Archive for July, 2012

Piscataquog: Middle Branch

I’d been meaning to get back here since the first time I explored this little swatch of conservation land.  It contains the middle branch of the Piscataquog river and has some interesting aspects to it like a pond and some defunct bridges.  Unfortunately the light wasn’t overly cooperative and when the sun came out I had to pack it in.  While it lasted though, I got some decent images and I think they show why this river is so special.

For this first one I had to dodge poison ivy, a pretty regular thing in these parts.  The bank is high and steep and I liked the vantage point.  At the very back of the shot, the river takes an abrupt turn, just like the one in the very front of the shot.  A zig-zag.  It’s pretty great.  The ferns in the foreground (and some of the rest of the greenery) are royal fern and I just had to use them to frame the shot.

If you stayed at this position, you could have watched me take this next shot.  It’s looking back this way from just in front of that bend down there.  I loved the juxtaposition of the dead tree and the live, bendy tree and so I got in the river to frame them together.  The ferns on the banks are a combination of royal and what looked like cinnamon fern, although I didn’t really look closely for the cinnamon-y spore stalks.  Might have been interrupted fern which is of a similar height and leaf structure.

A neat feature of this property is the old mill pond that is now semi-dammed by beavers instead of humans.  The trail actually includes the beaver dam and you have to walk along it.  The pond helps to create a slightly different habitat for local color.


Common water snake

Cardinal flower

Not all of the trail around the pond is so accommodating, but there are some helpful walkways and bridges.  The light wasn’t good enough to shoot the pond itself, but it was terrific for adding much needed depth to the woodland trail.  Just back beyond those dark trees, I scared a deer half to death.  Sorry deer!

If this entices you to get out into the woods – go!  And if you’re in southern NH, you can get a map of this bit of the world here – Middle Branch map.  When you get there, be kind, be responsible, pick up other people’s trash (and don’t leave any yourself) and enjoy reconnecting with nature.


Elusive Wildflowers Part 8 – Cardinal flower

Wahoo!  Another beauty photographed.  Never have I shot these before, but while out doing some river work (my favorite, the Piscataquog, and I’ll post about that soon) I found some near a pond’s runoff streams.  This flower has become quite rare in some areas due to people picking and digging it up a lot.  I can see why though – the red is intense.  I had to actually back off some of the saturation because the camera was clipping the reds! They really stand out among the greens of the grasses, ferns and other plants.

Aren’t they gorgeous??  They tend to favor moist soils rich in humus which is why I found them alongside streams from a pond.  The streams eventually run into the Piscataquog.  All shot with the OM 90mm macro at varying apertures.  River landscapes coming soon!

More from Ponemah Bog

Are you dead from the suspense yet?  Sorry about that.  Here is some more from my latest dawn trek to the bog.  The wider views are all done with my regular 12-60mm lens, but I spent some time finding some landscape slices which was pretty rewarding.  It’s a fun way to see things that is in between the sweepingly large view and my normal, tiny, macro view.  But there’s a good macro in here, too so don’t worry.

Heath and Fog

Terrestrial Rainbow

Black Spruce Gang

Am I Overdressed?

From Whence You Came

Shadow Play

Sweet Temptation


Elusive Wildflowers Part 7 – Horned Bladderwort

Another one that isn’t so much elusive, as limited in photographic potential.

Everyone says hi

It’s limited in a few ways.  First it lives in bogs and fens which are relatively rare habitats made rarer by man’s manic need to fill in wetlands and build subdivisions on them.  If you live in Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee or Illinois the flower is endangered or threatened and you may never see one there unless you are very lucky.  Second limiting factor is that a lot of bogs are just plain inaccessible without stilts.  The peat and heath matting is very deep, totally soaked and difficult to travel through.  Luckily Ponemah bog has a decent walkway that passes right by some of these beauties and with some creative positioning (and knee pain) I could shoot them.

Don’t leave me

A bit more research turned up the fact that they are carnivorous.  No wonder they do well in bogs which are notoriously too low in nutrient levels for most plants.  I also photographed a couple other carnivorous plants the other day, but I’ll save those for later.  Horned bladderwort doesn’t use sticky traps or funnels of death to catch its prey.  This little flower uses its leaves which have been specially adapted with bladders that suck tiny organisms up into them to be digested.  The leaves are spindly and are almost always under ground, leaving only the stem and flowers on the surface.

In the light of a new day

The shape of the flowers is pretty interesting and they seem to be a favorite of the local spiders.  All these images were shot with the OM 90mm macro.  Because of the boardwalk, photographic compositions are limited, but with some contortions and gentle bending out of the way of distracting elements, I got a few that are pretty good.  The backlit and sunlit shots just didn’t work well since the backgrounds also tended to be lit up and the flowers got lost in them.  The pink of the orchids in the last bog series stood out much more because of the color contrast.

In the next few days I’ll also put up some shots of the bog itself at dawn.  This last trip I spent some time shooting landscapes and slices of landscapes that really depict the fullness and richness of the ecosystem.  I even saw wet little fox footprints on part of the walkway, so there’s a lot of life there that goes unseen.

Elusive Wildflowers Part 6 – Wood Lily


Isn’t that a great word?  Almost as good as propinquity.  But I digress.

I say serendipity because a couple days ago I was thinking about wildflowers and how much I’d like to discover some wood lily in my travels.  My parents had one growing in the front yard when I was a kid, and when I first took up photography I actually photographed it (maybe I should try and find the shot…it’s on some kind of slide film).  I hadn’t seen any since though and you know I spend a lot of time in the woods.  Here’s where the serendipity part comes in.  Yesterday I had something to do in the afternoon, but really wanted to get out into the forest.  That usually means I hit the Musquash and so I did.  At a major trail intersection I decided to go up to another intersection and then make up my mind which loop to take.  When I turned from the map and took a step down my chosen route; there it was – a wood lily!  I practically did a backflip and if anyone heard me they’d have thought I went crazy with all my oohing and ahhing.  Can’t blame me though.  They’re gorgeous and very dramatic.  See?

Wood Lily

Unfortunately, I didn’t have my tripod with me and hand to handhold all of these shots.  The breeze cooperated now and again and I think I did ok.  This next shot is almost exactly like the one I remember taking in the yard when I was like, 17 or something.


The camera had a bit of a hard time rendering the exact color of these lambent beauties.  They’re not a yellow-y orange, but a reddish orange…quite a cool color spectrum-wise.  So it was the HSL panel to the rescue again.  They didn’t need much adjusting though.

I still carry a torch

According to my wildflower identification book, these are a native species and not particularly rare.  I guess I just don’t go where they are since this is my first sighting since the 80s.  It was so great to find them…and in the Musquash, too.  Early wildflowers are not so present in my surrogate backyard, but it seems high-summer flowers are and I’m so glad I can go and see these gorgeous beauties every year now.

Forest Flame