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Round-lobed Hepatica

Bhavana and I went for another hike this afternoon in the Somerset County Sourland Mountain Preserve. The hike, a Wildflower Walk, was organised by the Sourland Conservancy Stewards. The hike was led by Jared Rosenbaum of Wild Ridge Plants, LLC. Jared is a naturalist advisor to the Sourland Conservancy’s Sourland Stewards program. We had met Jared's wife Rachel Makow. Rachel led a wild edibles walk through the Rock Mil Preserve two years ago, and we were a part of that.

Kiran and Shaan were supposed to come with us, but Shaan forgot he had a birthday party and bailed. Kiran had the sniffles, which she thinks is from allergies, so she stayed home.

The air was crisp and refreshing, but we soon warmed up as we stumbled along the rock-laden pathways. We traversed the rocky landscape while Jared shared his knowledge of the season’s first wildflower blooms. I don't remember the names of all the flowers Jared showed us, but this one was my favourite. I kept calling the trout lily, a yellow wildflower, the striped salmon. The group laughed every time I got it wrong.

I spotted the round-lobed Hepatica (Hepatica Nobilis var. obtusa) while walking, looking down as I moved along. It was one of two poking out from beneath the dry leaf bed. The ornate and mottled leaves are visible year-round. The furry-stemmed flowers arise in the earliest spring; fur on the stems and new leaves protects against April cold fronts. Solitary bees pollinate the hepatica, and forest ants disperse the seeds.

Round-lobed Hepatica (Hepatica americana)
Round-lobed Hepatica (Hepatica americana) · Saturday 25 April 2015 · Nikon D5100 · 90 mm f/2.8

The variegated and mottled leaves are visible year-round. The furry-stemmed flowers arise in the earliest spring; fur on the stems and new leaves protects against April cold fronts. Solitary bees pollinate them, and forest ants disperse seeds.

I rented the same Tamron 90mm f/2.8 SP Di VC USD Macro that I used for the vernal pool walk. I lit the flower with my Nikon SB-600 and a Rogue Flashbender.

Do ants disperse them? I never knew that ants were involved in the life cycle of flowers! You can find the entire photo set on my Flickr.

The Rock Brook in December

I shot these as part of one of my Arcanum Cohort assignments to level up. The Rock Brooks looks very stark in winter compared to spring.

While I wanted to try the technique of using the polarizing filter as shown in Lisa Bethany's video, I don't own a polarizing filter. But I do own a 9 stop Neutral Density (ND) filter which I've used a few times before.

I watched a lot of videos (about 30 minutes) in the Grand Library but few of the techniques were useful given my limitations of time and weather. In the future, I will need to choose my videos more wisely.

It rained most of this week and all day yesterday so the brooks and streams in my town are once again flowing with water. I revisited the Rock Brook along Hollow Road in Skillman, near the foot of the Sourland Mountain Range. A month ago the brook was dry with only a few pools of stagnant water.

I set up my tripod on the very edge of the brook and focused and composed my shot. I set the camera to aperture priority mode and set the lens aperture of the Nikkor 35mm f/1.8 lens to f/8. My Nikon D5100 has an APS-C sized sensor. It's smaller than a 35mm sized sensor which means that the FOV is smaller. The images will appear as though they are cropped. The Nikon APS-C crop factor is 1.5. That means that my 35mm at f/8 has the field of view and aperture of a 52mm (35 x 1.5) lens at f/12 (8 x 1.5).

Skillman, New Jersey, Rock Brook

I took note of the shutter speed and entered the values into an application called PhotoPils. PhotoPils helps computes the proper exposure time when using ND filters. Once I had the proper exposure computed I turned off the auto-focus on the lens, set the camera to manual, dial in the correct exposure, set my camera to use the remote-trigger, and fired off a few shots.

Camera shake is the enemy. To help reduce that I made sure to use the Live View feature on my Nikon. It looks up the mirror before exposing the sensor. This helps reduce vibration in the mirror box.

Despite having some decent sunlight it was very cold outside this morning. The air temperature was about 2ºC (~36ºF). I suffered some mild frostbite.

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The Rock Brook was dry

I had no idea how little rainfall we had in New Jersey this summer until I took a trip out to the Rock Brook in Skillman. I wanted to get some long exposures images of the water I normally see flowing in the brook but my wife wanted to pick up our produce from the Honey Brook CSA. I promised her that we could get my photography done, stop in at 365 Grandview for the Montgomery Friends of Open Space sponsored "Hike for Kids", and still make it to the CSA. We headed out to Hollow Road with our daughter deciding at the last moment to come along.

No long exposure photography at the Rock Brook on this occasion. The brook was dry and filled with leaves. But I love the colour of the leaves. I had left my Nikon in my car but I think this was fortunate. I didn't get to do any long exposures but I made good use of the available light offered by the day. I used the vividHDR app on my iPhone 6 to capture these images. I may have overdone the effect a bit. Yes, yes, I did.

Normally my daughter doesn't like posing for photos. Especially when I'm the photographer. But she seemed willing, yet not eager, to pose for a few photos on the rocks.

The little bit of water in the brook was filled with leaves.