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Along The Connecticut. June 21, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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I had occasion to head toward Amherst today, with the intention of showing some of my photos to a restauranteur who expressed an interest in having them on his walls.

Well, that didn’t work out – something about a “family emergency.”  That could, of course, be the case, but it’s so cliched I can’t help feeling slighted.

Anyway, having carted my wares all the way down river, I spent the late afternoon scouring the lowlands for more raw materials, knowing that the transition to Summer would produce some sort of blossoms and at least a little bit of atmospherics.

What I found was tall grass:

…laced around the edges with roadside randomness, including a LOT of Cow vetch:

This hot, dry week we’re experiencing is ideal for harvesting hay, and the grass is beautifully high, so farmers down in the valley are making hay:

Much of Hadley isn’t exactly flood plains of the Connecticut river, but more accurately viewed as the bottom of Lake Hitchcock, gone for ten millennia  but still evident by its sediments.  The land is rich despite having provided several hundred years of legendary productivity.

Haying happens several times per growing season, depending on growing and harvesting conditions.  Rain makes it grow, but dry conditions are necessary for cutting and baling, and the two don’t always coincide.

This, though, looked like a really productive mowing:

This farmer was good enough to welcome me into his field to take these photographs.    He was working for his living, and stopping for a stranger was an added task on this very hot and humid day.  I greatly appreciated his permission to shoot.

Here’s The Man round-bailing the cut, dried grass:

These round bales are tied up and dropped out of the back of this baler, whereas traditional rectangular bales are packed, wrapped and pitched into hay wagons being dragged behind the operation:

But this is Hadley, rolling lowlands which don’t flood seasonally.

Across the river to the west is Northampton, where Spring flooding is common.  The flatlands have been harrowed and planted and harvested and flooded in a cycle extending for centuries.

These days they grow corn and potatoes there, with a bio-diverse fringe of invaders separating the field roads from the crops:

That looks like wild mustard and lettuce, with mullein piercing the skyline.  I love mullein – it looks like the pacifist’s version of yucca or agave, all cuddly and hippy-friendly (they smoke it, you know!)

One of a zillion types of daisies found locally piles up between the tires and the ‘taters:

Again with Mount Holyoke’s crowning Skinner House in the distance.

Another of the volunteers which dot these dusty fields is the ubiquitous cow vetch, here seen with Mt. Tom shaping the skyline:

I think what keeps drawing me back to this decidedly lowland place (a strong hour from my hill town home) is it’s suggestion of something farther west, perhaps a view of the Heartland, maybe even something higher and drier, the alti-plano of Wyoming or Montana.

I know that if you’re from there you’re pointing and laughing, but still, it’s a feeling I get, and I’m playing with it.

All of these shots are from Elliot, my Canon TS-EII tilt-shift lens, and most benefit from the use of hand-held graduated filters to bring the brooding skies further into compliance with a photo’s useful dynamic range.  This combination is really my Standard Operating Procedure for landscape photography, though my 24-105mm zoom Allie lives on the box in my daily travels.

Thanks for hanging in there for this longish post on a place I’ve photographed numerous times before.  I keep hoping for exceptional light or some remarkable bloom, but I’m meanwhile thankful for whatever the place gives up.

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Daisies! June 14, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, macro photos.
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Ah, a regional favorite, those little white guys with the yellow eyes…

One more from Elliot.

And stacked, they’re stunning:

I like ’em.

Daisies At a Pond In Rowe. June 11, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Driving through Rowe after work yesterday (yeah, it’s kinda the long way home) I was slapped silly by a planar clump of daisies along the edge of a pond in Rowe.  It’s the kind of scene which plays well through the eyes of a tilt-shift lens, a rarity in non-planar New England (the Coast excluded.)

On this occasion, under skies carpeted with heavy-bellied clouds, I slammed on the brakes and puled into a ditch to try and beat the rain.   I threw The Unit together, camera and tripod and Elliot, ran across the road, bellied under the guard rail and set up hastily, tilting and shifting like a mad fool.

I didn’t make it.  I got half-way through the set-up, excited about the common plain of the daisies and the snags in the beaver pond, before the skies opened up.  I hunched over the camera, trying to protect the lens’ articulation from the onslaught, and took several bracketed shots at various f-stops, as the tilt function messes up the light meter in the worst way.

So here’s a gift from Elliot, my 24mm Canon TS-E II lens, an image of a pond in Rowe, Massachusetts, flanked by daisies and hawk weed:

This was a gawd-awfully rushed shot, and could have been rendered better; I may try again this weekend.

Ruby Tuesday: Rain In Two Venues. June 22, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Ruby Tuesday!.
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It just won’t stop raining.  Day after day, for weeks it seems, brief glimpses of sun are smothered under dense clouds, buffetted by incessant winds, and unless one is possessed of impeccable technique and the fastest of lenses, photography comes to a grinding halt.

Enter the blessed variables of Piss Poor Judgment and Irrational Obsession, which conspire to send Yours Truely out into the maelstrom, MacIntosh flapping, umbrella inverted, with half a roll of paper towels jammed down my pants, looking for a reason to exhale slowly and depress the shutter.

This week’s meager gleanings include a shot of daisies dancing in the rain alongside a railroad siding by the Hoosac Tunnel:

daisies in the rain

If that looks scarcely ruby, trust me, there were red lights in there.

And later, a trip to the sea, hoping for some drama amidst the swirling mists.  By the time the salt air filled my nostrils it was long past dark, and I took advantage of a break in the rain to capture this shot of a well-lit steeple in Portsmouth, NH:

Portsmouth steeple

I liked the way the fog rolled by, holding and releasing the shadows and light.

A bit more conspicuously Ruby, that one.

More on my trip East later; for now, thanks to Mary at Work of the Poet for this Ruby meme.

A Walk In The Rain. June 20, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
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Got rained out of work on Thursday, so I took a walk along the railroad tracks near the Hoosac Tunnel.  It was a strange mix of natural beauty and post-industrial destruction, with the cleansing rain putting the best face on the scene as softly furred mullein and optimistic daisies reclaimed an abandoned rail:

mullien under daisies

Sometimes the two plants seemed to be conspiring in their effort to affirm the power of beauty to confound our headlong rush toward its dissolution:

daisy and mullien

Then I took a drive up into the clouds to see what was happening up above.

The air was heavy with blowing fog, and every surface was bathed in fine beads of glistening dew.  I parked at the end of a woods road and made the short hike out to the Raycroft Overlook, a CCC Work Camp project which is itself being reclaimed be the inexorable processes of nature.

The walk along the narrow ridge was magical, with the northern slope dropping steeply off into the clouds:

Raycroft forest

…to the old stonework vantage point from which the Deerfield river can usually be seen a thousand feet below:

Raycroft Overlook

On this day the “river view” dissolved into the clouds, leaving only the insistent red clover under foot to demand its mountainside back from us arrogant interlopers:

red clover

Wrapped in a raincoat and photographing under an umbrella, I was lost in the surreality of the feeling of helming this great stone ship through the swirling clouds.  The experience was cleansing, and convinced me to venture out into the rain more regularly.

I hope you enjoyed these.

An Agrarian Interlude. June 1, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Down in the Connecticut River Valley, it’s a whole ‘nother world, a place of open spaces and farm machinery bigger than what works up here in the hills.

Here are a few shots from the Flatlands.

A tobacco barn in Hatfield:

tobacco barn

Daisies along that same road witness the sowing of the fields:

daisies

…and in Easthampton, a farm snuggles into the generous flanks of Mt. Tom:

Mt Tom

It’s a pretty place to visit, but come nightfall?

I’m headin’ for the hills!