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Ice-Out. January 31, 2013

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Temps in the 50’s and a heavy rain overnight have flushed the Deerfield clean of its frazil ice, as well as its shoreline shelf ice. All of it went over the dam at Shelburne Falls:

January Thaw

It’s looking a lot like a Spring thaw there; hope that wasn’t it!

As a side note, I had occasion to cross the Connecticut river this afternoon, and got a chance to wave “Buh-Bye” to said ice!  🙂

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Pressure Ridges… January 27, 2013

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…form in the frazil ice on the Deerfield river:

Pressure Ridges

Sunset in East Charlemont, courtesy of Elliot.

Strangely, we’re heading for a fifty-degree day on Wednesday, followed by a return to winter temps. I’m hoping this will lead to some uncommon visuals.

 

Along The Deerfield. December 10, 2012

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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:

_MG_5659 Crop3

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:

_MG_5662 Crop2

…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!

Wilcox Hollow, Day Two. December 9, 2012

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I returned to Wilcox Hollow on the Deerfield river this afternoon with my housemate and dear friend Lizz, who loves details and liked what I brought home from there on my last visit.

She’s recently been attending far-flung workshops with world-class photographers and, I’m grateful to say, bringing home some useful pointers, which she generously shares with me.

Thanks, Lizz.

Here’s a bit of what I came home with today.

A reflection in a shallow, stranded pool:

_MG_5608

Dried grasses catching the slow drizzle of a December afternoon:

_MG_5620

Sprigs of vegetation refuse to turn brown, insisting instead on wearing their colors to the end:

_MG_5621

I chose a shallow depth of field to get this example to pry itself from its surroundings:

_MG_5616

But the geology here is composed of such extremes of light and darkness that it screams to be rendered in black and white.

So I did that with these next few shots.

A study in the placement of cobbles:

_MG_5604 B&W

Nature draws an animal in millions-of-years-old stone – bovine? equine?? Either way, the picturing long precedes the existence of the beast, so it’s just a silly human interpretation of a geological phenomenon:

_MG_5602 B&W

This venue, Wilcox Hollow, has a lot to offer to a photographer, and I expect to be back soon – perhaps as soon as tomorrow! 😉

Morning Fog. December 3, 2012

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Here’s a quick black and white photo of a typical morning fog in the Deerfield valley, as seen from upper Florida, MA:

_MG_5403

Light posting tonight, I have an early morning planned. 😉

Geology At Wilcox Hollow. December 2, 2012

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Those of you who come here with any regularity know that I live along the Deerfield river in Western Massachusetts, and that many of my photographs are of that river and its environs as it wends its way from Southern Vermont past my home to its terminus at the Connecticut river south of Greenfield, MA.

Along the way it passes named points – The Dryway and Zoar Gap, where whitewater paddlers play; Shelburne Falls, where the famous “Potholes” have attracted Indian fishermen, artists and, more recently, tourists; Stillwater, where campers and fishermen steep themselves in the languid waters of the Lower Deerfield, deep and slow and tranquil.

Here’s a glimpse of a spot just below Shelburne Falls: Wilcox Hollow, a low meadow on “river left,” the Shelburne side (across the river is the town of Buckland,) which is being conserved and allowed to return to something like a natural state.

I ran into a group of UMass geology students there this past week. They were looking at the riverside geology, taking notes and photos and sharing observations:

_MG_5258

The consensus (and I concurred) was that this place was a lithic mess, with its “history” obscured by so many events over the last 400 million years that the true history was unclear.

I mean, WTF is this???

_MG_5254

OK, so the light brown rock is granitic gneiss, folded into undulating waves. The darker stuff is an interbedded sill of something broadly basaltic, perhaps a diorite, metamorphosed to where there are hornblends clearly visible without a hand lens. And through it all are the light banded “scratches,” which extend down through the interbedded layers, showing that they’re in fact later-forming fractures which have filled with… what?  Perhaps quartz, which is difficult to melt at high heat, but water soluble under high pressure.

It’s all so confusing!

These young folks were fortunate to be learning at the hands of Professor Mike Williams, chair of the UMass Department of Geosciences. I understand that he’s currently engaged in pioneering techniques of mineral dating which are yielding amazingly precise results. At any rate, he was fully present for his riverside class, and still had time to answer a few of my pedestrian questions about what I was looking at in the record at my feet. Thanks, Professor Williams.

But in the end, I’m no geologist. I’m a photographer with an interest  in geology.

So here are some artsy-fartsy black and white photos I took when I wasn’t standing slack-jawed with amazement.

Roots revealed by Storm Irene’s violent denuding of so much of the Deerfield’s banks:

_MG_5257 B&W

The feathered edge of a thin layer of something “broadly basaltic:”

_MG_5253 B&W

…with a cross-hatching of fractures filled with a lighter-colored mineral;

And a pothole carved into the granitic gneiss by a swirling rock, something harder, perhaps a piece of basalt:

Apostrophe B&W

This place isn’t beautiful on a landscape scale, but it holds a treasure trove of details for those with the time and patience to explore its nooks and crannies.

I’ll doubtless be back soon for more surprises.

A Bit Of A Strange Sky. November 4, 2012

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On the way home today, the thick cloud cover which had blanketed the day became a succession of waves coming from the west, alternately thinner and white, or thicker and…

blue.

It was a much more colorful sky than is usual around here, especially when it’s deeply overcast, so I looked for a place to pull over and get a shot of it.

The timing was such that I got to a favorite pull-out of mine, a few miles down river from my home, with a clear view of the river. I scrambled down the bank to a set of rocks which jutted beyond the brush of the bank and set up a shortened tripod in the shallows, kneeling on the second rock to get a shot of the first as a foreground for the sky. I had Elliot on the box and was glad to have a planar near-object to focus on and a relatively flat horizon. At f/16 I figured I had a nice fat wedge of focus to play with, so I expected the river and hills to all be well rendered, and that was indeed the case:

I really intended to just get a shot of an interestingly colored sky, but this shot turned into somewhat more than that, at least in my eyes.

It’s getting harder and harder to just take a snapshot.

From Elliot, with a degree and a half of downward tilt, f/16, ISO 100, .8 second exposure, and a hand-held 3-stop ND graduated filter. This lens vignettes if I use a filter holder.

Rising Waters. November 1, 2012

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Our recent storm has brought river levels up, and on a recent soirée I happened upon a pod of kayakers on the West Branch of the Deerfield river, up in Reasdboro, VT. Here are a few shots I took, zipping my car around, u-turns up the wazoo, scrambling up and down the river banks in the rain and hanging off the occasional bridge.

The river is small and technical, meaning that if you mess up you may well survive, but with cuts and bruises, a belly-full of water and a banged up boat:

It’s not that the amount of water won’t make you wish you’d gotten the line right:

…a “swim” here would be ugly.

But getting it right on a “technical” river of this size is a study in elegance:

…a flowing vignette in a too-often staccato life.

My favorite shot of the encounter is this panning shot of a kayaker threading the needle between a “strainer” and a hard place:

That’s 1/30th of a second at ISO 2000. Getting the forward deck sharp despite the tumult of motion was gratifying, and I love the energy of the shot, which brings back memories of being in a boat and dealing with the kinetics of the moment.

As much as I miss that, I’m even more excited to be working on capturing it from the outside.

Phall Pholiage Photos! October 10, 2012

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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.

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!