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We Interrupt This Festival Program… July 24, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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…to bring you a weather report:

It rained today.

That might not sound like Breaking News, but really, we hadn’t had any significant rain here for over a month.  The lawn is light brown and crunches to dust when it’s walked on; crops which aren’t irrigated are withering and dying in the fields.

This dry spell has meant that I spend about two hours a day spot-watering our garden, and have thus far  saved it from ruin at the expense of having to shut off the well pump when I hear the well (it’s right next to the garden) gurgling ineffectually.

I know, “water is precious, how dare you use so much of it like that!”

Here’s how:  eating is precious too, and THIS IS HOW I GET TO EAT.  I’m a starving photographer, remember?

And along with today’s copious rain came a nice bonus – the brown, dusty landscape was washed clean, and as mists rose from the grateful fields, I got out my camera and took a short ride.

Right outside the door, the Phlox looked more vibrant:

…but sunset was approaching as the storm receded eastward, and I wanted to get to a place where the Deerfield river was more open to the road, so I fired up my chariot and headed out.

I got to where I was heading just as God smiled down on our little berg:

I got down to the water’s edge to catch this reflection:

The light faded quickly, but not before a line of clouds lit up most wonderfully:

It was a nice end to a weather event we’d been needing badly.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

A Walk In A Welcome Rain. April 23, 2012

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It’s been dry here, bone dry, all of the last two months.  The ground is dust, the river is dry, the green shoots of Spring wilt as they emerge.

It ain’t right, I tell ya.

But last night we had a glorious inch of rain, trailing off to showers and drizzle as today progressed.  And while I’m not usually inclined to take a hike while it’s raining, this time was different, a blessing, and I got an early enough start to catch the last of the showers up on a ridge in Rowe, near the Raycroft Overlook.

I won’t say I packed lightly – camera and tripod, a pack full of lenses, and my rain set-up: a wooden stake tripod, big-ass hammer, two bungee cords and an umbrella.  ‘Cause I’m high-tech, you know.

Anyway, I drove as far out toward the Overlook as my oversized beast would take me without risking disaster, then loaded up and hiked onward to where the ridge narrowed to a rib of forest slicing through the fog and mist hiding the valley far below.

It was as magical as it always is in the mist – the last time I was here in these conditions, a big black bear loped by between me and the misty void, and though my vulnerability in that moment was clear, I wished it would happen again.

But it didn’t, and as I made my way through the hemlock forest I kept my senses open for a reason to set up the camera and umbrella.

I found this, a moss covered log so vibrant it startled me, cloaked in green velvet and sporting some newly emergent Orange jelly fungus (Dacrymyces palmatus ):

This is from Elliot, with about five degrees of tilt (!) and a hand-held three-stop ND graduated filter, which was the primary reason I needed the umbrella.  Little bugger doesn’t take kindly to getting wet.

I took a dozen shots, playing with composition and laying the plane of sharp focus in artsy ways, but none of them were more compelling than this simple early take, so that’s what I’m sharing here.

Crawford Notch. October 7, 2011

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The rest of Saturday was spent scoping out venues for if/when the rain might stop, knowing full well that it probably wouldn’t (due to the miracle of radio weather reports) and meeting back up with my friend Lizz for dinner at The Moat, a smokehouse-microbrewery in North Conway where everything is recommendable.  I had a huge plate of nachos with smoked-meat chili and ate every last bite, though that determined effort resulted in an ungainly waddle back to my car.

Afterward I noodled my way back up Crawford Notch toward Bretton Woods, where I’d last seen the headwaters of the Ammonoosuc.  I noted a few nice scenes along the way as prospective shoots for the morning, keeping my eye peeled for places where I might sleep without being told to “Move along” by official types (this section of the White Mountain National Forest has lots of campgrounds and expects people to use them, but I’d rather spend my limited bucks on quality glass.)  I settled on the AMC Lodge at the top of the notch, parking directly beneath a sign declaring “For Lodge Guests Only,” cracked the windows to allow my vapors to escape rather than fogging my windows (that’s how they getcha!) and snuggled into my sleeping bag for a comfy night out.

At first light I zipped back down the Notch to a view of Mount Willard which I hoped would capture some of the dawn’s drama:

That’s a flank of Willard on the right, where both Lizz and I have passed many a winter’s day plastered to exhilarating ice climbs, though never together.  It’s funny how we met much later and now have this completely different relationship.

A bit farther down the road I stopped at Silver Cascade, hoping to beat the crowds I’d seen lining the roadside the evening before, and succeeded in snagging this shot despite the continuing wind and rain:

Again, the rainy skies sucked, but the scene was compelling enough to get me to do the bungied-umbrella-thing, and I liked what I was getting.

Then a moose wandered up the road, and with a quick change of lenses (to Gizmo, dontcha know) I got this furry portrait:

I also took one with a bit of panning, generating this sort-of impressionistic rendering of Said Moose:

…and all without paint under my fingernails!  😆

A ways farther down the Notch, Lizz had shared a spot with me with some nice foreground details, though the dramatic background was now lost in the drizzle:

This was how the day went, with foregrounds dancing in the wind and backgrounds obscured by rain and clouds.  The great spruce-clad wall of Mount Webster should have risen from this scene, but only its foothills framed these New England asters:

Each of these shots required a laborious construction against the elements, and none of them really approached their potential – the conditions were just too poor, the atmosphere too full of crap to deliver the images I’d come this far for.

Well, you don’t know if you don’t go, so I went, and I got what I got.

Next up, the ride home.


A Poorly Timed Road Trip. October 5, 2011

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This past weekend I had plans to get to the high country of New Hampshire with my friend and photographic mentor Lizz.  We expected to meet early on Saturday somewhere in the Mount Washington area of the White Mountains for a foliage shoot.

But my Friday night drive northward was “blessed” with torrential rains, such that I was going 40mph on the Interstate, and Lizz wisely put off her departure from Arlington until the morning.

I got as far as White River Junction before the stress of driving with white knuckles and bulging eyeballs took its toll, and I slept in a park-and-ride.

Come daylight (and a lessening of the deluge) I forged onward, because you know, if you go out in these conditions you stand a 70% chance of getting skunked, but if you turn and run, the chances of a rout go right up to 100%.

I was going there for the colors, and as the Good Ol’ Boys say, “These colors don’t run.”

Along Route 302 I stopped in the town of Bath looking for a bush (damned coffee) and ran across the Bath Bridge, one of the three remaining covered bridges in this town, spanning the Ammonoosuc river at an impressive length of 374-1/2 feet:

There’s a Great Blue Heron perched on a rock to the right, who periodically braved the steady rain to fish in the pools below the falls.

This bridge is in its fifth incarnation, having previously been destroyed by both flood and fire.  It’s first incarnation cost We The People exactly $366.66 in 1794.

These days it’s an impressive piece of work, and replacing its intricate truss-work would cost in the tens of millions of dollars:

The orange patch in the middle is me in an orange shirt, trying for an effect which totally didn’t work out.  But hey, with a thirty-second exposure, there’s time to kill, and I managed to kill it.

With a rendez-vous in the works, I continued eastward on Route 302 toward the colors of the high country, hoping there would be a break in the rain.

Though I chose not to know it just yet, there wouldn’t.

Pond In Rain. September 25, 2011

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In Shelburne, along side a graveyard:

… in the rain.

Not much to post, but I’ll be back with more before you know it.

Wet Paint. September 23, 2011

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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.

Farm And Field. August 20, 2011

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So, rainy evenings might spoil a picnic, but they serve us photographers well.  There’s drama and contrast to read about, albeit with light low enough to fret over.  Here are a trio of Farm Shots for your consideration.

A rake on a rainy evening:

Curious cows want to know, “Who goes there!”

They followed me to the nearest fence to pose for this shot,

Sweet girlies, those.

What a bunch!

Chickley In The Rain. August 19, 2011

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It rained on the way home from work today.  I paddled eastward over the hills through darkly photogenic fogs, but it was coming down too hard to get out and shoot.

I kept going till I was nearly home, then took advantage of a lightening in the gloom to snap this shot of the Chickley river along Route 8A:

It was an atmospheric scene, but my kit was getting wet pretty quickly, so I beat it.

A Rainy Evening. August 6, 2011

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More rain came down on the ride home from Chesterfield.  It didn’t really pour, it just spat.  Much of the drive was shrouded in clouds, with landscapes and details appearing and disappearing like friendly phantasms:

A view down Apple Valley Road in Ashfield.

It’s turning tomorrow as I type this, and has been gently raining off and on for hours.

If you’re a lawn or garden, that’s great news.  🙂

Rainy Day Dreamin’. July 1, 2011

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Ah, the pleasures of a(nother) rainy day, greening up the woods:

…greening up the garden:

…and providing some peaceful evenings down by the river:

Daisy Fleabane closes shop for the night at the East Charlemont boat launch on the Deerfield river.

We should get some sun this long weekend as well as the soggy “usual,” so I’m pretty psyched for that!