Here is a series of pictures I made a few years ago. The pictures show the main stages of a monarch caterpillar turning into a beautiful butterfly. This group of pictures was made over about a two week period. All of the action takes place at the beginning and end of that two week period. Near the end you can tell when the butterfly is about to emerge because just before the hatch the chrysalis becomes transparent allowing you to see the butterfly inside.
I came home early one afternoon and found a transparent chrysalis, I knew that the butterfly was just about to emerge. So I got my gear ready and kept a close eye on things. As the day went on I could see the butterfly moving inside struggling to break free. About ten o’clock that evening I had myself completely convinced that it was going to happen very soon. At midnight, (twelve hours in now), I’m quite certain that the chrysalis is just about to burst. By three in the morning I’m seriously considering using a razor blade to preform an emergency butterflyectomy. Well, five am comes and I certainly can’t go to bed, I had already spent fifteen hours waiting for this thing! I could not imagine going to sleep and missing it at this point! The clock on the mantle announces eight in the morning, and still no butterfly, OK this is just getting ridiculous! In the end the butterfly you see here was ‘born’ at 11:00 AM on a beautiful July morning, after I had spent just over 23 hours on stakeout!
I can tell you that I took a much deserved nap that afternoon.
One of the things that I love about photography is at times I am able to show the viewer something that they would not normally see. When photographing a bird in flight for example, using a fast shutter speed to freeze the action and show the graceful sweep of the wings. Or using a slow shutter speed to allow a moving subject to make an impressionistic blur across the frame. Another technique that I like to use is moving in close and showing the viewer details that they could not easily see with their naked eye. Such as my work with snowflake photography where I use a microscope to photograph snow crystals. Here are a couple of other examples of this close approach.
This first shot shows a closeup of the scales of a monarch butterflies wings.
This next picture shows a closeup of dewdrops on a spiderweb. Within each drop you see a flower, the flower is actually the background of the picture. Each of the drops acts like a lens to bring this flower into focus.
One of the main reasons that I went out west this spring was to photograph the endangered Greater Sage Grouse. In mid April the males gather on leks to dance and call in the hopes of attracting females to mate with.
I want to say a special thanks to Ron Laird an excellent photographer and great naturalist who not only gave me a place to stay, right on the ranch where I photographed these grouse. But also took time out of his busy day to share some of his own work with me and show me many of the other places to photograph in the area. Thanks again Ron.
Here is a series of shots showing the male calling. I checked the time stamp in the metadata for these images and the span of time between the first shot in the series and the last is less than a second (my camera takes 8 frames per second). So this action is happening very quickly.
These next couple images are a little different, the first is shot back lit, with the sun at a low angle coming from behind the bird. The last image was one of my personal favorites from the trip I really liked the background of this picture to me it really has a sense of place.
If you would like to go to Idaho and photograph Greater Sage Grouse I would highly recommend that you checkout Grouse Days, around mid-April, in Dubois, Idaho. It is an interesting festival and they will even set you up in a blind to photograph on an active lek. Dubois is near some other fantastic areas to photograph including the Camas National Wildlife Refuge as well as the Market Lake Wildlife Management area. Here is a link to more information about Grouse Days http://www.grousedays.org/uploads/GD-Brochure_2010.pdf