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Phall Pholiage Photos! October 10, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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More colors from this sub-optimal (but still pretty cool) season.

Locally, some back roads:

A Conway beaver pond:

Bittersweet on a barn in Hawley:

A few Deerfield river shots:

The real color, though, was higher up in the hills. I’d seen The Change coming to Southern Vermont and headed that-a-way, passing through the heights of Rowe, MA on the drive, and stopped off at a seldom-visited beaver pond for a couple of quickies:

I especially liked this shot of orange jelly fungus popping out of a fallen spruce along the pond’s edge:

All of these are from Elliot, bless his little mechanisms.

In Vermont, the best colors were along Route 9 between Searsburg on the east and Bennington on the west:

Of that last bunch, the more expansive views were captured by Ollie, the last two are from Gizmo.

This year, Autumn has been a finicky visitor and seems anxious to be moving on.

Oh well, let her go, I say. Can’t stop her anyway.

I may head farther afield in the next few days, searching for a few last kisses before Bleak November arrives.

Today’s Ramblings. October 9, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Spent some of this afternoon’s filtered light chasing photos, driving slowly and scrubbing the roadsides for images. The air was heavy, the light was low and the Little Things were glad to have their hands on the shutter release.

These are a few of the shots they made me take.

Gone-by asters beneath an old maple:

Bittersweet takes charge of a hedgerow beside a barn:

Fading ferns surround a few brilliant maple leaves:

…as turning vines adorn a stone wall:

All of these are courtesy of Elliot, who loves to lay his mojo down for any and all voyeurs.

A Wild Climb In Erving! October 6, 2012

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I had an opportunity this past Friday to “hang out” with a couple of strong Western Massachusetts climbers who were working on a hard route at Farley Ledge in Erving.

Their project was Blood Meridian,  a “hard 13b.” I put the grade in parentheses because in my world, all  13b’s are hard!  😆

Anyway, I spent FOREVER wrestling two packs up a steep, slimy gully, one pack of ropes and gear and one filled with my camera stuff, then rappelled down into position only to find my friend Josh already hanging out below the crux, or hardest section of the route.

Dang!  I’d missed two thirds of his effort, and wasn’t situated properly to capture the rest of it! And to make matters worse, I hadn’t found my box of proper ascending gear and was working with a totally jury-rigged system, which frankly sucked, so I was stuck where I was for the time being.

“Life is hard,” they say, “but it’s harder when you’re stupid.”

So I busted out my kit and began shooting, paying for my lack of preparation with some serious physical discomfort and a lot of unnecessary work.

Josh was milking a knee-bar for a no-hands rest, greatly appreciated after the stiff challenge of the route’s start:

I think this clowning around may have been just what was needed to break the tension surrounding this attempt – the route has only seen two “lead” ascents since it was established a few years back, despite many attempts by strong climbers, and many attempts by Josh himself. And conditions were sub-optimal, a bit damp after the previous night’s rain, so I’m not sure these guys had real high expectations.

But as these things are wont to go, something clicked on this day, and after a good rest Josh launched into The Business – thin face climbing through the overhanging bulge above:

This was a spectacular bit of climbing, involving throwing a foot way  overhead and rocking onto it using crappy handholds. I wasn’t positioned properly to really get the shots I wanted, but at least I got something:

Another clipped bolt and a couple more moves ended in an amazed  whoop! as Josh Surette sent the third ascent of Blood Meridian!

A smiling Josh lowered off, a little bit wide-eyed at what had just happened, and planning his celebration even before he hit the ground.

I boxed my camera and began the gut-wrenching contortions of ascending my rope with my half-assed system of crappy ascenders and short slings, swearing at myself and vowing to find that damned box of gear I was missing. I wanted to be slightly higher and closer in for Pete’s go at this beautiful climb.

After pulling the rope and swapping ends, Pete smoothed the difficult starting sequence, a super-pumpy mix of crack and face climbing up overhanging rock:

…then floated up the steep corner above:

…and after a rest, which may not have been long enough, threw himself into the crux sequence – the heel-hook:

…the rock-over:

…and then suddenly he was airborne, a victim of the tiny holds and a vicious pump still lingering from the moves below.

It was a great effort, though, with pics to prove it.

The day ended with plans for a return bout, and I have no doubt Pete’s future efforts will be rewarded.

Meanwhile, Congrats, Josh!  🙂

A Show In Ashfield. October 5, 2012

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I’ve been getting my photography “out and about,” as they say, and have recently sold a few pieces. I have a few nice old car and truck pics on the walls of Chef Rob Watson’s Lone Wolf Bistro in Amherst, MA, and a few of the young ladies I’ve shot at horse jumping meets have purchased prints.

It’s not enough to pay the bills yet (I’m still digging food out of the cracks in my kitchen floor) but it’s all moving in the right direction.

I currently have a show up at Elmer’s Store, Restaurant and Gallery up in Ashfield. It’s broadly Autumnal themed, designed to coincide with the town’s great Ashfield Fall Festival which runs this Saturday and Sunday. If you’re in the area and have a chance to visit, please do – I highly recommend their breakfasts, especially the hash – yum!  🙂 ‘ll be on their walls for most of October.

For those of you who don’t live close enough to visit, I’m posting the show’s ten photos here (hey, it’s a virtual world, non? ) for your viewing pleasure.

All of these shots have appeared here before, but never as a group.

Corn and Oak, Hadley MA:

Chickley Gold, Charlemont MA:

West Branch Storm, Deerfield river, Readsboro VT:

Deerfield Dawn, Charlemont MA:

Windsor Hay Wagon, Windsor MA:

Irrigation Ditch, Hadley MA:

Catamount Cascade, Colrain MA:

Autocar Light, Bernardston MA:

Black Brook, Savoy/Florida MA:

Forest Fog, Plainfield MA:

All of these images are printed at 12″ X 18″ and matted and framed at 18″ X 24.” They’re archival presentations with 100-year inks, acid-free/pH-buffered mats and backing and Conservation Clear UV-protective glass, and are available for $275 plus tax (where applicable) and shipping.

If you’re interested, email me: ralph@ralphmunn.com.

Or better yet, stop by Elmer’s Store for a great meal and a look-see.  🙂

And now I’m off to photograph some rock climbing adventures.

Cheers!

A Climbing Competition. October 4, 2012

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Last weekend saw the Fourth Annual WMCC Rendezvous, a gathering of local and visiting climbers for a little socializing, exploring and friendly competition.

The weather was wet, so most of the “competition” took place at Central Rock climbing gym in Hadley, MA. Big thanks to those folks for hosting this very busy weekend.

Friday night’s action was a “bouldering” comp, with people of all (well, most) ages pulling down. The routes were steep:

…up artificial rock walls with bolt-on holds:

There was an enthusiastic crowd of spectators and supporters mingling below, and a great atmosphere:

People took it seriously enough to work hard – young kids:

…contortionists:

Apes, which I confess is my tribe:

…and Ballerinas, to quote the late, great Scottish climber, Tom Patey:

Sharply focused spiders:

…and relentless machines:

…plugging along on the undersides of the bouldering cave. That’s some brutish terrain, but it’s not limited to the boys – strong women can play here as well:

…and they did. Great efforts, everyone!

In the end, it was less about “winning” and more about trying for one’s personal best. A lot of yardsticks got moved forward because of the competitive yet totally supportive atmosphere.

And it was great to watch the improbable being made to look easy.

…and the look of competence in a person’s eyes as they latch that final hold:

This shoot was a mix of Ollie and Gizmo, a bit too mixed up to go into. Let’s just say that my sensor needed a cleaning after all of those lens changes in a chalky environment. 😆

(Marco) Polo! October 1, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Action/Adventure.
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Up until this past September, my only connection to the word “polo” was my elementary school indoctrination with the progenitor of the Spice Road Free Trade Corridor.

That changed when my sweetie Susan took me to an honest-to-God polo match, purportedly the only such match open to the unwashed masses here in jolly ol’ New England.

And people, as one of the 47%, I have to say I dug it.

The horses were very cool, little guys with a LOT of physical integrity:

…built for sharp turns, stop-and-go action, and smart as whips. Not your typical horse show dandies, I’d say.

The action was proscribed by rules of play, as in any legitimate sport. I didn’t know those rules, so just dug the action.

Full-on galloping passes:

For the riders, these matches are a mix of athleticism, strategy and butt-kicking riding skills, including one-handed reining (“Western style,” as I’m given to understanding):

Getting a horse to go where you want it to with one hand on the reins and the other swinging a big-ass mallet around its head is a feat which only happens after endless sessions of building skills and a level of trust worthy of much respect.

Given my dearth of knowledge about the game, I’ll let a few photos speak for the participants.

A mounted (and doubtless equally skilled) Ref monitors the action amidst a many-legged scrum:

Head-to-head races result in a ball being passed forward, here seen below the second chair from the right:

Passing back is as important a skill as shooting for a goal:

It’s an elegant, sweaty dance between horse and rider, with total focus a prerequisite to success:

The action speeds from one end of the field to the other, ball, mallets and hooves flying:

…with each strike of the ball being a coordination of horse and hands, and with a little luck, the depression of a very fast (1/2500th of a second) shutter:

For me, this wasn’t just a great introduction to the sport of polo; it was one of those days when the excitement of shooting takes over and everything else falls away. My apologies to my sweetie Susan who brought me to this revelation –  I hope you weren’t left too much alone as I was taken away by the task at hand. But the contagious energy of the charge toward the goal was powerful:

…as was the joy when a struck ball was perceived to be headed for the space between the goal posts:

Thanks to Susan for encouraging me to take a chance on photographing something I knew nothing about, to Gizmo for reeling in most of these shots, and to the Norfolk Hunt Club in Medford, MA for inviting the public in to watch this very special event.

I have a few more shots from the half-time entertainment in the hopper, and hope to get them posted soon.

But that’s enough for now.  😉