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A Quickie. July 25, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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An afternoon rain brought cooler temps this evening, perfect for getting out with The Box.

Black spruces in evening light:

This was taken up at The Patten in Shelburne, looking north as the sun was seriously contemplating setting.

Hope your weekend was relaxing.

G’night.

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A Day In The Life. July 24, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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It’s been hot and steamy here of late, both day and night.  I’ve been getting home from work drenched and filthy with concrete dust.  It’s about all I can manage through my torpor to take a shower, have some dinner and lie naked in front of a fan ’till sleep comes.

So it’s been a while since I’ve felt much like photo-hunting, much less blogging; my apologies to those of you who come here regularly.

Nonetheless I have gotten a few shots, here cobbled together to represent the best of this stretch of summer.

Hope you like them.

Morning fog on the Deerfield river:

Cattle grazing under an interesting sky:

A cornflower (chickory) blossom echoes the clean colors of a July sky:

Two little frogs waiting for their lunches to be attracted by a pond lily:

A gibbous moon rises over a cornfield in mid-afternoon:

Cumulus clouds over a hayfield at dusk:

A fiery sunset:

And finally, last light reflected in a Windsor bog:

I’m looking forward to autumn and a full resumption of shooting and blogging.

The Swimmin’ Hole. July 14, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death.
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…At the confluence of the North River and the Deerfield, last Sunday.  It was hot, but not too, and there were lots of people cooling off:

Well, there were dozens, and around here that’s a lot.

Ursi, my younger Grrrl, was visiting from Boston.  We lounged in the sun and shade, drank a little wine, ate like piggies, and both took pictures:

It was lovely and relaxing and a much-needed time for reconnection.

About Town. July 13, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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An evening walk from Shelburne to Buckland along, you guessed it, the Bridge of Flowers:

Man, these folks put a ton of forethought into this local gem, as well as plenty of good ol’ elbow grease.

A Crocosmia,  common name “Lucifer:”

An Eryngium,  or Sea Holly, cultivar “Blue Saphire:”

…very cool plant, a favorite of the Bridge’s bees:

I put my camera away at least three times, only to take it out again as the light changed:

Looks like the lawn ain’t gettin’ mowed tonight.

Bummer.

😉

Ruby Tuesday – Another One From The Bridge. July 12, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, macro photos, Ruby Tuesday!.
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At the risk of boring you all, here are a couple more from the Shelburne Falls Bridge of Flowers.

A Scarlet Ruby begonia:

…and a blossom of Crocosmia, here of the cultivar Lucifer:

…both boldly rubilicious.

Thanks to Mary over at Work of the Poet for this beautiful meme.

“Daddy, Why Do They Call Them ‘Red-Tailed Hawks?'” July 11, 2010

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Well, Sweetie, it’s like this:

Their tails are kinda red.

At The Gilsom Gorge. July 10, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
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OK, so “gorge” might be a stretch to people who live elsewhere, but here in New England we use the word to refer to a narrow watercourse.

The Ashuelot river flowing through Gilsom, NH, fits this bill.  It tumbles through and around boulders deposited millenia ago in the Gilsom Gorge, a short stretch of the Ashuelot river just south of Gilsom, NH.

Upstream of the gorge sits the Gilsom Arch Bridge:

A pre-Civil War structure of some significance, as it’s un-mortared, held together by gravity, and rather large for that sort of thing:

…”dry-laid” meaning that it’s just a pile of stones, and 148 years later, it looks absolutely mahvelous :

and yeah, automobile traffic regularly transits this span.

Downstream, the Ashuelot river wends a tortuous path through a maze of boulders, creating deep pools which attract summer fun seekers:

…the boys sliding down this thirty-foot monster ’till their balls reappeared and they jumped (probably from higher than I would have managed) and the Grrrl taking it from the top:

She soared, she sailed, she splashed down, she emerged smiling.  She was beautiful in her young strength and courage, and left us mere male mortals in the dust.

I am humbled.

Daucus v. Cicuta July 8, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, macro photos.
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That would be Daucus carota,  or wild carrot, compared to Cicuta virosa, commonly referred to as poison hemlock.

Yeah, that Socrates stuff.

They’re very similar looking plants on the outside, but that’s where the similarity ends.

In fact one, “wild Carrot,” also known as Queen Anne’s Lace, has a tap root which is edible and delicious.  Unfortunately for many people each year, poison hemlock has a similar tap root containing a respiratory depressant, a paralytic in fact, which results in the deaths of its hapless ingesters by suffocation as their diaphragms stops doing their jobs.

Fortunately, Wild Carrot has a calling card which helps to safely identify it: a tiny red flower in the middle of its white umbel:

This one is a typical dark blood-red, and the young umbel is still in-curled; when fully open it will present a broad dome of complex white flower clusters, something like this:

…but this last shot is conspicuously lacking a central red blossom; in fact, it’s a Cicuta,  or poison hemlock.  They’re similar enough that one need stop the car and get out to ascertain their identities.

One thing they seem to have in common is that they’re nearly all inhabited by tiny tenants.  Perhaps it’s because so many, many flowers are arrayed in this particular geometry, all facing the same way, all within lazy walking distance of each other, so that one need not even raise a wing to get from here to there, but at any rate, they’re a favorite of pollinators, like this quarter-inch long wasp:

And, you know, where the sheep graze, wolves will congregate:

I think this half-inch spider’s gonna trump that quarter-inch wasp.

But hey, I’m just a dumb human, so what do I know?

A Weekend In The Whites, Part II: The Alpine Garden. July 6, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, macro photos.
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So up from the truck we went, through varying degrees of blowing clouds and sunshine.  The scene changed from moment to moment, with the sky alternating between a flat white:

…and bright blue as the clouds blew by :

Those are Mountain Avens blooming in the grass surrounding a cairn.  They’re really pretty little flowers:

The changing conditions made the day’s photography an organic process:

…with periods of wind dictating a quest for larger images like this krummholz below a high shoulder of the main summit, and fogs necessitating a more ethereal perspective:

That’s the Mother of All Cairns, a ten-footer at the head of the homicidally steep Huntington’s Ravine trail.

…And occasional clearings showing blooms of Mountain Phacelia:

…and other assorted flora, like these patches of gone-by dwarf azaleas drifting in and out of the clouds:

Up close, they were fascinating:

We shot for hours, Lizz at home among the clouds rising to engulf her, absorbed in her work as a phalanx of mountains retreated into atmospheric obscurity:

…me turtling over my macro lens, trying with limited success to capture the intricate beauty beneath my feet:

Those are cranberries set among staghorn lichen.

And Earth Tongues:

…and the delicate, denuded roots of the ubiquitous krummholz, graced by Pixie Cup lichens:

…these last several having been taken from a couple of inches’ distance.

All in all, a beautiful morning spent in New England’s high peaks:

…with a dear friend who taught me most of what I know about photography:

A Weekend In The Whites, Part I: Road To The Sky. July 5, 2010

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Lizz (Frau B.) and I went to the White Mountains of New Hampshire the last weekend of June, with hopes of finding Mount Washington’s Alpine Garden in bloom.

I love the Whites, which sport many peaks around four thousand feet high:

…and a bunch of wild rivers cascading over beds of granite:

The mountains are rugged enough to attract technical climbers from around the world, with magnificent sweeps of granite like the thousand-foot East Face of Canon Mountain, which Lizz and I have each climbed countless times in both summer and winter:

…though sadly, never in each other’s company.

Perhaps one day soon we’ll right that wrong.

And while Westerners might scoff at the Whites’ paltry elevations, the confluence of several major storm tracks over this particular patch of real estate makes for some of the most extreme conditions on Earth.  Mount Washington, for instance, held the record for land-based wind speed measurements for many years, the Big Number being 231mph, at which point the anemometer blew away.

That’s windy.

Anyway, the prospect of finding arctic flora blooming on the wind-swept upper expanses of Mount Washington prompted us to put our prides aside and take the (expensive) Mount Washington Auto Road to a high point and commence hiking from there, something which we had both previously eschewed in favor of the long hike up, but at this point (and age,) it seemed like a better use of our time.

We drove up Saturday afternoon to scope out the parking, as we expected to be photographing in the wee hours of Sunday morning and didn’t want to have to nail the logistics in the dark.  I drove, and didn’t get very far before disappearing into dense clouds, windshield-wiper clouds, as the road wound steeply upward.  There wasn’t a guard rail in sight, not the whole way, just a sickening void to my right, no pavement markings (and for a ways higher up, no pavement) to differentiate the road to the summit from the road to hell, and each time a pair of dim downward-bound headlights appeared through twenty feet of atmospheric pea soup I pulled closer to the edge of this precarious lane-and-a half, recalling a time out West when such an encounter had removed both my and their side-view mirrors.

With the exposure to my right growing to three thousand feet, I didn’t relish a repeat performance, and I white-knuckled it to the summit and back down, with a break at the top to regain my composure and do a bit of wiping up.

These shots, taken on the way down on Sunday (when the weather was better,) give a little sense of what the drive was like.

A professional van bombs nonchalantly up an accomodating section of road, where widely spaced boulders would either keep one on the road or accompany you on your last tumble:

…with the requisite clouds rising up from The Great Gulf which separates Mount Washington from Mounts Jefferson and Adams.

And then, of course, there are sections where nothing but nerves divide you from eternity:

This was tons of fun with the visibility down to a couple of yards.  I didn’t envy Lizz’s powerless position as passenger, though our roles were reversed on Sunday when these shots were taken.

Higher up, at least on Sunday, we found ourselves above the clouds, with the gentler upper slopes belying the terminality of erring onto the non-existant shoulder:

That, my friends, would be a helluva role-over.

And across the way, rising above the early morning atmospherics, the insular Mount Adams poking at Heaven:

That last shot was taken from the trail; more on that to follow.