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Spring, Almost… March 19, 2013

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Today, Monday, is two days short of the official start of Spring.

But this is Massachusetts, where we don’t care about no stinking calendar.

So the day began with our yard threatening to “green up,” the grass nearly bare of snow.

While making breakfast, I snapped this shot of deer grazing out past our slumbering garden:

Blog White Tails

…taken through an unfortunately filthy window, as Winter tends to render them before a real Spring cleaning. I didn’t have the proper lens on hand, so this is a severe crop of a larger photo. All-in-all, I’m satisfied with the result.

I spent the bulk of the day loading split wood onto the porch in anticipation of the predicted winter storm, then bombed off to Berkshire county to deliver a framed photo to my friend Tim. I was pleased by his reception of the piece and humbled by his refusal of the Good Friend Discount.

Thanks, Tim. I’ll remember that.

On the way home the weather caught up to me, and by the time I hit Charlemont it was snowing:


We’re expecting 10″ or more, and judging by the way it’s coming down, we might not be disappointed!

Along The Deerfield. December 10, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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On the way to the Shelburne Falls post office this morning I spied an eagle in a tree across the Deerfield river from Route 2.

Naturally, I hung a Bat Turn to get a shot.

I took these from my driver’s seat while pulled over on the shoulder:

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That’s from about 50 yards away, with Gizmo’s 400mm and a 2X Tele-Extender, and cropped pretty hard.

I was hoping to get this beauty taking off, but all it seemed inclined to do was preen in the drizzle.  😦

At last it spread it’s wings:

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…but only hopped to another nearby branch.

These were taken at ISO 4000 and f/11, so they’re not technically great. Still, I had fun shooting them; gotta practice that steady hand, especially with no auto focus or image stabilization on this lens!

Good Morning! November 29, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Two shots as the sun came ’round the bend.

Crack O’ Dawn, No Witnesses:

…and then, this:

Sunrise over Hawks Ridge in Charlemont.

That’s from Gizmo at 400mm. And no, I didn’t boost the colors; as a matter of fact, I reduced the vibrance by 10%.  🙂

Sandy Comes To Town. October 29, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death.
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As Hurricane Sandy blows in, I’ve taken precautions; we’re expecting less flooding than with last year’s Irene, but several days without power are expected.

I have candles and matches set up around the house as well as flashlights, battery-powered wall lights, and a headlamp with new power cells. I have a bathtub full of water for flushing the toilet, and five gallons of potable water in jugs. I cooked a big pot of pasta and have several jars of sauce on hand, as well as bread, hummus and cooked shrimp.

Our little generator is in place, with five gallons of gas at the ready; extension cords are in place to power the cellar freezer and sump pumps (flooding two years ago was an expensive disaster) and the fridge and microwave upstairs.

There’s wood on the porch for the kitchen wood stove, as without power, the oil furnace is inoperable.

And the yard has been tidied up, with all of the summer niceties hustled into the barn.

That left only the radio to attend to; it takes six D-cells when it isn’t plugged into a working outlet. And don’tcha know, I only had two.

So this mid-day, I set out to get D-cells. I hit the local hardware store – nope. I drove the half hour into Greenfield and tried several supermarkets, Radio Shack and Home Depot. Nope.

“We’ve been outta those  since Saturday!” was a common response to my queries.

I drove another half hour to Northampton, hit hardware stores, another Home Depot and *gag* Wal-Mart. Nope, nope, nope.

Finally, across the river in Hadley, I checked at Sam’s Outdoor Outfitters…

Yup!   🙂  Gotta love those outdoor stores – their smaller clientele means the wider public doesn’t go there for their basic needs.

So now I have food, light, heat and a way of knowing what’s happening in the World Out There.

On the way home I saw the first of the damage; a huge white pine had fallen on the Olde Willow Motor Court just down the road from our house:

They’d trimmed up a lot of the damage by the time I got this shot; the roof has more holes than Albert Hall, if you know what I mean.

This was heart breaking to see – their restaurant was inundated by Irene just a year ago, and these little Mom and Pop businesses really hurt when bad things happen.

At home, I took advantage of a lull in the rain to bring the compost out to the garden, and was rewarded with the sight of a big tree just uphill of the house exploding in the wind and crashing to earth.

I’m going to hunker down by the wood stove and process photos as long as the internet works. If you don’t hear from me for a few days, it quit, but don’t worry, I’m most likely good.

You take care as well, and be safe.


UPDATE: I’m fine here, no real problems after all that preparation! Thanks to all who expressed their concern. 

A Haunted Corn Maze! October 26, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death.
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If you’re out in these parts as Halloween approaches, here’s something you might enjoy: the Hick’s Family Farm Corn Maze in Charlemont, MA. It’s right on Route 2, easy to find, and surrounded by lots of other stuff worth doing on a late Autumn weekend.

This weekend sees Act Two of the Hicks family turning their popular Corn Maze into a phantasm of gore and glee – they did it last weekend as well, but this incarnation of the unincarnated is closer to Halloween, and thus more relevant in the popular mind.

Go if you can, but if you can’t, here are a few shots from my visit, just before it got too dark to shoot and the live people showed up.

A Scare-Crow competition, with a local butcher ( an historical figure in town) as the winner:

A couple of the apparitions who will greet you along the path, but with their eyes glowing in the post-sunset gloom:

Yeah  they’re spooky. But there’s a lot more beans I won’t spill. I’ll just recommend you bring a change of pants.

And dig the Jack-O-Lanterns while you’re there:

Happy Halloween, in case I’m without power on the Actual Day due to Storm Sandy!

A Show In Ashfield. October 5, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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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.


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.

Evening Along The Deerfield. August 8, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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This evening’s skies looked like they might light up, so as the light grew low I headed down to the river.  First stop, the Route 8A bridge in the center of Charlemont, where the setting sun danced on the waters of the Deerfield river:

The light was nice, but the color wasn’t there.

After a few shots, I packed it in and headed eastward toward home.

But as often happens when  I pack it in, the light began to shift, and the colors bloomed, and soon I was accelerating past my driveway, heading toward a riverside view in East Charlemont which regular visitors to this site might recognize.  As I drove the eastern skies lit up, and I hit the binders just in time to get these takes on the fading light reflected in the river:

Our river is unusually low for this time of year, and the bones of its bed are exposed to whatever voyeurs happen by.  I’m embarrassed for it, and wish the roadside weeds would dress it more decently in its diminished state.

But that’s just me being anthropomorphic, feeling Nature in a way to which I haven’t a right.  It is what it is, and it isn’t really my business.

Still, I hope this is a passing phase.  My river can’t stand very much of this without losing a good deal of what it once was.

Yankee Doodle Days, Part 2: The End! August 3, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society, Uncategorized.
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OK, this was bound to happen eventually.  My processed and resized photos of the rest of Yankee Doodle Days went off to a local newspaper without leaving behind copies, and life is moving on too quickly to repeat that process.  Suffice it to say that there was a petting zoo, very cute, some really loud trucks pulling a really heavy sled through really deep mud, and a Demolition derby (I’ll admit my first) which I found to be hilariously absurd.  I took lots of pictures got plenty wet, and will do it again next year.

The End.

Now, on with the rest of my life.

We Interrupt This Festival Program… July 24, 2012

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…to bring you a weather report:

It rained today.

That might not sound like Breaking News, but really, we hadn’t had any significant rain here for over a month.  The lawn is light brown and crunches to dust when it’s walked on; crops which aren’t irrigated are withering and dying in the fields.

This dry spell has meant that I spend about two hours a day spot-watering our garden, and have thus far  saved it from ruin at the expense of having to shut off the well pump when I hear the well (it’s right next to the garden) gurgling ineffectually.

I know, “water is precious, how dare you use so much of it like that!”

Here’s how:  eating is precious too, and THIS IS HOW I GET TO EAT.  I’m a starving photographer, remember?

And along with today’s copious rain came a nice bonus – the brown, dusty landscape was washed clean, and as mists rose from the grateful fields, I got out my camera and took a short ride.

Right outside the door, the Phlox looked more vibrant:

…but sunset was approaching as the storm receded eastward, and I wanted to get to a place where the Deerfield river was more open to the road, so I fired up my chariot and headed out.

I got to where I was heading just as God smiled down on our little berg:

I got down to the water’s edge to catch this reflection:

The light faded quickly, but not before a line of clouds lit up most wonderfully:

It was a nice end to a weather event we’d been needing badly.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.