Friday, June 8, 2012

Sunshine, Scissors, and Spiders

The weather has been gorgeous this week with deep blue skies, warm sunshine, gentle breezes, and soft clouds. I took a long bike ride along the quiet roads of the Spotsylvania Courthouse Battlefield early in the morning as the sun first began to filter through the trees. Those rolling Virginia hills really make for a strenuous ride.

After the ride, I walked the path along Bloody Angle to cool down. The meadow was on fire with glorious orange butterfly weed, a species of milkweed.  Butterflies flitted from blossom to blossom practically drunk on nectar.  Bees buzzed and hummed, working steadily, barely noticing me at all. The natural beauty of the scene demanded a photograph. I ran back to the car and raced home to grab my camera.

I returned to the park with my well-loved Canon 7D and a few props. I really wanted to use the rusty green vintage metal truck.  Lying on a quilt, trying different photographic angles, playing with my toys, it was a photographer’s dream.  The funny thing about the viewfinder of a camera is that it can be your best friend or your worst enemy. The wonder of seeing the world in sharp focus through that little window is a visual treat. But, looking at the scene so intently also draws my eye to the distractions. Fortunately, I had my handy dandy scissors to cut down those stray blades of weed grass that blurred out before the lens making for unsightly blobs in my image.

I was concentrating on my work, but noticed a small movement along my periphery.  With the energy of a much younger woman, I catapulted off that quilt as the biggest, hairiest, ugliest spider I have ever laid eyes on casually sauntered onto my quilt.  I shook the quilt, squealed and then looked around to make sure no one was on hand to witness my own little scene. Enough of that! Satisfied that I had at least one successful picture, I started the trek back to the car.

I walked the path slowly, carrying the camera and all my paraphernalia, stopping to admire the butterflies.  At first, I didn’t even consider trying to take a picture, thinking I wouldn’t have any luck.  In my mind, I worked out the camera settings and a lovely Black swallowtail butterfly posed for me for several minutes. Snapping away happily, I didn’t even care if I got the shot. It was just so much fun to stand in the meadow watching the butterfly parade.

It’s not every day that sunshine, scissors, and spiders are on the agenda, but today’s adventures were the perfect beginning to summer.


  1. The trauma of the spider was worth the butterfly shot. It's beautiful and breathtaking! Gives me hope I can maybe take a photo like that some day. The little green truck filled with flowers is perfect! I remember the day we took pictures at Chatham and you were "rearranging" the landscape.

  2. My dear talented friend, of course you can take a beautiful butterfly picture! Take that camera off auto, set the mode to Aperture Priority, the ISO to 100 for a bright and sunny day, and the aperture to the lowest number your lens will allow (maybe 2.8 or 4). If you can find the setting that allows for continuous shooting (several shots in a row), this will be helpful. Prepare to get hot and sweaty, waiting for butterflies is harder work than you'd think. With any luck, the scene will be stunning, and if it's not,you will find a story in the less-than-perfect picture as always!


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