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Resident Evil. September 26, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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On my way through Buckland today (yeah, the Lion’s Mane Buckland) I rounded a bend in the road to see a startling splash of color leaping skyward.

Of course, I slapped on the binders and pulled off the road to investigate.

It turned out to be an infestation of Virginia creeper, an invasive vine which I spend countless hours trying to keep out of our trees and lawn, though I know it will still be there long after I’m dead.

Oh well.

Anyway, the drizzle and gloom which make sane folks want to stick their head in an oven are like Mana form Heaven to us crazy photographers, saturating (literally) scenes with intense colors and an immediacy which is otherwise rare.

I assembled a tripod and umbrella and affixed Elliot to the box with six degrees of swing to snag this shot:

The swing gave me tack-sharp elements from center foreground through the distant right edge of this image, passing through the Main Event along the way. And a hand-held graduated ND filter allowed me to expose for the beautiful variety of ferns in the foreground without blowing out the sky.

For all of its negatives, Virginia creeper is dependably brilliant in its fall coloration, for which I appreciate it.

Thanks to Elliot for snagging this one.

Vermont. October 10, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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I took the day off today to cruise around Southern Vermont, hoping to find something photographable in this Season of Colors.  But I was being herded by Big Traffic and I got to pull over less frequently than I might have liked if I were truly in charge.

The resultant haul is almost entirely shot out of my driver’s seat, with the motor running and passing cars buffeting me with their highway-speed turbulence.

A hillside along Route 7:

A closer up shot of the action at roadside:

Windmills along a ridge in Searsburg:

More roadside colors:

A swamp maple doing its swamp maple thing:

…and, a bit further on, the famous mooses of  Bennington, painted like they’re on a mission:

There are dozens of these all about town, nearly all painted in the most non-representational way.  But that’s what I expect from the fine folks Up North – a different perspective.


Well, it’s late and I have to get up early, so that’s it for now.




Going Home. October 9, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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So the rain never stopped, the pall never lifted, and I spent the better part of Sunday limping home with wrinkled finger tips, chillblained knuckles and two pair of soggy boots.

Along the way I kept pulling over for Yet Another Try, with a roll of paper towels tucked into my raincoat to keep my dripping hands from swamping my precious camera gear.  As often as not I got the works in place only to see that the desired results were not to be forthcoming, packed it all back up and pulled back out into the home-bound traffic.

C’est la guerre, n’est ce pas?

But I did manage to get a few images.  “Perseverance perseveres,” as I like to say.  And here they are.

Along the Kankamagus Highway, the Swift river rages from days of rain:

Tributaries swell their banks, flushing tannic acid from the decomposing forest duff:

The colors were pretty good here:

And with the mountains still obscured by clouds, I got yet more river shots:

With everything I had with me saturated to the point of near-uselessness, I wandered up over Kankamagus Pass, stopping only to photograph this freshet erupting from a roadcut:

Then I packed it in and headed for home.

There are a couple more weekends of color left in the season, and hence a chance that I’ll get another shot at capturing it.  But for now, that’s what there is.

Along The Ammonoosuc. October 6, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Well, a trip to the Whites conjures images in my mind of lofty peaks, this time of year draped in unlikely colors.

But this time up, the rain had different ideas – there would be no expansive views, no tableaus of mountains and rivers and intricate foregrounds.  Anything at a distance would be obscured by clouds or diffused by the intervening rain,  with the foreground details inopportunely shaken by the incessant wind.

Oh well.  I’d come this far with the knowledge that I had a 70% chance of getting nothing worth sharing, but that if I turned around and went home, the chances went to 100%.

So up the Ammonoosuc river I went, climbing toward its headwaters on Mount Washington.  A couple of nights in the sweat-lodge of my Toyota was a small price to pay for a chance to try.

And don’tcha know, Mother (Nature) provided, like she always has.  The high country around Twin Mountain was beginning its transformation, and though well before “peak,” the nascent colors framed the river in glory:

There should have been an impressive view of Mount Washington’s western flanks in the background, but conditions were such that there was  no background; a dense rain saw to that.

Shooting in these conditions necessitated a good deal of extra work which doesn’t show up in the photographs, but rather makes them possible – I had to construct a wooden tripod, lash an umbrella to it, and anchor it against the wind so that it freed me to hand-hold graduated filters in front of my lens to deal wit the low light conditions.  A typical set-up looked something like this one above the Lower Falls of the Ammonoosuc:

In this case the mainstay of the wooden tripod is pounded into a drill-hole in the granite ledge, probably an anchor for an earlier structure.  The drill-hole was a fortunate find, allowing me to take photos such as these:


If you follow this blog with an eye toward what I’m doing to produce it, you might have discerned the hand of Elliot in those last two shots.  I was getting a little bit desperate to find compelling foreground elements with backdrops worthy of the tilt-shift paradigm; these two photos were about as close as I got to realizing my vision….all taken in a steady rain and a pernicious wind.

More shots to follow, though sadly, nothing as grand as the White Mountains venue is capable of delivering.

Wet Paint. September 23, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Well, it’s officially autumn, and the weather here in Southern New England is emphasizing that point by turning gloomy even as it paints our trees with surreal colors.

Yesterday (yeah, I know, “not officially autumn,” but close enough) I finished work in Plainfield as a persistent light rain slowed to a drizzle, and I snagged this shot of a bog with a floating sphagnum mat:

I liked the tableau enough to work it with Elliot, to an end that is considerably better than this blog format allows you to see.

Anyway, I got inspired, and came home from work through Southern Vermont (another “close enough” moment) and was delighted to be dogged by showers interspersed with fogs.  The West Branch of the Deerfield river parallels this stretch of road, and though it Taketh Away a good many of the culverts and bridges along this stretch of the road, it also Giveth some lovely views:

My work was complicated by my desire to show the place as still beautiful despite the ravaged river bed;  many otherwise lovely shots would have conveyed more of the latter rather than the former, but my intention here is to let the world know that Vermont is still, and perhaps more than ever, worth visiting – your dollars, from gas money to lunch to lodging will be appreciated.

This section of Route 100 is, um, “CLOSED,” but if you pass that sign you might notice the smaller sign saying “to trucks,”  because there’s a dirt road reach-around up ahead.  I went for it, and basically had a lot of road to myself:

The colors aren’t yet anywhere near “peak,” but the fog between showers caught my eye.

Right where the actual detour kicked in (and yes, it turns to dirt before it’s over,) the Deerfield dodged southward through a deep gorge, disappearing into a snag of pines and fog as the light took a turn towards night:

A mile farther east the river would roar back to the road, eating Readsboro’s lunch and bridges in a span of 24 hours.  Road crews are still working on that, but a passable roadway isn’t far off.

Except for the first one, these shots are all from Ollie, my 24-105mm tele lens.  Nice piece of glass, that boy.

Weekend Round-Up. September 18, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Some shots from this weekend, which was lots more work than play, but nonetheless coughed up a few keepers.

I knocked off working around the house with time to take a ride through nearby Southern Vermont to see where things were bad and drop a few bucks at local businesses; they’re really going to need some support from those who can visit or send something ahead.

Well, I tell ya, they don’t call me “Mr. Softie” because I need the Little Blue Pill, but rather because my heart breaks when I see others’ suffering, and I had tears in my eyes going through Wilmington.  What a mess, homes and buildings washed away, the main drag a sodden wreck.  If you know of organizations keyed into helping, I ask you to participate.

Anyway, I’ve got enough disaster pics to string together into a Hollywood block-buster, so instead I took pictures of the changing foliage, like this one along devastated Route 100 in Readsboro:

Some red happening there, despite the crappy light.  That was taken from atop my car to get over the roadside mess.

Here’s some Vermont Beef getting just salty enough to be worth grilling:

They were intent on Hoovering that salt block perched on the rock, and I thought they made cute food, so here they are.

More scenics –

North Pond in Savoy, trying to grow some colors:

It’s a long way from “peak,” but that’s Today’s Version.

And here’s a shot of Bog Pond in Savoy MA, taken patiently between the agitated tail-slaps of  the local beaver, who apparently disapproved of my presence:

North Pond was an Ollie capture, while this last shot was courtesy of Elliot.  I like his ability to get that foreground pond lily as well as the rest of the shot, and hope to get something more as the colors evolve.

And then, of course, the sun set and the stars came out, with a nascent moon threatening to rise:

That’s all kinds of beefed-up, ’cause I haven’t yet figured out my Korean substitute remote shutter release.  This may be the shot that makes me dive headlong into debt for the real Canon remote, which comes complete with instructions and a a five-hundred-dollar-plus price tag!



Late September. September 27, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Massachusetts, like any place else, has its better moments.  And a disproportionate number of them happen in September.

Mind you, I’m prejudiced; I happen to have happened in September as well.  But that notwithstanding, the mix of warm wet air and cool dry wind do produce an invigorating perceptual pallet, weather permitting, of course.  This year the weather wasn’t particularly permitting, delivering oranges when reds were expected and substituting browns for the yellows I ordered.

But still, it’s been pretty:

Cheshire view

Looking down into Cheshire on the way home from work.

The niches in the landscape which had access to daily fogs and vapors fared well this past month, with dense fogs down at the river rising with the sun, misting the steep valley slopes before dissipating into a bright blue sky.

Mosses loved it:

moss in Florida

…as did I.

Hey, what can I say.  I’m a Libra.

Anyway, expect light posting for a couple of weeks, as Susan and I are moving in together; that is, we’re each moving to a mid-way location so we can both keep our jobs.

This past weekend saw the bulk of my moving, with my brother and me doing most of it (Susan is having health complications, and despite a laudable willingness of spirit, her body isn’t really cooperating.)  I’m certain it was a sight – he, at 5’4″, is the family giant, and though he’s fit as a fiddle, he recently injured his back.  Between that and my totally destroyed shoulders and right ankle, we must have looked like the Jerry’s Kids Moving Company!  🙂

And next weekend we do it all again with Susan’s move.  So you’ll likely only be hearing from me when I can’t stand up any longer but am too wound up to sleep.

Come to think of it, this may devolve into nightly posts after all!