08.17.2019 Return to Potash Brook

On a trip through Hawley, MA to it’s namesake bog, I noticed this brook cutting through the woods alongside East Hawley Road. The brook eventually contributes to the water in the bog where there are orchids, pitcher plants and many other wetland plants. This scene grabbed my attention and I recently reprocessed it adding a few touches and cropped with a new eye for featuring what really attracted me.

A bonus was this cool leaf  beetle (Calligrapha suturella) hanging out along the roadside, possibly enjoying the view as much as I did.  I never did ID those galls. There are at least 50 species of these beetles with a wide variety of elytra patterns that distinguish them.

Well, I went a bit far afield into the beetle but the scene is what I really wanted to sure.  I hope you enjoyed both.  🙂

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Posted in Closeup Photography, Insects, Landscape, Nature Photography, Patterns in Nature, Western Massachusetts | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

08.16.2019 Bubble Pond Cedars: Together for life

Another old (1994) Acadia image recently reprocessed.  These two Atlantic Cedars have an obvious attraction to each other. When visiting Acadia last year, I saw that their grip was as strong as ever.

This same trail presents this mystery as well.

Posted in ecology, Intimate Landscape, Landscape, Maine, National Parks, Nature Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

08.15.2019 Meadow-bottle Gentian

As summer moves along and autumn approaches, there are certain flowers one starts to anticipate.  For me, it’s the gentians.  First appears the closed or bottle gentians.  In today’s post, the Meadow-bottle Gentian-Gentiana clausa.

This is about as open as they get. The petals are almost completely fused with just a bit of separation at the top. About the only pollinators that can get in there are bumblebees that spend a lot of time at the gym.

I’ve found these in a few locations, but the ones with the most profuse populations have been along water edges.  In this case it was a pond in the Berkshires here in Western Massachusetts.  I’ve seen some large numbers along the Westfield River in the Chesterfield Gorge as well.

There were quite a few clusters like this one in this spot.

Now we wait for another few weeks until my favorites, the Fringed Gentian-Gentianopsis crinita to start blooming. I will still seek them out in the wild, but this year I planted a few in the yard so am hoping to see them here too.

Posted in Flora, Nature Photography, Wildflowers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

08.14.2019 Pack Monadnock from New Salem

Yes, this is a familiar view, one I have shared many times.  But as with most things repeated here, there is always something a bit different.  In this case it is the closest view I have shared, made with the new lens out all the way to 400mm.  I could get closer with the extender but I think this is close enough for now.

This was a few moments after the black and white zig-zag shot of a few days ago. Quite often the sky to the north displays a color described somewhere between pink and salmon, I guess. Naming colors is always difficult for me. Definitely peaceful and contemplative.  Maybe not a wall hanger, but I enjoyed seeing a bit more intimate view of the overlapping hills.

This perspective is from New Salem looking into New Hampshire.

Posted in Landscape, Mountains, Nature Photography, Western Massachusetts | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

08.13.2019 Well, it ain’t exactly Texas

I am always envious of the wide swaths of wildflowers my Texas friends share in their blogs.  Most of the time here in  Western Massachusetts the flowers are in small patches with a few exceptions like Goldenrod or Buttercups. I found a spot the other day, actually one I spend a lot of time visiting, with a nice large spread of a wildflower.

Atkins Reservoir is pretty low lately.  Despite all the rain we had earlier this Spring, our rainfalls this summer have been few, far between, and of short duration.  My favorite brooks are mostly rocks now and the ponds are lower than usual.  But sometimes that’s an advantage for plants.  In this case, it’s Golden Hedge-hyssop.-Gatiola aurea.

This native wildflower lives most of its time submerged growing to very short heights or even staying below the pond bottom surface.  But when the water level drops it bursts into view, growing to about 8″ or so and giving out bright yellow blooms.

It is wide-spread here and I’d guess that were the reservoir to disappear for a short while the entire bed would be covered with them.

Among all those small wildflowers is another wild shrub, Buttonbush-Cephalanthus occidentalis which you’ve seen as a flower recently.

While we need the reservoir filled back to capacity, this was a chance to see just how prolific Golden Hedge-hyssop is when given the opportunity to bloom.  And, for a change, I got a chance to fill a frame with thousands of native wildflowers.  🙂

Posted in ecology, Flora, Intimate Landscape, Landscape, Nature Photography, Western Massachusetts, Wildflowers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

08.12.2019 Layers, diagonals, and fogs, oh my!

Yesterday morning when I arrived at the New Salem Overlook I did just a quick drive through.  The sky was clear so I moved on to look for other places since I prefer clouds at sunrise to catch some color. Everywhere else was the same and not very photogenic.  I went by the overlook and decided to take another look.  There was not a cloud in the sky but plenty in the valleys.

At first it still didn’t appear there was much to work with, but a thorough search turned up that nice combination.

I am sure many relate to the title but just in case.

Posted in Black and White, Landscape, Nature Photography, Patterns in Nature, Western Massachusetts | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments

08.11.2019 New lens

I’ve been wanting something with a bit more reach for shooting animals.  My 70-200 is often enough for obliging frogs and turtles that allow approach and the 180 macro works well for smalls like red efts.  But birds, even large leggy ones, mostly elude me.  The crop required to fill a frame in post-processing often leaves them softer than desired.  So, not really in the positition to drop 5G’s on a Canon 500, I recently purchased a Tamron 100-400.

I set out yesterday for the Norwottuck Rail Trail and Poor Farm Swamp here in Amherst.  I had hoped for one of those leggy folks but would have settled for another frog. After hiking about a mile, I decided to turn around as I had a lot of chores, including custom splitting our already cut and split firewood, so kept it short.  To my surprise and possible reward for heading back for the responsibilities of home ownership, I was presented with this:

For a pixel peeper, it’s not as crisp as I would expect the Canon 500 to capture but for a financially limited guy like me I am pleased just the same. It was a choice between a Sigma or Tamron and I’ve never owned a Tamron.  But the Sigma had no option for a tripod ring mount so Tamron it was.   I’ll have to give it more time but I think with careful use I’ll be satisfied enough.

Since the Great Egret-Ardea alba was backlit and I didn’t want to blow out the background, I dodged the bird’s plumage to brighten it up some.

Posted in Amherst, Animal Behavior, Fauna, Nature Photography, Western Massachusetts | Tagged , , , , , , | 24 Comments