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Stormy Weather. May 15, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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We’re having a run of “inclement weather” here in the Northeast, which is to say, we’re getting some much needed rain.

I’m not complaining, even if I have to time my garden activities to coincide with the breaks.  No rain, no garden, no business for the rafting companies which constitute a significant part of the tax base in my little town.  And most disturbingly, lower reservoirs, drier swamps and wetlands and reduced levels in our water wells.

Anyway, life is good when it rains.  And during the breaks, I find views of tumultuous skies over a bucolic countryside:

Late-day cumulobimbos  wading across the sky yesterday afternoon.

More to come, if the forecast can be believed.  🙂

Under Threatening Skies. October 23, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Politics and Society.
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Saturday’s Errand Gone Wild  found me driving through the fertile plains of Hadley and Sunderland, long famous for producing some of the finest broad-leaf tobacco on the planet, coveted for use as wrappers on expensive cigars.  While a whole lot less of that crop is produced here now days, there’s still some production, though it seems to vary from year to year.  This year, this particular field didn’t get a tobacco crop, but it looked interesting to me under tumultuous skies:

I took that from the roof of my vehicle, hand-holding two crossed graduated filters as I held my breath, as though that detail might negate the effects of a buffeting wind.

The clouds at left were piling in like they intended to unleash a torrent on me and Elliot, and as I turned to appraise the situation, this shot was framed in my mind, and shot in situ:

Elliot pulled both of these shots off commendably, even though I was rushing like crazy to avoid the impending deluge.

But the deluge never materialized; instead, I got to drive up Mt. Sugarloaf and snag this photo of the spottily-illuminated valley below:

Taken from Deerfield, looking into Sunderland across the Connecticut river.  I had hoped for more color, but autumn wasn’t its usual vibrant self this year.

At least the end-of-day light was nice.

It Stormed To The South… July 27, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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…So of course, I had to go see.

I mean, it’s not that I wanted to be devoured by a meteorological event, but rather that I expected to capture a bit of the kinetics which infuse the atmosphere in such situations.

Well, as so often happens in my life, I was late to the party; whatever was going to happen had already done so, and to the south of my photographic venue at that.  I’d driven madly to get to a patch of corn fields down by the Connecticut river near the Northampton airport, a place I’ve gone before when the weather sucked; it has the potential to give up an iconic photo of the Western Massachusetts I know, but does so only when caressed just so by rain and sun.

But the weather passed primarily to the south, and I was left with…

…what was there.  A farm with a truck-patch of leeks:


That’s from Elliot, with perhaps five degrees of tilt.  The storms passing to the south were pushing low clouds over the Seven Sisters, as the range of hills in the background are known hereabouts.  I liked the way that looked against the darker sky, and the scene was so planar that it begged for front-to-back focus.

I worked my way along the farm roads and tractor paths down to the Connecticut river, where yellow tanzies grew atop a high bank:

That’s Mt. Holyoke (the mountain) in the background, with the summit house of Skinner State Park atop it.  I didn’t get the “tilt” right to get it in focus; I was too close the the plane of the tanzies and wanted them more.

Well, having a tilt-shift lens on the box made me look for planar subjects which might benefit from its attributes, so I composed in two dimensions.  A fallow field harbors a bloom of Queen Anne’s Lace and asparagus:

The line of hills running away in the background is the Mt. Tom massif, with big basalt cliffs facing westward and some fun ice climbing in the early winter (for those who enjoy that particular trial.)  This afternoon it was simply a horizon element as I tried to pin down the Lace dancing in the breeze.

I wandered the field roads looking for foregrounds and sky elements, pulling over whenever I encountered something like these mullein plants with their flower stalks almost ready to bloom:

These things feel vaguely Southwestern, like a cross between saguaros and gerbils.  And again, I caught those low clouds sneaking in from the south.

A ways further along I was admiring another patch of Queen Anne’s Lace when a flash of rose caught my eye – a milkweed blossom audaciously pink among the pure Queen’s blossoms, and horror of horrors, hosting two beetles fucking in it:

They’re the reddish spots down left of center.  Trust me, in a print-sized blow-up they’re embarrassing.

Anyway, I thought all of this was augmented by the leaning power pole and the swarming low clouds, though diminished a bit by my inability to get this shot without the camera’s  shadow being in the picture (I ducked.)

But the overriding visual element of my drive through the fields was corn, tall and lush and loving the heat, and occasionally bordered by an un-tilled roadside shoulder of Giant Sunflowers (Helianthus giganticus),  so named for their height rather than the size of their blossoms:

They gave me a little foreground color for the last dim shot of the day:

…and were barely more than a silhouette against the flushing western clouds:

So I missed the storm, but got some shots anyway.  There will be other storms, and I will be back.

I hope you enjoy seeing these shots as much as I enjoyed the process of making them.

G’night.

 

 

 

Stormy Weather. May 7, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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It’s been raining a lot here this past week.

Now, I’m not complaining – Spring rains give us wildflowers and fresh green grass ad the promise of a bountiful garden.

But I’m struggling to keep our lawn mowed and get that garden into the ground without wallowing in mud; I guess my idealized vision of the bucolic country life is being challenged.

Ah well, history recalls that the lawn will  get mowed and the garden will  get planted, and in the interim I can pass the time wandering the countryside looking for emotionally kinetic vistas to photograph, such as this storm flowing along the northern horizon, dropping its liquid gold on the fertile fields of Franklin County:

The view from the fallow corn fields south of the Northampton Airport.

Now I’m off to dump a bucket of compost onto the heap where the garden is supposed to be, and if my shoes aren’t soaked by the time I get there, I’ll be firing up the ride-on mower; if they are  wet, I’ll just have to fire up the Toyota and go look for consolation prizes.

Namaste.

A Certain Kind Of Sky. October 29, 2010

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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So there’s a certain kind of sky I’ve seen through the years which, while not completely uncommon in the Northeast, happens only occasionally and is somewhat under-represented in New England landscape photography: the Dark Sky Over Sunlit Earth.  It almost always occurs as a powerful afternoon storm moves eastward, clearing the  western horizon and letting in the slanting rays of the sun.

While it’s mostly a summertime sight, I was moved to pull over in the hills of Colrain this evening as departing rain clouds formed a dark backdrop for sunlight on a stand of birches on the slope below me.

But I was barely out of the car when the patch of sun disappeared, leaving me with just the dark clouds over an unspectacular post-peak landscape:

Without my graduated filters, I blew out the sky trying to get some detail in the unlit trees; I guess that’s what happens when one wanders around without one’s tools.

But then, as I tracked the line of storm clouds southward, one of them dropped its gifts through a low band of slanting light, creating this marvelous surprise way down-valley:

I found this scene dramatic in a way which reminded me of things I’ve seen out west, and was pleased to be where I was for the minute or so that it lasted.

I hope you like it too.  😉