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Two Seasons In One Day.* January 29, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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*With apologies to Crowded House, whose song, Four Seasons in One Day,  informed this post title.


I slept in this morning, which felt good considering that I need to be up at 5am when I’m working.

But at 58 years of age, I get really antsy sleeping my remaining hours away, so once I was up and as soon as I had the necessities of life under control (firewood, mouse traps, dishes, etc.,) I headed out in search of photos to share with you.

I went north into Vermont up Route 112, thinking I might find some river views, but the recent warm weather had melted things back enough that the snow was pocked with tree detritus, gray and old looking, and I didn’t see anything that made me want to stop until I hit the hills south of Jacksonville, where the skyline was glowing with ice.  I hung a left and climbed up a side road I’d never taken before, and may never see again, as I don’t recall the name.

I was glad I did.  The high country had indeed gotten a fair coating of ice, and was catching a lot of light:

I went through woods and fields, passing occasional houses and farms, appreciating the angle of the road relative to the light – ice storms are visually stunning, but I find them hard to photograph, and shooting obliquely into the light like this rendered it much as I saw it in person.

Up higher, maples dominated, casting sassy shadows in their new-found mirrors:

The frozen forest was a feast of contrasts, daylight and pitch black juxtaposed as only Nature can do it:

I worked my way northward to VT Route 9, then headed east through Wilmington.  Crossing the southern tip of the Green Mountains, I caught my last view of the icy forest beneath cotton batting clouds, Jesus Rays and all:

The skies looked like they might deliver something interesting in the way of a sunset, and I thought of looking for a reflection in the unfrozen ponds and puddles I knew I’d find down in the Connecticut river valley.

So I hit the highway and beat feet southward.

I got to Hatfield half an hour before sunset, just as the western sky began to make nice.  If you aren’t set up to shoot when this happens, you’re usually too late to do anything more than “snapshots,” hand-held and mostly unfiltered.  I reeeeeally  wanted to put Elliot to work and get the light range right, so I worried I might be too late.

I hit a farm road I know which leads through fields east of some tobacco barns, and immediately needed 4-wheel drive to get through the mud.  It was like Spring conditions, with mud over frozen ground, and no snow to be seen – what a difference from what I’d been in earlier in the afternoon!

I parked where the road ran into what looked like a substantial puddle, threw on a pair of hip waders and packed a few filters.  With Elliot on the box and tripod, I waded into the “puddle” to get the right angle on the sun and barns, and was amazed to soon be wading over my knees, coaxing room-sized ice flows aside to get through. By the time I got past them, I was at mid-thigh and  figured that was far enough, regardless of my view of the barns.

The wind had picked up, rendering the water too choppy for a decent reflection and driving all of the floating ice to my end of the puddle, which I’d realized by now wasn’t so much a puddle as an inland sea – I was mid-thigh in it!  I set up quickly, trying to dial in a tilt and make something of the extreme dynamic range of the scene, with nearly full-on sun mixed with deep shadows.  My first step was to just shoot it,  dialed down so as not to be over-exposed.  Without filters, here’s what I got:

Stopping it down so the sun wasn’t a total blow-out made the rest of the scene look like night, which it definitely was not.

As the sun slid behind some lower clouds,  I was able to open up the sensor in Live-View (prolonged straight-on sun shots can kill a sensor, which I can’t afford to do) and position a couple of stacked, hand held graduated filters to get this:

So much for the “onion fields” of Hatfield.

As the sun continued it’s westward escape, the skies finallt lit up with something like sunset light:

It looked like the Caribbean, if you could ignore the ice flows blowing past, but felt more like the Arctic Ocean.  I mean, it is  January after all!

I waded on through to higher ground, hoping shallower water would have less waves and perhaps get me more reflected sky.  I was sorta  right:

It was still too windy for reflected forms, but some of the colors came through.

When the light got too  low for precise manual focusing – Elliot is all manual focus – and my fingers were too stiff to continue, I packed it in, throwing the filters in my camera case and my camera over my shoulder, and fought the muck back to my car.  I rinsed things off and changed back into shoes, packed up the tripod and backed my way roadward, still in 4-wheel drive.

At the point where I could turn and drive out, my headlights revealed a scene which looked interesting enough to pull Elliot back out, albeit without the tripod.  I leaned back against the grille, estimated a tilt, fudged the focus and snapped this off:

Hatfield by Headlight, Corn-stubble version.

Anyway, the day ended differently than it began, and I got the benefit of two very different photo shoots in one day.  🙂

A White Thanksgiving. November 25, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Firstly, let me wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving day, filled with family and friends.  We all have so much to be thankful for, regardless of the mountains of crap we’ll have to get back to shoveling tomorrow.

But that’s tomorrow.  Today (or most likely “tonight” as you read this,) is a day to relax with a belly full of tryptophan and a house full of friends.

For me, that will happen tomorrow when my younger daughter Ursula will be in from Boston for a big hug and some of her favorite stuffing.  It’s my favorite too, so it’s never a chore to make it for her.  😉

So I had the world to myself today, and spent some time up in Windsor, where I was delighted to find snow and ice.  Delighted because so far this year we’ve had a white Halloween, a white Veterans’ Day, and now this:

Above a certain elevation, the wet woods were encased in ice.  The last of the untended apples wore it well:

…shedding their crystaline sheaths as the day warmed:

I found those shots on the way up to the high meadows where routes 9 and 8A meet.  It’s an expanse of meadow thrust into a wide open sky, and catches lots of weather.  I’ve taken some of my favorite photos there over the last few years, and always expect to find something worth photographing.

Today it was a wintry view, with the low meadow scrub sheathed in ice:

Rushes and grasses stood stiffly in the wind:

This spot is un-Massachusetts-like, and offers me a cheap alternative to a vacation.

Aside from the meadows, the area is primarily a spruce bog:

It was cool to see this suspended animation of water in the wild woods, as in these birch leaves caught in a crystal cascade:

So, a “White Thanksgiving” it was, at least up in the hills.  Tomorrow we’ll do the turkey thing.  Tonight I’m just going to wish you the best.





Hilltown Blues. March 10, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Down here in the valley, we got quite a bit of rain last Sunday night into Monday morning.  But up in the hills, it was a different story.

Now, I understand the effects of this particular storm were worse elsewhere – Albany, NY lost power, and many places haven’t gotten it back yet.  And Central Vermont got 20-30 inches of heavy wet snow, which  I would have loved earlier in the season, but by now I’m just as glad to have missed it.

What we did get was a good icing up high. Here are some shots from the Hilltowns.

Mount Greylock after the storm:

The actual peak is hidden in the clouds in the center of that shot.

A Hilltown River under a blanket of ice:

A tree-row dividing pastures:

…and iced trees silhouetted at sunset:

It’s a far cry from what was happening down in the valleys at the same time, but as the days pass, the Valley Weather is destined to win out.

I’m ready for that!

Hawley Bog Sunset. January 22, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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My planned excursion to Hawley Bog this morning didn’t happen.

When I woke at 5am with plans to be driving at 6, it was five degrees F out, and being alone, it didn’t seem prudent to go snow-shoeing around off-trail, crossing snow covered streams (some of them deep) to get to where I wanted to be.

I’d have gone with my usual Partner In Crime Lizz; it’s a totally different game taking chances with a capable friend close at hand.  But alone, uh-uh.  My desire to live life fully includes both intensity and longevity.

Hell, I’m just gettin’ good!

Besides, it was so friggin’ cold out, and my bed was nice and warm.  🙂

So, all you folks get is the previous night’s sunset, snagged during my recon for the morning shoot which didn’t happen.  It wasn’t a promising evening for a “keeper,” as thick clouds were moving in and the Magic Hour was slipping away, but I got across the first major stream and set up Elliot in about three feet of snow.  To get a fallen tree in the foreground and the jagged spruce snags on the skyline, I applied a degree and a half of tilt, focused on both and waited for a break in the clouds.

And waited, and stomped around, and waited some more.  My watch said it was now or never; the sun was setting, and that would be that.

Then, as these things are wont to happen, the horizon cracked just enough to allow me a few dim shots, of which this one had the most to offer:

I had to bring the levels up in Photoshop, but hey, that’s what the kids do these days, and if us Old Farts want to stay in the game we’d better learn to do it too.

Anyway, I had to have something to show for the effort of breaking a trail in for the ‘morrow, and I do mean “breaking it in;” the whole thing was a latticework of icy brush and boughs bent to the ground and linked in luminous lace.  It was a beautiful pain in the ass, and I’m happy to have salvaged something from the evening’s work.

I’ll be back there in the light, if I can manage it while the icework lingers.

Black And White On Ice. January 20, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Here are a few Black & Whites from our recent ice storm.

North Union Street in Plainfield:

Blackbirds on ice in Hawley:

…and, finally, black cherries in a mixed forest, again up in Plainfield:

Ice storms have their own inherent black-and-whiteness which renders the colors within almost irrelevant.

Next post, more barn shots!  😉

Ice Storm Blues. January 19, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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We’ve had quite a winter storm here over the last couple of days, with heavy, wet snow followed by sleet and freezing rain.  It’s made driving perilous, and shut down schools and some state offices and businesses.

Today seemed to be the end of it, at least until Thursday night when we’re expected to get the next Weather Event.

And being that we had some iced trees down here in the river bottom, I figured it might be interesting to get up into the hills to see what had accumulated there.

The answer, of course, was…ice!

Here’s a shot I took up in Hawley of a fallow field as sunset approached:

It was snowing lightly but insistently, and I got a bit of it on my lens.  I kinda liked the effect, so I left it.

I’ll have a few more to share with you later, though they’ll probably be black and whites, as the light was generally pretty flat.

For now, it’s “G’Night, Folks!”

When You Think You’ve Missed It. December 14, 2008

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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So  I hadn’t really gotten the Sunset On Ice shot yet, and the weekend was ending.  And with the Wash’N’Wire Laundromat looming large in my afternoon, I doubted that a decent sunset was in the cards.

But after I’d stuffed the last quarter into the machine, the light took a turn for the bronze, and I was Sirened away to the west, driving upward, always higher, always westward.  If there was to be a sunset, it would surely be in the west.

But the going was slow, with even the main roads narrowing to single lanes to get around ice-downs and power company workers trying to get it all together again.  And the western sky thickened with clouds, and the sun was gone before sunset.

I looked for views which might salvage my drive up into the hills, and found a few.

The grassy bottom at Spruce Corner:


A sky shot just west of there:


a cat-tail swamp in a spruce bog:


Even a bit of color in the evening sky:


I like that one a lot.

But then, a sliver of Laser Red pierced the clouds, and I knew that something good was about to happen, and I cursed myself for having doddled over poorly lit subjects and  not getting positioned for the Main Event, which I had given up on, but which, HA!, was now going to happen without me.

I pretty much put the pedal to the metal, watching the sky develope as I sped toward the west-facing Wildlife Management Area where I wanted to be.

I didn’t make it.  The sky crescendoed and began to fade, and I wasn’t there yet.

Then I saw it, a framing of the sky right back along the road, not what I came for, but hey, it’s what I got.  I hit the binders and backed up the road a bit to get it in the box.

It was cool.


Then I went on to the WMA to get the last of the sunset:


Then back to the Laundromat.

You know, I adjusted the first four photos to make the best of them, but these last two are just as the camera captured them.  I may yet tweak them, but I thought the unaltered originals were worth a viewing.

After The Storm. December 14, 2008

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.

It’s a mess out there.

Going on a million households without power, and the temps in the teens, ther’ll be some damage done.

But from the outside, it’s kinda pretty.  It’s like lace up close, and like fire from a distance.

I woke this morning just as the sky was losing its blackness to an approaching sun.

I popped out of bed, started the coffee maker and hit the road, expecting to be back with the half & half before the pot was done.

Unless, of course, I could snag a shot of the full moon setting as the sun came up.

Which I did:


Westward, Ha!

And the sun rose, and I followed it up into the High Country, where the perspective changes:


And the sun had risen on an armored world, ridge after ridge starched and stiff:


I cruised a bit, carbon output notwithstanding, and looked for views to share.

I found a stream:


…and some very cool spots in the woods:


And a few roadside vistas worth breaking out the camera for:


Those poor apples never had a chance.

An Ice Storm. December 12, 2008

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death.

Today sucked.

The weather was atrocious, with freezing rain being the common denominator.

I drove to work in the dark, slaloming between downed trees and power lines, plowing my way over and under trees strewn across the road ( one took my antenna off) and, ultimately, limboing under a live power line as it dangled six feet off the asphalt, the broken top of a utility pole dancing in the wind over the double yellow line of the rural highway.

I got to work ’round sunrise, to find the site ensconced in ice, despite its lower elevation.

So it was a short day, and the ride home had enough light to chronicle the carnage.

Trees down:


Utility poles snapped like twigs:


A world rolled by gravity and ice into a little ball:


The last was my attempt to employ “auto white balance.” and I’m underwhelmed.

So anyway, the roads were treacherous, and an estimated 200,000 families here in the Northeast lost their power, meaning their lights, heat, phones, refrigeration, and internet connectivity.  And as superfluous as it may seem, when the internet is how you communicate, asking for needed help becomes exponentially harder when you get disconnected.

So if you’re in the affected area, consider checking in on your neighbors.  If they need help, they’ll appreciate it a lot.