feature

The harvest moon made its appearance while we were a the beach.

Wilhelm Photography- Beach Creature Feature

We had an unusually good variety of shells on the shore this year and it may be because of the full moon and how if affects the tides.

Wilhelm Photography- Beach Creature Feature

This was the first year I ever found sand dollars on the shore. Although, this might have also been a result of hurricane Sandy.

Wilhelm Photography- Beach Creature Feature

These were just a few of our favorite beach finds this year.

Wilhelm Photography- Beach Creature Feature

Take a good look at the swirled Moon Snail Shell. We found a live Moon snail inside one this year, but left it in the ocean.  But here is some cool info about them…

Ever find shells with perfect little holes in them like this?

Wilhelm Photography- Beach Creature Feature

That is because the Moon snail drilled a hole through the shell and ate the mollusk out! I wish I could have photographed a Moon snail, but they only come out of their shells under water. Google an image of them- they are incredible!

Are you a collector of shore finds? What are your favorites?

B is for Blackbird is a brand new post and is part of my #atozblogchallenge.

This is the first “visual story” I have created as a fine art project. I really tried to push my editing boundaries and go beyond my normal comfort zones of photography in this. I don’t like to interpret art for people, so I will just leave you with some titles and
the images. The rest is up to you. If you enjoy this, please let me know by way of comments or shares. Enjoy my series: Blackbird.

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The Dream

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blackbird 3



blackbird 4




flight 2


Pin your favorites.

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