Thanks for stopping by

Announcing - a companion site that helps you find nature preserves and trails right here in New Hampshire. It's a work in progress and will be updated often. I hope you stop by, bookmark it and use it to find your next outdoor adventure!


Techniques for using a diffuser with macro photography

In my last post, I mentioned that I bought a collapsible diffuser, so I thought I would write to explain how I use it, what the results have been and why I can’t believe I haven’t bought one before.

Part of my not buying one is sheer forgetfulness, but another is that I don’t want to complicate my photography with a lot of gear. Before my old ring flash died I used it sparingly because natural light seems much more complementary to my work than artificial and so you’d think a light reflector/diffuser would be more appealing, but somehow I just made do with my hat or leaves or simply using my body to make my own shade. Adequate, but not flexible and certainly not repeatable with any certainty, I mean, who can find the perfect leafy branch every time you need one?

So here is the little beast –

I included a credit card so you can get an idea of size. It’s very slightly translucent, but completely opaque, made of nylon and has a hard plastic ring sewn into the black piping. If you grasp the edges and twist it will fold down to fit in its case which has a loop for attaching to a carabiner or other handy clip. At first I had a time remembering I had one, but once I started using it, it stayed more out of the bag than in. I do wish I could use it with an articulated arm/clip system I built a couple of years ago, but alas it’s too insubstantial which works for being foldable, but doesn’t leave a large/firm enough edge to grip.

Mostly I use it to diffuse light; that is to create shade or soften shadows. Here are a few examples of how I’ve used it to improve my images.

These are the same chanterelle waxcaps from a previous post. I found them in the woods with the sun almost directly overhead. Oh so harsh and contrasty. They were next to a large pile of boulders, fallen branches and other pointy and squishy stuff I didn’t really want to have to climb around in to make shade with my body (my hat wasn’t wide enough).

Kristen_SmithAugust 27, 2015P1120631

So rather than give up and leave these alone, I remembered the diffuser and here’s what I got instead –

One of the things I love is that the shadows aren’t entirely gone, but they’re controlled and softened. Now, before you think I’ve used some Lightroom sleight-of-hand, the processing values are exactly the same. It’s only the light and the resulting exposure that is different. Notice the color saturation, too. The orange/red/yellow is much, much too hot in the first picture. Just as you can clip whites and blacks, you can clip colors and just like when you clip highs and lows, the information is unrecoverable. The sensor is overloaded and the detail is lost. So is the smaller mushroom.

This isn’t the only image I took with the diffuser. Using the camera’s LCD screen I could watch the effect of the shade as I held it at different angles and distances from the subject. The differences were subtle, but noticeable and I chose what I liked best in the end. Every situation is different and I’m sure I’ll be playing with it more and more. Without a diffuser I would have walked away from that little scene and lost a photo that I really like.

It isn’t direct light on a subject that is always the main problem. Sometimes it’s glare on another element in the shot that makes for a distracting highlight. Take this one as an example. It’s in my backyard where honey mushrooms grow in huge masses at the base of the trees (the deer love them, btw, and snack on them often). We don’t have a lot of red maples around, so when I spied this leaf I knew I’d use it to make the mushrooms stand out. The problem was the afternoon sun. Even with a polarizer there’s glare on the leaf that I find distracting –

Kristen_SmithSeptember 25, 2015P1130374

The first places your eyes naturally go to in a photograph are the light areas which is why it’s so important to mange those backgrounds and watch for things that can pull the viewers’ eyes away from your main subject. Out came the handy diffuser and voila –

Other than the change in camera position, everything is the same. The glare was still there and the diffuser blocked it really well. This time I angled the thing perpendicular to the ground to block the sun. The red pops as it should and so does the texture and slight yellow tinge of the mushrooms.

Distractions – they’re not helpful at all and sometimes waiting for the light to change just isn’t practical even in a tiny scene where just a couple of minutes of the earth’s rotation will help. Or waiting for cloud cover. What if there are no clouds? Take this next before picture. Sporophytes are some of my favorite things, but they already exist down where there’s a lot going on; shapes, textures, colors – all competing for your attention. So after careful composition to arrange those elements, light patterns can be hard to deal with like they are just behind the sporophyte stems. Irritating.

Kristen_SmithSeptember 09, 2015P1120833

So the diffuser to the rescue.

Again, other than the change in light, everything is the same. I just copied the processing I did with the second image onto the first so they would compare fairly. This time I angled the diffuser just behind the sporophytes and hotspot be gone!

Fixing this kind of thing is possible in Lightroom and other robust photo editing packages, but it’s much easier to do in the field. So consider getting a diffuser and using it for your macro and close up work. I find it very useful to provide consistent shade that can be manipulated to give you highlights and shadows that bring out the beauty of your subjects.

Two near disasters and coping with direct sun

In NH part of the Appalachian Trail snakes through the state and Vermont has the Long Trail, but here in Wisconsin there is the Ice Age trail. It isn’t contiguous, but runs for 1200 miles and is a nationally recognized natural resource. It’s taken decades of persistent land conservation, but today there are dozens of trailheads in dozens of counties. I probably won’t hike all of it or even most of it, but I have gone out to explore some already.

Each trail is divided into named segments and they’re all mapped, signed and blazed fairly well. The section in this post is not far from my house, just a mile or so down river below the Grandfather Dam which makes power using penstocks. These things –

Crazy, what? Water from behind the dam is forced into these wooden tubes and regulated by the tanks you see in the background. Turbines get turned and the power plant, just out of shot to the left, sends power into the grid. It’s loud and wet and a bit nerve-wracking to be near them, but it’s the best and quickest way to get to the trail head, so that’s where I started. And no, that’s not one of the disasters. The penstocks are still holding! And the dam didn’t let water go either so I wasn’t caught in a flood (they do sound a siren warning though).

Being so close to the Wisconsin River, it basically follows the shoreline and what used to be the shoreline, but is now forest –

It’s a little hard to make out, but the darker area of the boulder there is concave; worn smooth by dozens and dozens of years of water surging and swirling. All of the rocks in the river are like this and are really interesting to see up close, which luckily you can do most times of the year.

Before I get to that here’s a little warning. Stay alert out there. Sometimes I’m guilty of being a bit too focused on my photography; the surroundings, composing, the light, the wonder of nature. All of it can be really absorbing. Not to mention I listen to audio books quite a bit when I’m out there. I can still hear sounds in my environment, but it’s one more thing my mind has to process other than what’s right around me.

So I’m standing there with the tripod, waiting for the sun to get blocked by a cloud a bit. I’m backing up, reframing, recomposing. Backing up again. I’ve got the remote shutter cable, a polarizer and other stuff. And what’s that? What’s with all these bees? No. Wait. Not bees. Hornets. Big ones. Whizzing around. They’re kind of all over the place.  Uh oh.

Yeah. That’s a bald-faced hornets nest bigger than my head. And it was about 20 feet behind me about 15 feet off the ground. No wonder there was practically a cloud of them. Dopey me just backing right into their territory. Yup, yup, yo.

I got right the hell out of there. Wide berth. Easy gait. Nothing too fast or jarring. Didn’t want to freak them out and send them after me. At home I looked at a close up of that shot and you can see a bunch of hornets right in the mouth of the nest. The thing is full of them. A pinata of venomous fun.

Ok, so note to self. Be careful. Be aware. Sigh. Good intentions. I really need to listen to my own advice.

So before I get to that, a word on sunlight and managing it in photos. Who wants to go out on cloudy days all the time, or confine your photos to just the golden hours at opposite ends of the day? Oh sure, they’re great, but learning to cope with direct sun can be really helpful during, you know, the rest of the day. And sometimes it can even help.

For me, the forest shot above wouldn’t work nearly as well if there wasn’t sunlight in it. It brings out the texture of that boulder so that you can see the carved nature of it. It shows depth as well, emphasizing the layers of the trees. I did soften the image in post though, bringing the highlights down and easing off on the contrast. Other techniques I use with dappled sunlight is to lower the luminance of certain colors if they seem to ‘hot’. Yellow and red often go off the charts with digital photography, so managing the color sliders can help tone those down.

It can help with direct sun as well. A beautiful day like this one is tough to shoot in. The shadows are harsh and the glare intense. Start with a polarizer. It can do a couple of things; reduce the glare on shiny surfaces like leaves and rocks, and also bring up reflections. The thing is that to do one it has to do the other less well. That’s where you luminance slider can help. This is not saturation!! That’s a different value.

For this image I really wanted to concentrate the polarizer’s effect on the reflection. That’s something you just can’t reproduce in post-production, at least not without a lot of work. It’s much easier to do it in the field. Then with software reduce the lightness of the colors that aren’t as affected by the polarizer. For this image it was the trees and the rocks. Using this technique leaves your overall whites and highlights where they are which is important for clouds!

Little scenes can benefit from a polarizer as well. The moss here was reflecting a good deal of light and so I reduced it with a polarizer and the green is lush and deep. You may have to use exposure compensation to get the exposure back where you want it, but once you get used to working with it, it’s second nature.

Inocybe geophylla

Another tool I’ve been using lately is a physical thing and not a processing technique. Recently I bought a collapsible diffuser (finally!) to make my own shade. I’ve been meaning to for ages, but just never have. Now I have a 12-inch model that folds down to about 4 inches and is very useful for diffusing light on or around my subject as well as creating reflected light. This coupled with some of the Lightroom techniques above have improved the overall look of my images. I used a combination of all of the methods I’ve mentioned for the following shots –

Boletus subglabripes

All the field and processing techniques don’t mean a thing if you can’t get the shot in the first place. Whether it be you that’s all busted or your camera. Or in my case both.

While making my way across a small feeder stream, the big, flat rock I stepped on tilted. Sharply. Throwing me straight down onto my butt and tripod with camera attached. Into the drink it went and damn if my ankle didn’t hurt, too. My first thought, of course, was for the gear. A quick look and I saw that the front of the lens was fine. Wet, but undamaged. The lens cap did its job and I fished it out of the water and gave it a shake.

A whole bunch of things saved my bacon with this little tumble. First is my lifelong habit of replacing the lens cap between takes. It might seem silly or a pain, but it literally saved my lens and/or filter this time. And given that it’s a really nice B&W filter, I’d have been bummed to have to replace it. Better than the $1200 lens, but still. Spendy. So I tells ya – put that lenscap on, you never know.

The other thing is that I fell uphill. The stream was flowing down a slope and so in crossing I fell upstream instead of downstream which was lucky. And that my lens and camera are weather-sealed. A quick dunk in very shallow water is something it’s designed to take. And it did. Yay for magnesium camera bodies, too!! A quick wipe down to remove some debris and water droplets and it was good to go.

The last thing I was immediately grateful for was that I didn’t have the Olympus 90mm macro on the camera. That might not have worked out so well. Yeah, it’s a tank and I always put the cap back on it, too, but it isn’t weather proof and it’s old. Almost irreplaceable. Sure they come up on eBay now and again, but not often. So glad it was in my bag. No one wants to see a grown woman cry.

The tripod did well, too. It’s scratched up on one leg, but I think of it as a battle scar not a blemish.

So that’s my tale of near woe. Almost stung to death by hornets, but escaped at the last minute only to fall on my butt and put my oh-so-precious gear in harms way. But wait! Good habits pay off and there’s no damage, except to my pride.

Hydrocybe cantharellus

If you follow this blog or any of my photo hosting sites, you know I’ve been photographing mushrooms for a long time. They’re so fascinating and come in so many shapes, sizes and colors that they’re an easy target. Especially if you’ve got a macro lens!

Now I’m out here in Wisconsin, nothing’s changed except maybe that there are more mushrooms and I’ve found some varieties I’ve never seen before. Not so with this little beauty commonly known as the chanterelle waxcap. Here’s an image from 2011 of what I believe is the same species –

What a beauty. At the time I shot it I didn’t have any mushroom field guides and tried to use the internet to get an ID. Impossible. Lately I’ve acquired a couple of books and borrowed some from the library and let me tell you; mushroom identification is wicked hard. Even with 4 books and Google, I sometimes can’t get it. These though have a dead giveaway that makes them stand out from others like them.

See where the cap attaches to the stem? The gills extend a little bit downward. That’s the clue! Otherwise, check out how much they change as they mature. You could convince yourself they’re not the same kind at all. They’re named for their resemblence to the cantharellus species – chanterelles – the super-tasty edible mushroom worth more than its weight in gold. Unlike those fab fungi, I wouldn’t try eating these.

Some of the other ways you can ID chanterelle waxcaps (and other mushrooms) are by cap and color characteristics. In this case the cap is often dry, tends to be flat and depressed with edges that can be wavy. The color ranges from reddish-orange to yellow. One way to eliminate a species from your possibles is by where it grows, or more technically, on what it fruits. Hygrocybe cantharellus mostly fruits on the ground in woods that don’t dry out too much. All but one of these shots show them on the ground, so I’m forgiving of the one on the dead tree; mostly because it has those descending gills.

More mushroom posts will probably be forthcoming since I shoot so many of them. Sometimes when I’m walking through the woods I have to tell myself that I don’t have to photograph every mushroom I see. So hard!!


Wordless Wednesday 9/16/15

Prairie Dells Scenic Area

One of my favorite ways to find new conservation land/nature trails is to open up the Gazetteer and see what’s nearby. By coincidence I ended up going to the Prairie Dells scenic area in Merrill which is a place my husband visited, and sent me an iPhone picture from, when he was here scouting the territory after his first job interview. It’s not far from our new house and so off I went.

The area is named for the Prairie River which is a tributary of the Wisconsin River and feeds directly into it further downstream in Merrill. It runs about 40 miles from its source and is one of the few rivers in Wisconsin that is no longer dammed. This nature preserve is the result of the removal of a large dam that was on this site. When it came down in the early 1990s the enormous granite ledges were exposed and that’s where the dell part of its name derives. 

Prairie river overlook

While it might be a relatively uncommon landscape here in Wisconsin, walking around the exposed outcrops and granite ledges was a lot like New Hampshire. Pretty much all the hiking you do there involves granite boulders and most of the streams and rivers have been carving gorges for themselves for centuries. Still it was beautiful and I found plenty to photograph.

The trails wind through mixed forest that was starting to fade from its springtime lushness. Where we are in northern WI is just above the 45th parallel which marks the halfway point between the north pole and the equator (although not technically due to the Earth’s little bulge). It means the summer heat is cut a little bit on both ends of the calendar by a week or two as compared to southern NH. It was breezy and the dappled sunlight made things pop on the ground and in the canopy.

Whether because of this slightly shorter growing season or just out of sheer joy of wilderness, northern WI seems to be the mushroom and wildflower capital of the universe. I found so many of both this year that I could hardly make any miles for getting down and photographing another small wonder.

Evening lychnis


Cortinarius alboviolaceus

Some were new species for me and some were old favorites.

Leotia Viscosa

This particular preserve is right off highway 17 and so traffic noise is still audible even deep into the trail system, but overall it is quieter than most anywhere in NH. The biggest difference is that there is no noise from planes, something relatively common in southern NH where the largest airport is. Since I was at Prairie Dells I’ve visited other, more remote trails and there the silence really reigns.


Eventually the trail sort of petered out and so I headed back, visiting the three viewing platforms closer to the trailhead and parking area. I even climbed down into the gorge a bit to see how close I could get to the river itself. Not very as it turned out, but there were still treasures to be found.

More information about the Prairie Dells Scenic Area can be found here and here. There are more pictures in my album on flickr.


European Vacation 2015

Will it be shocking to admit I’m a uni-dimensional photographer? Yeah, I can hear you all gasping and muttering that it can’t be so.

It’s not as if I don’t admire or appreciate other forms of photography, like the shots below, but that I really don’t enjoy cities. They’re loud, crowded and smell awful. Lots of people thrive on the possibility of the unexpected you can have in a city, like some jerk on a bicycle almost running you down and then yelling expletives when you stepped into the bike lane to go around parked car (thanks Amsterdam!), but it’s the kind of stuff I just hate and can do without.

So what possessed us to go on vacation in three different European cities? Well, partially it was a great fare to Brussels. Partially it was the fact that we never leave the country. As great as the US is for its diversity of landscape, ecological environments and weather, we felt a bit insular about just traveling here. So off to Europe it was. And for the most part we enjoyed ourselves. We had good weather (damn was it ever hot – over 90 degrees F on several days), saw interesting sights and ate in some really good restaurants.

Photographically speaking, it took me a while to feel at all connected and in tune with what surrounded me. Mostly lots of other tourists, canals, bicyclists and tiny cars. I totally embraced the tourist thing, too, btw. No being coy with a camera, pretending to be unimpressed. No hiding my joy and amazement over something we’d never see in the US and hadn’t seen before. Nope, I went with it and took the camera almost everywhere.

When I first saw the bike and the fountain it was blocked by a parked car and then, when I was at the end of the street I noticed the car moving away and so pretty much ran back to get the shot before anyone else could park. Spaces in Brussels are coveted and really hard to get sometimes and competition is fierce. The space wasn’t vacant long.

That’s an underlying theme of my photographs – the bicycle. European cities are, by and large, not suited to cars, buses or trucks. Bikes are much more practical and nimble for the crowded streets. Cheaper, too.

Although there were scads of bikes for rent, we didn’t dare. Everyone is in a hurry, the streets are unfamiliar and we needed to really look at signs to translate them for meaning. Walking was enough. lol.

But then there’s the architecture and it is too captivating to zip by on a bike.







As you can see, I had to work with some intense light since we were out in the daytime. Because my husband has to put up with enough of my camera, I don’t go out a lot at night and I don’t interrupt dinner time even though it usually occurs during the best light. Call me lazy, but it isn’t that much of a sacrifice. We have so much fun wandering and exploring.

Bruges alley

Bruges window

Two Fiats in Bruges


One of our favorite habits we picked up was going for afternoon frites. This was our favorite shop. It’s in Brussels near our hotel.

Oh are the fries good in Europe. So much better than here, where we fry them in rancid industrial oils instead of beef tallow.

On the whole, I think I could have done better with the camera. I wasn’t as able to adapt to new surroundings as I wanted to be. I’m used to being able to control the shot and take my time with set-up. With urban or street photography you have to be fast. The chaos was a bit overwhelming for us, too. A few times in Amsterdam I got really overstimulated and had to shut down…read, head back to the hotel for a glass of wine! It wasn’t so horrible that I wouldn’t repeat it though. I’d even go back to Brussels and Bruges one day, and not just for the fries!

My new homebase

Back when I lived in NH, I could and did spend hours in my yard photographing tiny things of beauty. It was barely 1/2 an acre of sand and weeds (for the most part), but it kept me occupied and occasionally intrigued. Now I’m in the northwoods of Wisconsin on a bit more land and I have a feeling I could be spending a lot of time finding more of the same. Way more.

So what are we dealing with? An acre and a half of hardwood forest with 150 feet of waterfront (we’re looking into buying the lot next door which will bring the total to about 3 acres). Here’s the big picture –

That’s a view of the dock with a slice of the backyard and the house. I was in the kayak, I didn’t wade out there. It’s probably far over my head anyway. They say the flowage is 20 feet or so at its deepest point.

This is what we like to do best! Beverages on the dock when the water and winds are calm. It doesn’t happen too often; it’s pretty windy through here and the water is often choppy and full of life. Luckily it’s mostly a southern wind, which would be coming from the right in the picture, downstream.

Here’s a view from my chair across the river to Billy’s house –

So that’s some of the big picture, but there’s always a small one for me. The unseen and ignored. Like this liverwort and the sporophytes it makes, like little palm trees.

And then there’s the flowers. Wildflower central. In May the wooded part of the yard (which is most of it) is awash in trillium which comes after the masses of bloodroot bloom. I’ve seen catnip, daisies, tiny pink ones that I don’t know what they are, indian paint brush, spotted touch me not, heal-all, evening lychnis, water hemlock, spring beauty and various kinds of aster, like this rattlesnake root –

And to my utter delight, my favorite, indian pipe –

And of course mushrooms. The yard is loaded with them as are most of the nearby forests (warning, warning, many mushroom photos soon to come).

Being so remote, we have a lot more wildlife than is present in southern NH. I’m not a wildlife photographer, but I may have to become one. We’ve got a loon that lives very close by and that I see or hear almost daily, bald eagles, too. Waterbirds nest in a nearby inlet that is quiet and host to a resident great horned owl that I’ve scared twice now while paddling (previous post). One time a ruffed grouse and I eyeballed each other from mere feet away when I was in the kayak – so different from the other times where we scared each other to death in the woods; me by making one explode out of the undergrowth with furious wing-beats. I had the privilege of watching a family of pileated woodpeckers dining on some stumps and logs right next to my driveway. There are frogs and toads galore and we even have a resident gray tree frog like we did in NH. I hear it singing frequently from the gutter on the roof and others respond back. Oh and then there are the spiders –

That big momma is a fishing spider and she lives on our dock with a few sisters, each 3 to 3 1/2 inches including those marvelous legs. They’re nursery web weavers and that’s what she’s done here; woven a protective net for her hundreds of babies. They’re between the metal frame and the wooden dock segments themselves. I’m the only woman in the world that would be happy about this, I think. And of course there are other kinds and my spider ID book rarely stays put.

So my adventure begins in my own backyard once again.

It is wonderful, but posting is going to be a problem. I have really terrible internet here at home. There is no cable or any other high speed connectivity and so a cellular connection with 20gb per month is all we have. Not nearly enough to upload high res photos like I’ve always done. So I need to go to the library and use the wifi there and that will only be once a week or even less. If you tap into any of my online galleries like Flickr or Smugmug, it will be a big batch load instead of a trickle of a few photos per day. Just the way it is. I think I’ll go down to the dock and cry about it. ; )

Rumors of my death

have been greatly exaggerated.

The move to Wisconsin is complete and we’re good and settled in. We love our house to bits. The country is really beautiful, the lake is a lot of fun and the neighbors we’ve met have been great. There’s even a local coffee shop where we hang out for some local color and have laughs with other folks who live on this section of river. It’s the Wisconsin river and particularly the Grandfather Flowage. That’s the part of a river between 2 dams, this section has the Grandmother and the Grandfather, both of which make electricity so the water is always moving a little and the level never gets too high or too low; hence the name flowage.

Anyway, being where we are has some challenges. The biggest is the internet. It sucks. There is no cable at all and so that leaves satellite or cellular. For now we’re using cellular, but are limited to 20gb per month. Yep, that’s it. So given that the images I work with are so large, I’m going to batch upload to my photo sites when I get to the library and can use the wifi there. Luckily we have a pretty great library system up here in the Northwoods so it shouldn’t be an issue. It will be weird though and I won’t be able to post nearly as often to those sites. At least I can upload high quality images though. You should see the crap that comes from keeping jpegs under 100k. The horror, the horror.

Here are some shots that are processed and uploaded. They’re from a kayak trip upriver. I really need a longer lens for bird photography. This little green heron was very patient and let me drift rather close, but eventually it spooked and off it flew. We also have a resident loon that I see or hear pretty much every day. It seems to hang out within sight of our dock quite a bit.

Little greenie hunting

Because the flowage is fairly large (750+ acres) and there’s a lot of wind, the chop can be merciless. When a still day comes around I jump on it though and believe me, it’s nice being able just to be able to walk into the backyard and put the kayak in the water.

Clouds in the flowage

Eventually I’ll strap it to the car and explore other areas, but for now this section of the river will do. There’s a great little side channel (where I found little greenie) about 40 minutes up river and it looks like it shelters a lot of nesting birds. I found a bunch of sites that are no longer used since the babies are so much older now, but it’s still got a lot of ducks, mergansers, herons and I think, a great horned owl. I’ve scared off a really large, silent bird twice now and that’s what I think it is. Maybe one day I’ll be able to photograph it instead of scaring it. Gonna need a longer lens though. Next time that 100-300 Panasonic goes on sale, I’m grabbing one.

Anyway, some more shots will be coming when I can get back to the library and wifi. My new yard is a haven for macros and other photography, so there’s plenty to keep me busy. Plus there’s tons of abandoned stuff around here – houses, barns, farms, cabins…it’s crazy. Stay tuned and thanks for waiting for me to get back to the land of the living. European vacation post coming soon! Brussels! Amsterdam! Bruges! We’re not in the woods anymore.


Elusive wildflowers – Part 16 – Clintonia

Another that is not elusive in the sense that it’s rare, but that I’ve always had lousy timing with it and this year was no exception. I think given more time I’d have found lots of it blooming at once, but as it was I found one single flower among hundreds of plants. It was pretty funny actually and I endured the mosquitoes at Bradford Bog in order to capture its solitary loveliness.

Smiling all the way

Clintonia is also called bluebead lily (for the longest time I thought it was bluebeard lily and couldn’t figure out for the life of me why it would be called that, then I put on my glasses). Bluebead makes a lot more sense. Lilies produce seed pods after the flowers are pollinated and the ones this flower makes are apparently true blue; a relative rarity in the natural world. Its other name is in honor of DeWitt Clinton who was governor of New York from 1817 to 1822 and again from 1825 to 1828. The Erie canal was built during his terms. I’m not sure what he did to have a flower named for him, but there are worse things.


I wouldn’t have even noticed it had I hadn’t gone off trail to photograph a painted trillium, which despite their ubiquity, I cannot resist. Lucky for me since this single flower was just yards away. Seriously it was the only one. I looked and looked. Nope. Just one early bloomer.

In the same moment

One of these days I hope to photograph a mass of them since that’s how they grow. The trouble is they bloom during the most intense part of mosquito season and the onslaught is really vicious. They have a quiet beauty though. The petals are pale yellow and rise gracefully from a pair, or sometimes a trio, of large, light green leaves which are similar to trout lily and sometimes people mistake them for lady slipper. Trout lily leaves are smaller and mottled with brown or tan, while lady slipper leaves are fuzzy and ribbed.

Not ready to declaim

Despite the horde of bloodsuckers who tormented me all the while I shot, I enjoyed being there and like the results. Mostly it was from the changeable light and the fact that I was in an Atlantic White Cedar swamp, one of my favorite ecosystems and one I will probably not encounter again for a long time.

Tucker Brook; a farewell

Since my time here in New Hampshire got short, I have revisited a few favorite places to say goodbye and experience them one last time. I certainly don’t have time for all of them and my photographs and memories will have to serve. One I did return to is Tucker Brook. I went to shoot the big mill far upstream of the falls, but that didn’t really pan out. Luckily there is plenty else to capture.

The trees were almost fully leafed,

The Vertical Meadow

the fringed polygala were blooming,


the brook was running,

Tucker Brook reflection 2

which of course meant the falls were falling

Tucker falls in mono

and it had some friends.

Farewell falls

I know there will be plenty of beauty in Wisconsin and I’m sure my camera (and my kayak) will keep me busy, but I am sad to be leaving home and all my old familiars.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 485 other followers