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Inclement Weather. September 8, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Uncategorized.
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We have a weather system moving through our area, with a lot of moisture and substantial winds.

This season has been dry enough that I welcome the rain, and expect to tolerate the rest of the mess – the wind, lowland flooding, etc. It isn’t a disaster if Nature in general benefits by it.

I cruised a bit this afternoon, hoping to find a bit of lushness between the raindrops. Perhaps some plump moss, drunk and luminescent, or the first red leaves of autumn, richly saturated by the conditions.

The going was slow and the pickings scant; the recent bloom of mushrooms was bloated and toppling, and the moss was full but lacking the regenerative spark of Spring.

I headed to higher ground, hoping to find the beginning of our seasonal color change.

I wound my way westward around Mount Greylock, our state’s highest peak, and caught this view of a wind farm in Hancock:

A steep front was rolling in from the southwest, and I hustled up the Greylock road from Route 8 to beat it to the summit.

The mixed hardwood forest passed by uneventfully as  I crept up the mountain with Gizmo affixed to my camera; my last trip up this road had given me an encounter with an owl, and I wanted to be ready for another such event. I wasn’t so blessed, but still, the slow pace and attentive eye turned my uphill ride into an appreciative survey of my surroundings.

I still had Gizmo on the box when I arrived at the summit to find it in dense clouds, and took this telephoto shot of a snag protruding from the boreal forest:

As so commonly happens in a photographer’s world, it wasn’t what I went looking for, but it’s what I got, and I just say “Thank you” for that.

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A Surprise On Mount Greylock. June 19, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Action/Adventure.
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This past Sunday afternoon I headed up to Mount Greylock, the highest point in Massachusetts.  At 3,491′ it’s not a Giant in the Pantheon of Lofty Landforms; still, it rises a steep 3,000′ above the valley floor, providing exaggerated wind currents and a micro-climate which attracts migrating birds which otherwise wouldn’t stop in our State.

So, with Gizmo and my new-ish 2X Tele-Extender on the box, I headed up the steep and winding road from North Adams, stopping at the first overlook which afforded me a view of the Veterans’ Memorial Tower on the summit:

I was a bit disappointed with my summit view, the 800mm combo of lens and extender giving me tremendous vibration for this hand held shot.  By rights I should have set up a tripod, manually focused (a necessity with this lens configuration,) locked up the mirror to isolate that vibration, then used a wireless shutter release to avoid touching the camera.

But as I wasn’t at my destination yet, I did none of that – I just hopped out of my car, rested my lens plate on the guardrail, and snapped one off.  If I saw any interesting birds I’d go the extra mile toward some “keeper” photographs, but I wasn’t there yet.

And I was disappointed as only a nature photographer can be to encounter mostly robin’s-egg blue skies with puffy white clouds.  Not much drama there, no tension between Mother Earth and Father Sky, just… a pleasant  day.

Oh well.  Perhaps I’d snag some pleasant  bird photos.

The road to the summit wound around the south and east sides of the upper mountain, and I stopped once more at the Adams overlook, lamenting the flat light on the town and farm fields far below.

Suddenly a shadow flashed across my windshield – a large bird?  I got out of the car, Gizmo in hand, and scanned the sky for the shadow-caster…

…and there it was – a paraglider!  It darted into view, circled gracefully and disappeared behind the peak.  I jogged around to the other side of my vehicle to lean my lens against it, cursing that I hadn’t gotten up there in time to do a proper set-up, expecting the opportunity to have passed…

But there it was again, coming through the spruces, 50 yards over my head!  I focused furiously to keep the rapidly moving target in range and pushed the shutter release:

I groaned at the palpable vibration of the mirror flopping up and down, then made a few quick adjustments – boot the ISO up to 400, open it up to f/11, see what the shutter speed might be… Eureka!   1/2000th of a second.  I hoped that  would outrun the vibrations, at least as much as this hand-held scenario would allow.

The parasailer circled and appeared again, which is the photo above, reasonably crisp given the stiff winds of circumstance blowing against my efforts.

I continued shooting, getting far more shots off than I’d imagined I would.  This guy was good!   He played the mountain air currents like a symphony, hanging in place like a hungry seagull, swooping and diving like a kestrel:

He swooped in close enough for me to see his face and read the make of his gear:

He was sporting a spiffy new Advance Impress 3, designed by champion parasailer Chrigel Maurer for his X-Alps flights in 2009 (I Googled it,) ten pounds of comfy heaven, with an insulated footbox, on-board navigation capability, built-in hydration options… pretty cush stuff!  And…

…a built-in reserve ‘chute, in case, you know…  The red handle at the pilot’s hip is the rip-cord.

Mr. Bird descended gracefully toward the farms and fields of Adams:

…then rose up above me and… What The… !!

He began circling his wing in Giant Swings (though I’m sure the sport has a catchier name for them,) going round and round as he plummeted toward the valley below:

…then leveled out:

…looking over his shoulder at the dairy cows ruminating far below.

He circled and rose once more to a position above me, where an unearned trick of the light gave me this gift:

These shots were culled from many dozens snapped off in a hurry.  Frankly, I wasn’t prepared for this kind of action and doubted if any of them would be viewable, but was pleasantly surprised with the keepers.

Alas, I didn’t get any bird photographs…

😉

A Rainy Week. May 20, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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It’s been raining all week, making cheery, blue-sky photography out of the question.

It’s a good thing I don’t mind the alternative!

I took another ride up Mount Greylock, which was shrouded in clouds and mist:

The road winds upward through boreal forests of spruce and mixed hardwoods, on this occasion appearing and disappearing through banks of clouds.  Because it had been raining on and off for a few days, the slopes were alive with Spring freshets:

…and blossoms of hobblebush floated like spirits among the maples:

Along the way, the forest floor was littered with wildflowers, trilium and trout lilies and Spring beauty:

A silent form glided across the road ahead of me, obligingly lighting on a branch not far away:

We watched each other for a while, then went on our separate ways.

As noodling goes, it was a good day for taking the long way home.

Scene In A Pond. May 8, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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This past Friday after work, I found my way up Mount Greylock, Massachusetts’ highest point.  I say “found my way” because it’s a State Reservation and it, um, doesn’t open ’till Memorial Day, which is on the 30th of the month.

But hey, there was a gap between the concrete blocks closing off Greylock Road on the west side, so how was I to know?  😉

So I noodled my way up to the big steel gate at the Rockwell Road, which was predictably (and judiciously) locked, passing nice stands of woodland wildflowers along the way (but that’s another post.)  I turned around at the marker for Ash Fort,  a small historic site with a tiny pond where I’ve snagged a few photos in the past, and saw this reflection:

I thought it was kind of surreal.

But hey, that’s just one man’s opinion.

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!

Full Moon, Fuller Clouds. February 16, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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I tried to get some shots tonight of the rise of the almost-full moon, but thick clouds moved in as the appointed hour approached.  I thought the mission was to be a total loss, without even a sunset to show for my travels.

But then, crossing over the hills of high Florida on the way home, the clouds overhead gathered into pleats and folds, as though the frontmost one had encountered an impassable place and was brought up short.

I availed myself of the first place I found to pull over, these atmospheric anomalies generally being short-lived, and threw on a lens which I thought might fit the unfolding scene.

I got off this shot of Mount Greylock beneath what should have been a sunset:

… before the light shifted and the clouds bellied up a little farther north.  I threw my kit back into the car and sped up Tilda Hill Road for this one, with the light fading:

Again, the scene changed even as I panned my camera to the south, and again I sped off across Route 2 chasing the ever-shifting ripples.

Then, through a gap in the overhead blanket, the moon appeared:

…too high for a good moon shot, but nonetheless interesting as a landscape element.

At last I packed things up and drove home beneath the thinning clouds, arriving at Berkshire East ski area in time to capture one more 30-second moon shot:

It wasn’t the kind of moon shot I’d been looking for, but rather something totally unexpected.

I guess you never know.

 

 

Winter Views. January 28, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Here in The Berkshires we’ve been getting a pretty good dose of Winter.  It reminds me of the Big Snows of my childhood memories, and frankly, I like it.

January has been both snowy and icy, with the trees up in the hills encased in ice for the last many days.  Here are a few shots of that.

Mount Greylock, our highest point, from a distance:

That’s the Veterans’ Memorial Tower and the AMC’s Bascomb Lodge on top taken from miles away, courtesy of Gizmo.

A roadside maple magically encased in ice fog:

A barn slumbering in the stillness of snow:

Farm machinery takes a break:

A logging operation awaits warmer weather:

The main road to/through Upper Florida glows in late afternoon:

A fox’s trail through deep snow:

And finally, as the day ends, a look back toward where i began:

Despite the travails of winter living in these parts, the beauty of it keeps me here.

Thanks for sharing my day.

 

A Visit To Mount Greylock. May 15, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, macro photos.
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Friday’s work had me enduring the worst of what construction survey has to offer, jackhammers and concrete dust in downtown North Adams.

So after work I was ready for something different, and headed up to the access road to Mount Greylock State Reservation, hoping to find some roadside wildflowers.

I did a bit better than that; the gate was open, the first time I found it so this year, and I went the distance.

The Take was pretty good, with Trout Lilies being abundant:

…and the much less common White (Painted) Trillium in bloom:

These shots were taken along the road up to Massachusett’s loftiest peak.  At a humble 3,491 feet it’s not a jaw-dropper, but with 3,000 feet of elevation gain above the surrounding valleys, it still cuts an impressive profile.  This shot is from high up on the northern shoulder:

Clouds approaching from the west portended rain with a display of Jesus Rays:

…then soaked me and my equipment in a brief shower, leaving us as quickly as it had arrived, and with a gift for our troubles:

The evening ended with a return to the lowlands, where a fog was rising from the just-wetted fields:

Thanks to all of you who find the time to share my journeys.  You’re the reason I take my camera with me, and the reason I release the shutter along the way.

Mount Greylock. October 21, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
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Several views, garnered over the last few days.

First, a view of our proudest peak in sunlight and shadow:

Greylock from Cheshire

…and through a stand of autumn-ravaged birches:

Greylock through birches

Last Friday we had our first snow of the season, which disappeared from the roadways early on but lingered on high for long enough to snap a picture:

summit in first snow

…And lastly, a cheery shot taken from Adams’ Bellevue Cemetery:

Greylock from Bellevue

A salute to our highest peak!

Pontoosuc Lake September 10, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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A couple of views looking from Pittsfield into Lanesborough, with Mount Greylock (our State’s highest peak) in the background.

A tilt/shift view of the marina, getting pretty good depth of field despite my slow crawl up the learning curve:

marina

A small sailboat waits for a gentle wind:

red boat

I’m having fun with Elliot, my new tool!

🙂