Hidden from the naked eye

IMG_E4071 The moment of pupation. Monarch caterpillar transforming into a chrysalis. Image: Su Leslie 2017

Macro photography truly does change the way it’s possible to see the world; focusing in on tiny details unobserved by the naked eye, and saving them as so many pixels on a computer chip.

IMG_E5246 Emerging butterfly. The fully formed Monarch butterfly breaks free. Image: Su Leslie 2017
IMG_E5376 All that remains of the Monarch’s chrysalis stage.. Image: Su Leslie 2017

From the life-cycle of a monarch caterpillar to the fine hairs on a bee’s body, what seemed hidden is revealed.

IMG_E5189 Bee and blossom. Image: Su Leslie 2017

Posted to Hidden | One Word Sunday, hosted by Debbie at Travel with Intent.

DP Photo Challenge: 2017 favourite

The last butterfly has emerged and flown away, leaving an empty shell and the Big T and I with new skills and great memories of our Monarch rescue mission. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

The last cocoon. The final butterfly has emerged and flown away, leaving an empty shell and the Big T and I with new skills and great memories of our Monarch rescue mission. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

2017 has proved to be a bit of a watershed for me photographically.

I have taken more shots than ever before, spent time learning about photography and my cameras, and for the first time have actively composed shots, rather than just pressing the shutter and hoping for the best.

I have also learned that seeing the world through a camera lens brings me closer to understanding and engaging with the natural environment.

So my choice of most meaningful shot for this week’s Daily Post challenge is less about my development as a photographer than a reminder of the fragile beauty of the natural world outside my door.

Daily Post Photo Challenge | 2017 favourites

DP Photo Challenge: temporary

Last summer the Big T and I planted milkweed, and enjoyed front-row seats to the lives of some monarch butterflies. From egg to mature caterpillar takes around two weeks; the chrysalis stage lasts around 10 days, and a butterfly can emerge, dry its wings and fly away in about 10 minutes.

Daily Post Photo Challenge | temporary

DP Photo Challenge: the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning

The beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning. Close-up shot of Monarch butterfly chrysalis hanging from cable tie against black background. The wings are already visible as the chrysalis shell becomes translucent, indicating that emergence is imminent. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Monarch butterfly almost ready to emerge from chrysalis. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

It is a special privilege to observe nature at work. Over this past summer, the milkweed that the Big T and I planted attracted record numbers of monarch butterflies. When it became clear that most of the caterpillars were falling prey to wasps and praying manti, the Big T built a butterfly sanctuary. This meant that not only did dozens of caterpillars survive to emerge as viable butterflies, but that we had ring-side seats to one of nature’s most beautiful shows.

We watched and documented the transition from egg to caterpillar, to chrysalis, to butterfly — right up to the moment our “babies” flew away for their winter hibernation.

The Daily Post Photo Challenge | Delta

Another butterfly update: with video

Ready to fly. Close-up shot of one of fourteen monarch butterflies that emerged from it's cocoon in our garden today. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Ready to fly. One of fourteen monarch butterflies that emerged from it’s cocoon in our garden today. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

The Big T’s monarch rescue programme is proving to be incredibly successful. Over the last few days about twenty five butterflies have emerged; fourteen of them today.

Here’s a video I made this afternoon; just a few of the hatchlings getting ready to take flight and leave us forever. Apologies for the slightly out-of-focus bits.

Regular Random: five minutes of caterpillar feeding frenzy

Thanks entirely to the Big T’s efforts at butterfly husbandry (more on that to come), our swan plants are positively heaving with Monarch caterpillars.

Most of them are huge and are rapidly chrysalising (if that’s a word) — which is fortunate because at the rate they eat, they are in danger of running out of food.

So this week’s five minutes of random was spent watching swan plant foliage disappear before my eyes.

Five Minutes of Random (the RegularRandom challenge) is hosted by Desley Jane at Musings of a Frequently Flying Scientist.

All photos ©Su Leslie, 2017