When the kids were little, we went apple picking and ran through the cornfield in the fall. I don’t know about Lisa, it’s not something I did as a kid. But my kids will not be able to say the same. I don’t know who it was that had more fun.
The photo was taken in Ashburnham, Massachusetts on a lake in the fall. It was an early morning with a still wind. The reflection is self-explanatory except that it’s turned on its side. No, no Photoshop. It actually was the real deal. You don’t get this too often. But the story is of four couples, friends for many years (too many to say here) who would gather periodically to hangout and do whatever. In this case it was getting on a pontoon boat for a little early morning cruise. Sorry, if you don’t look your best early in the morning before coffee and tea. The guys were cooking breakfast.
It was on the same trip and I was leaving Camden and headed back across to Central Maine. It was getting toward evening and it was cloudy overcast and threatening to rain. Sometimes you see a pattern of color that is so soothing. I traveled without family so there was no one to complain about my frequent sudden stops. There are some images in my head that I regret not stopping to take. But on this particular evening, this image was not one of those regrets.
I was up in Camden and passing through Rockport where there was a craft show and a photography school. I had parked the car and turned toward the school where the craft show was being held. I had a black and white moment in front of me without any help from Photoshop. Julia had me enlarge this and she framed it for her room. I continue to marvel at being so lucky to be in the right place at times like these.
Whenever I think about fall color it’s red and orange for me. But I tend to lose sight of the tree among the landscape. I would like more detail but when you get up close … Well, I guess you could say that the house and the fence are distracting. I like the color and the intermediate detail, not too close, not too far. It’s hard for me to not want to include the whole tree.
Julia commented on how much she liked this image. You spend your time chasing the fall colors. When you get right down to it, I think that what makes you stop is in the details. I had been shooting across the water and capturing the reflections of the trees in the water. And just as I turned to leave, I saw this single leaf. Yes sometimes it’s all about paying attention to detail.
I had a magical autumn in Maine in 2008. For me most of my fall images came from Bear Mountain New York. I crisscrossed the back roads and put a lot of mile on the old wagon. When I look back in retrospect it was a time never to be repeated. I had fog, clouds, sun, water, reflections and just about anything and everything I could imagine. I’d say that I have not had a better experience and I wistfully think how fortunate I was to be there to take these images.
Runaround Pond was my go-to spot. It was peaceful and it was a great place to put up your feet and read. In autumn I was rewarded with fog and reflections. Fog is so hard to conjure and it is an ephemeral moment like sunset never to be duplicated. There may be many days like it but never the same as the one I shot.
I’ve been on a dive binge. It’s my chief hobby right now. For those of you in colder climes in the Northern Hemisphere, I have almost forgotten that it’s halfway to Christmas. The weather is colder and the frost is on the pumpkin. I lived in Maine for a time. All the while I was hoping to shoot a moose. I gave a medical talk and mentioned that I had finally shot a moose and one son of a gun actually asked me how it was to shoot it (with a gun). That got me to thinking that I should refrain from literal language (or stop talking to NRA Republicans).
Up until this particular day I was, shall we say sadly and completely unsuccessful. I had loads of advice from locals about how and where to go. Perhaps they were just playing around with a city guy? Up in the wilderness of Maine, way up past Millinoket, and near to Mt Katahdin my travels brought me on a journey and a last ditch search.
Yes! I passed three photographers idly chatting, tripods deployed, and telephoto lenses pointed off toward a far point on the lake. Their wives were with them. They pointed to a brown dot on the horizon hidden in the trees and told me it was a moose. They had to tell me because we were too far to identify anything except that it was animal not plant. Yeah!? This was a non starter.
Pretty much resigned to defeat I continued through the park on this cloudy day. Two cars were parked on the side of the road and I sensed there might be action. Walking into the woods I saw my first moose no more than 30 feet away calmly munching on whatever it is that moose munch. The first photographer was decked out in hunter clothes and appeared to be a real photographer. The other was an idiot approaching the moose from uphill. He had a maniacal grin and was edging down with a simple point and shoot camera. I felt sure this dude would soon be killed when he disturbed Mr Bullwinkle. Moose don’t see well and when startled they can make an awful mess in a hurry. It helps to stand behind a tree since it might help that the tree will slow down an angered moose. (Let it be a big tree.) I turned to the first photographer to ask about an exit strategy and he replied the moose in front is not the problem. It’s the three behind us that I might want to take care to watch. I regret not taking the picture of that idiot photographer on the uphill side. But then again he never did get hurt either.
The other bull moose and mama with baby were more interesting. None of them cared that I approached but I did so cautiously and kept to staying behind the trees. The first photographer and his wife came up to stand with me. He stayed behind and began to make his city version of moose calls. Meanwhile his wife stood next to me sharing my tree. This couple had driven to Maine that day to participate in a moose photography class. The just happened to be wandering the woods. Meanwhile they didn’t realize that they had hit the photographic jackpot. My exit strategy quickly formed. If the fool behind me wanted to make moose calls, it would be his wife I would push out from behind the tree in the event the any of the moose made a charge. It pays to think ahead. My presumption was that he didn’t like his wife too much since I had only just met the couple. Oh, and she didn’t know how to use her camera and asked me to shoot some images for her. My reason to photograph anything is to know that I shot the image myself. Otherwise who needs another picture of a moose. And remember when I say shoot, its photograph not gun.
Just like those buddy movies, David and Michael remain best friends to this day. They met in grammar school and have stayed steadfast ever since. This was one of the autumn trips we took to Bear Mountain. They were just a couple of buddies having a quiet walk in the woods. To complete the circle, David called me this past autumn for directions to the lake. He and Mike, with Sarah and Josh, were planning to hike in the autumn around the lake again. It’s pretty special to have that memory carrying forward.
I know that I’ve taken some good photos over the years. I had this one in my office and one of my colleagues Frank Loh admired it. Frank was a childhood friend to my younger brother. This shot was taken while we were on a trip to the Berkshires in the autumn. It’s funny that sometimes you can take a shot and know it’s special. But in most instances, I would take a shot and realize it was iconic after I developed and mounted the slide. And that was often months later. Digital it’s not.
The annual Bear Mountain hike was a once a year outing that was juggled around school and homework. As the kids got older it was harder to find time to go. We always had a good time. Sometimes we did things that would leave you wondering, “What were you thinking?” No one got wet. And the forest did not burn down. And I don’t know how Julia got stranded out on that rock. And if she got wet getting back, I’ll never tell.
When I look back on my collected images it often appears that my memory was more vivid than the colors on the film. I think it’s my memory, not the film fading. Hmmm… maybe a little of both is in play. I’m a sucker for reflections. About the only time I use a polarizer is to pull out the sky and intensify the leaves. So even as my memory fades, there are some good slides lurking in the collection that are worth showing.
I always insist on taking at least two shots of any group… more if they will tolerate me. It’s because someone always blinks… A blink is measured in thousandths of a second. So how is it that my wife got us all blinking simultaneously? It’s a skill. She won’t stay still to take more than a couple shots. So that’s what you get.
In the fall we would go pumpkin picking. You get the right one because carving was another project for Halloween. And out on Long Island there was usually a corn maze set up to try to go through. Along the way you got ears of corn and threw the kernels at one another when you could find them. Yeah, that was a fond memory also.
Another thought on raking leaves as an activity is presented here. Those high piles were great to hide in or to jump upon. We got kind of elaborate. The kids started by simply winding up and running into the pile. Then they jumped from the fence. Naturally the big ladder was a grand idea. And finally they began jumping from the tree. Yeah, it was a crazy family activity. Nellie, our dog could attest to the crazy things humans sometimes do.
We had another family activity – raking leaves. The kids were little and they borrowed rakes while we stayed at an inn in the Berkshires. When we had leaves to rake in the autumn on Long Island, the kids would wait till the time was right. Large piles would be made. Once they made a hideout.
One of Julia’s best friends is about to be married in a few weeks. They have known each other since kindergarten. This is one of those Bear Mountain trips and both girls ran around the lake and we started a camp fire and everyone had a good ‘ole time. Wow! Time flew by. Laura will be married soon. Everyone’s a grown up now. I can’t say that I’m quite ready. If you’re not sure what I mean, so am I.
We visited Alex and MaryAnne in Ashburnham and stayed at their house on the lake. The early morning was still and there was a wonderful opportunity to get a fall reflection. Of course when you develop and mount your own slides abstraction is more obvious. Hence the turned slide that makes an entirely different statement.
We were about to embark on the annual Bear Mountain trip. My brother Eric decided that we should go fishing first. So off to the industrial park with fishing gear and bait we went. Hence the wool hat, football, and the hiking boots an outfit that would otherwise seem mismatched. They had just been throwing the football. It was going to be a bit chilly in Bear Mountain. And you need hiking boots to hike. Of course catching a fish… priceless.
When my kids were little we would go up to Bear Mountain in the fall to see the leaves. I don’t think the kids much cared about the leaves as much as it was an opportunity to run around the woods by the lake. I went for the photo ops. This dock was off the highway and was always there waiting for me to take a shot. Some years were better than others. There’s some luck in getting there at the right time. Mostly I would go about the time of the second game of the World Series. A lot of years after the kids got too old to want to go, I would pass by on my own and continue to visit this site and take a couple shots. As luck would have it, I came across this old slide today. Yesterday I called David and he asked for directions to Bear Mountain. He and his friend Mike were planning to go. David would take Sarah his current girlfriend. So, a new tradition is starting. I had taken both boys up a number of times to hang by the lake. And now they are doing it on their own. I’m glad they remember it as fondly as I do.
Secretly I disagree with everyone who says that the best shots of fall foliage are on cloudy days. There is supposedly more saturation of the colors. I like a bright sunny blue sky day. And if need be, give me a good polarizing filter. I also like white picket fences. So with the brilliant fall colors, I tried to get the fence and leaves but had to compromise with civilization. As I conclude this fall series, I look back and remember that 2008 was a magical fall season for me.
Wandering around the area I have some memories. The town was first on my radar when some dear friends’ daughter was married closeby some autumns ago. Second, the road past town leads to a lighthouse, that I like to visit. And third, this particular year was the second annual pumpkin boat festival. Don’t ask. But they take the championship prize winning 500 pound pumpkins that no one knows what to do with, they hollow them, and then race them around in the bay. The first year everyone fell into the water. The pumpkins were too unsteady. The second year, everyone caught on and stabilized their rigs. I’d have liked to have seen the sinkings. I would have to say that this vehicle is serviceable unlike many that I pass on the backroads. It’s just quintessential fall for this Maine scene.
For the lack of better identification, I shall call this heather. I left Camden and headed west toward home. The car pretty much ran into this field. It’s more or less classical – horizontal rows of pastel colors fading to the horizon. I wonder why I didn’t see it when I was driving west to east. You can miss a lot of things looking in only one direction.
There’s Rockland, which has lighthouse, and Rockport, which has a photo school. They are not far from one another. As I wandered the Camden area, I traveled through both. I parked the car to visit a craft show. And at my feet was this farmhouse tableau waiting for me. There was just enough color to avoid being black and white. It was faded enough that I didn’t have to think of using Photoshop to make it so. Julia thought enough of the image to make me enlarge it for her to frame and hang.