Lunar eclipse

A glimpse too late.

I woke suddenly as the cat jumped onto the bed and leapt over my face to get to the other side. He likes that side, as it makes a good vantage point to look out the window and survey his territory. Following his gaze, I noted it was still quite dark – too dark to be yet awake – but with a sky more clear than had been forecast. I rolled over for a better angle and, yes, there she was, the full moon setting into the west. A partial lunar eclipse had begun a couple hours earlier, and I was fortunate to be able to see it still underway. Apparently, this was the longest eclipse of its kind in 580 years.

By the time I fetched my cameras – I was unprepared because the forecast was for clouds and even some snowfall – the moon had settled behind thick clouds. I waited, not too patiently I might add, because the eclipse was rapidly fading behind those clouds. When the moon re-emerged, I snapped a quick photo in which you can barely discern the remaining eclipsed portion at lower right.

At the tail end of a lunar eclipse, the remaining occluded portion of the moon is visible but also occluded by a bit of cloud.

The moon disappeared behind more clouds and the branches of a leafless tree. When it reemerged, and I had relocated outdoors, the beaver moon shone again in its full glory. Exposure was tricky, and I never got it right before the moon set behind its final cloud bedding for the night.

Full moon setting after a lunar eclipse.

I used a Nikon D500 with a Nikon 200-500mm f5.6 lens. For more impressive photos – from better prepared, better located, better skilled photographers, check out this space.com site.

Fall foliage

A chance encounter.

October has ended but the fall foliage is still brilliant – at least in certain pockets of our valley, and in valleys further to the south. On Sunday October 31, after photographing Dummerston Falls in southern Vermont, there were spectacular colors along the hillsides lining the interstate highway heading northward. So in Windsor I pulled off the highway to cross the Connecticut River on the iconic Cornish-Windsor covered bridge (the longest wooden covered bridge in North America, dating back to 1866), where I knew there was an opportunity for a view of the river, the bridge, and Mount Ascutney beyond.

Cornish-Windsor covered bridge, with Mount Ascutney at rear; NH-VT.

I was not disappointed; there is an informal pullout for parking nearby, and a quick dash across the road and a hop over the guardrail gives one access to this spectacular view. As I turned to head back to my car, I noticed a wooden post – rather new looking, with a square board screwed atop as if to form a seat. I looked up to see a man approaching, dressed for the weather, wearing a hunter-orange cap and carrying a camouflage bag. After a short greeting he sat on the wooden post, pulled a Canon camera out of his bag, and we began to chat as he began to photograph the same scene.

Dan lives and works nearby, and stops to sit on this post every day. He has captured a new photograph here pretty much every day for the past ten years, posting them to his blog The Shape of the Year. It’s quite interesting to see, for example, what this scene looked like on November 3, February 3, May 3, and August 3. It was fun to meet another photographer, and to exchange our calling cards. Here’s my shot of the similar scene, October 31.

See a gallery with a few more of my roadside fall-foliage photos from across the month and around the region.

Five cascades

Five for five.

The month of October had five weekends and I visited a different set of cascades each weekend. Here are my favorite images from each; follow the link for a gallery of more photos.

Georgiana Falls (October 2)

Georgiana Falls, Franconia Notch, NH

Beaver Brook Cascades (October 10)

Beaver Brook Cascades, Appalachian Trail, Mount Moosilauke, NH.

Grant Brook Cascades (October 17)

Cascades and waterfalls along Grant Brook in Lyme, NH.

White Rocks (Bully Brook) (October 23)

Cascades on Bully Brook – White Rocks National Recreation Area – Vermont.

Dummerston Falls (October 31)

Dummerston Falls, Vermont

Dummerston Falls

No hike needed.

Another weekend of fall foliage, another opportunity to visit a beautiful cascade. Again I headed south, chasing the foliage season. I am feeling a bit under the weather so I was not eager for a hike; Dummerston Falls was the ideal choice, because it is visible from the roadside. Indeed, my gallery of photos are taken from the guardrail on VT Route 30, adjacent to a small parking area.

Dummerston Falls, Vermont

The route to this tall waterfall took me through Brattleboro, VT – always a tantalizing place to visit – and an opportunity to visit one of my favorite shops, the Vermont Country Deli. It is literally impossible to enter that store and not come out without buying a buffet full of incredible sweet and savory food.

Bully Brook Cascades

Incredible foliage and a beautiful cascade – on the same hike!

This week it was time to follow the foliage south, as the season progresses. Lelia and I headed for White Rocks National Recreation Area, a USFS area in southern Vermont. I’d heard it was an impressive place; as we found, it is particularly beautiful in fall foliage. We walked through brilliantly yellow hardwood forests, and reached an overlook with a broad view across the many colors of the rolling hills in this area.

Fall foliage from the viewpoint in the White Rocks National Recreation Area – Vermont.

As the daylight faded and we neared the trailhead, the trail passed along Bully Brook… close to a series of impressive cascades. Here I was, the fourth weekend in a row, with an opportunity to capture waterfalls in foliage season!

Cascades on Bully Brook – White Rocks National Recreation Area – Vermont.

Check out the full gallery for more, full-res photos.

Hike stats:
Distance: 6.6km
Time: 3h12 (with many photo stops)
Gain: 372m

Grant Brook cascades

A return to an old favorite.

It’s becoming a pattern – a visit to Georgiana Falls two weeks ago, then Beaver Brook cascades last week, and now a return to my favorite Lyme cascades, along Grant Brook. Although I arrived perhaps a week or two late for the best foliage, the falls were still spectacular. A heavy rain yesterday brought the stream up to full force, and the surrounding forest still had plenty of yellow and orange to lend color to the scene.

Cascades and waterfalls along Grant Brook in Lyme, NH.

I first encountered these cascades four years ago when I traversed the entire watercourse of Grant Brook from the Connecticut River up to the summit of Smarts Mountain, and returned a year later to snap an award-winning photograph. So today I hoped I might find similarly good conditions. I parked beside the brook and worked my way upstream, capturing each set of cascades and trying to push my ability to think through composition, exposure, and depth of field.

Continue reading “Grant Brook cascades”

Beaver Brook cascades

An incredible photographic journey.

After my visit to Georgiana Falls last week, I realized the tremendous photographic potential of this season. I determined to visit another appealing waterfall this weekend, and selected Beaver Brook cascades. This impressively long sequence of cascades is visible for nearly a kilometer along the Appalachian Trail as it ascends the north side of Mount Moosilauke, the trail often hugging the cascades so closely that the trail is cut into the New Hampshire granite and studded with wooden blocks to enable footing along the water-slickened rock. Read on for a glimpse of one cascade, and visit the gallery for the complete set of full-res photos!

Steep and slippery along the Beaver Brook Trail, Mount Moosilauke, NH.
Continue reading “Beaver Brook cascades”

Loons

A beautiful pair of neighbors.

A pair of loons have been living along the Connecticut River, near our home. We often hear their plaintive cry early in the morning. I’ve sometimes had time to grab my camera and head down to the river edge, to see whether I can capture the beauty of these creatures. They have a remarkable ability to swim underwater, and will often disappear for several minutes while they feed on the vegetation below. Once, when the two met in mid-river, they spent close to 20 minutes doing a sort of dance, each ducking its head underwater, and then diving under and past the other, almost like a do-si-do.

Loon(s) on the river near our house in Lyme.

My photos are still a bit grainy… I need more light, or a longer lens, to capture crisp images. I’ll keep trying, and adding to the gallery.

More about Common Loons [wikipedia].

Snowflakes

Snowflake photography is hard.

It’s snowing lightly this morning, quite a change from the 50-degree sunny weather that has worn hard on the snowbanks this past week. It’s a welcome opportunity to pretty-up the view of the nearby hillsides and to coat the dirty old snow in a fresh coat of white.

I recently read a New York Times article about the amazing snowflake photographs produced as a hobby by Nathan Myhrvold, a retired Microsoft executive, like the one below.

Image copyright Nathan Myhrvold, from the New York Times.

I decided to dash outside and give it a quick try. Needless to say, my attempts – photographed in about five minutes using a handheld Nikon camera and a routine lens, of flakes freshly fallen onto a microfiber cloth – are not even worthwhile saving. Myhrvold’s work has taken years of experimentation, custom-designed equipment, travel to remote locations, and incredible persistence. It’s beautiful work, and I highly recommend a scroll through the photos in the article.

Who knew microfiber cloths have such texture?

Icy soap bubbles

Not easy!

Inspired by a photograph I found online, I’ve experimented with soap bubbles in freezing conditions… they can turn to ice and persist quite a while. It’s harder than it looks! Here is my best early attempt – check the gallery for a slo-mo video too.

Soap bubble in freezing conditions.

I made bubble solution with water, Dawn dish soap, and an extra dose of glycerin for resilience. I found a fat straw and used it to blow bubbles directly onto a surface of snow – here, the railing of the deck. This photo is with my iPhone; last week I tried some with the Nikon D500 but, for now, I’m still learning the mechanics… blow a bubble, quickly set down the straw, pickup the camera, get into position, and snap a few shots before the bubble bursts. Repeat many times!

I need to find a better location – out of the wind, with a less-busy background, and where I can stand but not have myself (or the camera) reflected in the bubble.

Last week I tried this in colder temperatures (6ºF) and some bubbles would freeze (turn to ice) and stick around for 10 minutes or more, like those below.

Soap bubble in freezing conditions.