Monday, September 12, 2011

Twi-night Doubleheader

As I reflected upon the photos I have taken, I realized that I have not covered evening and am weak on sunsets. Since Monday evening was going to be a full moon and one of the last warm nights before the weather turns cold I headed to Great Meadows to try to fill in those gaps.

Unfortunately all the rain we have had has only increased the population of mosquitoes and other flying, biting insects. They treated my bug spray as if it was marinade. In spite of the conditions, I soldered on.

The sunset started slow, but ended with some wonderful color. One advantage of the rains and the accompanying flooding of the impoundments, is that there are patches open water which reflect the sky.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110912A &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110912A &emdash;


The last time I thought about taking moonlight photos at Great Meadows, I had forgot to check the time for moon rise before departing home. Unfortunately, it was 3 hours after sunset. Not tonight. The moon rose 15 minutes before the sun finished setting.

Digital photography allows long shutter times which allow you to capture the dark of night bright enough to see. Unfortunately, the moon is too bright in a long exposure, so it takes some compositing of a properly exposed moon, with a long exposure landscape to make a night time photo.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110912A &emdash;

Lower Impoundment
Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110912A &emdash;

Upper Impoundment


The refuge seems different when viewed in the twilight. It was a bit disconcerting to hear so many animals rustling around in the reeds without being able to see them. As the night crept in, you could hear the coyotes calling from across the river (and I was hoping it would stay that way).

As I walked back the to parking lot, the habituated Great Blue Heron was in his usual spot doing a little night fishing. He didn't seemed any more concerned about me than if it was mid-day.

As I reached the tower, the first stars finally start to appear in the sky. If you look carefully, you will see the Big Dipper over the Concord River at the end of the boat ramp.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110912A &emdash;

Frustrated?

It was a frustrating Monday morning. The alarm rang all too early. Before I could even leave the driveway, I had to struggle with the Escape's lift gate which was was stuck on my camera bag strap. Wouldn't open. Wouldn't close. Bag is stuck, so I can't switch cars.

On the way to Great Meadows, more frustration. Getting stuck behind school buses stopping to pick up kids. Catching every light. Traffic is to heavy to get breakfast on the way.

Even at Great Meadows the frustration continued. Birds are singing by the Dike Trail, but they are in the shade, or backlight, or skittish. Just as I settle in to take some photos, yet another person comes walking / running by scaring the birds into the bush. How do these people know to space themselves out so evenly? There was a mild breeze...which made it frustrating to try to photograph flowers.

Needless to say, I wasn't in a fine mood and didn't think I was going to be getting good photos this morning...Ironically, that was true for most of my tramping around the refuge. However, there were two spots that yielded a rich vein of photography to be mined.

With all the rain we have had, the Concord River is swollen to spring flood levels. Water is still flowing into the impoundments. They are almost 6 feet above normal. The water pours in through the water control gates like a city storm drain during a heavy rain. The spillways are running the wrong way and water pours in.

The first "honey pot" was on the Cross Dike Trail by the bridge. With the raised water levels you have to use the bridge to cross the spillway between impoundments. The habituated Great Blue Heron had returned to one of his favorite fishing holes. As I got closer and closer, my 500mm lens became too much. Rather than deciding to hurry on, I stayed and focused on photographing portions of the bird and got some interesting shots. This helped ease my frustrations and get me in a mindset to enjoy the walk.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110912 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110912 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110912 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110912 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110912 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110912 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110912 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110912 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110912 &emdash; Great Blue Heron


Unfortunately, I had to walk to the far side of the Upper Impoundment to find the second "honey pot". A lot of the flowers have started to die back. I found a patch of Goldenrod that was crawling with insects stocking up for fall.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110912 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110912 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110912 &emdash; Ladybugs on Goldenrod

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110912 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110912 &emdash;

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As I wandered around the refuge, I did encounter a couple of old standbys. The Chickadees were out in force. The Marsh Wren came by so see what was making all that clicking noise while I was photographing the Great Blue Heron.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110912 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110912 &emdash;


Once I decided to leave my frustrations behind, I decided to just enjoy the beautiful day. Who cares if there is anything to photograph? There will be very few days as wonderful as today, before winter arrives. Of course, as often the case, when you relax you start to find other interesting images. Here are a few of the "artsy" type images I found.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110912 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110912 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110912 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110912 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110912 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20110912 &emdash;