Photographs by Frank

21 October 2021

Our Magnificent Planet 2021

Filed under: Odontates,Other Insects,Wildlife — Frank @ 6:52 PM

Stalwart readers may remember that I had a photograph published in Our Magnificent Planet 2020, a book published by the folks who issue LensWork magazine (see this post).

A few months ago, I submitted three photographs to this year’s version, Our Magnificent Planet 2021.

A few weeks ago, I was notified that, again, one of my photographs has been selected for inclusion in this book. I am batting 1.000!*

Below, are the three photos I submitted.

I like a surprise so I have continued my ‘tradition’ from last year and I have not emailed the publisher to find out which photograph was selected.

We’ll just have to wait until December when the book is delivered!

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Ladybug Leap
Ladybug Leap
Swallowtail
Swallowtail
Blue Dasher
Blue Dasher

* My friend Joe Sack is also batting 1.000 in this game.

11 October 2021

Elk Rut and Prairie Dogs (2021 Road Trip)

Filed under: Mammals,Road Trips,Wildlife — Frank @ 8:02 PM

Our usual route east, towards home, from Western Montana is US Route 2 which runs across the country just south of the Canadian border. This time, we decided to try a different route… a series of state routes numbered 200. We picked up Montana 200 in Missoula (the route starts a bit farther west, at the Idaho border) and eventually continued on the contiguous North Dakota 200 and Minnesota 200 until we were in the Duluth area. This week-long, roughly 1,100 mile trek took us across the central parts of those states. We saw lots of prairie and not a lot of people.

The drive was interesting and quite different from the drive on US 2. The towns along route 200 are generally much smaller and farther apart than the towns along US 2. I think that this is because of the railroad… US 2 generally follows the railroad while the 200 route does not.

The drive was interesting, but I did not make many successful landscape photos along the way. I guess that I did not find a muse in the high prairie. However, I did photograph wildlife in two locations.

Back in 2017, we spent a few hours at the Slippery Ann elk viewing area of the C.M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge in central Montana. This trip we stopped and spent the night. The elk rut was in high gear (as it was at more-or-less the same period in 2017) and we spent a late afternoon and early evening watching and photographing the action… it was fascinating. The bugling continued after it got dark and, in fact, went on all night. We were hoping to photograph again in the morning before moving on but the elk were in the woods and thickets nearer the river rather than out in the open by the road. We could hear them but not see them.

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Elk Rut #1
Elk Rut #1
Elk Rut #2
Elk Rut #2
Elk Rut #3
Elk Rut #3
Elk Rut #4
Elk Rut #4
Elk Rut #5
Elk Rut #5
Elk Rut #6
Elk Rut #6
Elk Rut #7
Elk Rut #7
Elk Rut #8
Elk Rut #8
Elk Rut #9
Elk Rut #9
Elk Rut #10
Elk Rut #10
Elk Rut #11
Elk Rut #11
Elk Rut #12
Elk Rut #12

The second wildlife opportunity along this section of the trip was unplanned. We pulled into a campground in the north unit of Teddy Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota one evening. As I wandered the environs looking for landscape photographs (an endeavor complicated by power lines), I heard odd noises coming from a fenced in pasture abutting the campground… the sound was almost, but not quite, avian. I wandered over the found that the noises were emanating from prairie dogs!

I made one photograph through the fence (the first one shown below) but by the time I found a better vantage from which to photograph (a matter of maybe five minutes) the light had faded and there were zero prairie dogs to be seen! Of course, they were all back out-and-about the next morning and I made many photographs of these amusing creatures.

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Prairie Dogs #1
Prairie Dogs #1
Prairie Dogs #2
Prairie Dogs #2
Prairie Dogs #3
Prairie Dogs #3
Prairie Dogs #4
Prairie Dogs #4
Prairie Dogs #5
Prairie Dogs #5

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?)
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