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Beaver Fever. December 23, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
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Along route 8A in Hawley, a beaver has decided to turn a tumbling brook into a series of ponds:

Beaver Dam

It’s pretty, unless it floods your yard and home, or pollutes your well with Giardia lamblia,  or just plain takes down the trees along your private stretch of brook:

Beaver Damage

City people sign petitions to Save The Beavers, while country people have to live with the consequences. As often as not, they find a way to make the problem go away, regardless of whatever laws the mammal-huggers pass.

I’m a big booster of Nature, but see us as a part of it which ought not to be disregarded, as long as we recognize the rest of it.

A Hilltown Handwarmer. December 1, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death, Politics and Society.
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Up in Hawley I came across a couple of young gents keeping their backsides warm, even as the weather kept their Budweisers cold.  They declined to be photographed, but graciously let me take a shot of their fire pit, if that’s what one would call it:


Oh, the many uses of a Chevy… It’s not your typical urban burn-barrel, but then, we ain’t in no stinkin’ city!

Spring Into Summer! May 30, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Spring’s wildflowers are the little ones which appear in the woods before the leaves unfurl and block the direct sunlight which fuels them.  They’re beautiful but transient, and I love them.

But they’re seen in the larger context as the opening act for the Girls of Summer, the wildflowers which bloom in the full light of roadsides and meadows.  In general, these are larger, heartier plants with showier blossoms, and these are what will anchor my photography for the next good while.

We’ll start with a roadside bloom of Ragged robin and buttercups along the side of route 8A in Hawley:

This might not show too well at blog-size, but it’s what my travels this day yielded.

Courtesy of Elliot, whose tilt of about three degrees gave me both the foreground and the skyline on a breezy afternoon.

Hawley Bog. January 26, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Up in Hawley, Massachusetts sits Cranberry Bog, A.k.A. Hawley Bog, which is the highest elevation acid bog in the State.  It’s an expanse of floating mats of sphagnum peat, harboring large communities of leatherleaf, bog cranberries, laurels and azaleas, as well as some less common species of plants and trees.

I got up there today in poor weather and worse light, just in time for the beginning of the snow:

…which is expected to turn to sleet, then rain, later today.  It didn’t make for great pictures, though the abundant towering spruce snags standing ghostly guard over the pall were impressive:

While this light isn’t conducive to landscape photography, it’s sometimes good for capturing details, rendering them in richly saturated hues.  Such was the case with these Northern Pitcher plants, Sarracenia purpurea,  which love to grow in the sphagnum moss:

They aren’t well served by this year’s thin snow pack; time will tell how they do going forward.

All of these were taken with Ollie, my 24-105mm L-Series zoom, on the box.  I really didn’t want to change lenses in these conditions.


Slithering Snow Snakes!!! January 20, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Four inches of new snow overnight, combined with persistent winds up in the hills, turned many a high meadow into sculpted ‘scapes, including this one on Grout Road up in Hawley:

I hung onto my tripod to keep it from taking flight with the wind as the world whirled dizzyingly by, snapping these shots at 1/800 of a second in an attempt to freeze (!) the charging armies of ankle-deep spindrift.  Elliot might have served my quest for accuracy better, but given his less-than-weather-sealed articulations, I stuck with Ollie for these shots, choosing f:20 for best depth of field and manually focusing about a third of the way into the scene.

Here’s another shot, perhaps compositionally cleaner:

I was gunning for the erosion forms just above the center of the frame, but they were obscured by blowing spindrift.  Oh well.

This looks amazingly like a dune on the cape to me; boot the white balance up 2000 degrees, and we’re at the beach!

Pardon my Trompe-l’oeil pretensions, but that snow photo looked enough like sand dunes that I wanted to see how it made the leap.  😉

We’re expecting a few more inches overnight and into tomorrow morning, so I might have more of these (such as they are) to share in the near future.

But I promise, no more Cape Cod In Hawley shots.

Get Alowng, Little Dawggie! January 19, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death.
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The other day as I was tooling up West Hill Road in Hawley, I was “chickened” by a calf trotting down the road at me.  He was followed (loosely) by a woman walking, who stopped when she saw me approaching.

So did the calf.  He stopped, looked left, then right, then back at the woman behind him.  Then he attempted a slow-motion walk-around, stopping along side my car long enough for me to snag this sheepish cow-shot:

…all the while, with me doing my best Frankie Lane impersonation, intoning, “Keep movin’, movin’ movin’…”

He did a prudent about-face (wouldn’t you???) and went back up the road, with Gil Favor* here dawgin’ him all the way back to his pasture gate.

Turns out the woman in the road had been walking by when the calf wandered out into the road and was scared my way.  She retreated as I approached, and between those two circumstances, Li’l Beefer got home safely.

Don’t you just love a happy ending?  😉

*I hope those of you too young to remember the TV show “Rawhide,” where Clint Eastwood got his break as a co-star, will forgive my dust-farting indulgence!

Winter Views! January 15, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Mid-January is a heck of a time to start  posting seasonally appropriate views of winter…  but hey, it’s better late than never, as they say!

Snow coats everything in the high valleys, which are sheltered from most of the wind:

That’s along route 8A between Charlemont and Plainfield.

If you’re driving around in these conditions and need to find a rest-room, the bushes might be your only option.

Or, perhaps not:

Look for this on the right as you detour up West Hill Road.  🙂

And of course, some color combinations are just plain striking beneath the heavenly blue dome of a winter sky:

A working farm in the rolling hills of Shelburne.

These are all from Ollie, whose 24-105mm zoom range allowed me to compose from the driver’s seat, or at most from a very short walk away.

More to follow, as I make them presentable.

Finally. January 13, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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I love winter.

I mean, I love summer, and spring, and fall.

But I love  winter.

So it’s been a disappointment to me so far this season to not have snow.

But as of yesterday, that’s no longer an issue.

Here are a few shots I found while wheeling around the hilltowns today.

A barn almost in the village of Shelburne Falls:

It was snowing pretty heavily at this point.

So naturally I set sail for Parts Unplowed, and found myself once again way up in the hills of Hawley, beyond the poles and wires of civilization, the buildings with actual lights in them, the last sliming belly-tracks of the town Dune-worms, to the point at the top of the hill where some local had proceeded me with his (I’ll assume) plow six inches off the dirt.

Hey, if my undercarriage isn’t floating, my tires have a chance of biting, and that’s about all I need.  Besides, from the top of the hill, gravity is on my side.

So down I went, passing an old cellar hole with its chimney mass standing starkly in the maw:

…a logging operation parked ’till the storm passes:

(They had apparently plowed this little stretch of the road, which was near the Berkshire East ski area wind turbine)

…and an inexplicable incarnation of piano dolce  sitting beneath a tree:

Pianissimo,  indeed!

That shot was taken in gusty wind and heavy snow, and required three tomato stakes, a big hammer, a bigger umbrella, several bungee cords and a buttload of heavy lifting from Elliot.

Plus a period of time where I sat in the wet snow and pulled the levers.

So anyway, I made it out, winter’s here, I’m happy, and it’s late, so I’m going to bed.


Trees in Hawley. January 8, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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A later-than-sunset shot of a treeline along side a cemetery in Hawley.  I’ve usually gone there to photograph grave stones, but tonight I saw this bigger picture:

This is kind of the yang  to my last post’s ying, if you see what I mean.

Our January landscape is still suspended in mid-stride.  It’s cold, but not bitterly so, and the rivers and lakes are unusually open and unfit for travel.  There’s no snow outside of pockets in the high valleys, and no snow in the forecast.  The prospect of beautiful photos of winter seems to have been postponed until another year.

But then, winter isn’t over, and we’ve been surprised with late-season dumps before, so I’m not entirely ruling that out.

It’s just that I’m not counting on it.


An October Surprise. October 30, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
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So, we got the predicted foot.  It’s just making a cameo appearance to promote its upcoming epic story, “Winter!”

It’s nice to look at, but like cement to move:

…and this happened without losing power!  That was a big relief, it makes everything so much harder.

This snow won’t last, sitting between unfrozen ground and above-freezing air.  It is  October, after all.

My back lasted almost as long as the shoveling job, then I grabbed my kit and headed for the hills.

Up in Florida (!) I found some oak leaves standing up and taking notice of the change in the weather:

The driveway shot, by the way, was with Ziggy, who usually does my macros; the oak leaves are Elliot’s dirty work.

But the days are so short this time of year that by the time I got to Hawley the sun was sinking low, and the few maple leaves that had survived the snow were picking up some color:

…and I had miles to go, dinner to cook and a hungry wood stove to feed before I slept, so I booked.

I hope you all survived your weekend as well.

See you sooner.