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Brrrrrrrrr! January 23, 2013

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Well now, thisย  is winter!ย ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

We got a fresh inch of snow overnight, not enough to shovel, just enough to freshen up the older snow pack. And with a daytime high in the ‘teens assuring clear, crisp air, it seemed like a good time to scout some river scenes.

I headed up the Cold river a bit after noon, beneath blue skies and scuttling clouds:

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The valley is still a tangled mess from Irene, but winter disguises her scars.

I’ve always liked the way tumbling rivers look when they rise up around snow covered rocks, saturating their marsh mallow hats, turning them into emerald slushies, washing them down river like slow moving ghosts. This cold weather grows the well-anchored ones into wonderful ice islands:

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Quartzite cobbles complement the color scheme, wavering from below the fast-moving surface:

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A faster shutter speed captures the kinetics of the flow:

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The wind was brutal, and after an hour of walking the river bank, my fingers had had enough, despite my beefy gloves, and I headed back to the car, noticing on my way down river that the moon was rising. At the car I put Gizmo and his little buddy Tele on the box and got this:

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I packed it in, cranked the heat and ran a few errands.

My day ended with a drive home along the Deerfield river, where I snagged this shot of the frazil ice building it’s tortuous tangle as the sun disappeared behind the near hills:

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That one’s from Elliot, with a degree and a half of tilt and a hand-held three-stop graduated ND filter. It took me all of fifteen minutes, by the end of which my tripod had frozen into the river, my fingertips were wooden and I had wind-whipped tears frozen to my cheeks.

Good thing I spent all those years climbing ice, or I wouldn’t have enjoyed that one bit!ย  ๐Ÿ˜‰

Well that’s all for now, friends. I have 909 shots from last weekend’s climbing competition to process, so I’m off to work!

Farm Truck. December 5, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death.
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This Wee Beastie has made a previous appearance on LBT as “Williamstown Ford:”

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This shot was a Driver’s Seat Drive-By, with Gizmo on the box.

Plainfield, Between Showers. November 4, 2012

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A recent drive through Plainfield had me using a long delay on the wipers as a high-country drizzle thickened the air.

But thick air means a saturation of colors, and I had my photographer’s eye out for something to shoot.

I passed a pasture with horses set against an angry black sky, and thought that would make a nice image. But when I pulled over and got out to shoot, the horses came over to greet me.

Oh well, no majestic white horse set against the dark sky, just a close-up of this lovely girl:

She was just diggin’ life out there in the tasty greens, and fairly ignored me as I lay in the wet grass to get this shot.

That’s from Gizmo, at perhaps twenty feet. I was expecting to take shots of distant horses, but they had other ideas.

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. ๐Ÿ˜†

(Marco) Polo! October 1, 2012

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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 –ย  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.ย  ๐Ÿ˜‰

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.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

Sheep In Sheep’s Clothing. September 10, 2012

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Among the livestock populating our local hills are lots of sheep. They’re a favorite of local farmers because they don’t have to be milked at the crack of dawn, 365 days a year, and because they produce something, namely their wool, which doesn’t require slaughtering them and starting all over with lambs.ย Here are a few shots of sheep from my ride home this afternoon.

A ewe at 800mm:

This ewe is trying to keep a fence post between herself and me, but I only needed one eye to call this a postable shot.

A mother’s life is never easy, and if nursing pasture muffins is a big part of it, it’s downright hard on the knees:

…and the udder, which is constantly tugged at:

I was surprised to find this crew of lambs at this time of year. Obviously, a lifetime of living in the country doesn’t make one a farmer!

At any rate, it was fun to watch the little ones cavort in the tall grass:

…until Momma called them back together:

…and lead them away from the gaze of the stranger:

Buh-bye!

Birds Of Prey. August 27, 2012

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I haven’t seen prominent displays of eagles on the river since Spring, and our local population of hawks is pretty private, so I was pleased today to find both within range of my lens and comfortable enough with my presence to sit for me.

Well, the eagle wasn’t exactly close – it was perhaps a hundred yards away, and sitting in a densely-leaved tree, but I reeled it in with Gizmo and a 2X Tele-Extender for an effective focal length of 800mm. The shot is hand-held, albeit resting on the door of my car, and cropped pretty hard to get this:

The faster version of this lens, with image stabilization, is a cool thousand dollars more than what I paid for Gizmo, so you’ll have to suffer with us until I hit the lottery.

I didย  get closer to a red tailed hawk perched on a roadside fence post this very same morning, and didn’t have to crop the photo to give you this:

I crept my 4-Runner up the shoulder of the road over ten or so minutes to position myself across from this beautiful bird, who stayed put and let me. Go figure – perhaps they know the difference between being loved and hunted.

I see lots of raptors every day, but it’s not every day that I have a chance to photograph them.

Thank you, Father Sky, for lending me your children.

The July Full Moon. July 4, 2012

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Taken Tuesday night, a bit too late for the landscape:

That is all.

Horses, The Jumping Kind. July 3, 2012

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I stumbled upon this equestrian gathering at the fairgrounds in Northampton the other day, wandered in and snapped a few off before moving on.

One from Gizmo, hand-held at 400mm:

And some shots from Allie, my 24-105mm L-series zoom:

This one is cool for having all four off the ground, a testament more to the speed of the horse than the height of the jump:

And finally:

In that last shot, the horse and rider had just cleared the jump at left at high speed, wheeled and attacked this jump while still making the turn.ย  I don’t know if that’s considered “good form,” but it sure was exciting to watch!