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 Post subject: Mojave Springtime
PostPosted: June 27th, 2017, 2:40 pm 
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Joined: September 2nd, 2015, 11:52 am
Posts: 26
It has been some time since I posted -- life gets busy from time to time -- but I did manage to get out to the Mojave this spring for a few day hikes to see what the winter rains had wrought. Here are a few photos from those trips:

Male Zebra-Tailed Lizard, breeding colors
[/img]Imagehttps://flic.kr/p/TJJgrDTom Astle[img]
Southern Desert Horned Lizard
[/img]Imagehttps://flic.kr/p/SL6V1DTom Astle[img]
Rosy Boa portrait
[/img]Imagehttps://flic.kr/p/TVEoyRTom Astle[/img]
Leopard Lizard Lunch -- I heard a commotion inside a bush, then this leopard lizard dashed out, holding this whiptail, which was 2/3 the size of its attacker.
[/img]Imagehttps://flic.kr/p/SvBF7MTom Astle[img]
Side-Blotched Lizard
[/img]Image/url][url=https://www.flickr.com/photos/themagiccity/]Tom Astle[img]
Another Desert Horned Lizard
[/img]Image[/url]https://flic.kr/p/Sw5L5A[/img]
Noctueliopsis moth on Desert Sunflower
[/img]Imagehttps://flic.kr/p/SGx9Nv[/img]
Inflated Beetle (aka spider beetle; a type of blister beetle)
[/img]Image[/url]https://flic.kr/p/TEEJDM[/img]
Another Side-Blotched Lizard (I think)
[/img]Image[/url]https://flic.kr/p/TUHRod[/img]

Blister Beetle on Thistle Sage
[/img]Image[/url]https://flic.kr/p/TEEHFV[/img]
White-Lined Sphinx Moth Caterpillar -- if you spend any time in the Mojave in springtime, chances are you'll see quite a few of these taking advantage of the spring bloom
[/img]Image[/url]https://flic.kr/p/TnbS4y[/img]
Small Fly on Mojave Aster
[/img]Image[/url]https://flic.kr/p/TMdrCM[/img]
Male Chuckwalla
[/img]Imagehttps://flic.kr/p/U6b6Sw[/img]


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 Post subject: Re: Mojave Springtime
PostPosted: June 28th, 2017, 10:05 am 
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Joined: June 10th, 2010, 8:49 pm
Posts: 1145
Awesomeness! I love the Gambelia predation photo.

Could I use that in a presentation? Full credit to you of course.


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 Post subject: Re: Mojave Springtime
PostPosted: June 28th, 2017, 11:05 am 
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Joined: September 2nd, 2015, 11:52 am
Posts: 26
Thank you, Bryan, and yes. May I ask what your presentation is about?


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 Post subject: Re: Mojave Springtime
PostPosted: June 28th, 2017, 3:26 pm 
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Joined: June 11th, 2010, 5:01 am
Posts: 517
Location: Louisiana
That first uta picture is also superb, much closer in detail than most of us ever took a second look. America's most underrated feeder lizard.

Jeff


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 Post subject: Re: Mojave Springtime
PostPosted: June 28th, 2017, 3:48 pm 
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Joined: September 2nd, 2015, 11:52 am
Posts: 26
Thanks, Jeff. All these photos were taken with a 100mm macro lens, which I love to use even if it means I miss some shots. With the first Uta pic, I was able to slowly get very near him because I think he was more concerned with another male that kept approaching "his" rock. The same with the zebra-tailed male -- there was a female underneath a small creosote bush, and the male never bolted across halfway across the desert like they usually do -- each time he ran, he just circled the bush, never wanting to abandon the female, I presume, so that over a period of about twenty minutes he got used to my presence, as long as I never stood up to full height.


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 Post subject: Re: Mojave Springtime
PostPosted: June 29th, 2017, 8:50 am 
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Joined: June 10th, 2010, 8:49 pm
Posts: 1145
Reptiles of the Great Basin, Feeding ecology of Great Basin rattlesnakes. I do those talks pretty regularly.

More immediately, I hope to use the Gambelia photo at my dissertation defense on trophic ecology! That's my plan and I'm sticking to it.

I'll PM you for your contact information and other details.

All the pictures are great. Sometimes we forget how much work goes into a few pictures. I'm not an insect person but I love all the bugs.


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 Post subject: Re: Mojave Springtime
PostPosted: June 29th, 2017, 2:08 pm 
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Joined: June 7th, 2010, 9:22 am
Posts: 301
Yeah, these photos are nice. Would you mind sharing your photography setup? I'm always curious about gear people are using.

Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: Mojave Springtime
PostPosted: June 29th, 2017, 4:45 pm 
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Joined: September 2nd, 2015, 11:52 am
Posts: 26
Thank you, and sure. Basically, I have a dedicated hand-held macro setup that's great for tiny things like bugs, but which I find can help me get interesting closeups of "big" animals like lizards. These photos were all shot with a Nikon D800 and as I mentioned earlier, a 100mm macro lens (capable of 1:1 reproduction on a full-frame sensor). 99.9% of the time I shoot fully manual and hand-held. I suppose I'd have a higher keeper rate (of lizards that hadn't just run away, anyway) if I used a true telephoto lens and autofocus, but autofocus is all but useless for insect shots, and anyway I like the challenge of trying to get close. I also use supplemental off-camera diffused flash (day as well as night) to enable me to stop down the lens and achieve better depth of field at such close distances. I have two flash units mounted on flexible arms, attached to a baseplate mounted to the camera, so I can angle the flash heads for good light coverage. The key thing is to diffuse the light to avoid harsh highlights. In my case I have small softboxes attached to the flash heads, which serve to hold the diffusion material several inches away from the flash unit (you may have seen the little clip-on plastic diffusers that come with some flashes, but these are largely ineffective because they mount too close to the flash itself). I sometimes also attach another piece of diffusion material to the end of the lens for even softer lighting (great for shiny things like eyes and beetle wings). If you google "homemade macro flash softbox" you'll probably see many other homemade versions of what I use -- people make diffusers out of milk jugs, yogurt containers -- even firing a flash through a piece of copy paper held out near the end of the lens, well away from the flash head, can do wonders for the lighting. Hope that helps.


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 Post subject: Re: Mojave Springtime
PostPosted: July 22nd, 2017, 1:13 pm 
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Joined: July 27th, 2010, 8:17 pm
Posts: 121
Fantastic pics!


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 Post subject: There is something magical about the Mojave
PostPosted: July 23rd, 2017, 7:44 am 
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Joined: June 10th, 2010, 4:57 pm
Posts: 52
Location: Portland/Vancouver
I first visited when I was in my 20s. Once, I spent a magical afternoon at Joshua Tree NP, marveling at the large boulders.
There was a certain sense of timelessness in the air - very difficult to describe. I miss the spot and my soul longs to return to it at times.

Thanks for the really fun photos & descriptions.

(Some Mojave Desert species occur as far north as Oregon, in the SE corner of the Alvord Desert region at 4,000 feet. You can see Desert Horned & Leopard lizards found nowhere else in the state.)


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