One of my favorite things about the woods is finding the unexpected. Around here conservation land usually has a past, meaning it hasn’t always been conservation land. A lot of it has been logged, farmed, lived on, mined and used for lots of other things, often yielding up its secrets decades later. This bridge isn’t necessarily one of them, but the nearby stone loading bay full of trash from before the days of plastic is. Passing by on the road you’d never know either was there unless you looked.
And what would a trek through the woods on old roads be without an abandoned car?
The roads leading to this site haven’t been passable in decades, but enough of them remain so you can imagine a little of what it was like. I love finding stuff like this even though I’m a nature girl at heart. Maybe it’s because of the way nature reclaims its ground. How it weathers, ages and reduces in grandeur the works of man. Except for those glass bottles. Those will probably last forever.
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 –
But as unexpected things go, one of the prettiest is this –
It’s pretty, but so, so destructive, too –
But at this time of year, it doesn’t last –
and paradise returns –
but the mystery doesn’t end –
Outdoors photographers are at the mercy of the sun and clouds. We can’t make our own perfect light and so when it comes along we have to recognize it and get out there. My favorite kind of light is hazy clouds with breaks of blue sky. Not quite overcast, but not quite full sun either. It usually happens ahead of a storm – way ahead. I love it when I find it as I did with the Abandoned House shoot and on this one I decided to do when I saw what kind of day it was shaping up to be. Well, day would be stretching it. I probably had an hour or two of this perfect, soft, lovely light that still had shadows in it. So it being stick season I went to shoot more mills. I’ve kind of got an obsession going with them.
Just look at that light though. Look what it does to the clouds. The trees. The buildings. It’s wonderful. There’s definition there without overpowering or being too contrasty. There’s softness there, but without being flat. It reminds me of ‘the golden hour’ light, but a bit cooler in temperature. Even in shade and in monochrome it works.
While I shot these first few from that walkway up there, someone in a nearby building was wailing on a guitar. It sounded great and I was disappointed when it stopped. I don’t think he could hear my applause.
Not all of the mills or factories in the Nashua millyard are occupied, though many are. Some are abandoned and I bravely trespassed. Well, there wasn’t a sign saying I couldn’t be there, but I always half expect someone to confront me even though it’s never happened. The light was starting to go, but it was still pretty damn good.
Old, abandoned factories make me so sad. Once we had thriving manufacturing. We did stuff. We built stuff. Now we just want it cheap, but we still pay. When I walk between the buildings I think of the hive of activity it must have been. Trains. Trucks. Pallets of finished merchandise or raw materials. People coming and going. Time clocks. Whistles. Shift changes. All gone now. But that light…it lures me out to document what’s left.
Son of Massive Dynamic. Told ya I’d go back. Yesterday afternoon was a pretty good day to be out. Better than today which is overcast and blah. Anyway, I didn’t take these two shots deliberately to match. They’re like bookends and I only noticed it when I got to processing them. I mean, it’s not too shocking considering how I compose shots and the time of day, but man, they are pretty cool together. Even though there is a bit of color in the trees and sky, I still went with monochrome to preserve the feeling of the bridge set as a whole and to emphasize form and lines. That’s my excuse anyway.
Oh, so you want some color now do you? Well, ok.
I’m really pleased with how that one turned out. After repositioning the tripod a few times, I got that ridge of white water to angle where I wanted it. The combination of polarizer and neutral density filter gave me the colors and exposure I wanted. The Merrimack is no river to fool with and so while I did want to convey an idea of it’s flow, I also wanted to preserve the feeling of power and so a 1 second exposure was pretty good at doing both. I tried both slower and faster and neither works as well as this. It also brings up the yellow reflections of the leaves pretty well which to me, adds interest.
Anyway, I have a few more from this ramble, but I’ll save them for another post.
Props to the writers of Fringe for the great company name. I’m surprised it is still available for TV to use and I couldn’t resist borrowing it for this series of photos. I think it encapsulates the industrial authority of the bridge and the persistent ecology that it spans. That being the Merrimack river.
A funny story led me to photograph this bridge. My mom has a neighbor who we think isn’t right in the head. If it’s the person I remember from my childhood, she used to be married and had a couple of kids. Now it’s pretty clear she’s alone and probably a hoarder although our only evidence for this is the couple of junked cars in the yard. This is not the strange part though. The strange part is the fact that she walks to work. Ok, by itself that’s not so weird, but it is a long way. Probably 8 miles one way on secondary roads with no sidewalks or other pedestrian aids. And she has to cross a river. The Merrimack.
Only problem is the one footbridge I know of is in the city and quite a bit out of the way. The other bridges are highways and the one nearest her isn’t open to pedestrians…like any highways are. So that leaves a disused train trestle. At first I pictured something rickety, dangerous and falling to pieces, inducing visions of stumbling and watching my shoe drop away from me into the raging water below. I should have known better. This is a train bridge after all. Infrastructure built to last.
Maybe 20 years ago it was still possible to get a car over this bridge. My husband’s friend surprised him by showing up at the house a good 15 minutes before expected because he used this bridge instead of the legal one. He was so casual about it – “oh I used that old train bridge down the road” – like it was nothing. Now though it’s blocked off by a berm. Supposedly some assholes dumped some stolen cars off it. Looks like that would be really hard to do. And what’s the point of stealing cars just to dump them in the river? Ah, urban legends.
Damn, look at that bridge. Isn’t it great? I can’t believe I’ve gone by it thousands of times and never stopped to look. It’s visible from a main road that connects my neighborhood to the highway. Incredible. And you can see it from the car when you’re on the main bridge over the river. I’ve seen it hundreds of times that way, but never close up.
When I explored it was a nice day. High 60s or low 70s. Breezy. The sun was out most of the time. Pretty much perfect if a tad cloudy. Not so bad for this lady to make her way across every day. The scenery is worth it even if she didn’t need to get to work. Looking up river gives the best view –
Pretty cool. But what about at night? What about winter? What about winter at night? Apparently this doesn’t give the walking lady a second thought. Or a first. She wears black and nothing reflective. I don’t even know if she uses a flashlight. She’s gonna get smacked by a car one of these days. Either that or she’s going to run into a bunch of kids out drinking on the beach under the bridge. It’s crazy. Why doesn’t she get one of the junked cars working? Or take a bus…I’m pretty sure it’s possible, but she would still have to walk a few miles to the nearest stop. Why doesn’t she get a job on her side of the river (there’s another Macy’s over there, so it shouldn’t be that hard)? Freakin’ weird. Maybe someday she’ll turn into an urban legend, too. Must be the bridge.
Even though I’m still mourning my boy, I have been out shooting. Partly it takes my mind off him (which I stupidly feel guilt over), but mostly I’m glad I can. The health crisis I came though only had one stage of cure/recovery, but could have had two, the second of which would have totally canceled my fall shooting ability. Luckily though, I am mobile.
The other day I met up with some friends and we went up north to the White Mountains. As I still shouldn’t be carrying anything heavy, I pared down my equipment and only shot with the E-30 and the ZD 12-60mm zoom. I brought my travel tripod instead of the Bogen Beast. It proved an excellent combination. I didn’t know we were going on a covered bridge quest, but that’s what we ended up doing. It was like being a tourist in my own state. Of course bridges weren’t the only things worth photographing, but our first stop was Blair Bridge –
Racing the sun, we headed to Ellsworth hill. The valley fog adds a touch of distinction to what would probably be just another foliage shot. The gate, too adds something. At first I thought it was too overwhelming, but now I’m used to it.
I couldn’t resist a detail shot of another gate further along in the wall surrounding the meadows. It’s an iris seed pod and I love the touch of sun on what is the horizon in the background.
Another stop within easy reach was Smart’s Brook. Ever-popular it never fails to provide opportunities for memorable photos –
From here we went to the fabled Kancamagus Highway, renowned for its foliage and tourist throngs. On this trip we had both and only stopped once. If it were me I would have pulled off at some barely populated trailheads and hiked a bit, but I wasn’t driving and I wasn’t in charge. We ended up at Albany bridge which spans the highly photogenic Swift River. It’s hard not to fall into cliche gap when photographing here –
In the end, it was a good day. Hopefully next year I’ll be able to be more active and do some hiking up that way, but this year I was very grateful to have the opportunity at all.
The other weekend we took a road trip to Vermont. We had destinations of sorts, but it was really just an excuse for my husband to get some seat time in his new Audi S4. I brought the camera along as usual even though this wasn’t a photography trip per se. He’s used to it by now. It was sunny with a few clouds in the sky and pretty warm.
This first one is so quintessentially Vermont that I’m almost embarrassed I took it.
Not the same barn, but this is what happens when they fall into disuse –
We got out of the car for a bit to stretch our legs in a new little park on Route 2 in Marshfield. The restored covered bridge went up last year and spans the Winooski River. It is one of the only agricultural bridges left.
There’s a meadow with a funny little henge in it –
You didn’t think I’d get through a whole post without a black and white did you? I particularly love this one. It’s a slight crop from the original – to get is square essentially and even though the color version works well, monochrome works even better. I spent a lot of time in Lightroom getting it just the way I want it.
Anyway, that’s it for the moment. I’m thinking of heading into the woods today to see if I can find some microscapes to shoot, back willing.