The Birds And The Bees

There comes a time in every person’s life that a certain discussion needs to be had, either as the presenter of certain life-affirming facts, or as the recipient.  While I suspect most of you gentle readers would consider yourselves well versed in these facts, perhaps today I can shed a new light upon them.

Yes, today we’re going to talk about the birds and the bees.

Let me tell you ’bout the birds and the bees
And the flowers and the trees
And the moon up above
And a thing called love

These are the first few lines from “The Birds and the Bees” song, which came out in the mid 60’s. They provide a framework for today’s discussion.

The Birds

(Click on any photo for a larger version)

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On the south side of my backyard, a hummingbird feeder has stood sentry for several years. Long enough for the Humm family of birds to set up residence, flitting around, dueling intruders: the father Dinger, the mother Bao, and an annual crop of youngster(s?).  They’re Anna’s Hummingbirds, a hardy breed that sticks around through the winter.

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Wait, what sort of birds and bees did you think I was talking about? 😉

I’m not sure why they stick around, even when the weather gets cold enough to freeze the nectar in the feeder.  How does such a tiny bit of fluff survive those cold nights? Why, even in these spring months when flowers abound, do they continue to hit up the feeder?

Must be some good hootch.

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The Bees

Not far from the hummingbird feeder, we have a California Lilac.  Not a true Lilac, it still has that lovely lavender color and a refined fragrance that attracts bees, as if the aroma is as potent and intoxicating as the hootch that keeps the hummers around.

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Trying to get a decent picture of a bee is a challenge.  For starters, I was using a telephoto lens, up close.  This means the area front to back that’s in crisp focus is minuscule – maybe even bee size. And when in flight, those little buggers have a tendency to zigzag any which direction.

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I don’t know if this is still the case, but at one time I heard aeronautical engineers concluded bees don’t have enough wing area to support their size in flight. Clearly, nature has its own idea about physics.

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As you might guess, it took quite a few tries to get these shots. I hope you’re thinking they’re the bee’s knees.

The Flowers

At one point, I was thinking the theme of this post would be macro photography. Then while shooting the bees (not to be confused with shooting the breeze), the hummingbirds started flitting around next door, inviting more pictures.  The new theme became obvious.

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Still, there’s a backstory for the macro shots. About a month ago, my cell phone had a brain aneurysm and fell into a coma.  Needing a new phone, I decided to stop being such a skinflint and go high end this time, simply to get one with a good phone camera.  After all, the best camera you have is the one you have with you.

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Did you know you can get additional lenses for cell phones? There are a number of options, but in general they’re designed to let you get a wider view or a more close up view.  I picked up an attachment that lets me do both: use the full assembly for wide angle and remove the outer element for macro – around 10-15x.  It’s my latest photography toy.

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I hope this doesn’t bug you.  It bugged my wife; she’s been on the warpath against aphids, small caterpillars, anything that’s chewing up the flowers.  She saw this image and with blood in her eye and spray bottle of diluted dish soap in hand, demanded to know  “where is that!”

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We do like our flowers. Such inspiring patterns, such beautiful colors…

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Hey, black and white are colors too!

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I have to admit though, I was torn on this clematis photo, it looked good in color too.

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Flowers of a delicate white (see that first macro shot) and equally delicate violet, the color version was going to make the cut.

But then I saw it in black and white in one of my presets and I liked the mood.

 The Trees

There’s something about sitting in your backyard on a nice spring or summer day, late in the afternoon when the light softens and warms.  Blue skies, a gentle breeze (gentle bees too), back-lit leaves add texture to the shapes and patterns.

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The eyes see in color.  In time, once your imagination gets used to the idea, it can see in black and white as well.

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Some folks travel hundreds, even thousands of miles to see trees at the height of their fall colors. I admit I like that too, one need only check a few of my fall posts.  But nature reveals even more splendor if you look beyond the colors, see the patterns, the contrasts, the intricate details that make up life.

The Moon Up Above

Dang songwriters.  Just when I was grooving on the lyrics, using it to inspire a set of pictures they go and throw me a curve. How the heck am I going to fit an entire sub-planet into a post that focuses on the small stuff? Especially as I haven’t shot any moon pics lately?

Oh well, I’ll just borrow this shot from Visiting A Saint.

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It’s the moon.  Honest.  If you point your camera at the moon and expose for the stars, the moon thinks it’s the biggest star.  Reminds me of a few egos…

And A Thing Called Love

While we’re all starry-eyed, the lyrics point us at love.

The world and history are full of folks hitting on this topic in ways both beautiful and manipulative.  Unlike a certain bishop at a recent royal wedding, I’ll pass on the pontification – the subject is greater than my writing skills.  It’s such a subjective topic, everyone has their own notion of what it is and isn’t.  My guess is if I asked you to personally think about it, or more to the point, feel about it, you’d find the answer within.  But there is a mystery that, even after all these years, puzzles me.  Where does Like end and Love begin?

But in the meantime, the birds and the bees, the flowers and the trees, perhaps even the moon up above – all contribute to a thing called love.

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52 thoughts on “The Birds And The Bees

    1. Thanks Biff, glad you liked it. While it helps to have a good camera, I also tweak the pics in a photo editor to give them a little extra oomph, and accentuate different parts of the photos. Amazing how much that helps.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. True! I do the same with my photos. Unfortunately, when my laptop died a few weeks ago, it took all of my photo editing software with it. I haven’t been able to find anything comparable that runs under Unbuntu. I hope to have a Windows-based laptop soon and will be able to get back to my favorite photo editors.

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  1. Wow, a far-ranging and terrific album, great celebration of spring!
    Love the flower close-ups & the B&W backlit maple leaves in particular, and the viburnum. Everything but that shot of aphids or whatever those things are, makes me kind of itchy! There’s a Bee’s Knees cocktail from the ’20’s, but maybe I’ll mix up some hummingbird hootch and a dash of lilac water, and see if it generates a buzz.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Robert. I figured you’d like the black and white. The leaves on the viburnum (thanks for the name on that, that one and the closing petunia were from someone elses garden) seemed particularly well suited for b/w. As for the hummingbird hooch, it actually is a less potent version of a common ingredient in cocktails…

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    1. He does have that, “whoa, that some good hooch” look to him. 🙂 The truth, I think, is more prosaic. After a sip or three, the hummers will often lean back or fly back to look around and make sure there isn’t another hummer about to dive bomb them.

      Or maybe he was wondering what that thing with the barrel that I was aiming at him was.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Never been to NWIPA. I’m not really a hop head so I don’t go searching out IPA’s. But the next time you’re in the Woodstock area, do a little stocking up at Otto’s Sausage Kitchen. Yum.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Greg. I think in this case, since the hummers were semi-perched they had their engines running on idle, making it more feasible to get a freeze-frame. Shutter speed was only a 500th.

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  2. Words and images of gentle beauty here, Dave. Did you think your readers had their heads in the gutter? 😉 Not me 😁 The bumblebees, especially, made me smile. « Where does Like end and Love begin? » When that glow within permeates every little thing.

    I’ve finally broken down and bought a smartphone! Should be here today or tomorrow. I hope the camera is decent.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If advertisers can use suggestive words or images to attract attention, why not me? And you can’t argue, I delivered the birds and the bees, more than some advertisers can. 😉 Glad the bees gave you a warm buzz, and good luck with the camera.

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  3. Great post, Dave! Your photos are wonderful, and so are your musings (although I admit the title had me wondering at first as to the exact nature of this post.) I love hummingbirds too, and have recently begun seeing them in our yard too. I haven’t gotten around to putting up a feeder, but I think that is coming soon.

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    1. He, he. The opening paragraph didn’t exactly clear up the confusion either, eh? 😉 But I delivered exactly what I promised – maybe just in a different way than implied. Good luck landing some hummers, they’re fun to watch.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful photos, Dave – you saved my fave for the very last! What phone did you get and what are these attachments? I’m intrigued – I have almost given up on carrying my big camera around.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I got a Galaxy S9+ and a Xenvo Macro/Wide Angle lens kit. All that’s really missing is an optical telephoto. What I’ve seen of those is either crap, or a sense that it’d be a pain to hook up/use with a cell phone. The S9+ at least has a built in second 2x lens that brings it into “normal” angle of view territory. I know what you mean about not wanting to always lug the heavy gear around.

      Having said that…

      As for that last shot, it’s actually from another new (used actually) lens I picked up for my main setup – a Rokinon 35mm f1.4 prime. Nice lens, but semi-manual focus and a bit of a brick.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, such a sweet and likable post! I can hear the song now….and it’s a perfect one for spring. Funny about those aphids, but it’s very cool that you’re having fun with the lens attachment and the new phone!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You had a LOT packed into this post and you pulled it off beautifully, with beautiful photos to boot! (I had to chuckle at your wife’s response, I would have been right with her — I even use the same kind of insecticide!) 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Love your photos, even the ones of the bees that you struggled to get – it was totally worth it! Hummingbirds are such a favorite of mine and we used to get them coming into our little garden in Nicaragua daily. In Sri Lanka we see them more rarely. Perhaps we just don’t have their favorite blossoms growing. What a lovely celebration of Spring!

    Peta

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is the definitive illustrated lesson on birds and bees everyone needs to be taught. I felt no awkward pauses while reading your post to strangers in the park. By the way, if you just tell the bees where and how to pose you wouldn’t need so many lenses. 😬

    Liked by 1 person

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