Archive for October, 2012

Moody mushrooms

Yeah, fall is supposed to be all about the foliage, but I always like to buck a trend.

Mushrooms offer endless subjects these days and hiking with me is basically an exercise in watching me put the camera on the beanbag and shoot another one. Since I always use natural light, sometimes I have to wait for the light to be right, or use things to hand to adjust and filter the light. Hemlock branches and ferns are the best for this since the patterns they make are broken up and variable. For this one I used the branch of the tree I was crouched under to ease the harshness of the sun, which I needed for the shot, but wanted to soften.

Is there no place I can hide?

Even though I take a naturalist approach with microscapes and close-ups, I do clean up a scene when I need to. Pine needles, leaves, sticks – if they’re distracting, they go. It’s unusual that I don’t have to do a little primping on every shot, but I didn’t need to do any for this one. Just had to wait for the right moment. The light was shifting madly with the wind in the trees and the passing clouds and so I just waited until it gave me what I wanted.

Those who wear the shroud

This next little scene is one of my favorites. I did get rid of a couple of sticks on the log that were sticking up into that greeny/golden glow, but the leaves were exactly as I found them and again waiting for just the right light paid off. I didn’t want it too bright and total shade was just flat and dull. Backlighting just adds a luminosity that only natural light can give.

Scouting Party

I should really try to find a good mushroom guide. Not that I’m planning on eating any (not that brave or suicidal), but I like to know what I’m photographing and other than Hemlock Varnish Shelf, Chanterelles, Amanitas and a couple others, I have no clue which is which. I have found a decent online resource, but even that is confusing. So many types are so similar to each other that I can’t tell the difference. If anyone knows of an online resource that’s easy to use and accurate, or can recommend a book for the northeastern US, please let me know.

Anyway…mushroom season will continue for a while yet. Until the first hard frost at least, so you probably haven’t seen the last of them.


Step into the past

A couple of years ago, when I first saw photos of Royalston Falls in Royalston, MA, I knew I had to go see them for myself. For the longest time I thought they were on the Tully river, but it turns out that the watercourse is actually Falls Brook. Original, huh? Hey, I didn’t name it. If I did it would probably be something like Amazing Time-traveling Waterway of Antiquity. Catchy, huh? I think I’ve posted shots of the falls before, but what the heck, they’re gorgeous so why not show them again?

Fall Royalston Falls

A sign says that the drop is fifty feet. It goes straight down into a round gorge. Looking at it, you can imagine the other courses the water took to carve the whole thing. It literally inspires awe. You can’t help but go silent when you first see it. Even though the falls is the star of the show, the supporting cast is exciting, too. That would be Falls Brook itself. Well, maybe not exactly, but the way the water has shaped the rock it flows through is wondrous. It’s almost like you’ve gone to Middle Earth or something. Intriguing shapes and surprising formations are literally around every bend.

Immemorial

Primeval isn’t it? You can’t tell by looking at that one, but right there at the end of the shot…that big rock formation is actually an arch. An arch!! Over a brook in New Hampshire. Well, it might still be Massachusetts, the border is right around here. Just look. It’s fantastic. You should have heard me laughing the whole time I shot. I couldn’t help it. Joy just bubbles up in this place and it needs a place to go.

The Arch over Falls Brook – an arch!!!

Isn’t that the coolest thing? I’ve walked a lot of brooks around here, but never saw one of these before. Other than getting into that pool (who knows how deep it really is), I couldn’t find a better way to shoot it, unfortunately. The water doesn’t flow under it strongly anymore, it’s carved a new route just on the other side of the rock. Now it just pools there, making a nice hangout for frogs, one of which was a few feet from me while I shot. Green frogs are so friendly.

The rock formations are incredible and the contortions the water goes through to flow are challenging to photograph. To the eye, many of them are imposing and mysterious, but they don’t necessarily translate to 2D. Some did though. Not only did I have to get the tripod into the water (and my feet), but I also had to move a really big branch out of this shot. Any bigger and I doubt I could have done it, but I did and it really helped focus the composition.

Beyond Reckoning

The whole place is tough to photograph, but absolutely engrossing to be in. Thinking about the thousands of years it took for the water to carve the gorges is pretty humbling. Geologic time just laughs at us biologicals. I did a lot of rock scrambling and wish I could have reached this one gargantuan boulder with a fantastic view of another amphitheater of rock. The falls are gone now, but you can imagine what they were like. Earthquakes even more powerful than the one the other day must have really changed things up over the millennia. I climbed on the other side of it on top of an outcrop like the ones below and just sat and listened to the water and thought about how ancient this waterway is. One of these days, when the light is more cooperative, I’ll have to find a way to shoot it. It’s pretty jaw-dropping.

Cliff Walk over Falls Brook

It goes on and on like that. I only hiked a couple hours down there, but I think I’ll go back in winter. Maybe after the first snow if it’s just a light one.

Anyway, when I was done there, I decided to check out another set of falls which are truly gorgeous (and with bonus stone arch bridge), but like the Royalston Falls, they are barricaded and compositional choices are quite limited. I did a little exploring on the other side though and there’s good reason for the barricades and the re-routed trail. The gorge face is crumbling and collapsing. Even where it’s stable, its wicked steep. Impressive though.

Doane’s Falls

Not the most autumnal images ever, but the magic of Falls Brook more than makes up for it.


Autumnal Indian Pipe II

Woo hoo! Another fall-themed indian pipe shot. The brown stick phase of these little guys is so interesting, but I find it difficult to capture well. It’s the texture and the funny shape the seed pods take that attracts me. Their dark coloring is a challenge, too; hard to light. I think I did ok with these though.

After the Fire

I shot a few with a plain brown background (an old oak leaf), but then I decided to put a couple red and yellow leaves back there and bam! Another fall shot. Even though the flowers dry and stiffen like this in summer, their brown, dessicated crunchiness just seems more appropriate to autumn somehow.

Shooting-wise, this one was tough to set up. I used a tripod and had a heck of a time lining up the sensor-plane to the angle of the tops of the seed pods. I knew I’d need them both in focus for it to work, but since they’re separated and at different heights, tripod contortions ensued. All part of the process and I didn’t really mind seeing as it was a gorgeous day and I couldn’t hear anything except birds calling and the wind in the trees.


Falling into Autumn

So short, but so glorious. Autumn in New England is an amazing time. Even though I’ve been a bit creatively stymied I’m out more than ever just to be there. Not only is there terrific color almost everywhere you look, but there’s also the crunch of leaves underfoot and the scent of them in the air. And the lack of biting and/or stinging bugs is a huge bonus.

My first trip out resulted in just about the only red and orange foliage shot of the season. I went to the Beaver Brook Conservation area in Hollis and wandered around two of the major ponds. It was early, but it was gorgeous. The sun never gets all that high and even in early afternoon shadows were coming up on the near side of the pond.

Spatterdock Pond

Less than a mile away is another pond and the color was not quite as advanced, but because the pond was so low I could walk right out into the grass and put something in the foreground. Normally this spot is a foot under water. Nice for me, but probably the beavers are annoyed.

Wildlife Pond

It was later in the day and the light is a bit warmer and less harsh so I think the warmth comes through better. Still, it was a great find on a terrific day.

More to come.


Autumnal Indian Pipe

By now you must know how much I love indian pipe wildflowers and how even though my original project was for one season, I still shoot them almost every time I see them. Usually they bloom in June and sometimes spill over into July. But October? October?!

Psyche!!

Braving the October chill

Yes, I did place one of those leaves back there, but not both. And they were right to hand. I’m not above a little manipulation to make the shot work better. Don’t you dig the pine needles though? Oh I love this one. It’s funny, I noticed an older one first; one that had already turned brown and then this one showed itself and boy did I go to work. So much fun.


I’m Back

Didja miss me?

Yes it’s true.

I’m a bad blogger.

Autumn is almost over (well photographically speaking) and I haven’t posted ONE shot yet. Haven’t even posted anything from my California trip either. Considering I was inspirationally and creatively pooped out was part of the problem. Several times I didn’t even bother taking the camera out of the bag. Just didn’t want to be that person, you know, the one with the camera. The one who doesn’t really experience where she is, just documents it. I did shoot though, in the one place I can never resist – the forest. And what a forest. Even though it isn’t terribly huge, the redwood grove at Garrapata State Park on US 1 in Big Sur is still pretty amazing. I haven’t spent a lot of time in redwood forests, but every time I do I’m stunned at how different they are from eastern forests. Not only in the size of the trees, but in the undergrowth, right down to the mushrooms (I saw exactly ONE). It even smells different. As fate would have it, I forgot my tripod in the hotel in Monterey and had to improvise like mad. Lots of camera on rock and camera on backpack and leaning on trees. In a way it was liberating; forcing me out of the normal shot and into something different.

Bracing myself and the camera against a tree –

Land of Giants

Modified Weaver stance –

Path to Glory

Camera on bit of rock sticking out of steep embankment –

Gold in the Valley

Camera on backpack which was on a slope steep enough that I had to stand on one of its straps to keep it from sliding into the drink –

Soberanes Creek

Surprisingly, even though it was so late in the season, I found a few lupines were still blooming. Their color is a bit different from the ones we have here, but the biggest difference is the leaves. Big Sur lupines have tiny leaves and the shade of green is much, much cooler. I couldn’t resist the contrast or the dew.

Late lupines

Even though the light was harsh and the wind wicked strong and relentless, I ventured over to the coastal side of US 1. I’m not thrilled with this shot, but at least I found something to put in the foreground besides scrubby bushes. The birds were a bonus. Couldn’t see them when I shot. Damn the wind though. I had to take my sunglasses off and put them in my pocket because I was afraid they’d blow off. Haven’t been in wind like that since the last time I was in California only that time it was in Mono Lake basin by the Sierras. Phew.

Big Sur

Another reason for no posts is that WordPress stymied me with picture editing. Normally I resize them slightly once I load them, but the icon didn’t appear. I searched the help forum to no avail and so just gave up. Hoping that things would be back to normal I tried again, looking in vain for the picture editor. Visiting the forum did turn up an answer this time and I got things to work. Roundabout way though and I’d have never thought of it so I’m glad to be back.