I am just back from 5 days in Yellowstone National Park, where Melissa Pinta and I taught a ZEISS digiscoping workshop for the Yellowstone Forever Institute. These are from our first wildlife encounter in the park (not counting the Elk on the lawns at the entrance in Gardner). We were headed for the Lamar Buffalo Ranch where the workshop was to be held and came on this small group of American Bison in the beautiful light of late afternoon. As we watched, the sun came over the group and we had to unpack the ZEISS Harpia spotting scopes and tripods from our luggage and set up…it was after all, a digiscoping weekend. 🙂 The first shot is with my Sony a5100 and the 18mm equivalent ultra wide before the cloud moved, and the second shot is digiscoped with the ZEISS Harpia 85mm and the Sony a6500 with the 20mm f2.8 (kindly provided by Sony for the workshop). The two images were taken from the same spot. Digiscoping, for those unfamiliar with the term, is the art of taking a photo with a digital camera through the eyepiece of a spotting scope, generally using some kind of mount or adapter to hold the camera (even your phone) centered over the eyepiece. ZEISS provides such an adapter for Mirrorless Camera Systems, like the Sony aXXXX series. The equivalent focal length, and magnification, can be much greater than you can get with a conventional camera lens, and, of course, especially if you use your phone, it is quick easy once you have the scope set up to just grab an extreme telephoto view. The way I do it is still Point and Shoot…since I let the camera do all the work of exposure and final focus. 🙂
It was windy yesterday, and though the temperature was only in the low 30s, it was bitter cold to be out. I only lasted less than an hour on my photoprowl along the Kennebunk Bridle Path, before my hands were hurting enough so it was not fun anymore. Still I found these interesting (to me) patterns in the ice in the little water channels next to path where it passes through the woods behind the marsh. They, and patterns like them, inspired this poem.
Whatever is written in the ice
at the edge of forest pools in
January, is evidently in code,
or some long forgotten Cyrillic
alphabet, all styalized curves,
more drawn than written, as
though by monks illuminating
medieval manuscripts by candle
light. It will take a better mind
than mine to decipher it. But
then, I am pretty certain the
message is not for me anyway…
Sony RX10III @ 77mm equivalent field of view. In-camera HDR. Nominal exposure: 1/250th @ ISO 100 @ f3.5. Processed and cropped for composition in Polarr on my iPad Pro.
If you follow my work at all, you will recognize this pond as one of my favorite locations around home…in any and all seasons. Here, at the beginning of winter, with first ice. It was a difficult exposure, with the sky too bright and the landscape in shadow, but worth the effort.
Sony RX10iii in-camera HDR. Nominal exposure: 1/500th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed for a somewhat high key effect in Snapseed on my Android tablet.
Carol and I were in New Mexico when the first snow fell in Maine, but we were home yesterday and watched, Frost like, the woods fill up with snow. It snowed most of the day, but never heavily, and by late afternoon we had about 2 inches on the ground. Gentle snow, and very little wind, so even that little bit built up on the evergreens to look like a much heavier fall. This is a little patch of mostly second growth forest (or 10th growth for all I know) just across the road from our house. It is posted, but I worked my way just far enough into the woods for this pic of the newly fallen snow, about 2:30 in the afternoon, before the light failed completely. There is always a quiet beauty to freshly fallen snow.
Sony RX10iii in-camera HDR. 24mm equivalent field of view. Nominal exposure: 1/100th @ f2.5 @ ISO 100. Processed in Snapseed on my Android tablet.
One of the best effects of HDR is maintaining green where it would otherwise go dark. Add a bit of shadow recovery in post processing, and the effect is very life-like. 🙂
The subtle colors with glints of reflected light in the emerging peat bog at Laudholm Farm (Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve in Wells Maine) form and interesting backdrop for this dried grass head growing up through what looks like it might have been Meadowsweet. One corner of a wet field at Laudholm is slowly turning into a bog, or remains a bog, while the rest of the field dries out. I am not sure which way it is going. In early winter, yesterday when Carol and I visited, it is just an empty stretch of boardwalk, but this little still-life caught my eye.
Sony RX10iii in-camera HDR. 234mm equivalent field of view. Nominal exposure: 1/250th @ f4 @ ISO 100. Processed in Snapseed on my Android tablet.
We visited Tshukudu Game Lodge on the Tshakudu Game Reserve for a sundowner game drive…an afternoon/early evening excursion into the bush of Tshukudu. Tshukudu has the big five…the five African animals what do not fear a man on foot…Elephant, Rhino, Hippo, Lion, and Leopard…but the animals I liked best were the Dwarf Mongoose, seen here doing what Mongooses do in a pile of Elephant dung. Like all Mongooses, the Dwarf is a very social animal, and their interaction with each other, and with the world, is very interesting to watch. As you see, this is a late light shot, maybe a half hour before sunset, and I like the way the oblique sun lights the Mongooses (Mongeese?…no I don’t think so) and the dung.
Sony RX10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. 1/250th @ ISO 200 @ f4. Processed and cropped slightly for composition in Lightroom.
Our small yellow Day Lilies have been in bloom for a week in the front garden, but these showy blooms at the end of the drive just bloomed yesterday. We were trying to figure out where they came from. I might have bought them last year, and they might have been transferred from another bed where they were not doing well, but at any rate, they are new at the end of the drive this year…and doing very well there. 🙂 Greeting guests. Like the folks at the Walmart door. Maybe. Certainly just as cheerful as the best of them. They were in deep afternoon shadow when I got around to photographing them.
Sony RX10iii at 88mm equivalent. 1/40th @ ISO 250 @ f5.6. Program Shift for greater depth of field. Processed in Lightroom (cropped slightly and a small amount of vignette added).
I had to drive to the bus terminal in Portsmouth on Tuesday to pick up a daughter coming in for her sister’s wedding this weekend, and, since it was a nice day, and since she has not spent much time in Maine over the past few years, we took the scenic route home and stopped at Nubble Light. I had been there just the week before, but not in the afternoon when the light is on the face of the buildings and the gulls are soaring around the island. 🙂
Sony RX10iii. In-camera HDR. Processed in Lightroom.
“If your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light!” Jesus
I could see from my yard that drama was building in the sky to the west, and would sweep over us in the next rew hours, so I packed my cameras and headed out to catch some of it. We live a forested landscape…so much so that there are few places with a broad horizon…at least to the west. To the east, of course, we have the sea, and as broad a horizon as anyone could want, but weather systems move over us from the west, and the best you can do on the east is catch the storm going away. Still, the beach, and the marshes behind the dunes, do provide enough sky so that is the first place I headed in search of photos of the coming storms.
This is a sweep panorama of the western sky and the marsh from just behind the dunes. The clouds high in the sky are just the harbingers…the real storms are still down on the horizon just above the trees. I drove further inland, to the Kennebunk Plains, to catch those. Still, the sweep of the creek, the line of the road on the right, the trees on the horizon, and the balance of the sky make for a beauty worth seeing…and worth sharing.
I think our love of moving water and stormy skies comes from somewhere very deep within us. I think we see the power of our God, and the beauty, in such a landscape. God speaks presence and present action. “I am here and I am working. See what I make. See my making.” Or at least that is what the generous eye sees and hears.
It took the storms on the horizon about 90 minutes to reach the coast. Heavy rain, high winds, and thunder. I was out on the Plains when the weather and the drama reached there. Beauty runs ahead of the storm. Beauty runs in the storm, and beauty comes after. God is all in all.
“If your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light!” Jesus
This is my third post of Florida Scrub Jay pics from my encounter with a pair on my last day in Florida for the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival. It was an extra, as in unplanned, day. My flight home was canceled, so, after a morning in the flied with my daughter Sarah, and after dropping her off at the airport in Orlando for her fight back to New Mexico, I made one last run out to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge to catch the afternoon/evening light. Since it was extra time, I took the time to go look for Florida Scrub Jays where Sarah and my friend Rich had seen them one day when I was busy teaching a workshop. And they were there! Just two, likely a pair, but it was my first FSJ encounter in over 10 years, and my first ever on Merritt Island. I took way too many pictures. This is a collage of two shots that provides evidence for my contention that the Florida Scrub Jay is the most beautiful of eastern Jays.
The encounter was even more special because it was shared. A couple, the husband a fellow photographer, came up behind me and, feeling generous, I waved them up to stand with me so they could get photos too. (By then I was confident that the Scrub Jays were not alarmed at our presence at all…and in fact they were still sitting on their bushes when we decided we had devoted enough camera memory to them and walked on.) Sharing an experience like this with others, even if strangers, deepens my pleasure considerably. It is the shared wonder…awe reinforces awe…and the result is more joy. It is even more intense if you are sharing the experience with someone you already love, and I really wished Sarah were still there in those moments, but it is impossible not to love the ones you share with…or at least it is for me. I felt like I was radiating good will…good will that encompassed the cooperate Scrub Jays, and certainly my fellow photographer and his wife, in one big bubble of delight.
And I feel a bit of that right now. Partially it is memory, but it is also this sharing by proxy that is this post. I intend for you to share in the joy of discovery, in the wonder I experienced there in the field with these Jays. The thing about the generous eye is that light builds on light. In generosity you always get back as much or more than you give. Always. Because the light in you is met by the light in others, and is amplified. That is the way it works. Always. God is just good that way. God is good in all ways.