Photographs by Frank

10 July 2019

Contoocook River Odes

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 9:36 PM

Well, the winter’s firewood is finally stacked… all 10 plus cords. Now I have some time and energy to get out and photograph the odes.

This afternoon, I had lunch with my friend Victor at the Common Place in Bennington (NH). After we parted ways, I stopped at the canoe/kayak launch on the Contoocook River by the papermill.

I have never looked for odes here before but I will be stopping there more often going forward.

This site is just downstream from the papermill’s last dam. Just below the dam there is a small falls/rapids and then, after the drop, there is a stretch of fast moving, rocky bottomed river. There are also a number of backwaters with essentially still water and muddy bottoms. A very different habitat than I usually visit.

The weather was mostly sunny and the temperature was in the mid-80s.

I spent about an hour, covered no more than 200 feet of river and observed eight different species of odes.

The damselflies I saw were: powdered dancers (one of each sex, I think; this is a new species for me), a couple of male ebony jewelwings and a single male stream bluet.

As for the dragonflies, the most abundant were male common whitetails; there were many dozens of them, but no females. Next most abundant were spangled skimmers, I saw roughly a dozen of them; all males again.

I also observed single individuals of the following species: dragonhunter, twelve-spotted skimmer and slaty skimmer. Again, these were all males.

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Powdered Dancer (male) ?
Powdered Dancer (male) ?
Powdered Dancer (female) ???
Powdered Dancer (female) ???
Dragonhunter (male)
Dragonhunter (male)
Ebony Jewelwing (male)
Ebony Jewelwing (male)
Stream Bluet (male)
Stream Bluet (male)
Spangled Skimmer (male)
Spangled Skimmer (male)
Common Whitetail (male)
Common Whitetail (male)
Spangled Skimmer (male)
Spangled Skimmer (male)
Twelve-spotted Skimmer (male)
Twelve-spotted Skimmer (male)
Slaty Skimmer (male)
Slaty Skimmer (male)

24 June 2019

More Experiments

Filed under: Garden Flowers,Summer,The "New" Yard & Environs — Tags: — Frank @ 11:00 PM

I have a shoe box full of random lenses mostly salvaged from various devices over the years. This afternoon, I took the usual lens out of the camera obscura and tested each lens from my box by holding it up to the opening in the box. Most of the lenses resulted in horribly out of focus images and will require more work — making lens tubes to fit them, etc. — to see if they can be focused on the ground glass.

However one lens, a single convex lens (flat on one side and convex on the other), in a convenient aluminum frame threw a decent image when held against the opening. I taped this lens in place and headed out to the yard to experiment. I did not stay out too long as the mosquitoes were fierce.

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Poppies
Poppies
Peonies #1
Peonies #1
Peonies #2
Peonies #2
Flocked
Flocked
Untitled
Untitled
Our House
Our House
The Front Door
The Front Door

23 June 2019

Experiments with Slits

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Summer,The "New" Yard & Environs — Tags: — Frank @ 7:30 PM

We had nine cords of wood delivered on Thursday. Thus, these days, I spend my mornings stacking firewood. I am trying to do about a cord each day.

Afternoons, however, are for experiments.

These photos were made by replacing the lens in my camera obscura with a slit made by placing two razor blades very close together. The slit acts similarly to a pinhole in forming an image, except that the image is stretched out along the length of the slit. I have placed the slit on the camera (with tape, nothing fancy!) at a roughly forty-five degree angle.

I took my experiment for a walk around the yard just to “get a feel” of what it might do,

The viewfinder of the digital camera is very dim; I can often see only a couple of the brightest spots in the scene. Thus framing is imprecise.

By cranking up the ISO as high as it goes (3200 on my little Nikon 1 V1), I can get a reasonable shutter speed; 1/4th to 1/20 of a second. I deal with the horrible noise this causes in the computer, but since nothing is really sharp to begin with heavy noise reduction seems to work fine.

I will be as interested as anyone else to see where this experiment leads!

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Flocked
Flocked
Peonies #1
Peonies #1
Peonies #2
Peonies #2
On the Road
On the Road
Our House
Our House
Garden Flowers
Garden Flowers

20 June 2019

A Walk and Backyard Birds

Can you tell it is a rainy day here in Antrim? Must be, it is a three blog post day!

Yesterday was a hot (for NH) and sticky day. The temperature was in the upper seventies and it was mostly cloudy. The rain held off until early evening.

I took a walk up Brimstone Corner Road with the camera rigged for odes. There was not much activity and the only species I saw were chalk-fronted corporals. I saw roughly two dozen individuals in the roughly three miles I walked.

In one old log yard, I found three different wildflowers all within about a six foot radius. I barely had to move between photographs!

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Chalk-fronted Corporal (male)
Chalk-fronted Corporal (male)
Chalk-fronted Corporal (female)
Chalk-fronted Corporal (female)
Wildflower #1
Wildflower #1
Wildflower #2
Wildflower #2
Wildflower #3
Wildflower #3

When I got home from the walk, I decided to set up the camera rigged for birds on the deck. It was pointed towards the feeders. All the usual suspects were present. Finches both gold and purple as well as downy woodpeckers have been most abundant recently.

Rose-breasted grosbeaks are also common. On other days I have seen as many as three individuals on the feeders simultaneously. They were present yesterday, but I did not get any photos as they have the annoying habit of flying directly to the feeders with out stopping at one of the abundant perches available. And, as I am wont to say one should not make photos of birds on bird feeders unless one is trying to sell bird feeders!

Every once in a while, a we get other woodpeckers. Hairy woodpeckers being next most common and very occasionally a red-bellied. We hear pileated woodpeckers in the woods regularly but have never seen one on or even near the feeders.

Red-winged blackbirds are also infrequent visitors to our feeders. They are common in the wetland “down back” (about a quarter mile away) but are rare in our yard tucked away in the woods.

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Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Red-winged Blackbird
Red-winged Blackbird
Purple Finch #1
Purple Finch #1
Purple Finch #2
Purple Finch #2
Goldfinch (male)
Goldfinch (male)
Downy Woodpecker (female)
Downy Woodpecker (female)
Downy Woodpecker (male)
Downy Woodpecker (male)

One Hour, Two Hundred Feet — Five Species

Monday (17 May) afternoon, I spent about an hour roaming the neighborhood with the camera rigged for odes (300 mm lens and an extension tube). I never went farther than about 200 feet from the house.

Odes were abundant on this warm sunny afternoon. I found five species… four dragonflies and a single damselfly.

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Hudsonian Whiteface (male)
Hudsonian Whiteface (male)
Clubtail
Clubtail
ID Needed
ID Needed
Chalk-fronted Corporal (maturing male)
Chalk-fronted Corporal (maturing male)
ID Needed
ID Needed
ID Needed
ID Needed
Hudsonian Whiteface (male)
Hudsonian Whiteface (male)
Damselfly
Damselfly

27 May 2019

Garden Flowers in the Studio

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

A few days ago, I realized that Joan had at lease nine (and probably more) varieties of daffodils growing around the yard.

I headed out with scissors in hand to collect enough specimens to make a composite three-by-three matrix as I did with maple leaves a week or so ago. *

Today, while photographing the dragonflies, I noticed that the irises down by the vegetable garden were also in full bloom. Thus, just as darkness fell, I snipped an iris and I took it to my basement studio which was still rigged up from photographing the daffodils.

I’m thinking of keeping the studio set up for flowers all summer and the scissors close at hand. There will be many more garden flowers coming along in the next few months!

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Daffodil Matrix
Daffodil Matrix
Iris
Iris

* This time I set up a black cloth for a background. The tricky part of photographing on a small table top with a black background is keeping extraneous light from spilling onto the background and thus making it gray instead of deep black. It took a number of pieces of cardboard used as flags to do the job, but done right, the background require only a small about of “fixing up” in the computer.

22 August 2018

A Jaunt in the “Neighborhood”

This afternoon, I headed out on a walk down Hattie Brown Road, just to see what was up. I had not been out that way in probably almost a month. Weather-wise there were broken clouds and the temperature in the mid-70’s. There was also a nice breeze blowing… nice because it kept the mosquitoes down.

As I left the house, I noticed a small (a couple of dozen individuals) feeding swarm of darners over the yard. Feeding swarms are large congregations (dozens to hundreds of individuals) of big dragonflies (usually a mix of darner species) that gather over open spaces to feed on small flying insects. Feeding swarms form most often in late summer and in the late afternoon. I paused only briefly to watch the swarm before driving down to the bridge.

As I walked out Hattie Brown Road, the sun kept peaking out of the clouds and I saw both female autumn meadowhawks and spreadwings in some of the patches of sunlight along the road. I also saw an occasional darner cruising the road well above head height.

When I reached the beaver pond, the birds took noticed. A crow perched high in a nearby tree, being a social bird, began to call loudly announcing my presence to its compatriots. A great blue heron, being a solitary sort, silently took flight from its fishing spot near the road and headed to the other side of the pond.

As I arrived at the pond, I noticed a large dark cloud come over the ridge to the west and within a minute or two it began to rain lightly. Unsurprisingly, there were no odes to be seen.  Since there was only gray sky to the west and the patches of blue to the east were rapidly receding.  I decided to head back towards the truck without dallying. It rained lightly the entire walk back.

Of course, just as I arrived back at the truck the sun began to reappear and after a short interval the rain stopped.

Since the weather was looking better, I stopped at the road into the Harris Center property along Brimstone Corner Road rather than heading directly home. Parking near the gate, I walked down this road as far as the beaver dam and observed small numbers of the same odes as I saw on Hattie Brown Road. There were a couple of darners patrolling the road, a few spreadwings in sunny spots along the road and a couple of female meadowhawks at the log landing. I saw no odes out over the beaver pond itself.

Eventually, I lost the nice light as the sun disappeared over the ridge to the west. Thus, I headed back up the hill to the truck and arrived back home at 6:30, a bit more than two hours after I departed. The feeding swarm in the yard was gone.

As you might expect, I took a few photos while I was out!

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Spreadwing #1
Spreadwing #1
Wildflower
Wildflower
Autumn Meadowhawk (female)
Autumn Meadowhawk (female)
Grass Seedhead
Grass Seedhead
Toadstool
Toadstool
Spreadwing #2
Spreadwing #2


 

18 August 2018

Morning Visitor

Filed under: Birds,Monadnock Region,Summer,The Yard,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 9:59 AM

One the the large oak trees down by the road has a large dead branch that overlooks Joan’s vegetable garden. Semi-regularly we see birds of prey, usually hawks sitting in this branch.

This morning, while eating breakfast, Joan noticed a hawk perched in “the branch”. I made a few exposures from the driveway before it decided to head off.

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Hawk #1
Hawk #1
Hawk #2
Hawk #2


 

22 July 2018

Bonnyvale Odes

Filed under: Odontates,Summer — Tags: , — Frank @ 1:00 PM

In a couple of weeks (4 August to be exact) I will be teaching a workshop titled “Photography of Dragonflies and Damselflies” and cosponsored by the Vermont Center for Photography and the Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center (BEEC).

Yesterday afternoon, I made a trip to the BEEC to scout out the odes there ahead of the workshop. The temperature was in the mid-70’s F, there were a few very scattered clouds and a slight breeze blowing, just enough to add challenge to photographing insects perched on tall grasses!

There were a couple of immature (i.e. orange-ish) meadowhawks flying over the fields. While walking in a field of tall grasses, one often flushes small birds. Yesterday, was no exception.  However, yesterday I also flushed a large deer. It jumped up from where it had been laying not more that twenty five feet from me and I nearly jumped out of my skin!

There is a very small (maybe twelve feet in diameter) pond in the lower field which contained dozens of bluets of two different species, including a number of ovipositing pairs. There was also a single male common whitetail that spent most of its time cruising the perimeter of the pond and only rarely perching and then for only a short interval. Very frustrating for photographers!

Across the road from the BEEC buildings and a short walk away, is another small pond. There were a number (maybe six or eight) of what I think were blue dashers out over the pond and perching on the cattails out in the middle. Having donned my rubber boots, I began to venture out into the shallow pond to photograph them. However, I quickly turned around. There was no solid bottom only that semi-solid, boot-grabbing muck that one often finds in small ponds. In the vegetation around the margin of this pond I found two male meadowhawks and a single teneral spreadwing.

I think that there will be enough ode activity for our workshop but I will be looking (with help from the BEEC staff) for another nearby site as backup.

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Bluet (male, probably a Northern)
Bluet (male, probably a Northern)
Slender Bluet (male)
Slender Bluet (male)
Bluet (male, probably a Northern)
Bluet (male, probably a Northern)
Common Whitetail (male)
Common Whitetail (male)
Slender Bluet (male)
Slender Bluet (male)
Slender Bluet (male)
Slender Bluet (male)
Meadowhawk (immature male)
Meadowhawk (immature male)


 

Down Back on Friday

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Summer — Tags: , — Frank @ 12:00 PM

Friday afternoon, I spent a couple hours in the beaver-made wetland “down back” behind our house; we share this wetland with the NH Audubon Willard Pond sanctuary. The weather was warm (about 80 deg. F), very sunny and only a slight breeze.

There were a few darners flying out over the wet meadow; the first I’ve seen this season. The most common dragonfly was the frosted whiteface. There were dozens, mostly patrolling out of the open water of the pond. Additionally, I saw a single male calico pennant, a single male emerald. A Kennedy’s emerald I think, I have seen one other of these a few years back at the mill pond on the Willard Pond sanctuary, about three-quarters of a mile away. I also saw two or three female spangled skimmers.

There were small numbers of damselflies down low in the vegetation. These are always difficult to photograph. Damselflies tend to perch for only short intervals and finding clear “windows” in the vegetation though which to photograph is not easy. The most common damselflies were the sprites, both sphagnum and sedge sprites were present. Additionally, I saw one or two bluets of some sort and a similar number of spreadwings none of which I photographed.

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Sedge Sprite (tandem pair)
Sedge Sprite (tandem pair)
Sphagnum Sprite (male)
Sphagnum Sprite (male)
Frosted Whiteface (male)
Frosted Whiteface (male)
Calico Pennant (male)
Calico Pennant (male)
Spangled Skimmer (female)
Spangled Skimmer (female)
Emerald, male, probably a Kennedy's)
Emerald, male, probably a Kennedy's)
Spangled Skimmer (female)
Spangled Skimmer (female)


 

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