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Posts tagged “foliage


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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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



Blending In


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!






There’s been a lot of emphasis on water since the storm of the century showed up on our doorstep. I live some 35 miles from the shore and when high tides and storm surges collide it isn’t a big threat. However, we do have a large amount of water nearby. Streams that swell, rivers that rise and ponds that balloon beyond their banks when snow melts or storms dump an unprecedented amount of rain in them. My house is above flood level, but we can easily become marooned here if nearby waterways get too high. But this last summer was relatively dry and so our surrounding landscape managed to soak up all the rain. As incredible as it sounds, our sump pump never kicked on during this “epic” storm! Quite the different scenario from last fall’s hurricane/tropical storm, Irene. But I’m not complaining. We did get a lot of  debris and breakage from various sized trees, so I’ll be busy cleaning up the yard and acreage before the snow arrives.

Thanks for all the well-wishes during our highly unsettled weather!





It wasn’t a spectacular fall this year. That makes two years in a row that we’ve had a less than stunning seasonal display of color. And I have to admit, I’m not exactly grieving over it since I’m still not back to normal vision yet. If anyone told me back in March that it might take eight months to get my vision straightened out I probably would have postponed the surgery. But they didn’t. In fact, when I specifically asked about side effects and complications they more or less pooh-poohed my asking. “We do this all the time with great success. We’ll cross that bridge when … no, IF we get to it.” Well that bridge came up awful damn fast.

Most people don’t understand what it’s like to have screwed up vision. We’ve had major advancements in glasses and contacts so those who suffer from myopia seldom have to struggle for very long after a problem has been detected. When I was in grade school every child received a vision and hearing test at school, as well as a dental cleaning and exam. In addition, we were marched off to the nurses office every spring for a remedial physical exam.

The eye test was pretty basic: the students were asked to read an eye chart using first one eye, then the other. Next, the tester would give the child a red, green, white and black marble, and they would hold a picture card in front of you and ask you to place a specific color marble at different spots on the picture. This tested for depth perception and color blindness. I usually nailed the color and depth perception of this test, but after second grade I struggled to read the eye chart.

After the eye test was finished the student was ushered to another room where an audio tester waited with a big black or blue square box. The box had lots of dials on it and a chord with large, clunky headphone attached. The tester adjusted the headset to fit your head, then had you sit on a stool with your back to them as they worked the different dials that made the tone sounds. You were supposed to raise the hand that correlated with the ear that heard the tone. The pitch and intensity of the tone jumped all over the scale from very high to low and super soft or moderately loud. There never seemed to be a pattern for the tones, though like my father I always tried to find one. I was never very good with this test either, but my mother said that was because I had inherited her tiny ear canals and I was prone to inner ear infections.

I hated the dental cleaning and never understood why I had to have it done since our family saw our regular dentist every six months like clockwork. The dental hygiene chair was big and uncomfortable and the water that swirled continuously in the cuspidor made me have to pee. The hygienist would start by asking us to chew a chalky, bright red disclosing tablet, then she would hand us a hand-held mirror so we could see all the “dirty places” the pink stain revealed. I always thought this was kind of unfair since it had either been hours since I’d brushed my teeth or my visit came after lunch. What did she expect? Anyhow, she’d get out her big set of plastic teeth and gums, an over-sized demo toothbrush and would patiently explain how I was supposed to brush my teeth, after which she’d polish my teeth with her oily, belt driven prophy brush. I knew I was almost done when the hygienist shoved a gooey, overflowing tray of orange flavored fluoride in my mouth. The only good thing about visiting the school hygienist was that we got a kit that had a new toothbrush, a slim tube of Pepsident (Mom only bought Crest) and a strip of a dozen or so disclosing tablets.

In the spring  our teacher divided us into two groups (one boys, one girls) and escorted us up to the nurses office for our annual physical exam. During my grade school years we had a delightful school nurse who looked  just like Meryl Streep and had Meryl’s compassion and witty sense of humor. Sometimes I faked feeling sick just so I could be fussed over by Mrs. Hatfield. I adored her. I think all the children did. Anyhow, Mrs. Hatfield didn’t do the exam, a real doctor did it. I felt kind of cheated by that. I mean, I went willingly because I like Mrs. Hatfield, but I wasn’t crazy about having some old man I didn’t know see me in my underpants and undershirt. He looked a little like Harry Morgan, who played Col. Sherman T. Potter in the TV. show MASH.  The doctor tried to make small talk as he placed a cold stethoscope on my scrawny chest and back. Then they weighed us and measured our height, before checking each child for something called scoliosis. Last, but not least, they handed us a little paper cup that held a clear, sweet tasting liquid that was going to protect us from something called Polio.

Back when I was in grade school there were lots of kids who relied on school health services such as these. For many, it was probably the only time they ever saw a doctor or a dental hygienist and for others, it may have been the only time they had toothpaste or a toothbrush. Not that I lived in an overly poor neighborhood. I didn’t. But you always knew there were one or two kids in every class who just didn’t get the simple basic necessities we took for granted.



Morning sun pokes through the white pines, hitting the hydrangea leaves and lighting them up for a few brief moments.



Morning by Karen Matheson, from Time To Fall



Blue Spanish Sky by Chris Isaac from Heart Shaped World

I’m hoping this fall is as colorful as it was two summers ago. It’s hard to believe fall is almost here. Where does the time go?





(Ora, by Ludovico Einaldi, from the CD Una Mattina)


It’s interesting how life throws us curves, sometimes over and over again.

A macular peel, vitrectomy, three retinal tears and a retinal detachment later, my eye is doing well. Tired and a wee bit beat up, but it’s starting to heal. Of course, I can’t see anything yet and it’s going to start brewing a cataract soon (that will have to be removed and the lens replaced), but I’m not going to think about that now.  My vision will be very slow to heal. Slow as in, like 1-1.5 years. On one hand you think, well, thank God it WILL return, but on the other hand you grapple with so many different emotions. You ponder the fairness of this fate;  this has not been my first lengthy medical hurdle. Then you catch yourself thinking that and you know there are so many people who’ve been dealt a worse hand, that you feel small and foolish for feeling sorry for yourself. So you solder on and do what you can.

Unfortunately, this will affect my ability to take and process pictures. I’ve been trying to retrain myself to use my left eye to focus when I’m shooting, but I’m not very quick with it yet.  I can do some macro shoots because I can use a remote shutter release and live view, so I may have to default to macro for now. If spring would really get here I should have some nice floral subjects to shoot, but until the weather improves I’m more or less stuck blogging photos from the past.

Didn’t Happen




A shot of the kind of fall we didn’t get last year!





This photo shows heat and humidity so thick you could cut it with a knife, which makes this bitterly cold January day a little easier to take!

A Better Version


This year our fall didn’t look like this. Instead, we got Irene, followed a few weeks later by an early snowstorm. One of the best things about photography is that it allows us to select specific moments of time and revisit them.



This would be pretty if it wasn’t how I’d describe the temperature of my house the last six mornings. I took this photo the day after the snowstorm passed through New England on the last weekend of October. I’ve been without power ever since. Thankfully, the weather warmed up during the days that followed and only the mornings and evenings were really cold and miserable. Nothing like a fifty degree house to get you up and moving at six AM!

Our power was restored just before sunup this morning, so I guess it’s time to tackle the growing pile of dirty clothes and the messy house. My thoughts are with all the folks who are soldering on without power. I continue to stand by the opinion that camping is only fun when it’s part of a planned vacation.





It’s hard to believe I took this picture exactly a year ago. The scene outside my window looks nothing like it today. Had I bought my camera this fall I would have been sorely disappointed. So far the beautiful skies and stunning color haven’t arrived …. and might not make their seasonal appearance this fall.

That’s OK. I’m not feeling very much in the mood anyway. I’m still struggling to move on in the aftermath of last week. Mostly, I’m fine, but sometimes not. I suspect that’s how it will go for a while to come. Thanks to all who have called or posted condolences and comments. Forgive me for not responding to each post individually, but please know that I appreciate the support.

What Fall?




At this time last year the landscape colors were rich and warm. It was an true Indian Summer complete with cool nights, mild sunny days, and gorgeous sunrises and  sunsets. Day after day I got up before the crack of dawn and shot tons of pictures. By comparison, this fall looks like a dud. That may change later in the month, but I’ve heard rumors that “Irene” dumped so much saltwater on parts of the New England landscape that it’s going to be a brown fall.

Tucked Away



It was drizzling and foggy the day I took this and if the picture seems all yellows and greens, it’s because it was.



Oct 20, 2010 9:19 AM EST

ISO 400, 18mm, 1/160 sec, 1/500 sec, 1/50 sec, f/4.5

Lens: Canon Ef-S18-135 mmf/3.5-5-6 IS

PS5: HRD merge


Little Green



No, not the Joni Mitchel song (though that’s my favorite JM song), but just a little something with some color. It’s pretty blah out. We’re entering that drab season better known as the mud season, which occurs between a snowy white winter and a bright colorful spring. And apparently the light during mud season stinks, except for in your house … where it tends to make everything look really dirty. (Because it is.) I’ve reached the point in my life where I’ve given up on the battle against dog hair and paw prints. *Shrug* A little grit an grime isn’t such a big deal. I’ll just do what my mother did and remind people we live on a FARM, which was her euphemism for an untidy house. What’s the saying? A clean house is a sign of a life wasted. Yup, I’m on board with that!



Jan 8, 2011  5:46 PM EST.

Canon EOS 7D

ISO: 160, 90mm, 1/5 sec, f/2.8

Lens: Tamron 90mm

Lightroom3: Crop, brightness adj.