Photographs by Frank

28 July 2022

Mid-week Odes

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: , , — Frank @ 10:00 PM

Yesterday afternoon I spent roughly four hours (2-6 PM) looking for odes (ode-ing?). The temperature was in the low 80s F and the skies mostly clear. I visited two sites, spending a bit less than two hours at each.

My first stop was the Harris Center property on Brimstone Corner Road in Antrim (a.k.a. part of the old boy/girl scout camp, depending on how long you have been around!). Here, I walked down the road to its low spot where the beaver pond outlet crosses the road.

I spotted my first odes when I got to the now rapidly regrowing log landing. There were several blue dashers, a few female common pondhawks and a couple of calico pennants present here. There was also a lone yellow dragonfly that cannot identify. (I know I have seen this species before, but it just isn’t coming to me know… a symptom of old age, I guess!)

In the stream just below where it crosses the road there were many (two or three dozen) ebony jewelwings of both sexes and a small number of variable dancers, including two pairs flying in tandem.

Across the road and along the shore of the large beaver pond, I observed a single male slatey skimmer and a couple of spreadwings.

My second stop was the Cilley Family Forest in Greenfield. (This land was once part of the Robertson farm. The Robertsons are Joan’s cousins.) Here, I walked down the road to the field by the river and then over to the railroad bridge across the Contoocook. In the field I observed a single blue dasher, couple of Halloween pennants and a couple of male widow skimmers. Over on the bank adjacent to the rail bridge, I saw a single female common pondhawk.

All-in-all, the total number of odes (except for the Ebony jewelwings) were low has seems to be generally true this summer. However, I did see a nice selection of different species while I was out.

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The first ten of these photos were made at the Harris Center property; the last four at the Cilley Family Forest.

13 July 2022

Wednesday’s Work

This morning dawned bright and clear. After breakfast, I took a stroll about the yard, with scissors in hand, hunting for objects with which to make anthotypes. While the anthotypes were exposing, I worked on hand-coloring another print.

All of these images are small, made on 5×7 inch or smaller paper. The anthotypes are each made on a different paper. #3 is on Strathmore Vision drawing paper (fairly bright white). #4 is on the warm-toned Strathmore Series 400 drawing paper. #5 is on Unica Ivory, also warm but somewhere between the other two papers in tone. I am definitely liking warm-toned paper for paprika anthotypes.

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After lunch, with the skies partly to mostly sunny and the temperature right around 80 deg. F (i.e perfect weather for photographing odes) I headed out to do just that! My goal was the Ashuelot River in Surrey. This is a fast moving, rocky-bottomed smallish river; different from the usual ode habitats I frequent.

I spent just under two hours along the river upstream of the bridge (at the farthest upstream Army Corps of Engineers access site) and was amazed at the paucity of odes. I saw exactly six ebony jewelwings. I did not observe a single dragonfly!

On the way home I made two additional stops along the river on the road between Surrey and Gilsum with similar results… one additional ebony jewelwing.

My luck was only slightly better when I got back to Antrim. I stopped at the field adjacent to the Stone Church on Clinton Road and saw a couple of female Eastern Forktails and, finally two dragonflies. The dragonflies were both out over the small pond in this field and I did not get a good enough view of either to identify them. One of these individuals was making rapid circuits around the circumference of the pond. The other individual was ovipositing; i.e. repeatedly dipping the end of her abdomen into the water.

The lack of odes was quite surprising. Early yesterday evening a line of thunderstorms crossed the region; an inch of rain fell in well less than an hour accompanied by high winds. My guess is that odes do not survive well under these conditions. However, I do not have (and with a quick Google search did not find mention of) any evidence to support this idea.

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12 June 2022

Around the Yard on a Sunday Afternoon

This afternoon I took a short stroll around the yard just to see what was up.

There were a few odes about and a number of swallowtails nectaring on Joan’s garden flowers. Speaking of garden flowers, the poppies have really ‘popped’ in the last several days.

The frog is a resident of the small pool I built this spring*, hoping to attract wildlife (especially birds) to photograph without attracting the local bears (as would putting out seed for the birds). I have yet to find the time to ‘stake out’ the pool and see what, if any, birds come by but this frog moved in within a few days of my filling the pool with water.

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* The wooden handles on our wheelbarrow rotted out and were unrepairable. Of course the plastic tub was still in good shape so I disassembled the wheelbarrow and plugged the holes in the tub where the bolts pierced it. I then buried the tub in the ground and added some strategic rocks to cover the exposed plastic of the tub. Joan added some plants to further naturalize the setting and now we have a small ‘water feature’ out near the greenhouse.

6 June 2022

Dragonflies, No Damsels

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 4:15 PM

Early yesterday afternoon I took a walk up the unmaintained section of Brimstone Corner Road with the ode rig in hand. Well, maybe “walk” is the wrong term… “crawl” or “stroll” is probably a better term. It took me roughly two hours to cover maybe two-thirds of a mile. I stopped at every sunny spot along the road looking for odes. I got my aerobic exercise on the return trip as I only took about ten minutes to get back home when I decided to turn around. In the late afternoon, I again succumbed to the siren call of the myriad of odes that were about and roamed the yard for an additional hour.

The temperature was in the upper 60s F and it was breezy. The skies were partly cloudy with lots of fast moving, puffy summer-time clouds.

The most common species present, by far, were chalk-fronted corporals. Every sunny spot on the road had six or more individuals sunning themselves. Next most common were the whitefaces, probably Hudsonian whitefaces, but telling the various whiteface species apart (especially the females) without netting them is beyond my capability. All of the rest of the species I saw (and photographed) were represented by much smaller numbers, in most cases I saw only one or two individuals.

I observed (but did not photograph) only two damselflies the entire time I was out. A female aurora damsel in the early afternoon and a female bluet in the yard. My guess is that it was too windy for the relatively weak flying damsels and that they were all hunkered down as odes do in unsuitable (to them) weather.

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31 May 2022

Yard Odes at the End of May

Early this afternoon, I noticed numerous dragonflies sunning themselves on our deck. Thus stimulated, I headed out with the camera and made a quick circuit of the yard to see what I could find.

The weather was hot (mid 80s F) and the skies mostly sunny.

Whitefaces, probably Hudsonian Whitefaces, were far the most common ode present. There were a few female chalk-fronted corporals present as well. I also observed a single male Beaverpond Baskettail, an uncommon find.

At one point, while chasing whitefaces, I got briefly distracted by the dozen or so Lady Slippers that are blooming at the edge of our yard. I could not resist adding to the already large number of photos of these show flowers that I have made over the years!

MId-afternoon, Joan called my attention to a damselfly acting strangely on our front steps. It was moving about weakly but clearly could not fly. The photo I made clearly shows why. It was injured. Its head was at a very odd angle to its torso. I made a couple of exposures and then watched for another minute or two until it fell off the steps and into the flower bed.

Late afternoon, while puttering around the yard, I noticed a few damselflies in the patch of ferns on the slope below the garden. Always willing to be distracted by odes, I went a got my camera. There were small numbers of Eastern Forktails (of both sexes) and Sedge Sprites (between my eye and the dim light, it was had to discern sexes) present. Females of both species posed nicely for me.

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29 May 2022

Ashuelot River Odes

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Spring,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 11:55 PM

This afternoon I spent several hours looking for odes (dragonflies and damselflies) along the Ashuelot River in Surry, NH. I parked at the Dort Road access point and when I crossed the foot bridge I headed upstream. Although there were some folks enjoying the sun and the water near the bridge, once I walked a few yards upstream I had the river to myself .

The temperature was in the mid 70s F and the skies were mostly cloudy. I covered about three quarters of a mile of river covering both the back channels of the braided section as well as the main channel.

Joan had spent time in this area about a week ago doing a botanical survey. I was interested in this area because she said that the river was swift flowing with a rocky bottom and that she had seen many odes while looking at the flora.

Swift flowing, rocky bottom rivers are not places (ecological niches) I routinely visit. Thus, I was hoping to find species that I rarely see. I was not disappointed.

The most common ode I saw was the Aurora Damsel. They were distributed all along the section of the river I explored (both along the main channel and the back channels) wherever there were patches of grass in full sunlight. Interestingly, I saw only males.

The next most common species I saw were Superb Jewelwings, a new species for me. These were localized to two widely separated sites along the main channel. I observed between six and twelve individuals at each site. The large majority of individuals were female.

I also saw several male Eastern Forktails and three dragonflies, none of which I was able to photograph or identify. Two of the dragonflies were those frustrating types that are in more-or-less continuous flight patrolling territories along the bank of the river.

The third dragonfly I observed was a newly emerged individual on a rock in the middle of one of the secondary channels. I first noticed this individual by picking up an odd glint of light on a rock. A quick look with my binoculars confirmed that the glint was due to the shiny wings of a teneral dragonfly* and several inches away was an exuvia (the empty larval exoskeleton).

Moving cautiously, I attempted to get in position to photograph this insect. However, this was to no avail. Before I could get close enough for even an “insurance shot” for identification this individual fluttered away in typical teneral flight. Alas, I was left with only the exuvia to photograph.

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* Odes (i.e. dragonflies and damselflies) begin life as eggs deposited in a body of water. The eggs develop into larva which grow and develop as aquatic insects. As the water warms in spring and early summer, the larva crawl from the water and the adult insect emerges from the larva. The newly emerged adult is referred to as teneral. In the teneral state (with wet wings and soft bodies) these insects are very susceptible predation. As soon as their wings are dry enough, a teneral individual flies to a more protected place to continue maturing. This teneral flight, being weak and slow, is very un-dragonfly like.

23 May 2022

Sparse Odes

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

Late this afternoon, I headed out for a little ode-ing. The temperature was in the upper 60s F, there was a soft breeze and it was mostly cloudy (a high, thin, overcast). Not ideal weather for odes but I went anyway.

I visited three sites. The field adjacent to the Stone Church in Antrim is of interest because there is a small fish-less pond that might support some odes not seen in more common ecological niches. I also stopped at the Contoocook River near the paper mill in Bennington. The river here (below the dam) is fast moving and also represents an interesting (and fairly rare) ecological niche. Lastly, I visited the field near Powder Mill Pond at the Cilley Family Forest in Greenfield (a fairly common environment around here).

I saw very small number of odes at all three sites. At the Antrim site, I saw three or four Eastern forktails (two or three male and a single female), a single female bluet and a single whiteface. The whiteface flew directly at my head which is how I know it had a whiteface but it did not allow an opportunity for further identification before veering off! At the Bennington site, I saw only a single male Eastern forktail in the grass near the canoe launch. I saw no odes on the rocks in the river just below the dam. In Greenfield, I saw (but did not photograph) only a single male dot-tailed whiteface.

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19 May 2022

Ode Opener – 2022

Filed under: Monadnock Region,Odontates,Spring,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 3:00 PM

I noticed the first dragonflies around the yard four or five days ago. However, yesterday afternoon after lunch was the first opportunity I had to “go hunting” (with my camera). The numbers of odes had increased dramatically during that interval.

The weather was breezy and the temperature in the high 60s F. The skies were fair when I went out but it got progressively cloudier as the afternoon progressed.

The most common dragonflies were the whitefaces (there were dozens), mostly Hudsonian but possible a few Frosted in the mix. I even observed three whiteface mating wheels. Chalk-fronted corporals were also common.

Damselflies are a bit harder to see casually, so I don’t know when they first appeared on the yard. However, yesterday I observed at least two species of damselflies and possible a third (for which I don’t have a photo. There were small numbers of both bluets (exact species unknown) and Aurora damsels. I saw only females and maybe a dozen of each species.

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

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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