Just another rambling fool at WordPress.com

Posts tagged “landscape

Fields

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A New England fall horizon.


Sunup

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An early morning sunrise over a local swamp. The sun had just barely cleared the treeline before it was overtaken by an onslaught of approaching clouds, leaving the rest of the day overcast and dull. The entire shoot lasted about ten minutes and served as yet another example of having to “be there” before the event happens if you expect to capture it!

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Discards

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And old broken-down, discarded vehicle sits abandoned, deep in the Salmon River state forest.


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.


Dawn

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No matter how crazy life gets I’m thankful for the peace and beauty of every new day.


Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda

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Every fall I get a hankerin’ to go home that makes me melancholy with a lingering homesickness for the farm of my youth. Back in the 80’s my parents decided to sell the farm and it’s contents and move to something a little less demanding. At the time, I was living in another state and the chances of the farm passing into my hands was about as realistic as thinking I could buy the Taj Mahal. None of my three siblings had the desire or opportunity to buy it either and we sadly watched it pass into other hands. In a situation like this you hope the new owners will love and care for the land the way our family did, but sadly that was not the case. The farmland got divvied up and sold to people who (gasp) built houses in the hay fields and pastures and the multiple barns on the original property fell into disrepair.

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I’ve never stopped kicking myself for not buying the family farm. A few years after it sold I introduced my husband to horses and we’ve been trying to turn our meager land into an adequate hobby farm ever since. Cutting down trees, moving dirt and gravel around and building not one, but two barns, we’ve probably spent tenfold what we would have spent if we’d only relocated three decades ago. But you can’t cry over spilled milk.

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They say you can never go home again, and regrettably, in my case that’s true.

(The farm pictured at the top is not my family farm)

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Rock Me, Baby

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I used to think I was pretty well-grounded. Believing you’re a rock with a good grasp on your life; where you’re going and that you can get there on your own, is almost a rite of passage for the young. But as the years go by I’m beginning to realize I’m not an island, and there’s a danger in thinking I have complete control over my destiny. I once had somebody tell me that when I avoid asking for help I’m denying someone the opportunity to serve me, which blesses them and helps them grow emotionally and spiritually.

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Deep down I know that’s true, but I still tend to hesitate to ask for assistance. Yet, when someone comes to me for help I usually feel privileged that they’ve put their trust in me. So why shouldn’t I be willing to allow someone else the same opportunity? Is it because I think I might look stupid if I ask for help? Am I afraid of being vulnerable? Am I arrogant, thinking I should be capable of solving all my own problems? Do I hesitate because I might risk feeling connected? Or is it really just easier to go it alone?

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There’s a part of me that stubbornly clings to the belief that if someone loves me they’d know how and when to help and I shouldn’t need to ask. I don’t know where I got this foolish idea, but it’s one of several thoughts that prevent me from seeking help when I need it. Most people aren’t mind readers and don’t always see when a friend or family member needs help. Others need to be given a very specific request to fulfill or they’ll waffle and hold back until you provide them with a clear directive. For example, I think one of the worst things you can say to someone who has recently experienced a trauma or tragedy is, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do to help.” That’s pretty vague. And it puts the affected person in the position having to ask for and even delegate help later, which they may not be capable of doing in the aftermath of an event. Better, would be to simply ask, “How can I help?” and wait for a reply. The person still may say they don’t need help, but at least you’re giving them the chance to ask specifically for what they need at that very moment.

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Life is full of opportunities to learn to ask for help and to offer assistance to those who need it. It’s up to us to get out of our comfort zone, wade through our awkwardness and use these lessons as stepping stones for growth.