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Evening Along The Deerfield. August 8, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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This evening’s skies looked like they might light up, so as the light grew low I headed down to the river.  First stop, the Route 8A bridge in the center of Charlemont, where the setting sun danced on the waters of the Deerfield river:

The light was nice, but the color wasn’t there.

After a few shots, I packed it in and headed eastward toward home.

But as often happens when  I pack it in, the light began to shift, and the colors bloomed, and soon I was accelerating past my driveway, heading toward a riverside view in East Charlemont which regular visitors to this site might recognize.  As I drove the eastern skies lit up, and I hit the binders just in time to get these takes on the fading light reflected in the river:

Our river is unusually low for this time of year, and the bones of its bed are exposed to whatever voyeurs happen by.  I’m embarrassed for it, and wish the roadside weeds would dress it more decently in its diminished state.

But that’s just me being anthropomorphic, feeling Nature in a way to which I haven’t a right.  It is what it is, and it isn’t really my business.

Still, I hope this is a passing phase.  My river can’t stand very much of this without losing a good deal of what it once was.

Serendipity. January 8, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Some while ago, a few years now if memory serves, I set up my camera in anticipation of a rising full moon.  My timing, though, was a bit off; I stomped about with an eye plastered to the Eastern horizon where I expected this spectacle to manifest, while behind me the sun was setting in spectacular fashion.

I almost didn’t notice.

Such is the trap of self-centrism: we miss what’s offered to us even as we pursue what we think we deserve.

I coined a phrase that evening and posted it as an off-hand comment, which has stuck with me ever since:  “Never piss on a sunset while you’re waiting for the moon.”   Thank you to my friend Paul from Albuquerque for recognizing that off-hand statement as a significant thought.  It’s kept me looking over my shoulder ever since, watching where I step even as I have Gizmo fixed on something way off in the sky.

That perspective serves me often, and most recently as I crossed the Route 5 / Deerfield river bridge between Greenfield and the town of Deerfield.  The sky looked as if it might burst into a showy sunset, so I banged a u-ie (is that a word?) and parked within walking distance of the bridge.  I got Ollie set up and dialed in, but then…

…nothing.  No fireworks, no singing choirs of angels, just a placid fading of the light.

Which, if embraced for what it was rather than for what I’d expected, wasn’t half bad.

Cottonwoods reflected in an uncustomarily placid Deerfield:

It wasn’t what I set up for, but it’s what was given to me, for which I am grateful.

I took half a dozen shots of this scene with very few changes in my settings, but this one conveyed the most tranquility, probably because the palette was subdued and homogenous and unconflicted by the oranges which the sunset interjected in most of the others.

What you’re seeing here is a combination of the dumb luck of Being There and a bit of elbow-grease on my part.

I hope you like it.




Nightfall. January 7, 2012

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Last night’s sunset was spectacular, though I was driving around in Home Emergency Crisis Mode and didn’t have time to set up a proper shot (this one was hand-held out my car window):

While this was being gloriously reflected in the Deerfield river at the Route 8A southbound bridge, I was furiously hunting for a way to either corroborate or dismiss my house’s screaming carbon monoxide alarm.  I settled on a new monitor to be set up along side the wailing one in the upstairs hall, and when the new one registered nothing I assumed the old one to be the victim of dust and spiders (not uncommon in these old houses.)

Anyway, the photo I got was only blog-worthy, but sometimes living trumps taking photographs.

Tonight though, with no life-threatening emergencies to deal with, I took the time required to get this shot of the (almost) full moon rising over our starlit barn:

I stopped this down (f/20) to necessitate a thirty-second exposure, then “light-painted” the prayer flags in the foreground, a technique frequently use by photographers of the night to get foreground elements to register.  I know, it’s a clunky effort, but I’m just learning, so I’ll take it.

Have a good night – I’m off to bed.

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.





An Evening Shot. August 13, 2009

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, Love and Death.
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Sunsets in these parts have lately been pretty “meh,” with occasional fleeting color thrown in.

One evening, around the time of the Sturgeon Moon, the western sky offered up a puff of pink as the land lost its light:

pink sunset

It was the kind of night which yielded a better experience than photograph.

Lately I’ve been stopping when the light gets good, getting out of the car and into the fields, leaving the camera behind.  I don’t want to miss this, this Season of Light.  I want to live it.  And sometimes that means having my hands free, traveling lightly, focusing on a distant point of interest.

Sometimes I don’t have much to show you here, and if I’m lucky, it’s because I’m just too busy looking at it myself.


Sunsets March 1, 2008

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Caught the sun going down today, having hustled Westward to a place where the land meets the sky and the west winds blow.

In fact, they nearly blew me over!

With one hand on the strings of my hat and the other on my tripod, I managed these shots, shaky at best but nonetheless worth sharing, at least I think so:



Soon this will all dissolve into Spring, and the muted colors will be supplanted by greens and browns and hints of red.

I’m gonna like that.