Category Archives: Winter

Snowy Roof Through Frozen Window, Vermont

Snowy Roof Through Frozen Window Vermont

This winter we’ve had far fewer cold mornings than usual; each month out of the last several in Vermont has broken all records as the warmest ever recorded. Some of these recent months have broken the record by more than a few degrees. Still, we’ve had a few of these mornings when I open the shades, and I don’t know what I will find. The light and patterns of ice on the glass aren’t always the same. So quite often before I get to work for the day I go all around the windows with my camera. I have a lot of these, but this one struck me in the richness of texture and the way the overall composition worked in its abstraction. I hope to do a series of these sometime soon. Most are quite different from this one.

This photo is available as a print here.

A bit of ice from the backlog

Rose Hips after Ice Storm

Last week was pretty busy with photography. I ended up hanging a little restaurant show in Lyme, where I also took some trips to take some framed works to the Long River Studio gallery. The show, at Stella’s restaurant is a “gallery extension” show and came up at the last minute. I was busy cutting new mats and reframing pieces and even doing some printing. So this is a long way of getting to this top photo above. One of the images I re-printed last week was an older exposure of Rose Hips in Snow, and I’m very happy with the re-visioning of that image. I printed it on Canson Aquarella watercolor paper, and the texture of the paper is very nice in the softer areas of the print. That got me excited to bring to light some of the other rose hip images I’ve exposed, mostly in 2014, a year when the swamp roses had a lot of nice hips and also when we had some good ice storms and heavy rime-ice frosts on them. I hope to bring out several more of those rose hip images.

To make up for no image last week, I’m also bringing out a new-older new-ice photo, also from 2014 exposure. I liked the new-ice images from this year that I posted last time a lot, so I decided to bring forth another:
New Ice and Maple Tree Reflection

These photos are for sale as prints:

Rose Hips After Ice Storm

New Ice and Maple Tree Reflection

New Ice and Birch Reflections, Hartland VT 2015

New Ice and Birch Reflections, Hartland VT

John Lennon sang, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” (Though it turns out there are other attributions. Perhaps others said that before John Lennon). This manifests in so many ways for all of us. We can’t, don’t pay attention to everything. We try to go in some direction, but the set of blessings and curses of our choices are never quite what we bargained for.

I’ve been blessed with small bodies of water in the last 15 years. Really odd how that happened. The last place I bought, a fixer-upper that was an 1850’s farm-hand’s house had a few things going for it. One was that I could afford it, and the other was that it was near Post Pond, which was a rich spot to blossom into this stage of my being as a photographer. I knew that Post Pond was nice. I had no idea how much time I would spend there and what an impact it would have on my vision.

Then when we decided to buy this house in Vermont, it had a little pond in the backyard. Deep enough to swim in. “Maybe we could ice skate on it.” OK, that’s a nice touch. The house is has nice character and we can afford it. But it turns out that the pond has been one of my favorite things about this place. In deep winter it’s just white, and maybe not so interesting to photograph so much. In the summer, fall, and early winter it’s an ever-changing rich opportunity to photograph. I would never want to be away from a little pond or big pond or a lake as long as I have a camera to my name.

The pond is ringed with birch trees for about half the perimeter, and they are lovely in many respects. These two images have different days of new ice, and the birch trees reflected on it. In the winter the sunrise is late enough, and of course I’m close, so it’s easy to bundle up and get out there in the first light. The pink on the birches below is the sunrise light.

Blue New Ice and Birch Reflections at Dawn

These are available for sale as prints and in a more high res view here:

New Ice and Birch Reflections 2015 I

The book is available from Tupelo Press here. as well as on Amazon and other vendors.

Available as a fine print here: New Ice and Birch Reflections 2015 II

Seeing What’s Here, Letting Go of What’s There

Vermont Ice Storm Ascutney

Anyone who has spent any time at all honestly examining their mind and experience knows very well that most of the time most of our awareness and attention is not directed at the situation at hand.

So it was that I started the day of New Year’s Eve, 2015. I was looking forward to photographing at Post Pond a bit later in the morning, since I was scheduled to be in my old town of Lyme NH at 10. I figured I would leave early and give myself a generous amount of time there to photograph before 10.

Here in Hartland VT the trees and weeds were glazed with ice from freezing rain the night before. The light was soft but bright, and there was some fog and mist in spots. A good opportunity! I had to spend some time here before I headed to Lyme. I made way too many photographs right in the back yard, and heading off I was just barely going to be on time. But I still had to stop and expose the image above.

It turned out that as I approached Lyme, the ice storm was not in evidence, the light didn’t have the luminous quality that we had in Hartland. My 10am appointment was to gallery-sit at the Long River Studios gallery. After that was over I went to Post Pond, and — nothing inspiring. I could spend some time and find something, always, but it was not as it had been in my mind. There wasn’t even any ice on the water.

But in honor of my fantasy of how it was going to be, I’ll resurrect an old exposure of Post Pond — sort of how I thought it would be there. It’s kind of funny, because I’ve been wanting to go back there with my newer, higher end cameras and lenses, but that gear didn’t help with nothing interesting in front of it. The photo below (which I will not be able to print very large) was exposed with my earliest DSLR and the worst lens I ever owned in 2005. It worked out. Sometimes the situation works out if you’re fully in it.

Post Pond, Ice and Mist, Black and White

These photos are available as prints:

Ascutney Mountain Through Ice Storm Branches VT

Melting Ice and Mist, Post Pond Black and White

Spring Ice, Pine Needles 2014

At this time of year here, we get this kind of ice. Over the years I’ve tried to catch the days when I could photograph it, at first somewhat haphazardly. By now I really try to carve out some time to be with it, and I know some good places where it manifests. It’s not just any ice, but a kind of sparkly ice mixed with layers of the forest floor.

I went out looking for it the day before yesterday. I figured this would be an extra good year for it, because we had so much heavy icy melty stuff early in the season, and then a good snow cover all year. I figured it could build up underneath the snowpack, started by the early season ice. But when I got to the place where I spent so much time photographing it last year, there was nothing but bare patches of ground. The rest of the ground surrounding it was quite snow covered. Oh well. You never know. There are some other spots where I’ve found it, and maybe it will show up there when the snow melts a bit.

I looked for this kind of ice and didn’t find any, but I did have a fruitful session photographing the ice along a little stream through the woods that day, and then yesterday when I went out again. It was really an exercise in anicca, impermanence, because I knew it would be warm and rainy today — the end of that ice most likely.

This photo is available with a higher resolution view, and for sale.

Frost Flowers on Trout Brook into Post Pond Sunset

Frost Flowers on Trout Brook, Post Pond, Lyme NH

My upcoming show (Opening reception December 6 in Hanover NH!) features one wall of images of Post Pond. Though I have many hundreds of images of Post Pond, my intention for this wall was to show the hills, which form a familiar bowl around the pond, as a backdrop to impermanence and change. I started experimenting with some images and printing them, while I was printing the images to hang, and bam!: this one made quite a stunning print. Into the show it goes.

This print is available for sale and as a larger view here.

Sunset Mist, Single Ice Hut, Post Pond, 2006

There are so many factors that drive my output. Maybe the least good one is, “It’s fresh.” I’m wary of those. For example this morning I spent some time with some covered-with-raindrops Lady’s Slippers in a bog near here. (Here’s a lady’s slipper photo from last year, and another one). I think I did better at the bog this year than last year, but better to wait.

Some things that have driven my output have been something like vision. One summer a few years ago I immersed myself in Ukiyo-e prints, and they filled my mind and colored the world. It’s hard to explain, but there was some kind of internal pressure to swim in that bright water. Another time when I was a young photographer I had something like a ringing clarity in my mind for a while in the spring. It was like a sparkle on things, and it really got me going in terms of photographing and trying to print that energy, that view.

But another less glamorous force behind output is quite simply technology, though that is rather a dull way to put it. Think of a musician with a new instrument. So for example when I studied with John Sexton at the Maine Workshops in the early 80s, he gave us Edward Weston’s formula for a developer using Amidol. It seemed to me to be a kind of more luminous look, though that might have been coincidence. It might be that I used it on a certain kind of image the first time, and then I looked for images with a similar tone to use more of it. So I bought some of that chemical from the Photographer’s Formulary (I wonder if they’re still in business?), and I used it on prints I wanted to make give that sort of luminous look. That chemical drove a vision and some excitement — maybe Edward Weston was inspired in a similar way…

This image was from a 2006 DSLR in weak light, and it was pretty noisy by any standards. But it is a raw file, and I just got a new raw processor, DxO Optics Pro. In this case that software really comes through on its promise to process out the noise while preserving the clarity of the image. It was tricky, but doable. I can not only save the image, but make it quite usable. I’m thinking of printing it for a show that will be loosely based on the theme of impermanence. And part of that show will have a series of this profile of hills, with various manifestations.

Oak Leaf and Hemlock in Spring Ice, Vermont 2014

Oak Leaf, Hemlock Needles, Ice Vermont I’ve spent a lot of time working on these ice-on-forest-floor abstracts and semi-abstracts this spring. It turned out that the window of opportunity was pretty small this year, but I had some nice long days working it hard. The time the snow melted enough to expose the shimmery, translucent broken, leaf-infused forest floor ice, but before the ice melted was only a few days. I spent hours when I could, each day I walked in the woods. I think I mentioned last time that I’m just so tickled with my current micro-four thirds camera with some high end prime lenses for this task. I’ve been photographing this sort of stuff for 30 years with all kinds of high and low end equipment, and this is the best it’s ever been. I have a lot of images to sift through and decide about, from softer images like this that are almost like a little story — to very abstract ones I like too, where the eye moves, the depth of the image seems to go in and out of the plane, and you can get lost in the abstract journey. It’s funny; it’s something of a journey through time in making and sifting through these kind of exposures. On the day I unload the camera and look at them, they are all very exciting. But I know I should wait. After a week or two it becomes pretty confusing — there are so many images, and it’s hard to see what works. By next year it should be quite clear, I imagine. But I’m jumping the gun, diving into the confusion as I did for the last one, and hopefully coming up with a pearl this time.

In the late 80s I saw Bob Dylan in concert, and he was very good, surprisingly good for that period. Dylan had released some not-so-great albums through that period, some good songs and some not so good songs. But the thing is, if you go see Dylan in concert, he knows what the good songs are. He doesn’t necessarily perform the song that he wrote last month that might make it onto an album. I remember being really struck by that ability to be clear for the performance, to not mess around with new material he’s unsure of (even if he can’t resist putting that on an album). I assumed it was harder to know when he makes an album, how much of it is going to be good. Make it, get it down, record it; time will tell.  I remember aspiring to have that clarity and discernment with my own work, and I’ve kept that aspiration mostly intact. But here I go, posting a new photo, fresh, and one of thousands of new keepers/and chaff to blow away.

This is available as a fine print here

Acorn Cap, Pine Needles, Spring Ice 2014

Abstract Acorn Cap Pine Needles Hemlock Ice

I’ve been spending too much time (considering I have work to do and taxes to work on) in the woods on snowshoes. As of Monday, there was still well over a foot of snow in the woods, but it’s melting fast.

Over the last 10 years, I’ve worked on this theme: the ice over the ground, revealed when the snow melts, is sparkling, full of leaves and bits of flotsam, completely magical up close. It’s not everywhere, just in some places. I used to have a good patch of it in my back yard in Lyme, and now there is often quite a bit of it along a trail in a very beautiful forest. This year though, the snow has been hanging on, and I don’t know if things are melting in the normal way. It’s so late for it to be melting. I’ve only found one patch to work, but I’ve spent hours at it over a couple of days so far this year.

One thing I realized that’s quite funny about working this patch of ice: it’s in a spot with a breathtaking distant view over rolling meadows, to distant hillsides and beyond. It’s all the more breathtaking because on the (long) walk that leads to it, the trail has been in trees for a long time. Then you get to the edge, and it is: “Wow!” It opens up. Life is more dramatic when it opens up suddenly. But the funny thing is that on Monday I went straight to work with this ice, and I didn’t even look up, I don’t think, for hours.

I don’t usually wax gear-head on this blog, but my newer gear is just so perfect for working with this subject. The Olympus 45/f1.8 and the 60/f2.8 macro are just so amazingly sharp and contrasty. I’ve usually worked this subject with a DSLR, which is tricky, because it’s hard to get enough depth of field. It’s flat, but not really quite flat. Things bump up or recede, the plane dips or pops. The Micro Four Thirds camera has just enough more depth of field if I stop down a bit, and like I said, these lenses are amazing. This is so contrasty out of the camera I should almost dial it back. Really amazing.

Sunrise Over Franklin Hill, Mist and Ice Fishing Huts, Post Pond, 2008

Sunrise over Franklin Hill, Mist, Ice Fishing Huts

It’s about time to glue myself to the desk chair for the rest of the winter, except for when I do a 10 day meditation retreat. In addition to a lot of printing, I’m going to work on my book of Post Pond Years. That book won’t be purely get-running-from-a-dead-stop. I’ve been working on Post Pond photos for some time now, but there is a backlog, and hopefully a story to write. Some of the already up-there post pond photos are here. And This Photo is a good companion to this image, but a bit more dramatic, less subtle. It’s of a view to the south-west, while this image above is of course the south-east. The sun sets early over those hills.

This image today was really hard! First, one might think that a nice flat horizon would help make a panorama. Actually, it often makes it a bit trickier. This was a hard panorama to put together. It took hours, actually, but I developed a few new techniques, so at least my stubbornness paid off in learning as well as the image. Secondly, it’s harder to make a subtle image like this work than a more dramatic one, like the color sunset one. To separate the subtle tones so the misty hills aren’t all just misty-muck is a little tricky.

I’ll probably post it on the real site, so it can be viewed bigger there. I think it’s better bigger and higher resolution.

The Post Pond years were a serious period of growth, both as someone trying to wake up to this life, and also as a photographer, which is of course the same thing.

I bought a little ancient farm-hand’s house that needed a lot of work in 2003, and it was about a five minute walk to the spot photographed above. I was newly divorced, my daughter with me half the time. This also was a time when my web work slowed a bit, as some bigger and more high pressure clients moved to content management systems. I got my first DSLR and started meditating seriously.
Also around that time, high end ink jet printers became affordable, so it became a possibility to make good digital exposures and also good prints. I had some time, and I lived in a gorgeous place. I went nuts. Stay tuned for more. Also, this really does need to be bigger, so I’ll link to that as soon as I can.