Readers’ wildlife photos

Reader Rik Gern sent some flower and bee photos, and, as he likes to do, some “psychedelicization” of the pictures. Rik’s notes are indented:

Here are some images I hope you can use for your Reader’s Wildlife Photos. There’s nothing unusual or exotic here, just some pretty flowers. Instead of going dormant, the rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) bush in my yard has had patches that have remained in bloom all Winter. I could easily send a batch of pictures showing nothing but their lovely blossoms, but I thought a little variety might be in order, so I’ve included images of a branch sans blossom, and a budding branch, along with some bees and a few psychedelic variations.

Seen alone, the flowers seem to have an extravagant and eccentric shape, but as soon as the bees come to feed you can see that they are an efficient feeding and pollenating station; as the bees feed, the anthers are perfectly placed to dust their backs with pollen. The honeybees (Apis mellifera) were initially irritated by my presence and chased me into the house several times, but they eventually got used to me and allowed me to get close enough to observe them going from blossom to blossom. Thank you bees for not stinging me!

The psychedelic variations were taken from a picture of the bush that wasn’t that interesting in itself, but had a lot of texture and angles to play with. With the addition of eyes and a nose–Van Gogh in one case and a cat in the other–voila, they turn into “portraits”! Here is a link to the Van Gogh self-portrait. (I forgot to save the cat image.


  1. Jenny Haniver
    Posted March 2, 2019 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    These are some striking close-up photos of rosemary, and they’ve given me a fresh appreciation for the herb. Even though I’d read your intro, when I saw the first photo, it took me a few seconds to recognize what I was looking at (but perhaps that’s a sign of cognitive decline). As for the blossoms, which you call “Just some pretty flowers” but which “seem to have an extravagant and eccentric shape, I’d never paid attention to the flowers, I’ve certainly never seen them close up like this, and I can sure see just how well the flower fits the bee or vice versa. I’m going to get out my episcope and check out the rosemary flowers today.

    The “psychedelic variations” are cool, too. How did you create them?

    • Posted March 3, 2019 at 5:07 am | Permalink

      A lot of hours go into the psychedelic variations, so I can’t remember every technique I used (it’s just something I feel my way thru), but some main techniques are crating mirrored images (in the second one anyway), using multiple layers and the liquify function. Other than that, it’s all a game of playing “what if” with different effects, saving a lot of results and then playing with the ones you like and playing “what if” some more. The regular pictures don’t take that much time, so I can remember what techniques I used, but the psychedelic ones take so much time that it all becomes a blur after a while. They were done with Photoshop 6.

      • Posted March 3, 2019 at 5:08 am | Permalink

        “Creating”, not “crating”!

  2. Posted March 2, 2019 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    These are gorgeous, thanks.

    • Glenda Palmer
      Posted March 2, 2019 at 12:20 pm | Permalink


      I’m using the owl psychedelic one for new desktop photo.

  3. Posted March 2, 2019 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Very lovely. And I especially like your psychedelics.
    Note that in rosemary the female stigma is longer than the male anthers. This and probably some other details help ensure that pollen already on the bees’ back (pollen from a different plant) right away gets to the stigma before the plants’ own pollen is transferred.

  4. Debbie Coplan
    Posted March 2, 2019 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    Thank you and what a wonderful post! I never knew or thought about how the shape of the flower helps the bees to pollinate.
    The photos are beautiful. Thanks for posting.

  5. Posted March 2, 2019 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    I just wanted to add that bees or wasps visiting flowers are not angry, and they really don’t chase anybody. They are really unable to see you very well, for one thing.
    What they want is to follow a path, from flower to flower, and they may fly towards you to do that. They have imprinted on landmarks to help them navigate, and it you are in the way they can be confused by that. So they can then approach and buzz back and forth as they try to figure out what the heck is this big thing in the way.
    If you are wearing something bright, they may also want to check that out (could be a flower).
    Anyway, just stand still, think Zen thoughts, and see that they really just have one thing on their mind (flowers).

  6. Mark R.
    Posted March 2, 2019 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    This was a fun batch of photos. Thanks!

  7. Michael Scullin
    Posted March 2, 2019 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Last picture — I thought Jimi Hendrix.Totally psychedelic.

  8. Claudia Baker
    Posted March 2, 2019 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Stunning photography of the rosemary bush!

  9. Posted March 2, 2019 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Excellent photos!

    As a photo geek, it would be very useful if the camera, lens and settings were available some place too. The bokeh on the bee photos looks like a vintage lens may be involved?

    • Posted March 3, 2019 at 4:52 am | Permalink

      The camera is a Canon PowerShot SD400, but most of the work is done in Photoshop 6. I don’t really know what I’m doing with the settings. I sort of stumbled backwards into the photography aspect; my first interest was creating the psychedelic images in Photoshop, and at some point I realized it would be better to use my own photos as source material rather than playing with images I found on the internet. If you want the settings, you can click on my name above, which leads to my facebook page, and message me. I can look up the settings in Adobe Bridge.

  10. rickflick
    Posted March 2, 2019 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    Well done Rik. The psychedelicization if quite effective.

  11. Posted March 3, 2019 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful images! I am always glad to see photos of plants, they are somewhat marginalized, compared to animals.

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