Jenne Farm Revisited

My Photo Gang at Jenne Farm

Had a chance to fool around with the new Photoshop CC that I’ve just subscribed to. It’s available at a discount price and I couldn’t resist. Later, when the price goes back to normal, I may reconsider. (It’s not like I do Photoshop professionally anymore.) I also have Paintshop Pro, and one may wonder why more than one photo editor. Answer? Because it’s there.

I was testing out how NIK Filters integrated with Photoshop. At first, it didn’t. A visit to the Internet got me straightened out. I decided to apply a wet plate look to this photo. Normally, a wet plate wouldn’t be a panorama. That’s because wet plates were pieces of glass (like 4×5, 5×7, 8×10 maybe). You’d have to have some strange, long and narrow glass and even stranger view camera to put it in. But, with computers, I can do this. I like how it turned out.

The back story is that this photo was taken when the June Hike Club Photo Gang went to Vermont for a long weekend a year ago (see my other post for more about this). We trampled all over the farmer’s field to get shots of the iconic farm house. Later, when we went down to the farm to buy some honey, we chatted with the farmer. He told me folks were always trampling his grass. He didn’t like that. I thought to myself, “well why the heck have one of the most photogenic farms in the first place?” …and besides, he had a box near the trample-spot for donations. We probably donated $20 in all (maybe more). So, no guilt. I’m sure that box makes more for him than a bit of trampled grass.

Oh, and as far as Photoshop versus Paintshop are concerned…strengths and weaknesses for sure. I like both.

BTW – I’m pretty sure this photo was one of the Photosynth jobs from the app by Microsoft that is only available for iPhones. This is why you get such a wide pano affect. I certainly no longer have a Nikon lens that could do this.

FWIW – why did I chose the wet plate look? Here is why…

Wet Plate Solution

…you can see in the color original that the Photosynth software didn’t blend the individual captures all that well. There are exposure differences (you see lines in the road bed and grass) that would require a lot of blending to merge. The wet plate effect, on the other hand, adds a lot of this kind of intentional error automagically, so the ones that are already there just seem like they belong. Yeah, I’m lazy.

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Amazing Smart Phone Cameras

I am just amazed at the quality that’s built into a camera that I have with me almost all the time, now. It’s my smart phone. I have used an iPhone in the past, and now have an HTC Android phone. When the time comes, I may go back to a new iPhone. The manufacturers keep adding amazing new features and, even now, I’m not taking full advantage.

Lately, I’ve been shooting some open mic events I’ve attended. I play and sing at some, myself, but I use my phone to capture what other folks are doing. This shot is one I took under terrible lighting conditions. The stage was bathed in a green light and the phone recorded what it saw…but green light on skin? Yuck.

I knew that this image would have to go to black and white because of that…

Geraldines 20130805

Open Mic Performance At Geraldine’s In West Springfield, MA. (Click for original size image.)

Shortly after I shot this, I made a video recording with the same phone. After all, I was just standing there and all it required was the click of a different icon so, why not?

I managed to capture the last verse of the song, Wagon Wheel. Bobby D (on the right) sings this beautifully by himself most of the time, but this night, a bunch of the other “regulars” invaded the stage and accompanied.

I was leaning against a short wall in front of the stage and used that to prop up the phone. It was at the perfect height and the wall reduced the normal camera shake you’d get under these conditions. Luckily, no one walked in front of me and I got a useable video, too. Sweet.

Anyway, it wasn’t until I was reviewing the images on my 27 inch LCD monitor that I realized how much this image reminded me of Kodak 35mm Tri-X film. This was the ISO 400 speed B&W film that had a graininess that made prints come to life. The cell phone image, on my screen, was actually larger than what I would normally print from a 35mm shot. (I would typically go for 5X7 up to 11×14…with the LCD screen, the image was much larger.

Oh, and the image was a crop from the original. If I had been closer the resolution of the final image would have been even better. Sweet.

Perfectionists might quibble about the hot, burned out parts of the image (like the shiny guitar). Some might have gone into the enlarger for better contrast control. I was never into that too much. I like the photo as it is.

(The musicians, from L-R: Rich 2, Kenny B., Acoustic Dave, Brian C., and Bobby D.)

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Higgins Beach Trip

Had a chance to spend a couple days up in Maine at Higgins Beach. On the way, we visited Portsmouth, NH. So, there are some photos worth sharing as a result. At the top is a panorama of Pebble Beach near Portsmouth, along Rt1A near Odiorne Point State Park. Click here to see the Photosynth version. These photos don’t really tell the story, though.

Cairn Art at Higgins Beach Cairn Art at Higgins Beach

It’s a collection of rock art in the form of cairns. I didn’t count them but there were likely 40 or more. Some were as small as a few inches tall.

The next stop was Nubble Light. I didn’t plan to photograph this because I’d been there before and the magic happens early in the morning or late afternoon. But, as it happened, a couple of kayaks came by. I had my iPhone handy so I did what I could. I liked what I got.

We eventually got to Higgins Beach in time to enjoy low tide and the amazingly large beach area that forms. There’s a comforting feeling you get when you look out into the vast span.

The tide comes sweeping in and covers over most of the visible beach here. The water is quite shallow.

Many years ago, a ship got beached and there was enough damage to it that it was abandoned. As this was low tide, we had a chance to see its skeleton. She was the Howard W. Middleton launched in 1883 from New Jersey. She was a 145 foot long ship that carried coal. The visible part was about 50 feet long. We were told that with the tides and shifting sand patterns, more or less of this ship is exposed over time. So, these photos only tell part of the story.

The ship ran aground in 1897 at the mouth of the Spurwink River whose waters help sculpt Higgins Beach making it a very popular spot for surfing and fishing.

We ended our trip visiting a lighthouse in Portland called Spring Point Light. The lighthouse is on a breakwater and you can walk out to is. It sits up high and when you walk around it’s base, you are surrounded by water. It’s an interesting experience.



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June Hike Club Photo Adventure 2012

Many years ago, I used to hike in the White Mountains with a group of friend. We did this each June. We called ourselves the June Hike Club. After about 10 years, I got more interested in the photography I was doing while on the hikes. Then, my tendency to get leg cramps made much of my hiking happen in the seat of a car.

I’ve had a long hiatus since those days, but this year, I managed to get this June thing going again. Instead of the Whites, we concentrated on the Greens…the Green Mountains of Vermont.

Jenne Farm

A good number of my previous images have included weird HDR techniques. I still do this and many of the following images use this technology. However, I’ve moved away from the weirdness. In fact, this sign photo has the most aggressive effects applied. It’s a bit Crayola Crayon colorful, but I find it interesting.

This sign is at the Jenne Farm in Reading, VT. This farm has been photographed by countless photographers over the years. It’s one of those iconic scenes from Vermont. I chose not to include an image of the farm because I really didn’t find one I liked.

We drove down to the Jenne farmhouse to buy some maple syrup and chatted with the owner. I asked him about how he gets along with photographers. He said he was OK with them for the most part. He doesn’t like it when his hay field gets trampled by the photographers because he doesn’t have the right kind of hay machine to scoop up the grass. On the other hand, he likes the contributions that the red box gets. (We made sure we put in some dollars…and we bought a half gallon of syrup between us.)

Barnet, VT

River Scene in Barnet, VT

In Barnet, VT, a small stream crosses under the bridge in the foreground in this scene. There is a nice waterfall here. I made some video captures for B-roll from that spot. I was intrigued by the scene in the background. I liked the silos and train tracks there. You can see the trains better in this next view.

RR Siding Scene in Barnet, VT

Looking Skyward

We had been battling cloudy weather most of the days we were in Vermont. We had to work with rain, too. As it turns out, I like photographing in the rain. But, it was mostly the nice clouds that made our photos interesting.

We were quite lucky because the clouds often cooperated by producing dramatic skies. Sometimes, rain clouds are just bleak and boring. This time, they were magical.

Clouds along Rt 2, VT

The clouds are from a grab shot I managed to get as we were driving. I shot this through tinted glass. I’m amazed it came out.

Roadside Finds

A lot of the time, we just stumbled upon interesting things. My brother, Art, spotted these bird houses and asked that we stop. He saw the front view of this collection but, as we were turning the car to get off the road, I opened my side door (both he and I were sitting in the back of the van). I took a liking to this haphazard display on the end of the stack. I raised my camera, made a photo, and forgot about the capture until much later. I liked it enough to punch up the colors and want to present it here.

When I saw Art’s images of the bird houses, I actually liked his version a bit more. We may be posting all of our images together in an online album. He may include it there.

Rock of Ages

We had planned to photograph covered bridges on this day, but we got sidetracked. We ended up in Barre, VT, and then later in Graniteville, which is nearby. That’s where you can find the Rock Of Ages quarry. I have the following photograph from that visit. There are so many nice shots one can make there on the tour they let you take. This was my favorite. I had to wait for the skies to open up and the sun to create the right kind of shadows on the rock face.

Rock of Ages Quarry in Graniteville, VT

The water here has an eerie color. Part of that comes from the fact that there is very little (or no) oxygen in the water. You can see similarly colored water in the lake photos in British Columbia. I don’t know why there’s no oxygen there. Here, I imagine it’s the quarry operation that contributes to this condition. Also, there’s a layer of granite dust in the water suspended about eight inches from the surface of the water. They use pneumatic drills to help cut the granite and the dust, itself, is a byproduct of this type of drill. It’s quite deadly when breathed, so they try not to do that anymore. They have to wash everything down with water for safety.

East Orange, VT

We ended up in East Orange, VT at one point. We drove along some dirt roads to get there (we spent a lot of time on dirt roads). The dirt roads in Vermont are very smooth and quite passable, much better than here in Massachusetts.

I really liked the church we found in this small community. We also found some interesting barns, an old house that looked like it was ready for recycling. My favorite view of the church is below. I also liked this barn that follows it.

We stopped at a few barns along the way throughout Vermont. Each photographer managed to get different and interesting views. I shot very few barn pictures, though. But, that’s just me.

Church in East Orange, VT

Barn in East Orange, VT

How to Find and Photograph the Photo-Scenics in Vermont

We had been following instructions from a booklet written by Arnold Kaplan about 20-30 years ago. It described the “tripod holes” in Vermont. These are scenics that are so popular, you could probably see the holes that countless photographers’ tripods make.

We were using the information in the booklet as a guide. We were curious about his recommended scenes. One of his recommended locations was Peacham, VT. He said that you had to find the general store in the center of the town, then follow a dirt road up a hill, find the right back yard, and ask someone’s permission to photograph the village. We never found the right yard, but managed to go back to the town to see what we could find on our own. We drove down an “interesting” road toward a cemetary. I managed to get this shot when someone in the group spotted a rainbow on our right side.

Rainbow and Water Supply Pond in Peacham, VT

I had followed my brother out along the road heading up to this field to get a different view of the rainbow. He stopped by a sign and telephone pole there. I wandered a bit further. I managed to find this fence in the foreground. I liked the composition. Later, at home, he liked my capture so much that he helped me work for over an hour doing all sorts of imaging manipulations to get this look. Thank you, Art!

Covered Bridges

On our first day, when we arrived in Woodsville, NH, where we spent our nights, we asked about covered bridges. We found out there were two nearby. The first was right in Woodsville. As we explored it, we encountered a light rain. I looked down at the water running below the bridge and I liked the reflection pattern and the raindrops. I thought I could get creative with it.

Later on, I also made a panoramic “photosynth” with my iPhone. You’ll need to download some software from the Photosynth site to be able to view this on your computer. (I’m guessing Mac and Windows only.) Check it out.

On our last day, we decided to concentrate on covered bridges and the Jenne Farm. Here are my bridges…

Covered Bridge near Tunbridge, VT

Moyley Bridge near Chelsea, VT

Poison Ivy

A word about poison ivy. On our last day, we were at one of the covered bridges in Thetford, VT. I was photographing YIG (Yellow Intel Guy) and placed him on the ground near some cascading water. I got down on the ground with him to get this closeup. That was a mistake. Apparently, there was poison ivy there, which I’m very allergic to. I now have arms and legs covered in itchy skin. Thankfully, I have a good supply of Calamine and Benadryl. (Here is a photosynth of that bridge.)

Here’s YIG-gie and proof of my dedication to the photographic arts…artists are supposed to suffer, aren’t they?

Click on YIG to see the June Hike team slideshow.

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Wahconah Falls

Once again, the New England Photo Oddities Photography group had a field trip and I was able to tag along and do some work that resulted in a contribution here. The falls are in Pittsfield State Forest in Massachusetts in the town of Dalton. For us here in the western part of the State, it’s a relatively short drive. I had never been there before and was quite surprised and how beautiful the area is. The falls are quite photogenic, too. You can walk up and down along the river and photograph different parts. I didn’t have to walk far to get my shots and was tempted to go further. I think I’ll save that for another time.

I’m trying to wean myself off of HDR grungy looking images. This time, I used a more reserved setting in doing the HDR work. It’s called Painterly and I think it works as advertised. I still did additional tweaking after this step. I can’t help myself, I guess.

I also managed to test out a new camcorder we bought for our cooking show project. I wanted to see how it would handle the contrast range that’s usually a problem when shooting stuff like waterfalls. Here’s a link to the clip…

Wahconah Falls Video

One disappointing thing I found myself having done? …I left YIG at home. So there are no photos of my yellow buddy to share.

Learn more about Wahconah Falls here.

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Becket Quarry

The New England Oddities Meetup Group had scheduled a trip to the old rock quarry in Becket, MA. This property is maintained by the Becket Land Trust and contains not just the quarry, itself, but some old rusty equipment that looked like it was just shut off one day and abandoned. Time and weather have taken their toll, leaving the rest to the enjoyment of those to travel there and, especially, to the photo gatherers who like that kind of thing.

I learned that despite the no swimming and diving warnings at the trail head, this is a popular spot for teens to go to jump off the cliffs.

There are lots nature trails in addition to the ones leading to the Quarry’s points of interest. On this day, in mid-October, there would normally be a temptation to photograph all the fall foliage, but this year the colors are off. This may be because of the heavy rains we’ve had recently. Fortunately, there is lots more to point a lens at here.

The equipment that was used day-to-day at the Quarry looks like it was just abandoned as the workers walked away one day, never to return. Cables, derricks, tanks, engines, trucks, and probably lots of other interesting stuff buried in the brush and leaves. The property is open to the public and donations are appreciated (but not required). You can find your way around by downloading a couple PDF maps or, taking a map at the trailhead. There’s enough area to explore to be able to spend many hours, or come back another day.

The quarry has the expected pool of deep water that undoubtedly attracts swimmers in the Summer months. There are signs prohibiting swimming and diving, but you can find the places where people will jump from the cliffs. Also, if you look up in the trees, you’ll see a rope that, if you could reach it easily, you could swing out over the water and jump in. (In fact, the rope is near the spot where YIG is reclining in the photo above.)

Check out more photos at the gallery page.
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Photo Trek with Richie and Steve

Had a chance to spend the day (the 26th) with friends doing some photography…

L-R: Richie, me, YIG-ie, and Steve

We started off the day heading west on Rt. 20. We spent a few minutes checking out the underside of the Mass Pike bridge as it crosses the Westfield River somewhere near the border of Westfield and Russell. The next stop was going to be Woronco. (I’m not sure if this is actually a place called Woronco, as in it is a subsection of Russell by that name, or if it’s just Woronco Street. I like thinking of it as Woronco, though. Cool name.)

Here’s YIG urging us to do some photography at this nice place. It has old mill buildings, a couple bridges, a rocky gorge, a river cutting potholes in the rock, infrasturcture decay, and nice scenics. All this is just about 10 miles from where I live. Nice.

We spent a while at this spot. I had been here before, about six weeks ago, with my brother, on a rainy day. We got some nice shots then, but this time, I explored the concrete bridge that is officially closed to traffic. There are gates and road blocks at both ends. The gates are open to allow foot traffic through, so I felt safe photographing from the bridge. Here, you can see that there’s quite a drop from the bridge. (The metal structure in this photograph isn’t the bridge, but was photographed from the bridge.)

You can view the web album I have with other photos from our trip. Here’s another one of the photos I rather like…

We drove a bit further north, past the mill buildings, to get to the second bridge. Really, it’s only a couple hundred feet away and it’s a metal bridge just barely wide enough for a single car. If you had someone walking on the bridge at the same time a car came across, one would probably have to wait while one gets across before being able to proceed safely. Fortunately, there is so little traffic that YIG had no fear in sitting in the middle of the bridge for a pose.

The bridge leads to a vantage point where additional views of the back side of the mill, and the dam and spillway are visible.

Can’t wait to get back here when Fall foliage is peak!

For the middle part of the day, we drove around Northampton, had a nice lunch at Packards, and went to investigate the converted rail trail bike path that crosses the Connecticut River. (Here’s Richie checking out something below in the water.)

We kept going north from there. Our original goal was to find a historic bridge somewhere near where Bill Cosby lives. I assumed I could look this up on my iPhone while we went but, as it turned out, we were running out of daylight. So, we decided to check out Mt. Sugarloaf which was much closer.

I had been to the top of this small mountain before many years ago. I really like the Connecticut River valley as it cuts through Massachusetts. There’s this view looking south along the river, with farms dotting the countryside. Further south, in the Hadley area, you have Mt. Holyoke with it’s historic hotel at the high point. The views from there, both north and south, are equally stunning.

You can view the iPhone video shot from the lower platform on Mt. Sugarloaf. It shows the river valley and the weather conditions we had. As we were wrapping things up, the rain finally reached us. Click here or click the photo below to view the video.

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Trip To MoCA

My brother, Art, was here for an extended visit and we decided that the best thing to do on a rainy Monday is to go visit a museum. Of course, we don’t go anywhere without cameras of one kind or another. So, my images in this post can provide evidence that this is true.


It’s not that Yiggy goes everywhere with me, but I did take him  for just this kind of shot.

MOCA is the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Adams. It’s in the site of the former Sprague Electric company. (We have a relative who worked for them once and often visited the plant there on business. Now we have some stuff to talk about. Hear that, Bob?)

But first…

Bridge at Woronco MA

…on the way up to North Adams, I opted to navigate. We took some detours here and there because we like to find and see new things. We saw an interesting bridge in Woronco, which is just outside of Westfield.

Dam Spillway At Woronco

It’s near a complex with a photographically promising waterfall for when there is high water and/or for when there is good fall foliage. I’ll have to keep this in mind.

Google Maps shows a road going through Woronco but it actually seems to be a dead end, unless you have some serious 4 wheeling capability. We didn’t. So, we had to double back over the bridge to get to Rt 20. Art wanted to stop and shoot some video while we were back at the narrow bridge. I chose to run across it in the rain so I could get this photo…

We saw other scenic opportunities on our drive, including some fine small towns which will merit a revisit at some point.

It wasn’t until we actually got to MoCA and saw the old Power Plant building there that things really got interesting for us. However, we didn’t know this until we were almost done with our museum tour near the end of our afternoon.

MoCA has several interconnected buildings and is on three floors. The exhibits are massive and include photos, video, audio, and sculpted art. It’s all contemporary so it pushes on the imagination. Quite frankly, we were as impressed with the building as much as we were with the art. The MoCA folks really did a nice job in restoring the building and making it people friendly.

Learn more about Mass MoCA.

Is That A Flying Winnebago?

While in the museum, we could see an unusual item suspended 30 feet in the air attached to a building outside somewhere in the complex. When we asked the guards about the “flying Winnebago”, they told us where it was and that it was open to the public. In fact, they said we could go up there and “touch anything we wanted”. As soon as we were done inside the main part of the museum, we header right over to it. The rain didn’t stop us.

The solar panels make the camper look like it has wings – like a Flying Winnebago.

It wasn’t until we walked up close to the brick building holding up the camper in the air that we saw what a real treasure trove we had. There were rusty pipes, tanks, hoppers, and motors inside the building. All were inoperable and on display and waiting for cameras like ours. Everything was getting wet from the rain and sometimes rain is the best thing for the kind of photography (and video) were were trying to get. And all of this was before you got to the camper, itself. Nice.

So, here are the images I was able to make from my efforts…

There were several clusters of these pipes begging to be photographed.

The wet floor reflections and random equipment were appealing.

The rust color is intentionally exaggerated here from the image processing.

The light coming through the side door caught my attention, here.

I knew that the HDR and slow shutter speed would give the falling rain a silky look.

The Windstream Camper interior had something to look at no matter where you looked. Every nook and cranny was filled.


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Middletown, CT

We stopped to meet Ed coming from Newport. He was heading down to Philly and we decided to grab some coffee and say hi. There’s a small park on the banks of the Connecticut River and one of the sculptures was a collection of metal items, including parts of an engine block. With nothing else to do, and iPhone in hand, I thought, “Why not?”

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Yiggy Visits Our New Living Space

We’ve have a new addition to our home almost near completion. Yig came for a visit and made himself comfortable on our new floor.

It should be fun seeing how many places we can find this character.

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