Posts in Category: grass

Maine! Another frost on the marsh

Early morning on the marsh in November. OM Systems OMD EM5Mkiii with 12-45mm zoom at 66mm equivalent. Program mode with in-camera HDR. Processed in Photomator.

Maine! Frost in the Marsh

Early morning frost over the marsh behind the dunes at our local beach. OM Systems OMD EM5Mkiii with 12-45mm zoom at 66mm equivalent. Program mode with in-camera HDR. Processed in Photomator.

Palm Warbler working the grass.

Palm Warbler

Although 95 out of every 100 passerines passing through Cape May yesterday were Yellow-rumped Warblers, there were a few other species. This Palm Warbler was one of three feeding with a large flock of 50 or more YRWs, just behind the Hawk Watch Platform at Cape May Point, Lighthouse State Park. There is a picnic shelter there, with tables, and this time of year I like to sit at the end of a table nearest the brush beyond the little bit of grassy area and pick off warblers and sparrows as they glean seed from the grasses and bugs from the brush. Like all the birds backed up against Deleware Bay in Cape May during migration, the birds by the picnic shelter are so busy feeding up for the crossing that they pay little to no attention to humans. We had about 45 minutes of sun yesterday afternoon, and I spent most of it at the picnic shelter. Believe me when I say, I was just as busy as the birds!

Sony HX400V at 1200mm equivalent field of view. Shutter preferred. 1/500th @ ISO 125 @ f6.3. Processed in Lightroom on my Surface Pro 3 tablet.

Perspectives. Happy Sunday!


I stopped by the Kennebunk Plains yesterday on the off chance that the Wood Lilies were in bloom. They weren’t. These tiny little complex purplish flowers on tall stems were in bloom. (I think it might be Blue Toadflax.) I have tried to photograph them every year for several years now. They are incredibly hard to get in focus. I have been using super-zoom Point & Shoot cameras, where manual focus is difficult to use (at best), and these flowers are just too small for the auto focus to lock on to, even with the best P&S macro modes. I have many pictures of fuzzy purple blobs in front of sharply focused grass. 🙂

This year I am shooting these kinds of subjects with Sony NEX cameras (Alpha E mount, Compact Mirrorless System Cameras). ZEISS Camera Lens division lent me a full set of the Touit E mount lenses for The ZEISS VICTORY SF Experience Event in Europe, and I have been particularly enjoying the 12mm f2.8 (18mm equivalent) and the 50mm f2.8 Macro (75mm equivalent macro). Both are wonderful and share the ability to produce the sharp, clear, vivid images that ZEISS lenses are famous for. They have very different perspectives though.

I have used the 12mm Touit mostly, as you might expect, for landscapes, but I have also enjoyed using it inside, for casual shots of people doing stuff. However, shots like the top panel above might just be my favorite use of the extra-wide lens. With the 12mm you can move in very close, within inches, of foreground objects, and still maintain relatively sharp background focus. I find this unique perspective to be particularly effective with wildflowers. If I get down low, using the flip-up LCD on the Sony, I can frame the wildflowers in their environment. With an interesting sky for backdrop, this can produce some very interesting shots.

I have two NEX bodies, so I can carry both the 12mm and the 50mm mounted and ready to go. Switching to the 50mm macro for these same wildflowers produces very different images.  Focus is still a challenge, by the way, even for the CMLSCs. I had to get down low enough to frame the flowers against the sky before the NEX could find focus…but then, once found, I was able to reframe against the grass. Again, it is a matter of perspective. Flowers against the sky produces a very different effect than those same flowers framed against the out-of-focus grasses.

These three panels, then, demonstrate the differences in perspective that are possible with the two different lenses. Each of the images is, I think, successful in its own right, while each is very different from the others.

And for the Sunday Thought. Well, yes, often in the spirit, it is also all about perspective. I find peace (which I take to be the experience of being centered in the spirit, focused, moving effortlessly with the flow of loving intention in every moment toward a future full of promise) to be particularly sensitive to changes in perspective. The fact is, from the right perspective, I am just about always at peace, since it is actually quite difficult (perhaps even impossible) for anyone who lives by faith to get far out of the flow of loving intention. When I experience anxiety or confusion, un-peace, it is generally because I am looking at my situation from the wrong point of view, the wrong perspective. It is not the situation that needs to change. It is a little like the the 50mm macro and auto-focus. To bring everything into sharp focus, I just need to find another point of view…and then, once I have achieved that first clarity, everything else becomes clear, and whatever restrictions and frustrations I was experiencing simply no longer apply. Or sometimes it is like the 12mm wide-angle lens. Sometimes I am so focused on the particular in the situation that I fail to find focus. Taking the wider view, putting the particular back into its larger landscape, is all that I need to do to find peace. The particular does not change. Only my perspective.

In the spirit, it is not, of course, different lenses that do the trick. In the spirit it is simply the eyes of faith. It is trust in the loving intention of a creator God who is the very definition of good, and whose love insures my (and your) future of promise. We just have to switch to the eyes of faith to find the right perspective…and then all is peace. Happy Sunday!

Atmosphere in Texas


This shot is, of course, all about atmosphere. We were on the King Ranch in South Texas. I was one of the leaders on a birding fieldtrip. We went out onto a section of open grazing lands in search of Spraigs Pipit and grassland Sparrows. It was not long after dawn and the sun, still behind the bank of clouds, was drawing waterwhich is the highly descriptive term for those streaks in the air. I always try to capture it when I see it,  and here it had the sweep of grassland an the line of greenwood along the stream in the distance to set it off. Who could resist?

From a technical standpoint this is a complex image. The drawing water effect is not easy to catch. I started with a 3 exposure in-camera HDR using the Samsung Smart Camera WB800F in Rich Tone mode. The image was better than a standard shot of this very high range scene would have been,  but still did not catch the atmosphere. After transferring the image to my Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 I processed it in Snapseed using the HDR Scene filter and a combination of Ambiance and Shadow in Tune Image, along with some Sharpen and Structure in Details. That brought it closer but still…

I had some time on a flight from Newark to Denver yesterday so I opened the image again in Photo Editor, a very capable image processor for Android that few seem to know about (the lame name does not help:-). Photo Editor allows you to apply color effects…brightness, contrast, hue, saturation, temperature, etc…to the whole scene or to any shape drawn on the scene…or you can brush the effect on just where you want it. The brush is particularly effective with the Note’s stylus. I used a shape to adjust the color balance of the grasses, which were too blue in the original, and then various brushes to adjust saturation and contrast in the belt of trees. I also used a Clone brush to treat an area of the clouds right in front of the sun which had completely burned out even with the HDR treatment. Then I applied some local area contrast (fine detail enhansement) using the Unsharp Mask tool on just the grasses.  Finally I applied a some light noise reduction to the whole image. (I told you, Photo Editor is amazing.)

It is still not a perfect image,  but it comes close to catching the drawing water effect…and it was fun!

Tide combed grass


I find the patterns that a flood tide leaves in the marsh grasses fascinating. Add the intense sky if a passing front, and you have the ingredients of an image. Then shoot it as an in-camera HDR and process it creatively and you get something Turner might have enjoyed painting. Well, at least a hint of Turner’s heightened vision (version?) of reality. 🙂

This is a stretch of the Mousam River valley near its mouth in Kennebunk Maine.

Samsung Smart Camera WB250F in Rich Tone mode. Processed using the filters and enhancements in the Google+ app on the Nexus 7 FHD.

So much depends on a few reeds in dappled water…

I am not sure why, but this little snippet from Roger’s Pond in Kennebunk Maine has a very oriental feeling to it. At the same time it reminds me of William Carlos Williams Red Wheelbarrow poem.

so much depends

the red wheelbarrow
glazed with rain water

beside the white

There is that sense of much depending on the close observation of a fragment of reality: here the reeds standing in the dappled water among the distorted shadows of the trees around the pond. It is a very simple composition…but there is a lot more to it, somehow.

Samsung Smart Camera WB250F in Rich Tone (HDR) mode. 41mm equivalent field of view. Nominally f3.6 @ 1/1225 @ ISO 100. Processed in PicSay Pro on the Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone.

Evening Light

If you enjoy the beach, here in Southern Maine, and you are a local, you go early or you go late. During the day, there are no parking spaces…they are all filled with folks from away who are trying determinedly to pack a full Maine experience into 6 days, and living out of a motel. It is great for the economy, of course. It just means we locals only see the beach and the dunes and the ocean at their best light 🙂

This was late: 6:47 PM according to the clock on my camera. The light is low and lovely. The Timothy Hay is ripe and ready for cutting (they had already started at the other end of the field). The avenue of maples along the road is standing, as they have for generations, sentry over the whole. And just enough clouds, out over the ocean, to give the sky a bit of interest. Lovely all together!

Samsung Smart Camera WB250F in Rich Tone (HDR) mode. 24mm equivalent field of view. Nominally f3.2 @ 1/250th @ ISO 100 (nominal because it is actually three exposures combined…I assume the recorded exif is for the “middle” exposure). Processed in PicSay Pro on the Samsung Galaxy S4.

Prairie Grasses

Somewhere out towards Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge from Carrington North Dakota, we stopped here in the early light to look for Upland Sandpipers and whatever else we could find. This is not native prairie grasses…it is a mixture of timothy and blue, but that does not diminish the beauty of the prairie morning.

Samsung Galaxy S4 in Rich Tone / HDR mode. Processed in PicSay Pro on the phone.

Wide on the Prairie

The folks at Chase Lake National Wildlife Refuge are justly proud to have been chosen for one of 20 NEON sites spread across the country. NEON is the National Ecological Observatory Network which has ambitious plans to collect ecological data across a broad spectrum, and across the whole continent to help with future policy decisions. See the informative article on Wiki.

This was taken on a stormy North Dakota day from the newly built installation on a ridge overlooking the native and reseeded prairies of Chase Lake. The raised metal boardwalk is to avoid human contact with the soil, which might effect some of their measurements. The image itself is a sweep panorama with the Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone camera. Processed on the phone with PicSay Pro.