Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Photo challenge: Day 2 of 7

The photo above, like the one I posted yesterday, is one I planned to take. I have one more planned photo, and then—I have no idea. Yet. That’s part of why it’s called a challenge.

When I posted this photo, I said:
This photo is called "Evicted". It's a paper wasp nest that was occupied until Friday, when a wasp stung me. I retaliated. There were no survivors. I left the nest there to make sure they were all gone, and they are, so now I can remove the nest, too. Small victories.
The story behind it is that the nest was built by Asian paper wasps, an introduced species of “social wasps”, which the Department of Conservation considers pests. I’d agree with them on that.

In the past, I’ve generally left the nests alone and the wasps leave at the end of summer. I hadn’t realised they were such a pest, and in the future I’ll get rid of nests when they first appear (when there are fewer of the little bastards to deal with…).

I killed the wasps only after I was stung—the first time, as far as I can remember, that I’ve ever been stung by anything. I was home alone, and because it was a first, I was briefly concerned about whether I might be allergic to the wasp’s venom; I’m not, it turned out, but it still hurt.

The nest was a little smaller than they can get, but was teeming with wasps when I retaliated, so my chosen method of annihilation—ordinary fly spray—was certainly not the best choice or idea. But their insect eyes couldn’t see me as well as I could dodge them, and the force of the spray leaving the can disrupted their attempts at flight. Nevertheless, I beat a hasty retreat.

I returned a little while later, found a few on the ground in their death throes and, um, euthanised them before spraying the nest again to get rid of the few survivors. Nothing moved around the nest since then except for ants who, I presume, were trying to get into the nest to eat the wasp eggs. Hey, it IS a nature photo!

The nest is now gone and that particular story is now over.

This photo is an example of how I approach taking these photos: I try to take them from an interesting angle, not just straight on. The photo I posted yesterday was a low angle, basically level with the plant, and the one up top was taken from above. I wanted to show how the nest was attached to the fence post because to me it looks like tree roots.

For each photo—and this is true generally, not just for this challenge—I take several photos from different angles, and sometimes different times of the day (for different lighting), and then I pick the one I like best. With digital cameras, there’s no reason NOT to experiment!

I’m also enjoying using my phone to practice taking photos. I always have it with me, and it’s a really easy to use and unobtrusive way to take photos. I have better cameras for higher-end photos and video, but I actually love using just my phone and trying to get the best possible photo. That’s not just practice—it’s a challenge in itself.

So far, the experimenting has been fun—for me, anyway. The wasps may beg to differ.

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