Photographs by Frank

20 July 2014

Garden Flowers

Since there were so few odes around on Friday, I took to making photographs of the flowers that Joan has growing around the vegetable garden.

At one point, I was aggressively investigated by a female ruby-throated hummingbird.  I guess that she decided that I was not going to eat too much nectar because, after the initial close encounter, she proceeded to visit a few flowers while I fumbled to take the extension tube off my camera. I was too slow and she headed off before I could make a photo of her.

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Purple Cone Flower & Visitor
Purple Cone Flower & Visitor
Black-eyed Susan with Visiting Committee
Black-eyed Susan with Visiting Committee
Garden Flower #1
Garden Flower #1
Garden Flower #2
Garden Flower #2
Garden Flower #3
Garden Flower #3
Garden Flower #4
Garden Flower #4
Garden Flower #5
Garden Flower #5

 

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:

 

17 August 2013

Experiments in Optics

Filed under: Garden Flowers,The "New" Yard & Environs — Tags: , — Frank @ 6:00 PM

I recently acquired a bunch of lenses from old enlargers… both enlarging lenses and condenser lenses. One of the largest lens in the collection is a 5″ in diameter condensing lens that is mounted in a metal frame. It is probably from a 4″x5″ enlarger. Today, I decided to “play” with this lens in conjunction with a digital camera.

Here are the first results…

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Untitled #1
Untitled #1
Untitled #2
Untitled #2
Untitled #3
Untitled #3
Untitled #4
Untitled #4
Untitled #5
Untitled #5
Untitled #6
Untitled #6
The Set Up
The Set Up

The last photo in this set shows the set up. I mounted the condensing lens on a tripod, added a cardboard lens hood (which you can’t see in this photo) and a dark cloth. Both the hood and the cloth are attached to the lens with masking tape. The first couple of images I tried were low in contrast and had lens flares. Thus, I added the lens hood.

To use this set up, I placed myself and the digital camera under the dark cloth and made photos of the lens.

Clearly the middle of the circular frame is the sharpest, but it will never be “tack sharp”, and that the images goes soft and distorted towards the edges. All of which is really the point in something like this. Isn’t it?

It was interesting to watch how the image made by the lens changed in large ways with small movements of me and the camera. I learned quickly to make an exposure when the composition was good and not try to worry about stuff at the edges of the frame that were going to get cropped out any way.

Post-processing consists basically of cropping to the square format (to eliminate the extraneous part of the frame ) and  adjusting the exposure to make sure that the frame is pure black). A few images got small amounts of other processing (curves adjustments, etc.) but nothing major.

I forgot how hot it gets under a dark cloth in the bright sun… even on a day when the air temperature is in the low 70’s. However,  I think that results were worth the “suffering”! What say you?


23 February 2013

Three Very Different Photos

Filed under: Garden Flowers,Landscapes — Frank @ 10:00 PM

The first photo was taken from the backyard last Sunday at sunset. The spectacular colors lasted for roughly five minutes. I am glad that I did not try to go find a better foreground!

The second photo was taken yesterday morning while I was out doing the weekly errands. The folks at the transfer station crush and bale the aluminum cans that are dropped off to be recycled. The bales are roughly 4 feet by 4 feet by 3 feet and weigh about 600 pounds. There is often a bale or two sitting near the dumpster where we deposit our trash. I have been pondering the photographic possibilities of these bales for some months now. Yesterday I had the Nikon V1 with me and business was slow, so I got the camera out with this result!

The third photo was made on our dining room table this afternoon. I had noticed the flowering Christmas cactus earlier in the day and used the nice soft window light to make this photo.

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February Sunset
February Sunset
Modern Life -- Recycled
Modern Life -- Recycled
Christmas Cactus
Christmas Cactus

The first two photos were made with my little camera (the Nikon V1).

Initially, I also picked up the V1 to use for the last photograph. I was interested in exploring how close I could get (with either lens) and I was interested if I could get a nice shallow depth of field with the flower in focus and an out of focus background; the latter is always a problem with a small sensor camera and proved so again in this case. Additionally neither lens was capable of focusing in close enough to fill the frame with the flower. The V1 is a nice camera but it is not macro capable! The last photo was made with my 90 mm macro lens on the “big gun”.


14 September 2012

Three from Yesterday

Filed under: Garden Flowers,Odontates,Other Insects — Tags: , , — Frank @ 12:00 PM

Yesterday was a perfect mid-September day weather-wise. Thus, when I got home from work, the urge to meander the neighborhood was irresistible.

There were not many odes about. I saw a couple of spreadwings, a couple of darners and a half a dozen or so Autumn Meadowhawks while meandering.

I also encountered three or four very small (thumbnail-size) toads or frogs. Fun to watch but impossible to photograph well… I tried without success.  These critters are rarely in the open, preferring instead to hide in the grass or under small pieces of wood. They are very wary. Once you have located one, you can easily watch one for minutes… if you stand very still. However, any small movement and they take one or two hops which leaves you search again  for a very well hidden amphibian on the forest floor. I know… excuses, excuses!

There were, however, dozens of wasps on the goldenrod and eight or ten monarchs on the flowers around the perimeter of Joan’s vegetable garden. None of these seemed to mind my making photographs while they went about their business.


18 August 2012

Garden Flowers

Filed under: Garden Flowers — Tags: — Frank @ 12:04 PM

Last Sunday, I spent some time in Joan’s garden photographing the flowers. I explored many individual blossoms and many angles of view and pretty much filled a memory card.

On reviewing the images, I was disappointed; none of the images were compelling… too much color! Despite the “good light” (it was mostly cloudy), the flowers were too bright and gaudy for my tastes.

After awhile, I realized that the most interesting aspect of the flowers were the patterns and textures. So I chose three “head on” shots and turned to black and white. These images are highly processed (much more heavily than my usual work); mainly to bring out the textures.

What do you think?

Garden Flowers

Around the Garden

Filed under: Garden Flowers,Odontates — Tags: , — Frank @ 12:00 PM

Last Sunday, I took the camera and wandered Joan’s garden in search of flowers and odes. Yesterday, I finally got around to processing the photos I took… its a long story. Suffice to say that the delay involved a round-trip drive (about 2000 miles total) to Louisville, KY. The first five photos below are the result.

The last two photos were taken yesterday morning. Joan came in from a morning stroll in the garden and announce that there was a dragonfly caught in a web just outside the breezeway door. Of course, I went and got the camera!

When I arrived on the scene, I found this “fellow” hanging by a single thread and gyrating wildly.  He/she spent intervals attempting to get loose interspersed with rests in which the wind took over and blew him about. In other words, conditions were not good for close up photographs; I tried anyway! Most of the frames were out of focus or poorly framed but I did get a couple that were adequate.

After a bit, I took pity on the critter and when I cut him loose he landed on the arbor just below. He was there long enough that I could switch to the macro lens and get a few really close shots before he flew away.

4 July 2012

Odes, Toads and Garden Flowers

I found some time on Sunday (1 July) and Tuesday (3 July) to get out and photograph.

On the day in between (that would be Monday, 2 July for those keeping careful track), I made a round trip to SE Massachusetts to install my “Life Cycle of Dragonflies and Damselflies” exhibit at the Pembroke Public Library. It will be there for the month of July.

Joe Kennedy, my friend (and stalwart commentator on this blog), helped me with the installation and we enjoyed lunch after the work was done. Thanks Joe!

Sunday’s crop:

The insect in the second photo was hovering  for long periods (tens’s of seconds) right about eye level.   In between its hovers, it would make rapid forays in seemingly random directions. I assume that it was hunting for other insects. Thus I was able to “capture”  it during one of it hovers. I got lucky with the light in this frame. The other three or four photos I made had the critter in deep shade.

I discovered the small (thumb-sized) toad because I noticed the vegetation moving in an odd way. Kneeling down, I spied the toad. The photo was taken lying down on my stomach.

The last two images in this series illustrate the power of digital photography. They were both made at ISO 3200 in very dim light; did they even make ISO 3200 film?.  The photos were very noisy straight out of the camera but cleaned up well with the right software tool.

The vesper bluet photo also illustrates another big advantage of digital.  Let me set  the scene…

  • The sun is very low (look at the shadow)… this is the only time these critters are active. Thus the “vesper” in their common name.
  • The critter is on a “lily pad”  in water too deep to wade and there is a significant breeze blowing. This is making the critter bob up and down.
  • I am sitting in my kayak which is also bobbing and drifting… remember the water is too deep to wade and the wind is blowing!

In other words, I shot dozens of frames in order to get one that was acceptable! Who could  have afforded to do that with film?  Ain’t digital wonderful!!!

Tuesday’s crop:

Tuesday afternoon I noticed two or three female common whitetails hanging around the edge of the yard in the clearing I use to process cord word. This caused me to head back to the house for the camera. After photographing the the whitetails, I meandered the yard and the road looking for other subjects.  At one point I almost stepped on another small toad who was keeping very still and relying on its camouflage.


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