Categories: Locations, Annapolis, Chicago, Maryland, Maryland's Eastern Shore, Michigan, Allegan State Game Area, Allegan Forest, Jordan River Valley, Washington, DC
2012’s unusually hot and dry June and July have kept the dragonflies (and other critters) at bay, so I have few new shots to share. In the spring this year looked like it would be a great season, but my hopes are shriveling up like the brown grass in the fields. The pond I like to frequent in the ALlegan Foest has dropped over 4 feet from its peak last fall, and may be back on it’s way to becoming the vernal pond that it was when I first found it over 10 years ago.
I’m awaiting the arrival of summer’s red dragons - the various red meadowhawks - but in the meantime here are some lingering early summer species:
I seldom am able to photograph males in the their full glory - blue/grey body, white bands on their wings. Here is a fully matured male and a male starting to mature below:
These are still abundant - male and female shown below.
Let’s hope for a little rain and the arrival of the meadowhawks.
Well, here it is a couple hours past the summer solstice… a good time to post a few odds and ends of Spring Odonates.
First off - a Dot Tailed Whiteface (Leucorrhinia intacta). These early dragonflies will be fading in numbers soon and in a month will be rare or absent.
Second - a male Calico Pennant (Celithemis elisa) in his full red colors - even with the red face:
And lastly a male Twelve Spotted Skimmer (Libellula pulchella) - a common but striking dragonfly.
Another installment of spring Odonates…
Since the last post left off with a photo of a female Spatterdock Darner, it seems fitting to open this post with shot of a male:
This is only the third time I’ve photographed one these - several (at least 6) were flying and perching in a field north of the Kalamazoo River in the Allegan game area. Their distinctive blue markings, in particular their blue eyes, make them stunning.
These were abundant everywhere I visited this past week. They are always common, but are particularly numerous this year. So far, I’ve not spotted a mature male with the solid blue body. These are either females or immature males.
A beautiful species and one that likes to perch on the tips of grass stalks - making them fairly easy to photograph. Again, only immatures or females, and no crimson red males yet.
A large dragonfly that I only see in a few places, though it is considered common:
Here’s what I *think* is a Midland Clubtail - these are common in some parts of the Allegan Game Area in the spring. The yellow triangle in the middle of the 9th segment of the abdomen is what I’m keying in on to make this speculative identification:
And here is an unknown clubtail, photographed on the McLinden Nature Trails near Comstock, Michigan:
Blue Dashers are quite abundant this year - hard to believe that in a few recent years I seldom saw any mature males. This year they are out in force. Below are some shots of the males with their colorful blue bodies, and females with their striking black and yellow coloration.
In southwest Michigan the last days of May long, warm and dry. I made the rounds in some of my favorite insect shooting locations these last few days, and made a few images of spring odonates. Here’s the first installment -
This stunning damselfly appears only in the late spring and early summer, and I just saw the first of this year earlier today. Both of these are males - the females have white spots near the ends of their wings. (Click on images for a larger file.)
These insects are a blend of pure, light absorbing black with incredibly iridescent markings. They also like to hide out in the shadows, but are striking when they venture into bright sunlight. The challenge in photographing them is getting the flash just bright enough to bring up the shadows a bit, but not so bright as to invoke too much iridescence. I’m satisfied with the lighting in both of the shots above, but particularly with the second one, where the insect’s shadow, cast by the sun, is still visible despite the flash. I *think* that the flash was set to minus 4 or minus 5 stops (combination of the on flash exposure compensation and in-body exposure compensation.)
The very first dragonflies to appear in Michigan are often Green Darners that migrate into the state even as early as April. But the Dot Tailed Whitefaces are among the first locally hatched dragonflies to emerge. Although somewhat smaller than many of the pennants and whitefaces that appear in the summer, they share the habit of perching on branches and grass stalks in warm weather. Here’s a shot showing what I believe is a nearly mature male with the dot on the tail becoming visible:
And a couple of other shots of either immature males or females:
I see these locally much less frequently than the Dot Tails. Or it may just be that I don’t recognize them and confuse them with Dot Tails. Here’s a dorsal shot showing the distinctive white ‘frost’ on the thorax and abdomen that give these critters their name:
And, as I said, it can be difficult to tell the Dot-Tails from the Frosteds. In fact, it is difficult to impossible to clearly identify dragonflies in the field or from photos. Here’s three examples - my guess is that the top two are immature Frosted Whitefaces, since they show some signs of white on the top of the abdomen. As for the third - I can’t say…
And on that note of uncertainty, here is a darner that breezed by me in the Allegan Forest and kindly perched at eye level on a small tree for a few minutes. If I had been thinking I would have tried to get some photos showing the markings on the sides of the thorax, but I was thinking I photographing and just banged away…
Well, given the time of year and the markings my best guess is a Springtime Darner, (Basiaeschna janata) - but that is a guess, plain and simple. Update: After a little more research, I’m now leaning towards this being an immature female Spatterdock Darner, Rhionaeschna mutata. I saw several mature males today (May 30), which are much easier to identify. See http://michodo.blogspot.com/2012/05/one-darner-of-day.html for more (and for a better photo than mine.)
Part II in a couple of days … Spangled Skimmers, Calico Pennants, and an unknown Club Tail.
April 29th was World Wide Pinhole Photography Day - a great event that keeps me shooting iwth a pinhole camera (if only one day per year.) This year I took to the field with the Peinhol Body Cap for the Pentax 6x7 and with my trusty converted Kinoflex TLR. It has taken some time to scan all of the film, and I can’t say that I am really thrilled with anything, but what the heck, it’s relaxing to take exposures that are measured by the seconds as opposed to hundredths of a second…
So - here is a shot with the Pentax 6x7 and Pinhole body cap. This is labeled as an f244 pinhole. I was captivated by the fading dogwoods at the edges of forest clearings, so that is the subject of many of these shots (click on any shot for a larger file):
And here is a dogwood shot with the Kinoflex:
The Pentax body cap is (I think) a laser cut pinhole. The Kinoflex was drilled, and even to the unaided eye irregularities in the roundness of the pinhole can be seen. From imperical tess with exposures, I reckon the Kinoflex to be around f180.
Finally - a few small trees in a clearing. At this point I got distracted by a snake, and stopped with the pinholes and started shooting macros:
More images will be in the Photoblog as I process them.
Yesterday was World Pinhole Photography Day and I was in the Allegan Forest taking pinhole photos, of course. NO word on how those have come out - still waiting for the color film to come back from the lab, and just getting started with scanning the B&W… But, standing in a clearing I looked down and spotted this lovely golden colored Hognose snake, resting in the warm afternoon sun.
I didn’t thinkt hat an 8 second exposure would do the trick, so I switched up to the Pentax K-5 and A* 200 macro lens. The snake was small - just under two feet long - and it gave a nice show as it slinked away. So - tongue up, grass blade up:
Tongue down, grass blade down:
Click on the images for a larger file.
Here’s a re-work of a shot I took in 2008 and posted here then:
Click on the image for a larger file.
The shot was one of the few successful images I had managed to get using Rollie IR 400, but unfortunately there was just not the needed tonal separation between the foliage in the trees and foreground scrub and the clouds and grassy plain. In this re-work I rescanned the negative, ran it through Photomatix tone mapping to better balance the shadows and highlights, and then went through extensive hand toning and local dodging and burning. I think it came out pretty nice…
Unfortunately, I scanned at a low resolution and was hours into working with it before I realized that it was only about half the size of a standard 35mm scan… Hmmm - maybe that is why is came out so nice this time? Well, it makes for a very nice small print…
Taken with a Pentax LX, FA 20-35mm f4 zoom, Rollie IR 400, HC110 Dil H and Hoya R72 IR filter.
Last weekend I visited the Devil’s Soupbowl, a glacial kettle hole located in the Yankee Springs state recreation area just north of Kalamazoo. It’s a nice place in that it affords an opportunity to look down into the foliage of the trees growing 60 feet or so below.
It was a dim overcast day and I found myself trying to capture the colors of the trees in their early foliage and flowers. Here are a couple of photo - both taken with the Pentax 6x7 and SMC Takumar 170mm f2.8 lens on Fuji Reala. Click for a larger view.
Note: I changed the above image on 4/9. You can see the original, less sharp one here
Here are a some Holga shots from the last few weeks.
First - I’ve been experimenting with Ilford SFX in a Holga. A 52mm deep red filter fits nicely on the front of the plastic lens (you have to push hard, but it will fit on and stay there). Here’s a little country church taken with this setup:
Solar flare activity was quite high when I took that shot and you can see the aurora in the sky over the church even the the midday sunlight… Or maybe the Holga was leaking light. Well, more likely that…
Here is an SFX shot of barren spring woods - not much infrared effect but there was not much greenery out yet:
SFX is a pretty tame infrared film, but it is fast enough to be used in a hand held Holga, even with a deep red filter. (I developed the SFX in HC-110 Dil B and pushed these exposures by one stop.) I’m hoping for some more pronounced IR effects once the green foliage is out.
And here is a double exposure of a snowmobile trail, looking to the east, looking to the west …. Classic Pan 200 developed in HC-110 Dil H.
Lastly , a squirt gun found out in the woods, same place where I found a bunch of dead a few years ago: