Photographs by Frank

15 August 2021

New Salted-paper Prints

I have spent the past week making a new batch of salted-paper prints. In doing so, I mined my archives for photographs that I think will work well as salted-paper prints. The initial exposure for all of these photos were made between five and ten years ago.

Making salted-paper prints is an iterative process.

I process the image in Photoshop making educated guesses as to how the negative should look to give me a good print. Then, I make a negative and use that negative to make a small test salted-paper print on 5×7 inch paper.

I probably get things exactly right the first time about two-thirds of the time. If the print is not to my liking, I go back to the computer and make further adjustments in Photoshop. Most often these adjustments involve dodging and burning… adjusting the brightness of very localized areas of an image. It is very rare that I need to make more than a second negative.

The photograph of the dragonfly in this series is one of those rare images. After the second iteration, I was still not satisfied with the print. In this case I went back to the original file and began anew. Of course, I had the ‘education’ gleaned from the first two unsatisfactory versions and thus the third version “hit the nail on the head” as they say.

The first five images below are all 4×5 inch prints (on 5×7 inch paper). Many times, after making a successful print at that size, I will make a larger negative (6×7 1/2 inches) and print that on 8×10 inch paper. The last two prints in this series are of the larger size.

This process illustrates why I much prefer working with digital negatives for alternative processes compared to analog (film) negatives. Both ideas (making detailed adjustments to the negative and printing an image at different sizes) are possible but extremely difficult in the analog realm.

I often have thought of making even larger prints, maybe up to 11×14 inches. My light source is large enough for a 16×20 inch contact printing frame. However, when I begin to work out the logistics of the larger trays and the space they would require as well as the cost of the materials for such large prints, I run smack into the wall of reality!!!

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Autumn Harvest
Autumn Harvest
Common Whitetail (female)
Common Whitetail (female)
Bluejay
Bluejay
Mockingbird with Prey
Mockingbird with Prey
Western Chipmunk
Western Chipmunk
American Avocet
American Avocet
Willet Feeding
Willet Feeding

24 July 2021

One Hour, Two Species

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 11:01 PM

This evening, I spent about an hour in the field at the Cilley Family Forest in Greenfield looking for odes. This piece of conserved land was once part of Joan’s cousin Stevie’s dairy farm. The temperature was in the mid-70s F and the skies were clear.

The land, which runs along the Contoocook River is mostly wooded but there is also a large field that gets nice late afternoon/evening light and often has good odeing. I arrived at about 6:30 and headed back to the truck about 7:30 as I had lost the light on the field.

I saw only two species of dragonflies and no damselflies. There were small numbers (maybe a half dozen or so) of female widow skimmers and similar numbers of Halloween skimmers (of both sexes).

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Widow Skimmer (female)
Widow Skimmer (female)
Halloween Pennant (male)
Halloween Pennant (male)
Halloween Pennant (imm. male or female)
Halloween Pennant (imm. male or female)

17 July 2021

Afternoon Odes

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 11:00 PM

I had a few ‘free’ hours on Thursday afternoon. I used them to take a walk down the road on the Harris Center’s property near our house. The temperature was in the low 80s F and the humidity high. The skies were mostly clear.

We had a long rainy spell; about 12 inches of rain over two weeks. Thus, I was not expecting an over abundance of odes. My expectations were met. There were odes out and about just not in large numbers.

In the two hours I was out, I saw three or four frosted whitefaces. These were the most common ode present. For all of the rest of the species I photographed, I saw only single individuals. I also saw (but did not photograph) a lone male calico pennant.

Most surprisingly, was the absence of ebony jewelwings . The stream draining the beaver swamp just downstream from the culverts is usually a reliable place to find this species in mid-summer. None were present on this trip.

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Frosted Whiteface (female)
Frosted Whiteface (female)
Familiar Bluet (male)
Familiar Bluet (male)
Chalk-fronted Corporal (male)
Chalk-fronted Corporal (male)
ID Needed
ID Needed
Emerald Spreadwing (female)
Emerald Spreadwing (female)
Variable Dancer (male)
Variable Dancer (male)
Variable Dancer (female)
Variable Dancer (female)

5 July 2021

Yard Odes

Late this afternoon, I spent two hours roaming the yard looking for odes. It was mostly sunny and the temperature was in the low 70s. I was interested to see what odes would be out and about after a number of cool, rainy days.

I headed back inside a few minutes before seven. I had lost the light at ground level and the mosquitoes were making their evening appearance.

The number of odes were small but their was a nice variety of species present. The most common dragonfly present was the spangled skimmer. I saw roughly half a dozen individuals; all female. The most common damselfly was had a metallic green abdomen. They were reminiscent of the sprites, but I don’t think that that is what they are. Again, I saw roughly a half dozen. For all of the other species, I saw only single individuals.

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Spangled Skimmer (female)
Spangled Skimmer (female)
Eastern Pondhawk (imm. male)
Eastern Pondhawk (imm. male)
Butterfly (ID Needed)
Butterfly (ID Needed)
Damselfly (ID Needed)
Damselfly (ID Needed)
Calico Pennant (female)
Calico Pennant (female)
Calico Pennant (female) with Mites
Calico Pennant (female) with Mites
Damselfly (ID Needed)
Damselfly (ID Needed)
Spreadwing
Spreadwing
Damselfly (ID Needed) with Prey
Damselfly (ID Needed) with Prey

29 June 2021

Gregg Lake Loons 2021 – Update

Filed under: Birds,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 1:00 AM

Today was hot (90 deg. F plus) and humid. Late this afternoon, I headed down to the lake to see if I could photograph the loons on Gregg Lake. The chicks are about three weeks old.

The loon family moved out the the main part of the lake when the chicks were only two or three days old. This makes photographing them much more difficult as they have a large area in which to roam. Shore-based photography was not going to work. I needed to use a kayak and Big Bertha is too unwieldly to use while afloat.

Instead, I headed out my 300 mm lens and both a 1.4x and a 1.7x teleconverter. I am able to hand-hold the camera with the 300 mm lens attached. Big Bertha requires a tripod.

The converters gives me roughly 400 mm and 500 mm of magnification, respectively. This turned out to be plenty. I used the 1.4x converter for most of the photos but did try out the 1.7x near the end of my outing just to see how it would work.

Adjusting the ISO so that I could keep the shutter speed at or above 1/1000 second allowed me to get adequately sharp photographs while hand-holding the camera in a bobbing kayak.

The loons are not bothered by the presence of the kayak but I tried to keep my distance and did not approach them closer than roughly 150 feet. For the most part an adult and the two chicks just hung out in one area and the adult spent some time fishing.. Thrice the adult brought a small fish to the chicks but I did not get a good photograph of feeding behavior today. The chicks spent significant amounts of time with their heads in the water as the adults do when fishing, but I only saw two or three short dives by the chicks,

Eventually the adult made a series of calls and the family headed off around the edge of the lake at a decent clip. I followed them for a bit but then thought better of chasing them as they moved along so I headed to camp. The loons eventually headed out into the middle of the lake.

As I headed back across the lake on the way home, I encountered the adult and two chicks again and watched as the second adult met up with them. By then it was almost 7:30, so I did not watch them for long before continuing on home.

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Adult and Two Chicks
Adult and Two Chicks
Two Chicks #1
Two Chicks #1
Two Chicks #2
Two Chicks #2
Adult and One Chick #1
Adult and One Chick #1
Adult Loon
Adult Loon
Adult and One Chick #2
Adult and One Chick #2
Two Adults and Two Chicks
Two Adults and Two Chicks

9 June 2021

Gregg Lake Loon Chicks in 2021!!!

Filed under: Birds,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 7:36 PM

Yesterday (Tuesday, 8 June 2021) evening we received a report that a loon chick had been sighted… right on schedule! Joan had estimated that the chick were due around the 10th.

This morning we headed down to the bridge to see what was up for ourselves. We arrived at about 9:15; the temperature was in the mid-70s and there was a high, thin overcast. We did not have to work very hard to find loons. There was an adult with two chicks hanging out in the area between the two bridges. The distance was pretty much ideal for photography.

After a short interval the second adult arrived, with fish in beak, to feed the chicks. We observed feeding three more times in the two hours we watched. One adult and the chicks stayed within a small area between the bridges the entire time we watched. The other adult made forays into the main part of the lake to hunt.

As the morning progressed it became sunnier and warmer. Eventually we decided that we had spent long enough and headed home. It was about 11:15 and 85 degrees when we packed up.

If things follow the same pattern as last year, there will be a short window of easy photographic opportunity while the chicks and one adult stay on the north side of the road, near the nest site. Eventually, when the chicks are big enough, the whole family will move to the main part of the lake for the remainder of the summer*. At that point they will be ranging widely and one will need a to photograph from a kayak. I did not try this last year, but I just might try this year.

I made 788 exposures in the two hours! Many are what we photographers call ‘similars’. With up to four critters (in this case) all doing their things and not taking direction from the photographer (to say the least!), the best strategy is to make lots of exposures and to sort out the best frames later.

I processed about 10% of the frames but will only show you eleven. As I said, the rest are ‘similar!

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Adult and Chick #1 (2021 Loons)
Adult and Chick #1 (2021 Loons)
Adult and Two Chicks (2021 Loons)
Adult and Two Chicks (2021 Loons)
All Aboard! (2021 Loons)
All Aboard! (2021 Loons)
Feeding Time! (2021 Loons; extreme crop)
Feeding Time! (2021 Loons; extreme crop)
Adult and Chick #2 (2021 Loons)
Adult and Chick #2 (2021 Loons)
Nap Time! (2021 Loons)
Nap Time! (2021 Loons)
Two Adults and Once Chick (2021 Loons)
Two Adults and Once Chick (2021 Loons)

This sequence of one of the feedings deserves its own gallery! And yes… that fish did slide right down the gullet of that tiny bird!

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Feeding Sequence #1 (9:52:09 AM; 2021 Loons)
Feeding Sequence #1 (9:52:09 AM; 2021 Loons)
Feeding Sequence #2 (9:52:10 AM; 2021 Loons)
Feeding Sequence #2 (9:52:10 AM; 2021 Loons)
Feeding Sequence #3 (9:52:11 AM; 2021 Loons)
Feeding Sequence #3 (9:52:11 AM; 2021 Loons)
Feeding Sequence #4 (9:52:21 AM; 2021 Loons)
Feeding Sequence #4 (9:52:21 AM; 2021 Loons)

* UPDATE on Thursday (10 June) afternoon: The loon family has been spotted on the main part of the lake already.

27 May 2021

Salted Dragons

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Odontates,Salted-paper Prints — Tags: — Frank @ 9:00 PM

Hopefully you were not expecting a new snack food!

I have been ‘mining’ my archives for photographs of dragonflies that might make good salted paper prints. Here are three examples made yesterday.

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Twelve-Spotted Skimmer (salted paper print)
Twelve-Spotted Skimmer (salted paper print)
Halloween Pennant (salted paper print)
Halloween Pennant (salted paper print)
Calico Pennant (salted paper print)
Calico Pennant (salted paper print)

24 May 2021

Ode Progression

It is hard to believe that it has been more than a week since my last ode post… where does the time go?!

A week ago, the predominate ode in our yard was the Hudsonian Whiteface. There were also small numbers of chalk-fronted corporals present. This afternoon, with the temperature about 70 deg. F, the skies mostly sunny and a bit of a breeze blowing, the most common odes in the yard were the chalk-fronted corporals (there were dozens, of both sexes), next most common were frosted whitefaces (again, dozens, of both sexes, were present).

Hudsonian whitefaces were essentially absent. I saw one or two. Presumably they have headed back to water where they will mate and lay eggs. I’ll have to find the time to go look!

Additionally, there a single individual of another species present (see the third photograph, below). I know that I have seen this species before, but even with a quick look through the book, I could not identify it… I’m rusty, I guess!

I have yet to see a damselfly this season. Although Joan says that she has see a few while she has been working in the garden.

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Chalk-fronted Corporal (female?)
Chalk-fronted Corporal (female?)
Chalk-fronted Corporal (female)
Chalk-fronted Corporal (female)
ID Needed
ID Needed
Chalk-fronted Corporal (male)
Chalk-fronted Corporal (male)
Frosted Whiteface (female)
Frosted Whiteface (female)
Frosted Whiteface (imm. male?)
Frosted Whiteface (imm. male?)

16 May 2021

First Odes of the Season (2021)

Yesterday, I saw my first dragonfly of the season; a Hudsonian Whiteface perched on the outside of our kitchen window. I actually made a photograph of it, but I’ll spare you having to see it!

This afternoon (with the temperature around 70 deg. F and partly cloudy skies), Hudsonian Whitefaces were common in the yard. Both females (yellow, thick abdomens) and immature males (yellow, relatively thin abdomens; the yellow will turn red as they mature) were present. The were more than a dozen individuals, all actively feeding and perching low to the ground for short periods while they devoured their prey. I also saw (and photographed a single immature male Chalk-fronted Corporal.

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Hudsonian Whiteface
Hudsonian Whiteface
Chalk-fronted Corporal (imm. male)
Chalk-fronted Corporal (imm. male)
Hudsonian Whiteface (imm. male)
Hudsonian Whiteface (imm. male)
Hudsonian Whiteface (female)
Hudsonian Whiteface (female)

14 May 2021

Loon Update #2 (2021)

Filed under: Birds,Monadnock Region,Spring,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 10:44 PM

I spent about two hours (from 3-5 PM) watching the loons this afternoon. The temperature was about 70 deg. F and it was mostly cloudy. When I arrived at the lake there was a loon sitting on the nest. (S)he was alert and a bit pestered by the black flies.

Periodically the sun would peak out and the bird would open its mouth to “pant”. Avian “panting” is a thermoregulation mechanism. Birds don’t sweat. Thus, when they get hot the open their mouths to evaporate water from their mucus membranes in order to cool off.

After about an hour and a quarter, the loon stood up, examined the nest and settled back down facing in a slightly different direction. His/her movements looked a bit like egg turning, suggesting that at least one egg had been laid. Joan (who had arrived just a few minutes before this), using the spotting scope and a higher vantage point, confirmed that there is at least one egg (and possibly two) in the nest.

Thus the wait begins! The incubation period for loons is 25-30 days.

Roughly five minutes later and without warning, the loon on the nest slipped off the back of the nest into water. Shortly thereafter, the head of a bird appeared in a gap in the vegetation. It climbed up onto the nest, briefly examined the contents and sat down. I was puzzled by this turn of events until I finally noticed the head of a second loon just to the left of the nest. We had witnessed a ‘changing of the guard’! I had been completely unaware that the second loon had arrived at the nest. One of the hazards of peering into a telephoto lens is ‘tunnel vision’!

The loon in the water spent a few minutes moving nesting material towards the nest and then headed out to feed. After watching the sitting loon for a few more minutes, and knowing it could be an hour or more before the next changing of the guard, we packed up and headed home.

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Ever Watchful (Loon Sitting on Nest)
Ever Watchful (Loon Sitting on Nest)
Avian Panting (Loon On Nest)
Avian Panting (Loon On Nest)
Egg Turning? (Loon on Nest)
Egg Turning? (Loon on Nest)
Resettled
Resettled
The New Arrival
The New Arrival
Mounting the Nest
Mounting the Nest
Examining the Contents
Examining the Contents
Two Loons!
Two Loons!
Moving Nest Building Material
Moving Nest Building Material
Loon #2 Sitting on Nest
Loon #2 Sitting on Nest
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