09.09.2014 All of me…why not take all of me?

My holy grail for the late summer is the Fringed Gentian (Gentianopsis crinita).  If I find one you will see why.  Or maybe you already have seen them and know why.  However, the calendar says it is still a bit early but the Meadow Bottle Gentian (Gentiana clausa) aka Closed Gentian is in full bloom and I did happen upon some this past Sunday at Chesterfield Gorge (also a Trustees of Reservations property) in Chesterfield, MA.  I state MA because there is a Chesterfield Gorge in NH too. As my MO describes my images as mostly from within 50 miles of home I thought I would mention this.

These flowers are fully open.  To pollinate the flowers, very fit and burly little insects must force their way through the closed petals to do the deed.  I may not be an arachnophobe, but I am a claustrophobe and this would not be my chosen profession were I an insect. :-)

Quite often I close in for an intimate portrait of flowers, insects etc. and I did that here.  But I thought I would show two shots with one being from enough of a distance to show the majority of the plant.  Hence the title…more about that at the finish.

This one contains a torn leaf and busy background.  I was able to soften the contrast in the background with some targeted adjustments (mentioned for David) which helps the flower itself to step a little forward while still allowing for good detail in the bloom at f/5.6 @1/4 sec.  I should also mention that the leaves were very wet from the overnight dew and I dried them off with a handkerchief to kill the strong reflective glare in addition to using a circular polarizer.Meadow-bottle-Gentian-2-090714-600WebAs is my habit, I try to eliminate as much distraction as possible in a portrait, or any other image for that matter, so I moved in closer.Meadow-bottle-Gentian-1-090714-600WebYou will notice the change in color tone coming from the sun starting to shine through the trees.  This is a bit tidier and puts all the emphasis on the 7 little bottles.  I wanted the flower to be the only element, so I stayed at f/5.6 but did a series of fourteen 1/8 sec. exposures starting with the focus at the front tip of the closest leaf and proceeding to the rear leaf tip.  I don’t often stack images, but gave it a shot and I think it worked out ok.  I tried both Helicon Focus and Photoshop’s stacking functionality and preferred the job Photoshop did.

Which do you prefer?

As for the title….

Posted in Closeup Photography, Flora, Nature Photography, Trustees of Reservations, Western Massachusetts, Wildflowers | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments

09.08.2014 Arachnophobes beware!

Personally, and I hope a few of you agree, I think this is a gorgeous spider.  When I first saw this Marbled Orbweaver (Araneus marmoreus), I thought there were some dead blooms on this Showy Goldenrod (Solidago speciaosa) flower as I photographed it from a distance.  Upon closer inspection I received a great surprise.  Some of you may not think so but I got pretty excited.  They are not rare, but he was a first for me and is beautiful.  My next post will not be as scary…promise. :-)

You can’t really see it at this size, which is already a bit of a crop, but his cephalothorax is very reflective and one can see the surrounding trees and plants.

Marbled-Orbweaver-on-Showy-Goldenrod-090814-600Web

Posted in Closeup Photography, Insects, Nature Photography, Trustees of Reservations, Wildflowers | Tagged , , , , , , | 18 Comments

09.06.2014 Peace at the start of the day

4 a.m. saw mixed skies with some clouds and a few stars.  That usually means that there could be some nicely lit clouds as the sun approaches the horizon.  But as we have seen lately, once the clouds reach the horizon themselves, they often line up in such a way as to cover all gaps to the east and that, once more, was what happened this morning at Owens Pond.  So no epic dawn light show, just a bunch of flying clouds in the wind.

There was just the hint of color before sunrise and I have found that what little color there is can be heightened a bit with a long exposure.  In addition to my circular polarizer, which reduces the light by 1 1/2 to 2 stops, I mounted my 6 stop neutral density filter and was able to get a nice 30 second exposure.  Although this most likely would never be on the cover of Outdoor Photographer, aside from being the wrong orientation, it is pleasing to me in a subtle serene sort of way.  One doesn’t always have to have spectacular light to have a pleasing image.Owens-Pond-Quiet-Dawn-090614-600WebThere was another car when I got here, but I never saw that person and felt as if I were the only one there.  It was quiet with only a few birds and tree frogs for aural accompaniment, some dragonflies were starting to fly and the soft breeze kept the early heat and humidity comfortable.  The rest of the day has been rather uncomfortable as we wait for some rain and a cool down.  But it started quite well.

Posted in Landscape, Nature Photography, Western Massachusetts | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

09.05.2014 Clouds

The other day….actually several other days back in July, these clouds were the vanguard for an approaching storm.Rolling-Thunder-070214-600WebI was expecting Vigo the Carpathian to show up at any moment.   :twisted:

Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments

09.03.2014 Ricker Pond, Groton State Forest, Vermont

I am getting ready for something.  I’m not sure whether it will be Lightroom, a new computer or possibly an NAS backup system.  Or all three.  Whatever it will be requires my ducks to finally get assembled into their proper rows.  In doing that, I came across this image from 2012 which I don’t think was posted here before.  If it has…well, I cropped it a bit and touched up the contrast a little, so a different take.

In 2012, I made my first visit, yep only the first, to Vermont for a week of foliage photography.  Shockingly, it rained all but one day.  This was between rain showers, but all the wetness gave the foliage some pleasing saturation (both the wet kind and the vibrant kind)…note, that is not foilage or folidge-two pronunciations (not pronounciations) that bug me.      :-)

Add to that the building excitement of the approaching autumn season and I decided to post this little bit of Vermont goodness.  I enjoyed the combination of evergreens and deciduous color all reflected in the almost calm water. Ricketts-Pond-3,-Blog-600WebWe are seeing just the slightest bit of change.  The nights, for the most part, are starting to get cooler and, with the relatively mild summer we had, foliage season 2014 is not far away.

Posted in Autumn Color, Fall Foliage, Landscape, Nature Photography, Patterns in Nature | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

09.01.2014 Not quite, but almost

We went to a bon voyage party last night for some friends who are going on a 6 week walking pilgrimage in  Spain next week.  It was planned for their backyard and, sure enough, it poured.  But when I woke this am, I could see stars..not the kind I get now from standing up too quickly…and thought there was a chance for a sunrise shot.  The last two mornings started dismally and I hoped the third day would be the charm.  I think I gave away the mystery with the title.

This was the view today from the oft visited New Salem Overlook toward Rattlesnake Hill.  The eastern sky was pretty much blanketed in clouds and the only opening for the light was to the north so just a little color.  Peaceful, though.Dawn-over-North-Quabbin-090114-600Web

After that faded away, I figured why not visit another old favorite, Bears Den Falls, also in New Salem, even though I knew the water flow was low after a week of very little rain.  There is a legend that Chief Metacomet, aka King Philip, used Bears Den to plan attacks.

I’ve been here several times and this was the time with the least amount of dead wood lying about.  There is almost always a downed tree somewhere.  The Trustees of Reservations, who own this property, must have cleaned it up recently.Bears-Den-090114-600WebThis is actually a split falls, but right now the left side isn’t very attractive, so I composed for the right.  The hemlock tree is a bit awkward, but that is where it is.  If you would like to see it in a more tradition composition, click here.

Posted in Landscape, Nature Photography, Trustees of Reservations, Waterfalls, Western Massachusetts, Western Massachusetts Waterfalls and Cascades | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 21 Comments

08.31.2014 Peeper

My yard is quite noisy with frogs, toads, crickets and katydids.  Last night I went out with my flashlight to see if I could spot any of the choir in the act.  Most all the sounds were coming from above and I had just about given up hope of spotting anyone when I turned to old faithful…my boneset.  I was thinking either a katydid or moth, but I was pleasantly surprised to see this little Spring Peeper (Pseudacris crucifer) sitting on a leaf and hidden from above.  He/she was so low that I shot this from a kneeling position.Spring-Peeper-083014-600WebI never did get to see him/her engage in song, but I think that once mating is past they vocalize a bit less.

I generally don’t “photoshop” beyond the basic contrast adjustments and sharpening.  But for this one I did clone out the flash specular highlights.  I don’t use flash often and have a learning curve in progress.  I believe there is a way to control the speculars and possibly polarize the flash, but I haven’t got that far yet.  I do place a diffuser over my 550EX.

Posted in Animal Behavior, Closeup Photography, Nature Photography | Tagged , , , , , | 33 Comments