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

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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.