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.

YIGGY at MOCA

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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Yiggy

I found Kaycie’s Yellow Intel Guy (let’s call him Yiggy), made popular by some of Intel’s processor commercials from a few years back. I had been inspired by some work by other photographers who started using Star Wars characters in the photos. Actually, they made very clever and funny – almost cartoonish – photos. I’m not sure I could aspire to that level, but I thought I’d see how many ways I could use this character.

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An Oddities Visit

I had a chance to visit the New England Oddities Photography Meetup Group this afternoon. I had had a successful morning in Amherst photographically (see my previous post) and I thought I’d see what I could do here with my iPhone/camera as well.

We met at a photo studio in Chicopee and I spotted an interesting combination of window light and a chair. Some of the photographers there were posing for one another using the chair and I noted the way the sun was creating the window light pattern. I had to wait for the photographers to finish so that I could work with the patterns of the window light. I decided to use the chair as a prop. I also had to wait for the pesky clouds to break up and apart enough for the sunlight to come back to recast the nice pattern on the wall. Usually, I give up after a few minutes (clouds can be cruel, sometimes). This time, my patience paid off.

Next, the Meetup organizer asked if anyone wanted to go to the basement to see how cool that is (both in what you see and its temperature). A bunch of us went and, while there, she also took us outside. I made a few photos and saw this set of windows as I was going back into the building.

Here’s a collage of images and, if you’d like, you can click here to download a short slideshow from the mill trip or view it online here…

 

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Amherst Street Panorama

Made a trip this morning to meet some folks for breakfast. It turns out, I had the wrong day. Rather than waste the trip, I wandered around a bit on this Saturday morning. The sun was breaking through the clouds and, quite often, if you look around, you’ll see some dramatic lighting. I looked across Pleasant Street at a bagel store that had some interesting things in front. I looked past that and saw a church and that’s when it it me, “Wow! Light!”. I had my iPhone and thought I should try to shoot a panorama.

Normally, I shoot panoramas from left to right. I made sure that as I lined up the overlapping images (usually you need to overlap by about 25%), I paid attention to the oncoming traffic. I wanted to make sure no person or vehicle was captured twice. If this happens, you get weird ghosting. Even without such overlaps, you can end up with ghosting. I did, here, but it’s not too bad. As I was managing the overlaps, I noticed the yellow car and hoped that I could capture it in its own frame. I especially wanted that yellow to help make the image pop.

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Me An My iPhone

I recently got an iPhone thanks to points I’d accumulated from my American Express card use. I have had iPhone envy for a while and part of that envy came from seeing photos other photographers made with their iPhones. Now, the newer model even has HDR capability and that’s something I’ve been playing around with recently using my DSLR. Of course, the iPhone’s HDR is simpler and less extreme…but that leaves room for post processing, which I like to do. So, I thought I’d spend some time going forward using my phone in exactly the same way…for the pure pleasure of making good photographs. The fact that the iPhone is so useful in other ways, like being a phone, is nice, too.

I was walking up from my mailbox when I saw the tree shadows on the fresh snow. I thought, wouldn’t that make a nice photograph. Then, all of a sudden, I remembered my iPhone.

I was in the local Price Rite and spotted a spherical mirror over the fresh fruit. I positioned the iPhone to get just the elements I wanted.

I really liked the pattern that the snow and fence created here. It’s going to take a while before I get used to framing an image using the back LCD of either a camera or my iPhone. I’m so used to optical viewfinders that I’m sure I may have gotten a better angle. This one isn’t bad, though.

Earlier In The Month

Shortly after I got my iPhone, in early January, I had a chance to go for a short photo excursion with my brother, Art. He’s a terrific photographer and will often spend more time shooting a scene that I will. That leaves me time to not only make a few photos of my own, but often include photos of him making photos. Here’s one image from my Project 52 posting for Week 51.

The posting states that I was fooling with HDR and that shooting ice might be a good test for this. Truth be told, I’m not sure I really had the camera set to HDR mode. The ice photos worked, though, because, it was an overcast day.

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I Love Photography

I’ve always loved the notion that a fleeting instant could result in a memorable image that transcends time. I have always tried to make images that you might recall fondly later on, therefore. Sometimes, I even succeed.

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