A friend drove up from Concord to visit for the day yesterday and I took him to Saco Heath…the southern-most peat bog of any size in Maine…protected and maintained by the Nature Conservancy. Over the past 3 years they have completely renewed the boardwalk across the bog, and upgraded the trail, so it is a pleasure to visit. The Sheep-laurel is in bloom, but there (as in Southern Maine in general) it is not looking good this year. The blossoms are small and bit weathered looking. However the Pitcher Plant was also in bloom and there were lots of them, way more than I have seen in past years (at least near enough to the boardwalk for photography) and they were looking very healthy indeed. This is one of the larger specimens…about 3 1/2 inches across. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm optical with some Clear Image Zoom to fill the frame. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
The damsel and dragonflies are finally out in some numbers at our local hotspots, at least on days when it does not rain all day. Yesterday was one of our warmest days so far in the high 70’s (today will reach the 80s) and I found several species active around the drainage ponds at Southern Maine Medical Center. This pair of Green Darners landed right in front of me, on the outer surface of the wall of cattail reeds that now surrounds the pond (and makes dragonflying there a challenge). Sometimes you get blessed though. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.
Sometimes the beauty is in the small stuff…and in the small details. In all the great flower show of the beginnings of an Anza Borrego Desert superbloom, this tiny flower caught my eye. I think it is Bristly Fiddleneck, but there are several possible Fiddlenecks that grow in the Anza Borrego, and I would not be too surprised if it were one of the others. 🙂 I am not an expert. I found it coming back down the Hellhole Canyon Trail at Anza Borrego Desert State Park, near the end of our March 4th flower adventure. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Macro mode. 1/1000th @ f5 @ ISO 100. -.3EV. Processed in Polarr.
I got caught up in photographing the dried flowers and seed heads along the Canyon Trail at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico last week. For one thing I was testing the Macro Mode on my RX10iv, which I had just happened on while teaching a Point and Shoot Nature Photography class the day before. My theory is that if there is a specially designed mode for a particular situation, we owe it to ourselves as Point and Shoot photographers to see if it works. No point in doing it the hard way, if there is an easier way that gets the same results. This is the seed-head of Cliffrose, which grows on dry hillsides all through New Mexico. It is also called, locally, Navajo Diaper. I always assumed, when I lived in New Mexico, that the Navajo somehow used the feathery seed-heads to line their cradle boards, but a bit of research this morning informed me that it is the shredded bark of the plant that they use, and that they weave it into a mat. Still, I have always loved the feathery delicacy of the seed-heads, and the beauty is, I think, particularly visible in this image. Sony RX10iv in Macro mode at 600mm equivalent. Processed in Polarr.
It was a very slow day for birds in the Rio Grande Valley. We went to Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge. Lots of butterflies and dragonflies…more than I have seen there in years, but practically no bird activity. Very strange. After Santa Ana we went to Fronteria Audubon in Weslaco, Texas where the buzz of the day was a intermittently visible Golden-winged Warbler. We missed the warbler by minutes on several occasions, but again the butterflies did not disappoint. This Clouded Sulphur on Turk’s Cap was one of the last photos I took there before heading back to the hotel to cool off before evening activities. Sometimes nature provides light you would be hard pressed to duplicate in the studio. I should add a disclaimer here. I am not a butterfly expert and if someone were to tell me this is an Orange Sulphur and not a Clouded, I would not be totally surprised and in no way offended. 🙂 Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode. Processed in Polarr.
Fall has produced an abundant crop of interesting scale fungi on the fallen limbs at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. There is a beauty in the patterns and the shapes, at least to my eye. Sony RX10iv at 489mm equivalent. In-camera HDR. Processed in Polarr.
There is an interesting story behind this image of British Soldier Lichen, taken on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area in West Kennebunk Maine. I was feeling the itch in my shutter button yesterday. It was a strange winter day, with temperatures in the low 50s and snow still on the ground and I thought it would be a waste to stay inside, so I drove out to the Kennebunk Plains to see what I could see. I thought that with the warm weather and light snow coat, others would have been into the parking areas already and made a way for my non-four-wheel-drive hybrid. When I got there, the parking area was completely flooded. I had not counted on the snow melt, which was in high gear. The parking lot was not only flooded over and ice pack, but it actually had a good sized stream flowing through it…much deeper then I though when I turned in. By then I was committed, and I thought, oh well, I will just drive all the way to the other side to dry ground so I can get out of the car (I only had my winter crocks on, which have air holes and are only 3 inches high anyway). Good plan until, right in the middle of the stream, my front driver-side wheel went through the ice that was under water and the car sloped down until the water was right up to the lower sill of the door. And, of course, there I was, well and truly stuck. There was no way my little hybrid was going to climb back up out of that hole in the ice…and I was still in my crocks, but now surrounded by a minimum of 4 inches of water, and that was on the high side of the car. So I pulled out my phone and called AAA. It took a while to explain the situation, but about 40 minutes later a big flatbed tow truck arrived. By then I had climbed across to the passenger seat and out of the car and waded on tiptoes to solid ground at the edge of the parking lot. Of course I took some photos while I waited for the tow truck. This one, of the British Soldier Lichen (in case you have forgotten), is one of them.
The tow truck driver knew his stuff, and despite almost getting stuck when his back tires also went through the ice, he got the chain on a tow point on the frame and winched the car back to solid ground (or ice at least). From there I was able to back around and get out of the parking lot. No harm done. All part of the adventure. And I can not say enough good about the skill of that AAA tow truck driver!
The Lichen shot is at 1/80th @ ISO 100 @ f5 at 86mm equivalent field of view. Processed in Polarr on my Android tablet.
Sometimes a Dragonfly is just too freshly emerged to id…which, at least at my level of experience, is the case here. I think it is one of the Meadowhawks, but it was on its maiden flight and I just can’t be sure which one, or even that it is a meadowhawk. It was very patient with me as I worked my way closer and fiddled with the Program Shift for this macro. I hope it woke up and moved on before the hunting Cedar Waxwings found it. 🙂
Sony RX10iii at 1200mm equivalent field of view (2x Clear Image Zoom). Program shift for greater depth of field. f9 @ 1/60th @ ISO 100. I could not really stop down any more, as there was some wind, and the position was awkward to hold the camera steady. Processed in Lightroom.
It has been a while since I had a camera that does really good macros…or at least the kind of macros that I like. My new Sony RX10iii focuses to 28 inches at 600mm. Add the in-camera crop to 5mp and you have 1200mm equivalent at 28 inches for some impressive macros. This Hawkweed flower is just over 1/2 inch in diameter.
I think Hawkweed is an under-appreciated flower…maybe because it is classed as a weed…and, of course, lest we forget, has weed in its name. I think it is beautiful in both its yellow and orange forms…or I should say…yellow and orange species. Some experts, wiki informs me, count thousands of species of Hawkweed. Others group them into a few hundred “species” on grounds that may strain the definition of species. It is a matter, apparently, of some debate. Most would agree however that Orange Hawkweed is a separate species from any of its yellow cousins. I found this cluster of Orange growing only about 10 yards from a large cluster of Yellow. Though they reproduce by seeds, they do not hybridize as reproduction is asexual. All the flowers in any one cluster, orange or yellow, are genetically identical. But that is not why I find them interesting. I just think it is a beautiful flower.
Sony RX10iii at 1200mm equivalent from about 3 feet. 1/1000th @ ISO 100 @ f5. Processed in Lightroom.
“If your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light!” Jesus
I have been watching the patches of Pink Lady Slipper at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge and along the Kennebunk Bridle Trail in Wells and Kennebunk for weeks now. There is one patch off a deck at the back at Rachel Carson, overlooking Branch Brook, where the sun comes in all day. Lady Slipper orchids bloom there at least a few days, sometimes a week, before they bloom anywhere else in our area. Yesterday the first blossoms opened fully. I can go back through my archives on my WideEyedInWonder site and find images of this plant going back at least 7 or 8 years, maybe more. I don’t mean this plant as in Lady Slipper, I mean this plant as in this Lady Slipper. It always produces at least two blossoms, sometimes as many as 6. There is a delicacy, a rare beauty in these strange blooms, and I do my best to catch it year by year.
My yearly Lady Slipper vigil is part of what keeps me aware of the constant renewal of the beauty of creation…the cycle of change…no two years the same…but each year with its beauty…that is God’s creative love at work, day by day. It is not that Genesis has it wrong when it says that after God created the heavens and the earth God rested…it is that we have the wrong idea of rest. Rest, in the divine sense has to be creative, radiant…an ongoing action producing peace…an continual outflowing and outworking of love. Rest is not a pause in the dance, or a silence in the music…it is the moment of perfect balance within the motion of the dance…it is the moment when the notes of the music echo in the room…echo in our hearts and minds…and fulfill their beauty. That is a little, a very little, like the rest of God.
When I see the Lady Slippers bloom, in the quiet beauty, I sense the active rest of God, and the notes of God’s love echo and swell in my life to fill it. This is reason enough to love the Lady Slipper, reason enough to watch for its coming, and to celebrate its bloom year by year. Happy Sunday!