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A Vermont Minute. August 15, 2012

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Part of my time last weekend was spent toodling around southern Vermont in search of skies.

The skies never quite materialized despite forecasts and teaser clouds, and as the odometer churned, I wondered about the sanity of my venture.

I looked for rivers, and found none which beckoned. I looked for barns, and found none which called to me. I looked for wildflowers, but they’d all dried up in the preceding month of drought.

When at last I’d resigned myself to finding the route southward, a glint of gold caught my eye, passing over my shoulder, or rather I was passing under it’s watchful brow – the steeple of a town building in West Dover.

I turned the car around and parked, then took this shot with Gizmo and my 2X extender:

This steeple was fully clad in copper flashing and sporting a jaunty weather vane.

It troubled me only slightly that its directional letters were reversed from my point of view.

I got back into the car and resumed driving, but due to a lucky accident of parking I had to drive a little way up a side road to reverse direction.

And the driveway I chose to turn around in was flanked by a farm pond full of water lilies:

Ah, Serendipity, You Rock!

I threw Gizmo back on the box and got these shots before resuming the journey home.

Blooms beneath cat-tails:

…and  closer view of a blossom:

And among the hundreds of beautiful magenta blooms, one contrarian:

It wasn’t the fraught skis I’d been hunting, but when the object of my desires failed to materialize I was pleased to have these shots to come home with.

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Columbines! April 26, 2012

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…at a little ledge along Colrain Road in Shelburne:

These were pretty specimens and easily accessible, but I have yet to see them when the wind isn’t gusting, so I got what I got.

That’s my excuse, and I’m stickin’ to it!  😉

Summer Time. July 4, 2011

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It’s the Fourth of July, a great American holiday.  I missed the fireworks, chasing The Light with my tools of choice, and instead of Chinese pyrotechnics,  I got a few more shots of My America.

These are actually an assemblage from the week past, but hey, in the grander scheme they’re cotemporal.  (I made that word up because it works.)

For me, the absolute apex of Summer occurs when the wildflowers are at their best.  For the most part, we’re there now, though there will be other shows later.  Right now, the high meadows are filled with Rugosa rose, Ox-eye daisies, Northern bedstraw, clovers and vetches, and grasses unfurling their pollinated flags:

Thistles beckon bees to flit between them:

The fields are ripe, the grasses are high, and the clouds are full of promise:

…and the rivers and streams flow with the rains, which recently have been generous:

Two black and whites, from Rowe and Conway respectively.

And to end this American birthday, a sunset on the Deerfield river:

Proof that humid nights have their greater purpose.

Happy Birthday, America, and good night.

Falling Waters. June 17, 2011

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It’s been a rainy week here in Western Massachusetts.  Not full-on rainy, but rather, storms blowing through most days:

Lots of these anvil-shaped summer storms, lots of morning fogs.  Lots for the farmers to be thankful for as the planting season swings into high gear:

Streams which are frequently dry this time of year are cascading down from the hills:

…turning things pretty verdant:

Those last two shots were taken on Mount Toby in Sunderland; the next two are of Black Brook in Savoy:

…on a rainy afternoon after work:

Beyond the forest’s edge, the flowers of the fields soaked it up, exploding in riots of color:

…with daisies reaching up past red and yellow hawkweeds and clovers, toward the eventual sun breaking through steely skies:

If we get a modicum of sun over the next few weeks, this will be a stellar growing season.

But then, this is New England, so we’ll get what we get.  😉

Thanks to Elliot for most of these shots, and Ollie for the rest.

 

 

 

Strange Skies. June 2, 2011

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Yesterday after work I ran a couple of errands, and in the process, got totally drenched in a spectacular downpour.

So naturally I thought, “There must be mists rising on the back end of this thing; the sun’s still up, maybe sunset will get involved!”  … and I headed the car westward to see what I would see.

As I broke out of the storm’s western front, I saw the anticipated mists:

…but alas, the image wasn’t really compelling, so I drove on.

As the sky cleared, my auto-noodling brought me up toward Windsor, where I thought I might find some early meadow wildflowers.  I wanted to try to get some foreground blooms with some cumulus monsters in the background, something which can be done to good effect with a tilt-shift lens.

At a high meadow along route 8A I was pleased to find a view worth setting up for:

…with a nice carpet of Ragged Robin shepherded by a passable set of clouds:

This small version of this photo misses the finer details of the delicate flowers interspersed with buttercups, but hey, that’s the medium I’m working in here.

There were a lot of different types of grasses in bloom, with interesting seed-heads of various colors:

Tussock Sedges and Buttercups beneath a sky which was beginning to act up.

I looked for and found a patch of Blue Flag irises I’ve photographed in the past, and with Elliot’s trick objective lens, got this:

At this point, though, things got a bit strange – I thought the curving structure in the upper sky was some sort of aberration caused by my circular polarizer, but quickly realized that it was an actual feature in the clouds.  I stood back and watched in amazement as the ghostly sky began to boil, coalescing into radiating waves of gray and white.  It was as though all of the moisture in the air was being amassed and focused to the south, suddenly blushing as the western sun grew low and leaving the adjacent sky brilliantly blue:

The sinuous striations of the cloud’s underbelly spoke of spectacular wind speeds, and my mind raced with images of recent Midwestern disasters.  I was wishing for my 16mm wide-angle lens, but it was back at the car, and there just wasn’t time – I got as much of the total sky event as I could with Elliot:

I was gobsmacked by the sight of this unearthly cloud flowing from the sky with Auroral undulations;  calibrating the distance and direction of its focus, I thought, “Something bad is happening down Springfield way.”

With the light fading and mayflies gnawing at my every exposed inch, I jogged back to the car with frequent stops to gawk.  By the time I got to the road and put my Sweet Sixteen on the box the show was nearly over, and the apparition had resolved into an orange phantasm:

I would have liked to have held that image in my mind all the way home, but the car radio had other ideas: a frantic announcer was describing the wreckage in Springfield, Massachusetts, where at least three tornadoes had destroyed a swath of the city, tossing cars into piles and killing four people.

I had inadvertently photographed a sad bit of Massachusetts history.

A Rainy Week. May 20, 2011

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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.

Hump-Day Dump! June 16, 2010

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Here ’tis, the proverbial photo-dump.

You know, the stuff which doesn’t tell a story, but which you hate to delete without giving it its moment in the sun.

Dark blue columbines along the road in Savoy:

Orange hawkweed at a cemetery in upper Windsor:

Yellow Flag irises in a beaver swamp in Shelburne:

…and Blue Flag irises in a meadow, these back in Windsor, and set against a field of Ragged Robin and Buttercups:

The weather’s been un-June-like, rainy and cool.  Here the mists rise over a field in Charlemont:

I know, it’s grainy, but it’s a hand-held shot on a dimly lit evening, and consequently at a stupid high ISO.

And a bit later, a sunset as the clouds blew away:

Not a calendar shot, but perhaps worth sharing before I recycle it.

Hope your week is going well as we crest this thing and set our sights on sliding down the other side.

Summer Wildflowers. June 6, 2010

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Summer is a time for wildflowers which grow in open spaces.  Roadsides run riot, and fields flower furiously between mowings.

Here are a couple of early examples of that.

Ragged Robin rages in a high meadow in Windsor:

That one is courtesy of Elliot, my Canon TS-E lens, and exhibits relative clarity from about ten feet to infinity despite being taken on a windy afternoon, thanks to a fair degree of tilt and shift.

This next one, a field of buttercups up in Ashfield taken the next day, is courtesy of the same lens without the shenanigans, that is, no tilt or shift, just a straight-on shot, as there was nothing in the foreground which needed a close focus:

New England isn’t the best venue for a T-S lens, as it’s not particularly planar – one is much more likely to find suitable subjects on the plains of the Midwest or in the deserts of the Southwest.

But we make do with what we have, don’t we?

Springing Into Winter. April 16, 2010

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After last week’s flirtations with the ninety-degree mark, we’re headed for a spell of more seasonally appropriate weather, namely sleet and freezing rain in the high country, and just plain miserable in the valleys.

So before they’re all gone, here are some shots of the woodland flowers who had the audacity of hope before the world was ready for them.

Some tiny blue-eyed grass*:

…as yet unidentified.

Some similarly anonymous little pink things [*Trailing Arbutis – thanks, jomegat, for both of these names!]:

Bloodroot, wrapped in it’s leaf-cloak for the evening:

…and an early wonder, the nearly leafless Coltsfoot:

…improbably thriving in the sandy roadside strips where other plants languish.

This morning on the way to work there was snow up in Florida, with more forecast for the weekend, so this may be the last of the delicate things for a wee bit.

Except, of course, for shots already in the can!  😉

Random Veggies. June 18, 2009

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Bushes, flowers, you know: The Usual Suspects.

Buttercups in a farm field in Hawley:

buttercup field

I like the tumultuous sky in this one.

An almost invisible flower on a small, woody shrub along route 2:

shrub bud

As is so often the case, I’d stopped to photograph something else (which didn’t work out)  when I saw this tiny fleck of color.

Sorry, I’ve no idea what it is.

Here’s a close-up of the flower spikes of sheep sorrel, Rumex acetosella,  which en mass lends a shin-high red hue to our unmowed fields:

sheep sorrel

These little buds are about a millimeter across; I always thought they were tiny seeds, until I got Ziggy, my 50mm Sigma macro lens.

I know, “your check is in the mail,” right?

I wish!     😉

On a darker note, here are some yellow pond lilies, a.k.a. bullhead lilies, specifically Naphir variegata:

bullhead lilies

I found these in a pond in Plainfield.

And that’s all for now.