Archive for November, 2011

Waterfall weekend

This year we’ve had so much rain that the waterfalls are still flowing mightily.  Strange for this time of year when most streams, rivers and brooks are quite low.  Makes for some fantastic photography though and of course I was out there.

This is Mill Brook.  Yeah, original huh?  There is still a semi-active mill on this waterway, but most of them are gone (there are remnants of one just upstream and across the road from here).  This section is just before an old reservoir where the dam has been breached.  I wished I could have gotten into the water for this, but it was way too deep and fast for that.  So I clung to the bank and did the best I could.

Before the Dam

Farther downstream on Mill brook are the massive and difficult to photograph Garwin Falls.  I’m by no means the first photographer down there and it has been photographed in a more classic way than I have here, but I was interested in trying to interpret the falls differently.  They’re quite wide and actually curve, with tons of trees both upright and blown down by the Halloween Noreaster we got.  Also, the far bank is private property.  I could have trespassed, but I don’t ever want to be ‘that asshole’ if you know what I mean.  This first shot is just before the water plunges down the ledge.  I loved the little bridge I found.  No way in hell was I going to step on it.  Oh to be young again and indestructible.

You first

Just after the first drop, it turns a bit and I stood the tripod on top of a huge boulder and aimed it down.  The curvy log there I thought would make a great leading line and the angle is pretty trippy.  I don’t think I’ve seen the falls shot from here.

Salvador's Angle

A little further down the falls I found a big beech tree that had recently come down.  I carefully walked partway down a big slab of granite and shot from the side.  It’s another strange angle, but I like it.  That bit of direct sunlight in the trees in the back is pretty sweet.  I didn’t have much more time left though since the clouds were burning off and the sun was getting higher.

The Fall

Now let’s leave New Hampshire and go to Massachusetts and Royalston falls; a very accessible and dramatic waterfall.  The river itself winds through dense woods and has carved some very impressive gorges over the thousands of years its been flowing through here.

Tully River

I wished I could have spent some more time exploring and looking for unique compositions, but with the daylight hours being so short this time of year, I went right onto the falls.

Royalston Falls - the big drop

The gorge is amazing and almost as impressive as the water.  I got to thinking about the thousands of years it took to carve the rocks and how the course of the water has changed.  It is as close to eternal as I think it gets; it’s old and doesn’t care about us and what we do.  We might dam it for a while, but when we’re gone it will flow on.  Makes you feel so small and insignificant.  In a good way though; minimalizing my own existence has never frightened me.  What did frighten me a bit was the terrain and how treacherous would have been without a sturdy fence being there.  It did somewhat limit compositional possibilities, but I didn’t mind.  For this shot I put the tripod out beyond the fence though.  It’s about a 50 foot drop down.

The Plunge

After seeing the Royalston Falls I wanted to check out two more, but only had enough light for one.  It’s the massive, astonishing and incredibly difficult to photograph Spirit Falls.  I’m pretty sure this is also on a branch of the Tully river and isn’t far from the Royalston Falls.  It went for hundreds of feet through thick forest and dropped hundreds of feet as well.  The roar was so constant and so loud it was all-enveloping.  I poked around a bit, but I’d need hours and hours to find views and segments for photos.   It went down much further into a very large floodplain that was gorgeous from the couple of vistas on the top of Jacob’s Hill.

Spirit Falls

Well, that’s it for now.  I don’t have much planned in the way of shooting.  Brown stick season is well and truly here and so nothing springs immediately to mind.  Hopefully it won’t last long.

 


Noticing the Unseen

Even though it’s hunting season up here, I still get into the woods.  I feel a bit funny being so conspicuous in my blaze orange though.  So many times I’ve gone completely unnoticed by other folks.  Not when I’m on the trail or right next to it, but if I go off trail and am wearing natural colors most people go right by me.  It’s kind of funny in a way and makes me feel like I’m really part of the forest.  Here are a couple other things that go unnoticed by most people –

Scutellinia scutellata (common eyelash) - the whole cluster is a bit less than 2cm high

 

Even the least

Both of these were taken with the 80s vintage Olympus 90mm f2 macro lens and within minutes of each other.  I was so excited to find both of them and in post processing noticed how harmonious they were together.  I found them in a stretch of ugly clear-cut in a local state forest.  Just goes to show that if you look hard enough you can find something beautiful.


With Unpredictable Results

Fall is one of the most productive…well, if I can call it that, times for me as a photographer.  There are so many things that catch my eye and the season is so volatile that there is a surprise almost every day.  Here’s a few of my favorite catches.

Early in October things are still relatively mild and all kinds of delicate things still thrive –

A delicate foothold

But as unexpected things go, one of the prettiest is this –

Clash of seasons

Nowhere to hide

It’s pretty, but so, so destructive, too –

How the mighty have fallen

But at this time of year, it doesn’t last –

a brook with no name

and paradise returns –

Not far from the tree

but the mystery doesn’t end –

of earth and smoke

 

 


It’s the little differences

Ah that famous scene in Pulp Fiction where Vincent enumerates the little differences between the US and Amsterdam.  I had a similar experience recently and no, it didn’t involve Burger King either.

As you’ve probably gathered by now, I practically live in the woods. It started when I was a kid.  No amount of fairy tales would keep me out.  (what was it with making the woods scary or having scary things happen in the woods all the time?   Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, even the Three Pigs had a rough time of it there.)  Anyway…I love the woods and so when I tagged along on one of my husband’s most recent business trips I knew that’s where I’d go on my day alone while he went to his meeting.

I decided to go to the Long Hunter State park just outside of Nashville.  The trail I picked was called the Day Loop Trail and I thought it would be long enough to take up a few hours.  Also I thought it would be interesting enough with parts overlooking the reservoir itself and the rest in the forest.  After getting turned around a bit and taking a while to find the trailhead which isn’t in the main part of the park, I set off on my hike.

Timing couldn’t have been more perfect.  First – the foliage was at its peak, second – the temperature and humidity were ideal, and third – I was basically alone. While hiking this 5-mile loop I only saw 3 other people. Perfect!

The first thing that struck me as different was the rocks. Well, duh.  I’m used to granite.  They don’t call NH the Granite State for nothing.  The stuff is everywhere.  Most mountain trails wind through long strings of boulders. Huge granite ledges and outcrops give the land its uneven character.  In TN that granite is replaced by limestone.  It is just as ubiquitous, but looks much different.  A lot of it is carved by ancient winds and water and there are strange holes in some of it.  The way it is worn away at the surface and can sometimes run in shelves and seams was different, too.  After a while though, it was eerie not having miles and miles of stonewall accompanying me through the forest.  In New England you can’t go ten feet without tripping over one.  While our soils are fertile, the land is so strewn with boulders it has to be cleared before it can be tilled.  Rock walls not only got the stupid things out of the way, but they also helped establish boundaries for land owners. A lot of land now set aside for conservation was once farmland so the walls are everywhere.  Not so in this part of Tennessee.

The second thing that struck me was the undergrowth, or rather the lack of it (at least in this section of the park).  I don’t say that there was NO undergrowth, but sometimes it seemed that way.  I’m used to ferns by the thousands. Hobble bush.  Blueberries and raspberries.  Laurels of several varieties.  Maple leaf viburnum.  Witch hazel.  All kinds of undergrowth make up the NH forest.  So when I’d come across patches like these, it startled me –

Tennessee Morning

Progenitor

Like I said, not all of it was bare, I found this glorious swath of vinca minor which must be amazing in the spring when it blooms –

Yellow above, green below

So no ferns to photograph and weirdly, no mushrooms either.  Plenty of trees though and while most of them were yellow, some weren’t –

Heavenward

Sherbet surprise

Speaking of trees.  Here’s the last thing that kind of freaked me out a bit.  All through this part of the woods there wasn’t a single pine tree.  Not one.  No firs.  No hemlocks.  No pines.  No spruces.  No cedars.  Well, ok, red cedar, but it’s really a mis-identified juniper so doesn’t really count.  I didn’t see a single pinecone.  Very, very strange for this northerner.  Lots of deciduous like maple, oak, shagbark hickory and sycamore, but strangely no birches, aspens, poplars or beeches.  Again, odd for this little gray duck.

Unfortunately, the light wasn’t great for views of the lake, but I did like the way some folks had tipped up these slabs of limestone –

what is it with people and rocks?

In New England we stack up rocks along the trail (and especially on mountaintops) to make little cairns.  People just love rocks and piling them up on each other.  Funny.

Oh and here’s someone I ran into…well almost ran into on the trail.

Southern Belle

She was so different from the orb weavers we have up here that I wished I could have photographed her closely and better, but the wind was relentless and so I had to go for a wide open, high-speed silhouette instead.  I do wicked love that her jaws are silhouetted as well.  Pure luck.

And so ends my wonderful, magical and eye-opening hike through some of Tennessee’s beautiful forests.  Oh wait, let’s take one look back –

Headrush


Ghost Train of Versailles

Phew.

It’s been a “rough” four days.  Rough only in a strict first world sort of way.  I was without the internet at home for four days.

Oh noes!

Yeah, we had a wicked noreaster come through and dump a foot or two of snow on us.  Some got more, some got less, but a few million of us lost electricity and cable.  If it happened a month later it wouldn’t have been so bad because more leaves would have dropped.  Since so may were still on trees (especially oaks) we had tons of tree and branch damage to power lines.  Lots of impassable roads and spoiled nature preserves.  Bummer, but no injuries and no deaths except a few by carbon monoxide build up in homes from generator use.  The people I heard about were using them correctly (outdoors, away from the house), but didn’t realize a window in the basement was open.  That stuff is so deadly.

Anyway…I do have a generator wired to the house so I got to watch plenty of movies (all 3 Lord of the Rings which was a treat, I tell you), run the microwave, take hot showers and keep my toes toasty.  Better than most I know, but the no internet thing was killing me at first.  Then I got into a new routine and it wasn’t so bad.  Still, I did miss it.

So here I am with a belated Halloween post for you.  When we left Woodford Reserve in Versailles KY (the pronounce it Ver-sales, btw…oh my the French would be so appalled…it is SO American to do stuff like this…embarrassing, but that’s off topic).  Anyway, when we left the distillery we took some back roads.  We LOVE back roads.  This is why –

Unheeded - I went right past the signs telling me I shouldn't...could you resist this???

I tell you I couldn’t stop and get out of the car fast enough.  A train!!!  Stuff like this just doesn’t exist in New England outside of barricaded train yards.  OMG.  I went right past the notices telling me I had to have a railway agent accompany me to the train and not to approach it at all.  Bah.  Who could keep away?  Certainly not the locals who were wicked creative and put a haunted train together.

Ghost Train Crossing

Not all the cars were dressed up this way, but a few were and we saw lights strung up and even a fog machine.  Oh how I’d have liked to seen it at night.

Standees

Scaring Room Only

Oh it was fun.  And yeah, I had to get up into a couple of the cars.  Obviously others had done so before me and didn’t die…or did they?

Scene of the crime?