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Posts tagged “dusk




Rant on:

I was out doing barn chores this morning when my nose was suddenly assaulted by the strong pungent smell of fabric softener. That’s right, fabric softener. How on earth a fake floral scent can waft through the air and completely override the earthy smell of horse poop, hay and damp horseflesh is beyond me. And this isn’t the first time this has happened. Like clockwork, every two or three mornings my neighbor does her laundry, and I guess her washing machine doesn’t work very well because she thinks she needs to coat her clothing and a half-mile radius of the neighborhood with a “flower on steroids” chemical stink.

I simply don’t understand this mindset, but it appears clever marketing has won the war to convince the general pubic that we wreak. We’ve been brainwashed to think our house stinks, our clean clothes stink and even our clean bodies stink. I mean, why else would we feel the need to spritz ourselves with perfume after slathering ourselves with heavily scented body wash, throw perfectly clean clothes into a dryer with sheets that are chemically loaded with phony perfumes and “clean” our houses with chemicals that tout hyper-powerful scents ?

I think this is going to become what the war on invasive smoke was to the last two decades. Sure, you have every right to smell like a floral polecat in the privacy of your own home, but when your fake chemical stink starts to seep into my open windows and linger over my back yard and barnyard then it’s not just YOUR problem anymore. These products are known to make people and animals sick. They’re made to adhere to our skin and clothing and penetrate the surface of inanimate objects, where they can linger for days. Don’t people see the connection between chronic illness and the crap we’re breathing and cleaning and bathing with day in and day out? Enough already! Please, folks. Spend a few pennies more and buy unscented, chemical-free dryer sheets or vent your dryers into your own damn basement … I’m sick and tired of the chemical assault every wash day.

Rant out.



I got out to shoot twice yesterday, a rarity for me. At 4:00 PM. I was vacuuming like a crazy lady, trying desperately to get a few last minute chores done before the evening routine of feeding animals and people got underway. But I kept glancing out the front window at the setting sun. I’ve chosen to miss shooting some nice sunsets only because our house sits in a valley where I don’t really get to see the sun set until it’s too late to do anything about it. I know, I know …. a good photographer would be in place well ahead of time, ready to capture that perfect shot. But I’m not that photographer. It’s pretty darn hard to feed a handful of hungry critters and get a meal started if I’m out shooting at that time of day. So instead of making a full commitment and getting out there where I need to be ahead of time, I play the Race Game.

The Race Game involves keeping one eye on the sky for an hour or so before I’d need to dash out if I want to try to catch a nice sunset. I have a small Rolodex of sites that will offer a pretty decent view and that I can reach from my house in about five to fifteen minutes. The trick is not cutting myself short on time, which I’m apt to do. It’s amazing how fast the sky can change. A sky that looks like it’s going to be great when viewed from my living room can easily tank by the time I arrive at my chosen spot. This photo was one of those times. The sky was probably stellar ten minutes before I arrived. I saw glimpses of it, but before I could get there the wind moved the clouds off the map. This cemetery is one of few places nearby that offers an unobstructed view of the horizon, but as I quickly discovered, it’s bitterly cold and windy. So I shot a dozen frames or so and headed back home. I’m not displeased with the results, but I’m not thrilled either. I guess this will have to be filed under the category of Ones That Got Away.

Batter up!


No, that’s not a bird or a plane.



It’s a bat!





First of all, I didn’t adjust the color in any of these photos! They were taken on an unseasonably warm, beautiful day that evolved into a stunning, glowing sky as the sun began to sink over the treeline. I was out playing a little end of the day Frisbee with the dogs when I noticed what I thought was a barn swallow darting about in the evening sky. It stood out against the warm tones of the clouds as it swooped lower and closer, almost dive-bombing straight for us! Seconds later another “bird”  appeared and I suddenly realized they were not birds at all, but bats darting to and fro! They flew fast and furious, honing in on insects too small for the naked eye to see. Several times they dove low to the ground, nearly colliding with me! Normally I’m not afraid of bats, but it was a bit unnerving to see how close they’d come to hitting me before pulling up or swerving to one side at the last second. I didn’t think I’d be able to catch their antics with my camera, but I decided to give it a try. If nothing else the sunset was stunning and the bats literally glowed from the reflection of the pink-orange sky. I watched the bats feed until the fiery sun sank below the horizon and I lost them against the darkening backdrop of the woods.

I don’t know what kind of bats these were, but I’m hoping they were Brown Bats. The Brown Bat population has been ravaged by white nose disease and nearly decimated in our area. I’ve seen several bats around the farm this summer, but none quite this bold or engaging. I hope they’ll be back again come spring!

Drying Out


This might be the theme of  the tune I’ll be singing over the next few days. Or so they tell us. We’re in the path of Irene and supposed to take a direct hit. But I think she’s going to lose some of her punch by the time she reaches us. I hope. That said, I’ve spent the last 24-hours working my tail off to make sure we have as much stuff stored or anchored down as possible. That’s no an easy task on a farm. And you can bet I’ll worry about the horses no matter how many precautions we take.

I was hoping to get back and take more pictures of the tobacco drying in the barns, but I’m not even sure if they’ll take a chance and leave this year’s crop hanging up to dry. I know they’ve been working overtime to get as much tobacco harvested as possible before we get the monsoon rains that will accompany Irene. So this might be all the luck I’ll have with this subject. Oh well. Maybe I’ll have better luck next year?

Sunday Drive


So I can’t believe I passed on going to shoot my favorite horse pulls of the summer. Yup, the Hamburg Fair pulls have come and gone and I didn’t go. Too hot, too muggy and too many chores got in the way. Hopefully, I’ll get there next year.

To make up for the loss I planned on getting out at dusk to do a bit more test shooting. My gear was ready, the car was gassed, I made dinner early …. all I had to do was hop in my vehicle and cruise down toward the river. I didn’t think it was going to be a spectacular sunset, but right up until I was five minutes from my destination the sky had a nice golden glow to it. Then some nasty clouds rolled in and the light went totally kaput.

I drove around for awhile and looked at all the stuff I wanted to shoot, but I knew it was futile to even try. But I also knew that if I stuck around a bit longer the clouds might disperse or the sun might drop below them, giving me a few minutes of good light. My patience and persistence finally paid off and I captured a few nice frames before the sun dropped over the horizon.

Winter Sky



I’ve taken several pictures of this tree, but this was one of the nicer shots that I got after we had about three and a half feet of snow on the ground. Getting to the spot where I took this picture was a workout in itself: a steep uphill climb through butt-deep snow drifts while carrying a camera and tripod was a little nutty, not to mention the fact that (as usual) I was trying to beat the sunset. Oh, and it was single-digit, bone-chilling cold.


I used PS5 HDR toning to process this because it helps make the margins of the clouds pop a bit more. So far I’ve played with the HDR toning settings a lot more than the basic HDR program. That’s because I don’t take a lot of bracketed photos, which you need for the HDR program. HDR toning uses just one photo and the results are a bit less extreme, but that suits me just fine for right now. Perhaps if it wasn’t so darn cold I might have been more inclined to tinker with my camera settings and take some bracketed photos, but I could hardly manage to take the few pictures that I got.


Color-wise, I left things exactly as I saw them. I don’t like to punch color or vibrancy up unless I really have to, and in this case there was enough contrast in the sky to keep things interesting without playing Mother Nature. The wind was howling, making the sky change from moment to moment and it was one of those times when I found myself questioning my sanity and wondering why I was out there … until I saw the results. Sadly, there isn’t much interesting to shoot up on that ridge. The lone pine tree is nice, but unless there’s something brewing in the sky, it’s rather ho-hum.


Below: The trail back down.






Photo #1:

Jan 30, 2011 5:47 PM EST.

Canon EOS 7D

ISO: 100, 19mm, 1/4 sec, f/25

Lens: Tamron SP 10-24mm 1:3.5-4.5

PS5: HDR toning

Lightroom3: brightness/contrast adj.



5:49 PM. EST.

ISO: 100, 11mm, 1/4 sec, f/16





Jan 27, 2011. 5:07 PM. EST.

Canon EOS 7D

ISO: 125, 85mm, 1/400 sec, f/5.0

Lens: Canon EF 85mm, f/1.8 USM

Lightroom3: Minor brightness/contrast adj.

Golden Pond



This is another one of my favorite photos from last fall. I would love to get a chance to shoot this scene over again under the exact same conditions. When I took this picture I was rushing and trying to work with some pretty challenging elements. First of all, the lighting was tricky and it was changing fast, but I was also trying to capture some of the stunning foliage as well as get the boat and dock into this particular photo. Unfortunately, this would have been the perfect setting if it hadn’t been for the power lines and poles that littered the background. I didn’t have a good view of the scene until I was right on top of it and I was so dismayed when I saw the power lines. I knew they were going to show up in just about every picture I took. (Here, you only see a few poles, but they ran all along the far left side of the pond, then up, over and across the opposite rise. I used the tree to block as many of the poles and lines as I could in this photo.)  And on top of everything else, at the time I thought I might have been trespassing on private land. I hadn’t seen any signs posted, but I was worried that someone from a house on the edge of the property might come out and holler at me. I’d parked on the side of the road and cut through a stand of trees to get to the field in front of the pond. I don’t know. call me paranoid, but it just felt like maybe I was on private property. So I rushed. I know I didn’t take the time I should have taken to get really GREAT shots. But I had the right idea and frankly, if going back through my catalog has shown anything it’s that sometimes the more time I have to take a photo and the harder I try, the less impressive my results are. I think I’m one of those people who does my best work when I just shoot what I think looks good and not always worry so much about getting everything “right.”  OK, so perfectly focused pictures would be a good thing, but you get my drift …  😉



Oct 13, 2010. 6:00 PM. EST.

Canon EOS 7D

ISO: 400, 17mm, 1/25 sec,  f/25.

Lens: Tamron 17-24mm

Lightroom3: Minor Brightness/contrast adj.


Our flag needs to be retired. I can’t remember how old it is, but I think it’s under five years. It’s posted in a spot that get’s almost full sun and as a result it’s become very threadbare. Ideally, I’d really like to get a large flag pole to post our flag from rather than the staff we have mounted on the edge of the garage. Aside from the fact that I can see our flag from the road and our kitchen, it tends to get hung up on things and twisted very easily. I can think of several better places to fly a flag.

My paternal grandparents lived on the shore of Lake Ontario. Their house sat way up high above the lake and was set about a football field back from the rocky ledge above the water. Their lawn was a work of art; lush, vivid green, always trimmed just so. It looked like something you’d see in a magazine.  You would look out their back porch window and see this huge expanse of perfect turf that just begged to be used for cartwheels, somersaults and all sorts of silly acrobatics. The lawn was punctuated at the far back edge by a tall, white flag pole and a sidewalk that ran along the edge of several back yards.

Wait. I might be getting that all wrong. The lawn and sidewalk were there, but the flag pole might have been in someone else’s yard. Crap. It was SO long ago. It’s been almost forty-five years since I’ve been there in person.

I do remember my sister and I would go out to play in the back yard thinking that the lawn was so lush and green that it would provide a softer landing for our gymnastics. (It didn’t.) We’d drag our father out to the edge of the lawn where the sidewalk began and make him be our official relay race starter. He’d tease us, counting, “One. Two. Three ….. FIVE!” and we’d run ten paces before squealing a protest over the false start. Finally we’d be off and flying down the sidewalk, arms pumping, hair streaming out behind us. Wait. I had a pixie haircut. My sister’s blonde locks would be streaming out behind her. Sort of. And she didn’t pump her arms. In fact, my sister would be doing really well if she didn’t trip and fall after five steps or somewhere along the line. She wasn’t known for her coordination. But at some point we’d tag the flag pole. I remember that played a pivotal point. Sadly, I don’t recall if the pole was what we ran to before turning to streak for the finish line, or if the flag pole WAS the finish. Either way, I know there was a flag pole in the story somewhere …

Believe it or not, I was a Girl Scout. Yup, I was. And as young girls back then were known to do, I took that responsibility pretty darn seriously. I went to Girl Scout camp two summers in a row then, believe it or not, the day after my high school graduation I mysteriously found myself seated on a bus, headed to a remote corner of Letchworth State Park. Disliking my current boyfriend, my mother had pulled strings and without my prior knowledge or consent, signed me up to be a Girl Scout counselor at Camp Pinewood. How’s that for a high school graduation present, hm? That was pretty brazen of Mom, given that I didn’t even like children!

Needless to say I’ve either watched or been part of several flag ceremonies, but I’m going to have to have my own come spring.


Oct 9, 2010. 5:39 PM, EST.

Canon EOS 7D

ISO: 200, 135mm, 1/60 sec, f/5.6

Lens: Canon EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS

Lightroom3: Minor brightness/contrast adj.




King Of The Hill

He looks kind of stately (or stupid) sitting up there on top of 3.5 feet of frozen snow and ice.  It was weird to see the dogs standing next to the top of my forsythia bushes. Normally, I need to use a ladder to trim the tops of them. Maybe I should do that now, while the gettin’ is good?


Feb 4, 2011. 4:32 PM EST.

Canon EOS 7D

ISO:100, 26mm, 1/60 sec, f/5.0

Lens: Canon EF-S18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS

Lightroom 3: Minor brightness/contrast adjustment. (Sorry, but nothing can fix a poorly focused picture … which this is. *shrug* Oh well. I like it anyway. Maybe next time I’ll actually try checking my settings before I fire off a dozen or so pictures. Duh!)


Winter Storage

I was searching for a clearing to shoot the sunset at Bashan Lake when I spied these snow covered boats through the trees. I couldn’t get any closer and I was penned in on both sides, but I decided to try a couple of shots anyway. Most of the homes on this lake are seasonal and are closed up for the winter, but I didn’t feel comfortable trespassing on private property. I might get a better shot later in the winter if some of the snow that’s blocking the way melts, but for now this will have to do.



Jan 16, 2011. 5:12 PM. EST.

Canon EOS 7D

ISO: 100, 135mm, 1/13 sec, f/22.

Lens: Canon EF-S18-135mm 3.5-5.6 IS

Lightroom 3: Brightness/contrast adj.

River Valley

I live in an area fondly referred to as the Connecticut River Valley. I never really thought about that very much until I started taking pictures. In a nutshell, it means that no matter where I go, the sun is going to rise or set behind a ridge. And that means the sunrise or sunset is always going to be better in a spot where I’m not. I don’t live in a place that’s surrounded by flat, wide, expansive vistas. Instead, the landscape is craggy and littered with power lines and dense woods.  It’s enormously frustrating to know there’s a gorgeous sunrise or sunset forming on the horizon, but you’re powerless to get someplace where you can shoot it.


This picture was taken at Bashan Lake. The opposite side of the lake has provided some stunning sunrise photos, but on this side of the lake the road is slightly higher.  I thought it would be a good place to capture a sunset.  Wrong.  In many places houses, trees or power lines blocked the view and when I finally found a suitable place to shoot, the sun dropped like a rock behind the opposite ridge. I caught some nice shadows and a bit of orange glow, but I could tell that was the end of the show. Normally, I follow the golden rule that you “don’t pack until it’s black,” but it was very cold and I had a few errands to run. I loaded up my car, drove out the narrow lake road and proceeded back toward my neighborhood, all the while glancing over my left shoulder at the bright crimson glow just over the horizon. My car finally crested a steep rise and I got a five second view of a stunning sunset. I groaned.


Countless mornings I’ve sat right in my office and watched the most gorgeous sunrises, but I know from past experience that, short of pointing my camera directly at the sky, I don’t have a chance in hell of capturing them. I’ve heard it said that the best photos are usually taken just a ten or fifteen minute drive from your own house, but I’m thinking maybe that rule doesn’t apply here, or at least not if you’re hoping to capture a nice landscape. I’m not sure what I’m going to do about this. Either I’m going to have to get up a lot earlier and drive a lot farther to get the kind of sunrises I want, or I’m going to have to learn to deal with the frustration of being disappointed a lot.



Jan. 16, 2011. 5:27 PM. EST.

Canon EOS 7D

ISO: 100, 19mm, 1/15 sec, f/22.

Lens: Tamron SP 10-24mm F/3.5-4.5 DiII

Lightroom 3: Minor brightness, contrast adjustment.



Well, it looks and feels more like winter than it has the last few years. Today it was five below (zero) at 7 AM, which means the chances of my going out to shoot a sunrise is rather unlikely. There was a gorgeous sky this morning, but I don’t have what it takes to be out in this kind of weather. Maybe ten or fifteen years ago, but not anymore. Yes all you exercise fanatics, keep pounding away at the gym and in a decade or so you too, can be crippled! Yeah. Your personal trainer won’t tell you that when you sign up, but it’s true. Of course, you don’t think that will happen to you, but it can. And (often) does. Hindsight is 20/20!


But I digress …


After I took this picture I had to dig out the extension ladder (Literally: it was buried under two feet of snow!) and start clearing snow off the edge of the roof.  The gutters are frozen solid and melting snow can refreeze and start to back up under the shingles. This can result in a huge mess, forcing water to leak into the house behind the soffit. Mind you, I’ve never had this happen, but I know people who have. I recently did an extensive kitchen remodel, so I’m a bit freaked out if there’s even a remote possibility of water damage. Ironically, as I went about this chore I was bemoaning the fact that I was having a tough time finding the perfect place to shoot a sunset. Imagine my surprise then, when I discovered that the best location might be right on our roof!



Jan 14, 2011. 3:47 PM. EST.

Canon EOS 7D

ISO: 200, 118mm, 1/320 sec, f/3.5

Lens: Tamron 70-200mm

Lightroom 3: Minor brightness/contrast adjustment.

Seeds Of Change

Well, we’re drawing close to the end of another year, which makes me wonder what changes the new year will bring? I’ve often said that I feel like I’ve been very blessed … my family is healthy and  happy (for the most part) and the older I get the more those things matter. This year has brought some losses and gains. Yesterday I spent some time reflecting on the loss of Dozer, who was born on Christmas day and would have been fourteen. We sure miss the little man. Yesterday I gave Aldo a couple of framed photos of Dozer that I took in the fall, shortly before his death. I wasn’t sure if Aldo was ready for the pictures, but he seemed to like them. Not much reaction there, though. Big surprise, that. (Not)


It was nice getting together with Aldo’s family. Mary and Steve arrived from different destinations at different times. I took lots of pictures so I’ll have plenty of people pictures to tinker around with for a change. I’m not practiced at taking pictures indoors or photos of people. More stuff to work on I guess. Dinner was it’s usual bedlam, with Mary having to leave to go get Steve at the airport right when we were ready to sit down and eat. Steve’s flight had been delayed in Atlanta. By the time they got back the wine had been flowing pretty liberally and the level of noise had risen exponentially. Everyone sat back down at the table and we managed to keep the conversation down to a dull roar while they ate. We soon had to head out …. the animals were anxiously waiting back home to be fed.


Today we’re supposed to get “The Big Blizzard.” Good grief. It’s December in New England and they’re making it sound like we’ll be totally incapacitated by snow. With almost 50% of the population either unemployed or on winter vacation I have to think we have the biggest work force ever available for snow removal. It will be interesting to see what happens and how things play out here.



Nov. 22, 2010. 4:58 PM EST.

Canon EOS 7D

ISO; 160, 90mm, 1/20 sec, f/5.0

Lens: Tamron  SP Di 90mm AF 2.8



The Loading Zone

When I was at the Equine Affair I wandered around a bit and took a few pictures of the things going on behind the scenes. Most of the pictures I tried to take were too cluttered to be much good.  Just before I happened upon this scene I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to get many ‘keepers.” I was pondering this as I leaned in the doorway of one of big barns, when I noticed this young woman waiting to load a horse onto an immense, multiple horse trailer. The sun was sinking and as she circled her horse they moved in and out of the one little patch of daylight that partially lit the alley. The woman and horse both looked exhausted. I’m sure they had been up since long before dawn and the day was probably far from over. The horse was covered with a warm wool cooler, but the sparsely dressed woman shivered in the cold brisk wind. Five minutes passed, then ten as they waited their turn to load. In the last few moments before they stepped into the trailer I caught them in this fading patch of sunlight.



Nov. 11, 2010. 4:44 PM EST.

Canon EOS 7D

ISO: 400, 85mm, 1/160, f/11

Lens: Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6




I wasn’t planning to post this picture, but this morning it fit on a couple of different levels. First, I lost my mother on Thanksgiving day. Like it or not, that’s always one of the first thoughts that crosses my mind when I wake up on Thanksgiving. I’ll admit, I’m not horribly grieved about this. After all, it happened several years ago and it was a blessing. Mom had early-onset dementia. For lack of a better diagnosis, we called it Alzheimer’s, but I don’t think Dad was ever thoroughly convinced that was her nemesis. No matter, it killed her anyway, slowly robbing her of her mind and memory so that by the time she died we were all somewhat relieved. But I miss her enthusiasm on Thanksgiving morning. Mom really knew how to milk a holiday for all it was worth. And she loved the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. (I remember watching it in black and white!) My siblings and I would line up on the couch and watch the parade while my parents buzzed around the kitchen. In an effort not to be excluded they provided a sort of running commentary from the other room.  “Oh! They’re playing that in E flat!”  punctuated by, “Goddamnit Kay, that needs more celery and onion!”


One of my earliest Thanksgiving memories is of my parents setting an alarm clock so they could get up at the crack of dawn to put a 26 pound turkey in the oven. Not that we ever ate the meal anytime before halftime, so I’m not really sure why the bird had to go in the oven so darn early. Were ovens less efficient back then? I dunno. But that’s what they did.  Sometimes Dad would take off after that and go hunting for half the day. Nice. Leave all the food prep for Mom. Again, back then that’s just the way they did things. I can’t imagine what my mother thought, being left home on a major food holiday with four little kids under the age of 8. Sheesh!


Dinner was literally timed to coincide with halftime. Dad would holler a countdown from the living room, then appear in the kitchen to make a second (or third) double martini and carve the bird. (Is that a drumstick or Dad’s thumb?)  By the time we finally got around to eating, both parents were tanked and the four of us had lost our appetite from eating too many snacks to curb our hunger. Halftime entertainment was usually a marching band, which was not nearly as distracting (or disturbing) as today.  Dad would just lower the volume because the TV dictated the length of our meal and all that prep and planning came to a screeching halt the instant the second half of the game started.


When all was said and done we’d usually consumed about two pounds of the gigantic bird my parents had cooked. And because we ate dinner at actual dinner time, we didn’t snack on the leftovers later. Instead, my mother stood in the kitchen and painstakingly stripped the turkey carcass so we could eat like kings for days to come. Turkey soup, turkey pie, Turkey al la King … Mom was light years ahead of Forrest Gump, but she had more ways to disguise turkey than Bubba could use shrimp.


So I don’t know how any of this diatribe fits with the picture above, except that I’m thankful for what are now precious (and funny) memories. I miss family and friends who have moved on. Their effect on my life has not gone unnoticed.  I’m also grateful for good health, both mine and an ever-extending circle of family and friends. My thoughts and prayers are with those who are struggling with an assortment of burdens. God has blessed me abundantly and I will continue to be most thankful for His presence in my life.


Canon EOS 7D, ISO 400, 67mm, f/5.6, 1/320, 5:23 PM. EST.

Lens: Canon EFS 18-135mm 3.5-5-6.

Weathered Wood


I just happened upon this barn at the right time of day. It was late afternoon and I was driving home after seven hours of shooting a herding clinic. I was exhausted, but I couldn’t help but notice the gorgeous light that was starting to glow all around me. You know you’re pretty hooked on photography when you’re dead-dog tired, but still can’t pass up an opportunity to pull over and take one (or ten) last shot(s). Hence, this picture. Warmed by the setting sun, the old weathered wood could not be ignored.

A Subtle Transition

This was taken early one evening when I’d hoped something great might happen in the sky. Unfortunately, this was about as exciting as it got  … which wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t what I had in mind. I haven’t been back to this spot in awhile and I’m going to assume it looks pretty desolate about now. We are in-between seasons, which is challenging.  Not fond of the cold, I’m far more tempted to park myself in my office and work on learning the computer end of this hobby. Once it snows I’m sure I’ll be motivated to get out and shoot. Any time there’s a major change in the landscape I want to take pictures of it.



Just In Time

The leaves had just started to turn when I happened upon this setting. The last rays of golden light gently kissed the top of this tree, then seconds later the sun slipped below the opposite rise.

Had To Be There

This was the kind of sunset that you had to experience for yourself to believe how stunning it was.

Salmon River Fog


This picture of the Salmon River was taken just before dusk on a very drizzly, foggy afternoon. The pinkish tinge was from the sunset that was hidden from view by the fog and clouds.  You can see just a hint of blue sky peeking through the clouds in the upper left corner. I wanted to take more pictures, but I had to be elsewhere just when the light was starting to get interesting. I pulled my car over and walked to the middle of a bridge to take this picture, then took a few shots of the opposite side.



Then I was on my way.



Day Pond

I attended a weekend photography seminar with Ed Heaton. Ed is a pro full of information and inspiration, but here’s the thing: he’s a nice guy to boot! While Ed’s approach to shooting is drop-dead serious, his teaching style is casual and fun. No ego or attitude whatsoever with this guy! Ed has a great sense of humor and loves to work with ALL levels of experience. There wasn’t any point where I felt like he downshifted into “pro photographer speak” to the point where it was a chore just to decipher what he was talking about. I liked that a lot, and the fact that he was so approachable.

Saturday evening Ed did a slide presentation of his work and talked about how achieves his signature look. All photographers know light is important, but Ed spent a lot of time explaining the hows and whys behind a great landscape shot. His own landscape work is nothing short of stunning, and he provided example after example of how a photographer manipulates and uses natural light.

Early ….. and I DO mean early ….. Sunday morning, the group gathered at one of the parking lots for the Airline Trail. Now given that I’ve hiked, biked and ridden this trail extensively over the last 22 years, I wasn’t all that excited about the specific segment of trail that we were going to shoot. As far as landscapes go, the swamps along the Airline are not the most exciting of places to shoot, especially after a long hot summer drought. But I chalked it up to experience and I figured that once the group headed out I could move on and find something a bit more interesting to shoot.

First of all, it was windy and COLD …. as in, need a hat, neck scarf and probably gloves, cold. Second, the sky stunk. It was cloudy and gray, with barely a glimpse of the sun. There was little possibility of a gorgeous sunrise, which was disappointing to say the least.

So the vista was not anything to get excited about. Granted, there were other things I could have shot, but the seminar was about landscape photography, not macro.  And truth be told, even if the sunrise had been stellar I wouldn’t have picked that vista this time of year. It’s been unusually dry and the swap was covered with brown, burnt Lilly pads. Ug. Not something I wanted to shoot!

So I shot a few frames and moved on. I hiked until I heard rushing water, then cut off the path and into the woods where I found a nice little spot of faster water to shoot. I wasn’t 100% thrilled with my results, but it was better than nothing. I took pictures of a few other things that grabbed me, then called it a wrap. I’ll post those pictures in a day or two.

Later, though the sky was still overcast and gray, I felt compelled to load up a dog and drive to a nearby park to scout out a spot for the future. That’s something I learned from this seminar …. good pictures rarely just “happen.” You have to get out and plan for them! So I’m hoping that as the season turns a bit more fall-ish, I’ll get some nice pictures of foliage and sunsets at Day Pond. If nothing else, perhaps I’ll get a chance to shoot the resident beavers again!

Horses At Dusk

Bean & Tia, Aug 2010

It’s hard to watch your animals grow old. I suppose it’s no different than watching anything else age; parents, children, friends. But so many of my memories are connected to my animals that it’s tough to face the fact that they’re past their prime.

Tia and I have traveled many miles together, mostly alone. We usually venture into Salmon River State Forest because it’s literally in my back yard. I never tire of the beauty and serenity of the woods. Tia is as sure-footed as a mule and I’m always confident that she’ll carry me anywhere I ask with ease. We’ve ridden steep, rock-strewn trails under the light of a full moon, yet she’s never missed a step. Though she’s now considered a senior, Tia has retained the heart and enthusiasm of her youth. Her Arabian genes give her plenty of spirit and she’ll still give you a run for your money if you ask.

I’ve ridden the Bean a little less because he’s really my husband’s horse. His first. And he loves that horse like no other.  But Beanie suffered a serious leg injury as a four year-old and was semi retired a few years later. We joke that Beanie says it’s not in his “contract” to be ridden more than once a month. That said he’s fully functional, albeit not the most comfortable horse to ride. Unless of course you ride him wide open. Beanie was bred from racing stock and speed runs thick in his veins. He was born to run like the wind and he’s happiest when he’s moving flat out. That’s the most incredible feeling, to open him up and feel him flatten out and fly. Aldo says Beanie has wings on his feet. Based on my experiences riding him, I have to agree!

Beanie also has a very unique personality. Picture a precocious, five or six year-old boy wearing overalls and a baseball cap. That’s the Bean. A bit of a punk, but lovable.  Our farm vet says he’s the kind of horse that every time he has to give him a shot he bleeds a little just to make him feel bad. But Beanie is a softy who loves being around people. His manners are impeccable and he’s trustworthy with everyone, including children. If the weather is bad we joke that Beanie should come inside and be with us. He would love to do that!

Tia also has an excellent personality. I don’t know much about her background, but I’ve often said that I think she was used as a lesson horse somewhere in her youth. I got her when she was just five, but the first time I put a child on her she automatically became a perfect bomb-proof babysitter. She has such a sweet, gentle way of going when a beginner rides her, which is funny given that I know what a pistol she can be. But I think Tia senses when a rider is nervous or inexperienced and she does her best to act appropriately and behave. Sometimes she can seem a bit aloof, but that’s only because Beanie is such a people-magnet that he gets all the attention from visitors.

Above, Beanie and Tia share the hay rack at dusk. The picture was converted to black and white.