Blog

Pam’s Begonia Basket

small, unloved, on clearance

Once a year when Pam’s gardens are at a summer peak, I venture out to capture her work in early morning light. For this image I used a handheld Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III SLR with the Canon lens EF 50mm f 1.2L USM. This is the fifth post of this series.

Click photograph for a larger view.

Pam’s gorgeous Begonia Grandis hanging baskets had a humble beginning. Not quite born in a log cabin, our local Aldi was the beginning where Pam saw sad little $3.00 potted begonia’s, on clearance, that needed a home. Cherished through the late frosts of May, carefully watered, placed in the perfect light, it was no accident these are so……perfect.

One strange fact, I have not witnessed a single honey bee harvesting these blooms.

I used three Canon lenses in the course of these five posts. This lens is a portrait lens. I used a large format image for this post, enjoy!!

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Iridescence and Impostors

“Here I Am”

Once a year when Pam’s gardens are at a summer peak, I venture out to capture her work in early morning light. For this fourth image of the begonia series, I used the same handheld Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III SLR but with the Canon lens EF 100 mm f 2.8L IS USM variable lens.

Click photograph for a larger view.

Tiny Mirrors

Begonia flowers have no petals. The colorful structures surrounding the male and female parts are the structure in many flowers, such as roses, that lay beneath the flower petals and are green are called the sepal. These are the cover protecting the flower as a bud and, when open, can provide support. In begonias it is the entire flower and it glows.

The angle of morning light in today’s macro captures the reflections of thousands of tiny mirrors in the flowers, more noticeable in the darker undersides. Also present is a subtle iridescence, a shiny surface imparting, in this begonia, slight color changes. These are signals to the pollinators, “Here I am — this is delicious.” Also, in low light tropical environments iridescence can enhance light gathering of leaves.

Hoverfly

Woodland sunbeams are special places where I first noticed hoverflies, they have a behavior of staying motionless, beating wings a blur, in sunlight making its way to the forest floor. It was only after the fact, in the virtual darkroom of Lightroom, I noticed the tiny creature in today’s photograph.

On a quick look, it appears to be a yellow jacket, a type of wasp. Look closely and you will see the eyes are on the top of the head and touch in places. The wings stand perpendicular to the thorax, wasp wings fold along the thorax and abdomen and there are differences in the veining of the wings. The identify of this creature is a beneficial fly, a hoverfly, genus Episyrphus. The shiny black shield on the upper thorax suggests to me this is a Episyrphus viridaureus.

This fly is beneficial to humans in two ways. One we observe in the photograph, as flower pollination. It is one of the few flies with mandibles capable of crushing pollen grains and, in the course of feeding, some pollen clings to the fly to be transported flower to flower. The second benefit is less obvious. The larval form is a predator of aphids. After feeding, it transforms into a resting state, called diapause and survives the winter this way.

Human beings suppose the benefit of looking like a wasp is protection against predators who fear being stung, increasing survival of the individual.

The lens is designed for macro work and is a fixed focus, it can capture small details without needed to be close to the subject. I decided to crop the image down to emphasize the hoverfly. It was in writing this post I noticed the sepal iridescence.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Begonia Flowers and a Sweat Bee

shiny, bright green tiny bee

Once a year when Pam’s gardens are at a summer peak I venture out to capture her work in early morning light. For this third image of the begonia series I used the same handheld Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III SLR but with the Canon lens EF 100 mm f 2.8L IS USM variable lens. Click me for the first post, “Begonia Grandis.”

Click photograph for a larger view.

Sweat Bee!!

The bee on the right, in sharp focus, was a puzzle to me. I am familiar with it, they are very common around here, and striking with a bright green shiny thorax. For this post I decided to identify it.

After thirty minutes of poking around I found a list of New York Wild bees on the Cornell CALS (College of Agriculture and Life Sciences) site. It is in the form of an excel spreadsheet and very helpful. There are over 400 species listed. Using the “filter” feature I found the six families and, for each, did a web search. I am 98% sure this bee is in the family Halictidae, known as “sweat bees,” being attracted to the salt of perspiration they use for nutrition.

Next I looked as the first name in the species designation within the family Halictidae. Tjhis is the genus. There were not many, in a few minutes singling out Agapostemon, known as the “metallic green sweat bee.” I did not find it necessary to hone in on the exact species as members of the genus Agapostemon have defining characteristics.

There are four species listed on the Cornell CALS spreadsheet, all are ground nesting and solitary. Sweat bees are useful as crop pollinators. In Texas they can replace honeybees for pollination of cotton.

Agapostemon sericeus
Agapostemon splendens
Agapostemon texanus
Agapostemon virescens

The lens is designed for macro work and is a fixed focus, it can capture small details without needed to be close to the subject. I decided to crop the image down to emphasize the bees. The sharper focus is on the sweat bee

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Bumblebees and Begonia Flowers

early morning light

Once a year when Pam’s gardens are at a summer peak, I venture out to capture her work in early morning light. For this second image of the begonia, I used the same handheld Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III SLR but with the Canon lens EF 70-300 f 4-5.6L ISM variable lens.

Click photograph for a larger view.

Bumblebees numbers will tell you if local mouse populations are under control. Mice will invade bumblebee burrows to eat the eggs and young. If the bees are plentiful, it means more are escaping mouse predation and only because mouse numbers are low.

This morning, bees of all kinds filled the begonia flowers. Bumblebees were amusing to watch enthusiastically roll around the many stamen of the male flowers, gathering as much pollen as possible.

The lens focal length is set to 84 mm to capture the entire plant, on reviewing the proofs I decided to crop the image down to emphasize the bee.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Begonia Grandis

Macro!!

Once a year when Pam’s gardens are at a summer peak I venture out to capture her work in early morning light. For this image I used a handheld Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III SLR with the Canon lens EF 100 f 2.8L Macro. This is the first post of this series. Click me for “Water Lily Flower with hornet,” from my photography gallery.

Click photograph for a larger view.

Begonia is a large genus of flowering plants, sub-tropical and tropical natives, adapted her to a hanging basket put out after the last frost, the end of May, Memorial Day, in these parts. The flowers are monoecious, both male and female unisex flowers bloom on a single plant.

Pictured are double male flowers composed entirely of stamens. This plant has a sour flavor enjoyed in parts of its range. Over consumption will produce ill effects as the tissues are high in oxalic acid, a poison to humans.

Here, the leaves and flowers glow in the gentle light of early morning.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Looming

a deadly quest

O’Grady Canyon widens at the meeting with Little Boulder Canyon.

Click Me for my Online Gallery

Prickly Pear cactus is in foreground. In season these produce magnificent flowers, see below.

East by Southeast a low ridge forms the west side of the canyons above which Weaver’s Needle looms. “Weavers Needle has played a significant role in the stories of the Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine. The Needle’s shadow reportedly indicates the location of a rich vein of gold, and many treasure hunters have searched for it. The hunt for gold around Weavers Needle has been pursued by hundreds (possibly thousands) of people. Weavers Needle has a large split in the side that makes it look like it has two tops, not one. This can only be viewed from the side.” — wikipedia

To the far left is Palamino Mountain.

Reference: wikipedia “Weavers Needle”

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Signs

a deadly quest

The Dutchman trail curves around this rocky outcrop on the east side of O’Grady Canyon, on the left are two hoodoos, on the right side a vandal has defaced the rock. Prickly Pear Cactus in foreground. Malpais Mountain (Spanish “Bad Country”) in distance.

Click Me for my Online Gallery

Signs and wonders, such as this mysterious “S”, lure people into the Superstitions. Two years after our expedition, July 2010, three men set out from First Water trailhead on a quest for Superstition Gold, never to be seen again. Unprepared for the summer heat, the skeletons of two found January 2011 on the slopes of Yellow Peak, a straight-line mile from this location.


Click me for a story of three men lost in the Superstition Wilderness

Click me for the Final Word on Men Lost in Superstition Wilderness –CURTIS MERWORTH

Click me for the Final Word on Men Lost in Superstition Wilderness — ARDEAN CURTIS CHARLES

Click me for the Final Word on Men Lost in Superstition Wilderness — MALCOM MEEKS

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Blessing

blessed water

The blessing of desert water flows through a portion of West Boulder Canyon known as O’Grady Canyon, named after “Rattlesnake” Tim O’Grady who prospected the area mid-Twentieth Century.

Click Me for my Online Gallery

Even more so as this is an intermittent flow, dry boulders offer no solace in dry seasons. In the distance, beyond a Black Mesa ridge studded with Saguaro cactus, is Malpais Mountain (Spanish, “Bad Country”). Closer, on the right, is the ridge of Palamino Mountain.


Click me for another Superstition Wilderness Episode

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Red

Eye catching color

Capturing photographs and videos on the fly using an Iphone, we visited Fillmore Glen State Park, Moravia, New York with our granddaughter, Nia. This is the sixth post of this series. Click me for the first post, “The Space Station and the Waterfall.”

Click any photograph for a larger view.

Green upon green upon green, a thousand shades of green grace the gorge of Dry Creek (“Fillmore Glen”) in summertime. Pictured above is another example of a fallen green left to return to earth. Yet the careful observer will notice spots of red.

Solomon Seal NOT

Walking the level the these red might be overlooked hanging sparsely under nodding branches. From the leaf shape you may wrongly identify this as Solomon’s Seal. This specimen, growing on a shale ledge of the glen, reveals sparse red fruit, not the plentiful dark blue of Solomon’s Seal. This is Rose Twisted-Stalk (Streptopus roseus), a member of the Lily family. The two are often found close together. I found no Solomon’s Seal this trip.

Cranberry?

The moss beneath the Rose Twisted-Stalk is plentiful here beneath the constantly dripping porous shale glen wall, mini swamps. I am not confident enough to following identification to each the red fruit. From the damp location and leaf shape I am guessing this to be mountain- cranberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea). The first photograph of this posting is an overview.

A shallow grotto

Finely layer shale in the following photograph is sediment eroded over 50 million years from the Arcadian Mountains, washed into the shallow inland sea of the Appalachian Basin. We see here a transition between fine, fragile shale and another, harder, durable sedimentary rock, limestone. There was a stone on the otherwise flat surface of the limestone around which the sediments forming the shale grew.

We see the detail because here is a persistent, sparse spring. The trail builds created a well here to carry the outflow, preventing trail erosion.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Into O’Grady Canyon

touching base and more looking around

Twenty-three minutes later I caught up with Dave and Al taking a break at a large loop in the trail, a half mile below Parker Pass.

Click Me for my Online Gallery

Fourteen years later, using GoogleEarth, I deduce the location to be 33°27’19.39″N , 111°24’38.58″W. After the horse party proceeded, I stayed behind to record them.

….as well as the surroundings. The geological formation is the escarpment of Black Mesa above O’Grady Canyon.

The name O’Grady Canyon piqued my interest, so I poked around the internet and found this posting from Tom Kollenborn, a well-known authority on the Superstitions.

“I was told Tim O’Grady prospected the area for about twenty-five years before moving to Washington. He was a well known character around Apache Junction from about 1945 – 1980. There are other interesting stories about Tim. I visited with him several times on the old First Water – Charlebois Trail in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s when I worked for the Barkley Cattle Company.

Tim’s Saddle was named after “Rattlesnake” Tim O’Grady a prospector who searched the Superstition for the Dutchman’s Lost Mine in the 1950’s and 1960’s. O’Grady Canyon is also named after him. The story goes something like this. A USGS map crew was working in the area around Parker Pass in the early 1950’s and came across this old white bearded prospector. They ask him about several landmarks in the area and their names. He pointed to a saddle and said that is Tim’s Saddle and the canyon on the right is O’Grady Canyon. They talked for a while about other landmarks and finally ask the old prospector for his name. He looked at them politely and said he was Tim O’Grady. The last I ever heard of “Rattlesnake” Tim O’Grady was he moved to Washington. He was 87 at the time.


Click me for another Superstition Wilderness Episode

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved