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It’s Winter! December 30, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Like most of the Northeast, we’re having a bit of winter here in The Berks.  It’s pretty up in the hills, with scenes like this one, a late afternoon shot of a shoulder of Spruce Hill up in Florida:

We didn’t get as much here as many nearby areas did, but the roads were nonetheless slick with blowing snow for a couple of days, and the streams descending through hushed cascades offered me an opportunity to break out Gizmo for a few close-ups:


That last one was taken beneath a heavy overcast; I really liked the textures and palette which came through.


East Meets West! December 28, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
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Quite a while back, that is, in March of 2009, I was in California with my photo-buddy/housemate Lizz, when she stopped at roadside and suggested we take this photo:

We were at the western end of Route 6, and she sagely declared that the other end was closer to home and we’d get there someday.

Well, as happens with alarming frequency, she was right.  And though our end doesn’t have scenery like this :

…that’s a snow storm engulfing the High Sierra above Whitney Portal…

…it does have scenery like this :

That’s a fishing boat rounding the tip of Cape Cod on the Massachusetts coast.

As an aside, I had fun with that last photo on two counts.  First, it was a tilt-shift photo, courtesy of Elliot, my 24mm TS-EII lens, yielding pretty sharp focus from here to infinity; and second, because it was so hastily set up, I caught the trawler in mid-frame, and my daughter Ursula thought it would be fun to “mess with” the composition and encouraged me to stretch myself in Photoshop, moving the whole boat right in what turned out to be a pretty convincing foray into  the world of Photographic Art (as opposed to photo-journalism or pure “nature photography.”)

At any rate, “our” end of the road at Provincetown, MA wasn’t as spectacular as the Bishop, CA end, but it was fun to find this sign:

…with the “3,205 miles” matching the western one.

Hey, I’m easily amused!  😉

Cape Cod Lights. December 21, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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From Saturday, a trip out to the Cape with Miss Lizz driving.

Frau B. woke me at 4am (again) and we headed east.  She knew just where she was going, and I was glad I wasn’t driving – it’s just not my neck of the woods.

A couple of hours and two big coffees later we pulled into Woods Hole just in time to catch twilight and dawn at Nobska Light:

That thirty second exposure sees Venus (in the upper right) transit enough to look oblong.  I’d like to see that as a much longer exposure, with Venus leading the star tracks across the deep blue sky.

Nobska Light was decorated for the season:

…as were, we would soon find, most of the lights we would encounter on our meanderings.

The coastline here is tall and proud and still rocky enough to build bulwarks of bullet-proof granite to forestall erosion:

Farther out the Cape is not much more than beach sand, in fact a terminal moraine left from the last Ice Age.  We’ll see more of that in a subsequent post.

Lizz had gone off ahead, and was getting set up for The Sunrise Moment when I caught up with her:

I was trying to capture some wave action, but this locale was a bit too protected by Nantucket to offer very much in that vein:

Finally His Highness made a dramatic entrance:

Not as much high cloud action there as a “nature photographer” might wish for, but still, I think, enough to justify the 4am start.

More to come from the other end of the day, out at the other end of the Cape!

The Prodigal Guy… December 20, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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…returns, after several days without internet service (during which I rudely ignored your kind comments) followed by a couple of days away from home, and now heading into the happy maelstrom which is Christmas.  Balls have been dropped, as I’m sure many more will be before we rest with our errands run and our bellies distended.

And then, of course, come The Resolutions and The Gym and the Long Night which is Winter in these parts.

But for now, a quick update:

We’re back on line, with two dead modems, a bone to pick with Verizon, and a butt-load of Cape Cod photos to process (from the “couple days away.”)

But the processing may take a little time, and there’s a total lunar eclipse tonight (weather permitting) and I’m trying to get some dinner made to gird my loins for a three AM foray into the night to see it, so I’m not promising too much tonight other than this pre-Cape-trip photo of a Turners Falls church reflected in Barton’s Cove at sunset:

I dug how the flaming clouds hung below the startlingly blue dome of the sky.

Anyway, I’m hoping to hoover some Mexican chicken and work on photos ’till 3am, and if I get something in presentable form before The Moon Thing happens I’ll post it.

Otherwise, this is “G’night!”


A December Night. December 13, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death.
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It’s snowing, or approximating snow as it does in these parts.  The darkness outside the kitchen window is populated by fleeting visions of white, whirling, driven, then gone like thoughts, to be replaced by others doing different dances, now fast and frantic, then slow and lazy, drifting aimlessly earthward before catching a gust and getting gone.

The wind rises, pours past like a rushing river, a torrent of souls bound for who-knows-where, each fleck and flake bursting into existence and as suddenly vanishing, taking its moment in time with it, never to return.

Out beyond the kitchen window prayer flags beat themselves to shreds, giving up ghosts of frayed filaments for the old folks with no living friends, the working Joes with no jobs, the children whose futures are as dusty and hungry and pointless as their pasts.

Inside, the quavering whistle of the singing tea-pot reels me back from the beyond, back to the now of the night, the need for another log in the wood stove, the realization of just how blessed my penny-counting life is in a world where warmth in winter is a fabled commodity.

I’m grateful for the cold, and grateful that it’s out there.

Ice! December 12, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in climbing, Love and Death.
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In the mid-70s a rock climbing friend introduced me to the world of ice climbing, and I’ve been a supplicant ever since.  Something about the surreality of being suspended on a slippery surface above a world of whirling white is so transporting that my fondest memories of my most significant climbs are but dreams, with trepedacious beginnings  and triumphant endings bracketing a phantasm of terror and bliss which isn’t easily explained to a non-climber.

I’ve been worshiping at the impermanent altar of ice for the last thirty-five years, and it’s never failed to tie my stomach in knots, cause my knees to buckle and draw from me the kind of impossible effort which lifts life from a mundane plane to sublime heights.

This winter I’m counting on a kind of rebirth, after the death of my rotator cuffs, of the dream of flying over a frozen landscape.  I’ve been hitting the gym in search of my formerly physical self, and while I’ll never again be young and whole, I’m determined to be all that I can presently be (short of joining the Army.)  I’ve gone from the clinically proclaimed impossibility of doing pull-ups to my present situation of doing four sets of twelve, a tribute I suppose to the power of feeble mind over decrepit matter.

This Saturday was the season’s first intersection of ability, opportunity and conditions, and I assembled the necessary gear to give it a go.

The nearby Zoar roadcuts were in really nice condition for a December technique tune-up, and I took advantage of it, hefting the tools, finding my balance, and relaxing into the rhythm, kick-kick, stand, swing, center, kick-kick:

The thirty-foot sub-vertical pillars ceded me the freedom of going ropeless, concentrating on the flow of climbing in liew of the technicalities of engineering a protection system, and I exulted in the freedom of movement in the improbable realm of frozen verticality.

After several seasons of loss and longing, it felt great to be flowing again.

It also offered me a chance to try my camera’s new wireless remote release, clicking away as I worked up the ice, and bringing you this shot.

Now that I know how it works, I’ll be boring you to tears with my new toy.

May the Force be with you!

Meanwhile, Up River… December 12, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Saturday turned into a pretty nice day, with thin clouds interspersed with breaks of sun.  I left my sunrise shoot in Shelburne Falls and headed up river to enjoy the nascent winter scenery.

The Chickley river in West Charlemont was looking pristine, with its ice hummocks steeped in deep-green waters:

Its tributaries, cascading over ledge drops, built ice castles along the way:

I really dig the forms ice takes as streams plunge and burble their way toward the sea.

We have a lot of that around here, with our abundance of topographical relief, and our innumerable rivers and streams.  Be patient with me, as I’m in love with this stuff and bound to get repetitive as the winter rolls on.

Salmon Falls Sunrise. December 12, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Saturday’s sunrise wasn’t what I’d hoped for, that is, worth getting up in the pre-dawn darkness on my day off.  The skies were primarily densely overcast, with an unfortunate clear band on the eastern horizon.

While it didn’t result in the glory I had witnessed in my rear view mirror on the way to work on Friday, it did make for this interesting reflection shot:

Shooting into the sun is always tricky, but I liked the “ghost” in the lower part of the shot, which rescues the placid waters above the Shelburne Falls dam from being a pointless swath of gray.

The falls themselves were beginning to ice up, and I took advantage of the low light to get this long exposure:

Here’s a closer look at a part of that scene, with the light having come up a bit as I snapped away happily in the brisk morning air:

As morning broke full-on, I headed up river for a day of chasing water and ice.

More on that as I process the pics.

President Sanders. December 10, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society.
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‘Nuff said.

Caught! December 9, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death.
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…by Susan very early one November morning, fiddling with a graduated filter up on a ladder in Windsor:

I was rushing toward a sunrise and didn’t even see her take this picture with her cell phone, but I’m glad she did – I spend a lot of time behind a camera, and it’s interesting to see what that looks like.

Thanks, Susan!