Posts By Steve

Aster fuzz

Small New England Aster, Kennebunk Bridle Path, Kennebunk Maine

The blue flowers of little New England Aster have all passed within the week, leaving these amazing furry seas heads, ready to break apart and scatter on the wind. I have never seen either the flowers or the seed heads in such abundance as they have been this year. 

Sony Rx10iii at 120mm equivalent. In-camera HDR. Nominal exposure: 1/640th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed in Polarr. 

Good by to biking for now

RadCity on the Kennebunk Bridle Path

Good by to ebiking for almost 2 weeks. I have to wonder if I have had my last ride for the season. When I get back from Costa Rica it will be almost November 1st. We might have snow on the ground?? This is the RadCity on the Kennebunk Bridle Path, not quite its natural habitat but close enough. 🙂

Sony Rx10iii at 24mm equivalent. In-camera HDR. Processed in Polarr. 


Black-capped Chickadee, the yard. Kennebunk Maine

While photographing the Bluebirds yesterday on the back deck, I could not resist a few Chickadee shots as well. The Chickadees, of course, come every day…but that does not diminish their appeal. 

Sony RX10iii at 600mm equivalent. Program mode, -.3 EV. ISO 640 @ 1/250th @ f4. Processed in Polarr. 

Bluebirds at my feeder (to the tune)

Eastern Bluebird, the yard, Kennebunk Maine

The Bluebirds, after at least 2 months of absence, returned to our meal worm feeder yesterday. They appear to be two of this year’s young. I think I still see some gape in some of the shots. We had bluebirds mid-winter through mid-summer. I put up the meal worm feeder for them, and even put up a bluebird house (just in case). No takers this year. Maybe next. The blue shows well against the fall foliage. 🙂

Sony RX10iii at 600mm equivalent. Program mode, -.3EV. ISO 400 @ 1/250th @ f4. Processed in Polarr and assembled in FrameMagic. 

Fall in specific…

along the shore of Old Falls Pond, W. Kennebunk Maine

Sometimes a small detail says it all. I know what this says to me. I wonder what it says to you? 

Sony Rx10iii at 300mm equivalent. In-camera HDR. Nominal exposure ISO 320 @ f4 @ 1?250th. Processed in Polarr.

Old Falls on the Mousam

Old Falls on the Mousam River. W. Kennebunk Maine

Tired of panoramas yet? I have a new toy…or a new app at least…which enables me to assemble a full HDR panorama. I have to take spearate HDR shots in the field, but the app, Photo and Panorama Stitcher, stitches them thogether easily and perfectly, and produces high resolution output. You can even take your shots without a tripod if you are very careful. It is really magical. And, at least on my iPad Pro, it is fast too. 

For those of you who have not read my new book, “Point and Shoot Nature Photography” where I have a chapter on Panorama, the trick with a panorama, by the way, is to keep the camera at least a foot in front of your face while you swing it, whether you are taking individual shots as in this pano, or using the sweep panorama mode as in yesterday’s pano. If you take the shots from a tripod, with the camera turning around its own axis, then you will get a lot more distortion at the edges of the field and it will be much more difficult to stitch the images together into a natural looking panorama.

This is Old Falls on the Mousam River. I am standing on one shore above the falls, and this is a sweep looking up-river and then all the way around so that I am looking down-river over the falls. It is a bit mind-bending as it encompasses more than our natural field of view, even including our peripheral vision, and makes a curve of the more-or-less straight line of the far river bank. It required 6 vertical (portrait) HDR shots. 

The day, or at least the moment, was perfect (it clouded over before I finished with the falls). Foliage is at peak color, the sun was shining, and the clouds in the sky add drama. Fall at its best.

Sony RX10iii at 24mm, portrait orientation. 6 HDR exposures, processed in Polarr and stitched in Photo and Panorama Stitcher. 

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Panorama of Autumn

Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Management Area, W. Kennebunk Maine

A few says ago I posted a stitched HDR panorama of Day Brook Pond taken the same day as this sweep panorama, and only a quarter mile away on the Kennebunk Plains Wildlife Managment Area here in Maine. As I mentioned in that post, the difficulty with sweep panorama is managing the exposure for an effective sky and landscape. If you expose for the sky, the landscape is too dark, and if you expose for the landscape the sky is too often too light and featureless. In this case the exposure was pretty naturally balanced, with the sun on the trees and the clouds in the sky. Even so, the upper right corner burned out into a patch of white with no detail. In this case, since I did have lots of sky and cloud detail further to the left (due the angle of the sun) I could go into TouchRetouch and use a very light (low opacity) clone tool to paint a bit of character into the clouds on the right. The difference is subtle but it removes what was, to my eye, a distraction from the beauty of the image. Some folks would say it is cheating…the way I see it is that if the image still looks natural, and I am only restoring what my naked eye sees and the camera is not able to record, then a bit of digital magic is okay…on occasion. I would not want to come to rely on it in my day to day photography, but for those few shots that can benefit from just a touch of retouch, why not?

Sony Rx10iii in Sweep Panorama mode. Processed for HDR effect in Polarr, and retouched in TouchRetouch. 


Opossum, the backyard, Kennebunk Maine

Today’s Day Poem is about last night’s opossum encounter. In some light research this morning, I was reminded that the opossum is a marsupial, the only marsupial native to the US and Canada, and learned that it originated in South America and only entered North America after the continents were connected, finding its way up through Centeral America. 

The photo was taken with a flashlight for light (a big Surefire tactical light with a beam that will illuminate at 100 yards…which I use for owling and night photography) and in the Sony Rx10iii’s Anti-motion Blur mode (takes 3 to 4 pics at a fast shutter speed, stacks exposures, and processes out motion blur…quite magical for night photography with a flashlight). Manual prefocus was required, but then the auto focus locked on. I find the light of flashlight to be much more natural looking than the harsh light of the camera flash…and suspect it has less effect on the wildlife. I have developed a technique where I hold the flashlight like the policemen on tv hold their lights and guns, in my left hand against the side of the camera pointing along my line of sight where the camera is pointed. It sounds harder than it is. 

The camera records the nominal exposure, not the actual stacked exposure. A single shot would have been at 1/50 @ ISO 6400 @ f4…but the four shot AMB mode result, though it has some artifacts if you blow it up, looks much better than any shot at 1/50 and ISO 6400 of this creature in motion could have. Processed in Polarr (including a graduated filter effect to lighten the upper right corner where the flashlight beam was falling off). 

The poem: 

Last night as I climbed into bed,
my CPAP machine already ticking
over, I heard, seemed like right
outside our window, the unmistakable
call of a Barred Owl. Of course, by
the time I was dressed and outside
with my owling light and camera
the owl was long gone. It stopped
calling while I was still getting into
my shirt. Still, nothing ventured
nothing gained. As I stood there
in the back yard arching my big
light up into the branches of the
maples and oaks and pines, I sensed,
more than heard, something moving 
at ground level. I lit the area up, and 
caught a opossum at the foot of one 
of the big maples, headed, maybe, 
for the fresh meal worms in our back 
porch feeding station, or maybe just
crossing our yard headed who knows
where. That was a surprise. I know
we get Raccoons some mornings
on the back deck, raiding the sun-
flower feeders, but I never suspected 
a possum. Sharp nosed, beady eyed,
with that long prehensile tail…
the only marsupial north of Mexico,
visitor from the true wild, reminding
me that tame as our village suburb 
is, we are the visitors here, the
incommers, the new folks in the
neighborhood, and our yards,
though we mow and trim them 
and rake the fallen leaves, are still, 
as far as the natives are concerned, 
just a piece of their wild patch…
the place they rightly call home.

Day Brook Pond in Fall: Panorama

Day Brook Pond, Kennebunk Plains WMA, W. Kennebunk Maine

I will admit that I am addicted to HDR 🙂 I like my landscapes full of color and full toned, with detail in the shadows and detail in the highlights. The Sony Rx10iii does effective sweep panoramas when the light is perfect…but when the light is challenging it produces files that take a lot of processing to bring out the color and detail, especially in the sky. I am never quite satisfied. Just the way it is with single exposure photography. So, yesterday I tried taking three overlapping HDR shots of Day Brook Pond in all its fall glory, with the idea of processing them individually and then stitching them together into a panorama. The processing part was easy. I used my custom HDR preset in Polarr, and then matched the exposures by eye using the Light tool in Apple Photo’s edit menu (I am working on the iPad Pro). Stitching them was a whole other story. I bought and installed 4 different panorama stitching apps at $2 a pop, before I found one that works…at 99 cents. I was beginning to think I would have to resort to my Windows Surface Pro and Lightroom to get the job done. But Photo Stitcher worked, at least with my three photos, perfectly. To do justice to this you need to view it as large as you can. This is what I wanted in a panorama of Day Brook Pond! 

Turkey in the road…

Wild Turkey, Laudholm Farms, Wells Maine

Yesterday’s Day Poem was about my encounter with the Wild Turkeys at Laudholm Farm.

Turkey day today…down the lane
at Laudholm, a whole gaggle, hens
and this years young, long past 
poults, almost as big as their mothers.
I rode my ebike down to them, and
stopped about 30 feet from the flock,
got off, flipped the kickstand down
and parked…got my camera out…
and still they dottled along the edge
of the road, picking up grain of 
some kind, or maybe bugs, in the
short grass. But I knew already
that turkeys have tiny brains…a
car came by and spooked one, so
it ran across the road to my side,
ending up 10 feet in front of me.
I took another step and it fluttered
its wings in a half-hearted attempt
at flight and scuttled back across
the road, running, head well out
and its legs pumping trying to 
catch up. I though it might fall on 
its face in the middle of the road.
Tiny brains, and certainly some
what primative…and yet, despite
their tasty breasts and drumsticks, 
they manage to survive, and are 
increasing in numbers all over North 
America. They must have some kind 
of secret strategy I am not aware of…
some turkey smarts that defies logic.

Sony Rx10iii at 600mm. Program mode, -.7 EV. ISO 160 @ 1/250th @ f4. Processed in Polarr.