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First Snow. November 27, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Here in Charlemont, the high pastures saw a nice fine snow fall throughout the day.

Local horses seemed oblivious:

Horses in a pasture up at The Warfield House, a beautiful local venue for dinner or events.

Thanks to Gizmo for these shots at 400mm, with a 2X tele-extender for the close-ups.

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A Horse, Down In The Valley. November 23, 2012

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I snagged this passing shot of a grazing horse in the low pastures of Amherst, where horses inhabit paddocks once cropped by dairy cows:

It’s a bitter-sweet sight, with these proud beasties being confined by fences, but still it excites me. Horses are such elegant beasts, patient in their captivity, yet holding on to what makes them wild.

I wish that we Humans could present ourselves that proudly.

Plainfield, Between Showers. November 4, 2012

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A recent drive through Plainfield had me using a long delay on the wipers as a high-country drizzle thickened the air.

But thick air means a saturation of colors, and I had my photographer’s eye out for something to shoot.

I passed a pasture with horses set against an angry black sky, and thought that would make a nice image. But when I pulled over and got out to shoot, the horses came over to greet me.

Oh well, no majestic white horse set against the dark sky, just a close-up of this lovely girl:

She was just diggin’ life out there in the tasty greens, and fairly ignored me as I lay in the wet grass to get this shot.

That’s from Gizmo, at perhaps twenty feet. I was expecting to take shots of distant horses, but they had other ideas.

At The Heath Fair. August 25, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death, music, Politics and Society.
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Charlemont’s neighbor to the North is Heath, Massachusetts, and in the down-home vein of our Yankee Doodle Days, Heath has its annual fair every August.

This is a traditional New England country fair, with a focus on our agrarian lives and times. As a teenager I dismissed this stuff as “hokey,” but as an older person I view it much differently – it’s like a love letter to a friend who is threatening to disappear from our lives, and we know we’ll all be diminished if that happens.

So I’ve gotten it into my mind that I’ll do my best to find the hearts of these matters and share them with you.

Welcome to the Heath Fair:

There are animals of every description, many being judged for their exemplary breed characteristics, some just on hand to elicit smiles:

If these guys had a dollar for every time they heard “Aflac” this weekend, they could charter a jet to fly them around!

The grounds abounded with the fruits of these folks’ labors, including buildings full of arts and crafts and ribbon-winning vegetables:

And there was a full schedule of events, from the Church Ladies’ Ham and Bean Supper:

…to the Antique Tractor Parade – step aside, folks, they’re coming right down the middle of the fair!

And the music was a constant presence, all of it appropriate for the venue. Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem lit up Friday evening with a long and excellent set of alt-country tunes:

Their drummer took it up country with a kit comprised of a suitcase bass drum, cardboard box snare and Dap calking tubes, among other things, which he beat the pants off of to stupendous effect:

They were tremendous fun!

Outside the tent (and a safe ways away,) the fireworks crew were setting up with one eye on the sky:

The sky looked ominous as they hurried to wire the ‘works together and get it covered up before the predicted weather hit.

Still, impending floods be damned, the Tractor Pull went on as scheduled, with kids assuming their rightful place, which is “central” in these parts:

This little girl was dead serious about helping her Daddy win.

‘Round about the time local hero Ray Schwanger roll-started his old Farmall and made short work of pulling a heavy load, the skies opened up for real:

The announcer called a time out as we all scurried for cover. I hit a Sausage Grinder shack to snag my favorite guilty-pleasure fair food, expecting to eat it in the car while the downpour passed.

As I trotted back toward the parking lot, hunkering over my camera and grinder, I happened past the Heath Free Library’s tent, where I was stopped in my tracks by the sight of a young boy escaping the rain by disappearing into an entirely different world. I snagged this quick shot of the moment:

…which turned out to be my favorite photo from the whole weekend.

Thanks, kid. I owe ya.

Before long the rain let up, the tractor pull resumed, and the fireworks went off right on schedule:

I’m pleased with that shot as well, having struggled with the technicalities of shooting fireworks for a couple of years now and finally being happy with a set of techniques which deliver acceptable results.

Saturday was equally fun, though I was otherwise occupied in the morning and missed a few things. I got to Heath in time to catch Last Night’s Fun, a local Irish/Celtic band playing up a storm and laying down a soundtrack for a group of lovely young step dancers:

A walk around the grounds again found me surrounded by animals – baby ducks:

…rabbits, including this double-chinchilla:

…cows:

…bulls:

(…yes, a head shot. You’re welcome.)

I got to see the Adult Goat Show… and no, the Heath version is nothing at all like the one you may have heard rumors of down in the Gritty City:

And, of course, there were horses, the draft kind:

…the lovey-dovey showy kind:

…and the kiddie-kind:

Lots of horses. Enough said.

And speaking of children (I was, wasn’t I?) they were everywhere – crushing in the tug’o’war:

…devouring the competition in the blueberries-and-cream-eating contest:

I think Nathaniel subscribes to the “eat today, chew tomorrow” school of hooverism…

Kids  swarmed the truck-sized sand pile, with this young lady directing the relocation of the pile’s edges to its top:

A sack race bopped by:

…while tiny wobblers watched:

It was all very warming, and a pleasant break from the tribulations of a world on fire and politicians on crack.

Plenty of other stuff happened up at the fair, like the talk by an animal rehabilitator and her assistant:

…but I’m sure I’ve already tested your patience, so I’ll just apologize to those whose efforts I’ve left out. With a full boat of Fall events in the works, I’ll probably catch you later!  🙂

From Cows To Horses… July 8, 2012

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A horse up in Hawley:

This sweetie was fighting the good fight against flies, which bother the Great Beasties to the extent that if horses could commit suicide, I’m sure many of them would.

This one’s from Ziggy, my Sigma 50mm macro lens.

Horses, The Jumping Kind. July 3, 2012

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I stumbled upon this equestrian gathering at the fairgrounds in Northampton the other day, wandered in and snapped a few off before moving on.

One from Gizmo, hand-held at 400mm:

And some shots from Allie, my 24-105mm L-series zoom:

This one is cool for having all four off the ground, a testament more to the speed of the horse than the height of the jump:

And finally:

In that last shot, the horse and rider had just cleared the jump at left at high speed, wheeled and attacked this jump while still making the turn.  I don’t know if that’s considered “good form,” but it sure was exciting to watch!

Horses. May 9, 2012

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…Or, if you’re so inclined, “Horsies:”

Or if you’re not so inclined, Horses at the Equine Wellness Expo at Umass/Amherst two weekends ago:

Bo Derek made a cameo:

Kudos to her hair stylist and posture coach; she did everything except run in slow motion.

The Expo was about Equine Wellness, as you might have guessed from its name, and featured demonstrations such as this Reiki practitioner working on a rescue horse, and to good effect:

Yawning, chewing and tongue-hanging are all signs of “release” in horses, and manifest when pain is addressed or problems are resolved.  I was impressed with the range of skills demonstrated, mostly on a group of horses from a rescue sanctuary in Central Massachusetts.

Plus, I had fun trying to capture the day in photographs.  Horses are, um, not  landscapes, and don’t just wait around while a photographer figures out what they want to do!

A Hawk and Horses. March 2, 2011

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A hawk:

…and some horses:

And that is all.

G’Night.  🙂

Up Country. February 26, 2011

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Trucks sleep up in the fields of Shelburne after the last big storm:

Cattle daydreaming about green grass in Hawley:

A workhorse grown coarse and shaggy for the season:

…while in the valley below, Salmon Falls saves itself for Spring:

It’s a little farther along down in the flat-lands of Franklin County, but even here there’s a change in the air, a feeling that Winter is dying as Spring struggles to be born.

I Shoot Horses, Don’t I? November 15, 2010

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…to paraphrase a movie title from days past.  🙂

And the answer is, “Why yes, in fact you do!”

Here are some shots from Sunday’s visit to the “Equine Affaire” in West Springfield, Massachusetts.

This was essentially a horse show in which participants are judged on both their physical attributes and, to varying degrees, their performance.  Competitions and demonstrations were held at the Eastern States Exposition grounds arena:

This, I’m told, got pretty exciting at times, including a night-time show involving every sort of high-stepping, stylized movement, trick riding and acts involving way too much fire.  There were cowboys on finely-bred stallions:

Gentlewomen on stately steeds:

And, of course, burros:

…for those of us less poisoned by hubris.

Susan was working the stalls, giving demonstrations of therapeutic equine massage.  She found a gentle little Gypsy horse:

…who really dug the attention to his stiff neck:

…and another guy whose name I’ve sadly forgotten:

…who, after a brief communication with his therapist:

…got a deep massage which had him twisting in his skin to get at it:

He all but proposed to her on the spot.

I was impressed by the personalities and sentience of many of the horses we interacted with, and I’m looking forward to photographing more of them!