Photographs by Frank

15 April 2014

Van Dyke Brown Prints

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Van Dyke — Frank @ 1:00 PM

Sunday, I attended a small workshop on Van Dyke printing at the Vermont Center for Photography. I spent an enjoyable afternoon learning a new alternative process.

The Van Dyke process is  very similar in many ways to cyanotype but yields a nice chocolaty brown print instead of the blue of cyanotype. It is an iron-based process (like cyanotype) in which the photoreduction of  iron  is used to drive the reduction of silver which actually forms the image.

I sent three files to the instructor (Bill Dixon) ahead of time and he prepared very nice digital negatives from them.

Scans of the resulting prints are shown below… pretty good for a first attempt, if I do say so myself!

I have all of the chemicals needed to try this at home… now I just need to find some time!


8 April 2014

Signs of Spring… Finally

Filed under: Birds,Early Spring,Monadnock Region,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 12:28 PM

Spring is very slowly coming to our neck of the woods. The snow is getting patchy and the lake is beginning to thaw around the edges. I saw a bufflehead in the small patch of open water near the bridge this morning and there have been Canada Geese in the same spot over the past week or so.

The other morning at breakfast we noticed two mourning doves “interacting” atop the large rock just off the deck. I made some photos from inside the house but, as one might expect, the quality though two layers of glass is not great.

Over the past few  days we have noticed juncos on the ground by the feeder and robins in the yard. There were also purple finches at the feeder; coming and going among all year round residents.

On Sunday, I spent some time practicing with “Big Bertha” (i.e. the 600 mm f/4 lens) again. I set up a downed pine branch as a perch about a foot from the feeder and a chair roughly twenty feet away (Bertha”s close focus distance is about 6 meters). By the time I got the camera set up on the tripod the birds were already using the perch and I was good to go.

Here are the results:


2 April 2014

Keeping Busy in the Late Winter and… Signs of Spring

Arrrgh… blasted computers!

I went to write this post (the first in two months… how time flies!) and found that WordPress was asking me to update a number of things; which I dutifully did. This broke gallery plug-in that I have been using to display sets of photos. I have spent part of two days trying, without success, to get things working again! I have given up (at least for the moment). Thus, you will note a much less elegant presentation of the photos included in this post. Please click on each thumb nail for a larger version and then click on the larger image to close it.

Here is the post I was contemplating before update hell intervened…

February and March are always the slow time in my photographic year and this year has been no exception. Stretches of cold gray weather followed by a day or two of  cloudless bright sun… neither of which are very conducive to landscape or wildlife photography. Most years we see signs of spring by early April and the photographic opportunities reassert themselves… not this year, as yet!

There is still more than a foot of snow on the ground and “ice out” on the lake  is no where in sight. There are a few meager signs that spring is coming… the snow has a nice wet slushy consistency, a few robins have appeared, the temperatures are falling to barely below freezing at night and the road is a quagmire! Yesterday, it was even warm enough to spend some time making saw dust fly in the garage Spring can’t be too far away… right!?

Although the making of new photographs has been slow, I have been “photo-active” in other ways. For instance, I put together and submitted a portfolio of fifteen 8″x 10″ prints (matted to 11″ x 14″)  in support of my application to become an exhibiting member at the Vermont Center for Photography. I am glad to say that this portfolio was favorably received and I was accepted as an exhibiting member at the end of February.

The Vermont Center for Photography is a gallery and resource center located in Brattleboro, VT (about an hours drive from the house). For the moment, I plan to take part in their group exhibits. I also plan to use their darkroom facilities as I experiment with hand-made cameras (see this post, for example).

Here are the photographs I submitted:

 

31 January 2014

Conowingo Dam

Filed under: Birds,Winter — Tags: , , , — Frank @ 7:00 PM

This past Monday morning, Joan and I pointed the car south and headed to Maryland. Photographically, our destination was the Conowingo Dam. We also visited Katrina (our daughter) in Baltimore as well as my sister and her family and my parents, all of whom live in suburban Washington. We arrived back home early yesterday evening.

The Conowingo Dam is a hydroelectric dam on the Susquehanna River just north of where the river enters the Chesapeake Bay at Havre de Grace. The dam is ‘famous’ for the birds, especially bald eagles, which hang out there in the winter. The Harford Bird Club maintains the Conowingo Dam Site Guide with much useful information about the site.

We intended to arrive at the dam early enough on Monday afternoon to get in some photography then. However, complications of the dental kind conspired against us and we did not arrive until dusk. We spent a short while reconnoitering the dam and its environs before before heading off in search of dinner and a motel.

We were back at the dam a bit before 9 on Tuesday morning. The temperature was about 10 degrees and there was an intermittent breeze blowing… so much for heading south! Dressed appropriately things were not bad as long as the wind was not blowing. Conditions were good for photography with a light overcast diffusing the sunlight. We arrived at the tail end of a release of water from the dam and the concomitant flurry of activity.

Although we stayed until after 1 PM, we did not see another release. Thus, although there were plenty of birds around the action was somewhat subdued.

Here are the results:

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Bald Eagle (in flight)
Bald Eagle (in flight)
Canada Geese (in flight)
Canada Geese (in flight)
Ring-billed Gull with Fish
Ring-billed Gull with Fish
Bald Eagle (in flight)
Bald Eagle (in flight)
Conowingo Dam Spillway
Conowingo Dam Spillway
Hooded Merganser (female)
Hooded Merganser (female)
Common Merganser (male)
Common Merganser (male)
Bufflehead (flock)
Bufflehead (flock)
Great B;ue Heron (in flight)
Great B;ue Heron (in flight)
Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle Takeoff
Bald Eagle Takeoff
Lesser Scaup
Lesser Scaup
Lesser Scaup
Lesser Scaup
Hooded Merganser (male)
Hooded Merganser (male)
Hooded Merganser (male/female pair)
Hooded Merganser (male/female pair)
Lesser Scaup
Lesser Scaup

12 January 2014

Late One Foggy, Rainy, January Afternoon

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — Frank @ 1:00 PM

“Our Town”… Peterborough, NH.

Joan went to see a concert in Peterborough late yesterday afternoon. We intended to head to another concert in Brattleboro, VT in the evening. Rather than Joan having to drive back home to pick me up after the first concert, I figured that I would find enough to entertain myself while she was listening to Lithuanian music. Thus, I went along with her to Peterborough.

The first concert began at 4. After dropping Joan off, I headed to the Toadstool’s, the bookstore. Three books and $15 later (I shopped the bargain bin!), I was off  with my reading material, to Harlow’s Pub for a beer. By the time I finished my beer, it was good and dark, raining lightly and foggy… perfect conditions for some photography!

Thus, with camera in hand, I made a couple of circuits around downtown Peterborough. By 6:10 we were in the car headed towards Brattleboro.

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Movie Theater Alley Way
Movie Theater Alley Way
Cigars
Cigars
Thirty Percent
Thirty Percent
Diner
Diner
Cafe After Closing Time
Cafe After Closing Time
Untitled
Untitled
Harlow's Side Entrance
Harlow's Side Entrance

5 January 2014

The Usual Suspects

Filed under: Birds,Monadnock Region,Winter — Tags: — Frank @ 10:00 PM

Today was the first day above freezing in about a week. I took advantage of the tropical conditions to head out the back door and, again, photograph the birds attracted to the feeder. It was so warm and sunny that, a one point, I headed into the house to doff a layer, as I was over-dressed.

In the past couple of days, we observed a flicker and a red-breasted woodpecker at the suet feeder. Thus I was hoping that they would make an appearance while I was out. Alas, only the usual suspects appeared… chickadees in abundance, smaller numbers of titmice and nuthatches and a couple of downys.

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White-breasted Nuthatch #1
White-breasted Nuthatch #1
Tufted Titmouse
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch #2
White-breasted Nuthatch #2
Downy Woodpecker #1
Downy Woodpecker #1
Chickadee
Chickadee
Blue Jay
Blue Jay
Downy Woodpecker #2
Downy Woodpecker #2
White-breasted Nuthatch #3
White-breasted Nuthatch #3
White-breasted Nuthatch #4
White-breasted Nuthatch #4

31 December 2013

An ‘Adams Dozen’ for 2013

Back at the end of 2011, I added an entry titled  ”Twelve Images” based on  Ansel Adams idea that twelve good photographs in a year is a decent crop. I had intended this to be an annual event but I seem to have missed last year.

I actually chose, printed and matted the twelve photos for 2012; they are stored carefully in their own print box. However, I do not seem to have written a blog entry about them… oh well! It doesn’t seem right to post them at this late date, so I’ll just forge ahead!

Thus, without further ado, here is my ‘Adams Dozen’ for 2013:

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Beaver Swamp in Early Winter
Beaver Swamp in Early Winter
Dunes in Winter
Dunes in Winter
The Presidential Range from Cherry Pond
The Presidential Range from Cherry Pond
Cannon Mountain
Cannon Mountain
Snag with Nest in Winter
Snag with Nest in Winter
Grouse Tracks in the Snow
Grouse Tracks in the Snow
Wetland Margin in Autumn
Wetland Margin in Autumn
Big Dipper on a Moonlit Night
Big Dipper on a Moonlit Night
Blue Flag Iris
Blue Flag Iris
Lady Bug Leap
Lady Bug Leap
Blue Dasher (male)
Blue Dasher (male)
Recycled
Recycled

14 December 2013

Backyard Birds, Again

Filed under: Birds,Monadnock Region,The "New" Yard & Environs,Winter — Tags: — Frank @ 8:00 PM

About 1:15 this afternoon, I headed outside to photograph birds attracted to the feeders again. My goal was to get some more practice with these difficult (i.e. small and fast moving)  subjects. I also wanted to try out some new cold weather gear (insulated boots and pants); it was 11 degrees when I headed out.

The new gear worked well. My toes and nose were only mildly cold at 3:30 when I finally called it quits because the light got too low for good photos of flitting birds; the rest of me was still nice and toasty! It was 10 degrees when I looked at the kitchen thermometer after doffing all of the outerwear!

Present, were the usual suspects: lots of chickadees, smaller numbers of tufted titmice and a few nuthatches and downy woodpeckers. On two occasions a flock of goldfinches, a couple of dozen strong, descended en mass on the feeders only to fly a way a short time later, again, en mass.

There were also three or four blue jays in the area. They were very skittish and hung out mainly high in the trees. Occasionally, one would make a very short, tentative foray down near the feeders.

Again, juncos were not present.

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Tufted Titmouse
Tufted Titmouse
Goldfinch
Goldfinch
Goldfinch
Goldfinch
Blue Jay
Blue Jay
White-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Nuthatch & Downy Woodpecker (Sometimes you get lucky!)
Nuthatch & Downy Woodpecker (Sometimes you get lucky!)
Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Tufted Titmouse
Tufted Titmouse

5 December 2013

Salisbury Beach & Parker River NWR

Filed under: Birds,Winter — Tags: , — Frank @ 8:13 PM

Yesterday was predicted to be a warmish for December (highs in the mid-40′s) and calm-ish day on the coast.

Thus, with all of the recent reports of snowy owls along the New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts coast, I made plans to head east yesterday morning; I left the house at about 7:30. It is a two and a quarter hour drive each way. Even though I only saw one snowy owl, from a very long distance away, I had a good time anyway!

I did manage to photograph a few other birds.

I found the gull and the sparrow at Salisbury Beach.

There was a large group of gulls on the pavement in the parking lot and only one or two on the beach. I refuse to take photos of gull on black top, but I compromised and got this one sitting on a sign! I found a small group of sparrows along the campground road, near a juniper full of berries and the shelter of a small grove of conifers. I assume that the combination of shelter and food was responsible for their presence here. There was a group of common eiders in the water near the boat ramp but they were too far out for good photos.

It was almost noon by this time and I was getting hungry. I headed towards Plum Island and, along the way, I grabbed a sandwich to eat in the truck later.  The rest of the photos were made at Parker River NWR.

A short way past parking lot #1 as I entered the refuge, I came to a group of vehicles pulled over. As I rolled to a stop behind them, my thought was “Great! An snowy owl already!”. It turned out, the crowd had gathered for a red-tailed hawk in the tree tops just off the east side of road.

The snow owl I saw was way, way out in the salt marsh on the west side of the road. It was barely visible from the spot where the hawk had been.

After a quick lunch at parking lot #2, I drove the length of the refuge road stopping at every parking lot for a short walk except for one. At lot #5, there were a half dozen or more cars parked and I decided to pass up the crowd there… this was a big mistake!

Driving back towards the entrance, I again stopped at each parking lot. This time I decided to “brave the crowd” at lot #5. I was about three quarters of the way down the 0.2 mile trail when I met a woman who said that there was a snowy owl present. Another couple of hundred feet down the trail I encountered a group of ten or twelve folks all carrying tripods with scopes or cameras with long lens. They were all headed towards me… i.e. back towards the parking lot. The bird had flown off five minutes before! Lesson learned; when looking for rare birds go where the crowds are! Hopefully, I won’t have to re-learn this lesson too often!

A bit later, I was at the end of one trail “glassing” the salt marsh for snowy owls with my binoculars, when I caught a glimpse of something coming in low over my left shoulder. It was the northern harrier flying low and lazily as is their habit. I was able to get three frames exposed before it was out of good photo range.

Many of the ponds on the marsh side had groups of ducks, mainly mallards with a few diving ducks in the mix, in them. These birds were too far off for good photos.

I also encountered a number of rafts of diving ducks on the ocean side. In addition to the eiders I was able to photograph, I observed buffleheads and mergansers as well.

I stopped at parking lot #1 on the way out to “de layer” for the drive home just after 3:30, the light was fading fast.

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Ring-billed Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Chipping Sparrow (?)
Chipping Sparrow (?)
Red-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Northern Harrier
Northern Harrier
Northern Harrier
Northern Harrier
Common Eiders
Common Eiders

3 December 2013

Bald Eagles in Peterborough

Filed under: Birds,Monadnock Region,Winter — Tags: , — Frank @ 4:42 PM

At 12:45 this afternoon, the phone rang. It was my CWS* calling with news that she was pulled of to the side of US 202 in Peterborough (just north of the EMS store) and that she was watching a pair of bald eagles (an adult and a juvenile).

Of course, I decided that the fire wood I was in the process of hauling inside could wait and immediately headed off in the truck, with “Big Bertha”  on the passenger seat, to meet the CWS. I arrived on the scene about 20 or 25 minutes after answering the phone. I was half expecting a call during my drive saying that the birds had flown but they were still there when I arrived.

I was able to make eleven exposures (in just over three minutes) before the birds took off. I had the camera packed up and was back in the truck at 1:30.

Joan also observed a second juvenile fly low across the road between her phone call and my arrival.

If you look very closely at the second photo you can discern why the bird had assumed this pose.

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Bald Eagle Pair #1
Bald Eagle Pair #1
Juvenile Bald Eagle
Juvenile Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle Pair #2
Bald Eagle Pair #2

*CWS… chief wildlife spotter; AKA,  my wife, Joan.


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