Late summer and high water?

Usually water levels are pretty low in August, but 2021 brought lots of rain and so even small brooks were having a good show. I don’t know what possessed me to go out in 90-something percent humidity, but I did. The little nameless creek on the Turtle Rock IAT segment called me since I’ve never photographed it in high summer. My first stop was at these two trees leaning out over the water. I’ve photographed them many times from this vantage point and from further upstream and their character and persistence keep me coming back. It will be a sad day when I discover them fallen across the water.

Two through time
I wish I could be there with you

The greenery around me was so intense that I had to dial down the slider in Lightroom so it wouldn’t look neon. I stopped along the banks at new and familiar spots. The recent thunderstorms took down even more trees to block the water’s path, so finding clear stretches is getting more difficult. There are still a few though.

My only vibe
In the fullness

The cloud cover was still heavy so all I needed was a polarizer to get semi-long exposures – under 2 seconds. The polarizer also cuts glare on the leaves and boosts their color, not that it needed it. Luckily the wind was low or non-existent for these shots so the ferns stand out nicely. Plus I didn’t get a lot of water down the neck from the canopy above. Breezes get you this way.

Where I go in my imagination

Also lucky was that my lenses didn’t fog over in the humidity. That sometimes happens and I have to wait for it to evaporate which can take forever it seems. Because of that when I saw this very little wood frog I could get set up quickly to get a picture. The rain darkened everything on the forest floor and this frog changed its color to match. When it’s dry or they are in lighter surroundings, wood frogs are a medium tan color. This one was very patient and soon I was out of its face.

Wood frog
Lobelia inflata

Years ago in New Hampshire I photographed Indian Tobacco, but it’s such a tiny and interesting flower that I tried again. I’d planned to do some stacking, but got this one shot of both flowers in focus so didn’t bother. I like that you can see the front and side views in one image.

I could clone out that spent bloom at the bottom, but I’m of two minds about it. Even out of focus, it tells the story of how the plant moves through its lifecycle, with lower flowers on the stem opening first. They get pollinated first and then go to seed as this one is doing.

Speaking of going to seed, check this out!

Nodding fruit

It’s a fruit of a nodding trillium. I never knew they grew in this little bit of woods and I was so excited to see a couple and with fruit. I’ve never seen this before and so I got right in there. Lucky for me one was bright red and it stands out really well. Not so great was the persistent breeze that came up out of nowhere and kept me from being able to do any focus bracketing for a stack. Oh well. Maybe next year.

Mushrooms don’t tend to move in breezes so I could do an 11-image stack of this lovely coral fungus. I didn’t notice the tiny slug at the time, but am glad it didn’t move much so it’s in focus, too. You can see where it has nibbled the tips off the branches. Slugs love mushrooms and I see a lot of them on different species, or evidence that they’ve lunched on some. I wonder if they contribute to the spread of spores. Like mushroom pollinators so to speak.

Straight-branched coral fungus

This year I intended to get out and create some more artistic mushroom images with the LED panel I picked up, and I did, but maybe not as much as I could have. The few times I went out, nothing looked special enough or the specimens were too old or they were buried in debris and not photogenetic. But there were a few that bucked the trend like this little bolete on the bottom of a hemlock tree –

Mystery at the base of a tree

Six books and the internet and so far, no ID, but it’s a gorgeous little thing. Here’s an iPhone shot (muddy boot and all) of how I took the picture. Actually, I moved the LED panel which you can’t really see well here. It’s just next to the camera and you can see the GorillaPod leg sticking out. The final shot had the light closer to and below the mushroom – basically on that big root in the lower right corner. Moving it there put the light where it was needed to show the pores on the underside of the cap and the stipe. I love the way it seems to glow from within.

Working with a constant light source feels more intuitive to me since I can see its effect in real time and can control the temperature, direction, intensity and angle of the light directly. I have thought about adding flash and probably will, but it’s a less intuitive way to light a scene in my opinion, but I could have used it for this Indian pipe shot –

After finding and photographing the pinesap I found, I concentrated on the brook again. This sinuous S-curve drew me and I am thankful none of the trees toppled by storms ended up in it. There were some nearby just to the left out of shot, but his little area is pretty clear.

Dances with ferns

By this time I’m dripping with sweat and the bug repellent is running into my eyes. Peaceful though it was to be here, I hiked out pretty fast, the echoes of a juvenile bald eagle’s cry in my ears.

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