My wife and I spent the better part of the day at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay Maine yesterday. It is something we have done several times now on or around our anniversary. The CMBG is a treasure, the unlikely result of the ongoing efforts of a group of dedicated people in Boothbay. They have assembled a world class collection of plants in beautifully landscaped settings that always provides a day of pleasure when we visit. We were a few weeks later this year than in past visits and it was interesting to see the difference that few weeks made in what was blooming, and what was not.
A highlight of this trip was the number of insects. There were bees, mostly Bumble, everywhere, and squadrons of Twelve-spotted Skimmer Dragonflies. crickets. Wasps. Several other Odonata. Etc. It sometimes seemed difficult to photograph flowers without catching a bug in the frame.
This image is, of course, an unusual juxtaposition. Dragonflies, like the Blue Dasher here, are predators and do not generally visit flowers. That is not to say they will not settle on one if it presents itself as a likely perch for hunting. This stand of salmon colored Day Lilies was along the bank above an ornamental pond where many dragonflies were patrolling. And the Blue Dasher is not the only dragon I caught perched among the blooms.
Olympus OM-D E-M10 with 75-300mm zoom. 380mm equivalent. Shutter preferred. 1/500th @ ISO 320 @ f8. Processed in Snapseed on my tablet.
One of the things I am coming to love about the ZEISS Touit 12mm f2.8 lens is its ability to shoot from inches away, to produce very natural looking close-ups. It would not work, I suspect, with people, as the distortions would be distracting, but for plants and mushrooms it can be very effective. I think, in fact, that the perspective and depth of field are both very close to a naked eye view. That means that in a shot like this one, of a mushroom growing along the trail at the Kennebunk Land Trust’s Secret Garden Preserve, the mushroom sits very naturally in its environment. When you add the absolute clarity of the lens, and some subtle processing, the result is, to my eye, very close indeed to bending down to look for yourself.
Sony Alpha NEX 5T. Lens as above. ISO 160 @ 1/60th @ f4. Processed in Snapseed for HDR effect on my tablet.
Our Day Lilies are always the last to bloom on our street, and, I suspect, in town. We evidently have a unique combination of tree shade and some kind of micro-climate effect that keeps us about one to two weeks behind the prevailing season. It is what it is. Our Day Lilies are no less beautiful for being late.
I caught yesterday’s Lily just as the first sun of the day hit it. Remember our shade. It was well after dawn, but the light still held some of the early warmth and the angle was still closer to horizontal than vertical, picking the flower out against a predominantly shaded background.
Sony Alpha NEX 5T with ZEISS Touit 50mm macro. ISO 100 @ 1/160 @ f8. Processed in Snapseed on my tablet.
And for the Sunday Thought: Our particular micro-climate is evident in everything that grows in our yard. We are always significantly out of sync with the world around us. It is just a little strange, but we have gotten used to it. It is even possible to take some pleasure in being different. And indeed, there is a definite up-side. We get to experience every change of season twice: Once when it reaches the neighbors’ yards up and down the street, and once when it reaches ours. And honestly, anyone who pays attention to the spirit, and certainly anyone who attempts to live by faith, is going to have to get used to being slightly out of sync with the surrounding world anyway. The spirit has its own micro-climate, even more radically different than the climate of our yard. I remember the cartoon from the Sunday Papers of my boyhood where one of the characters was always drawn with his own personal rain cloud hovering over him. I would like to think that those who live by faith should have their own personal ray of sun, no matter the prevailing weather. But of course experience does not bear that out. If those who walk by faith have a micro-climate, it is one they create around themselves despite the prevailing weather. If they have a personal ray of sun, it shines out of them, not on them. Yes the seasons of the spirit will always be slightly out of sync with the world. The trick is to be able to take pleasure in the difference…to celebrate the up-side and let your ray of sun do its work on the world around you.
This is another shot from my photoprowl the length of Laudholm Beach at the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve. The Little River is formed when the Merriland River meets Branch Brook about a three quarters of a mile inland, already well out into the tidal marsh. It has to flow at least twice that far, in a huge S curve, to actually reach the ocean. A recent study of the watersheds of the Merriland and Branch Brook shows that both are actually surprisingly healthy and productive streams. You can see here the clarity of the water as it flows the last few yards across the sand to the sea. It is a somewhat static composition, with the horizon splitting the frame, but I tried crops both top and bottom and this actually works best to my eye. I think the rushing water and the dramatic sky, with its own strong focused pattern give it enough tension to save it.
This is a low angle shot with the Sony Alpha NEX 5T and the ZEISS Touit 12mm f2.8. In-camera HDR. Processed for further HDR effect in Snapseed on my tablet.
I wanted to explore the beach at the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve at Laudholm Farm yesterday to complete the Photoprowls series on Laudholm…or at least to extend it. You pass this permanent Pond on the way to the beach, formed by the dam created by the road (Old Farm Lane) built across the marsh generations ago. It is strictly a hiking and biking path in this day of the Reserve. I could not resist this view of the high summer in Southern Maine. The Welcome to Maine sigh on I95 says “The way like is supposed to be.” On a July day like yesterday it is hard to argue.
This is another shot made possible by the extreme depth of field of the ZEISS Touit 12mm f2.8 lens. I was maybe 3 inches from that rose. The Touit lenses, this and the 50mm macro, have become so integral to the way I see the world (photographically) that I had to purchase them when my loan period ended. Either one of them would have been far and away the single most expensive piece of Photo gear I have ever bought, but there is simply nothing that even begins to compare with the way they image the world. They indeed capture life the way it is supposed to be.
Superior Auto on the Sony Alpha NEX 5T pegged exposure at ISO 100 @ 1/250 @ f13. Processed for HDR effect in Snapseed on my tablet.
Day Brook Pond is on the Kennebunk Plains, which is jointly managed by the Nature Conservancy and the State of Maine for the protection of this unique sand plain habitat and several endangered and threatened species. Yesterday you saw some of the Wood Lilies along the pond. Here is the pond itself, in all its rough beauty. This is not a manicured park…it is just nature preserved as it is. Recent Beaver work has significantly raised the level of the water in the pond and access to the actual shire line is limited but it is certainly a beautiful spot. The gathering clouds add to the drama of this mild HDR rendering.
Sony Alpha NEX 5T with ZEISS Touit 12mm f2.8 lens. Superior Auto. ISO 100 @ 1/100th @ f13. Processed for HDR effect in Snapseed on my tablet.
For the full Photoprowls treatment of my visit to Day Brook Pond, visit Photoprowls.
Well, almost in full Obelisk posture…but then this is Maine, and even in mid-summer, the sun is never straight up. The theory, with some lababoritory testing to back it, is that pointing the abdomen at the sun like an Obelisk and raising the wings helps to avoid overheating on hot days by limiting exposure to the direct rays of the sun. The behavior has been observed in most dragonflies that hunt from a perch. This a a little Calico Pennant which I found out on the shores of Kennebunk Plains Pond on our hottest day so far. Note that in this position the dark patches on the Calico’s wings also provide shade for the thorax.
Olympus OM-D E-M10 with 75-300mm zoom. 600mm equivalent. Shutter preferred. 1/500th @ ISO 250 @ f7.1. Processed in Snapseed on my tablet.
Rain is predicted the rest of the week so I decided to do some exploring on the Kennebunk Plains yesterday. It was hot and humid but there was little wind, and I thought I might get some more photos of the Wood Lily, since the last time I tried to photograph them the wind was blowing a gale. Once out there, with my initial Wood Lily fix accomplished right near the parking area on the south side of the main road, I decided to hike down to a pond that I have known for years, from maps, is in the south side of the Plains. For whatever reason I have never visited the pond. The visit merits, and will receive, a full photoprowl treatment. The pond itself is attractive, with signs of fresh Beaver action, there were lots of dragonflies and some bird life, and an abundance of Wood Lilies.
You do not often find Wood Lilies growing in clumps as you see them here. They are mostly spread singly, in an open cluster that covers 10 square yards…maybe, at most, a half dozen plants in the cluster…or you find them growing alone, springing apparently randomly out of the grasses and brush like orange flags. So this bouquet of Wood Lilies was a treat.
Sony Alpha NEX 5T with ZEISS Touit 50mm f2.8 macro. Program shift to f16 for depth of field. ISO 100 @ 1/250th. Processed in Snapseed on my tablet.
And do watch for the Kennebunk Plains Pond Photoprowl on photoprowls.lightshedder.com.
Last Thursday I attended a program on dragonflies and butterflies at the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve at Laudholm Farm in Wells, Maine. We netted a few interesting moths and butterflies…including a Snowberry Clearwing Moth…and after the program I wandered down to the boardwalk through the mini-bog that my wife Carol discovered earlier this summer. I had gotten good photos of the Grass Pink Orchids there earlier in the week, but I wanted to try for better shots of the Pink Pagonia, the other common bog orchid in Southern Maine. Still I could not resist a few more shots of Grass Pink…especially when I caught this Hoverfly visiting. There seem to be several species of Hoverfly here in Southern Maine…or else the species is very variable in size. I see all sizes, from very tiny (smaller than this one), to big brutes that over in openings and over trails in the forest 2/3rs the size of a Bumble Bee.
Sony Alpha NEX 5T with the ZEISS Touit 50mm f2.8 macro. Aperture preferred at f11 for depth of field. 1/250th @ ISO 100. Processed in Snapseed on my tablet. Cropped slightly for scale and composition.
I went to Emmons Preserve, and down the trail to the falls on the Batson River in particular, to look for Ebony Jewelwings…the darting, dancing, electric sometimes blue, sometimes metalic green, set-winged Damselflies that prefer rapid water…but of course the rapid waters have their own attraction. The place is beautiful…almost other-worldly…elven…with the still shadowed pools connected by falling runs of peat-brown water, the moss and rocks, the dappled light through the covering trees…a feast for the senses. I try, again and again, to capture it…but the true essence of the place is very difficult to catch.
This is a three exposure in-camera HDR with the exposures separated by 6 EV, with the Sony NEX 5T and the ZEISS Touit 12mm f2.8. I put the camera right down at water level and only inches from the falling water. Nominal exposure, as determined by the Program, was ISO 100 @ f4 @ 1/60th. The file was further processed for HDR effect in Snapseed on my tablet. And it is getting there. It is satisfyingly close to the visual impression…or at least to the emotional impression…of the place.
And for the Sunday Thought: there are lots of places, like the falls on the Batson River, that have such a rich emotional impact…such a rich spiritual impact…that any attempt at photography is bound to fall short. That does not, and should not, keep us from trying. We reach, and in reaching, pay homage to the creative spirit of love that shapes both the beauty of the world, and our sense of beauty. Like the Ebony Jewelwings, we dance…our intention dances above the falling water of creation…and we take pleasure in the dance…as we were made to do. Such beauty can not be caught and held…but it can be pointed to…celebrated in the beautiful gesture of the attempt.