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…And The Balloons! July 20, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, music, Uncategorized.
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There’s not a lot that fires the imagination like hot air balloons, great bags of gas carrying adventurers skyward to who-knows-where, drifters on a canvas of sky, silent reminders of what is elegantly possible if we dare to dream.

I had the great pleasure of seeing a number of these stately beauties take form and take flight this past weekend and, thanks to the generosity of their owners, got an insider’s view of the goings-on.

The Green River Festival started 25 years ago as a gathering of a handful of hot-air balloonists with music added to entertain those who came to watch; now it’s a music festival of regional significance with a garnish of balloons.

But for those whose fancies take flight when the wind is just right, the balloons are still The Real Deal.

Here are some shots I got of the activities this past Saturday.

There is, of course, the group shot of balloons filling the sky:

..but what really interested me was the process  of getting those things up there.  It starts with the balloons spread out on the ground, with large fans filling them enough to make room for the flames of their engines.  The owners of a few were kind enough to let me get inside for a few shots:

The balloon fills and lifts ’till most of it is off the ground:

A different balloon, but I liked the geometry of that shot.

Eventually there’s enough room for the propane engines to do their thing (and that’s my cue to exit):

The whole works tilt upward with increasing urgency:

…’till it fills taught with the expectation of flight:

Then the paying passengers get on board for a memorable evening’s traverse of the valley, and they’re off:

…soaring above the festival and leeward bound!

Thanks to all of the pilots who let me horn in on their day in the sun, and to those who stuck around for the night-time illuminations:

And thanks to you all for sharing my weekend at the Green River Music and Balloon Festival!

(That’s their faithful mascot gracing the stage canopy at closing time.)

Green River Music And Balloon Festival! July 19, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in music.
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Last weekend saw the 25th Annual Green River Music and Balloon Festival, with spectacular weather and superb weather.  The crowd was huge, filling an upper field by the main stage with tents and umbrellas:

…and a lower field with two more stages and a whole lot of Frisbees:

I timed my arrival to see the amazing NRBQ, a band from my youth, here reincarnated and cookin’:

…with the irrepressible Terry Adams at its helm:

For forty-plus years I’ve been blown away by his open-hand-and-forearm piano playing – he fronts a highly regarded  jazz band in NYC, so it’s not for lack of virtuosity that he plays rock that way.  He’s just… crazy!

There were also great sets by Black Joe Lewis and the Honey Bears:

…who tore it up on guitar, backed by a horn section which kicked butt.

Another great act was The Carolina Chocolate Drops, four kids who played an amazing blend of Americana and more modern stuff, including an air-bass-playing beat boxer:

…along with banjo, fiddle, jug, bones, washboard and more, and gorgeous ensemble vocals led by a beautiful young lady:

Highly recommended, if you get the chance.  😉

Also fun was Miss Tess and the Bon Ton Parade, featuring Miss Tess on vocals and guitar:

…and her sidekick, the Sweet and Lowdown:

She smoked!  (Figuratively, of course.)

The afternoon was punctuated by a children’s parade with a New Orleans theme:

…and lots of little kids and Mommies:

The three stages offered far more music than any one person could take in, but I tried – Locos Por Juana laid down some smoking Salsa in the dance tent, driven by a great trombonist:

Rosie Ledet and her Zydeco Playboys had the place jumping:

And to top it all off (for Saturday,  at least!) Toots and the Maytals brought the house down.

That’s Toots:

…and the Maytals:

I last saw Toots and the Maytals when I was in college, and I’ve never forgotten his high-energy show.  Amazingly, he’s still got that vibe, and a great band of old dust-farters who were probably with him since the early Seventies  (except for the ladies, who were a good deal younger.)

The night shots pushed my box to ISO 4000, but I think the results are a lot better than last year.  I was ruthless about getting in there and working the angles with Ollie, my 24-105mm L-Series lens.  Thanks, Ollie.  😉

I split during Toots’ encore, hoping to beat the traffic, but unfortunately enough others had that idea that it still took me an hour to get on the road!

Sunday was another full day of music culminating in a set by Emmylou Harris, but I could only afford one day.  Let’s just assume that it was equally fun.

Next time I’ll have some hot air balloon pics for you, but for tonight, that’s it.

G’Night!  🙂

A Beautiful Summer’s Eve. July 15, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Tonight was a beauty, warm enough for shirtsleeves and driving with all of the windows down, cool enough to keep the bugs at bay.  There were scattered patches of rain moving in from the west, which made for a lovely view of this potato field at sunset:

…and a bit later and some miles closer to home, a beautiful just-past-full-moonrise:

These cool nights generate copious river fogs; perhaps I’ll snag some shots of that tomorrow morning, if I can get my butt out of bed at 4:30 (no promises, though, as I’m up at 5 on weekdays for work, and I’ll be out late tomorrow night… Lord knows I’m in desperate need of my beauty sleep!)    😉

Along The Road. July 14, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Today was a wild day for wildlife; I saw two bears, one while at work and one while driving this evening.

You’ll just have to trust me – I hadn’t a camera handy.  😉

Then I hit a low flying partridge (grazed a wing with my windshield, I think) but couldn’t find the bird – it looked like it flew on.  Let’s hope so.

And lastly, I spied Bambi in a newly hayed field, found a place to pull over and went back with Gizmo to try to get something to show you.

Let’s see, it was about… there!

Newly minted this Spring, and cruising the lowlands for tender nibbles.

I followed it for a while, crouched behind the guardrail, ignoring the traffic passing behind me.  It looked so innocent and elegant going about its business, foraging and grooming itself of pests:

…and look, there were two of them!

Turned out to be a very wild(life) day for a Thursday!



A Taste Of Summer. July 13, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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July is an intense month – the blazing sun, the misty nights.  Frogs and flowers, storms and crickets.  Everything heats up, gets larger, more insistent.  Working men with bronzed backs feel every inch of their glistening skin, pretty women in sticky sun dresses stand back-lit by the July sun, unfurling themselves like sails in search of a breeze.  Babies startled by ice cream brain-freeze lunge gleefully for more as you drive slowly past, turn the wheel and head up-country for your Daily Cool.

You motor past thinning neighborhoods to where the barns live, then out past that, and before long the pavement turns to gravel, the poles and wires fall away, and you’re alone in a green Cathedral, your face dappled with sunlight and shadows, green light and birdsong accompanying the crunch of the road beneath your tires:

There’s a stream with a nice swimming hole up here, and you head for it to sit watching the cool water swirl around your feet as you study the efforts of whoever was there last:

This is how summer should be, the stuff of muted memories, less spectacle and more substance, life in the slow lane.

Refreshed, you meander homeward.  As the sun gathers its rays together for a Last Hurrah you glide along beneath a rising moon, tall grasses wave to the fading day:

Friday night the moon will be full; make a note to bring the camera out on Thursday, weather permitting, to catch it rising fifty minutes or so before sunset.

Goodnight, my friends.

Experiments With Water. July 11, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Actually, experiments with absurd camera settings, mostly because I can.  😉

Here’s another shot of Tannery Falls, taken at last light, but still with a shutter speed of 1/250th of a second:

I didn’t want the water to be a silky sheet, but rather to retain some of its inherent “splashiness.”  (Holy cow, spell-check swallowed that one!  )  I got this image by booting the ISO up to a totally ridiculous 28,600 and begging my Canon 5D’s in-camera noise reduction to save me from my impetuousness.  It’s certainly not a “keeper” shot, but it was fun to experiment.

Here’s another way to go, ISO 100 with a long exposure, and Elliot tilted 1.5 degrees to lay down a plane, and converted to black and white (’cause it’s art,  you know):

I’m getting a little discouraged by WordPress’ rendition of these photos; the original is really crisp, and a lot of my stuff gets lost in translation.

But hey, I’m whining, so it must be past my bedtime.  😉


Tannery Falls. July 10, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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I got up to Tannery Falls in Savoy this weekend, hoping to find running water and verdancy in the fading light of evening.  There was nothing much happening in the sky, and I figured a deep-woods outing was my best bet for some interesting photos.

I was right, sort-of.  I was late enough so that the low light was an issue, and I lost a lot of detail.  Still, it gave me a chance to push my camera’s abilities, and I played with some absurdly high ISO settings.  The results were mixed; there are  limits, after all.   😉

Anyway, here’s a smaller falls passed on the walk in; it’s an Easterly branch of flow which joins Tannery Brook just below the main falls:

The streamside stump first caught my attention there, and I wanted to get a close-up of it with the falls behind in focus as well, so I tilted the bejabbers out of Elliot, with satisfactory results.  Actually, sideways “tilt” is more properly referred to as “swing,” so let’s call it that.

This shot was the more traditional vertical tilt, giving much more depth of field than I would have otherwise gotten in such low light:

That was taken from about a foot off the water’s surface, allowing me to lay the plane of focus down on the low snags and still get the falls viewably sharp.

Farther down the trail I descended a long flight of stone stairs and turned a corner to see the main Tannery Falls:

It was bigger than I  had remembered it to be – perhaps ninety feet or so – and looked surreal in the dimming light.  I half expected to see a band of Hobbits descending the wooded path on the opposite bank.  😉

I’m loving this steamy summer weather, while dreaming of how this place will look in its Autumn finery.

That’s all for tonight.



Fading Away. July 9, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death, Politics and Society.
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Our old barns took quite a hit this winter, with greater than average snowfalls collapsing many of the weaker ones, and plenty more seeing significant damage.  If these winters keep coming on like this, we’ll soon be seeing a substantially changed rural landscape from what we now have.

So it seems an appropriate time to pay attention and catalog The Way It Was before the opportunity is lost.

A big old barn in Conway took a hit this winter, and may not stand another:

This is a working farm, and it hurts to see them lose assets as they’re struggling to stay afloat.

The best of luck to them, and to all of the farmers out there working long and hard to keep us fed and provide for their families.

It All Falls Down. July 7, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Nightfall, rainfall, moonset – it all falls down, except the mists rising from the forests as the last light paints the clouds in Glory:

I might be unavailable for a couple of days, so I’ll let this be “Goodnight” for now.

Random Summerage. July 6, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Got a longer cord and ditched the wireless connection for now, so I’m back.

Here are some random/assorted shots which have come in since last I posted.

Cat-tails “flowering,” with the male pollen head fat above the still-green seed head:

Thistles in a nearby field:

A honey bee putting the love on a milkweed flower:

An unexpected sight on a picnic table by Rowe Pond:

His Lady was throwing a ball out into the pond for her pair of Golden retrievers, who were happily swimming around amongst a flock of geese while I played with this cutie.

A trio of shots from down on the farm – a recently hayed field greens back up:

A barn window watches over some Dianthus,  Northern bedstraw and Sensitive* ferns:

*Thanks to jomegat in comments – TCR

…while ’round back, a curious herd is skeptical about my intentions:

And of course, the requisite shot of evening back down along the river:

That’s the last few days’ haul, such as it is, and I’m off to bed.