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.

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

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)

17 April 2021

Tonight’s Fortune / New Salted-Paper Prints

Simplicity of character is the natural result of profound thought.

— Found in a fortune cookie this evening.

The ‘fortunes’ usually found in Chinese restaurant fortune cookies usually leave much to be desired. However, this one seems worth sharing.

Early spring (and that is stretching it… we had eight inches of snow yesterday) is tough photographically. The light is often drab, as is the landscape. Thus making new photographs is hit-or-miss.

However, I have been staying busy experimenting with salt-paper printing. I’ve been trying different types of subjects and different papers.

The prints shown below were made on three different papers. Artistico Hot Press is a medium weight (200 gsm) very traditional water color paper; it is just a little bit warm. Crane’s Cover is a moderately heavy (240 gsm) paper that is often used for alternative process printing; it is a fairly warm paper. Platinum Rag is a heavy (300 gsm) paper made specifically for alternative process printing (especially platinum printing, as the name suggests); it is pure white. All of these papers have very smooth surfaces.

Each paper has its idiosyncrasies when it comes to coating and exposure. It is amazing to me how different the same negative can look when printed on two different papers. This is all part of the fun!

Here are a few salted-paper prints made in the past few days…

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Shorebird (on Aristico HP)
Shorebird (on Aristico HP)
Dragonfly (on Crane's Cover)
Dragonfly (on Crane's Cover)
Dragonfly (on Platinum Rag)
Dragonfly (on Platinum Rag)

30 August 2020

Late Season Odes — Opportunities

This morning. as I headed out the door to go for a walk, I noticed a meadowhawk perched on a flower just outside the porch door. I successfully resisted the urge to get my camera and headed out for the walk.

Shortly after my return home, I was sitting in my chair rehydrating when I hear Joan call from out in the flower bed where she was working “Perched Darner! Perched Darner!”. As quick as I could I headed out the door, camera in hand but as is usual with darners (they do not stand still for long… ever) the perched individual was long gone.

It turns out that as Joan worked on cleaning up the flower bed she was disturbing lots of small insects and creating her own mini-feeding swarm in the process. There were at least there or four darners making regular passes over the beds and carefully veering around us as we stood there. In addition to the darners, there were also a number of autumn meadowhawks also taking advantage of the bounty.

Darners are very frustrating to photograph. They spend the large majority of their time in flight; even eating most prey while on the wing. Every once in a while, when one does perch, it is their habit to hang vertically from a branch or twig quite near the trunk of whatever plant they chose. (They are big and heavy as odes go and prefer good sturdy shrubs for perching.) This often makes for very cluttered photos.

In all today, I saw three perched darners. The first was in such deep shadow in a rhododendron that the photos are not worth showing. I never got close enough to the second to even make a photo. However, I was able to get a pretty typical photo of the third darner. I was able to make exactly three exposures before it took flight again.

Meadowhawks, on the other hand, are pretty easy to photograph. They perch frequently and often on nice isolated stalks of vegetation.

There were plenty (a few dozen) of meadowhawks around both the flower bed where Joan was working and at other places in the yard. Most were mature males but there were a few immature males and females in the mix.

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Autumn Meadowhawk (male)
Autumn Meadowhawk (male)
Autumn Meadowhawk (male)
Autumn Meadowhawk (male)
Autumn Meadowhawk (female)
Autumn Meadowhawk (female)
White-faced Meadowhawk (male)
White-faced Meadowhawk (male)
Meadowhawk with Prey (immature male)
Meadowhawk with Prey (immature male)
Meadowhawk (female)
Meadowhawk (female)
Darner (Canada or Green-strip)
Darner (Canada or Green-strip)
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