Photographs by Frank

28 June 2022

Monhegan Island – Flora and Fauna

Filed under: Birds,Mammals,wildflowers,Wildlife — Tags: , , — Frank @ 11:00 AM

Although our trip to Monhegan Island was mostly about the landscape, I did manage to make a few photographs of the non-human inhabitants of the island even though I did not have a long lens* with me.

There were plenty of birds on the island including, according to Merlin, many nesting warblers along with nesting gulls and cormorants. Common Eiders were also plentiful out past the surf.

The mallards on Ice Pond are clearly habituated to humans. As soon as I showed up on the small beach, every mallard on the pond made a beeline for me expecting a hand out.

There was also a well habituated Herring Gull present atop White Head both times we visited there. I assume that it was used to folks feeding it scraps of their snacks/lunch.

The photos of the seals and the cormorant colony were made when we took an afternoon boat ride around the island… it takes all of thirty minutes to circumnavigate Monhegan Island!

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Late June is also a good time for wildflowers on Monhegan. The beach roses were in full bloom as were many other flowers both large and small.

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* I had my 70-200 mm zoom and a 1.7x teleconverter.

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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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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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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15 July 2020

Lake Hallowell Odes and Other Wildlife

Filed under: Birds,Mammals,Odontates,Summer,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 10:15 PM

Lake Hallowell is a small, man-made body of water in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC near where my mother lives. It is an island of wildlife in a sea of suburbia.

We are just back from ten days of attending to my mother while my sister was occupied with work and the wedding of her eldest son. While we were there, I spent two hot and sticky late afternoons around the edges of Lake Hallowell photographing the odes and other wildlife.

I was not alone. There was a seemingly never ending parade of walkers, joggers, anglers, etc. on the paved path that girds the pond. Over the two afternoons, I also encountered three other photographers mainly stalking the birds.

I was set up to photograph odes (with my 300 mm lens and extension tube mounted on the camera). However, twice I was tempted to (and had time to) remove the extension tube and make photos of other critters… namely a green heron and a rabbit.

There were large numbers of dragonflies and very few damselflies out and about. (I saw two damselflies in the two days.)

The most common ode was a small rusty orange dragonfly with which I am not familiar*. There were thousands of individuals in more-or-less constant movement low over the water near the shore. Infrequently one would perch for a brief interval but I was having trouble making a successful photo of this species.

However, every once in awhile lady luck smiles upon you. The only successful photo of this species I made is the last one in this set; a mating wheel, the only one I saw!

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* They are reminiscent of eastern amberwings, but they seem somewhat larger than the minute eastern amberwing and the wings of the female in this photo are not those of the female eastern amberwing. {UPDATE: The collective wisdom of the Northeast Odes email list says that these are, indeed, eastern amberwings.}

30 May 2020

May — The Explosion

May is a month of explosive change here in New England.

We begin the month wondering if we will ever be able to stop feeding the stove and end the month ready for a swim many afternoons. The woods are drab and gray at the beginning of May and fully leafed out a couple of weeks later. The summer breeding birds, the earliest of which begin arriving in April , are sitting on nests by the end of May. Additionally, there are waves of both migrating birds and ephemeral wildflowers which come and go all within the month.

And… most importantly, to me anyway, the dragonflies reappear! I saw my first ode of the season, a lone Hudsonian whiteface in the woods on May second. Their population in the uplands around the house peaked a week or ten days ago… most have headed back to a wetland to breed, but there were still a few stragglers in the yard this afternoon.

The past few days have seen an explosion of chalk-fronted corporals in the uplands. Walking along the unmaintained section of Brimstone Corner Road this morning, in every sunny spot, I stirred up a dozen or more chalk-fronted corporals. The large majority were brown (either female or immature males).

There are also a few individuals of another, larger species also present… I have to find where I stashed the ode books for the winter in order to identify these!

And then there are the chipmunks… remember when, a few seasons ago, we were all concerned about the lack of chipmunks? Well… thanks to the remarkable reproductive capacity of rodents, I can report that they are back in numbers which seem larger than ever. The current generation also seems much bolder than those of the past. I have had chipmunks trying to steal seed as I was filling the bird feeders! The photo of the chipmunk which accompanies this post was made with my camera set up for odes… in this mode it can not focus beyond about four or five feet!

All of these photos were made over the course of an hour or so this afternoon.

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20 June 2018

Hattie Brown Road

Yesterday afternoon I took a walk up Hattie Brown Road. This old (and now gated) road leads to an old homestead but is used mainly for logging access these days. On its way up to the old foundation (which is roughly a mile from Craig Road) , the road passes a beaver pond and a fairly new (i.e. still grassy, not brushy) log yard. Both are good spots for odes.

The weather was ideal; the temperature was in the low 70s F, the skies were azure blue and there was a bit of a gusty breeze blowing.

At every sunny spot on the road there were chalk-fronted corporals, often a dozen or more in one patch of sunlight. I saw literately hundreds of individuals, in total.

In addition to the corporals, I saw a half dozen Hudsonian whitefaces, mostly maturing (i.e. turning from yellow to red) males, two or three teneral frosted whitefaces (along the edge of the beaver pond), a single four-spotted skimmer (in the woods near the old foundation) and a single spreadwing (in the beaver pond).

I also saw a single darner of some sort. It perched briefly on a stem of grass along the road by the beaver pond. However, the weight of the insect, its sail-like wings and the wind conspired against me making its photo. It was swaying back and forth so vigorously that I could not keep the critter in the viewfinder, much less focus on it!

It was also a good day for seeing non-ode animals. I saw a both tiger swallowtails and pipevine swallowtails; a few of each type. I also found a small (first joint of your thumb-sized) toad at the edge of the road in the woods and a painted turtle (a female wanting to lay eggs?) in the middle of the road a few dozen yards up hill from, and pointed away from, the beaver pond.

I also saw an indigo bunting at the edge of the log yard. It hung around long enough so that I could remove the extension tube from between camera and lens. Although with only 300 mm of magnification available, the resulting photos are merely record shots.

Lastly, I observed a young deer in a small sunny patch on a skid road leading off of the main road. If was maybe fifty feet from me, but it did not hang around long enough for me to even contemplate removing the extension tube this time.

All-in-all are very good few hours of wildlife observation!

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19 May 2018

Ode Season Progression

The ode season progresses.

The hudsonian whitefaces are maturing. Both males and females emerge with yellow and black markings. As the males mature the yellow spots turn red. Yesterday, about one in ten of the hudsonian whitefaces I saw were red or reddish.

Hudsonian whitefaces were still, by far, the most common ode around. However, small numbers of chalk-fronted corporals and brownish-grey damselflies (most probably a bluet of some sort) have appeared in the past few days.

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While prowling the “neighborhood” with a camera set up to make close up photos of smallish insects, I often find other things to point my lens at… other insects (especially butterflies) and flowers (of both wild and garden ilk) are most common.

Yesterday, while I was kneeling near a stone wall stalking a chalk-fronted corporal, a chipmunk poked its head out from between two stones. He was a very curious “fellow”*. Every time I moved he would duck back into the crevice, but after a few seconds he would reappear. I was close enough to photograph him without taking the extension tube from between my camera and lens.

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* I say “fellow”, but I did not see enough of this individual to actually determine its sex.

1 October 2017

2017 Road Trip — Wildlife

Filed under: Autumn,Birds,Mammals,Wildlife — Tags: — Frank @ 10:30 PM

On Labor Day (4 Sept) we headed out on the road. Our immediate destination was western Montana and a nephews wedding on the 9th.

After the wedding festivities were over, we began the meat of the trip. Our first destination was Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), just to the west of Yellowstone National Park, our second destination. We spent five nights in Yellowstone and then wildlife refuge hopped back east.

We visited C.M Russell NWR, Bowdoin NWR, and Medicine Lake NWR all in Montana, Lostwood NWR, Des Lacs NWR and Upper Souris NWR in North Dakota and Agassiz NWR in Minnesota. We also visited the International Crane Foundation and the Aldo Leopold Foundation in  Baraboo, Wisconsin before heading home.

We arrived home yesterday (Saturday, 30 Sept) having driven just over 7,400 miles in total.

Of course, I made one or two photographs along the way! Here is the first installment… wildlife photographs.

More to follow over the next few days.


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30 July 2017


Filed under: Mammals,Summer,The Yard,Wildlife — Frank @ 12:00 PM

Thursday afternoon, shortly after lunch, I was wandering by the doors that open onto our deck. As is my habit, I looked out to see what birds were present at our feeders. To my great surprise, not only were there no birds present, but there were no feeders in view!

I headed out the doors to investigate. I found empty feeders strewn about and the steel pole upon which the feeders were once mounted bent over at a right angle at ground level.

I knew at once that we had been visited by a bear… in broad daylight no less!

This conclusion was confirmed, maybe an hour later, when Joan summoned me to the deck doors. The vandal had returned! She/he was looking to see if they had missed any seeds during their first visit. I took two quick photos through the kitchen window before heading outside to chase the miscreant away.

As soon as I opened the doors to the deck the critter looked up and as I put a foot out of the door she/he headed into the woods at top speed. A good response!

Joan was sitting out on the deck later that afternoon and thought that she heard the bear in the woods, but we have seen neither hide nor hair since.

Alas, in the interests of not habituating a wild creature to humans, our bird feeding is over at least until December when the bears begin their hibernation.

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12 June 2016

A Cool and Cloudy Afternoon

Filed under: Amphibians,Birds,Mammals,Summer,The Yard,Wildlife — Tags: , — Frank @ 1:58 PM

Yesterday was cool (it never reached 60 deg. F), cloudy and damp (there were sporadic showers in the morning)… in other words the odes were not flying. Thus, I turned my attention (and lens) to birds and I staked out the feeders for a few hours in the afternoon.

The damp weather brings out the red efts and yesterday was no exception. There were half a dozen in the small patch of lawn behind the house.  As usual there were chipmunks and squirrels scavenging what they could from the bird feeders.

The usual feeder birds were present, among them were a female rose-breasted grosbeak, a male goldfinch and a number of tufted titmice. None of which presented themselves well for photography.

Also present (and photographed) were what seem to be a pair of downy woodpeckers, a hairy woodpecker, at least one male ruby-throated hummingbird and a lone turkey.

The turkey has been a regular visitor to our yard for the past few weeks. I’m no expert, but I would hazard a guess that it is either a female that did not nest or a immature male looking for a territory.

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