October 6, 2012 by Rob Hurlbut · 2 Comments
I live in Imperial Beach, in the extreme southwest corner of San Diego County. Wildlife abounds in IB because it is bordered by a wildlife preserve to the north, the Tijuana Estuary to the south & the Pacific Ocean to the west. Last week I finally saw a praying mantis, an insect I have NEVER seen in person before. I was very impressed with the amount of attention it paid to me as I took some photos. This guy or gal was very aware of me and was very reactive to my movements.
Praying Mantis Looks Up At Me
This praying mantis was fun to look at and to photograph. I resisted the urge to touch it, but I wanted to. The barbs on it’s grabbers look pretty wicked and since I wasn’t sure if touching it would cause it to fight or flee so I decided to concentrate on looking at the eyes. The eyes of this praying mantis have pupils that move around on the inside of the eyeball. Whatever the mechanics are, it was neat to see and be seen by something as cool as this.
Praying Mantis Asks, “What is right with the world?”
One could imagine the sharp parts of this insect tearing through the exoskeleton of other insects with ease. When you look at the animal kingdom it’s very important to see what we have relative to our animal brethren; we don’t have sharp claws or teeth, we can’t fly and our vital organs are only protected by a thin layer of skin.
We do have our brains which enables us to work together, to cooperate and make the world a better place. I recently watched a movie by Tom Shadyac called, “I Am” so I’m feeling a little bit mystical at the moment. If you’ve seen it you should understand where I’m at and if you haven’t seen it, I recommend it, very highly.
August 25, 2011 by Rob Hurlbut · 2 Comments
Dragonfly In Otay Valley Regional Park
If you like dragonflies then you will want to ride your bike through Otay Valley Regional Park, in Chula Vista between Beyer Boulevard and Interstate 805. That area of the park holds a couple lakes with cattail filled shores and lots of dragonflies. I would very much recommend you take the time to just watch a dragonfly as at flies around. They have what seems like an impossible way of flying; they are able to stop and hover on a dime and can even fly backwards. This makes photographing them in flight very difficult because they are impossible to anticipate. The autofocus on my camera could not keep up at all, so I switched to manual focus which was difficult but yielded better photos. My only advice would be to use a small aperture, so you focal range will be as wide as possible.
Airborne Dragonflies Are Not Easy To Photograph
I was amazed at the bright blue color of this particular dragonfly, but it just wouldn’t land. I tracked this one and several others for the better part of an hour and none of them ever landed. That’s why there are only two photos in this post, because these two were the best I was able to do. Dragonflies zip around at all angles and have an instant stop and reverse move that will get you every time.
West Edge Of Otay Valley Regional Park
But I digress; Otay Valley Regional Park is a dragonfly lover’s paradise right now, so head out to west Chula Vista with your bike and enjoy the park. There are bathrooms and drinking fountains on the west side of Beyer Boulevard so you don’t need to brink anything other than your camera. You can walk this park, but it is 100 percent bike friendly so that is what I recommend. I entered the park via the southeast edge of Bayshore Bikeway, near Swiss Park (see map above). It’s a great little oasis in the middle of Chula Vista.
July 2, 2010 by Rob Hurlbut · Leave a Comment
This yellowjacket wasp was grooming herself when I ran into her. I was taking pictures of some construction in the road when she landed, had a quick bath and left.
May 31, 2010 by Rob Hurlbut · Leave a Comment
Joshua Trees In The National Park
Even though I have not traveled much in the last ten years, I like to look at the laundry list of places I have been with pride and nostalgia. I have traveled to 5 continents, 18 countries and 17 American states. With any luck at all, those numbers will grow as will my understanding of the world. On Sunday of Memorial Day weekend 2010, I traveled with my cousins to Joshua Tree National Park.
Joshua Tree National Park looks like the set of a motion picture where the story takes place on a planet that is not planet Earth. Earlier I mentioned the number of places I have been on this planet, not to brag, but for some perspective. Joshua Tree National Park is not like traveling on Earth, it’s like going the surface of an unknown moon of an unknown planet. The only familiar things are what you carry with you and the people you travel with.
Skull Rock and The Hall Of Horrors can not be seen anywhere else. You must go to Joshua Tree National Park to see them, and countless other geologic, animalistic and aquatic features. Check out the Joshua Tree website and plan your trip today. A few major things to know: Bring your own water, firewood and DEFINITELY bring your camera.
Located about 175 miles from San Diego, 140 miles from Los Angeles and 215 miles from Las Vegas, Joshua Tree National Park is an easy and interesting place to go for anyone in the southwest United States.
Flowers Reside Here Too
For this journey, I had my trusty Nikon D5000 and two Nikkor lenses. Between these two lenses I covered the photographic spectrum from 18 to 200mm, and I ended up using every single bit of that distance. The one thing that I am lacking with this rig is macro capability; At 200mm, I have to be at least 3 feet away from my subject. Not a big deal, but it is something to consider when shooting flowers and bugs.
Hummingbird In Joshua Tree National Park
The hummingbird you see above had one of the loudest wing beats I have ever heard. It almost sounded like a helicopter in the distance, or a very large bumblebee very near by. Either way, it landed and stood still long enough for me to take a single photo.
Rocks And Joshua Trees
Aside from all the things to see in Joshua Tree National Park, there are a lot of rocks to climb. Seriously, this place is a rock climber’s dream. There are rock formations that that can be stared at for hours or climbed upon for days.
An Insect On A Thorny Plant
For me, one of the best things about going to a National Park, or any outdoor/wilderness setting in general is being able to see the way non-humans live and go about their lives. Since animals do not have to compete with us for life inside a park, we are able (if we quiet our minds and take the time to just look & listen) to physically and personally see just how connected every living thing is. The photo above helps to illustrate how every plant and animal has a reason for being, and that reason is not to be subjugated by people.
I saw a lot of lizards during my time in the park, but they are very fast and always seemed to be running away from me towards the cover of the nearest shrub or crack in the rocks. The specimen above was sunning on a rock, and stood still while I approached and photographed him.
That will bring this post to a close, but stay tuned for another post in the next day or so that will feature some amazing things I saw just north of Joshua Tree National Park. I won’t give it away, but historic Route 66, the town and volcanic crater of Amboy, Roy’s Cafe, shoes and immortalizing myself with rocks are all on the menu. Cheers!
Joshua Tree National Park
April 20, 2010 by Rob Hurlbut · 1 Comment
Zebra Longwing (Heliconius charitonia)
San Diego Zoo Safari Park, in Encondito, CA just wrapped up a special “Butterfly Jungle” exhibit this past weekend. The entire park, including the butterfly jungle was a great experience and took up an entire Saturday as well as a few days to sort and select my favorite pics from that day. I found that I had too many keepers for one blog post. I’m going to split that exhausting day into three posts: Butterflies, birds and mammals, in that order.
This post will feature butterflies. These pics were snapped at 1/500th or faster, and most were at full 450mm zoom. That means the ISO was pretty high (1600-3200 ISO) so there is a bit of noise. Since I know next to nothing about what makes a butterfly tick, I won’t sully their wonderful colors or elegant, nectar slurping lives with any more of my words except to say, “Enjoy.”
Orange-Barred Tiger (Dryadula phaetusa)
Giant Swallowtail (Papilio cresphontes)
Malachite (Siproeta stelenes)
Paper Kite Butterfly (Idea leuconoe)”
Malachite (Siproeta stelenes) & Blue Morpho (Morpho peleides)
Postman (Heliconius melpomene)
November 2, 2009 by Rob Hurlbut · 1 Comment
Flower, Shadow, Sunlight, Bee, Blue Sky
Balboa Park is not exactly a spooky Halloween place, at least during the day. What seemed to me to be a unique combination of sunlight, flower and insect prompted the pic above.
Cactus Needles Backlit By The Sun
Wow! Cactus needles backlit by the sun. No one has ever done that before! I’m not kidding, you are seeing a marvel of modern photography!
This Is A Great Shot Of A Waiting Orb Spider
This spider was milling about about The House Of Poland in Balboa Park, San Diego, CA.
October 6, 2009 by Rob Hurlbut · Leave a Comment
The Biggest Moon Of The Year Just Didn’t Cooperate
This post will be a little bit different because it will offer a view of the man behind the curtain. October 4th was the actual harvest moon for 2009, but nothing was falling into place, photographically. I had no tripod and the moon was already well above the horizon by the time I set out, so I felt like I had failed. The once a year harvest moon was not properly photographed by me because I was late out of the blocks. What can I say? It wasn’t until I was entering my pad that I saw the spider above, huge and fluttering on it’s web in a very stiff evening breeze. I tried to capture, in camera, the spider, against the moon, but the wind was so strong and my hand so unsteady that I could not quite get the metering I hoped for.
My Mad Photoshop CS4 Skills Had Failed Me
I attempted to use my digital darkroom to recreate what my eyes had seen, but it was to no avail. The image size had to be reduced so that I would not look like an imbecile, posting photos that were nothing more than hacks or garbage. Hopefully, you can still get an idea of what I was trying to do, even though I failed to do it.
It’s Important Not To Hide When You Fail
Yet fail is what I did, yet again with this web. The spider, on his web was moving aroung in the breeze so much that use=ing my on camera flash was the only way I could could any detail. The problem was that using the flash blew out the spider, so it was a pure white mess. My solution was to crop as much of the web as I could and that mirror image it so it would look like I had done a grander job than I actually had. Don’t tell!
What Would My Role For This Moon Have Been 1000 Years Ago?
I actually like this shot, even though it is just a glorified snapshot, and won’t make me any money. The moon has a sense of scale with the trees and the clouds. It lights up the sky and clouds but not the trees. It is huge and it was captured by me. Yes!
September 16, 2009 by Rob Hurlbut · 1 Comment
Animals Come In All Shapes & Colors
My friends in Denver watch over my friends in San Diego, even though San Diego has no idea.
An octopus may have eight arms and an anaconda might stretch from a third floor window to the ground, but Denver holds them both in the palm of his hand. Denver was able to cure cancer in China, providing love, joy and happiness to 278 souls that had previously known only fear and evil. Had I accompanied Denver on that Celestial journey that number would have been elevated to 428. I just found this out. I have just now been made aware of those actual numbers.
Oh what a difference a day makes.
Kill Or Bee Killed
My friends in San Diego are more powerful than Denver, but without any sort of direction, will never change the world. It’s taken almost five years for me to realize that I can enable San Diego to change the world, and that San Diego can enable me to do the same.
One Day I’m Going To Change The World
One day, everyone will know who I am. One day my life story will be required reading in American history and with any luck it will be a part of the curriculum that students will look forward to learning.
Can You Guess Which One Is Me?
I love the Celestial Calendar and every other bit of bullshit that has to do with the stars. I also leave bullshit on the ground whenever I see see it. I don’t like bullshit because it smells like shit and if I handle it my hands will smell like shit. That is why “water off a duck” is so apt for me. Bullshit does not hinder me because I walk right past it, without breaking stride. Bullshit rolls off me, just like water off a duck. My fresh smelling hands are my proof.
The Celestial Zodiac Has Nothing On A Tiger
Until San Diego learns to walk past bullshit, instead of smearing it all over it’s body and flinging it about the room, Denver will remain at an appropriate remove so as not to have to see or smell beautiful women wallowing in shit.
August 19, 2009 by Rob Hurlbut · Leave a Comment
The Green Lynx Spider
Of the many things that happened while I was down there, eating was one of them. I bring this up because I am assuming that it was something I ate while down in the rabbit hole that shrank me down to the size of an ambush spider’s prey. The abundance of honey bees, distracted this spider just long enough for me to slide down the stem of the flower and run into the underbrush of the nearby shrubbery and flower ecosystem .
Full Spectrum Lizard
Due to my small size, I cannot judge distance for this story at all so it it should suffice to say that to open space of coarse white cement may have been a bike path or a jumbo-jet runway, and this lizard was right in the middle of it. My physical being was so small that the pebbles next to the lizard seemed to be the size of automobiles to me.
The Thirsty Worm Gets The Burn
I was able to hide behind the carcass of this earthworm, which for some reason, was not in the earth because it was dead, on top of the earth. This irony was lost on me as I sought cover behind it, while waiting for the giant chameleon death lizard to lumber away from my present location.
I managed to make my way to a cut lumber pile that was teeming with flight capable life forms.
This fly, with a bright iridescent racing green skin gave me a ride to a witch doctor that said she would make me regular size.
I suppose that’s all I ever wanted.
July 15, 2009 by Rob Hurlbut · Leave a Comment
Not that it would matter to a capitalist, but this giant fly has one of the biggest egos in the animal & insect kingdom. Why else would it go about life in color, when the world is so clearly black & white?