Female Great Blue Skimmer Dragonfly

I was photographing dragonflies at a local park when I noticed this female Great Blue Skimmer dragonfly off to the side. I quickly switched from the usual dragonfly subjects and got a few images of this one before it flew off. I was using a 400mm lens with an extension tube to be able to focus closer for Dragonflies. All images were taken @ f/11 giving a little more depth of field yet still have smoother cleaner backgrounds.Great Blue Skimmer_FM_DM_300_1_4X_v2_76A5733

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Teneral Slaty Skimmer Dragonfly

We finally got to go to a local park the other day for a walk. We had not been to this county park this year because of the stay at home mandate. We heard it would be very crowded because of the lifting of the stay at home mandate. I liked photographing dragonflies here, but with the crowds I decided to travel light and just take an m43 Olympus Camera with a Panasonic 100 – 300mm Lens. These images were all @ 300mm (Full Frame Camera Field of View ~ 600mm). We have never seen this park so crowded. Cars were parked everywhere, even by the small boat launch area, where you are not supposed to leave cars. Some of the prime areas to photograph dragonflies were blocked by people spread out on towels having picnics. But it was nice to get out and walk around and see what dragonflies we might find. After battling the crowds, we were on our way to the car when I noticed this Teneral Dragonfly waiting in the bushes for it’s wings to harden so it could fly. I believe it is a teneral Slaty Skimmer. The newly emerged adult will have to wait several hours before its wings dry out and become strong enough to fly. The dragonfly at this stage is called a teneral which is a Latin meaning tender or soft or delicate. This is a very critical period in the life cycle of the dragonfly. The tenerals are generally weak and they cannot fly very well. This makes them easily exposed to predators. However, it doesn’t take long for the tenerals to gain sufficient strength to make their first flight. In our old home we saw quite a few teneral dragonflies by our pond, so it was fun to see one here.

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Chipping Sparrow on a Branch

We had gone to a local park, Davidson’s Mill Pond Park, and noticed quite a few Chipping Sparrows flying around. The Sparrows were on the branches that were near the top of the tree. I was using a 400mm Canon DO lens with a 2x teleconverter to get closer and cropped the images slightly.
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Spring Clouds Panorama

A cloud panorama taken last year in the Spring at a local park. I liked the stacked clouds floating above the bare trees in the landscape and the small pop of red on the building in the background. I wanted the main center higher clouds to be in the center of the image. For this image, because of the area I wanted to capture, I would usually only need 2 rows of 2 images each if I was using a full frame camera. But because I was using a m43 camera with a smaller sensor, I used a 5th shot for the center area of the handheld panorama. I have found that if I shoot the 4 corners than 1 image for the center, the images align easier & looks better in the final panorama when using the m43 format cameras. Images taken @ 14mm with a Panasonic 14-140mm lens on a m43 Olympus Camera. I put each image in a layered Photoshop file & auto aligned the images in the layered Photoshop file. Then let Photoshop blend those layers for final image. I saw on the town web site notification that this park will be open again today! But only allowing ~ 10 cars in at a time and must use social distancing guidelines. Seems strange since it is a huge area and if one car leaves does that mean 1 car can go in?

Eastern Racer Snake Panorama

We were walking back through a local park to go home when we saw this Eastern Racer snake slithering by us. This was a few months ago so I am trying to catch up on some older files I had not gotten to.  I was only carrying a m43 Olympus Camera with a 14-140mm lens. So I zoomed out to 14mm to get the whole snake but the Racer seemed very small in the frame with a lot of grass around it. So I  changed my strategy and zoomed in and shot a 3 image series @ 140mm to assemble into a panorama to make the Racer Snake more prominent in the final image and still show the whole Racer snake. Then I got closer as it was going by to get a Portrait @ 140mm of the Racer’s head.

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Eastern Racer Snake Portrait @ 140mm, m43 Camera

Fall Walk In The Woods

We took a walk through the woods at a local park just to get some fresh air. I only had my iPhone 11 Pro with me since I was not thinking anything would be interesting to photograph. The sun was low and most of the leaves were off the trees, but the shadows of the trees were amazing. The iPhone did a nice job photographing in a variety of lighting conditions. After getting use to the new iPhone for a while now, I tend not to use the pano mode as much,  preferring to shoot multiple images to assemble my own wider or panorama views. Even with the 1.5mm lens selected (Full Frame Equivalent 13mm), I want more width without more height. On this walk I had enabled the phone to shoot HEIC Raw files instead of jpeg files. This way I supposedly had true Raw Data to work with in Adobe Bridge before opening in Photoshop instead of enabling Adobe Camera Raw to open jpegs as Raw files with settings. Also for certain scenes I like using the 16:9 capture mode setting for longer scenes without using the 4:3 usual capture. The 16:9 does not work with the 1.5mm lens.

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1.5mm lens 

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1.5mm lens

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16:9 format – 4.3 lens

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2 image panorama – 4.3mm lens

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4.3mm lens 16:9 Format

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2 image panorama – 1.5mm lens – assembled in Photoshop

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2 image vertical panorama – 4.3 format

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4.3mm (26mm Full Frame Equivalent) 16:9 Camera Format

 

Davidsons Mill Pond Park Landscape Panoramas

I am still working on trying different techniques or ways to work with iPhone images in Photoshop. Overall it is a fun and useful addition to my equipment. Especially if I am walking around with Long telephoto lenses and still have the option for other wider views with out carrying extra lenses or cameras. Because of the very small lens focal lengths some techniques are difficult to get the results I am expecting. But it is fun to see what the iPhone can do. If you enable Photoshop to open jpegs in Camera Raw, you can uprezz your iPhone images quite successfully as you are opening them. Also you can correct/adjust the image before you open the file. Seems to work well with the Panoramas also. Do not go way overboard in size, but used moderately this seems to work quite well. The featured image was captured using the panorama feature on the iPhone 11 Pro, using the 4.3mm lens (35mm equivalent 26mm). You have to be careful using the panorama setting because quite often you get a “bowing” effect in the middle of the image. Mainly because the far left and far right are way off to the side so it in the middle it is “closer” to you so it is a little bigger, giving an slight distortion in the middle. Sometimes you can minimize this by “shooting up slightly. The Smaller Panoramas are made from 2 vertical or horizontal images, layered in Photoshop and “combined or blended” with Photoshop. The biggest problem is being careful to not exaggerate “keystoning effects” when using the extremely small focal lengths that are in the iPhone (1.5mm, 4.3mm & 6mm) shooting more straight into your views helps. 35mm – full Frame equivalent mm would be 13mm, 26mm & 52mm. Any slight up or down angles seem to distort quickly, but can be controlled a little by shooting more straight into your subject.  Slight adjustments in Photoshop also helps.

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Narrower Panorama of featured image, first try before the featured image.

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2 horizontal iPhone images stacked for panorama

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2 iPhone images for wider panorama assembled in Photoshop

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2 iPhone images for taller panorama

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More Assorted Butterflies

The last of the Butterfly images for this year. They closed their Butterfly exhibit at Davidson’s Mill Pond Park and removed the coverings on their butterfly house, releasing all the butterflies a few weeks ago to migrate. These were the last few we photographed before they moved on. It took me a while to work on posting these but finally got to them.

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American Painted Lady Butterfly, 140mm, m43 format

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Painted Lady Butterfly, 140mm, m43 format

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Monarch Butterfly, 140mm, m43 format

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Buckeye Butterfly, 140mm, m43 format

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Monarch Butterfly, 140mm, m43 format

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Monarch Butterfly, 140mm, m43 format

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Monarch Butterfly, 140mm, m43 format

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Monarch Butterfly, 140mm m43 format

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Monarch Butterfly, 140mm, m43 format

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Painted Lady, @ 140mm m43 format

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Painted Lady, @ 140mm m43 format

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Monarch, @ 140mm m43 format

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Monarch, @ 140mm m43 format

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Monarch, @ 140mm m43 format

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Cabbage White, @ 140mm m43 format

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Painted Lady – @ 140mm m43 Format

Beaver Lodges At Davidsons Mill Pond Park

A few weeks ago we were at Davidson’s Mill Pond Park and we saw a lot of Beaver activity by the water areas along the trail through the woods. We were there for a walk so I only had a m43 camera with a 14-140mm zoom, which with it’s small sensor has a field of view sort of equivalent to 28-280mm on a full frame camera. There are a lot of fallen trees so we could see they have been very busy. But as were were looking at what we thought was a Beaver Lodge, a beaver actually ran along a fallen tree and submerged to go inside the Lodge. It was fun to watch, but Beavers are mostly busy at night. It was a distant shot so it was not great, but I still documented it. We went back, but during the day they are usually not active, so I was shooting a series of the 2 Lodges we could see and the surrounding landscape. Around the bend we thought we spotted a few more Lodges but could not get clear shots of them. Another Park we enjoy walking in, Plainsboro Preserve & Audobon Facility, has even more Beaver Activity / Damage. But it is hard to get close to the water, and along the trails you see more trees chewed down. So there is even more Beaver activity there.

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3 image Panorama of the 2 Lodges

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CloseUp Beaver Lodge #1

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Beaver Lodge #1 & 2- 7 image Panorama – Tamron 150-600mm @ 150mm – showing surrounding landscape

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Beaver Lodges 1 & 2 – 5 img Panorama, Tamron 150-600mm

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Closer View Beaver Lodge #1

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Turtles on felled tree by Lodge #1

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CloseUp Beaver Lodge #2

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Beaver Felled Tree – Amazing how they can take down Large Trees

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Beaver “Lodge #1” with Otter in forground – 140mm m43, X-Large crop

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Camera setup to photograph Lodges in the distance, iPhone 6

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Tree Felled by Beavers – Amazing how many there are and how long it must take. but I guess they do not have anything else to do.

End Of Season Butterflies

We went for a walk at Davidson’s Mill Pond Park to see what photo subjects we could find. Weeks ago was the end of season for the Butterfly House, but they still had the covering over the framework and you could still see a few butterflies flying around in there. But on this visit we were surprised they took down the covering so the butterflies were now loose in the fields and gardens around the framework. Just a few days ago the butterflies we did photograph in the fields looked quite the worse for wear. These butterflies looked in extremely good condition so we had a great time photographing them on the branches of  bushes around their old home. I was using a 300mm f/4 lens but was shooting at f/4 or f/5.6 to keep the background smoother & softer to minimize a distracting background.

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