Photographs by Frank

1 June 2014

The Progression of Odes

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Spring,The "New" Yard & Environs — Tags: — Frank @ 11:00 PM

The ode season began here about two weeks ago with the appearance of yellow Hudsonian Whitefaces in the yard; both females and immature males are yellow. Over time, as the males matured, red individuals appeared and then the numbers began to decrease as they moved back to the water to reproduce.

Today, as I roamed the neighborhood, I did not observe a single Hudsonian whiteface; I guess that it is time for a trip to our wetland “down back”… Tomorrow!

The Hudsonian whitefaces in the yard have been replaced with large numbers of common whitetails (both females and immature males). There were also smaller numbers of chalk-fronted corporals of both sexes present this afternoon. (I first observed females of this species about a week ago.) I also saw a single male four-spotted skimmer.

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Common Whitetail (immature male)
Common Whitetail (immature male)
Common Whitetail (immature male)
Common Whitetail (immature male)
Common Whitetail (female)
Common Whitetail (female)
Chalk-fronted Corporal (male)
Chalk-fronted Corporal (male)
Chalk-fronted Corporal (male)
Chalk-fronted Corporal (male)
Four-spotted Skimmer (male)
Four-spotted Skimmer (male)

8 May 2014

Painted Turtles

Filed under: Amphibians,Monadnock Region,The "New" Yard & Environs — Frank @ 7:00 AM

On Tuesday, I headed “down back” to check out how my  blind was faring; the preceding couple of  days had been very windy.

The blind was intact and I spent a couple of hours watching four painted turtles. They was lots of bird noise as well, but none that came within photographic range.

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Painted Turtles #1
Painted Turtles #1
Painted Turtles #2
Painted Turtles #2
Painted Turtles #3
Painted Turtles #3
Painted Turtles #4
Painted Turtles #4

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

15 October 2013

Lakeside Foliage

Filed under: Autumn,Monadnock Region,The "New" Yard & Environs — Tags: , — Frank @ 6:00 PM

Most folks consider Labor Day the end of the season for summer vacations… not us! We leave the boats out and readily available until Columbus Day.

Thus, yesterday after lunch, Joan and I headed down the lake in the kayaks to spend a bit of time at camp and with the ultimate goal of getting the Sunfish out of the water for the season.

The afternoon was mild. The temperature was in the low 60s, there was a gentle breeze on the lake and the skies were partly sunny.  Joan decided to take one more sail around the lake. I headed back out in the kayak to photograph the lakeside foliage.

After we got the boat and rigging stowed away, we meandered back down the lake in the kayaks. By then the skies had become overcast and the wind had died out. I made some more photos on the trip back down the lake.

We had a truck load of boats (two kayaks and a canoe) on the way back to the house. We won’t put them away for good until roughly Thanksgiving… there are probably a few more nice days between now and then!

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Lakeside Foliage #1
Lakeside Foliage #1
Lakeside Foliage #2
Lakeside Foliage #2
Lakeside Foliage #3
Lakeside Foliage #3
Lakeside Foliage #4
Lakeside Foliage #4
Lakeside Foliage #5
Lakeside Foliage #5
Lakeside Foliage #6
Lakeside Foliage #6
Lakeside Foliage #7
Lakeside Foliage #7
Lakeside Foliage #8
Lakeside Foliage #8
Lakeside Foliage #9
Lakeside Foliage #9
Lakeside Foliage #10
Lakeside Foliage #10
Lakeside Foliage #11
Lakeside Foliage #11
Lakeside Foliage #12
Lakeside Foliage #12

26 August 2013

Saturday’s Crop (of Photos)

After I finished “Big Red” on Saturday morning, I spent some time poking around the yard with the camera. There were many darners about and they would infrequently perch in one of our apple trees, usually too high up for a good photograph. These darn darners are always an exercise in photographic frustration. They are, however, fun to watch! I did get one decent darner photo.

There have been small numbers of autumn meadowhawks (of both sexes) in the yard over the past few days. One  female allowed me to make exactly three frames of her  obelisking before she went on her way.

Another unusual sight in the yard was a mating pair of Eastern Forktails. This seems a little late in the season for mating behavior in this species. More unusual was to find them mating in our yard which is a quarter mile from water (the beaver swamp in one direction and the lake in the opposite direction).

In the afternoon on Saturday, I headed over to camp with Joan, Katrina and Joan’s cousins Suzy and Lyle. While they swam and chatted, I cruised, with camera in hand, the lake shore near camp.  The slatey skimmer was very cooperative and posed for me until I decided that I was done. I can not say the same for the clubtail (which allowed me only the one frame) and the orange bluet (two frames) before they flew off. I had never seen an orange bluet on Gregg Lake before.

I ended the day with the vesper bluets under close to ideal conditions (calm and in good light). This species prefers to alight on lily pads and other vegetation in water that is too deep to wade, thus one needs the kayak. They also, as the “vesper” in their name suggests, only come out at the end of the day; as the light starts to wane.

For most of the time I was out, there were no vesper bluets around. However, as the shadows grew longer more and more appeared, seemingly out of “thin air”.  There were mostly males about; I would estimate 10-20 males for every female.  The few females I observed were already paired up and either flying in tandem or in a mating wheel. I saw no ovipositing behavior while I was out… it was probably too early in the evening.

Single male vesper bluets very aggressively attack paired females trying to get them to un-pair from their chosen mate.  This behavior is difficult to photograph but great fun to watch live.

Here are the photographs (the first four from the morning and the second four from the afternoon):

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Darner sp.
Darner sp.
Autumn Meadowhawk (female)
Autumn Meadowhawk (female)
Eastern Forktail (mating wheel)
Eastern Forktail (mating wheel)
Grasshopper
Grasshopper
Slatey Skimmer (male)
Slatey Skimmer (male)
Clubtail sp.
Clubtail sp.
Orange Bluet ? (male)
Orange Bluet ? (male)
Vesper Bluet (mating wheel)
Vesper Bluet (mating wheel)

19 August 2013

Another Trip “Down Back”

About 4 this afternoon, I donned my waders and spent about an hour and three quarters near the beaver pond “down back”.

I was surprised by the lack of meadowhawks… I saw only two or three along the margin of the beaver swamp. There were small numbers of darners out of the meadow… I saw maybe a dozen total while I was out. I also saw a single sedge sprite.  The most numerous ode present were the spreadwings (I don’t know what species). I saw roughly three dozen.

When I arrived at the edge of the beaver pond I found a convenient spot of open water and knelt down keeping the sun off my shoulder. I was happily watching and photographing spreadwings when I noticed a small (first joint of the thumb-sized) frog not more than I foot from my knee. I don’t know if he was there when I knelt down or if he appeared after I settled in. He was too close to photograph with the ode rig, so I backed up slowly. He was completely unconcerned and I was able to photograph him (see Green Frog #1).

A short while later I noticed two more similar sized frogs near by. One was too close to photograph and partly covered by some grass. The other made for a nice photograph (see Green Frog #2). I decided to try a different angle on the second frog and, as I went to move my position, I almost put my knee on a much larger (fist-sized) green frog. I was able to back off without disturbing him and made Green Frog #3. The big guy was more wary than the smaller fellows and fairly quickly jumped out of sight. I went back to photographing the second frog head on (see Green Frog #4; note the blood-sucking flies, one on each eye!).

The sedge sprite made a brief  appearance while I was photographing the frogs and I was able to get two frames before it disappeared again.

Eventually, I stood up and moved off a short distance. While I was moving I found the orange butterfly and was able to get a clear view for just a single frame.

I was entertaining myself with the spreadwings at the second spot when I heard the clatter of dragonfly wings. The sound of dragonfly wings hitting vegetation or each other is quite unmistakable.

I quickly located the source, a female darner down low in the grasses ovipositing. I was able to get two frames before she moved off to another spot without a clear line of sight. After short interval she moved again, this time to a spot about a foot in front of me but she only stayed for a second or two before flying off out of sight. I went back to photographing spreadwings.

After a few more minutes, I decided that it was time to make supper so I headed back up the hill to the house.

That’s my story for today and I am sticking to it!

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Green Frog #1
Green Frog #1
Green Frog #2
Green Frog #2
Green Frog #3
Green Frog #3
Green Frog #4
Green Frog #4
Sedge Sprite (male)
Sedge Sprite (male)
Butterfly (ID Needed)
Butterfly (ID Needed)
Spreadwing sp.
Spreadwing sp.
Spreadwing sp.
Spreadwing sp.
Green-striped Darner (female), ovipositing
Green-striped Darner (female), ovipositing
Spreadwing sp.
Spreadwing sp.

18 August 2013

Garden Amphibians

Filed under: Amphibians,Summer,The "New" Yard & Environs — Tags: — Frank @ 6:07 PM

My CWS* was down in the garden this afternoon picking green beans… 10 pounds of them from the look of the pile… and other vegetables when she told me that she had seen two small frogs amongst the leaves in the garden.

Luckily, I was finished picking up the piles of shrub trimmings she had left in the driveway because, upon hearing this news, I headed straight for the camera!

These “fellows” are very small… roughly thumbnail-sized.

Here are the photos (two individuals, two poses)…

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Spring Peeper
Spring Peeper
Wood Frog (immature) ?
Wood Frog (immature) ?
Wood Frog (immature) ?
Wood Frog (immature) ?
Spring Peeper
Spring Peeper

*CWS… Chief Wildlife Spotter.


Experiments in Video

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

Yesterday evening a feeding swarm of dragonflies (large darners) formed in our yard. This is a regular late summer happening. Usually I simply watch in awe when this happens as there is no way to capture this spectacle with still photography.

There were literally hundreds of five or six inch dragonflies flying about, seemingly at random, preying on insects too small for me to see. (Hopefully some were the mosquitoes that eventually found me while I was making these videos!)

Remembering that my little Nikon 1 V1 could do video (including slow motion), I set the camera up on a tripod and experimented with video.

This unedited clip is in real time:

Here is an unedited clip in slow motion (5 seconds of real time):

One more edited clip in slow motion (about 2.5 seconds of real time):

None of the dragonflies are in focus… I am not sure how one could get them in focus as they are moving very fast and randomly. I hope that one gets a sense of this interesting behavior anyway. However, it is no substitute for seeing it live.

I think that I will stick to photography in the main!


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?


15 August 2013

A Week Off (from Photographing)


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Looking at the calendar, I realize that it has been a week since my last post; this after a string of daily posts the week before.

All I can say is that I have been busy. This photo explains much of that busyness:

The Woodpile - August 2013

We had six cords of fire wood delivered in the late afternoon last Saturday. I had it all stacked before lunchtime yesterday (i.e. Wednesday). The stack is roughly eighteen feet by eighteen feet by four and a half feet… about eight cords total.

Every time I went out to work on the stack, I had to ignore the many odes, mainly meadowhawks of both sexes, that were around the yard. After finishing yesterday, we ate lunch on the deck and as soon as we finished eating, I picked up the camera. I made all of these photos within about twenty five feet of the deck. The band-winded meadowhawk is another new species for me.

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Meadowhawk sp. (female)
Meadowhawk sp. (female)
Meadowhawk sp. (immature male)
Meadowhawk sp. (immature male)
Meadowhawk sp. (female)
Meadowhawk sp. (female)
Band-winged Meadowhawk (male)
Band-winged Meadowhawk (male)
Meadowhawk sp. (female)
Meadowhawk sp. (female)
Great Spangled Fritillary
Great Spangled Fritillary
Great Spangled Fritillary
Great Spangled Fritillary
The Woodpile - August 2013
The Woodpile - August 2013

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