Monthly Archives: June 2019

The Generous Eye: Exercise or photoprowl? Happy Sunday!

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

I have decided that my bike riding this year will be different. Last year it seemed to be all about the miles and the exercise. I rode over 3000 miles between April and October and burned an average of 1500 active calories a day. This year the miles and the calories are not going to matter as much as the photo ops. After all, I bought the ebike to take me places I could not go on foot, and did not want to drive, so that I could photograph the local area without feeling guilty about my environmental impact. The ebike was supposed to extend my photoprowls, not to replace them. The fact that it is good exercise is supposed to be a bonus, not the “reason.” It has been a liberating decision, and, while I enjoyed every moment on the bike last year, I am pretty sure I am enjoying it even more this year. And I am still averaging 12 miles a day or more, and closing my activity ring most days. So, win win. I am even going to get a slightly fatter set of tires to take me deeper off-road (and cushion my ride on our deteriorating Maine pavement) since I don’t have go as fast and far to be happy.

When I catch myself head down, mindlessly mashing the pedals now, I remind myself that I am not doing that this year…and I slow down and raise my head and look around. You never know what you will see…what photo op (or just what enriching experience) you would otherwise blow by.

Life is not exercise…unless it is an exercise in awareness…an exercise in love…an exercise in being open and ready for whatever comes. You can not live life head down, mashing the pedals. You need to raise your generous eye and take life in. It is too easy to forget that. I am happy I have my ebike to remind me. Happy Sunday!

Sky over the Kennebunk Plains

Yesterday they promised heavy thunderstorms with big hail in the afternoon, and when it did not materialize I headed out on my ebike to look for sky. In the coastal plain of York County, that means either the beach or the Kennebunk Plains. The Kennebunk Plains, as I have mentioned in the past, is a sand plain…one of the few undeveloped habitats of its kind in New England. It was kept open in the past by wildfire…and is now maintained by controlled burns. The Nature Conservancy owns part of it and the whole of it is managed as a Wildlife Management Area by the state…to protect several endangered birds, reptiles, and flowers. And because it is open, you get to see the sky in all its glory. This is a “sweep panorama” from the Sony a6500 with my ultra wide lens set up. Sweep panorama is a mode that allows you to swing the camera around the horizon and take one long continuous photo…the camera actually takes dozens of individual photos and stitches them together in-camera. This is about 180 degrees of land and sky. I held the camera in portrait mode, vertically, to take in more sky. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos for an HDR effect.

Wild Iris at the pond, sunny day

Lots of busyness yesterday (involving my daughter buying a car) so I did not get out for my ebike ride / photoprowl until late afternoon. I had to go by the pond with the Wild Iris, and, of course, stopped to catch the late sun on the flowers and the pond. So this is the same flowers, same pond, but a very different day. Again, an ultra wide perspective using the Sony 16mm f2.8 with the UWA converter for 18mm equivalent. In-camera HDR on the Sony a6500. Processed in Polarr and cropped a bit on the left to eliminate an out of focus iris. Just a touch of Apple Photos magic Light tool to finish up.

Wild Iris at the pond

I enjoy the perspective of an ultra wide lens enough to carry a second camera fitted with one for my landscape work…and the occasional ultra wide close-up. They don’t always work, but sometimes the effect is striking. My Sony a6500 allows me to use touch focus to put the focus exactly where it needs to go…and the in-camera HDR often renders the scene much as the human eye would see it. This Wild Iris on the edge of one of the small ponds along Rt 9 a few miles from my home is a case in point. Cloudy, overcast, just a bit misty, day, but the Iris pops out of the wet greenery in a unique way. Taken at about 8 inches from the flower…as close as I can focus. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.

Amber-winged Spreadwing

My first Spreadwing of the season. An Amber-winded Spreadwing, by far our most common here in Southern Maine. These were around the pond at Southern Maine Medical Center here in Kennebunk. I am not sure what the little balls are at the end of the abdomen on the second damsel. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic.

Calico Pennant

The Calico Pennant is another of my favorite dragonflies. This is my first-of-the-season, taken at Day Brook Pond on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area here in southern Maine. If this year is like past years, there will Calico Pennants in numbers around the pond for several months now. Perhaps they are among my favorites because they are so easy to photograph…Pennants perch on the tips of vegetation and they often return to the same perch for several moments at a time…and they perch more or less horizontally…like a flag or pennant in the wind. It does take faster shutter speeds, because, like that flag in the wind, they are always in motion as the air moves around them. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed and cropped in Polarr.

Spangled Skimmer

In the field, taking these photographs, I thought I had a male and female Spangled Skimmer, but when preparing this post I realized that the second one is a immature male. The Spangled Skimmer is one of my favorite dragonflies. As it flies the white stigma flash in a fascinating pattern with the complex motion of the wings. It is not quite so spectacular when perched but it is still an attractive dragon. These shots are at Day Brook Pond on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area here in Southern Maine. It is a common dragonfly and I also photographed them this week at the Southern Maine Medical Center ponds here in Kennebunk. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic.

Golden-winged Skimmer?

This might be a Maine State Record for Golden-winged Skimmer. I made a loop out through the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area and around by Old Falls and Old Falls Pond on the Mousam River on my ebike as a Sunday Photoprowl. I spent quite a while at Day Brook Pond on the Plains as there were several interesting species of dragonflies. And then there was this one. It was perching a good 25 feet out into the pond and not coming any closer to shore, and it always perched facing the same direction so my photos all show the same view. Still, it looks good for Golden-winged. I got one confirmation on the Northeast Odonata Facebook group, and I have submitted the photos to Odonata Central. Even if it “only” a Needham’s there are very few records of Needham’s in Maine either, so that will still be something. Such a big orange bug! Sony RX10iv at 1200mm equivalent (2x Clear Image Zoom). Program mode with my custom birds and wildlife modifications. Processed in Polarr.

The Generous Eye: Fledgling Bluebirds. Happy Sunday!

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

It is baby Bluebird season in our back yard. We have had Bluebirds coming to our feeding station for the past 3 years now. I put out dried mealworms to keep them faithful. We also put up a bluebird nesting box, which they have ignored every year so far…but they do nest somewhere near…near enough so that when the young birds fledge we have them in our back yard daily. Before they learn to use the mealworm feeder by themselves (a Squirrelbuster Mini…which I had to resort to to keep from feeding all my expensive dried mealworms to the local squirrels) they come and sit in the branches we have mounted on the deck by the feeders, or on the rail of the deck itself, and wait for the adults to come and feed them. The fledglings do that vibrating thing with their wings and open their mouth’s wide, making that little cry they do, and the adults go to the feeder over and over and bring back a mealworm morsel to pop into the open mouth of the youngster. In a few days the fledglings will learn to use the feeder themselves and this part of the show will be over.

Jesus said, “Take a look at and learn from the birds. They don’t sow or reap, and they have no barns, and yet your heavenly father feeds them. Surely you believe he carries you more carefully than he does the birds!”

He says it in the middle of a long passage where he teaches his disciples, and us, to just get on with whatever God gives us to do…trusting our life and our well being absolutely to him. Jesus says, in several different metaphors “why worry about food and stuff? God knows what you need. Just be busy about God’s work, and he will take care of you!”

The passage begins, however, with advice on dealing with the poor and vulnerable among us, and the “getting on with it” has to be seen in that context.

In the baby bluebirds on our deck we have the whole story. The fledglings are busy reminding the adults that they need to be fed…you can see it in the vibrating wings and open mouths. In the context of scripture they stand for the vulnerable among us. And the adults are busy feeding them (though, by now, they have a new clutch of eggs to tend as well). They stand for the disciples of Christ, the children of God, who are busy caring for those in need, and living lives of trust in God. Living lives, doing what needs to be done, but trusting God to take care of them.

Consider…look at and learn from…the birds. Consider the bluebirds. Happy Sunday!

Green Darner Mating Wheel

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.