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‘Shoein’. January 15, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
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Got out in a nice snow this afternoon – it was breezy and gray out, but the deep snow called to me, and who am I to snub Mother Nature?

So I headed up toward Rowe, bumper-plowed myself a parking space along a secluded section of Pelham Brook right about where it settles into a deep cleft in the woods, and ‘shoed up.

It was awesome.  Through the deep, deep snow I plunged steeply down, the combination of aerobic effort and the knowledge that this would be a very bad place to catch a tip and launch into the broken-bone-zone keeping me focused and on my game.

The snow muffled every sound except for my thumping heart, and by the time I reached the brook I was plenty warm.

I could hear a throaty rumble from beneath the rolling white hummocks where I knew the stream to be, and chose my line carefully as  I worked my way up, down and eventually across to the far bank:

There were a few long steps, and ultimately a leap down and across some tumbling open water, a move which I knew would be irreversible; I would have to find another way back across.

An hour of traversing a steep side slope, gaining and losing elevation as the terrain and forest dictated, brought me to a likely looking spot, and I went for it, succeeding with anticlimactic ease.

Truth be told, the climb back up to the road was the real reason for choosing this spot to test my new snowshoes, and I was delighted by their performance.  Their super-aggressive crampon design effectively prevented side-slipping, while the simple heel-lifting bale totally eliminated calf strain, a concern for me with my crappy right ankle.

All in all, an excellent first run.  Now I can set my sights on more adventurous outings!

Sun Through Clouds. January 13, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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As I was coming back over the hills this afternoon, the sun was struggling to break through blowing patches of mid-level clouds as winds whipped snow-burdened branches and filled the air with glistening crystals.  Six f-stops of graduated filters brought down the sky enough to capture this shot of a field in Windsor:

…and a bit later…

[I’m vamping for some space here

because these two pictures look horrible together,

though they look good separately,

so  I hope you’ll scroll through the site

and view them independently]

…this one of the forty inches reported in Savoy:

Both of these were timing challenges; to precisely position grad filters, the sensor needs to be exposed for “live viewing,” and can be damaged by straight-on sun shots, so most of the set-up had to occur while the clouds were thick enough to totally obscure the sun, with the final capture occurring just as the disk of the sun became apparent through the thinning clouds.

At any rate, the snow was deep, the light was fun, and once again, I dug it.

Big Snow, High And Low. January 13, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Got a whopper over the past two days, with snow totals ranging widely, but generally being impressive.

Down in the valleys we got walloped; here the Cold River barely makes it up for air beneath a weighty blanket:

…while up higher, this wind-swept meadow in Windsor sleeps tight beneath changing skies:

If you’ve been here since the beginning, you’ve doubtless seen variants ad nauseam of this scene, as it’s one of my favorites and draws me back through the seasons.  Pardon my repetitions, but it’s just what I do in my quest to get it right.

At any rate, it was a pretty substantial snowfall, and I’m diggin’ it.

Bog Pond, Savoy,MA. January 12, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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I got up to Bog Pond this afternoon, where I had previously photographed the sastrugi in my last post, mostly because I thought I’d missed an opportunity to walk around and see what the winds had wrought, knowing that we’re about to get a fair snowfall over the next twelve hours (it’s already begun,) and that the place would be significantly different tomorrow.

My walkabout proved to be uneventful and only minimally inspiring from a photographic point of view, but I found the solitude to be almost spiritual; the ice was highly textured and unexpectedly three dimensional, while the thin snow, carved into wind-scoured ridges and troughs, crunched and whined beneath my boots and ski poles.  I half expected a sudden glimpse of wildlife going about its business, perhaps a bear or big cat scavenging for a snack, but was disappointed on that count.  It may be that their superior sensitivity to things like the incoming storm had driven them to shelter, or more likely I was just too clumsy and noisy to earn an invitation to join to their polite society of locals.

In any event, I took a few photos, such as this one of the floating vegetative mats of leatherleaf, bog cranberries and other such things which make up the unique flora of Bog Pond:

The ice itself was a riot of cracks and crazes  and lumps and bumps of undiscerned origin:

By the time I took this one I’d been trouncing around on the Bog for at least an hour and had learned what  I needed to know – stay out of the yellow spots, which were soft enough to be preying on the snow above them, and stick to the smoky blue patches.  Failure to adhere to this rule resulted in wet boots and slowed progress, neither of which was a good thing here in the high country, where getting it right means getting home with all one’s fingers and toes intact.

Tonight we’re going to get a nice winter storm and, if the internets are to be believed, a healthy heaping of snow.  I hope they’re right about that – it will be beautiful!

Thanks again to Elliot for these shots; I don’t think I’d have gotten them without his ability to lay down a plain of focus on my surrounding reality.

Sastrugi. January 10, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Sprigs of goldenrod stand vigil as wind-whipped waves of ice particles reveal resistant ridges in this snow drift on the eastern shore of Bog Pond in Savoy State Forest:

Thanks to Elliot for this perceptual shift.





Driftin’. January 9, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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When I saw the windblown snow twisting past the kitchen window in twirling white tempests today, I resolved to head up to the local high country in search of drifts to photograph.

Well, one thing lead to another around this old house and I didn’t get out the door ’till it was nearly too late; I got up to Windsor just as the sun was setting behind thick, dark clouds.

I pulled off route 8A, leaving the motor running and flashers on as I waded into the knee-deep drifts to get this:

A little bit of pink in the overhead clouds tinged the snow nicely, even though the drift was unremarkable.

As the wind picked up and the air grew thick I packed it up and went a bit farther, looking for a better place to turn around, and came across a more interesting drift right in the break-down lane.  I’d just seen a state plow pass heading northward and estimated that I didn’t have much time before it hit the Savoy line and turned around, so I pulled over and jumped out into the elements, snagging this image of a crenellated crest of guardrail gargoyles standing sentinel over the southbound fog line:

I’d snapped off a few shots when I heard the scraping rumble of the plow coming up behind me and snatched up my kit, running toward the oncoming plow, its long steel wing bearing down on my 4Runner.  Fortunately the visibility was good; the driver saw me and slowed down enough for me to throw my still-on camera over the seat and take off intact.

I watched in my side view mirror as the plow hit the impossibly delicate formations, scattering them to the winds which had brought them.

Warwick In Winter… January 7, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
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…on a January afternoon:

That’s an hour or so east of home, up by the Northfield line.  Lots of gravel roads and not many houses.  The forest here runs up into New Hampshire and down into The Quabbin Reservoir, so there’s a lot of wildlife of the larger variety.

No jobs, though.

Later, – R


A Barn. January 5, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Politics and Society.
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Graves’ barn, to be precise, though I didn’t ask them for permission, so don’t tell them (both of you) that I used this photo:

I did nothing to this one after pushing the button, which says a lot about tilt/shift photography; the usually unavoidable vanishing point inherent in photographing tallish structures was herein turned into a vertical splay, giving a weight to these otherwise elusive structures.

This is all shift, no tilt, and as photos lacking a strong foreground element go, I like it a lot.

Morning In Amerika. January 5, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Uncategorized.
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I’m driving through the pinchingly cold pre-dawn air, a house-warmed camera and lenses on the seat beside me, up into the hills of Conway.  The eastern horizon cracks, emitting the long, low rays of the day’s first light.

I pull to a stop alongside a working farm, grasping for a piece of the morning’s glory, coming away with only this:

It was better than that, I swear, but my skills are rudimentary and my fingers were going numb.

I raced the rising riot of light to the valley floor, arriving in time to throw Elliot at this scene from the river’s edge, a lace of high-water ice suspended above a low-water dawn:

Tilt/Shift photography benefits from slow breathing and sensitive fingertips, but even lacking half of that equation, it beats sleeping in.

Short Bus Mystery. January 5, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death, Politics and Society.
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So way up in Colrain, along the side of a dirt road which dead-ends at a farm up in the hills, sits this Short Bus, bleached virtually white by its idle time and grown in amongst saplings of ever increasing girth:

Details tell a tale, but the message is muddled.  The smokestack reaching from the roof at mid-frame suggests a live-in Keseyan “Further,” while the back end’s heavy welded platform and cement mixer suggests…


Ah, Colrain, font of mysteries and birthplace of the tooth brush.