04.26.2015 And they’re off!

A lot of folks in the eastern part of the state have been seeing flowers already, but we are just now starting to make some progress into spring.

I visited my usual early spot for wildflowers this morning and found some Bloodroot and Dutchman’s Breeches.  In both cases it is still early but there were several that had formed buds which are just beginning to open.

I saw the Dicentra cucullaria, aka Dutchman’s Breeches, first along the road so I knew there would be some on the ledges above. I liked the threesome seen here.

Dutchman's-Breeches-042615-700WebAfter that I made my way back and then up towards another spot where the Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) is usually found ahead of other spots.  One had bloomed fully but dropped a petal so I kept on and found this bud in the process of opening.  I immediately thought it would make a nice Black and White image.  I wanted the petals to be the focal point, of course, so took out my large 30″ reflector and used it to shade the background.  My smaller 12″ reflector was then used to illuminate the flower and add some light inside the curled leaf.

Bloodroot-Bud-opening-042615-700WebAlong with the flower, I like the way the light enhances the texture of the backside of the leaf…a bonus.  :-)

Posted in Black and White, Closeup Photography, Flora, macro photography, Nature Photography, Western Massachusetts, Wildflowers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

04.25.2015 Practice, practice, practice

My first time out with the new Lee Filter system.  I did OK, but there were a few glitches…no, I am not going to point them out.    :-)

I can say that I really like the setup much better than the Singh-Ray Cokin arrangement.  I am sure the Lee filters are probably comparable to S-R, but the holder is better on a scale of multiples.  The adapter rings screw on much easier and the holder clips on much easier as well.  I like it.  All that said, for this image I used the 3-stop Reversed Neutral Grad from Singh-Ray that fits the Lee holder.

As predicted, the temperature got below freezing overnight so chilly fingers prevented me from baring my thumb for the shot…and it turned out to not be necessary.

This is at one of my favorite sunrise spots along the shore of the Quabbin.


Weather permitting, I will be out practicing again tomorrow.

Posted in Landscape, Nature Photography, Quabbin, Water, Western Massachusetts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

04.24.2015 Dog-tooth Violet

Once again, a Steve Schwartzman inspired post.  A short while back, Steve asked if I had a shot of this plant on the blog and I said that I didn’t really have one that I was totally pleased with.  I forgot this image from a local ditch that is a prolific haunt for these.  Brown is a color also and, while I prefer green for this type of shot, the background here blends well with the bloom.

I am more prone to call this a Trout Lily, which I believe is the more popular name…at least in the northeast…but Dog-tooth Violet is pretty widespread as well.  If we say Erythronium americanum then there can be no confusion.  :-)

Trout-Lily-Closeup-042709-700-WebThe problem, for me anyway, with this flower is the back of the petals which quite often will overexpose.  The date for this file is 4/29/09, so maybe I will be lucky and find a few more tomorrow or so.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Posted in Closeup Photography, Flora, macro photography, Nature Photography, Western Massachusetts, Wildflowers | Tagged , , , , | 22 Comments

04.23.2015 Wild Geranium

Steve Schwartzman posted a species of Wild Geranium this morning that is a bit different than what we see here.  His, Geranium carolinianum, is a very small flower while ours, Geranium maculatum (and also known as a Spotted Crane’s-bill), is a much taller plant with a larger flower.  When I mentioned maculatum, Steve looked for an image here and noted that there wasn’t one.  So here is my contribution. His have bloomed and ours won’t show up until late May or early June.

Wild-Geranium-052109-700WebWe are starting to green up and I expect to find some flowers this weekend.  Despite that confidence, for a few minutes this afternoon we had a short snow squall as a very cold air mass passed overhead.  I heard that the Berkshires to our west got a little accumulation at the higher elevations. We are having our final wood fire of the season tonight…unless something strange happens to the forecast.

Posted in Closeup Photography, Flora, macro photography, Nature Photography, Western Massachusetts, Wildflowers | Tagged , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

04.22.2015 Happy Earth Day

This pretty much sums it up for me and much better than anything i might have to say.  Enjoy!

Posted in Uncategorized | 27 Comments

04.21.2015 Firefly Larva

Be prepared…not everyone will find this larva as attractive as I do, but it is pretty cool and will eventually provide a summer light show in my backyard.  I was letting Murphy out when I found a couple of firefly adults on the cherry tree that holds one end of his run. I didn’t make any images of them as I have several, but while wandering the woods out where the beagle stuff goes, I found this larva climbing a birch tree.  BugGuide.Net ID’d it for me as I had never seen one and didn’t really know where to start with a larva.

Firefly Larva-on-Birch-042115-700WebThe changes that happen during metamorphosis just amaze me.  Here is what it will resemble eventually although a different species.


Something grabbed from the interweb:



Posted in Animal Behavior, Closeup Photography, Insect Behavior, Insects, macro photography, Nature Photography | Tagged , , , , , | 33 Comments

04.20.2015 Me and the Beav

Before I drove by the barn in Hadley yesterday, I was in Petersham for sunrise at Harvard Pond.  The sky was clear of most clouds and just a few dotted the horizon although there were quite a few to the north.  There was a nice spring chill in the air and a slight breeze, but all in all I had a nice quiet start to the day with just a relatively friendly beaver for company.  Maybe it was even the same one who stopped by to say hello last fall.

Harvard-Pond-Beaver-041915-700WebHe or she swam by me countless times and only slapped at me once which I took as a friendly gesture rather than a “scram you!”.

Before that image, I was waiting for the sun to rise.  There was no rich dawn glow in the clear sky, so the sun was to be the subject of the morning.  I usually get a lot of flares when shooting into the sun, which is true of most sun photographs, and decided I would try the thumb trick to eliminate flaring…a procedure that requires two exposures…one for the scene and another with your thumb sticking down into the frame and blocking the sun thus eliminating the source of the flares.  The two are then combined with the flares and thumb being masked out.  It was my first effort and the main lesson I came away with was to not wear gloves.  The backlighting sun highlights all the little fibers and made things worse rather than better.  Maybe it would have been different with nylon gloves or leather, but I was wearing micro-fleece.

So instead of my first thumb combo, this is my first use of Nik’s Tone Compressor for single shots.  There was minimal flaring in this earlier shot…the later captures with the sun higher in the sky made the flaring much worse and in several places where it just could not be corrected.

Harvard-Pond-Sunrise-041915-700WebThe beaver was swimming around in front of me but managed to stay out of the scene while I was shooting.  Good manners that one.  :-)

Today we are getting some needed rain after several warm lovely days.  I am sure next weekend will produce the first flowers of spring here in the neighborhood…not counting the daffs and croci.

Posted in Central Massachusetts, Fauna, Landscape, Nature Photography, Sunrise, Water | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments