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A Rock is Not Just a Rock

A rock. Simple, solid and stable. Physically or Mentally. We all need a rock in our lives during these days of angst, someone to lean on, someone to bounce thoughts off of, someone to listen. Someone you can be comfortable with when your movements are restricted. When you are locked down. You do not have to be with your rock, it can be off in the distance, just a phone call away. I will not share my views on the current methods due to the fact that I am biased, as are most people in my field. We are not allowed to be confined, restricted or locked down. Unless of course we get sick. And we do get sick.

Life remains quite the crazy, non stop adventure. Hopefully, it will slow down soon. 6 weeks to be exact. I pen this from work, it is after midnight and we are in between jobs. I have one more shift on the truck after this, ten days till the company closes. Thirty days of administrative duties after that the job of 24.5 years is gone. I will be taking a few weeks off to clear the head and stretch the legs. New Hampshire and Maine are on the agenda, and some much needed housework before I hit the ground with the new employer. I am incredibly excited to see what the future holds. Though I do have a bit of angst towards the unknown, it is a perfectly healthy feeling. The groundwork has been set and it is just a matter of time.

This particular formation is called Looking Glass Rock. It gets its name from the sun shining of the bare face after it rains or it is iced up. I caught this view from a couple of pull offs on the Blue Ridge Parkway last time I was on it. There is not as much history recorded on it as I would have thought, 300 million years old, almost 4000 feet high, a piece of land that was on its way to being a volcano but stopped short for whatever the reason.

During one of my pull offs I met a lady who did have some insight into the area. We got to talking about family, relatives and ancestry which led us to Scotland. She mentioned the Appalachian area reminds her of the Highlands and that one time many moons ago when the continents were connected this area was next to that area. I do not remember my geology, tectonic plate shifts or formations but my wife and I would love to go exploring over there.

This thing juts up out of nowhere, fills the mind with wonder and takes away whatever stress you may be having. I am big on nature and fresh air, frees the mind, postpones the worries, creates happy thoughts. Gives WTF a positive meaning. I guess Nature is my inanimate rock. Always good to have two.

Make sure you have a rock in your life. Ask for help if you are in need, give help if you are able. Do not succumb to the media, but do take precautions. It has been a wild ride this year of 2020. Let’s see what else it will be giving us.

Thanks for stopping by, Till next time

Phil

Quick Trip to the Cape

Heart in the middle of this years dance season I was sent to an event in Foxboro. Normally, I stay somewhat local due to my Full Time work schedule, but with this particular weekends events scattered they gave me plenty of notice so I could adjust and take a Monday off. This meant I now had three days off in a row and since I was out of state, well, might as well take advantage of it. After surveying my possibilities, I was one hour from the Cape. Let’s go! I had no concrete plans, other than trying to find the Milky Way, I was figuring I would get in a couple sunsets and just do a little exploring. Two days is not a great deal of time to fully immerse yourself in area of unknowns so I did as much research as I could to get the lay of the land, and whatever played out from there I was good with.

Waking up Monday, figured I would make it up as I went along. Since it was only a few miles from where I was staying, Nobska Lighthouse was the first stop of the day.

I visited three lighthouses during my stay and the thing I found most interesting is that they were all small. Perched on little hills, but all not as tall as one would think. Guessing that light is pretty powerful to be seen 12 miles out. This one had a very homey feel to it. Definitely would not mind staying in that house.

The theme continued for second stop of the day at Nauset Light. I needed to scope out a nearby location for the sunset and a night sky and this seemed easy to get to from where they were. The parking lots were under construction and the surrounding land appeared in the midst of a manicure so it was a bit messy. Quite a bit of history with this one. Worth the look it you are interested.

I had chosen Rock Harbor beach for the evening’s sunset. Touted to be the best sunset spot on the cape. Isn’t any spot where you can grab a sunset the best spot? There was a location right across the inlet from the official beach, less crowded just as pretty and a few tidal pools were included. Kinda of a bland evening photographically but a cool experience nonetheless. I am a big fan of Lee filters but I was having some issues with condensation a while back so I purchased a screw on ND Graduated filter. Figured it would be easier in the long run. It was, but you do lose some control over your points of darkening. Really nice, just not as adjustable. But, instead of two or three areas of potential moisture build up, now there is only one. I heard a lens heater works great for eliminating build up and they are not that expensive so that is on the purchase to do list.

So, the night sky. The location I had chosen was Salt Pond. Read a bunch of good things about it and the composition looked good. Now I enter the phase for mind games. It was 20:30 hours. I had to wait 5 hours for optimal conditions, it was getting cloudy out, I was by myself in an unfamiliar location and I was an hour away from the hotel. What the heck do I do now. If I wait and the clouds do not clear I’m screwed. Well, I did not feel like waiting so I headed back. I remember a beach I drove past that was five minutes from where I was staying and it was pointed in the direction I needed. Drove past it to make sure the gates were open, got some dinner and relaxed for a few. Midnight struck and the skies were clear. Of course now I am cursing myself out for not sticking out the original spot. As I always do though, we make the best of the situation and take advantage of what we have to work with.

My third attempt with the Milky Way. This one was very difficult to see with the naked eye but the camera can see what the eye cannot. And Vice Versa. I still need to figure out the foreground aspect of things but plans are in place thanks to the knowledge of an old co-worker. I know very little about stacking right now, hopefully I will get a chance this month to learn all about it. Fingers crossed and weather permitting.

The foreground in this next image was taken from a test shot while getting things set up. Little did I know at the time in would come in handy. Ambient light was much brighter than I anticipated, and it was very dark. It is amazing how much light travels and illuminates the surroundings. During the two hours I was out thereI kept thinking I should go further out on the beach but I kinda appreciated this composition from the parking lot.

Since I was combining and blending images, a little bit to the left of me was residential light so why not right? More joy to come with these attempts. I am hoping by October I have this whole process down.

Day two was pretty interesting, headed over to Chatham to check out the lighthouse at the Coast Guard Station and took a little unexpected stroll on the beach before grabbing a sunset. On the way there I saw this 1797 windmill… Yowser. An impressive sight in the middle of a green.

One of the more substantial pieces I encountered during my two days was the Chatham Lighthouse. Another 19th Century wonder warning approaching vessels of potential dangers. So if I ever get up there again I need to capture these at night with the beacons shining. Lacking a bit of character in daylight and I am sure not doing them justice in this scenario.

Peaking out over the beach I saw a distant object with a flag flying over it. Naturally I satisfied my curiosity and made the jaunt out to see what it as. While not having an official name there is a sign on it that says “Occupy Chatham South Beach”. Apparently it is an ever changing structure without anyone seeming to know how it got there or who adds/subtracts objects from it. Though I do believe it is a community effort to keep it up and going. You can check out their Facebook Page here for more enlightening history and mystery

Headed over to First Encounter Beach for the sunset. Said to be the first encounter between Native Americans and the Pilgrims. Whether it was or not it was very pure and peaceful. About 20 people gathered for the event. Just the beach, water, sky and a bunch of kids playing in the sand. Simplicity at its finest.

Milky Way attempt number four is already in the books so I shall share that soon. The people side of things is slowly coming back, We have a couple of shoots booked so when they are done we will make sure and share those over on the people page. Thanks for stopping by, till the next one!

Phil

Wondering What Comes Next

Sitting here watching the snow fall, starting to preplan some adventures for the year. My motivation to share has suffered heavily, social media participation has been at a stand still and interactions with people other than through work have been mostly nonexistent. There are many things I have been missing over the past year. And although I did get in two trips since that virus thing shut us down, I still feel unfulfilled. I am incredibly thankful I have not stopped working, but my photo side has been waning and in need of a rejuvenation of sorts. I miss that one on one interaction of having people in the studio. I was lucky enough to get a few outdoor dance weekends in and that helped tremendously but in the end, that is still work.

Enough Debby Downer stuff. As much as the family dislikes joining me on most of my adventures they will never deny a beach trip so this time it will be to a couple of warmer locations than New England. Though, since I will be an hour away from Cape Cod in April, I have looked into a two day jaunt there, setting Falmouth as a home base, after one of my dance weekends. Purely for sunrises and sunsets and maybe a trip to the point to climb the lighthouse. Did that with a few high school buddies back in the 80’s. We ran up 230 or so stairs. Do not think I will be running up any stairs now. A brisk walk will do.

Back in October 2020 I went up to Maine and New Hampshire for a little leaf peeping and waterfall hunting. Travel was not restricted as these were considered safe states for me to visit. Dine in options were still banned, just take out, so I made sure to bring some grub with me to make it easier. Mostly healthy, high calorie snacks and freeze dried dinners. By the last day I still had some food leftover so I gave a few items to a through hiker who was taking a day off from the trail. Think I made his day. I ended up staying 2 days in each location, tack on a travel day on either side and it turned out for a 6 day respite.

Acadia was the first stop, no rain this time, so I was able to find some color. It was weird though. Some of the same types of trees had not changed, some were peaking and some were ending. Many of them had a very dull sheen to them which some of the locals attributed to the lack of rain over the summer.

I tried a few panoramas during the week. Lots of Pines in this one.

A stop/photo that is all over the place is Jordan Pond, I avoided getting my own shot last time I was here, but this time the day was too nice to pass it up. Since it so popular I had to convert it to black and white and then invert it to get this spacey look to it.

I did hit up the Ocean Path. Love this walk. It is 4 + miles one way, but it is flat and I like flat. Of course I had to detour up in the middle of it. Nice change, but nothing photographically pleasing for me.

After the day ended I went for some dinner to prep for the darkness and a return to Sand Beach. Something I have never attempted, nor even seen enough to identify is the Milky Way. Holy Crap. I wish I knew what the heck I was doing, even when you study how to, once you are actually shooting it and you are in total awe of what you are seeing most of that info just goes right out of your head. Staring me right in the face it was. Clear as faucet water and I totally boffed the foreground. Now that we have been introduced can’t wait for the next chance.

Transitioning over to New Hampshire and the White Mountains. I had some unfinished business with Mount Washington. It was closed when I was there in May, way too early in the season. Well it seems that the second week in October in a bit too late in the season. So it remains a bucket list item. The top of the mountain was covered in snow from a recent storm. A week earlier and it would have been clear. They cleaned it up enough to open the road up to the 4200′ lot, so after waiting an hour or so at the bottom for them to finish cleaning, up we went. It was still very cool, but I really want to go and take in the view from the top.

I believe this is the backside of the mountain. You can just make out the tower at the peak from town.

One other spot that was closed in the spring was Bear Notch Road. This I was able to take in. Some very pretty views.

Somewhere off the Kanc

I grabbed a sunset off the Kancamagus Highway which was well worth it. Hung around a bit a attempted to get another shot of the Milky Way but light pollution and cloud cover interrupted that idea.

My most adventurous hike of the week was to Arethusa Falls and Bemis Brook Trails. Had a great time traversing obstacles and climbing hills on this one.

One of the cascades off Bemis Brook
Arethusa Falls

It has been a while so this has been very therapeutic for me. Thank you for making it this far. Stay Safe, Stay Well, See ya on the next one.

Phil

Socially Distanced in The Whites of New Hampshire

Back at the end of January the company I worked for gave every employee notice that as of April 1, 2020 we would stopping all field operations and begin dissolving the entire corporation. Most were let go then, the rest of us would endure staggered layoffs until the end of the year. I received an April 30th date, so what do I do? Book a 10 day trip between New Hampshire’s White Mountains and Maine’s Acadia National Park for the beginning of May. After 24.5 years, a vacation without worrying about 500+ people sounded good to me. Solitude, Peacefulness. Uninterrupted time away. Uninterrupted. Time away.

Ha! So much for that. The back half of the trip to Maine was canceled. Of course I waited as long as possible and let them do the canceling, I was not going to pull the plug. New Hampshire was still a go! I had the time, let’s put it to good use. 

White Mountains Pano, 4 images hand held at 105 mm, EOS R 24-105

It was a little early in the season but what the heck right? Less people and no crowds, little did I know when I booked it what would ensue. It was weird, but cool, staying in a motel for 2 nights and being the only person in the joint. The third night another body arrived. A friendly hello exchanged and that was that. 

Snow covered the highest peaks, not much I could do there. Wanted to hit up the auto road, nope, still quite covered under snow towards the top with more on the way. Quite a few trails I had plan to tackle were closed for maintenance. Something about mudslides and uprooted trees. Spring thaw indeed. K, so next time plan during summer/early fall. I still have a remaining bucket list of things to do and see, perhaps turn into a leaf peeping trip in the fall.  

I arrived into town around 5 pm on a Tuesday, saw a couple spots for a potential sunset on the way there, checked in and headed out. Sunsets around these parts is a bit rough with all the mountains. I did not see any at all color while I was there but she sure was pretty watching her disappear behind the mountains.  These are from the side of the road on the Sacco River, near Conway. 

Wednesday would be a full day as I headed out to explore the 34 miles that make up the Kancamagus Highway. My primary objectives were waterfalls and other bodies of water that project downward. There are stated to be around 100 waterfalls in the region, with many more flumes and gorges littered throughout. My first along the highway was Lower Falls, located along the side of the road. No hike needed. This is a focused shot on a particular area of the falls. It actually extends quite a few more feet downstream before dumping into a general area frequented by swimmers in the summer when the turbulence is not a high. 

A couple miles down the road was the Upper Falls. 

A close up and a pull back. The difference in a two second exposure and a 1/10th of a second exposure. I am still more fond of the longer exposures overall, but these shorter ones do provide a little more feeling and a better understanding of the speed at which the water is moving. 

Next up was Champney and Pitcher Falls. This one turned out to be the only real hike during my stay, covering 3.5 miles round trip. A few stream crossings made it interesting, and I still dislike when things go up <Sea Dweller>. I did take a few 60 second breaks after some of the inclines and was very pleased I can still recover quick. 

Champey Falls

Set to the side, off in a little ravine was Pitcher Falls. This combo was very beautiful to see and well worth the effort it took to get there. 

Just down the road was Sabbaday Falls. A short hike only to discover the wooden stair case of a viewing ramp was closed. Despite my best efforts there were no compositions to be had at the base or the top. Could I have gotten a shot I was happy with? Most Likely, but you gotta respect the NPS signs that say do not cross these locked gates. And if I cannot view it on a wall, not pressing that button. What I did find however was a nice composition of boulders just above the falls. I was not looking for river shots at all but this one spoke to me. 

 The Lost Gorge is one of those major, charge admission to, attractions in the area so I knew that was closed.  Beaver Brook Cascades was closed as well, this one for trail trouble. I was bummed about this one. So, I headed over to the Basin to check it out. This is right on I-93 South, which I thought was wild. A short jaunt into the woods and an area full of cascades to be had. I would imagine this is incredibly popular destination during normal times. So easy to access, and so impressive the way the rock faces were cut in a smooth circular shape. 

Just up the trail is a less traveled location called Kinsman Falls. I imagine during warmer weather everyone stays and plays in the water at the Basin and this does not get much attention. Fine by me. 

With day one in the books, my legs were trashed. Day two proved to be, well, not as productive as day one. The Pinkham Notch section was pretty much shut down to due trail maintenance. Sounds like they got hit hard. Did a bit of driving and the next location I had marked out seemed a bit sketchy so I blew that off. Did not like the feel of the area. One more I had earmarked I could not find so while I was striking out for various reasons, I was enjoying the drive. The opening two shots of this page were from day two so I remained very content with the catalog I was building. After making a loop around the area, out of nowhere I saw a sign for Ripley Falls. This one was not on my list, I pulled over, looked it up and figured I would make something happen. 

0.6 miles of uphill, leg killing, seemed much longer than it actually was, roots, rocks, snow and mud stepping love ensued and I cannot find a composition I am happy with. Well, not actually true. I had one only there were a few distracting tree branches in the way so I ended up here: 

After this I knew I was shot, legs were done from not enough walking and I was getting real food hungry so I just kept driving. This is just some random photo of the mountains from a Scenic overlook. Cool sky but the lighting was flat. Everything is still in cold weather growth mode. 

The only time I used my crop camera on the trip was for this shot of Mount Washington. 7 images, 640 mm. The only problem is it is only 19 ” tall. I should have doubled up. Live and learn, educate and grow. Time to plan some day trips before I go back to work. 

Thank you for stopping by. Stay safe, stay positive. 

Phil

 

A New Canvas and a Canvas Changed

Dance season has held my focus for the past four months, so I have not had much time to catch up on a few sessions from over the winter. We are winding down now, one more to go and then a little break until nationals. When I can get a few dance sessions in the studio up to date, I will tell you all about it, but right now we are going to take a little peek into a hard rocking blues man gone solo.

I first met Brian while he was the front man for a four piece hard rocking blues act. These guys were a throwback and I very quickly became a fan of what they were putting out. But as it is with many young bands, things change and people go different ways. Brian and I got together to create a body of work that he could use for promotional material as he ventured out into the world of a being solo musician.

I had ordered a canvas backdrop from Savage just for this session. Savage is known for its amazing selection of paper and muslin drops and I had never even considered them for canvas. When I saw the color was exactly what I wanted and the fact that it was much, much less expensive than the well known canvas companies I figured I would take the plunge and pick one up. Oh my goodness, the thing is an incredibly gorgeous backdrop. I am now hooked on canvas.

Brian’s music has taken a little turn into a mostly acoustic avenue these days, still incredibly soulful, only in a more relaxing atmosphere. He has not put down the electric by any means, and it is going to be great watching and listening where he goes from here.

Since we had the time, of course had to get this look in. It goes perfect with the new backdrop and meshes well with his current direction.

You can check out Brian’s latest release, Learning Curves, and his social channels over at his site. Hope you dig it as much as I do.

Thanks for stopping by, talk to you soon

Phil

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