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Good Morning! June 30, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Just a quick shot of Morning in America to let you know I’m still alive:

We’ve had far too much rain these past many days for my liking, making for soggy lawns and molding gardens.  I’ve put my order in for some sun this coming weekend; we’ll see how that works out.  😉

Road Trip, Part III – The Road Home. June 26, 2011

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So after we both had stupendous omelets at a breakfast place in North Conway, Lizz went off to scout Autumn foliage shoots for some friends who would be coming by in October, and I set about noodling my way home.

Being in North Conway, and having frittered away the better part of my youth rock climbing there, I was drawn to the two big ledges looming over town.  I started with Cathedral Ledge:

…four hundred feet of splitter cracks and corners, providing some of the most satisfying climbing in the East.  There were plenty of Young Bucks (and Does, presumably) engaged in The Frittering this day, including a party on The Prow, a steep line up the tallest feature on the cliff:

I did this route too many years ago to recall much besides the weight of the load in my pants and the exhilaration of flowing upwards with the trees below looking like moss.  The top-out was a mixture of relief and disappointment, with the last step signalling both safety and the end of the adventure:

But on this day I was only an observer.  I took the photo and moved on, driving to the top with clean shorts and a diminished appreciation for life.

A short hike took me to a view of White Horse Ledge, another of my old haunts.  It’s totally different in character, slabby rather than steep, but lacking anything like positive holds and requiring delicate balance and precise footwork:

I’ve found the climbing here to be much more Zen-like, with the finality of a misstep mitigated by the focused flow of upward motion.  No thoughts about the terminal road-rash of 800 feet of Dynamic Retreat are allowed as one balances upward on unseen bits of friction.

But then it was time to head out and begin the Southward trek.  I headed down past Conway, where the Swift River flows into the Saco:

…beneath a scenic covered bridge:

…where butterflies played on hawkweed:

…and dragonflies warmed their wings in the cool summer sun:

… then headed up the Kancamagus Highway through the Pemigewasset Wilderness toward home:

The trip was short but sweet, with good company, great memories and the rejuvenating essence of Nature all around.

Then it was back to the Real World of work and home.

And that’s OK too.  😉




Road Trip, Part II. June 25, 2011

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So where were we…

…oh yeah, coming down Mount Washington in thick clouds and high winds.

We got down below the swirling cloud cap and the worst of the winds and started seeing some Alpine flowers, not the sub-arctic rarities we had hoped for, but hey, we’d come this far for photos, so we stopped to get what we could.

Along the road we found Bunchberry:

Lapland Rosebay:

Labrador Tea:

Mounntain cranberries:

…and Diapensia:

These are showing their little red buds, but haven’t quite blossomed yet.

In an ideal world, these would have been captured as tilt-shift photographs with expansive mountain views, but given the still-high winds, that was not to be.

This time.  I’ll be back.

By now Lizz and I were ready for breakfast, so down to town we went.

Stay tuned for Part Three.  🙂

Road Trip, Part I. June 23, 2011

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Spent part of last weekend traveling up to New Hampshire’s White Mountains, intending to take advantage of one of three “Sunrise Opening” days on Mount Washington’s auto road, giving photographers and romantics a chance to see the sun come ’round the bend from atop one of the East’s most spectacular mountains.

This presupposes that the weather will cooperate, which is a totally daft thought to those of us who know the mountain well; we’ll get to that part soon enough.

At any rate, the ride North on Saturday afternoon started out splendidly, then devolved into periods of rain:

That’s approaching Franconia Notch, with Canon Mountain on the left and Mount Lafayette on the right.

The sun popped in and out all afternoon, illuminating splendid views of fields of lupines:


…and wild rivers, this one the Ammonoosuc:

The Whites hold countless places for swimming and trout fishing, and plenty of places to stay if you like.  The Mount Washington Hotel, anyone?

…complete with its namesake looming over it to the east.

The surrounding forests range from birches:

…to boreal:

By the time I connected with my friend Lizz, the clouds had moved back in to obscure the sunset:

We waited expectantly, but Jesus was a no-show.  It’s just as well, as we needed to be in line at the toll road gate by 3:30 the next morning.

And we were, along with a couple of dozen other crazy folks.  We’d checked the weather report for the summit and were dressed for high winds and temps in the upper thirties.  Not everyone on the road was, though – a little convertible sports car with a very fashionable couple in it passed us, hastening, as the say, the Darwinian Eventuality.

The light began to come up as we broke tree line, along with the wind, which howled mercilessly, buffeting Lizz’s truck alarmingly.  I thought grimly of the little convertible up ahead of us.

Lizz stopped at a small pull-out, and we braved the elements long enough to catch some views of Mt. Adams across the Great Gulf:

The lenticular cloud above it signaled high winds, and as advertised, it was brutal, freezing our fingers into clubs and tossing us around like puppets, negating the possibility of “keeper” photos.

We jumped back in and continued onward through thick cloud banks and sixty mile an hour winds, quickly losing the light and any semblance of a view as the appointed time of sunrise approached.  By the time we reached the summit parking area I had all but given up hope for a decent sunrise photo, when suddenly, through pea-soup clouds, an orange glow grew into a fiery blaze.  We dashed out for a hastily set up shot:

My tripod was splayed ridiculously low to elude the wind, but even so, I had to crank the ISO obscenely to counter camera shake in the tempest.  Without Image Stabilization lenses I wouldn’t have gotten even this!

Through thinning clouds the light came up, revealing the Lunar landscape of the high flanks of the mountain, a thousand feet above tree line:

We had hoped to photograph the wildflowers which bloom this time of year, tiny things found few other places below the Arctic circle, but were forced by the fierce wind to abandon that idea in favor of general scenic vistas.  Here’s a shot of Boot Spur across Tuckerman’s Ravine:

The weather observatory towers on the summit buildings, just out of view:

…and a self-portrait, me and Mount Washington writ large across the landscape:

Land form shadows like that aren’t something I see every day here in the East, so I spent a while hunkered down behind a boulder, just diggin’ it.

About the time we were thoroughly chilled through, the clouds rolled back in and we turned and headed back down the mountain, hoping to get below the wind before we got below the wildflowers:

We succeeded, but that will have to wait for Part II.




Here And Gone… June 20, 2011

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Sorry Folks, connectivity problems, it’s been taking an hour to check my mail, and sometimes even that doesn’t work.  We may have it licked (I mean, I’m posting this,  aren’t I?) in which case I’ll have a full report of last weekend’s adventures up in a day or two.

Meanwhile, carry on, My Friends!  🙂

Falling Waters. June 17, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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It’s been a rainy week here in Western Massachusetts.  Not full-on rainy, but rather, storms blowing through most days:

Lots of these anvil-shaped summer storms, lots of morning fogs.  Lots for the farmers to be thankful for as the planting season swings into high gear:

Streams which are frequently dry this time of year are cascading down from the hills:

…turning things pretty verdant:

Those last two shots were taken on Mount Toby in Sunderland; the next two are of Black Brook in Savoy:

…on a rainy afternoon after work:

Beyond the forest’s edge, the flowers of the fields soaked it up, exploding in riots of color:

…with daisies reaching up past red and yellow hawkweeds and clovers, toward the eventual sun breaking through steely skies:

If we get a modicum of sun over the next few weeks, this will be a stellar growing season.

But then, this is New England, so we’ll get what we get.  😉

Thanks to Elliot for most of these shots, and Ollie for the rest.




Summer Colors. June 13, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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By the looks of the fields around these parts, the Summer season seems to have begun (despite being quite a few degrees cooler than that today!)  Roadside fields have either already had their first cuttings, or are burdened with a Serengeti of tall grasses laced with the colors of the season, brilliant yellows and purples, as in these Buttercups and Cow vetch blossoms:

…or a palette of cool pastels, like this sherbet of Ragged Robin melting over a lime of new grass:

It seems like an unusually colorful season, but then, I might just be noticing it more these days.  How about you?  Does it seem particularly vibrant where you are?

Mothra!!! June 13, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Well, maybe not Mothra, but it was BIG!

I found this beautiful Luna moth (Actius luna)  on the job the other day, and rescued it from its floundering on a busy sidewalk – the crew had poured concrete all night under bright lights, and I bet by the time I found it (7am,) it was exhausted:

I put it up in a tree, which it climbed like its tail was on fire, hence the soft focus.  But at least it didn’t get Nike’d.

Then I found this guy (gal?) a bit later on:

It’s a Robin moth (Hyalophora cecropia,) the largest native moth in North America, with a wingspan in this case of about 6″.  I put it in the same tree, and it honored my efforts by posing for me.  I bet it gets its common name from its striking red breast:

…ya think?   🙂

These were taken with my 24-105 L-series lens, dialed in so I didn’t have to crowd the little buggers.  The depth of field missed the fluttering wings, but I wanted to lose most of the tree and background, so I’m not complaining.

But dang,  that was a BIG moth!

Weekend Roundup. June 12, 2011

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Another week of water over the damned, as they say.  Here are a few images culled from the pile, before I retire this ol’ ‘puterbox in favor of This Year’s Model.

Wild mustard beneath a Dr. Seuss cloud:

An old wooden truck bed being recycled by lichen:

A monobow descends over the hills of Bernardston:

The Bridge of Flowers in full bloom:

The local planting season swings into high gear:

A little rain does nothing to slow these folks down.  God bless the farmers!

The first cutting of hay came the third week of May, earlier than usual:

And here’s a view from Shelburne’s High Ledges at sunset, looking back at the Deerfield river running through Charlemont:

There are a few other shots from the week which may yet see daylight, but they’ll be coming atcha from a newer computer (once I get it figured out!)

Later, Peeps.

Field Of Dreams. June 9, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Up the hill from here there’s a high valley known as Pudding Hollow, a beautiful little spot with a dozen or so houses, a picturesque stream and some grand views to the north.  It’s well known for, among other things, a field of lupines which is in bloom this month:

The property owners have been very accommodating about photographing their fields, so long as people are respectful and don’t trample or pick the flowers.  On my most recent visit the skies didn’t really deliver what I was looking for, but then, it’s hardly fair to complain about beautiful weather:

Those are both courtesy of Elliot, though the non-planar nature of the subjects made them sub-optimal candidates for tilt-shift photography.

I’m keeping an eye out for conditions with a bit more “atmospherics,” though; a calm morning with rising mists might obscure some of the flaws in these compositions and add some needed drama.

I guess time will tell about that idea.