My Winter Front Door–Framed

Sunroom Lights

I have been wanting to photograph these lights, which run along the edge of the ceiling of my sunroom and reflect magically in the various panes of glass. I just couldn’t come up with an interesting composition. One evening recently I was exploring the multiple exposure feature of my Nikon D850 camera body. This allows the photographer to make several exposures, which the camera then combines into a single image–and a raw file, at that. The D850 allows for three various ways of merging the images–average, add, or darken. Previous Nikon cameras only averaged the gain, or brightness, of each image. With the darken mode, the camera chooses the darkest parts from each frame; conversely, with the lighten mode, the camera chooses the brightest parts from each exposure. Here is the result of a composite of six exposures, using the lighten mode and aiming at the corner of the ceiling.

Sunroom Light Flower

This experimentation led me to try multiple exposure of my front door in its winter dress. I tried two exposures, adjusting for the brightness of the light and wreath. I then wanted to frame the door with the sunroom lights and two additional exposures. The result was not pleasing, since I needed to do some perspective control on the doorway. So, this final image is actually a post-processing composite of four images: two of the door, controlled for perspective and blended for exposure, and two of the lights, one along the side and one at the top.

Winter Doorway-Framed

New Additions to Providence College Campus

PC Science Complex

This new building, the Science Complex, opened with the Fall 2018 semester. Shown here in its night-time illumination, the building contains the administrative offices for the science departments, as well as new, state-of-the-art classrooms and laboratories. One room that I use occasionally houses the confocal microscope, about which you will hear in a later post.

PC Torch

This torch sculpture reflects the significant character of the Dominican Order’s founding of Providence College. While pregnant, Blessed Joan of Aza, Saint Dominic’s mother, had a dream of a dog holding a torch. She understood this to signify that her child would light a fire across Europe with his preaching. Early saints in the Dominican Order include, of course, Saint Dominic, Saint Catherine of Siena, Saint Thomas Aquinas, and Saint Albert the Great. Albert, for whom the Albertus Magnus science building is named, would have appreciated the following image of the torch and the waxing crescent moon.

PC Torch With Moon

Ruane Center for the Humanities

Ruane Window

This magnificent window graces the Great Room in the Ruane Center for the Humanities at Providence College. The window was designed by artist Sylvia Nicholas, a stained glass master who lives in New Hampshire. Sylvia Nicholas also designed the stained glass windows in the St. Dominic Chapel, as well as several sculptures located throughout the campus. This masterful display of major figures in philosophy, history, science, and other areas of the humanities, was installed in the Fall 2017 semester, following the building’s dedication four years earlier. To see details of the individual panes, simply explore the galleries for each row, below. How wonderful to see Darwin next to Gandhi and Shakespeare next to Galileo! These are the sorts of juxtapositions one has the liberty to explore in a liberal arts education.

Row 1 (Top)

 

Row 2 (Second from top)

 

Row 3 (Second from bottom)

 

Row 4 (Bottom)

Biological Imaging–Part I

Newborn squid

Retirement has its perks. In my case, I can audit courses at Providence College tuition-free. I decided to take advantage of this benefit during the Fall 2017 semester, and enrolled in Biological Imaging. “What’s that?” I’m frequently asked; “Photography through microscopes” is my answer.

Grass seed head

So far we have used stereo, or disecting microscopes and compound microscopes. How it works is that you remove one of the eyepieces on the scope and replace it with your camera. I have been using a Camranger to control the camera from a computer.

Sand dollar

We have mostly been photographing marine organism, but did get some early practice with prepared slides and flowers.

Scallop eyes

There are several challenges in this type of photography. First, controlling the light and white balance can be difficult. Another challenge, due to the extreme magnification, is that depth of field is extremely shallow. I have found good results with focus stacking, however, which provides one way of overcoming this limitation.

Enjoy this initial collection of images under the microscope!

Osprey Monitoring

Osprey in Flight

Every week, from April through August, volunteers in Rhode Island head forth to check on Osprey nests. The monitoring program, overseen by the Audubon Society of Rhode Island (ASRI), is a model for efforts in other states. The monitoring of Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) in RI began in 1977 by the RI Department of Environmental Management, and was taken over by ASRI in 2010. With one exception, data on Osprey nesting has been collected every year by citizen volunteers. Osprey numbers have increased annually, once the use of DDT was outlawed. The pesticide DDT accumulated in the food chain, causing major problems for birds like Osprey and Bald Eagles (among other species). DDT caused the shells of eggs to be thin, so thin that the weight of adult birds crushed them as the adults tried to incubate the eggs. Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring highlighted these impacts, as well as the harmful effects of other pesticides, helping to jump start the modern environmental movement. Once DDT was outlawed in the United States, Osprey, Bald Eagles, and other species began to return in numbers and to locations they had previously enjoyed. Monitoring and reintroduction programs began. I am responsible for monitoring four nests this year, three in Hopkinton, RI, and one in West Greenwich, RI. Three of the four are active, meaning they are occupied and the adult birds appear to be incubating eggs or attending to young. In all cases it is not possible to see into the nests, so I have to judge from the adults’ behavior.

Osprey have several popular names: fish hawk, fish eagle, river hawk, and even sea hawk. As these names suggest, they eat fish exclusively, but are neither eagles nor hawks. Rather, Osprey are the sole species in their biological family. They are a holarctic species, meaning they are found throughout the northern continents of the world. Osprey occur on every continent except Antarctica, although they do not breed in South America, heading south in winter months from their nesting territories in North America. Osprey always fly with their wings crooked in an “M” shape and have a dark patch on their “elbows”, actually the equivalent of their wrists. They have scales on their toes that help them grasp fish, which they capture by diving. Unlike eagles and hawks, Osprey can rotate one toe backwards, better enabling them to hold their prey with two toes forward, two backward.