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08-21-2014, 07:23 AM - 1 Like   #1
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I'm midway through an insect monitoring project at the Fermilab prairies. My primary focus is bumblebees and honeybees, but I'll take pictures of most everything I find (and will cooperate). K5, FA100 f2.8 macro, and OGPS module ensure I know when and where the insects were so I can compile the critical data.

So far so good - only a few shots once in a while lack GPS data. Flickr displays the images on a map easily so I can group everything - and Lightroom does as well, I'll have to see how I can segregate species data for display.

I've found one very rare bumblebee (B. rufocinctus) active, and a few unusual ones. I've got probably about another month to gather data, after that we're in the decline for insects. The images are available for view on my Flickr site, and have their own folder called Insects at Fermilab. Not all the images are what I'd consider great quality - but they're valuable for identification purposes. I have collected some really good images, though.

https://www.flickr.com/gp/ter-or/9kM8md

I've learned a few things during the project, such as autofocus doesn't like brown and green dragonflies perching on brown and green plants in front of brown and green backgrounds...who'd have guessed that? Fortunately it's very easy to switch to manual focus and since it's so bright the manual images have been stellar.

Fermilab is a Dept. of Energy property, and still doing active science. The land above is a lot of reconstructed and some remnant prairie, plus creeks, some ponds and some more managed areas. They even have some bison in one area. They used to do a midnight bike ride, which was so fun because most of the property is DARK at night, very novel for us suburbians. I've really come to appreciate the prairies like never before, the variety of plants and wildlife is astonishing.

08-21-2014, 09:04 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by TER-OR Quote
I'm midway through an insect monitoring project at the Fermilab prairies. My primary focus is bumblebees and honeybees, but I'll take pictures of most everything I find (and will cooperate). K5, FA100 f2.8 macro, and OGPS module ensure I know when and where the insects were so I can compile the critical data.

So far so good - only a few shots once in a while lack GPS data. Flickr displays the images on a map easily so I can group everything - and Lightroom does as well, I'll have to see how I can segregate species data for display.

I've found one very rare bumblebee (B. rufocinctus) active, and a few unusual ones. I've got probably about another month to gather data, after that we're in the decline for insects. The images are available for view on my Flickr site, and have their own folder called Insects at Fermilab. Not all the images are what I'd consider great quality - but they're valuable for identification purposes. I have collected some really good images, though.

https://www.flickr.com/gp/ter-or/9kM8md

I've learned a few things during the project, such as autofocus doesn't like brown and green dragonflies perching on brown and green plants in front of brown and green backgrounds...who'd have guessed that? Fortunately it's very easy to switch to manual focus and since it's so bright the manual images have been stellar.

Fermilab is a Dept. of Energy property, and still doing active science. The land above is a lot of reconstructed and some remnant prairie, plus creeks, some ponds and some more managed areas. They even have some bison in one area. They used to do a midnight bike ride, which was so fun because most of the property is DARK at night, very novel for us suburbians. I've really come to appreciate the prairies like never before, the variety of plants and wildlife is astonishing.
Cool. I'm surprised that you were able to get close enough to those butterflies to photograph them with a focal length of only 100 mm. Many butterflies are hard to approach.

I'm glad to see a demonstration of the use of the OGPS-1 to pinpoint the locations of photos.

Did you make use of that unit's putative ability to record the direction (azimuth) in which the photo was taken? That would be useful for landscape photos when the both the lat/long and direction were needed to indicate the location of the view shown in the photo (although you would also need to know the degrees of an arc captured by the lens used). However, I wonder how accurate that azimuth would be unless the unit had a magnetic compass. If the unit is only using successive lat/long fixes of the GPS to estimate direction, and if you were simply rotating on the spot to take successive photos, then successive fixes might have identical lat/longs, from which the OGPS-1 would conclude that all the photos were taken facing the same direction.

Has anyone else tested that azimuth function of the OGPS-1?
09-15-2014, 10:52 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by pete-tarmigan Quote
Has anyone else tested that azimuth function of the OGPS-1?
The O-GPS1 does include a magnetic compass. Photos geotagged by it have azimuth (directional) information. When you go to the Map tab on Lightroom, it will show you the coordinates as well a "Direction" value (i.e. SouthWest) but if you click on it it shows the actual value (i.e. 142). It also shows altitude information above Mean Sea Level.
I shoot aerial pictures and the O-GPS1 it's always on my camera, invaluable information!
09-15-2014, 11:35 AM   #4
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Now that's a great project
Some serious science and photography combined!
How much time do you spend out in the wild per week?

Cheers,
kpl

09-15-2014, 11:46 AM   #5
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It depends on the week, this past month has been really difficult for me. I did get out last week, it was my first evening out. The rest of the sessions were in the mornings, which was easier for a lot of the photography, I think. Particularly the cool morning was better for dragonflies and butterflies. I'd spend about an hour in each site - not enough for the whole areas, of course, but since these are pretty mobile species, and I'm looking for concentrations of tasty flowers, I think it's pretty good. I'm getting really good at spotting bumbles at a distance - then it's just wading through the foliage.

Mosquitoes this past week were bad enough for the first time I had to break out my mosquito net jacket/hood. The hundreds of dragonflies buzzing around weren't doing enough work! The netting jacket was worth the money, for sure.

Over the summer I'd get down there each weekend, occasionally skipping them. I was visiting 4 sites, so if I hit each site every other week or so I think I could get a good sampling. There are seasonal species of bumblebee, but the seasons are months long and they're not shy. I do need to visit again this week, to hit the two sites I didn't get last week. It's an important time as the B. affinis is a rare bee and is present there. I've documented it in one site but not the other - where the prior census work found them in '93. That prairie section is due for a burn, and it needs one.

I've learned a lot in this survey, and got to see some plant and animal species I've never encountered. The prairies are amazing.
09-15-2014, 12:06 PM   #6
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Wow, do you do this for a living?
I'm in IT and it's currently far from being as fascinating as extended periods of time in the wild are.

Cheers,
kpl
09-15-2014, 12:54 PM   #7
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Nope, but in an alternate universe I'm an entomologist. And a guitarist, master carpenter and painter.
You can find lots of citizen-science projects which appreciate help. Some are sitting at your computer transcribing old notes, logs etc. or looking for galaxies or animals in photographs - something human brains are good at but machines aren't. Others are just helping at forests, digging out invasive plants and collecting seeds. Pretty much anything you're passionate about you can pursue outside your profession.

I'm a Flavorist by profession, and it's a pretty good one.

09-18-2014, 12:29 PM   #8
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Fantastic. I have been following your Flickr and now I realize why you have been so much interested in those Bumble bees. Anyways, thanks a ton for updating your flickr with those wonderful pictures. I also believe that a single person can do a lot of things and that too efficiently. 'Will' is the only requirement with a thrust of 'passion'.
09-19-2014, 05:42 AM   #9
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Citizen Science can accomplish a lot. For many ecological concerns, it's the only way. Think of the Audubon bird counts, it takes people in the woods. We were at an event for a Husky rescue and ran across a group doing the Audubon bird count. My wife and I gave them some information on birds we heard or saw that morning, and they told us some of the birds they documented.

There's a project for pretty much anyone's interest.

My curiosity about the bees led to this project, as I crossed paths with the Fermilab Natural Areas manager at STEM events. I proposed the project, and they shared the information from some previous studies - and I got to review their insect collection. I don't want to collect insects, I'll do it if it's for a very good reason but I'd rather get good pictures. Some of these bees are very rare, and I don't want to damage the colony's chances for success.

I do need to start compiling my data for publication. I probably only have one or two more sessions in the field to collect data.
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