Raptor Hunt (Episode 2)

I was shooting in high speed continuous mode using center screen focus. The camera focused in most shots on the background instead of the bird, so only the last two images, above, were marginally fit for presentation.

Adult Bald Eagle

Unfortunately, the images in this post are of poor quality because the birds are too far away, so they will not appear at my on-line gallery. Instead, I show them here because they tell a story about two juvenile Bald Eagles, one that successfully caught a fish and the other that failed. In fact, the successful bird has likely failed several times also. With time, they will rarely miss a catch.


I was shooting in high speed continuous mode using center screen focus. The camera focused most shots on the background instead of the bird, so only the last two images, above, were marginally fit for presentation. The bird’s actual strike was totally blurred. My alternative would be to use single-point focusing but that would mean getting that one point right on the bird, a tough challenge.

I also re-shot the nesting pair of Osprey’s that you can see in the first eleven photos at my on-line gallery. I could not yet see any of the chicks. Stay tuned.

If you have any interesting shots of raptors I would love to see them.

Insectorama (Season 4: World Dominion)

As I have previously noted, insects are in decline (except for those that bite and get into our food supplies). Few have the guts to splatter themselves on our windshields as we drive the highways during dusk hours.

Assassin Bug

Yes, dear readers, I know you have all been awaiting this season’s Insectorama, where I show off all those cute little bugs. If I have not said it before, nature photography is risky. Not only do I have to be careful about falling on rocky ledges or falling over cliffs, but I often confront dangerous wildlife. Take this Assassin Bug in the above photo, for example. Look at those saw-tooth arms, much like those of the praying mantis. I was lucky not to be on its hit list!

As I have previously noted, insects are in decline (except for those that bite and get into our food supplies). Few have the guts to splatter themselves on our windshields as we drive the highways during dusk hours. I can remember when it was so bad that we used the windshield washer/wipers to clear their remains so we could better see the road! But if you think, who needs that, just know that insects are fodder for reptiles, birds and bats. Insects are disappearing due to our use of pesticides and clearing of their habitats. People, especially those in the major industrialized nations, are doing just about everything possible to destroy the biosphere on which all life depends.

Do you have any interesting insect stories? If so, I would love to hear them. And if you you would like to see more of season 4, take a look at the first ten photos at my on-line gallery. More insects to come!

Infrared’s Dark Secrets

Near infrared, that is. It starts at 720 nanometers on the light spectrum, just beyond visible light.

Near infrared, that is. It starts at 720 nanometers on the light spectrum, just beyond visible light. I talked about this in a prior post. Its dark secrets are many. How do you expose it, how do I focus the image, how do I process it, what kind of filter do I need (checkout YouTube for videos on both digital and film infrared)? And the list goes on. However, once you begin to learn about its idiosyncrasies, you start getting some pretty weird photographs. Which is what it is all about. Take a look, below.

Portland Head Light

First of all, you need a bright, sunny day because that is where all the infrared light is. It turns foliage white and blues black (look at the sky and water in the background). And it has high contrast. The affects can be surrealistic and or austere. Be prepared to bracket all your exposures and waste a lot of film when you first start shooting infrared.

You will find more of my most recent weird stuff in the first seven photographs, here.

Next Generation Prep

Ospreys are “snow birds,” they do not stick around for the cold weather.

IUCN designation: LC The Osprey is a global bird whose populations are increasing.

I recently visited one of our many preserves and ran into these two birds. They were in the process of lining their nest for the upcoming parenting season. Ospreys are “snow birds,” they do not stick around for the cold weather. They generally return to the same nest each year. I’ll return to photograph over the coming weeks once the eggs have hatched. In the meantime, you can find a four-shot sequence here.

Infrared At Reid State Park

Infrared provides a surrealist view of your subject. With the right compositions it creates what I think is a very artistic image; I wouldn’t suggest it for portraits or weddings, though.

Readers might recall my storm waves shoot at this park back in early April where the winds were gusting up near 60 MPH. This day saw a calmer Reid with partly cloudy skies. Ideal for infrared photography! The following video shows how nice the day was; compare this to my earlier post.

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I used my medium format camera loaded with Ilford SFX 200 film along with an infrared filter (092 IR 695 20-40x). I made my best exposures using an exposure index of 3 on my light meter at 1/15 second @ f/16. However, Ilford states that the film should be developed at ISO 200.

Infrared provides a surrealist view of your subject. With the right compositions it creates what I think is a very artistic image; I wouldn’t suggest it for portraits or weddings, though. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Take for instance Bob Dylan in color infrared–you can order a print for just $1200.

You can find my photos at my on-line gallery.

I Shot the Plovers, but I Did Not Shoot . . . .

Piping Plovers are listed as near threatened, mostly due to our development of shoreline areas. However, their populations are on a slow rise, due to habitat protection, as is the case at Ferry Beach.

Well, with a camera, that is. You got it, the title is adapted from the song. It was a windy day, blowing near 30 MPH with gusts. You can see the blur of the blowing, damp, grainy sand in the photo. Fortunately, the blowing sand was heavy enough that it rose only about two feet from the ground. Sand is really bad news for cameras.

The wind was great news for wind surfers who were struggling to deploy their wings in the strong wind. However, once they launched their wings they were moving about 25 knots over the water, sometimes going about 30 feet airborne. You will find some photos from a prior shoot, here.

Piping Plovers are listed as near threatened, mostly due to our development of shoreline areas. However, their populations are on a slow rise, due to habitat protection, as is the case at Ferry Beach. Actually, their greatest risk here is being hit by the occasional, stray golf ball from the adjacent golf course.

I walked along the beach waiting for photo opps. Seeing none after meandering about half mile down the beach, I started my return. Shortly thereafter I saw a little guy appear on the beach. Like many shorebirds, Plovers let you get relatively close; I began shooting. At this point I decided it was time to sit and wait, camera at the ready. Scanning in all directions, it was not long before I noticed a pair of birds in the grass to my right. They were not moving much and seemed to pose for my camera. After getting many shots, I decided to move to another angle for a different perspective.

Using my camera’s continuous shooting mode, I rattled off 262 frames to get 11 good photos. You will find these photos at my on-line gallery.

Debunking Climate Change Myths & Disinformation (The Baloney Buster)

The “smoking gun” is the fossil fuel signature of atmospheric CO2 molecules.

Thinking about Carl Sagan’s “baloney buster” piece, I came across this article in The New York Times written by a geologist/journalist. She did a wonderful job of baloney busting by clearly highlighting all the scientific evidence showing that climate change is real and that this assessment has strong consensus among climate scientists. They see the data as incontrovertible. These data include: 150 years of global temperature measurements, satellite data from the 1970s, tree-ring samples, ice-core and earth samples, sea-level rise measurements, flora and fauna monitoring, and atmospheric and oceanic analyses–all pointing to the same conclusion–that it is getting hotter and we are the major contributors.

The “smoking gun” is the fossil fuel signature of atmospheric CO2 molecules. “Fossil fuels are too ancient to have any carbon-14 left in them, so if they were behind rising CO2 levels, you would expect the amount of carbon-14 in the atmosphere to drop, which is exactly what the data show.”

Cal Tech’s JPL’s Deep Space Network (Hold the Baloney)

After reading my Earth Day 2020 post you might be wondering how on “Earth” NASA keeps track of all the probes way out there in space. We all know that boats, cars, and airplanes all need constant course corrections. So, how is this done? It all happens at Cal Tech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in southern California where I had the opportunity to visit in 1986. In fact, I was there just as the very first close-up images of Halley’s Comet taken by the deep space probe, Giotto, were being displayed on the internal monitors. How neat was that! These would later be cleaned up before sending them out to the media.

Later, our guide met us and showed us around the facility’s technical equipment, including the mission control room, as you can see in the link. Looking much like an air traffic control radar room, here the controllers monitor the probes, not with radar but with radio communications. Just as with all the manned spaceflight missions, there are three antenna stations located at Goldstone, Southern California; Madrid Spain; and Canberra, Australia. Together, these enable constant communication with the probes as the Earth rotates.

Communication is a bit tricky since commands have to be issued well ahead of time, depending on how far out the probe is. Commands also have to be timed within micro (or Nano?) seconds so any course corrections don’t send the probe off the adjusted course. This has to be done by computers since they are much better than humans at dealing with microseconds or less. There is, however, a digital atomic clock (based on the radioactive decay rate of Cesium) on the wall for human reference. It has an accuracy of +/- 1 second every 3 billion years, so you don’t have to reset it too often.


During this time of growing distrust of science and more acceptance of superstition and unsubstantiated beliefs, Carl Sagan’s Baloney Detection Kit might help you discern what’s possibly real.

Earth Day 2022

April 22, 2022 update: Hello, is anybody listening? A just released IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) report says we are going in the wrong direction on climate change, but there is still a narrow window left to avoid a complete catastrophe to our biosphere, and that includes us.

According to an ongoing temperature analysis led by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), “the average global temperature on Earth has increased by at least 1.1° Celsius (1.9° Fahrenheit) since 1880. The majority of the warming has occurred since 1975, at a rate of roughly 0.15 to 0.20°C per decade. . . . . The data reflect how much warmer or cooler each region was compared to a base period of 1951-1980. (The global mean surface air temperature for that period was 14°C (57°F), with an uncertainty of several tenths of a degree.)”


There was time when we believed that we were the center of the universe and that we should have dominion over the Earth. But then Copernicus came along who asserted that the Sun is indeed the center of our solar system, the Moon being the only body that revolved around the Earth. I’m sure you know that this resulted in a bit of an uproar. As for the dominion idea, our use of resources, over-hunting, and factory farming of animals have contributed to climate change and the current sixth extinction. Watch Marvin Gaye’s video, Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology), released in 1971.

The following two photos show a contrast between Greenland’s Tunu Glacier in 1933 and 2013. This melt-back is characteristic of ice all around the world, though melt-back varies widely, depending on location.

Source: The Greenland Ice Sheet – 80 years of climate change seen from the air. / Bjørk, Anders Anker; Kjær, Kurt H.; Larsen, Nicolaj Krog; Kjeldsen, Kristian Kjellerup; Khan, Shfaqat Abbas; Funder, Svend Visby; Korsgaard, Niels Jákup. 2014. Abstract from 44th International Arctic Workshop, Boulder, Colorado, United States.

It wasn’t so long ago that Carl Sagan and climate scientists started sounding the alarm that we were going down a dangerous path. Subsequent climate data has revealed that those early projections vastly underestimated what was happening, since we now know that climate change is not a linear but an exponential process. That is, it happens faster and faster over time.

Via Voyager 1

The now famous photograph of Earth as a pale blue dot was taken on February 14, 1990 by the deep space probe, Voyager 1, from a record distance of about 6 billion kilometers (3.7 billion miles). The more recent

Via Cassini

photograph was taken by the deep space probe, Cassini. Though more striking with Saturn in the foreground, it also shows how Earth is but a spec in the cosmos. As Sagan said in his book: Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. (Carl Sagan, The Pale Blue Dot, 1994)

People often say we have to save the Earth. Not so! The Earth will go on just fine without us. The issue is preserving the current biosphere that supports us and the other higher vertebrates. There will always be life on the planet so long as there’s liquid water. As I present every year, here is my fictionalized account of our worst scenario. Let’s do better!

Waves Crashed Reid State Park

I shot 400 frames this day at 1/30 seconds or slower so as to get a bit of a blur in the waves to convey a sense of motion.

The sea has mitigated climate change thus far by absorbing most of the heat from the greenhouse effect. However, it has come at a great cost; as the sea warms it becomes more acidic thus changing the balance of life. The coral reefs, upon which so many aquatic species depend, are dying. Here in Maine the lobsters are moving towards Atlantic Canada and the sharks are moving in. Reid State Park Beach now has shark alert flags that are raised during a spotting, along with a warning horn.

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As you can see, it was quite the day. The surfing site, Magic Seaweed, reported wave heights at 9-13 feet. It was raining heavily on the drive up, but according to the radar it was supposed to let up about the time I arrived. By the time I got there it was only misting. Only?! The mist was like a fog. Although I brought a hooded rain jacket and all my clothing was synthetic, quick-dry including a waterproof camera cover (my camera and lens are supposedly weather-sealed), I was concerned that the driving wind would force salty air into my equipment. Fortunately, all my equipment only needed an exterior cleaning after I returned home.

So, here I was walking around on wet, mossy rocks carrying my camera on its tripod looking for places to shoot, protected from the wind. When on wet rocks it is best to plant your foot and see if it grips before taking the next step. It takes more time but saves broken bones or worse.

I shot 400 frames this day at 1/30 seconds or slower so as to get a bit of a blur in the waves to convey a sense of motion. I shot all my previous wave scenes at high-speed to freeze the action, giving the waves a sharp look. Both techniques provide impressive results, it just depends on what the photographer wants to convey.

After several hours of post-processing and culling photos, I reduced those worth showing to 12.

There were only three other vehicles that showed up at different times during my four hour stay. The only exception was a woman driving a four-door pick-up truck who came about two hours after me. Her truck was still there when I left. I captured a shot of her from afar standing on the rock ledge looking out at the surf.

You will find my wave photos of the day (the first twelve) at my on-line gallery.

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