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Ice-Out. January 31, 2013

Posted by littlebangtheory in Action/Adventure.
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Temps in the 50’s and a heavy rain overnight have flushed the Deerfield clean of its frazil ice, as well as its shoreline shelf ice. All of it went over the dam at Shelburne Falls:

January Thaw

It’s looking a lot like a Spring thaw there; hope that wasn’t it!

As a side note, I had occasion to cross the Connecticut river this afternoon, and got a chance to wave “Buh-Bye” to said ice!  🙂


Geology At Wilcox Hollow. December 2, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Those of you who come here with any regularity know that I live along the Deerfield river in Western Massachusetts, and that many of my photographs are of that river and its environs as it wends its way from Southern Vermont past my home to its terminus at the Connecticut river south of Greenfield, MA.

Along the way it passes named points – The Dryway and Zoar Gap, where whitewater paddlers play; Shelburne Falls, where the famous “Potholes” have attracted Indian fishermen, artists and, more recently, tourists; Stillwater, where campers and fishermen steep themselves in the languid waters of the Lower Deerfield, deep and slow and tranquil.

Here’s a glimpse of a spot just below Shelburne Falls: Wilcox Hollow, a low meadow on “river left,” the Shelburne side (across the river is the town of Buckland,) which is being conserved and allowed to return to something like a natural state.

I ran into a group of UMass geology students there this past week. They were looking at the riverside geology, taking notes and photos and sharing observations:


The consensus (and I concurred) was that this place was a lithic mess, with its “history” obscured by so many events over the last 400 million years that the true history was unclear.

I mean, WTF is this???


OK, so the light brown rock is granitic gneiss, folded into undulating waves. The darker stuff is an interbedded sill of something broadly basaltic, perhaps a diorite, metamorphosed to where there are hornblends clearly visible without a hand lens. And through it all are the light banded “scratches,” which extend down through the interbedded layers, showing that they’re in fact later-forming fractures which have filled with… what?  Perhaps quartz, which is difficult to melt at high heat, but water soluble under high pressure.

It’s all so confusing!

These young folks were fortunate to be learning at the hands of Professor Mike Williams, chair of the UMass Department of Geosciences. I understand that he’s currently engaged in pioneering techniques of mineral dating which are yielding amazingly precise results. At any rate, he was fully present for his riverside class, and still had time to answer a few of my pedestrian questions about what I was looking at in the record at my feet. Thanks, Professor Williams.

But in the end, I’m no geologist. I’m a photographer with an interest  in geology.

So here are some artsy-fartsy black and white photos I took when I wasn’t standing slack-jawed with amazement.

Roots revealed by Storm Irene’s violent denuding of so much of the Deerfield’s banks:

_MG_5257 B&W

The feathered edge of a thin layer of something “broadly basaltic:”

_MG_5253 B&W

…with a cross-hatching of fractures filled with a lighter-colored mineral;

And a pothole carved into the granitic gneiss by a swirling rock, something harder, perhaps a piece of basalt:

Apostrophe B&W

This place isn’t beautiful on a landscape scale, but it holds a treasure trove of details for those with the time and patience to explore its nooks and crannies.

I’ll doubtless be back soon for more surprises.

Moonlight Magic In Shelburne Falls! November 26, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death, Politics and Society.
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Despite being a convert to Reverend Billy’s Church of Stop Shopping, I’m also a strong supporter of my local towns, and have of late taken frequent opportunities to promote the events and little businesses in said hamlets.

The most recent of such events was Shelburne Falls’ Moonlight Magic, which was a Black Friday affair (so much for my membership in the Church of Stop Shopping.) The whole town gears up for this night of sidewalk sales in a candle-lit setting.

Aside from the considerable pre-planning coordinated by the Shelburne Falls Business Association, the day begins around noon with our local high school students building the luminaries which will light the night:

Hundreds of these sand-weighted candle lanterns will be placed throughout the village and lit at sunset. They create a beautiful aura for this community event.

The village was striking enough as sunset approached:

…but destined to become even more so after the light left the land:

At any rate, the late afternoon was spent setting things up, with the main (Bridge) street closed to vehicular traffic:

Merchants set up tents and product displays:

A magician appeared on the steps of Memorial Hall and conjured an appreciative crowd:

Storefronts came to life:

Vendors showed their wares:

…The smell of a variety of foods filled the air, including this wood-fired pizza offering:

A parade motivated from the Buckland side of town, lead by the Expandable Brass Band:

…and a Snow Princess in a white convertible:

…riding past a Steel Bridge Santa:

…and followed by the Serendipity Stilt Walkers:

…and of course, a magical lady tying balloons:

…into hats for happy children:

And all the while, upstairs in Memorial Hall, Fred at Pothole Pictures kept a loop of Looney Tunes going:

…perhaps the most fun way I could envision to get warm between tours of The Street.  🙂

All in all, it was a truly magical night of friends and lights:

I hope you’ll excuse the ghosts and noise in these silly-long exposures, but it seemed to me that existing-light photography was the way to go for this event, and that was the price I paid for photographing it this way.

Trinity Church. November 4, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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This afternoon I stopped by the Trinity Church in Shelburne Falls and shot this detail:

Actually, I shot a larger chunk of this building, liking the geometry of it, and cropped this detail out of it. I may put up some different crops of this same image, as sometimes looking at the parts  of a thing informs you about the thing.


Here’s a different crop, using the same 2:3 aspect ratio as the original photo and the version shown above:

At the expense of losing the corbelled corner at the right of the first photo (which I liked,) this take echoes the proportions of the window, which I think focuses more attention on it. I also adjusted the blacks a bit.

What do you  think?

Surfing Bedrock. September 6, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Back here in Massachusetts, the Potholes along the Deerfield river provide a venue for surfing the bedrock of Franklin County:

Boys defying the No Trespassing signs and exploring their world. I have a love for this place and a love for this process.

Steel Bridge Dinner, 2012. August 21, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death, Politics and Society.
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Shelburne Falls’ 12th Annual Bridge Dinner happened this past weekend. The village’s main street bridge closes to motor vehicles and becomes a dining room for 400, which is a surreal situation when the light cooperates:

A long table is set with flowers and glasses and linen:

Plates await…

…the guests trickle in:

…and soon assumed their stations, anticipating their coming meal in the beautiful Autumn air:

It was a lovely evening to be out and about as people settled down in the hot sun and cooler evening air:

Salad appeared:

…thanks to the servers from Mohawk Trail Regional High School:

..and we dug it:

The table filled as the sun settled low:

…and the evening was well enjoyed:

The servers cranked:

…and the love of the moment flowed:

There was pleasant conversation:

Contagious congeniality:

…and LOTS of food:

Friends caught up between courses:

It was all well received, the meat and fish dishes and sides of all sorts, and at last, dessert:

It was quite  a nice night, so much so that I didn’t mind working – what I saw made me smile, and I had high hopes of capturing some of it to share.

I hope you’re smiling too.  😉

A Homecoming! August 5, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death.
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My recent Dash’n’Snatch run to Boston was to retrieve my elder daughter Mer and my new grandauger Franchesca, who are moving to Boston from California.

I’m thrilled to have Meredith back where I can visit regularly and perhaps even help out once in a while!

Here they are, visiting the Bridge of Flowers while staying with me for a few days:

…and again at the Hail to the Sunrise Park in Charlemont:

This was my first time meeting Chessie, and she’s a real sweetie!  🙂

After a few days here, it was off to her Mom’s house, where Chessie was greeted by the Neighborhood Welcome Waggin’, Cooper:

I suspect Pagan Sphinx will have plenty of photos from their visit, as Mer is likely to spend somewhat more time with her Mom – there’s a lot more to do there, places of interest within walking distance and a friendly dog to play with rather than our skeptical Mr. Cat, who pitched a hissy whenever Franchesca suggested that they PLAY!!!!!!

Hey, he’s a cat, she’s a dog, and never the twain shall meet.

Anyway, Welcome Home, Meredith and Chessie!  🙂

A Minor Disturbance In The Shelburne Falls Zeitgeist… June 17, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society.
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For the past two weeks or so, one of our little bits of Country Heaven, Shelburne Falls, has been transformed into a New Hampshire town of an earlier era, for the filming of the major motion picture Labor Day  starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin.

The town is abuzz with activity, some of it welcomed, as a lot of the people working on this project are bringing their considerable resources to bear on this little hamlet, and these things get sold as a boon to the local economy.

I guess if you rent lifts and generators, that’s probably true.  But if you’re a local small business which depends on people’s ability to get at you…  perhaps not so much.  The town’s parking has been usurped by roped-off rows of semi trailers filled with movie stuff:

…and the streets are filled with police redirecting traffic, gawking locals hoping to get a peek at Miss Kate (the Boston Globe reports that she’s loathe to even acknowledge the existence of us here in the un-California hills of Western Massachusetts,) and rolling obstacles like this screen/shade/reflector being moved down Bridge Street:

I had occasion to brave the melee to check on some photos I have for sale on the wall of Mormor Gallery, whose sign coincidentally appears in that last photograph.

I turned down Deerfield street, which was  nearly impassably clogged with carts and wagons filled with back-lot electronica:

…when suddenly, unexpectedly, there She was… OMG, schwiiing!!!

What timeless beauty!  I showed her bodyguard my very fine camera and asked if he wanted to trade, but I don’t think he spoke English.

Anyway, our little town is in flux.  Businesses like Mormor are dead in the water because people can’t get to them, and the folks clogging our commercial pores aren’t shopping, they’re working, making a movie.

And it won’t even have our name in it.

So much for the Mystic Pizza effect.




Susan’s View. May 22, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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This afternoon the showers broke, and beneath stormy skies, I snapped this photo of bugleweed in my Susan’s yard:

I was dressed to be seen in public and not to do nature photography, so this was a rush job, with me kneeling briefly in the rain-soaked grass and bending down with my head a foot off the ground.  A tripod set-up was warranted, but not to be.  Rather it was hand-held with Elliot at about 5 degrees of tilt, no shift, f/20, 1/30th of a second, no image stabilization.  Sorry about that last bit.

This is a lovely view down into the Deerfield river valley at Shelburne Falls, and has the potential to catch some great skies.  River fogs and sunrises come to mind.

At any rate, I expect to see this in many lights.

A Visit To The Bridge… May 18, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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…of Flowers, of course!

I’ve been photographing here for enough years so that I now seldom bring my camera when visiting.  Our town’s art spaces and galleries are full of images from here, some magnificent, some pretty OK.  And frankly, I’m not looking for a place in that queue.

But still, whenever I’m in town I find the short walk across the Bridge of Flowers to be irresistible, and if  I don’t have my camera with me I regret it.

So the challenge becomes to take a photo I haven’t before, to see things a bit differently.

Enter Elliot, and the prospect of limiting  the area of sharp focus rather than increasing it.  It’s counter-intuitive for me, as I usually try to extend my depth of field in my landscapes, but the distinctly non-planar landscape of The Bridge demands a somewhat different approach.

Well, enough words, and on to the images from yesterday, some more pronouncedly limiting focus, some laying a plane across petal-tops.  All the result of my undying love of The Bridge.

The depending blossoms of Solomon’s Seal:

A blossom on a bush peony which would easily fill both of my hands:

Alliums, thigh-high and beaming:

Azaleas (at the far end of the A’s):

A sprig of blue lupines:

…all taken on a breezy day, with a great deal of effort expended to counteract that fact, except for in this image of wind-whipped wisteria wound around a bit of superstructure:

I courted both the stasis of the woody vines and the kinetics of the dancing leaves, and am happy with the take-away.

All of these were hand-held, experiments as it were in tilt-shift photography, and encourage me to get back there with a tripod and attempt to do it right.  A more deliberate approach might yet yield fresh images.