I’m Connor T. Please join me on my journey as I navigate the world as an independent young adult living with an autism spectrum disorder. I am a pianist, vocalist, percussionist, and photographer attending Berkshire Hills Music Academy in South Hadley, MA. I have recently become a member of the Doug Flutie Foundation for Autism and you can find me taking photos at their events! I love books, movies, music, fitness, travel and so much more! I would love to share my spectrum inspired thoughts, photographs and experiences with you!
Hey everybody, It’s me again back with another nature photography blog. Today, I’ll be talking about dragonflies and damselflies. I recently visited Greenways conservation area in Wayland MA, Great Meadows Wildlife Refuge in Sudbury, MA and Mass Audubon’s Broadmoor Wildlife Sanctuary in Natick, MA where I observed many different types of dragonflies and photographed them using my telephoto lens. And believe it or not, they actually came out great!
As you’ll learn later on, the thing all these areas have in common is they are marshy, swampy habitats, which is where dragonflies thrive! When you look at a dragonfly, you gotta look at it’s head, body and wings. The wings are very transparent, which is very cool. And their heads and faces with huge eyes look like aliens close up !
What Is a Dragonfly?
A dragonfly is a large, winged insects that exists on every continent except Antarctica. Dragonflies are noted for their large, flat wings and their vibrant colors, which can vary depending on the individual and the region in which it lives. Dragonflies also have large, compound eyes, often referred to as “bug eyes” that are noticeable from a distance. There are over 5,000 species of dragonflies all over the world.
Another word for a dragonfly is an Odonate. They are insects of the order of Odonata. Their large size, ease of viewing, insecting behaviors, and dazzling display of colors makes them one of the most attractive group of bugs for both scientists and the public to observe.
Odonates have three body segments (head, thorax, and abdomen), two pairs of wings, and three pairs of jointed legs. A pair of lounge compound eyes dominates the head. The fore and hind wings are roughly equal in size and attached to the thorax. The abdomen is elongated into a narrow segmented cylinder. Distinctive appendages at the tip of the abdomen in males are used for clapping females during mating.
Two suborders of Odonata occur in Massachusetts: Zygoptera- the damselflies and Anisoptera- the dragonflies
Here are some interesting facts about damselflies:
They typically hold their wings together above their thorax and abdomen while taking a nap. Damselflies are smaller and more delicate than dragonflies. Their eyes are widely separated on their heads and project to the side. Dragonflies are agile fliers, while damselflies have a weaker, fluttery flight.
Here are some facts about dragonflies:
• Dragonflies hold their wings out in a horizontal position while resting.
• Dragonflies are large and robust
• Their eyes are larger than in damselflies, sometimes touching each other along the midline of the head.
• Dragonflies are powerful straight fliers.
What Do Dragonflies Look Like?
Let’s talk about their appearance. Like all insects, the dragonfly’s body is made of three distinct sections; the head, abdomen, and thorax, and the dragonfly has an exoskeleton. The head on a dragonfly is the shortest part of its body, and has two short antennae. The total body of a dragonfly is 1-4 inches in length.
Dragonflies are also notable for their eyes. A dragonfly’s eyes cover most of its head and they can see nearly 360 degrees around them. Dragonfly eyes are separate on the sides of the head, and come together on the top of the head. Dragonflies have compound eyes, and have more color-proteins than humans. This means that they see the world like a mosaic with a million tiny pictures.
Studies are still being done on the way the dragonfly sees the world, but studies show that dragonflies have an incredible ability to see colors that humans can’t see, and in different shades and intensities, including ultraviolet light.
On the thorax, dragonflies have two pairs of wings and three pairs of legs. The wings are long, transparent, and “patterned.” A dragonfly’s wings are as unique as its coloring. Think of a dragonfly’s wings as similar to a leopard’s spots or a zebra’s stripes. They’re a mysterious, existing pattern in nature and scientists are unsure of how and why these patterns are formed.
Dragonflies are sturdy insects, as are their wings. The wings are connected to the body via a strong muscle, which allows the dragonfly to fly long distances at a high speed. In most species, a female’s wings are slightly shorter than a male’s wings. Dragonfly wings also don’t fold, like many other species of flying insect. So when a dragonfly lands, their wings stay horizontal to their bodies.
Where Do Dragonflies Live?
Dragonflies can be found all over the world. They typically stay close to water; most species of dragonfly spend the majority of their life underwater or close to the surface of the water. Depending on the species, dragonflies prefer ponds, marshes, or streams. Dragonflies are known for being picky about their habitats. If you see a dragonfly near a body of water, the water is probably pretty clean.
The Life Cycle of a Dragonfly
The life cycle of the dragonfly varies depending on the species, but most dragonflies spend the majority of their lives as nymphs, or baby dragonflies that live below the water.
Dragonflies lay hundreds to thousands of eggs. The length of time it takes for a dragonfly egg to hatch depends on the species. Some eggs can hatch within a few days of being laid by the dragonfly, and others take a several weeks.
After hatching, dragonflies spend most of their lives as nymphs, or immature insects, underneath the water’s surface. Depending on the species, a dragonfly can live in the water as a nymph for up to five years. As nymphs, the dragonfly molts several times under the water. Molting is a process in which an insect sheds its exoskeleton to make room for new growth.
The nymph eventually makes its way to the surface, where it stays and waits for its respiratory system to adjust to the air. Then the dragonfly finds a place to molt, and completes the process into adulthood.
After the dragonfly becomes an adult, it usually only lives for a few months, during which time it reproduces with other dragonflies. Most individuals are caught and eaten by predators.
Dragonfly behavior remains mysterious in lots of ways, but there are some notable dragonfly behaviors.
Dragonflies find a feeding area and stake out a “perch” where they can see their hunting ground. They usually stay nearby, defending their territory from other dragonflies or sometimes, other insects. Males in particular are known to be highly territorial, and even more so during breeding season, when females have to mate with them in order to lay eggs in their territory.
Dragonflies are strong and agile flyers. They are capable of flying over large bodies of water. They use a number of different flying techniques, which helps them hunt and cover a lot of ground when looking for mates. They can fly at speeds up to 34mph, though their cruising speed is around 10mph. Dragonflies are also known to hover.
What do dragonflies eat? Dragonflies are actually carnivorous. They have strong jaws with sharp teeth that they use for catching and eating, and primarily eat other bugs. Their diet consists of smaller bugs like mosquitos, moths, and butterflies. Dragonflies use their flying skills and excellent eyesight to pursue their prey.
When catching larger prey, the dragonfly will subdue it by biting its head and dragging it back to its perch. Nymphs are also aggressive hunters, eating most of the small living things they encounter underwater.
Dragonfly Facts You Need to Know
Dragonflies are extremely successful hunters, with an estimated 95% rate of catching the prey they pursue.
The green darner is a North America dragonfly species that migrates each year. However, they migrate individually, not in groups like birds.
Dragonflies are a key controller of mosquito populations. They can eat up to a hundred mosquitoes per day.
Some species occasionally meet in swarms. Scientists are unsure about what causes this behavior, but think it has something to do with hunting or mating.
Dragonflies are considered near perfect flyers, and they have been studied by scientists to see if replicating their structure is possible.
Dragonflies have been around for about 300 million years. Ancient dragonfly fossils show specimens with wingspans of up to two feet.
While dragonflies do have the ability to sting and bite, they rarely sting or bite humans
Dragonflies are hunted by birds, reptiles, spiders, and fish. It is estimated that 1 in 10 dragonflies species are endangered. They are threatened by the destruction of their wetland habitats.
In ancient times, people thought that dragonflies were actual dragons because of their flying ability and bright colors.
Dragonflies are often confused with damselflies, which are smaller, and fold their wings when they land.
I hope my photographs of dragonflies excite you and provide an opportunity to learn about nature and the ecosystem. Dragonflies may be over 300 million years old, but we are still learning about them and learning from them. I enjoy looking for them and taking pictures of these unique and beautiful insects. See you again soon! To see more of my photography, please visit my website https://spectruminspiredphotography.pixieset.com/
Hey Everyone, I’m back with yet another photography blog post. Well today I’m gonna show you some Panoramic Angle Shots. I’ve started doing this task for about 2 months, and had interest in photographing objects from different angles. One example of it is this rainbow flag seen in 4 different shots. The 4 images showing 4 different points of view are this multicolored flag. I photographed it moving around in different spots, and positioning myself in many ways.
There is also another example seen here. Easter Island head figurines from the Dennison Mills company downtown are shot from 3 different angles. In the first picture I’m standing in front of it pointing my camera straight on. In the second one I’m photographing it’s profile from a side view. In the third photo, I’m sitting down on the ground, using my zoom lens to get a close up detail shot.
Here are 3 more pictures I took on Cape Cod where I saw a jet skier flying his kite on the water. From the top, I took a close up shot of the kite in mid-air using my telephoto lens. I stood three inches away from it. I took other shots of it from a farther away point of view. In the wider angle photos, they display a layer of sand dunes that I’m standing next to, and the kite is flying off in the distance.
Well, I guess that’s everything. I took every picture from different angles, and only one different angle at a time. Each photo shows a different point of view of what I was photographing. Hope you all like it. I can show you more soon!
Hey, everyone. I’m back with another blogpost. These past weekends, my mom and I were out looking for osprey while taking weekend trips to Falmouth, Cape Cod. I took some amazing shots that I can describe to you all. I have some fun facts to share with you about osprey as well.
The osprey, or more specifically the western osprey, is also called a sea hawk, river hawk, and fish hawk. It’s a diurnal fish eating bird of prey with a cosmopolitan range. It is a large raptor, reaching more than 60 cm in length and 180 cm across the wings. It is brown on the upper-parts and predominantly grayish on the head and underparts.
Ospreys belong to the genus Pandion. The two species are eastern ospreys (Pandion cristatus) and western ospreys (Pandion haliaetus).
The osprey tolerates a wide variety of habitats nesting in any location near a body of water providing an adequate food supply. It is found on all continents except Antartica, although in South America it occurs only as a non-breeding migrant.
In Falmouth, we observed a lot of osprey nests and activity. Some activity is at the nearby bike path, and more at one of the local beaches. Ospreys build their nests out of twigs and twine that they pick up from the ground. Osprey nests are usually found no further than three miles away from water. The osprey build their nests high up in utility poles. We could see that the mom osprey was in the nest and busy looking after her newly hatched babies. Now here is a fun fact about that. Females can lay three eggs between mid-April and late May, which a speckled with beige and brown spots. Incubation lasts for 38 to 42 days. Eggs do not hatch at the same time. The first chick may hatch as many as five days before the last one, and the oldest chick often dominates over the younger nestlings. Osprey eggs take over a month to hatch.
One of the other fun things I saw is that the father caught a fish right in it’s beak. It flew right over to the nest brining it to the mother and baby osprey. I thought it was her lunch. As it’s other common names suggest, the osprey’s diet consists almost exclusively of fish. It possesses specialized physical characteristics and exhibits unique behavior to assist in hunting and catching prey. Other osprey fishing adaptations include spiny footpads called spicules, long, curved claws, and a reversible toe for grabbing. I was stunned to see that bird holding a fish between it’s talons, and it’s reversible toe is the sharp tool that snatched it.
I was never able to actually see the osprey babies, as the osprey parents do a very good job protecting them, and thee babies remain deep down in the nest. One of the nests that I’ve been visiting and observing over the past several weeks is now empty, which means the baby osprey have grown enough to leave the nest and learn to hunt for themselves! I will miss seeing all the nest activity, but look forward to searching for the young osprey out and about and learning to survive.
I hope you enjoyed learning more about these magnificent sea hawks and looking at my pictures!
Excited to share all my colorful bird photos with you!
Hey everyone! This is Connor Thompson here. Today, I’m going to talk about what has been going on throughout the Spring of 2020. Coronavirus has been spreading everywhere around the world. Everyone has been talking about it for quite some time. But lately, I’ve been trying to avoid it. During this crisis, I’ve been taking a lot of really good pictures. My camera has been my best friend. Together, we’ve taken pictures of everything we can find. Flowers, birds, nature, farm animals, etcetera. It’s been helping me pass the time. I have traveled to many parts of Massachusetts for nature hikes and exercise, always bringing my camera with me, and choosing between two different lenses. I’ve taken naturalistic pictures using both the regular lens and the telephoto lens.
My parents recently invested in two bird feeders. While shooting birds from the kitchen and living room windows, I practiced using my telephoto lens to get up real close; but it would require learning to carefully focus. The bird feeders attract finches, cardinals and bluejays. First, I’ll talk about blue jays. I had a hard time capturing blue jays, because they seem to be scared of my camera. They tend to fly off very quickly, and hide in the branches where you can’t see them. Here is a fun fact: A blue jay has a wingspan of 13 to 17 inches and flies at the speed of 20 to 25 miles per hour. Blue jay is diurnal bird. (active during the day). A blue jay is an omnivore. It eats seed, nuts, acorns, fruit, insects, eggs and young birds. I found them way to hard to focus. Now, the only thing those birds dislike is when my cat Fin scares them off. Every time he sees them getting close to the bird feeder, he jumps up and tries to claw at their feathered stomachs. It startles me when that happens.
Now it’s time to move on from that and start talking about cardinals. Cardinals are another one of my favorite type of bird. I’m not talking about the football team though. What I like about those cardinals that I often see in my backyard is that they are able to hold still while I shoot them. I like their red feathers, and orange beaks. People say that when a cardinal visits you, it’s the spirit of a lost loved one sending you a signal. I like to think the cardinals visiting my yard are my Papa Don saying “hello”.
I have also seen some golden finches. Golden finches are another one of my favorite bird. What I love about them is their yellow feathers and they tend to have good flying skills. But I have seen grey finches too. Those types of birds are like the sister to the golden finch, and I often see them in the back and front yards.
One other bird I have seen quite a lot of is the red winged blackbird. They can perch onto tall weeds and branches, so I shoot some sitting and and some flying, leading to some great pictures. I have seen some of those birds at Farm Pond in Framingham, in Quincy and all the way down in Marshfield. In the Scituate area, I captured the black starling below hanging around the harbor. And during another day trip to the Oliver Ames estate in Easton, I photographed these pretty blue tree swallows.
Lately I have visited Farm Pond in my hometown of Framingham where I encountered a flock of birds after giving birth to their babies. And because it’s springtime, it was time for those babies to hatch out of their eggs. A flock of Canada geese have given birth to six goslings last month, and boy were they cute. They almost looked a lot like real baby chicks when I noticed their feather color. What I also saw during my bird shooting experience were a family of swans and their young cygnets. Swans are birds of the family Anatide with the genus of Cygnus. I saw those birds, and boy they were just adorable as heck. Sometimes, swans are considered a distinct subfamily, Cygninae. In family life, the male swan, called the cob, helps the female known as a pen to look after their cygnets until they are about a year old. The young don’t spend more than one day in the nest once they hatch.
But that’s not all! Ducks are another type of bird that I saw and photographed. One of those examples is a green headed mallard. I took a picture of some of those, both flying through the air and swimming in the water. A mallard is a medium sized waterfowl species that is often slightly heavier than most other dabbling ducks. The female ducks are much less colorful than the males.
I visited Watertown during the crisis, and walked around Mt. Auburn Cemetery where I saw a great blue heron. I tried taking a picture of it attempting to fly right out of the pond, and sure enough they came out perfect. I find the blue heron tall and brave, and it’s beak looks the same size as a pelican’s beak.
Also at Mt. Auburn cemetery, some other visitors pointed out to me a hawk’s nest very high up in a tree. I saw the Dad hawk flying in circles, looking for food for his family. The Mama hawk stayed in the nest and guarded the babies.
Lastly, now that the weather is getting warmer, I have traveled to Falmouth on Cape Cod. Here, on my two favorite beaches — Falmouth Heights and Chappoquoit, I saw and photographed black cormorants and white heron.
Another adventure trip I took was to Beaver Brook Reservation in Belmont, MA. Here I saw some Sandpipers. This made me happy because my Nana’s house in Falmouth is on Sandpiper Circle. They are very cute birds, and I like the way I captured it’s reflection in the bottom photo.
As you can all see, I’ve had a great experience photographing and learning more about the many species of birds living near me in MA. I hope you enjoy looking at my pictures, and I plan to add more soon. I think I am no longer a junior photographer, thanks to all my flying friends. Now I have become a senior photographer.
Hey Everyone. This winter, I have been out taking nature photos, and I have all the photos from last week right here on display. I even captured some wildlife photos as well. I used my zoom lens to shoot close up images of the ducks and birds. You also can see here a reflection photo of trees on the pond. I also managed to find some vibrant red colors which is hard to come across in the winter time. So, have a look!
Hello, Everyone. Welcome to another photography blog post. Today, I’ll be discussing photos I took last week from South Hadley’s Village Commons. A few of the photos I took consist entirely of architectural structure and design. So enjoy every photo one by one. What I really like about these photos is how they were designed properly. Examples like that column in the form of a spiral. I like the different patterns I see on each building.
Hey everyone, I took a lot of photos of architecture and sculptures at Mt. Holyoke College. I was interested in doing this sort of thing, because as a young man, I have seen many old houses and buildings that have a lot of design and patterns on the exterior. My personal interest of architecture also stems from visiting Europe, and being dazzled by the unique looking buildings. I’m excited to share my photos with you, and I’m looking forward to exploring this side of photography more in the future. Enjoy!
So, Just last week, my Cousin Neil got married, and we celebrated his wedding on Nantucket. I’ve never been, so this was my first time going, and I was excited! I arrived back in Framingham safe and sound, and my parents helped me pack for my big trip. The morning we packed our trunk for Nantucket. We drove all the way to Hyannis where we got on a ship that took us away from Cape Cod and directly to the island. It was a smooth ride. Once we arrived, I smiled knowing that this adventure was gonna be exciting. All the sights and sounds of a new place I never visited in my life before would give me a chance to capture some travel photography.
Now let me show you everything I photographed during my vacation.
Now this is what I took the day of the wedding before the wedding started. Mom and I were strolling downtown, and spotted a funny statue of Einstein peddling a bike. I thought it would be fun to take a picture of it.
Bird in flight. This bird soars three inches above the ocean wave crashing in the sand. I took this picture one day after the wedding ended.
Another photo from the beach I took of this long jetty. A jetty is a structure that connects the land out into the water.
Hello. I would like to talk about an event I attended/photographed recently. This special olympics event was dedicated to a kind and active young man with special needs. His name is Zachary Sydney. What happened there was pretty sad but also very enjoyable. It was a nice tribute to this man. Zachary competed in SOMA basketball, and track and field. I feel happy I was able to capture some of that Special Event for him. Take a look at some of my photos from the day.
According to the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism website, Flutie Fellows:
Are young adults with autism who have been invited to work with the Flutie Foundation in support of the following objectives: Pursue career opportunities and related life goals. Promote respect, inclusion, and opportunities for all people with autism. Serve as ambassadors for Flutie Foundation.
Sunday, August 18th was the day of the 2019 Falmouth Road Race. As a Flutie Fellow, my job was to take pictures of the runners who ran to support the Doug Flutie Jr. Foundation for Autism, (Dougie’s Team), and also to take pictures of my two other Flutie Fellows. They are Kyle Grossman, who is from Fresno California, and Andrew Roberts, who lives in Northborough, MA. Kyle is a marathon runner, while Andrew is a sports reporter. And because I’m a photographer, my job was to take pictures of the runners and Kyle and Andrew in action.
Andrew was broadcasting live from the Finish Line, and his job is to interview both Kyle and I. Before the race had started, Andrew interviewed me twice, asking me which runner I’m looking forward to taking a picture of.
There were tens of thousands of runners from all corners of the globe and from other foundations, but I had my mind set on capturing Kyle as he crossed the Finish line! As Kyle crossed the finish line, I was ready for my moment. I took the picture of Kyle’s happy face as his fans applauded.
32-year-old Leonard Korir of Colorado Springs, Colorado, became the first American to win the Falmouth Road Race since 1988. Korir won in 32:11, beating four-time Falmouth champion Stephen Sambu and Edward Cheserek, who finished second and third, respectively.
Shortly after the race had ended, my parents and I walked over to the ball field across the street. We met up with Andrew and his father Ken, and Kyle and his parents at home plate. Here I took pictures of Kyle being interviewed by Andrew, who was performing his job as a talented sportscaster. So it’s a good thing for me I photographed two famous people! It was such a fun day, and it felt like a miracle to photograph this event, because looking up at Andrew while being interviewed made me feel like I was a celebrity on TV!
On the ball field and on the beach, I was able to photograph a couple more runners from Dougie’s Team.
The Falmouth Road Race was the first time all three Flutie Fellows got to meet each other and be together in person. It was really great collaborating with everyone and meeting their fantastic families! I look forward to doing it again soon!