December 10, 2014

On The Trail: Early December

Matthew and I recently took a hike at one of our favorite locations, and decided to take one of the trail branches that we haven't taken in over a year!  It.  Was.  Rough.  This particular trail is at least 75% steep rocky hills, and my calves and thighs were screaming at me for choosing to hike it.  I needed the workout though and there were plenty of subjects to photograph along the way.  Here's what I got:

Grasshoppers are becoming one of my favorite insects to photograph.  They'll generally let you sneak up and get super close and in position...and then they'll sit motionless for you while you click away.  This little guy finally turned to the side right before I decided to get up and I really like the profile shot I got of him (or her).

There is no shortage of Cacti in these parts, but I'm not sure I've ever seen Cactus Vines before.  Pretty cool!

I also got excited to check off the color purple for my December Scavenger Hunt!  I was worried about finding something purple this time of year...but here it is!

I found deer tracks!  There are always deer tracks :)

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Have a great week!

December 9, 2014

It's My Birthday And I'll Shop If I Want To

As much as I'd like to purchase everything on my birthday wishlist, it's just not gonna happen...but dreamers can dream right?!  Here's what's on my 29th birthday wishlist:

Birthday Wishlist

I've already ordered the set of Macro filters and the National Geographic Magazine subscriptions...I'm excited to try out those filters!!!  They'll have to hold me over until I can get my hands on that 105mm lens.  Aside from the t-shirt and reflectors, everything else on my list is over my budget right now.

I'm hoping to get a pair of those hiking boots and that camera bag sometime in the next 3 months...that camera bag is absolutely perfect.  It includes a compartment for a water bladder AND the bottom bag swivels out of the main part of the bag so that if you need to change your lens or get something in a hurry, you don't have to take the bag off in order to do so.  How perfect is that?!

Have a great week!


December 6, 2014

At The Park: Harvester Ants

Let's start this post with a fact about myself: I Love Ants.  Ants are some of the most interesting and amazing creatures around.  Just check out THIS article and THIS article for a few interesting facts about them!

These particular ants are Harvester Ants, and a few weeks ago I discovered a colony of them at the park that I visit regularly.  I don't want to go into how excited I was when I found them, but it involved a bit of hopping and squealing and overall giddiness.  I've only come across a few Harvester Ant colonies in the past, and that's because their numbers have drastically declined since the introduction of red imported fire ants.  The reduction of the Harvester Ant population has also made a negative impact on the population of our state reptile-the Texas Horned Lizard.  I'm hoping that the few sightings that I've made in the past few years means that their numbers are rising.  These little guys are awesome and I'd love to see the Texas Horned Lizard make a comeback as well.  On to more photos!!!

I badly want to invest in a 105mm macro lens so that I can take super crisp macro photos of these little guys without having to get as close as I had to with my 40mm lens.  I'm pretty sure the multiple people who passed by me at the park thought I was a complete lunatic.  I was on my knees and elbows, bum in the air, and lens about 3 inches or less from the ground for about 15 to 30 minutes.  I know I looked ridiculous.  So what happens when you plant yourself in the middle of an ant colony?  They attack.

Harvester Ants are generally not known to be aggressive, and they pretty much ignored my intrusion for the majority of the time I took photos.  Had I not been bitten, I probably would have stayed there for an hour or so just watching them.  I only suffered one bite, which was on my neck, and then I got up and realized that there were at least a dozen of them crawling on my sleeves and leggings.  I brushed them away and headed to my car to check out the bite and make sure I didn't have any more on me.

The bite was actually pretty painful and it even made my entire jaw feel tight and achy for about an hour!  Lesson of the day:  Don't lay down in the middle of an ant colony.  Common sense I know...but I was desperate for these photos and in the end it was worth it for me :)

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