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Autumobile. September 28, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death.
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I found this noble beast sitting in the woods up in Monroe, MA, in an area which used to be a Department of Corrections work camp:

Image

This is off of a dirt road which is gated and usually locked, but I happened to find it open and chanced an incursion, knowing that there are at least two swamps / beaver ponds which might be showing autumn colors. More on the results of that visit later.

Thanks to Elliot for this perspective, with good sharpness from front to back.

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Resident Evil. September 26, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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On my way through Buckland today (yeah, the Lion’s Mane Buckland) I rounded a bend in the road to see a startling splash of color leaping skyward.

Of course, I slapped on the binders and pulled off the road to investigate.

It turned out to be an infestation of Virginia creeper, an invasive vine which I spend countless hours trying to keep out of our trees and lawn, though I know it will still be there long after I’m dead.

Oh well.

Anyway, the drizzle and gloom which make sane folks want to stick their head in an oven are like Mana form Heaven to us crazy photographers, saturating (literally) scenes with intense colors and an immediacy which is otherwise rare.

I assembled a tripod and umbrella and affixed Elliot to the box with six degrees of swing to snag this shot:

The swing gave me tack-sharp elements from center foreground through the distant right edge of this image, passing through the Main Event along the way. And a hand-held graduated ND filter allowed me to expose for the beautiful variety of ferns in the foreground without blowing out the sky.

For all of its negatives, Virginia creeper is dependably brilliant in its fall coloration, for which I appreciate it.

Thanks to Elliot for snagging this one.

A Delicious Gift! September 26, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Dinner with TCR, macro photos.
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Driving through Buckland the other day, I spied three off-white clumps affixed to a slain golden birch.

Of course, I stopped to investigate, and unlike The Cat, my curiosity was rewarded with culinary gold – Hericium erinaceus,  commonly called Lion’s Mane. It’s a tooth fungus, highly prized for its intense mushroom flavor and its prolific fruitings.

Plus, it’s beautiful, so much so that it’s said to be delicious if you can bring yourself to pick it.

Well, I did. I had a long slender knife in the car, with which I sliced the baby-head-sized growths off the birch log. They weren’t brand new and pristine, but rather a couple of days old, but still firm and white.

I shook the bugs out of them (yeah, bugs know good  when they see it) and pocketed my booty, speeding home to make a great dinner at the right price.

Here’s a close-up shot of the “teeth” of this delectable tooth fungus:

They’re equivalent to the gills under the cap of common agarics  in that they’re the spore-bearing structures of this mushroom’s fruiting body.

And Holy Cow, did they make one one helluva cream of mushroom soup, sauteed lightly in butter, then added to a reduction of heavy cream seasoned with garlic and curry powder.

I’m two pounds happier for that find.  😉

TMI. September 26, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Dinner with TCR, Love and Death.
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This is today’s incarnation of my compost:

I marvel at it daily, but just realized that it’s been years since I shared it with you.

My bad.

On The Cusp Of Autumn. September 24, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Well, it’s that time of year again.

Last year’s Fall Foliage Season was disappointing here in Western Massachusetts – August’s Tropical Storm Irene devastated our rivers and roads, and the colors never really materialized.

So I’ve been looking forward to another chance to shoot Nature’s Rainbow this autumn, so much so that I had to jump the gun and hit the road – we’re just getting started with the show here in Charlemont, but I expected things to be farther along north of us, and at higher elevations.

My housemate Lizz hit New Hampshire’s White Mountains this past weekend for an early-season recon, so I went northwest to New York’s Adirondaks.

It’s still early there as well, but up in the boreal forests things are starting to happen.

Route 73 through Keene Valley is a beautiful drive:

A scrim of roadside birches and the occasional pop of color guard the dark mysteries of the great North Woods:

This area, too, is rebounding from the ravages of Irene, as witness the many full-size trees felled by the amazing volume of water which raged down this roadside cascade southeast of Lake Placid:

The “highway” follows a beautiful rocky river, with side tributaries offering visual delights to those willing to go for a short walk:

Moss and ferns festoon the many boulders strewn about the largely cedar and maple forest:

It’s a very rugged part of the State, far removed from the more widely known urban canyons of NYC, and offers great rock climbing on ancient granite, such as Washbowl Cliff:

…here coming into and out of the light as gathering storm clouds boil by. I was fortunate to catch these roadside sugar maples in a patch of filtered light.

Yes, it’s early, but it’s going to happen, a Real Northeastern Fall Foliage Season, albeit perhaps a bit tempered by this summer’s drought.

We shall see.  😉

All of these shots are courtesy of Ollie, my Canon 24-105mm f/4 L-series lens, except for the shot of the waterfall which Gizmo reeled in from perhaps half a mile away, in the rain!

Thanks, Guys!  🙂

Amherst Block Party! September 18, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death, music, Politics and Society.
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The First Annual Amherst Block Party happened this past week, and I went down river to get a few shots of the action.

Now, I’m a Hilltown Boy, and don’t spend much time down in the civilized world, but I’ve lately been been tuned in to the activities which draw people to our Western Mass towns. Country fairs and communal events offer a window into life here in the hinterlands, and spreading the word means supporting local businesses, so I’m more than happy to put considerable time into it.

Amherst and Northampton are our local foci for college life, with Northampton being substantially tonier and more expensive (think: Smith College,) and Amherst voicing the Vox Populi of the state-run UMass at Amherst.

Being a product of a brown-collar upbringing and a UMass education, I have a soft spot for the latter.

At any rate, this First Annual Block Party was fun, despite the bumps and potholes intrinsic to any “firsts.”

I arrived in the evening as things were just ramping up, and toured the place. There were vendors:

victuals:

…and people with puppies:

as well as street performers. Stilt-walkers:

There were wagon rides with big-ass horses:

..delightful statues:

…and spectacularly capable yo-yo experts:

I spent way  too much time watching this magician spin time and space into a fabulous fable. Thanks, Guy.

Somewhere along the way, the light left the land, and the electric artifice took over.

Now, since this was a First Annual Event, I’ll forgive them if they used billion-watt construction lighting. It was painfully harsh, as witness this soft fuzzy poodle rendered in an acid wash:

Every shot became problematic as the night went on, with a slight change of angle essential to tease out each shot in this low-probability situation.

Still, there I was, so I pressed on.

Jugglers played the sidewalk:

…and roped bystanders into risking their noses for a photo op:

This guy’s girlfriend giggled delightedly, though I wasn’t entirely sure who she was rooting for…

Bands occupied a tent on the common down by Triangle Street, including Rusty Belle, with a great singer:

…and guitarist, her husband if I’m understanding things:

They tour regularly in the Greater East, and I highly recommend you go if they come to your town.

Meanwhile, The Pub grilled sliders over a roadside fire:

…as kids defied gravity at the Bungee-Bounce:

…and Medusa painted wash-off tattoos on injudicious children:

The night (or at least my part of it) ended with Lux Deluxe performing down at the band tent:

The audience was totally rapt:

…and for good reason: this quintet totally got me off, with a high energy set of rockin’ originals, tight instrumentation and the class act vocals of Ned King, talented far beyond what his earthly tenure might suggest:

Watch for these folks, and keep Ned’s name in mind. You’ll doubtless be hearing more from him/them.

All in all, this was a great night out, and it’s bound to get even better as it repeats itself into the future.

Go Amherst!

Power To The People. September 16, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society.
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I’m a big fan of renewable energy, a believer in climate change as a byproduct of human activity, and a charter member of the Small Is Beautiful school of going forward into the future.

Hey, I’m little, what can I say?

Anyway, my town hosts the Berkshire East ski area. It’s about the main thing happening here in winter, we being without a large tax base, and they recently erected a wind turbine which sits across the river and up the hill from my house, and purportedly generates enough power to account for the entire B’East operation.

As a guy who spent a long winter making snow at said enterprise, I can attest to the amount of power involved in a snow making operation – pumping a lake’s worth of water to the top of that mountain every night, then blowing it through airplane props at high psi’s, and with high voltage lines powering it all. It’s a much longer story than that, but that’s what’s relevant to tonight’s post.

Berkshire East has a new project going up on their mountaintop, parked perilously at the line dividing Charlemont from the town of Hawley. I’m sure its location makes things politically messy, but I hope it navigates those shoals to form a more perfect union of form and function and of local entities taking care of their own needs.

The solar farm being built atop Mount Institute:

The Berkshire East wind turbine is visible above the notch in the trees near the right edge of this photo.

This is a major commitment of previously forested land to local production of energy, and doesn’t fall below my radar of environmental impact. But if you’ve seen real life images from “mountaintop removal” mining in West Virginia, this is definitely the kid-glove version of power production.

Plus, it’s local, meaning that energy doesn’t have to be transmitted from a great distance at a considerable loss.

I know, I’ve barely scratched the surface in talking about this incredibly complex problem, but I’m leaning hard toward local production of power, and on a scale which doesn’t necessitate the involvement of mega-national corporations, though the big players do indeed weasel their bad selves into these local projects.

At any rate, I’m a firm believer in doing things locally in so far as they’re practical, and not taking Corporate America’s appraisal of the situation at face value. Whenever we’re told that something “can’t be done like that, not on that scale,” we should identify the source of that viewpoint and be aware of how such statements serve their financial interests.

And when there are things which benefit us all and can’t be done on a small scale, I posit that We The People ought to pool our resources through the mechanism of Government to do them collectively.

It isn’t Socialism, folks – it’s civilization.

Reflecting On Reflections. September 16, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Reflections in water are a favorite subject of many landscape photographers, partly because they can be fun and interesting, and partly because they’re there when actual landscape photography is less than interesting.

As an example of both rationalizations, here’s a shot from the Chesterfield Gorge on the Westfield river in Massachusetts:

It has a nicely reflexive geometry, but has neither the saturation of a real-world moment nor the contrast of a great black and white photo, so I’m at a loss as to what to do with it other than to throw it out there as a Potential Thing lost in the miasma of mediocrity. I probably ought to have more pride than to publish it at all, but then, we all have visions which go unfulfilled despite our best efforts. This is one of mine, and I welcome your input as to how it could amount to anything or why it never will.

 

Roy’s Place. September 12, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
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Roy’s place is a bit gone by, as Roy lives up the road with his brother now.

Still, the old farm stands, mostly square and entirely proud.

On the south side of the house:

A weather vane doubles as a lightning rod, keeping the place from being blasted all to hell at the least storm:

In the shadows, a phalanx of Fords reflects the last of the afternoon’s light:

…as one of the old trucks bids the day’s sun adieu:

It’s a bitter-sweet sunset up in Shelburne.

Guests In The Garden. September 11, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, macro photos.
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Our zinnias have been hosting some winged guests recently. I caught these images of them today:

…and:

Both of these were taken with Gizmo and a 2X Tele-Extender from twelve to fifteen feet away, allowing me to get compressed close-ups without disturbing our guests.  🙂