The wind picked up late Wednesday afternoon while we photographed the Cape Neddick Nubble Lighthouse in York and wispy clouds streaked by us. The wind was so strong that we didn’t dare let go of our tripods. Then as the sun set behind us and the sky turned deep orange, thunder clouds began to gather quickly and the skies opened up with a few minutes of torrential rains. Lightning flashed as we watched from inside the vehicle and as the rain let up slightly we couldn’t resist and we jumped out of the van to photograph the spectacular scene in front of us. Nikon Z7 and Nikkor Z 24-70 f/2.8.
The Portland Head Light, completed in 1791 in Cape Elizabeth, Maine sits at the entrance to Portland Harbor in Casco Bay in the Gulf of Maine. It is the oldest lighthouse in Maine but was decommissioned in 1989 after 198 years of operation. To me, it is the quintessential light house with its tower and light perched on a rocky outcropping, waves crashing beneath it. For this photograph taken just before sunrise at about 6:30 AM, I used a ten-stop neutral density filter to produce a very long, eight minute exposure to blur and soften the waves and capture the clouds as streaks in the sky with just a hint of the sun’s morning blush. I calculated the exposure time using the NDTimer app on my iPhone. With the ND filter off the lens, I determined the exposure to get the look I wanted for the photograph, then noting the shutter speed, I attached the ND filter to the lens and entered that number along with the type of ND filter so that the app calculated the time needed for the exposure I sought. I turned on the camera’s Manual Mode, set the aperture I had decided on in the test exposure, and set the shutter speed dial to Time. simultaneously pressing the shutter release and the start button on the NDTimer App starts the process with my iPhone timing the exposure and chiming the alarm when it was time to stop the exposure. This was my first exposure Wednesday morning, using my Nikon Z7 and Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 S lens with a Breakthrough 10-stop Neutral Density filter.
The Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse in Portland, Maine was built in 1897 to alert mariners to the dangerous Spring Point Ledge where many ships had gone aground. The lighthouse was not physically connected to the mainland until the early 1950s when a 900 foot granite breakwater was built. We visited the lighthouse at sunrise on Tuesday morning, shooting long exposures from the shoreline. With the sun still coloring the sky, we walked to the breakwater. My heart was pounding in my throat and my palms were sweaty from fear but I managed to walk from the shore across the giant granite blocks up to and around the lighthouse, then back to the shore without falling into a crevasse or dropping my camera. My friends offered encouragement all the way and gave me instructions on how to walk across the expanse of granite. I took this 53 second long exposure at the beginning of the breakwater using a tripod. We returned tripods to the vehicle and commenced the nine-hundred foot journey with just one camera and an extra lens in a pocket. Nikon Z7, Nikkor 24-200mm.
After spending almost all of Sunday in airports and on airplanes, Monday was a delightful day at sea level in Portland, Maine. My photo buddy Fausto and I decided to spend the day exploring an area near our hotel while we waited for our friends to arrive. We walked a half mile to the Warren Woods Trailhead down the road, then spent the next four hours meandering the trail discovering and enjoying the woodland area which is unlike forests we’re used to in California. The trees here are just starting to turn but because of a drought, many of the leaves are turning brown instead of red. The splash of light and the blush of red on two Red Maple leaves caught my attention. Despite the imperfection of these leaves, both under attack from insects, they are still quite gorgeous and a delightful hint of fall color. My Nikon Z7 and the new Nikkor 24-200mm were the perfect companions for the walk. What I forgot to slip into my pocket was the circular polarizer which was something I could have used to remove the reflections on some of the red leaves we did see.
Sunday was a travel day for me with flights from Sacramento to Seattle on to Detroit and then to Portland, Maine so it was nice to be able to chill for a while between flights at the Delta Sky Club in Seattle, my longest layover. When I visit a Delta Sky Club, I try to find a seat that is next to one of the windows so I can get a feel for what’s going on outside. At one point when I looked out, a Delta jet was maneuvering to its gate, precisely following the lines painted on the tarmac. I didn’t have time to get a camera out but I did have time to focus my iPhone as the jet moved directly toward me, then turned left following the line to arrive at its gate just outside the window where I sat.
This pair of Pine Siskins is devouring the seeds of the invasive common mullein at The Ranch in Montana. I had to laugh at the one on the back of the plant peeking at me with one eye. This plant is a non-native plant introduced by colonists in the 1700s from Mediterranean and Eurasian countries. The Pine Siskins seemed to love it. Nikon D6, Nikkor 500mm PF, Nikon TC 14EIII.
At 6:30AM Friday morning when I went out to get the newspaper, the full moon, setting in the west, was a shocking orange-red caused by the pervasive smoke spreading over Northern California mostly from the Glass Fire, our newest catastrophe to the west, and the Zogg Fire to the north. Looking at that orange-red orb, it all suddenly made sense to me after 67 years——the lyrics to “That’s Amore” that as a child had always baffled me: “When the moon hits your eye like a big-a pizza pie that’s amore.” I was 7 years old when that song was playing on the radio and since I’d never heard of pizza pie, I thought he was singing “piece of pie” and I couldn’t understand how the moon could ever look like a wedge of pie. Of course once I was introduced to pizza as a teen, I finally understood. And, Friday morning’s moon actually looked like a pepperoni pizza with lots of pizza sauce. Unfortunately, after I made that observation, the song has been an “earworm” playing over and over in my head. Nikon D6, Nikkor 500mm PF, Nikon TC 14EIII.
It was about 7:45AM, well past sunrise Thursday morning, when I left home for my walk. Three steps out the door looking east through my Live Oak, the orange sky surrounding the fiery ball of the sun compelled me to go back inside for my camera. I didn’t take the time to change lenses so my Nikkor 105mm f/2.8 Micro lens was on my Nikon Z7. The EPA Air Quality app showed a rather suspicious AQI of 18 but with all the surrounding communities already registering over 100 AQI. Lately I’ve been going by the sniff test, though: if I can smell smoke, I don’t walk and this morning I couldn’t smell smoke despite the obvious particulate in the skies. Wednesday afternoon we were suddenly inundated with dense, choking smoke and temperatures soaring above 100°. Except for the sky’s appearance, the smoke from Wednesday seemed largely gone but it was predicted to return Thursday afternoon.
There is something intriguing about the spatula-like beak of a Roseate Spoonbill. Although it is large, unwieldy looking, and vastly different from most other birds, it can sweep through muddy pond water to feel for its next meal, deftly preen its feathers, and carry sticks and twigs for its nest. In this image, the bright pink bird seems to be eating something, tiny bits of something are squirting from its beak. Taken in St. Augustine, FL several years ago, using a Nikon Df with a 600mm f/4 lens.
Today’s post features a pair of those adorable Bushtits who live somewhere in my garden and visit the fountain daily to bathe. This pair, a male (right) and a female (left), seem to be unable to decide whether to jump down into the water. Are they looking for the rest of their noisy little troupe? They never did jump in and left before any of the others joined them. Nikon D6, Nikkor 500mmPF, NikonTC14EIII.