Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fill 'er Up

The quiet of the refuge Monday morning was broken by the constant sound of a running engine. Down by the river, a pump was drawing water from the Concord River and pumping it back into the upper impoundment.

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After only a few hours of pumping

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By Tuesday morning there was enough water to lure a beaver who was checking out the situation


I am not sure everyone is a fan of the pumping. The Northern Harriers might like the fact that the mice and voles will be chased to the edges in the short term. You generally don't see them as often as they've been here with the impoundment drained.

Light Chronicle: GM20120924 &emdash;

Light Chronicle: GM20120924 &emdash;


Tuesday morning the birds were kind of laid back, allowing you to get closer than normal.

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Sparrow sitting in a bush along the Dike path

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Goldfinch feasting on Evening Primrose

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Down by the "Poison Ivy" bench you can often see flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds and Bobolinks feasting on the Wild Rice

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There are three keys to a close-up photograph of an autumn leaf. 1) Find a great leaft. 2) Find a good background. 3) Backlighting. This Cottonwood leaf had all three. How could I resist?

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Practically across the path was a dew covered spider web.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Velvet Elvis

Cameras are poor proxies for our eyes. Even on a sunny day our eyes can see details in both the shadows and bright areas at the same time. Cameras can only capture a portion of what we see.

To overcome that limitation photographers have developed a technique named High Dynamic Range Photography (HDR) where multiple exposures of the same subject are combined together using software to create a version that contains the range of light that your camera couldn't catch.

Many of the early versions of HDR photographs looked artificial, sometimes even garish looking like something from an alternative reality. The software has evolved to allow you to produce very realistic photographs. However, if you want to take artistic liberties you can produce wildly creative photographs. I call these "Velvet Elvis" images, named after those wonderful paintings on velvet that were so popular at Flea Markets and Crafts Fairs in the 1970s.

 I had been hoping to catch Harriers flying in that brief interval between sunrise and the start of the rain. They weren't cooperating so while waiting I occupied my time practicing some HDR photography.

(Click on the photographs to see these images in a large size. While you are there take a look at my redesigned website & let me know what you think.)

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  This version has a bit more of a painterly than photographic feel to the scene from the tower.

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In a normal photograph either you would see the bright mist, but the reeds would be in shadows, or the reeds would be visible but the sky would be white.

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I like the color of the flowers combined with the moody feel of the impending storm


When you visit the refuge keep your eyes peeled.  You will often find catbirds in the Winterberry bush eating the berries.

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I know that lately I've been focused more on the fauna at Great Meadows so I thought it time to include some flora. It's interesting to see the combination of late summer / early fall flowering plants combined with the subtle changes in color of the leaves as the trees start to transition into their autumnal display.

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Calico Asters

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Early Morning Dew on Maple

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Bee on Nodding bur-marigold

Finally it's not a great photo, but then again the bird wasn't in a great location. Here's a raven seen during Monday's bird census. That was a photography life bird for me.

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Monday, September 3, 2012

Rewarded For Our Labor

Here are some photos from my last two visits to Great Meadows. I headed to the refuge today because the weather forecast was predicting fog in the early morning. As a friend of mine says, "Interesting weather make interesting photos".

Arriving at the refuge, I encountered no fog and a few more cars than normal. It seems several folks were talking advantage of the holiday to participate in the weekly bird census. I quickly encountered the "gaggle" of birders by the bridge on the Cross Dike Trail.

There in the weeds were both a Virginia Rail and a Sora. While they were nice views with binoculars, the camera doesn't ignore the intervening cattails like you mind does.

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The group continued up the trail making note of many varieties of birds. It may be my imagination, but it seems like there are more different species this year than last. I guess the maintenance in the upper impoundment has started to pay off.

At the walk to the observation deck, I spotted to Sora's out in the open in front of the cattails. They were in the perfect environment to photograph, but quickly retreated into the reeds with the arrival of people.

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I was disappointed that most of the group missed the Soras, when a Virginia Rail appeared among the lotus.

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If you have ever wondered about the expression about "being as skinny as a rail", it's not a fence rail, but the bird. While this isn't a great photograph, it is a good illustration about how skinny rails are. Their slim bodies allow them to easily wander between the narrow gaps between plants.

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Those alone would have made my day, but I walked ahead to see if I could sneak up on anything interesting in the pool at the far end of the Cross Dike Trail. Often, I do this an come up empty. Today, I was rewarded. I had never seen, much less photographed, a Green Heron at Great Meadows. (They do visit, I've just been unlucky). That was until today.

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120903 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120903 &emdash;

The rest of the morning was less exciting. However here are some photos that I captured during visits over the last week.

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Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120903 &emdash;

Light Chronicle | Photography: GM20120903 &emdash;

Down near the "Poison Ivy" bench there is a huge hornet's nest in a tree. I don't know how I've not noticed it before. Look closely at structure of the nest, and the designs in the sections.

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Labor Day is the traditional "End of Summer". Walking around the refuge, you'll start to see subtle clues that autumn is on its way.

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Finally, as I was headed out, I encountered someone who reminded me that there as different ways to view the refuge.

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