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Photo/Haiku of the Day – Prairie Ghost

The Prairie Ghost

Swift ghost of the prairie

shepherding harem and young

As winter’s despair beckons

Pronghorn Buck - Antilocapra americana

Custer State Park’s famed “Wildlife Loop” never disappoints, but it’s just after dawn when the magical moments occur. Pronghorn are often seen in Custer State Park, but they are typically easier to spot in the early morning hours, before most visitors start to arrive in the park. On this morning, a harem of perhaps 6 females and their young-of-the-year surprised me by cresting a nearby hill. They then slowly worked their way towards me as they grazed, unconcerned about the photographer in the parked car. Last to crest the hill was the big male, the protector of the little band. I watched for 15 minutes as the herd fed in the adjacent grasslands. As they slowly moved on down the hill, the trailing buck paused for a moment to give me a stare.  I evidently passed his judgement, and he then trotted off after his harem as they disappeared around the bend.  The grasslands were still lush from a wet and bountiful summer and forage was good, but the leaves were beginning to change, and a harsh South Dakota winter was just around the corner.

The “eyes” have it!

Insect eyes

The “money shot”, getting critical focus and attention on an insect’s head and eyes. This is a crop, showing a small part of the entire image, yet you can still see incredible detail in a feature on an insect’s head that can’t be more than a millimeter or two in size.

Eye contact.  There’s just something about photography, and eyes.  Many times you can have the most technically perfect photo possible, but it still may fail in the eyes of a viewer if the main subject isn’t making eye contact with the camera.

It’s awfully hard to tell whether an insect is making eye contact with you!!  However, the success or failure of a macro shot of an insect is also heavily influenced by how well you captured the eye. I have a friend at work who is also heavily into photography.  He doesn’t shoot birds or macro, yet when I started showing him photos of what I’ve been doing with the new lens, he immediately said “zoom up, let’s see the detail in that eye!!”.  When shooting macro, you have such a tiny, tiny depth-of-field (the portion of the image that’s in focus).  In most cases, the photographer needs to decide what part of the photo is going to have critical focus, and what parts are going to be blurred.  And in most cases, the choice of the photographer is easy…put the critical focus on the eyes and head.

Thus, the choice to show a variety of buggy eyes for this morning’s post!  Many of these insects are tiny little critters, half an inch long or less, so these photos don’t represent the full-frame shot from my Canon 70D and Canon 100mm 2.8L IS lens.  These are all “cropped” shots, yet it gives you some indication of the detail you can extract with this set up, when a zoomed-up, cropped photo of an insects eye shows such good detail.

As always, click on any photograph for a larger view.

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