Photographs by Frank

9 May 2014

Mackerel Skies & Spring Birds

Filed under: Amphibians,Birds,Early Spring,Landscapes,Monadnock Region — Tags: , , , — Frank @ 11:00 AM

About 9:30 yesterday morning, I headed out to run some errands. When I got to the lake, I noticed the mackerel skies over the north end of the lake and the nice, soft light. I stopped to make a photograph or two.

As I walked back to the boat launch where the truck was parked, I noticed the birds in the trees along the road and the turtles basking in the sun.

The section of road that runs along the beach and up to the bridge seems to attract many insect-eating birds. Later in the season there will be many swifts and swallows present, but yesterday I saw mainly Eastern Kingbirds.

There were also  red-winged blackbirds and grackles present. The male red-winged blackbirds were very vocal singing their distinctive “conk-la-ree” song repeatedly.

When I got back to the truck, I decided that the errands could wait. Switching from landscape mode and wide angle lens to wildlife mode and “Big Bertha” , I  headed back towards the bridge photographing all the way.

An osprey also appeared briefly. It hovered near the bridge looking for prey and made one, unsuccessful plunge into the water before heading off. A couple of days ago, Joan and I observed an osprey exhibit  the same hovering behavior by the bridge. I guess that I’ll have to plan to spend some time  down there just to watch for ospreys!

About 11:30, I headed back to the truck and my errands.

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22 September 2013

A Windy Day in Early Autumn

Filed under: "Camp",Early Fall,Landscapes,Monadnock Region — Tags: , — Frank @ 9:00 PM

Late this afternoon, we took a quick “spin” on the lake in the kayaks. It was breezy and cool but the interesting clouds made for good photography.

September Skies #1 (Gregg Lake Near Our Camp)

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September Skies #2 (The Gregg Lake Shore)

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A Hint of Things to Come

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4 August 2013

The First Two Days of August

Filed under: Odontates,Other Insects,Summer,wildflowers — Tags: , , , — Frank @ 12:00 PM

These photos were made around the yard on Thursday. It was quite unusual to see large darners hanging around the yard.

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On Friday evening we put the kayaks in Gregg Lake and explored the wetlands at the north end.

Joan dragged her boat over the beaver dam and explored a bit on the upper side. The water on the upper side is roughly two feet higher than the lower side. On the return trip Joan fell in while trying to get back into her boat! I found enough to photograph without getting out of my kayak.

It was rather late in the day for odes, so I did not take the “ode rig”. Rather I took the little V1 and looked for other subjects.

There were a lot of vesper bluets out and about, so I’ll have to head out again soon with the ode rig. I did not even try photographing them with the V1 as it simply does not have anywhere near the magnification needed.

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9 September 2012

Missed Opportunities

Filed under: Amphibians,Landscapes,Odontates — Tags: , , , — Frank @ 12:00 PM

Thursday, Joan and I took the kayaks down to the lake for a quick paddle on a nice quiet evening. I headed under the bridge to the swampy northern section just to see what I could find.

Not more than a minute after I got the camera ready, I spied a pair of spreadwings flying in tandem. I watched as they landed on the stem of an isolated aquatic plant in good evening light. I quickly moved in and positioned myself to get a clear shot with a an uncluttered background; all the while thinking what a great shot this was going to be. I tripped the shutter a single time and off they flew never to be seen again. Total time from first seeing them until losing them… two minutes at the absolute most. And the photo? It was out of focus. Missed opportunities, a common theme in the life of a wildlife photographer!

I paddled along the edge of the lake staying to the ever changing patches of “good light” as the sun dipped lower with each passing minute. There were a number of green frogs taking advantage of the warm sun. There were small numbers of spreadwings and Eastern Forktails present as well.

At one point, I flushed a great blue heron from the edge of the marsh. I was barely fifty feet away when she/he took off and I was glad that she/he was not directly over me when they lightened their load shortly after takeoff! Since the camera was rigged with an extension tube for closeup work (and thus only focuses to about six feet) I could only watch the magnificent sight… another missed opportunity!

Eventually the sun dipped below the ridge and I headed back to the boat launch. Upon my arrival there I noticed the rapidly changing patterns in the clouds. Photographing the clouds kept me fully entertained while waiting for Joan to return.

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26 May 2012

Maiden Voyage

Having decided that we were too old to sleep on the ground but too young to quit camping, we spent some time mulling the options and decided on a teardrop camper. A teardrop camper is basically a bed (queen-sized in our case) on wheels with a camp kitchen on the back. They are light enough to be pulled behind a small car.

After a bit of research (and some last minute mind-changing), we decided to buy a Silver Shadow model made by Little Guy Campers.  We picked the trailer up at the  “local” dealer (Dan Kearney’s  in Rutland, VT) a couple of weeks ago.

On Monday, we took off on our maiden voyage in the camper. Our destination was Rangeley Lake State Park in western Maine. We spent two nights at Rangeley Lake,  a third night in Errol, NH and made it back home for a late dinner on Thursday.

We meandered the back roads both going and coming and covered 679 miles total, including a “loop” to Grafton Notch without the trailer (see below). The “rig” (i.e  Joan’s Forrester with two kayaks on top and the trailer) averaged 23.7 mpg for the trip. We averaged 21.9 mpg on the 218 mile return leg. The unburdened Forester gets about 32 mpg.

Here are a couple of photos of “the rig”:

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We arrived at Rangeley Lake around supper time and had our choice of campsites; there were only two other sites in use. Although, the ranger who registered us was anticipating with a bit of dread the crowds on the coming holiday weekend.

After setting up camp and cooking our first meal on the propane stove, we took a walk along the lake. Upon returning to our campsite (which was right on the lake) we were treated with a great sun set:

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Tuesday dawned gray with the forecast of scattered showers (the first of which occurred while we ate breakfast). We decided to take a drive to see (and photograph) the various waterfalls in the Grafton Notch (ME) State Park area. During the day we made five or six short hikes to various falls and encountered a few more light showers but we had fun anyway!

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We arrived back at the campsite at dinner time. After cooking dinner we launched the kayaks from the campsite and set off towards a small bay nearby. I had made an “executive decision” to leave the camera gear in the car as the light was drab and would quickly begin to fade.

The lake was quiet. We encountered a single boat close up shortly after we launched and only saw a couple of others in the distance as we paddled the lake.

As we headed back towards the campsite, we were treated to the sight of a bald eagle passing overhead. Joan watched through her binoculars as the bird cruised across the lake and made two attempts at fish. (I, of course, had forgot my binoculars!) The bird alit in a tree on a small island and after a short interval took flight again carrying a large stick. Again, she (or he) flew directly overhead at an altitude of maybe twenty or thirty feet. The bird was so close (and it was so quiet) that we could hear its wing beats! A short time later the (presumably) same bird made a return tip back across the lake to the same small island. At this point we headed back towards the campsite in the rapidly gathering dark. It was quite the experience and sometimes the experience is all that matters says he who left the camera back in the car!

Wednesday dawned cloudy but the forecast was for clearing weather. We decided to head for the Magalloway River near the headquarters of the Lake Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge in Errol, NH. We had camped nearby and explored the lake twice before, but had never headed upriver from the NWR headquarters. We figured that we could have a nice relaxed paddle and then decide whether to head home or camp a third night.

The paddle was nice, although not as isolated as the down river (towards the lake) stretch; we did about 4.5 miles before turning around. We got back to the landing at the NWR building around 4 PM.

As we were carrying Joan’s boat back across the road to the car we both did a double take… there was a three-legged bear standing on the lawn near the NWR building!  Upon seeing us, the critter unhurriedly headed down the bank and swam across the river. Our last sight was of its rear end disappearing into the woods on the far bank!

I do not think that the woman in the NWR office really believed our story, but I can’t say that I blame her! I’m not sure that I would believe such a story but having seen it with my own eyes I guess that it is true!!!!!

We decided to camp one more night and headed to the Clear Stream Campground in Errol. This is a nice quiet, but mosquito-filled private campground; nothing had changed from our previous stay here in July a couple of years ago! We set up camp and, instead fighting the vampires, we headed to the Bull Moose Restaurant for an early dinner.

After dinner, our plan was to head out on route 16 to “hunt” for moose. On our way back towards town after dinner we encountered a small cow moose eating the salt-laden mud at the side of the road. There was already a car stopped when we arrived and by the time a couple of more vehicles went roaring by the moose hightailed back into the woods. A good start to the evening!

We headed south of town along the Androscoggin River without seeing another moose but I made a couple of nice landscapes by a wide part of the river where we turned around and headed back north.

It was still light when we got back to the center of Errol so we decided to try Route 16 north of town. We drove as far as Wentworth Location and found another nice sunset scene to photograph but no moose. As we headed back to town in the near dark, we encountered another moose crossing the road as we drove.

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After breakfast at the campsite (the mosquitoes were not nearly as bad as they had been the previous evening) we packed up with the intention of meandering home through the White Mountains… and meander we did! We stopped at the pull off in Kinsman Notch to photograph but mostly I drove while Joan, with map in hand, “told me where to go”! We both enjoyed the scenery and arrived home about 4 PM.

All-in-all we had a successful maiden voyage.

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3 January 2012

“Our” Beaver Swamp

Filed under: Landscapes,Monadnock Region,Winter — Tags: , , — Frank @ 6:00 AM

We, and our neighbors, share the back of our lots with a beaver or two. The beaver swamp runs roughly north-south for about half a mile and we live at the southern end. There are two dams and two lodges. Last summer I spent a lot of time stalking odes in the marsh and around the deep water near the southern dam and lodge; these are probably on our property (although its hard to say for sure).

Yesterday afternoon, I headed out to photographed this wet land from the northern dam. In the afternoon, the light is better in this direction and as I headed out I was hoping for some dramatic clouds as the weather broke.

I was well rewarded for a mile-and-a-half (round trip) walk and the ninety minutes or so that I worked the scene; staying until the light in the foreground faded. The temperature was about thirty degrees and there were three or four brief periods of snow. The wind was blowing which meant lots of changing clouds. All of that sounds worse that it was, dressed properly and thoroughly engaged in “the moment”, I did not feel cold at all.

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Warning… photo geek talk ahead! Proceed at your own risk!

The right equipment really helps. Both of these images were taken with a graduated neutral density filter. I have had a couple of these filters for years. In the past, I often left them at home and ended up regretting not  having  them with me. The reason? No room in my backpack. I recently bought a much larger (and better fitting) backpack. This time I had the filter with me!

While on the subject of gear… On Saturday I put a winter coat on my tripod. Aluminum tripods make for good heat sinks and thus very cold hands (even with gloves on) . Thus the winter coat!

My tripod’s winter coat consists three pieces of foam pipe insulation of the appropriate diameter and a bit of duck tape. An eight foot length of the pipe insulation cost $3.49  at the hardware store. Less than 10 minutes after I got home, my tripod was fully clad with insulation on the upper sections of  each leg and ready to go. I even had enough left over for a fourth leg! Come spring, I’ll remove my tripod’s winter coat and store the pieces away until the following winter. Hopefully, I’ll be able to find them again!

13 July 2010

Late June and Early July at Camp

Filed under: "Camp",Odontates — Tags: , , , — Frank @ 4:34 PM

Well, we have spent the last three weeks or so (minus two days, including today) in NH.

Our days have been spent doing small projects intended to keep the place standing, some reading and thinking, some boating (sailing, rowing, canoeing and kayaking) and maybe a bit of napping, too!

In addition, I still have managed to find time to roam the lake shore in search of odontates. As many of you know, I do this by wading in the shallows… never more than five or ten feet from shore and  in water that is rarely more than knee-deep.

Some photos are taken standing up as odontates like to perch on the shrubs along the shore. Others are taken kneeling, squatting or sitting  — laying, too, but not recently — in the water.

I have, on many occasions, put the lens of the camera six or eight inches off of the water. Whatever it takes to get the “eye-to-eye” view that makes for strong photographs of other creatures!

The first gallery has photographs from before 1 July. I did not have time to upload them when we were last home.  You will note that the images are mainly of damselflies, especially variable dancers… there did not seem to be much variety this early in the season. There were a few dragonflies of the type that rarely perch; rather they are constantly on the move hunting and defending their territory. They are very hard to take photos of!

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The second gallery contains photos taken between 1 July and 12 July. Now you will see a bit more variety in the odontates around the lake.

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In addition, we have had  “interesting” sun sets on a few occasions and I have taken the opportunity to make some ‘cloudscapes”.

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What do you think?

Comments/critiques on any or all of the images are greatly appreciated… thanks!

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