Mycology fascinates me and if I were to go back to school, I might consider studying these mysterious organisms! Under the soil everywhere on Earth is the largest network of organism-to-organism communication, the fungi’s mycelium. There are currently groundbreaking (excuse the pun) discoveries being made in the field of Mycology which may help us to boost human immunity, clean up oil spills, and guard against outbreaks of disease. I take any and every opportunity to photograph fungi, and you can expect this page of my website to be updated frequently!
Seeds & Seedpods
These photos were taken via microscope or macro lens on a fine grain white paper in the CSU weed lab. They have an extensive bank of seeds and seed pods which needed to be photographed for the publication of Native and Non-Native Seedlings of the West.
This is a collection of different flowers and leaves I’ve photographed either on projects or for my own photo library of species. Photographing flowers can be difficult. The light temperature can make capturing the true petal color challenging, the depth of field needs to be precise in order to get both the stamen and the petals in focus and you need to get the shot before the flower begins to wilt under the hot lights. It’s bittersweet capturing these beauties, but the payoff is worth it!
These photos were all taken for Brooker Creek Preserve in Pinellas County, FL
The entomology department at CSU is doing some very interesting research on sawfly behavior that I was happy to contribute images for… the problem was that the sawflies were not happy to be on camera and presented some very difficult studio shoots! Once we figured out which conditions were right both for the sawflies and for my camera, we were able to get macro shots of their grooming behavior, which gives off pheromones the scientists are interested in manipulating in order to mitigate the destructive breeding cycles these insects inflict on crops.
I was mid-way though breakfast when I got the call to rush over to Honeymoon Island State Park to assist in the rescue of a young female Osprey which had found herself in a tangle. She had tried to grab a fish, dead most likely from the hook it had swallowed, and gotten her wing tangled in the line. At this time of year females would usually be nesting, relying on their mates to bring them the fish they needed to guard their eggs or chicks. For some reason, our female’s mate hadn’t returned, she had gotten thin, and was forced to hunt on her own. She was picked up by a boater and brought to the docks, stressed and exhausted but as we soon found out not injured from her encounter. Everyone clapped and cheered as she was safely released and flew powerfully away. We can’t be certain, but I like to think she made a full recovery and is contributing once again to the population of majestic, fishing birds of prey that call Florida’s coast home.
This project with Colorado State University was an ambitious effort to photograph, categorize and publish a handbook on Colorado’s native and invasive weed species. The majority of these photos were taken when the seedlings were between their cotyledon stage and the development of their first true leaves. I loved working right in the middle of a lab and greenhouse setting.
Sunken Gardens is a botanical paradise in the midst of a bustling city. As St. Petersburg's oldest living museum, this 100 year old garden is home to some of the oldest tropical plants in the region.
When applying pesticides, less is more. Reducing drift, amount of chemical and increasing effectiveness are always the goals of farmers and agriculture scientists alike. Surfactant makes the difference between a beading liquid which rolls off the leaves and a thick coating chemical which sticks the the target surface. Here we can see the differences between 0% .01% and .025%. The blue dye was added to increase visibility.
Identifying grasses can be difficult. To the untrained eye, their differences are usually unremarkable at best. Luckily botanists have a trick to identify individual species… Ligules! Ligules are the narrow strap-shaped part of grasses and sedges. They are a membranous scale that can be found on the inner side of the leaf sheath at its junction with the blade. In this project with Colorado State University, we worked to photograph the tiny ligule on each of the species listed in Native & Non-Native Seedlings of the West.
I was curious when I walked in to the Colorado State entomology department why they were hunched over looking at what seemed to be a blade of grass. I glanced at an enthusiastic poster touting the diversity of beetles which reassured me I was in fact in the right department. When I too bent down to peer at the pot of grass on the table, I saw a small insect climbing to the top of the blades and grooming itself. This was a sawfly, a major pest in forestry, agriculture and horticulture which people have been attacking with biological and chemical warfare to protect their crops, gardens and forests. The entomologists at CSU are learning as much as they can about their grooming behavior, which could be an essential activity in their pheromone distribution. If they can disrupt the pheromones, they can make it difficult for the species to reproduce, reducing the population of these devastatingly destructive little bugs. I was hired to watch them march up and down the blades, and get photographs of the different stages of their reproductive dance. After working out solutions to difficult shooting conditions, I captured these macro images, documenting the process of these pheromone dances.
Brilliantly white, prehistoric looking Egrets wade through the shorelines of the American south, stabbing their beaks into the water in pursuit of a meal. In the 19th century and early 20th century, this beloved bird was hunted nearly to extinction in the name of fashion. Their long white wispy breeding plumage is extravagant and was used for the decoration of ladies’ hats. The species saw a major decline in population due to these plumage hunts. Thankfully in The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 protected these birds and they made a rapid recovery, once again peppering shorelines of the south. In 1953, the great egret in flight was chosen as the symbol of the National Audubon Society, which was formed in part to prevent the killing of birds for their feathers.
“You’re out here looking for WHAT?!” was the response we’d typically get when we were asked by members of the community what we were doing digging around in the sand in 85 degree weather. “We’re looking for skinks!”
The Florida Sand Skink is a fossorial lizard well adapted to life underground. The species is vulnerable because of habitat loss due to agricultural and residential uses and from habitat degradation. Efforts to protect the sand skink and other xeric upland species are underway, and I was happy to be a part of them. Sand Skinks are endemic to central Florida, where urban sprawl is beginning creep into the unique Florida Scrub habitat. The expansion of a major highway meant habitat loss for our slithery friends, already federally listed as a threatened species. I worked beside a small team of wonderful scientists to document the presence of skinks. We trained our eyes to spot the hallmark skink track; an even squiggle curving back and fourth in approximately one inch intervals in the sand. It was easiest to spot this when the skink rose to the surface, or when they “swam” against the bottom of a cover-board, a micro habitat set up to attract the reptiles. Each time we found a track was cause for a small celebration, so you can imagine out excitement when we found an actual skink under one of the boards! Ultimately, this documentation process led to the allocation of suitable habitat elsewhere post highway expansion.
“Our priority is to guarantee our guests enjoyable wilderness experiences in perfect harmony with the environment that supports us.” This is Borea Adventure’s philosophy, an adventure guiding company based in Ísafjörður, Iceland. Expeditions range from 1 - 13 days, on which you could be kayaking, biking, skiing, horse riding, jeep touring, hiking, or sailing. What I love so much about this company is their focus on conserving the beauty of the natural landscapes they traverse. On our hike of Hornstrandir Nature Preserve, our guides helped us to steer clear of sensitive 100 year old moss, taught us how to forage for a wild Icelandic salad. Along with the tasty bitter greens, there were acres of wild blueberries sprawling across the ground, and other fascinating non-edible plants. Nature offers us a vast library of experience by which we're able to discover our own relationship to the earth. Will yours be symbiotic or parasitic?
They may look cute, but they’re taking over the world! In a recent study, the sika was found to be one of the most destructive mammals in Europe for its adverse affect on the environment and economy. They thrive in pastures allocated towards livestock, making farm animals compete for resources. They’re having such success in population expansion that hunters all over the world are encouraged to take them when they see them. In the early 1900s just two sika deer escaped into the English woods, by 1930 an effort had begun to cull the population. If left unchecked, these little deer will be in our gardens, our crops, our roadways and even our cities. They can interbreed with a number of native deer species, and compete for food sources as well. Sika deer are just one species that shows us how devastating the introduction of a foreign species can be.
This is an ongoing drone project to document all of the post fire restoration that the Coalition for the Poudre River Watershed and volunteers have done.