Florida comes calling

After the first time one of my photos was licensed and published, I walked away from the experience with some coin in my pocket, my name and one of my pictures in a book, and a newfound appreciation for crowd-sourced materials.  I could also lay claim to being a published nature photographer.

Yet I didn’t hold my head high and look down on others, and I didn’t feel a new career opportunity rising up from my hobby.  One reason for that should be obvious: My usual jesting self-deprecation aside, I really don’t think that highly of my photography.  We are our own worst critics, true, and no one is harder on me than I am.  Every photo I take needs improvement; every image I post could be much better; every time I post-process a picture, I kick myself for not capturing as good as I wanted and I promise myself I will focus on improving.  In essence, I considered the Adventure Publications scenario a fluke.

I had a lot to learn.  In July 2010 I received a missive that said, in part,

I am contacting you on behalf of the Lyonia Environmental Center in Deltona, FL. (www.lyoniapreserve.com )

We would like to use one of your photographs of the Purple Passion Flower on signs that will be placed in our native plant garden and around our nature center.

Purple passion flower (a.k.a. Maypop; Passiflora incarnata) grows wild at the family farm, its fruit enjoyed by all sorts of wildlife, including deer who will come right up to the back door of the house to nibble the sweetness off the vine.  I’ve photographed it often, not just because passion flowers are structurally fascinating but because they’re purple!  My favorite color.  When asked which photo they were referring to, they pointed to this one (originally seen in this post from August 2009):

A close-up of a purple passion flower (a.k.a. Maypop; Passiflora incarnata) (20080809_10605)

But when identifying the picture in question, they added something else: they also wanted to use this photo (originally seen in this post from May 2010):

A close-up of firewheel (a.k.a Indian blanket or blanket flower; Gaillardia pulchella) (2009_05_31_021051)

That’s firewheel (a.k.a Indian blanket or blanket flower; Gaillardia pulchella).  It grows all around White Rock Lake amongst the other native plants that are carefully nurtured and protected, for White Rock Lake harbors some of the rarest remnants of the Blackland Prairie ecosystem.  So much of that ecosystem was laid waste by development of the DFW Metroplex, so the City of Dallas and concerned citizens spend a great deal of time keeping what little remains of it in pristine condition, efforts that have won the city and its citizens accolades, awards and honorable mentions.

As for the picture, it’s a crop from this larger image:

Firewheel (a.k.a Indian blanket or blanket flower; Gaillardia pulchella) (2009_05_31_021051)

So I did my homework.  I asked what they would use the images for (interpretive signs to be spread around the preserve), I visited their web site, and I investigated the Lyonia Environmental Center to see what they were all about.  What I found was my own passion:

Lyonia Preserve is a 360-acre joint project of Volusia County’s Land Acquisition and Management Division and the Volusia County School Board to restore and maintain scrub habitat. Since 1994, restoration efforts have removed overgrown sand pines and opened up the understory, creating the characteristic bare sand areas with low-growing vegetation preferred by scrub species.

They focus on conservation, restoration and education.  To add to the goodness of the request, I found that the preserve is home to the Deltona Regional Library, one of Volusia County‚Äôs most comprehensive and busiest libraries.  Two of my passions together: nature and reading.  What a fantastic place it must be, I thought, and what a grand opportunity for library visitors to enjoy native flora and fauna.  So I licensed the photographs.

Some time later I received pictures of the interpretive signs.  I always like to see how my work is used.  Here are the signs.  First, the passion flower:

Second, the firewheel:

Very cool!  Not just the inclusion of my pictures and not just having my name on the signs, but the signs are cool.  Well done indeed.

So if you’re ever in Florida and have a chance, visit the Lyonia Preserve.  And be sure to look for my name and photographs on the interpretive signs.

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I’m not covering these photograph experiences in chronological order.  No particular reason for that other than it’s easier for me to post about them based on how quickly I can find the correspondences and the photos that go with them.

Pincers

Have you ever wondered why earwigs have those menacing pincers at the end of their abdomens?

A ring-legged earwig (Euborellia annulipes) walking along the patio fence (204_0410)

I remember as a young kid thinking they were used to grip the inside of human ears where the earwigs could nibble on vital body parts and build a nest for a soon-to-be-laid writhing mass of eggs.  Hey, all I knew was that they were called earwigs and that the name had to mean something.

A ring-legged earwig (Euborellia annulipes) walking along the patio fence (204_0412)

Those frightening pincers are actually cerci, appendages found on most arthropods, from arachnids to insects.  They usually serve as sensory organs, but sometimes they evolve as weapons or copulation aids.  When it comes to earwigs, the cerci are in fact weapons, used for defense and/or to capture prey.

A ring-legged earwig (Euborellia annulipes) walking along the patio fence (204_0416)

This male ring-legged earwig (Euborellia annulipes) was scampering across my patio fence many moons ago.  He reminded me of that silly childhood fear I had of having one of these critters find its way into my ear.  Those formidable pincers would have made him hard to pry loose.

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Notes:

  1. The easiest way to determine the gender of an earwig is to look at the cerci, or pincers.  Females have flat cerci while males have curved cerci.
  2. Of all the native earwig species in Texas, this is probably one of the easiest to identify given the dark bands on their light-colored legs and the few pale segments near the end of each otherwise dark antenna.
  3. My apologies for the poor photo quality.  These were taken in 2007 with my little weak-powered, pocket-size point-and-shoot camera.