Thursday, March 28, 2019

New England Fall - Part 8

This post ends my series on my trip to New England which I'm sure most of you are tired of reading about by now.  I just wanted to finish up with a couple of quick thoughts about the one thing I didn't enjoy about my trip, other than the fact that I missed fall peak colors yet again this year.  This is something that always bothers me no matter where I am in the United States: Telephone Poles, Billboards, and wires...

It seems like any time there is something to take photos of, you can't find an angle to shoot it where you don't have at least one of those three things in your shot, distracting from the view!  The more beautiful the view you have, the more signs, poles, wires, etc you have to deal with.  It's almost like someone sees a spot that is really pretty, and they decide that's the perfect spot for a HUGE billboard or the perfect location for a telephone pole with wires coming in from every angle possible.  LOL

There were so many cool buildings and towns and vistas that I would have loved to take photos of, where the photo was ruined by that kind of stuff.   I know there isn't really anything we can do about it as I don't think we'll ever see a time where all of our powerlines are buried and run underground like they are in Europe, but I dream about it all the time.  *sigh*

Okay, so maybe this was a little tongue in cheek and just me trying to be a little funny but anyone reading this that has pulled out their camera to shot something that caught their eye probably gets it!  :)

Here is an example of why it drives me crazy... here were tow more churches from my trip that were so very cool looking.  They almost looked more like castles than churches to me, and I wandered all the way around them, trying to find some way to shoot a photo of them without all those distractions in the way.  I almost gave up and just put the camera away, but the buildings were just too cool to not take a few photos.

AND now when I look at those photos... All I see is light poles, telephone and power cables and signs.  Yes, sometimes those things can be fixed in Photoshop but wouldn't it be a prettier world if we could look that stuff like this without all of that other stuff in the way?  :)

I hope you enjoyed reading my little rambling stories about my trip and hope the photos at least kept it interesting.  I should have actually written this series while I was on the road or at least as soon as I came back.  I think I could have made it a lot more entertaining while I was in the moment.

I plan on posting from the road on my next trip... which will be to Scotland, one week from today.  I hope some of you check in to follow my trip and I will do my best to post every night with photos if I can. Photos without powerlines and signs in every shot.  :)

Monday, March 25, 2019

New England Fall - Part 7

When I travel somewhere I've never been before, there always seems to be something that really stands out to me as I start to look around.  I'm not sure why but I almost always start to pick up on patterns of some kind.  I've been trying to think of good examples to help explain what I mean, but the only thing that comes to mind on this trip is how one of the first things I noticed, was a large number of older buildings throughout the towns and the states in the North East that shared the same unique architecture that I hadn't seen anywhere else before.  They had these cool bell towers that were topped off with what almost looked a crown. I wish I could have found more information about the origin of the design and whether these buildings were all built around the same time or not.  Here is a photo showing what I mean.

I also couldn't be sure if most of the buildings of that style were churches, or used for something else.  Some had signs out front to make it pretty easy to know what they were, but every not and then I'd see one and find out it was a library or a city hall.  It didn't matter though, I thought they were all very cool looking building.

The other thing I noticed is the number of churches as well.  I lost count of how many churches I saw as I drove around, but after a while, it started to feel like there was one church for every 1000 people in the state.  Well, okay maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but I think it was the highest concentration of churches I'd ever seen outside of the bible belt.

So many of them had the look of that one in the photo above, but every now and then I would run across some a little more unique.  Here are a few photos of some of them that I found very cool looking.  There is something about brick churches that really draws my eye.  Most look best when shot in black and white to me.

But like all things, there are always exceptions to the rule.  This shot was nowhere near as nice in black and white and the color version.  Mostly because the trees had some color left in them and the fact that it also had a very boring clear blue sky.  I was able to add a tiny bit of interest to the sky by waiting until the sun got low enough to just poke out from behind the church, letting me shoot it with that starburst effect.

And just to really show how there is always an exception to the rule, the builders of this church decided to be different than all the rest by not only avoiding using a pointed steeple, they figured why use square walls?  I think this might be the only circular church I've ever heard of and for sure the only one I've ever tried to shoot. 

It was a challenge to shoot a cool photo of thing.  Buildings always look better to me when shot at an angle where you use the walls to add perspective and depth to the photo.  Without square walls, there was just no way to do that.  I mean come on... didn't those people who built this thing think about us photographers when they designed it?  ;-)

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Vermont Covered Bridges - Part 3

One thing I found that was pretty interesting is that there were a number of homes I saw in Vermont and New Hampshire that had their own private covered bridge that crossed small creeks at the bottom of the homeowner's property.  Some of them were very cool looking and were built in the same style as the 1800s styled bridges around the state.  Here are two private bridges I ran across.   The first actually had a padlocked gate on the backside to keep people from driving across it. 

I know I've shown a number of photos already, but most of the photos I've shared so far were bridges that were a little unique in one way or another.  I think I've mentioned how most of the covered bridges in the state all have the same kind of look, and this bridge is a perfect example of what the majority of them look like.  I would say that 80% of the ones I saw and drove across looked just like this and all were about the same length even.

There was one bridge though that was much longer than the rest.  It was so long that it was hard to find an angle to get a good photo of it until I climbed down to the river's edge and down the bank a little.  The problem here was that the sun was blasting directly into the camera lens though so I shot it two different ways.  One with most of the sun blocked by the tree branch, where I knew I could create a sun star that might be kind of cool in the photo.  Then for the other, I just used the bridge itself to block the sun.

And then for my last covered bridge photo, I saved what was my favorite bridge on this trip and also the newest one I saw.  This one was built in 2012 and you could tell right away that it was very new, but I loved how they stuck to the same style of all the other bridges across the state.  I think this bridge was my favorite for a couple of reasons.  One is that the colors of the wood and roof really played well off of each other, and the surrounding colors of the bushes and hillside.  As soon as I shot this photo, I knew it was going to be my favorite of all the bridges.

And B... was that it had a set of train tracks running in front of it that made for a composition that made this my favorite shot of all the covered bridges.  I tried this shot in both color and black and white and the black and white version was my favorite of the two by far.

One last note about this bridge.  I loved how they not only stuck to the look of all the other bridges, but they also built it the same throughout.  I really thought I was going to see that the outside was just a shell on a concrete and metal structure inside.

Okay, that's the last of my covered bridge posts (for now anyway).  I think I shared all the best shots I got on this trip and probably won't post anything else about covered bridges until I can return to Oregon and re-shoot the 52 bridges I know of down there, under better weather conditions than I had on the last photo trip there.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Vermont Covered Bridges - Part 2

Most of the covered bridges I saw in Vermont seemed to be older bridges and from what information I could find on most of them, most were built before 1915, with the majority built in the mid to late 1800s.  That makes it very impressive to me, that not only are they still standing but most are still in use every day.  It was pretty interesting to drive across them and think about how they must have been built back in the horse and buggy days and to think about how much has changed since then.

Here are a couple of bridges that are starting to look their age, but still in use.

Not all of the bridges were still in use though and just taking a look at them you could see why.  I think I found 3 or 4 that were no longer in use which is still very impressive when you realize Vermont has over 100 covered bridges in the state.

This bridge might have been the oldest one I drove across on my trip and it was still in great shape.  According to the plaque on this bridge, it was originally built in 1836.  I wish there was more information about each bridge posted near them but I don't think they are really treated as landmarks and just used as normal every day bridges.

This was another of the few bridges I saw that had a plaque on it showing when it was first built.  1842 in this case, if you can't read the sign.

This next bridge was different from most of the others I saw because the sides were open to the weather and you could actually see out as you drove across it.  I was surprised to see that most of the covered bridges were totally walled in or that they would only have one or two small windows.  I'm trying to remember how many I saw that were open on the side like this one and can only remember seeing 3 maybe 4 that were open.

I left all of these photos in black and white as I really think it conveys the age and time these were built. Well, that and the fact that the trees were bare and it was pretty bleak when I took them.   

When I first drove up on this bridge it first appeared to be much newer than any I had seen so far, but then as I got closer and read the sign,  it totally cracked me up and made me realize it's been around a very long time too.  I wonder what that $2 would translate to in today's dollar.

And just because I really liked this shot in color, I'm going to add one bonus photo of this same bridge looking back towards the small waterfall that you can see on the right-hand side of the first photo of it.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Vermont Covered Bridges - Part 1

Okay, so I had to change up the title for the next batch of posts, mainly because I was starting to feel like I was as bad as some of those people that come up with titles for Hollywood movies and I was quickly approaching double-digits for my "part..." titles.  I mean really, who wants to see Taken 12?  I was tempted to come up with some kind of bad pun for this next one, but who would really ever come to read a post called "Spans and the Spurious"?  And then, of course, there would be all that pressure to keep one-upping myself and let's face it, wordplay is not my strong suit.

So, I'll just stick to babbling on about whatever pops into my head when I'm trying to write something about these trips.  I know in an earlier post I made a comment about the covered bridges in Vermont being a little disappointing, but looking back on my trip, that's not entirely true.  Just looking through my photos, I think I've counted more than 20 separate bridges that I actually stopped at and took time to walk around to photograph.  And I know I looked at a number of others on my trip that just didn't have a safe spot to attempt to shoot.

Instead of just posting 20+ photos of these bridges here I'll try to remember what the area was like around them and what if anything special I can remember about each one.

This first bridge is Scott Bridge, which is the longest wooden span in Vermont.  I won't write too much on the history of this bridge as you can just read about it here:

I can remember thinking how impressive this thing looked when I first came around the corner and saw it there, crossing the river.  I was disappointed to see that you could no longer drive across the bridge (one of the few I visited on the trip that couldn't be driven on any longer) but saw that you could still walk it so I found a spot and pulled over to check it out.

What I didn't realize at first was that this bridge was actually made up of what was once two separate spans that had been joined together.  I didn't stop to read the sign when I first walked through it and about midway through, you can see and feel a definite seam where they were joined as it wasn't exactly flat and smooth.  At least now I could see why they didn't let people drive across it any longer.  If you look closely at this photo you can see the change in the angle towards the far end of this shot.

It was really interesting to see all those huge beams and bolt that hold this thing together and really, for it looking mostly plain from the outside, it was still pretty to look at from the different angles. These are all just quick photos of the bridge, straight out of the camera with no editing at all. 

Monday, March 11, 2019

New England Fall - Part 6

One of my favorite things to do when traveling is to get away from the tourist locations and just wander the back roads and out of the way places, just to see what I can see. This trip was no different as I think I spent the majority of my time driving back roads, certainly twice as much time as I did on any main highways.  You really just don't get to see much from the highways.

About mid-way through my trip, I was driving one of those roads when I came across yet another barn that I thought was very cool looking.  I got out of my car and took a few photos of it from the main road as I didn't want to walk onto private property ... and just as I was starting to get back into the car the owner of the house came out and got into his truck to leave.   I could see him looking at me and at first, I thought he was going to ask what I was up to,  but he started to head off in the other direction until he saw me start the car up.  I saw him stop and begin to back up to where I was parked and now figured I was going to get all kinds of questions about who I was and what I was I doing there with my camera since I was well out in the middle of nowhere and parked in front of his house.

Turns out he was just a very nice guy that saw my plates were from out of state and he was backing up to see if I was lost and if he could help point me in the right direction.  When I told him I had just stopped to take photos of his barn and that I hoped that he didn't mind, he shut his truck off and was more than happy to tell me the story of his barn and about the area around there.  He then pointed to this huge Sugar Maple tree that was in front of his house, and asked me if I'd noticed it, and then proceeded to tell me how it was one of the largest Sugar Maples in Vermont.   Kind of like a proud father, he told me about the history of the tree, how many times it had lost huge branches in storms, and how now there was another tree that has just passed it as the biggest Sugar Maple in the state.

I guess someone from the state would come out every year and measure his tree and compare it to the other one and depending on the year, the number of branches lost to storms or tree rot, the two trees would leap-frog each other for the distinction of being the largest Sugar Maple in the state.  I think we sat there talking for just over 30 minutes and then he said he really should get to running his errands.  I asked if he would mind if I walked onto his property to take a few more photos and he told me to please feel free to go up there as far as I wanted.  

I guess I'm writing about this for two reasons.  One is that I just saw an article a week or so ago, that the owner had to have the tree cut down due to it just having too much rot and it had become too weak to safely leave standing, and it made me feel kind of lucky that I'd taken that side-trip that day and actually seen the tree and talked to the owner about it just a few months before he had to have cut down.  It was just a fluke that I even heard the story about the tree as I wouldn't have noticed it if he hadn't been a really nice guy and struck up a conversation.

The other reason I'm writing this is to say that sometimes the best part of these trips isn't really what you get to see or do, but it's the cool people you meet and stories you hear when you take the time to chat with the locals.   I've met so many nice people in my travels just from striking up random conversations either while I'm taking photos, or just wandering the back roads and alleys to experience something other than the list of must-see places you can find everywhere online.

I've always had the best times on my trips when I'm not standing in front of a tourist attraction with a huge crowd of other people jockeying for a look at something.   I mean, honestly, those places can just be too peopley for me at times.

Get out and wander... get lost for a while off the beaten path and who knows what stories you may hear or things you might see.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

New England Fall - Part 5

After I left Sleepy Hollow Farm, I had a pretty long list of things to try to find and to see if they would make for any cool photos or not.  The list consisted of a lot of covered bridges and a handful of farms and barns, and a couple of old mills I was excited to check out.  I had put most of those locations into my GPS, but hadn't really done a good job of keeping track of which ones had the most potential so I decided to just pull up the closest places and drive past as many as I could, just to see what they looked like.  I knew that there wouldn't be many places that were famous on my list so there was no rush to get to any one place in particular.  

I drove past a number of bridges that afternoon, and hate to say it, but was very disappointed to find out that most of the covered bridges in Vermont and New Hampshire seem to have been built to be used, with very little thought to making them pleasing to look at.  LOL  That's not to say that covered bridges still aren't cool to look at and drive over, but most of the ones I was running across really didn't lend to "pretty" photos.  Maybe if the weather conditions had been different they could have been great to photograph, but I wasn't that lucky on this trip.

So once I realized the covered bridges weren't going to be a goldmine of photo opportunities, I turned my attention to looking for a couple of the farms and barns that were on my list.  Luckily I did know that there were three more farms on my list that would at give me a chance to take some more nice photos.

This was the first of those three. This was Stonewall Farm which sits in a nice out of the way valley that made for a beautiful drive. The clouds had really begun to move in by the time I got here so the light wasn't great but I still managed to get a photo that I liked of one of the barns and what looked like the main farmhouse running off behind it.

Stonewall Farm

I kind of wish I would have stuck around here for a little longer just to see if the sun would break through the sky and light up the barn and trees a little better.  It's getting really late so I'm going to cut this entry short.  If you're still here and reading this though, here are a couple of more photos I'll toss in to those post.  These weren't really taken anywhere near here each other, but they do keep to the theme of farms and barns. :)

This was a very cool old barn I saw, that was really weathered and painted white, and it just lent itself to a black and white photo

Then one day while just driving some random back roads, I came across a field where the hay was sitting out there in this cool pattern and it totally caught my eye as having the potential for a fun shot so I did a quick u-turn and pulled off the side of the road to take this photo.   It didn't turn out how I had first hoped, but I still liked it.

One thing I was really loving was the number of great red barns scattered all over each state.  Some were much harder to get good photos of, but these two were a couple of my favorites from the trip as well.

While shooting the "big picture" stuff, I try hard to look for little details or even possible abstract type shots but it's certainly not a strong point of my photography.  I have a great photographer friend that loves the details and always seems to see things I don't when we shoot photos together, and I try to see if I can maybe find something she would shoot if she was there.   This probably would be a shot she took, but hey, I kind of liked it for its simplicity and just something about the reflection in the old glass against that red was pretty cool.

Monday, March 4, 2019

New England Fall - Part 4

I think I left off my story at the point where I was packing my camera gear up and calling it a night at Sleepy Hollow Farm.  As I was putting the last of my stuff into the car, one of the locals came by and started up a nice conversation about the farm and telling me a little about its history.  They told me how the farm used to be owned by Joe Perry of Aerosmith who actually grew up in the area.  I think I had heard that story at some point,  years ago but had totally forgotten about it until now.  I could totally understand why he would have loved living there as the area is beautiful and the farm is far enough out of the way that he would have been afforded plenty of privacy while not out on the road touring with the band.

He eventually got around to asking me where I was from and asked if I traveled all that way just to take photos of the farm.  I told him it wasn't the ONLY reason I had made the trip, but it was certainly high up on the list of places I wanted to see when I finally got out to Vermont.  I mentioned that I have the worst luck in timing my trips and how I had really wanted to be there during peak fall colors, and that's when I found out I'd actually only missed them by 4 days!  He told me how the colors were amazing just the week before, but 4 days ago they had a really heavy frost in the area and that overnight most of the trees had dropped their leaves.  *sigh*   I was SO close!  LOL

It was getting really cold out and I said a quick goodbye and headed to town for the night.  I found a little motel tucked away on the edge of town and called it good for the night.  I was planning on being up super early to get back out to the farm for sunrise anyway, so it was really nice that I was dead tired from a very long day of travel.  I was fast asleep in no time.

My alarm went off 5 minutes after I fell asleep (okay, maybe it was more like 6 hours later but it sure didn't seem like it!).   My body was thinking it was 2am and I was trying to trick it into thinking it was really much closer to the time I would be getting up back home anyway.  I don't think it fell for my trick and demanded some caffeine before I hit the road again.  I grabbed my stuff and opened the door to my room and was hit with a blast of cold air and a view of snow covering everything in front of me.  What month is this???  LOL

Well, now I felt I really needed to rush back to the farm as I have the chance now to photograph it in two different seasons, within a 24 hour period.  All I kept thinking was that this will totally make up for missing the fall colors!  I just had to make sure I got there before the snow melted away as the sun came up.

I was really happy I was able to find a place fairly close by and think I was back to the farm in about 30 minutes.  I got all my gear out, set up my camera and realized that my hands were already frozen from touching all that metal in the freezing cold air!  Okay, I'm realized I wasn't going to be hanging out there for an hour shooting a lot of photos as it was just way too cold for that.  Luckily the light and the snow were all great and I got what I think was my favorite photo on the whole trip within 15 minutes of getting out of the car.

I did fight the cold for another 10 minutes and took a few more photos just to make sure I didn't mess something up or not have the photo in perfect focus or any number of other mistakes that are easy to make when you're still half awake and freezing your tuckus off.   Everything looked great though and I rushed to pack my stuff into the car just as a van full of photographers pulled up.  I couldn't have timed the morning better if you ask me.  I was really happy with this shot and those of you that know me well, know I don't say that often.

The trip was now officially a success in my book.  I mean heck, I got a Fall and Winter photo of the place I wanted to photograph most in New England... all in one trip.  :)