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Posts tagged “foliage

Perspectives

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I’ve never had a fondness for city or town life. In my opinion, the best neighbors are the kind you can’t see or hear. Ever. Although my house sits on a small parcel of acreage, I’d be perfectly happy living smack-dab in the middle of several hundred acres. During the spring and fall I try to get outside to walk several miles every morning. I’ll usually say it was a good walk if I’m able to complete my hike without seeing a soul. That’s my idea of quality time.


Golden Years

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Taken late in the fall of 2010 and late in their lives, this has become one (of a series) of my favorite photos of our horses. That I even stopped to take this photo was nothing more than a bit of a whim, a challenge to try to use the foliage as an artistic frame for the subject. I was a rookie and little did I know how fortunate I’d been that all the right elements for a keepsake photo had come together for a few magical moments.

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And just moments they were. I had been out shooting some early morning landscapes and as I walked down the road toward home I came across all three horses sunning by the gate. That morning was unusually crisp and the horse’s breath rose in smoky white puffs that mixed with the gently rising fog. It’s pretty hard to sneak up on horses. Tia heard my footsteps first, and turned her head toward the sound. Bullet, though barely visible behind a branch in the foreground on the far right, also heard me. His head popped up and his ears flicked forward. Beanie was sound asleep and so it took him a little longer to hone in on my presence. Seconds later he turned his head in my direction, eyes and ears alert and scanning for the source of alarm.

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I shot maybe all of ten frames, none of which were taken particularly well because I was, after all, just a rookie. But the photos I took have become my favorites. I lost Tia only two months after these pictures were taken and Beanie followed ten months later. There would never be another golden fall morning when I’d happen upon all three of my horses quietly sunning and snoozing by the gate.


The Right Stuff

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When I bought my camera in June of 2010 I’d never had any interest in taking photos. I didn’t own a smart phone and I hadn’t used a point and shoot more than a half dozen times in as many years. I simply woke up one day and decided I needed a new hobby, and settled on photography. I sat down at the computer and started doing some research on digital cameras, which is sort of hard to do when you don’t know the first thing beyond pushing a button and getting a mediocre result. A few years earlier I’d tried reading the instruction manual for the point and shoot camera we owned and it lost me after explaining how to turn the camera on. As a result, wading through the endless narratives about which camera and what brand would best suit me was a monumental exercise in frustration.

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I finally settled on the Canon 7D for no other reason than the fact that it was (at that time) a new model and most people were raving about it. I didn’t stop to think that I might be getting in way over my head rather, I thought I’d eventually “grow into” my camera. I reasoned that once I knew what I was doing it would be better to have everything I wanted in a camera than wish I’d bought the next model (or two) up, right? Well it’s been three years since I bought it and I’m still not sure if it was the right decision.

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The first year I had my D7 was a spectacular year for taking outdoor photos. I didn’t know that then, I just thought I had a big fancy camera and every picture I took would (therefore) turn out great! Wow. It’s kinda hard to believe I was that naive. Truth of the matter is, by sheer dumb luck I’d just happened to buy my camera at a very good time. I’ve since learned that great shooting conditions are rare and you can go an entire season (or year or two) and not have more than a few days where the conditions are great for shooting. I didn’t use to care about that and I took lots of pictures anyway, but they weren’t the same quality and I (eventually) knew it. As hard as it is for me to look out the window and see beautiful fall colors in the trees and surrounding landscape, I won’t grab my camera unless the conditions for shooting are just right.

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Perhaps that makes me sound like a snob or far more of a professional than I really am, but the truth of the matter is, I’m lazy. The days of taking a roll of pictures and dropping them off to be developed are gone, and while that gives me lots of creative license, it’s a huge time-suck to have to process my own photos. I’ve become far more discriminatory about when and what I’ll shoot and even which pictures I’ll keep. So the fact of the matter is, unless the conditions are perfect for what I want to shoot, I won’t even bother to try.

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I’ve watched the days turn into weeks, then months as my camera sits untouched. I admit, that makes me a bit uncomfortable sometimes. I worry that I’m being TOO discriminatory or lazy. I feel guilty about the money I’ve spent on equipment that isn’t getting used. But eventually I know I’ll wake up to a morning when I can instantly tell that it’s going to deliver everything I want: light, color, subject and the right conditions. The photo above was taken on one of those mornings.


Safe and Secure

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I’ve been reading Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. What I mean to say is that I’ve had my face buried in that book so much over the last two days that I woke up this morning with blurred vision. Literally.  The book is that good. And I didn’t think it would be. I ear-marked it for my reading list when it first came out, but then Oprah put it on her book list and that’s a total buzz-kill for me. I’m not an Oprah fan. And I don’t much like reading books that everyone is talking about. I like reading stuff that coasts slightly under the radar.

Based on what I was hearing I was ready to dismiss Cheryl as needy, narcissistic and shallow. Her mother died and her life fell apart. Boo-hoo. My father died followed two years later by my mother and my life didn’t come to a screeching halt. Granted, I wasn’t in my late teens or early twenties when they died, but still. I felt a disconnect with the whole premise of the book. That’s before I started reading it.

Wow. Just … wow. I was wrong.

Understand that I have an innate love and respect for the wilderness. I was an avid Scout growing up and our family did tons of hiking and back woods camping. I’ve been lost in the vastness of the Adirondack Park a time or two myself. Though I was admittedly only a few feet off the main trail when I was “lost,” that alone gives me a reasonable amount of respect for any woman who has the fortitude to try to hike the Pacific Crest Trail alone, with no prior hiking experience or skills. Talk about not having a safety net!

But it’s not just the sheer audacity of Cheryl’s hiking tale that’s grabbing me, it’s the whole ball of wax: Her honesty. Her stupidity. Her strengths and weaknesses so carefully and truthfully exposed. There’s nothing gratuitous in this book at all. Well, the death of her mother’s horse was a little more than I could almost bear to read. But even that gut-wrenching story was frightfully authentic and contributed to the sum of the parts. Cheryl puts it all out there, lumps and all in a very readable, sometimes funny sometimes sad, but always sincere narrative.

I’m about halfway though the book. So far I’ve gasped, laughed out loud, cried, and had to set the book down to process the story more thoroughly before moving on. In other words, this book has made me THINK. Think about my past, my journey, my current life and my future. Think about how everything I’ve done in my past has made me who I am today, and how everything I do today will affect who I am tomorrow. All this from a story about a girl hiking a very long and remote trail all alone.

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We’re at that time of year when the leaves are falling fast and furious. I’ve been doing a lot of trail riding. Alone. (Hm. I think I see a common thread) And speaking of getting lost … I’ve been lost twice in the last two weeks. Not “Oh My God I’m lost!” but, “Dammit! I hope I can retrace my footsteps!” lost.  Either way, I HATE getting lost in the woods. I fear that moment when your eyes start to scan the landscape, hoping to fall on something you half-recognize. (Or try to convince yourself you recognize) Like the HUGE oak tree above. It’s hard to miss that beauty. Centuries old, still holding court smack-dab in the middle of a much younger crowd. She’s like an old friend, a lighthouse with a welcoming beacon for those who wander weary in her territory. “Come! Rest awhile beneath my canopy. Home is just over the next ridge.”

And so it is.


Color Me Pretty

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New England, dressed in beautiful fall colors.


Country Road

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An early morning jogger on a colorful New England country road.


Just Beachy

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I’m not a beach person. Many years ago I made it a point to visit the Rhode Island shore a few times every summer, but those days have long since been replaced with other weekend chores and activities. I’m not exactly disappointed either. Around the same time I stopped going to the beach it started getting very polluted, over-crowded and populated by roving groups of kids sporting boom boxes. (Yes, this was pre-iPod days.) It was no longer the peaceful commune with nature that I liked to think it was. Being a bit anti-social, the idea of leaving the tranquility of my farm for a big dose of chaos wasn’t exactly my idea of a day well spent. Besides, once you have animals it’s tough to get away for an entire day.

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Two years ago a massage therapist friend invited me to accompany her to a client’s house who lived in a very exclusive neighborhood on the Connecticut shore. Thinking this might offer an opportunity to do some photography, I accepted her invitation. While my friend worked I walked the area nearby and took some pictures. The large cluster of grass in this photo towered six or seven feet above the edge of a boardwalk that led out to a pier, the sandy beach and ocean shore completely hidden just yards beyond the live border.


Still Water

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I almost didn’t post this picture because the resolution is absolutely abysmal unless you click on the picture. I don’t know what’s up with WP, but this format is making me not want to blog. What’s the point if the resolution stinks?

This photo reminds me so much of the Adirondack Mountains that it makes my heart hurt. It’s been a long time since I’ve been there. I miss it terribly.


Family Swim

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Blending In

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Gus is doing a fine job of blending into our family. After months of being a demur, goofy little tyke, he’s just now starting to grow into his adult personality. Gus is still sweet as the day is long, but he can be determined and even a little pushy (in a totally different way than I’m used to seeing) when he wants something. Gus always has a big grin on his face and he just loves to snuggle. This is a dog who wants to be right where the action is, but doesn’t create his own drama. And he’s QUIET, which after living with Hazer the last eight years, is a Godsend. If I could clone Gus I’d take another Rat Terrier just like him. I can’t wait to see how his hunting skills develop as time goes on. Right now he’s very fixated on all the bird feeders that attract droves of pesky red and gray squirrels. Hopefully, it won’t be long before he catches his first varmint!