27 February 2016

Evening robber fly

A couple of evenings ago I took the camera for a slow walk—an amble, really. Shortly before the sun dipped below the western hills, I saw this robber fly (Saropogon sp., probably S. clarkii). I didn't have the macro lens with me, but in any case I was more interested in a photograph different from the usual close-up.

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

25 February 2016

Seedhead: late summer, late evening

We've had enough rain recently to avoid a drought, but still the late summer's turning the land to the colours of dry grass and dust. In a few months' time this photograph will be hard to believe, but maybe it'll help me through the cold short days. These fragments I have shored against my ruins.

To those who've given feedback on the changes to the blog, thank you. More feedback would be appreciated: you're welcome to email, leave a comment, or just vote in the poll below.

Update: I've reverted to the old, dark, blog settings to let you better assess your preference (ideally I'd offer both versions simultaneously, but that's not possible). Thanks for the feedback, and keep it coming — and lurkers, please vote ;-)

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

23 February 2016

Pohangina Valley, late summer

Having recently shown you the view from my back door at dusk, I thought it might be time to show you the view from my front door in the morning. (And no, I'm not going to photoshop out the power lines.)

As you'll see, I've changed the blog settings. I think this is easier to look at (particularly for posts with more than a sentence or two of text), and I also think it shows the photographs a little better. Please use the poll below to let me know whether you prefer this new look or the old, dark view (you're also welcome to leave a comment or email me). I've saved the old template so can revert the changes if the consensus about the new look is unfavourable.

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

21 February 2016

Ground beetle in a hurry

We've become accustomed to seeing photographs of insects as sharp and detailed, but this form of documentary photography isn't the only way of seeing. Yes, I'll admit this photograph wasn't deliberate, but the decision to keep it was very much a deliberate choice. It reminds me that the insects I photograph are very much alive, usually active (I'll chill them in a fridge only under exceptional circumstances, when it's important for something other than my own satisfaction), and often uncooperative — like this big ground beetle (a species of Mecodema).

[If you haven't visited my other blog recently, you might like to check out the two new posts there :-)]

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

17 February 2016

Dusk, Pohangina Valley

Another one from the same evening, slightly earlier.

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

05 February 2016

Kahu at dusk, Pohangina Valley

From the kitchen, I saw the evening light had begun to fade, so before it vanished completely, I decided to go for a short walk—maybe just to the edge of the terrace to look out over the river.

I'd hardly stepped outside before I bolted back in to grab the camera and tripod. Light like this lasts seconds, and I was lucky enough to manage a couple of reasonable photographs. I saw the kahu flying through the frame and just took the opportunity, knowing the bird would be a blur but not caring. As it turned out, I liked it. To me at least, it's just recognisable as a bird, and it adds something necessary to that sky.

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor

02 February 2016

Robber fly vs soldier fly

Ever since I discovered them, I've loved robber flies: they've always struck me as fascinating and slightly fearsome. I've seen them catch prey and, each time, death  was instantaneous. I suppose that's understandable, given this robber fly's preferred part of the anatomy to attack: the junction between the head and thorax (the 'neck', in loose terms). (I've seen this often enough for this species to think this is deliberate behaviour.) I've examined the discarded remains and seen a hole punched clear through, and that must be like having a cork borer the diameter of a baseball (or even larger) punched through your neck. No coming back from that.

I found this big female Neoitamus feeding on a soldier fly (eating a cousin doesn't seem to worry robber flies). Look closely and you'll see the beak stuck into the soldier fly's thorax; I didn't see the attack, so I don't know if she repositioned her beak to feed more easily on that soldier fly deliciousness, but it seems likely.

The photograph has been focus stacked from eight individual photographs hand-held at f4.

All content © 2016 Pete McGregor