Swamp Spreadwing: Sturbridge, MA, USA — We had the morning free before the wedding yesterday so we found a place for a hike. Trek Sturbridge maintains an extensive trail network, and the parking for the Leadmine Mountain sector was near our hotel. Around the pond on the Arbutus Park Trail, we found a few dragon and damsel flies. This Swamp Spreadwing was displaying nicely. Sony Rx10iv at 1200mm (2x Clear Image Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. ISO 125 @ f4 @ 1/500th.
Grey Catbird: Sturbridge, Mass, USA — My daughter is celebrating her wedding today…they got married in Denver during when the pandemic restrictions prevented any gatherings…so here we are in the southern Massachusetts at venue near Sturbridge to do the whole walking down the aisle in front of a hundred friends and relations thing. So yesterday when we got back to our hotel, I stepped out with my camera to see if I could find a Pic for today. 🙂 This Grey Catbird popped up in the deep undergrowth along the edge of the hotel parking and sat just long enough for a few photos. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Not a bad shot considering the ISO is 3200 (f4 @ 1/500th). Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
This is a portrait orientation Sweep Panorama from the Sony HX400V. Is is about 120 degrees of sweep, from just south of west to just east of north. Winter light on the marsh and snow squalls under those clouds as they come in. Patchy sun highlights the foreground while the tree line is still in shadow. And the massive clouds over all. Not a compelling image…but pleasant, and rewarding.
Sweep Panoramas, especially the more natural looking panoramas taken with the camera held vertically during the sweep, provide, still within the frame, something very close to the naked eye view of the world. We are used to looking at photos that range from normal wide angle to tight telephotos…photos that approximate our “focused area of attention”…photos that frame just as much of the world as we generally pay attention to. In a sense, every photographer offers a digest of the world…with the focus…the area of interest…preselected for us as something worth looking at. A portrait Sweep Panorama like this one challenges our photographic senses. We don’t know quite what to make of it. Where are we supposed to look? And that is the whole point. Sometimes there is interest in looking at the whole thing…the sweep of the landscape…the play of light across the land under, as in this case, a dramatic sky. Sometimes the attention needs a wider focus…sometimes there is reward in a wider view.
We tend to go through our spiritual lives in the same way…recording a digest of the high points…paying attention to what has obvious interest and meaning…when all the time the sweep of the spirit through our lives is like the sun playing across the landscape under a dramatic sky. There is reward in pulling back to enjoy the wider view. And challenge. We are such focused creatures. When the view becomes too wide we struggle to make sense of it…but it is, I think, worth the extra effort. It returns us to our point of true perspective, where we are, relatively speaking, pretty small in the grand landscape. This is good. Humbling, but good. God would not have given us eyes to see the wider view if God did not intend us to use them. Yes, we are in our focused attention…but yes we are also in the sweep of life around us. It is good to be reminded. I think. Happy Sunday!
I drove down to Newberryport and Plum Island…Parker River National Wildlife Refuge…to look for reported Snowy Owls yesterday. It is about an hour from home, pretty much a straight shot down I95 and then in through Newberryport to the refuge. I could not find any owls, but was definitely captured by the snowy dunes and the winter marsh. I parked and hiked over the dunes and out into the marsh on the Hellcat boardwalks, and on just about all of the dune side boardwalks. With the light snow cover, and a winter sky, the landscape was transformed.
A Snowy Owl was reported on the dunes yesterday…but I did was not there, apparently, at the right time. Still I am happy with the snowscapes 🙂
Sony HX400V at 24mm equivalent field of view. In camera HDR on auto. Program shift to keep the whites in range of the sensor. Nominal exposure: 1/800th @ f5 @ ISO 80. Processed in Lightroom on my Surface Pro 3 tablet. Besides the normal Lightroom preset for the Sony, I also applied two graduated filter effects: up from the bottom to increase exposure and bring up the snow, and down from the top to darken slightly, add some Clarity, and to increase Saturation of the blues slightly to increase pop in the sky.
Rockport Massachusetts, on the tip of Cape Anne, north of Gloucester, is such just about your archetypal picturesque New England fishing village: there are postcard views just about where ever you look. This is one of the fishing piers and lobster boat basins just of the main street. It would have been easy to drive right by it, but we were looking for ducks in any likely spot, so we turned in. How could anyone resist taking a photo here?
Sony NEX 3NL with 16-50mm zoom. 24mm equivalent. ISO 200 @ 1/250th @ f16. Processed for HDR effect in Snapseed and Photo Editor by dev.macgyver on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014. Because the lens distortions were distracting (at least to me), I used Perspective correction in Photo Editor to pull the buildings on the side back up straight. 🙂
Bass Rocks, Gloucester Massachusetts. Dawn. I spent parts of two days with a small group of German birders who had come to Gloucester looking for Snowy Owls and winter ducks. We were up and out at first light, before breakfast actually, and on the rocks beyond Bass Rocks looking for King Eider soon after. This view looks out north-east into the Gulf of Maine past Thacher Island’s Twin Lights. As it happens, the line of cloud along the front was passing out to sea, and we had a few hours of sunshine before the next front moved over us. (We did not find King Eider…but later in the morning and further north, north of Rockport, we did find a nice pod of Harlequin Ducks…which made my German friends happy! For me the sunrise was enough.)
Sony NEX 3NL with 16-50mm zoom. 24mm equivalent. Sunset/sunrise mode. ISO 200 @ 1/100th @ f16. Processed for HDR effect in Snapseed and Photo Editor by dev.macgyver on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014.
This is a captured bird…but not a captive bird. The wildlife biologist at Logan Airport in Boston has captured over 140 Snowy Owls on the airport this winter. This shatters the previous record of 80 birds, and simply overpowers the 6-8 caught in a normal year. Almost daily he makes the drive north to Parker River National Wildlife Refuge, near Newberryport, to release one or more Owls into the wild. On weekends the releases are public, and public relations, events. Yesterday a crowd of perhaps 150 people of all ages had gathered at 1PM for the arrival and release of the Owl. We were treated to a very informative talk on Snowy Owls in general, and invasion years like this one in particular. And then he got the Owl out of its crate, and proceeded to walk around with the Owl on his fist, still telling us the story of Snowy Owls, around and around the inner circumference of our circle, often less that a foot from the rapt faces of the crowd. The Owl took all this attention in stride, posturing and posing as only an Owl can, seemingly not at all perturbed to have been captured, and not at all perturbed to find itself on display this close to people. It seemed to have an all-in-an-owl’s-day’s-work attitude, and certainly gave the gathered crowd a memory none of us will soon forget.
It is, by the way, a young (this year’s) female. Odds are against it…they are against all young birds who suffer up to 85 percent mortality in their first year…but just maybe this young lady will wend her way back, come April or May, to the Artic Tundra and raise her own brood.
I was at the back of the crowd, so my shots are taken holding the camera over my head using the flip out LCD on my new Olympus OM-D E-M10. The 75-300mm zoom gave me an excellent (150-600 equivalent) framing range from about 12 to 15 feet. Shutter priority @ 1000th of a second. ISO 800 @ f7.1. 600mm equivalent.
I have lots of pictures from the adventure…and I will undoubtedly share a few more, along with more of the story of invasion years that we head.
Captured but not captive…that, in fact, pretty much sums up this Snowy Owl’s attitude perfectly.