As a long time resident of the Dallas / Fort Worth area I’ve long been aware of a pair of fluttering orange and black wings that are seen during two key times throughout the year: Spring and Fall. The Monarch Butterfly winters in Mexico, but when temperatures rise in the Spring they begin their northern journey into the United States and the Southern most portions of Canada.
In Autumn, the butterflies migrate south so they can spend the winter in Mexico.
Their Winter nest is so laden with butterflies, it’s as if the trees in lieu of leaves have butterflies instead. Truly it’s a marvel. Scientists estimate that 6 out of every 10 butterflies die from starvation en route due to the loss of native habitat and native wildflowers that produce sustaining nectar. Here’s a short video on how you can help to preserve this annual wonder, plus some amazing photos of the Mexican winter home. Watch it on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kuMASSrli9A
There’s even a research site trying to tag and track them to more thoroughly map their migration patterns and routes over at MonarchWatch.org. Thanks to them you can get an idea of their Spring and Fall migration maps as seen above.
Looking for some color to enliven your walls? These will be available for sale in my booth at the Foust Event Center during Main Street Days (May 19-21) in Grapevine, Texas. While I have variations of these at different sizes, these large format 16×16 inch prints on Fuji Pearl Paper are luminescent and presented in a 20×20 inch mat. They can be framed as a stand alone piece, or can be hung in a grouping together.
I hope you’ll swing on by. Admission is free on Friday until 5pm, afterwards while admission is required to come out to the Festival, there’s live music, a wide arrange of food and drink (including all sorts of craft beers!) and there’s a ton of fun things to do. There’s free parking and a shuttle offered as well. For more details, check out the city’s official page here for the 33rd Annual Main Street Days.
I went over to the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens today, I was taking some maternity portraits for a really good friend of mine.In between shots, I couldn’t resist nabbing these 2 quick shots of some bees happily pollinating away among the wisteria blooms.
It’s so amazing how in a period of 4-6 weeks the wildflowers can change so drastically in the Texas Hill Country. Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes have faded, and now up comes other flowers like Indian Blankets (aka Firewheels), thistles, Horsemint (aka Bee Balm) and Mexican Hats (a type of coneflower) . I found this field June 8, 2016 along 71 just west of Spicewood and Cypress Creek. I stopped off and from the fence was taking pictures of the field, when I heard an engine idling behind me, the owner had come home from one of his other fields they farmed. The farm has been in the family since the 1800s, and the farmer couldn’t remember a year where the field was so overtaken by the horsemint. He even insisted my friends and I go home with some.
Quoth the Raven – boldly features a raven from the Tower of London. The photo shows every individual feather, every contour, the ridged eye, the delineation of the beak, and even drops of water beading on the Corvus.
Monet’s Dream – showcases water lilies framed by wind-agitated water reflecting the partially cloudy sky amidst the looming branches of tall pine trees.
Keeping Beezy – stars some contented pollinators. Not only is there great color in this piece from the beautiful pink bloom, but you can see the veins in the wings of the bees as well.
Since it’s so hard to fully see the detail in these photos showing the works in situ at the gallery, I’ve also included the images, unencumbered, so you can see what’s framed behind the glass better in the slideshow below.
RiverWinds Gallery is located at 172 Main Street in Beacon, New York. They are also happy to do mail orders as well, so if you can’t visit in person you can always call them to inquiry at: 845.838.2880.
There is a je ne sais quoi about sunflowers, they have this ability to just make people smile, to cheer and brighten. They are found scattered all over, some are wild species, and others have been cultivated for agricultural and commercial purposes. They’re also favorites of pollinating species such as butterflies and bees. There’s always a challenge when working with bees in your shot, you either focus on the insect and lose sharpness in the flower, or focus on the flower and lose sharpness on the bee. Also due to their similar color schemes, there can be a lack of sufficient contrast, let alone the challenges brought by objects in motion, sometimes competing objects in motion especially on windy days. But no matter how careful you are, and respectful, sometimes you still have a bee decide to fly up your shirt sleeve and sting you under your arm. They say pain is art, and I suffered for these shots I took on Father’s Day, June 19, 2016.
Sunflowers – VI
Sunflowers – IV
Sunflowers – VII
Sunflowers – II
Sunflowers – III
Sunflowers – I
Sunflowers – V
Sunflowers – VIII
Sunflowers – IX
Sunflowers – X
Location, Location, Location…
Thanks to a tip I found this sunflower field in Waxahachie, Texas. I was mindful not to go onto private property nor jeopardize someone’s livelihood as these are commercially grown sunflowers. So I worked the verge along the road to take these shots.
The first field can be found along the Northbound service road of US-287 between FM-878 (Palmetto) and Meagan Street. Near the Showbiz Movie Theater in Waxahachie.
A few things of note, this main field of flowers are facing away from US-287, so its hard to get shots of the front of the flowers except along the sides. But, if from US-287 you travel within a mile down FM-878 there’s another, smaller field of these sunflowers along the right hand shoulder, and those you can walk around to get front facing shots of the flowers there. And just after that field maybe 100 yards or so down the road is a stone building once used by the local prison system sans roof, doors or windows and you might be able to get some interesting shots from the fence line of the abandoned building.
One of my favorite spots to stop in the Texas Hillcountry during wildflower season is Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg, Texas. They’re part event venue, part gift shop, part nursery, and part commercial grower of wildflowers. You’re always guaranteed some wildflower pictures here during the season, and they have some fields boxed in with walking paths beside them. Depending on when you stop by for a visit, you can be greeted with an array of poppies, bluebonnets, horsemint, sunflowers, black eyed susans and so much more! Populated with all sorts of wildflowers you can also find an array of pollinators on site from bees, butterflies, dragonflies and birds (including hummingbirds).
Nearby are an array of wineries, and I like to pop over to Das Peach Haus as it has some lovely space between the store front and the orchards used for event space including a pond and water lilies, some beautiful piney woods. Not to mention some great wines and peaches!