Photography · Writing

Back Yard Photographer – A Monarch?

Monarch

For several days/weeks a single orange and black butterfly had flitted through the yard. It never stopped anywhere in the yard but it was beautiful to watch. From a distance I couldn’t tell if it was a Viceroy or a Monarch. I guessed it was a Viceroy, since there had been several in the yard last year.

Here’s a few photos from last year:

When I took these pictures last year, I had been so excited seeing these, as I thought they were Monarchs. After studying the pictures and various resources, I determined these were Viceroys. The only way I could tell last year was by the fine black line that goes across the wings. Not a monarch, but just as beautiful.

Are there other differences between a Monarch and a Viceroy? Yes there are! But not as easily seen.

  • The above noted thin second stripe on the wings
  • Viceroy is a bit smaller
  • Monarch’s caterpillars are yellow and brown where as the Viceroy looks like a green twig
  • Plants from the willow family are a favorite of the Viceroy, but a Monarch prefers Milkweed
  • Flight styles are a bit different as well – the Monarch has a smooth almost floating style where the Viceroy’s flight patter is more erratic

(source: https://dismalswampwelcomecenter.com/monarch-or-viceroy)

Here’s the photos of what I believe to be a Monarch that came for a visit.

There aren’t any milkweeds nearby, that I have seen, so I was very surprised to see these. I’m going to have to check around to see if I can find any milkweeds. If there are some, then there might just get to be more Monarchs in the area next year. I am VERY hopeful! I will keep you posted. 🙂

Thank you for stopping by and checking out my blog – hope you enjoy it!

All photos are originals by Kim Lawless

Photography · Writing

Back Yard Photographer – Butterflies and Flowers

Silver spotted skipper getting pollen from a Hosta flower

In the spring I had set out to grow more flowers and plants in my flower gardens that butterflies and hummingbirds would like. It took much experimentation and sadly some of the flowers didn’t survive. However, I now have a much better idea of what flowers I need to grow in very specific places. Next spring I will be replanting some from this year and trying some additional flowers and plants. I’ve also been trying to get a mixture, so the butterflies can get their nectar but also have a place for their larvae. I’m learning so much! It has also been fun getting pictures of the flowers and and some of the butterflies that have visited. I don’t have a large variety of visitors yet, but I shall keep trying!!

During the winter as I study more, I’m going to try to start some of the flowers from seed in doors, so they are ready to plant in the spring after the frost is done. Maybe this will give them a better chance of living as the experiments continue! 🙂

Here are a few of my favorite photos from my flower gardens with the butterflies:

Silver Spotted Skipper climbing a Hosta flower
Silver Spotted Skipper tasting a zinnia flower
European Skipper
European Skipper
Clouded Sulphur
Clouded Sulphur

Thank you for stopping by and checking out my blog. Hope you enjoyed the pictures!

All photos are originals by Kim Lawless

Photography · Short Stories · Writing

Back Yard Photographer – Grateful For A Patch of Dirt

Weird to take a picture of dirt – I know. As you know, every picture has a story and this is no different.

This particular patch of dirt has gone through quite the evolution. In a way it is reminiscent of the Shel Silverstein book, The Giving Tree. The dirt patch is always ready to do what we ask of it and it gives us so much more.

When my children and I moved into my current house, my youngest was excited about the big play area in the back yard. To a six year old play equipment in their back yard is a big deal. This was a small set with a couple of swings, a climbing area and a little spot for a fort. She was excited every time she went to play in the yard. She didn’t play in the dirt much, but she did love that fort with the swings. This little patch of dirt was the strength beneath the equipment and made for a soft landing if you slipped out of the swing. Trust me – I know.

As my children grew, the need for the play area became less and less. Every once in a while I would see my daughters with their friends sitting on the swings while they discussed the latest crush or the happenings at school. This happened less and less. It became obvious that the play area just wasn’t needed anymore. We tore it down and stored the wooden pieces.

The next great project was to try a vegetable garden. I used some of the wood from the play equipment to mark off the garden by building around the patch of dirt. I thought this was going to be easy – the dirt was already there and all I would need to do is drop in the seeds. I dreamt of the delicious vegetables that we would enjoy from the garden. But, that didn’t happen. The little dirt patch tried. Some of the seeds sprouted, but little critters got to them before we could get any vegetables. I tried this for several years and finally decided no more gardens.

Even when the gardening was done, I didn’t put any grass seed down or try anything to fill in the patch of dirt. I just let it be there. This was not necessarily by design as I hadn’t decided what I wanted to do next. So, the patch of dirt just sat there. I was almost ready to put some sod down to get some grass to grow when I noticed all of the activity in this little patch. Several different types of birds would cool themselves in the dirt. Even rabbits and squirrels found the dirt to be a perfect place to rest. It was about this time that I got my camera and begin taking photos. My new photography hobby began – inspired, in part, by dirt.

But the greatest thing this patch of dirt has brought is a place for me and my grandson to play together. We have spent hours playing in the dirt. We’ve dug a lot of holes, planted many rocks, built roads for pretend cars and made mud pies. We would always be dirty when we were done playing (some times it was more muddy than dirty). This was no big deal because it meant we had had fun (and now we could play with bubbles while he took a bath!).

I now have a granddaughter, who I look forward to spending time with, while playing in the dirt.

So yes, it is just a patch of dirt. But, for me, it is a treasure chest of memories.

Here’s some photos of the fun in the dirt.

Yes, I am grateful for my very special patch of dirt and all the wonderful memories.

Hope you liked this post. Thank you for stopping by and checking out my blog.

All photos are originals by Kim Lawless.

Photography · Writing

Back Yard Photographer – More Macro Fun!

Zinnia

Love my micro lens! The detail is awesome – even with a slightly shaky amateur photographer. In the title photo the lens picked up the detail of the cotton seeds that had landed on the zinnia. In the photo it looks like very faint spider webs. We have and lots of cotton wood seeds in the yard this year. At some points it almost looked like we had snow. End result – most everything has a thin layer of the cotton substance on it. Oh well, just some added detail. 🙂

Back to the micro lens… after water the flowers in the gardens, I saw the water beading on the roses and started taking pictures. There’s just something about water beading on roses.

Even without the water beads, I like the detail of small flowers captured by the micro lens. Here’s a few more examples.

I’ve been try to capture some insects with the micro lens (who doesn’t like a good fly or dragon fly photo??) – but my timing has not been great. I haven’t had my micro lens on the camera when flies are bothering my while I try to capture some bird photos. One day, a really pretty blue and green fly landed on my hand. It seemed quite content to sit on my hand. I happen to have the micro lens near-by, so I attempted to change lenses with the fly still on my hand. I actually was able to change the lens, however the fly took off before I was able to get the shot in focus. (It is really hard to hold the camera in one hand and focus the shot while the subject is on the hand you are trying to use to focus the shot.) I shall not give up! Soon (I hope) there will be a post with insects.

Until I get those insects, I hope you enjoy the flower photos!

Thank you for stopping by and checking out my blog!!!

All photos are originals by Kim Lawless.

Photography · Writing

Back Yard Photographer – Glass Ball Experiments

Who knew using the glass ball could be so much fun?? Late winter I had taken some photos of the snow using the glass ball (earlier post), so naturally when spring came around I had to take some more photos with the glass ball. Hope you like these!

I tried capturing irises through the glass ball, but the experiment didn’t turn out like I had hoped. The composition was ok, but there were technical aspects that should have been better. Some more detailed editing would definitely improve these photos, but I wanted to show you the concept. And give you a few hints. The hints aren’t new, but they are a good visual of why you need to pay attention. 🙂

Hint 1: When using the glass ball, having the sun behind you isn’t necessarily the best idea as it causes glare. (Yikes! My eyes burn a little when I look at this photo!)

Hint 2: Placement is EVERYTHING! Since the purpose of the photo is to capture the subject within the glass ball, cropping while editing can’t remove unwanted distractions because it takes away from the glass ball. In the photo below (and trust me – many more) the grill shows. This does NOT add to the composition I was going for! Yes, editing could be done to get to the photo I wanted, but it is always best to have near perfect photo before editing. It just simplifies things.

So, with some cropping (does take away from the point of the photo) and a little editing (removing the glare), here’s what I ended up with:

And this is why I titled this Glass Ball Experiments – some worked and some didn’t. I shall keep trying – practice, practice, practice!!! 🙂

Thank you for stopping by and checking out my post!

All photos are originals by Kim Lawless