Eastern Comma

dsc_0196Unexpectedly, magically, a piece of bark or a bit of dead brown leaf suddenly comes to life, brilliant orange soaring against the gentle breeze, and then just as suddenly disappears.

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I casually squiggle behind a sign, army-crawl over dusty dirt, fold myself in a gap between two boulders, and angle my camera as the butterfly equally casually flits its wings twice, circles my head, and heads the opposite direction, up a 45-degree slope and back into the sun-dappled woods. More appear near the state park’s open lawn, though, sampling the dirt.

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They’re the first commas I’ve taken a picture of, and unfortunately I was experimenting with a new lens filter. I didn’t realize until after I made it home and looked at the shots that one of the reasons I might have been fighting so hard to pull things into focus was more than just exhaustion and vertigo… the lens protector might just not be the best. A lot of my shots from that day have a very odd distortion pattern. Combine that with a tad too shallow depth of field, and some are really carnival-esque shots.

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Yes, there is a butterfly in this photograph!

A fantastic butterfly day, a bad photography day — one of a long run for me! Anyone else have a hard time with UV filters or lens protectors? Any recommends?

Cabbage White

dsc_0106Yet again, another survivor of the onslaught of fall! … er, both the butterflies and the flowers. 🙂

Cabbage whites are a  non-native species in the Americas. They appeared for the first time in the late 1800s and quickly spread, devouring most anything in the mustard family along the way. Cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, the caterpillars chomp it all. Control measures (read: pesticides, native predators, and the ilk) now keep the larvae from inflicting as much damage on commercial crops as when they were first introduced.

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But after they become butterflies, cabbage whites pollinate countless other plants. They are a bountiful food source for songbirds, with those lovely visible white wings. They’re not picky about where they settle and can be found from Canada to South America, North Africa to the UK. They’ve got stamina – adults can fly for longer distances than I can walk right now!

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So late in the year, as deep green murmurs change to dry colorful crunches, I watch for these hardy ones and am grateful for those alabaster flitters.

Pieris rapae

 

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Or your good ol’ cabbage white. 🙂 It is one of the first butterflies I snap in spring and one of the last in fall, so hardy it can survive a couple of cold nights, so bright among the greens, browns, golds, and reds of our late fall that it pops out nicely.

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These were taken in a friend’s garden one windy afternoon. If I wasn’t being blown sideways, the butterflies or the plants were. Bad aperture control and focus on my part did the rest!

It was a good day to experiment, and as I’m still learning this art, I need a lot of “experiment” days. 🙂 The weather’s supposed to be nice for the next several days, with winds only in the 10-20 mph range. Wish me luck and send me tips. 😀

 

Tiny Little Flitgleams

Once again I spent a few minutes one sunny afternoon belly-crawling through the grass, since these tiny little butterflies prefer to hover just off the ground.  This time, however, the light was better and there was barely a breeze, so I managed to get a few pictures off before heading into an appointment.

dsc_0057Eastern-Tailed Blues

dsc_0053The female eastern-tailed blue has a darker, almost charcoal-colored inner wing compared to the brighter blue of the males.

dsc_0034This week’s weather seemed to mark the end of a very extended fall, though, so I doubt I’ll be seeing any more of these little gems until the next year. :/

They’ll be back.

 

 

Confessions of a (chronic pain) graduate student

Friday evening. 5:05 pm. Leaving work!! Lit review done!! Passed a medical test with flying colors!! PARTY!!!!! Partypartypartyparty!!!!!!

Friday evening, 5:21 pm. Ok. How about something party-ish?!?! That will be wicked!

Friday evening, 5:30 pm. Almost home. Right, how about something calm and just a tad fun?

Friday evening, 5:57 pm. *Eats cereal on kitchen floor*

Friday evening, 6:11 pm. *ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzz*

 

Confessions of a (chronic pain) graduate student

I’ve bought scented hand sanitizer because, at this point in my college career, I’m getting sick of the smell of the straight alcohol variety. Added bonus: it can double as deodorant when you play med reaction bingo and end up with “increased sweating may occur.”

(Show me someone who doesn’t think that hand sanitizer is a great idea at college, and I’ll show you someone who has never been in the practice rooms. Especially after the french horns.)