The “Deadly” Scorpionfly

Well, it looks dangerous, but it isn’t. It only looks a bit like a scorpion. I found this guy in the reeds along side the Oatka Creek. Found in the eastern U.S., the “stinger” is the male’s copulatory organ. They feed on dead insects. You can see more of what I’ve photographed at Insectorama. More insects to come!

Biodiversity loss threatens humanity

Yet another major report documents the effects of climate change. Although there are many local and regional initiatives around the world that will slow this down a bit, a concerted world initiative is necessary to stop the sixth extinction. I do not see this as likely to happen, given that it has to start now. The result will be a great die-off, including some of humanity. Although the developing countries will be most affected, many in the developed world will be affected by mid-century–just thirty or so years away.

And to think that we did this in about 170 years (in the “blink of a geological eye”).

www.nytimes.com/2019/05/11/opinion/sunday/extinction-endangered-species-biodiversity.html

Emerging Insects

Recall two of my recent posts, The Bugs Are Coming, where I discussed the bugs that are bad for us, and Where Have All the Insects Gone?  . . . , where I reported that many of the good insects are disappearing. Well, things are starting to gear up with the bugs now emerging. It has been a bit of a late start given the lower than average temperatures we have been experiencing here in the northeast.

Margined (Burying) Carrion Beetle

The first and third photos were taken in Connecticut in April. I found the Carrion Beetle on a driveway.  It is found mostly in farm and other rural areas. The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species) categorizes this species as critically endangered, likely due to the use of pesticides, and land “development,” among other factors.

My next subject is the Ebony Jewelwing. I will leave you to guess why it is so

Ebony Jewelwing

named. This species is categorized by the IUCN as of least concern, due to its stable population.  It is found mostly along lakes and streams. I photographed several of these back in 2011 in western New York and present one here since the photo quality is excellent.

Chocolate Dun

The Chocolate Dun is a Mayfly usually found in the pools of fast running streams and rivers with clear rocky bottoms. However, this one was on a window of a glassed in porch. They are not listed in the IUCN data. Fisherman refer to the adults as spinners. You just have to love the googly eyes of these winged insects. “All the better to see you with.”

I photographed the Jewelwing in strong sunlight using a Canon 60D with a Canon 100-400mm lens @ 390mm and exposed at ISO 500, f/11 @ 1250/sec. The current and future insect photos will be shot using a Canon 7D II with a 15-85mm Canon lens at 85mm. A ring flash attached to the lens will allow manual exposures @ ISO 100, ~ f/11 @ 125/sec., enabling me at get sharp images with relatively good depth of field on the insects.

 

SmugMug Joins Stephen Fielding Images

I’m happy to announce that going forward I will be posting all my new images on SmugMug. I think this platform has a better look and provides greater flexibility for managing images. The complete transition to SmugMug will take several months so during this period both platforms will be available.

Want to see it now? Go to SmugMug (or click on its tab on the header menu).

 

Spring’s High Water


Iroquois Preserve

There is no shortage of water here in the Northeast, especially around the Great Lakes. A few weeks ago I was out photographing at Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge.  Many of the trees in the area have died as a result of the constant high water. Nevertheless, they make what I think are some wonderfully artistic shots. I shot these on Kodak TRI-Xfilm  using a 135mm lens with a polarizer filter.

 

 

Iroquois Preserve

Coming Attractions


Starting in later April I will be bringing you photos of various insects from around the Northeast. Oooh! Insects you might wince, why insects? I know, we are not crazy about them. They look kind of scary, they bite us, and sometimes get into our food supply. What’s to like? The reality is they are part of our ecosystem. They provide food for birds, reptiles and others (and perhaps us in the future as we cut back on farm animals due to their intense use of resources, not to mention the methane flatulence of cattle). They are an important part of earth’s ecosystem.

As I did several years ago with my bird photographs, I will give a brief description of each bug and whether it is on the endangered list. In the meantime here are a couple of photos to warm you up to these “cute” little creatures. I took these photos in the early 70s. I’ll be using my digital camera for the upcoming color photos so they will be much sharper.

Spider (Arachnid–not an insect): 1972
Unknown: 1972
Another arachnid: 1973

 

 

Flowing Water, Snow, and Ice: Long, Lazy Exposures


I was out two mornings ago in 16 degree weather all layered up wearing my spikes looking for flowing water, snow, and ice. Now that we are entering mid-March I’ll be lucky to get another opportunity to photograph these. Right now the temperature is 40 degrees and it is expected to hit near 50 on Wednesday before getting colder again. Ice and snow are good subjects for black and white film not only because ice and snow often lack color, but because they offer such a variety of shapes and textures, which is what black and white is all about. I also find these images to be very quieting

To get the finest grain and sharpest images I’m using Ilford’s Delta 100 and FP4 125 films. For those scenes  with flowing water I use a 10 stop neutral density filter. This enables me to shoot using very small f stops, and shutter speeds ranging from 25 seconds to 21/2 minutes, rendering an ethereal look to the water. I lent a selenium cast to these shots to provide a cooler, more wintry look.


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The stream flowed very slowly here so this was a more standard short exposure without a neutral density filter.

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You can see how different flowing water looks using a 25 second exposure.

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This shot was exposed for 2 1/2 minutes, rendering a soft, smooth look to the stream.

I placed the camera on a tripod for all of these shots. I used both my medium format (120 film), and single-lens reflex (35mm film) cameras. The former’s images are in square format and located at my: on-line gallery.

Battling the Ice

Yesterday we had 35+ MPH winds so I went to Webster Park on Lake Ontario to photograph more ice. Everything from the parking lot down to the shore

Under Ice

was iced, due to freezing rain and refreezing. So I strapped on my gear, including my micro-cleets, and boldly walked down to the pier. I had  to use my foot to punch through the snow to set up my tripod. The gusts were so strong at times I made sure I always held on to the tripod to avoid having it blown over, and to

Webster Pier

dampen vibration during shooting. I selected locations where I was at least partly shielded from wind with a good view of the pier. I took a total of 12 shots from three angles.

The first photo shows the pier completely under ice (taken slightly to the left of the pier). The second photo (taken slightly from the right) shows the same pier during a nor’easter last fall. Fresh water freezes far more readily than salt water so it doesn’t take much cold to enable the waves to build high ice walls on the lake’s leeward shore lines. The trick is to wait for that split second when a large wave breaks. Had I been using my digital camera that can shoot 10 frames per second this would have been much easier.

To get the third photo I walked a short way along the shore to the right of the pier looking for an opening free of branches. Resetting the tripod and camera while wearing gloves is always a challenge. This day I was wearing gloves with openings for the forefinger and thumb (and hand warmers in my pockets to rewarm them).

I had to climb up the hill to get into place for the fourth photo. The wind was horrific. Fortunately, I was able to find a large tree close to where I needed to be to partially shield me and the camera.

I took all these photos with my 35mm camera with a circular polarizing filter on a 135mm lens. Since I was shooting Tri-X 400 film, the filter enabled me to shoot at slower shutter speeds to get a little blur on the breaking waves.

Unlike shallow Lake Erie, Ontario is deep so it only freezes around the edges. While this works for surfers (yup, winter is the best time since that’s when the waves are the highest) we get lake effect (snow) all winter long when the wind is blowing on shore (i.e., off the lake). Those areas most exposed to on shore wind get the most snow. Watertown, at the east end of the lake gets the most, about 300+ inches per year!

 

 

 

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Icescapes, Now on Film!


I do have a fascination with ice. It makes for a whole host of fine art abstractions. When water freezes its molecular structure changes at 32 degrees F to become a hexagonal crystal. I shot this series with my medium format camera on Ilford 120 film. This film has been around in a number of emulsions since about 1909; you might have used it in one of your Kodak Brownie cameras (that is, for those of you who go that far back). The negatives are 2 1/4 inches square, thus the square prints. I took all these photos using a tripod.

The most difficult aspect of photographing ice is that it tends to be cold outside, making it necessary to use gloves. These make it difficult to handle and operate the camera. So I use different weight gloves, sometimes with hand-warmers, depending on the temperature. The latter come in “handy” when the temperature falls  to the twenties and below. I also wear multiple layers to keep warm, since I’m not  generating as much heat as I would on a hike. This day I was wearing micro-cleats on my ankle-high hiking shoes so I could walk the icy trails with abandon.

You might have heard of the silk road? Well I call this first shot Silk & Ice. I just love how this stream curves through the woods, flanked by snow and ice. It’s all part of the world around us. I photographed this on a Sunday afternoon but no one was there, except for two fisherman. People, get off the couch!

 

I went a bit “off the rails” in the next photo to capture Surrealistic Bend. I tapped the camera during the 1/4 second exposure. It’s kind of jolting; it really wakes you up! I have no doubt that this will command a high price on the open art market.

Webster Park

 

If you stretch your imagination a bit (maybe a lot) you can see Great Britain, with France on the lower right and northeastern North America to the left (do you see Cape Cod?) in the next photo. Unfortunately, it appears that Ireland went under, something that’s likely to happen with the whole Brexit affair.

 

To my way of viewing this last photo is more of an ink-blot test. It can really be anything that your psyche brings to consciousness. If it looks like dead rodents floating in the water, you probably need help (no, this didn’t come to my mind, I’m just sayin’).

 

So that’s it for now, I’ll have a few more of these up on my online gallery in the near future. And just a reminder, everything in my gallery is available for sale. See my online store for details.

I hope you find some interesting ice!