Posts in Category: snow

Nature Phone

Today marks a new photography adventure for me. I have decided to explore just how far you can push a phone camera in nature photography. This is my first attempt at serious phone photography with my modest iPhone SE 2020 and a Surui 18mm equivalent clip on lens. I used the ProCamera app to shoot and then process in HDR. I have a couple more Surui lenses to play with, and a small 50mm spotting scope for phonescoping on its way. We will see how this goes. This the forest across the road from our yard after Friday’s gentle snow. This new adventure needs a title, since I plan to chronicle my experiences on the web and maybe in at least an ebook. After long pondering, I think maybe “Nature Phone” will do. 🙂

Goldfinch in the snowstorm…

American Goldfinch: Kennebunk, Maine, USA — Low light, snow falling, and lots of birds at the feeder. The most Goldfinches I have seen together this winter…at least a dozen at a time around the thistle and sunflower feeders. For this shot the camera had to contend not only with the light levels, which pushed the ISO into the upper reaches, but also with double layer thermopane glass in the deck door…and still did a reasonable job of capturing the image. Some noise reduction was applied in Polarr, but no specialized noise reduction was used. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos. ISO 2500 @ f4 @ 1/500th.

Maine Winter Morning

The neighborhood, Kennebunk Maine


Yesterday was one of the most visually beautiful days I have ever experienced in Southern Maine. We had 3 feet of snow on the ground, and another 6 inches fell over-night…wet, clingy snow that stuck where it first touched, so every tree and bush had its frosting of snow. Unfortunately that meant that the snow in our drive was a mix of snow and not quite frozen water…heavy to lift in the shovel, and a real chore for the snowblower. My first project was to get the drive cleared and the cars out, but then I took a walk around the neighborhood to enjoy the beauty. My neighbor was out with his snowblower and saw me walking by. “Beautiful,” he said, “but a pain in the butt.” “Beautiful,” I said, “but a pain in the lower back.” Certainly beautiful though. By noon the sun was coming out, there was some blue in the sky, and the scenery went from beautiful to spectacular. If you follow my “For the love of landscape…” on Facebook or Google+, you will see some of the images from a drive I took in the afternoon…or maybe I will have one left to share here tomorrow. 🙂
Sony Rx10iii in-camera HDRs. Processed in Polarr on my iPad Pro. Assembled in Framemagic. These shots were taken early, about an hour after first light. 

Snow Fence. Happy Sunday!

Snow fence along a beach house access road. Kennebunk Maine

“If your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light!” Jesus

This little stretch of snowfence protects a corner in an access road for a group houses on our local beach, where the wind across the marsh might drift the snow across the road. As you can tell from its condition, it has stood there at least since I moved here over 20 years ago, and I can’t honestly remember it looking any better then. This is after about a foot, maybe 8 inches right along the coast, within the sound of the surf, of fresh blowing snow. We expect another 12-24 inches in next 24 hours, a real nor-easter. The snowfence does its job, more or less. There is, every nor-easter, a sizable drift in front of it. Because, of course, that is the way it works. It is not so much a snowfence as wind fence. By slowing the passing wind, it causes the snow to drop out on the downwind side. In this next storm I expect the snow will backfill to cover all but the tips of the slats. It does not prevent drifts so much as to encourage them to form somewhere short of the road. 

I like the line and curve of it against the snow, and what the wind does with the surface of the drift…the carving, the light and shadow, and in this shot, the brooding bank of cloud and the touch of blue sky above. 

As I started to post this image for yesterday’s Pic for Today, just because I like the beauty of it, the whole concept of erecting a snow fence to fence out the snow…or a wind fence to tame the wind…stuck me as having a spiritual dimension, and I decided to save it for the Generous Eye today. 

Now that I reflect on it a bit more, I not sure what to do with it. The wind, in the new testament, is, very often, the spirit. They are the same word in the language Jesus most likely spoke, and, if I remember right, in Hebrew as well. Jesus, speaking to an honest and devout Jew come to inquire of him, said “No one can see the Kingdom of God who is not born again.” When the questioner questioned the possibility of anyone being born twice, Jesus went to to say, “Turely I tell you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless he is born of the wind (spirit). You must be born of water and the wind. Flesh is born of flesh, but wind is born of wind.” (Or flesh is born of flesh, but the spirit is born of spirit.) “Don’t be surprised that I said you must be born again. The wind blows where it will. You hear the sound of its passing, but you do not know where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with anyone born of the wind…born of the spirit.” That, of course, only confused the questioner more. And that, of course, was Jesus’s point. He was saying that something has to happen to you, before you can see God’s Kingdom…before you can see God at work in the world and in eternity. Something has to change in you. I am pretty sure he was also paying the questioner, who had already admitted that he saw God and God’s presence in the things Jesus was doing and saying, a compliment. He was telling this honest, devout Jew, that if he saw God in what Jesus was going, he was already born again…born of the wind, born of the spirit…whether he knew it or not. But that is straying pretty far from snowfences. Or is it?

My first thought was about the futility of trying to fence out the snow, or the wind. At the very most, all we do is slow the wind and reposition the snow. It is equally impossible of course to fence out, or to fence in, the spirit. It is an odd thought, but building a church, or establishing a doctrine (building a fence) might slow the spirit enough so you get a drift on the down wind side, a congregation or a denomination, but it does not stop the spirit from blowing where it will. And I am not at all sure I want to be part of the drift. If I am going to be snow in this metaphor, I want to be the snow still blowing in the wind…I want to part of the movement, the force, the power and unknowable purpose of the spirit. And maybe Jesus was telling his devout Jew that too…not to settle in the drift, behind the snowfence, but to get up into the wind again and get moving. The Kingdom of God is not a place, it is a movement like the wind…a way of being suspended…lifted out of yourself and part of the great wind that is God acting in love in the world. You have to be born of the wind, born on the wind (I don’t know if Jesus had that pun to play with in his language, but we do in ours 🙂 Our mother’s carried us in a womb of flesh…the spirit carries us on the wind of loving creation. Born of and in the flesh and born of and on the spirit. 

So yes, when I look at this snowfence I see beauty, but I am also amused. A snowfence? As though anyone could fence in the snow. A wind fence, as though anyone could fence in the wind. And who are you in this metaphor? I know who I want to be. I want to be God’s creative love in action. I want to be a particle of snow, a paricle of water, a particle of flesh, born on the mighty breath of God in this world and eternity. Happy Sunday!

Downy in the snow…

Downy Woodpecker, Kennebunk Maine

Heavy, wet, clingy snow through the day and night on Wednesday piled up on branches and the back deck feeding station to provide some unique photo-ops. The Downy Woodpecker was not much inconvenienced since it spends much of its time feeding on the bottom side of branches anyway. 🙂 

Sony Rx10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. 1/400th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed and cropped for scale in Polarr on my iPad Pro. 

Pine Plantation, January thaw…

Pine plantation, Alwive Pond Preserve, W. Kennebunk Maine

I went inland yesterday on my photo prowl. I managed to find a safe place to park at Kennebunk Plains and walked in to Day Brook Pond, and then went around the loop to Alwive Pond Preserve on the other side of the Mousam and walked back through the pine plantations there. After several days of rain and thaw, it is looking rather winter-worn and the trail, where it has been packed by hikers and snowshoers, is pure ice, but the pine plantation was a strange as ever. A poem.

There are few places stranger than
the pine plantation at Alwive Pond.
The trees all of a kind and all of an
age…my age…or a few years younger,
planted in the early 50s to fill in 
for the fires of 47. And today, in 
a January thaw, the trees stand stark
in the filtered light, unnaturally even, 
holding high a fragile roof against 
the winter sky. The hush is so profound 
it is a presence, behind you, a cowled
multitude, breathing reverence in 
perfect rhythm to your breath. 

Sony Rx10iii in-camera HDR. 24mm equivalent field of view. Processed in Polarr on my iPad Pro for a somewhat high-key effect to bring out the geometry. 

Mid-winter thaw…

Pond along Rt 9 in Kennebunk Maine

It got up to 47 degrees yesterday, on January 11th, after night of rain. The combination had every creek in flood, ponds melting, and the tide, already a King tide, running abnormally high. They were practicing hockey here on the little pond by Rt 9 in Kennebunk only the day before. You can see the mounds of snow that marked the edge of the shoveled area in two different storms.  I like the light and shadows here, and the reflections. 

Sony Rx10iii in-camera HDR. Processed in Polarr on my iPad Pro. My own shadow removed from right center at the bottom with TouchRetouch. 

Winter Church Yard

 

Winter Grave Yard, Kennebunk Maine.

We had a good snowfall overnight…4-6 inces in our yard…more inland (up to 18 inches they were saying). I had an appointment for a health screening (provided by my insurance carrier free of charge, so why not) early so I was out before daylight snow-blowing the drive. The appointment was at a mobile van in the parking lot of the local library, which is right next door to one of the oldest churches in Kennebunk. After my appointment, as I was getting into the car, I looked out across the grave yard next door, and across the street to another of the old churches, and had to get back out with my camera.

Sony RX10iii in-camera HDR. 1/1000th @ f5 @ ISO 100. A distracting branch removed in Touchretouch and then processed in Polarr on my iPad Pro 12.9.

Blue and white…

Blue Spruce, Brown Street, Kennebunk Maine

We had another of those snowed all day and then turned to rain days in Southern Maine yesterday, but for a while there we had a nice white frosting over everything. This is just a Blue Spruce in the yard of a house down the street. I like the delicacy of the blue/green against the white, and the contrast in texture between the needles and the snow.

Sony RX10iii at 600mm equivalent field of view. Program mode. 1/250th @ ISO 250 @ f4. Processed in Polarr on my Android Tablet.

Under the winter pines. Happy Sunday!

Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. Wells, Maine

“If your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light!” Jesus

It snowed all day yesterday. After clearing the drive (lunch and a rest) I decided to brave the snow covered roads at least as far as Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge headquarters where I was pretty sure I could get in to park and walk in the snowy woods. I was all suited up for the adventure…longjons base layer to high snow boots and a fleece lined parka. I took my umbrella as I hoped to take some pictures and I wanted to keep the camera relatively dry. 

The woods were quiet. I was the only one foolish enough to brave the roads and the unplowed Rachel Carson driveway. The light was subdued. Snow fell steadily, in big flakes, to continue to fill the wood. Every tree and bush carried its burden of white. It was…I am tempted to say “magical”, but I don’t, on principle believe in magic. 

We hear a lot about “magical thinking” today. Many people seem to believe that results can be achieved without effort if you just know the right thing to say. And many more seem willing to believe that our leaders will be able to achieve what they want, and have promised, just by saying it so and waving a hand (or wand as the case may be). And apparently there are those who want to be deceived by slight of hand, for the entertainments’ sake. They find it amusing, and admire the skill of the trickster. If you stop to think about it, magical thinking explains a lot about what has happened recently in American politics. 

So “magical” is out as a way of describing the silent woods with the snow falling. Even this slightly other-worldly “under the snowy pines” scene. We need another word for what the generous eye sees. It has to catch the sense of awe…wonder…the sense that we are experiencing something out of the ordinary, beyond ordinary…the sense we are glimpsing the work of forces and intelligence larger than we are. It has to imply that we are touching the divine. And yet none of the words suggested: awesome, wonderful, extraordinary, supernatural, divine…at least in common usage, quite catch my meaning either. Maybe all of them together, but no one alone. If I were writing this in German I could just string them all together into one long unpronounceable word…or in English I could hyphenate them, or use the modern “/” (as in awesome/wonderful/extraordinary…which basically says I don’t know which word to use.) Though it still is not quite right, as it depends on this contrast with “magical” for part of the meaning, “blessed” or “full of blessing” comes close. The silent snowy woods with the snow still falling in big flakes was full of blessing.” 

But then, everything we see is if we look with the generous eye. Happy Sunday!