SCENES OF FALL

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I finally got off of the beach.  Fall was clearly a fact and I felt the need to explore and enjoy it.

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This is the famous Chrysanthemum Mountain planted annually at Ott’s Nursery in Schwenksville, PA.  This used to be a destination on a fall Sunday drive with the family, and it’s still an amazing and entertaining site.  The scene is dominated by a gigantic greenhouse of Victorian, Moorish lines.  The adjacent store is of field-stone construction with windows with diamond mullions suggesting old Europe.  Here, the mountain can be seen reflected in one of the windows.

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  I had seen a couple of Facebook posts by photo-friend Ken Curtis of a place called Ken Lockwood Gorge.  It looked great and was only an hour and a half away so off I went.  I didn’t (have to) explore very much of it to enjoy the views.

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I found it hard to believe that I was still in New Jersey, thinking Vermont along the gorge.  These scenes also brought to mind past mentors such as Kurt Budliger, Joe Rossbach, Ian Plant and Richard Bernabe.

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Other scenes also made my camera squirm with excitement.  You’ve got to give them their head once in a while.

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But don’t forget what Dorothy said, “There’s no place like home … There’s no place like  … There’s no  ………  “

Even without a decent pair of ruby slippers I found fall near home.  This scene is by a tiny falls on Sharps Run on the Yellow Trail at Medford Leas.  The stream had carried these leaves along to the falls’ edge where they were hung up.  The small current, then, just swirled around them.

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Along the Red Trail I found these Viburnum berries pretending to be Holly, a worthwhile effort.

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Finally (and what triggered this post) I sat down early in my sun room with a morning coffee and wake-up music.  As the sun worked its way above the eastern campus there was a magical interval of soft red and yellow light.  Though still in my bathrobe I managed to get out and photograph it and return before Campus Security was called by any neighbors.  What a great start to the day!

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A FALL FOLIAGE FORAY

This year’s fall foliage target area was the White Mountains in northern New Hampshire, an area I last visited in the late 50’s.  The mountains and the foliage hadn’t changed although the Old Man of the Mountain was gone, having slipped away in 2003.

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Notwithstanding his absence we had a great week enjoying Franconia Notch, the mountains, and the Kancamagus Trail.  Our weather was mixed.  Bad days were mostly heavy cloud cover with occasional rain but nothing to hold us back.  When the clouds did descend upon us now and then I worried that we would only experience Fall Fogiage but we made out well.  Our base was at the Franconia Inn, a pleasant 1863 inn whose charm did not extend to having an elevator and we were up on the third floor.  Excellent breakfasts and fine dinners, however, made up for that;  it just took us longer to get to the dining room.  From the inn we journeyed out and about to enjoy fall.

Here’s a typical day’s low cloud cover.  We’re at Echo Lake along I93, edging Cannon Mountain.  The image above was also made from the Echo Lake Beach a couple of days later, showing the contrast we experienced between days.

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On another day, driving southeast on NH 112 near Mt. Moosilauke we came upon Beaver Pond with some great views of the mountains and the foliage.

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There was a bit of a dam here which created an attractive spillway.  Barbara scolded me for walking down this slope and being too close to the edge.

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Back on I93 and further south there is a natural basin in the path of the Pemigewasset River (trust me: I couldn’t make these names up).  Thousands of years of rushing water (it is said) have carved out the basin.  Our thought: it needs a few more thousand years.  The river, however, provided lots of image opportunities as it headed for the basin.

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Also off I93 in the Notch there is a 6700 acre state park called the Flume, a 70′-90′ deep gorge which extends from the base of Mt. Liberty.  It sounded like our kind of scene but when we learned that there was lots of walking and climbing of stairs we settled for the restaurant and the gift shop.  It also seemed reminiscent of New York’s Ausable Chasm which I have previously hiked.  On another day, however, we opted to climb Mt. Washington.  That’s figurative as we actually went  to the 6300′ peak by a cog railway, a fun and colorful adventure, itself.

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Arriving at the peak, we had, perhaps, ten or fifteen minutes before a cloud moved onto us.  This was our brief pre-cloud view of the surrounding country.  The white material is called rime ice, ice that forms when the water droplets in fog freeze to the outer surfaces of objects.  While the view was enticing, the rime-covered chairs were not.  Once again we sought the comfort of the restaurant and some hot chocolate.  At our table I struck up a  conversation with an older man (hey, it’s relative) and a younger woman, both of whom were visiting from Germany.  I struggled with my high school German, and she, with her high school English.  We talked about Mt. Washington versus the Bavarian Alps but there wasn’t much to compare.  At one point the man told me that she was an East German communist.  Well, I had never met one.  The pleasant conversation continued between three people from this planet who had never met and will never meet again but I will remember it.

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Fortified, I had to explore the peak a little further.  Here’s the sign marking the peak, and a hiker’s cairn.  Yes, people hike the 6300′ and some arrived through the cloud while we were there.  The 6300′, while a vertical wall for me, is routine for others.  My friend, Dave B. used to regularly hike to the 14,000+ feet summit of Long’s Peak in Colorado, and also climbed well up on Mt. Everest in Nepal.  Ahhh, youth.

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The trip down provided a fun perspective.

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Near the base of the mountain is a more welcoming place, the 1902 Mount Washington Resort where one may luxuriate for $300 a night (and up).  Handsome, gracious, evocative of decades past.

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On another day (or two) we drove across the state on the Kancamagus Highway, Route 112 from I93 east to Conway.  Here’s one view along the way.  At lunch at a local bar at the end of the highway we were told that on the Columbus Day weekend the highway is one long parking lot.

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An artist friend, Marilyn F., had commissioned Barbara to photograph some covered bridges which Marilyn could use as a guide for a possible painting.  We encountered a couple here and there but found this magnificent scene, the Albany Covered Bridge which carries Passaconaway Road from NH 112 over the Swift River about six miles west of Conway. It was a perfect day of sun, river and beautiful clouds to photograph the scene, and a memorable image capture to end a great week.

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There is a gallery of these and additional images.  Click Here.

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ESCAPE THE (LAND) SCAPE

Whooo-ee.  Do we have landscape photographers in our camera club or what?  

We do.  We have mega-megapixels of  grand landscapes … with fog, with great bodies of water, with misty lake surfaces, waves breaking over jettys, old barns, moon trails on the ocean, foraging waterfowl, mist-shrouded mountains, water falls and waterfalls and waterfalls, marshes in their fall colors,  cascades and spillways, spanking spinakers, lakes under dramatic clouds…

And I love ’em all, including my own. 

But, call it curmudgeonry, I was bent and determined to rebel.  Stop looking at the big postcard picture; in the words of one of our judges last season, find the picture in the picture.  So, I set out to try that the past two Sundays while escaping the killer-packing-boxes at home.

Here’s one result, a non-scape image which I like very much even though it was made in error

This was an artificial Christmas tree that had only its lights on it.  I shot without remembering the camera was still in manual focus.  When I saw this I focused and reshot but preferred this version.  Shooting for fun(k).

Elsewhere I was struck by these little bottles marching off into the distance so I shot them at f/4 to have a reasonable indoor light shutter speed, but that enhanced the effect as their lines receded into fuzziness.  Shooting for fun(k).


 

Today I was at Valley Forge on a crisp, beautiful day.  So easy to shoot the vistas but…

not today!

The National Memorial Arch is a magnificent structure but it’s nice to see it as lines and shadows and sculpture detail.  Shooting for fun(k).

The cannons.  So tempting to shoot over them at whatever they’re aimed at…as I’ve done.  I passed that up in favor of this lineup.  Shooting for fun(k).

Finally, some fall color although not much left around here.  That’s good because I can’t just shoot a hillside of blazing color.  Instead, how about some back-lit leaves with strong and interesting trunk lines.  Shooting for fun(k).

Later, while  enjoying some hot soup at an outdoor picnic table I watched the breeze ruffle the leaves of a nearby tree.  I thought of how we shoot water at a slow shutter speed to portray creamy motion and I wondered how that would look with breeze-tossed leaves.  The answer: pretty and interesting.  Another scene for my placemat collection.  Shooting for fun(k).

And it all made for a pleasant couple of outings.

A TRAIN WEEKEND – 10/27/09

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It’s been a long time since I visited Strasburg, PA to watch the action on the Strasburg Railroad.  The railroad was chartered in 1832, probably started hauling freight about 1851, and is still hauling some freight but mostly railfan families since its revitalization began in 1958.  A group of investor-enthusiasts bought it and commenced its restoration, thus saving it from the “Fallen Flags” category of so many other American railroads.  We first visited it about 1966, taking the girls on a train ride into the Lancaster County farmland, to a picnic lunch while we waited for the train to return for us.  Here, #475 is being oiled and polished in preparation for a day’s run of fan trips.

 

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This so-called 4-8-0 (referring to the wheel arrangements: four lead wheels, eight drivers, and no trailing wheels) a Consolidation class engine, lived much of its life  in service on the Norfolk & Western.  Here she has steam up, waiting to be called into service.

I have a vivid childhood memory of standing next to a large steam locomotive when the engineer, having just brought his passenger train into the old original Atlantic City train station, released some of his steam pressure.  It scared the hell out of me.

 

 

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Across the road from the Strasburg Railroad complex is the splendid Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.  Here are maintained many examples of engines and passenger cars that have served Pennsylvania over the years.  There are also lots of well done, informative educational  displays.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Image 04Here’s the classic GG-1 electric locomotive, the most distinctive locomotive design in the world.  These 79′ long engines were built in the PRR’s Altoona shops between 1934 and 1943, and some remained in service into the early 80’s.    Twelve axles were each driven by a 385-hp motor. 

While it is commonly said that the unique body design was by the industrial designer, Raymond Loewy, he simply improved on the basic design by converting it from a riveted assembly of panels into a continuous welded sheet, and streamlining the pin-striped paint scheme. 

 After their work on the PRR they continued to serve Penn Central, Amtrak, Conrail, and NJ Transit.

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I continued across Pennsylvania to Altoona, for many years a major center for the PRR.  Here I’m on the road up to the Horseshoe Curve, passing Altoona Lake, part of Altoona’s water supply system, accumulating water coming down from the Allegheny Mountains through the Kitanning Gap over which the Horseshoe Curve was built.  The curve was built in 1854 as a part of the efforts of the PRR to link east and west.  It was a means to cross the Kitanning Gap at a lower slope than would have been required in a bridge directly across the gap.  While photographing this I could hear mighty diesels pounding their way down the curve above me in the hills, and their freight cars screeching.

 

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Up at the curve there is a visitor center where one can observe the frequent east-west traffic.  This old diesel, a GP7, is a monument to all of the trains that have passed here for a century and a half.  The visitor center also includes displays on the construction of the curve and how it facilitated crossing the gap.

 

 

 

 

 

My patience was rewarded as here came a mixed freight headed downhill towards Altoona, led by two massive Norfolk Southern diesels.

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GREETING FALL IN VERMONT – 10/2/09

 

 

 

Image 02It’s the first weekend in October and Bergie’s in Vermont, seeing my breath on a cold morning for the first time since early spring.  I’ve been coming up here for about forty years but one forgets how  beautiful a place it is.  Driving yesterday up route 100 was a sensory experience as well as a memory jogger: driving through Londonderry; picking up my winter jug of maple syrup from the Vermont Country Store; passing the Weston Playhouse where the antique show is being held this weekend; being pulled to a stop by yet another small lake with gorgeous reflections of the mountainside foliage.

I’m here with a small group for four days of field trip photography under the leadership of the renowned Joe Rossbach of Mountain Trail Photo.  Should be a great experience.  More later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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