Today’s image falls into the category “How have I not posted this already?” This image of a supermoon aligning with the Route 11 principal axis of Canton, New York has been used in the table of contents of St. Lawrence University’s magazine, as well as in several blog posts. In spite of that, I’ve apparently (according to Flickr’s camera roll feature) never shared it to Decaseconds.
Strip shopping centers, golf courses, and a Best Western: this stretch of NY Rt. 11 outside Canton differs little from other blocks of America. Still, this road is special… The North Country lacks an interstates whatsoever, so this two-lane blacktop is the only major path through the region. Though the general west-southwest direction of the road wavers little, this particular intersection is a place where it temporarily swings north to pass through town.
When barns are no longer needed, they so rarely seem to be torn down. Rather, they sink slowly back into the earth, like tree stumps. New life is bursting forth around an old barn, and it does start to seem like just another feature of the natural landscape.
It’s been strange to see the degree to which the seasons and cycles of the Northeast have started to influence my photography. I don’t know that I thought as much about the passage of time and the seasons when I was in California with its nearly-unchanging conditions (pick between rainy or dry, but that’s about it.) Doing landscape photography in a place with drastic seasonal swings makes me more aware of them than ever before.
That perfect, after-dinner dusk moment: the deer (and the bugs) are out to play, and everything is quiet in the last un-Rayleigh-scattered rays of sunlight. Among the weathered fenceposts and glacier-carved rocks, deer are out to play. I’m interested by the idea that children play, and animals play, but the idea of “play” as something that adult humans do takes on a different meaning in the context of adult human culture. The concept of responsibility brings with it a parallel idea that to play is to behave irresponsibly, doesn’t it?
But don’t dwell on that. The sunset is enchanting and the deer are having fun. I will, too.
When I discuss HDR photography, I usually borrow the words of Trey Ratcliff and the idea of better capturing a scene as the human mind perceives it. In the case of this particular sunset over the Grasse River (the North Country at its prettiest), however, I feel like HDR has captured even more than my eye could perceive at the moment I took the picture. This is not only because of the increased dynamic range, but also the resulting detail in the trees by the bank and in the wee islands and rocks. I was too distracted by the intensity of the sun when I took the original image to spend time on the details of the scene, but now I’m glad to be able to look back to those details to really place myself in that moment.
On the quiet and winter-crushed roads outside of town, the density of nuclear mosquitoes skyrockets when summer finally arrives. Standing on the edge of a glacier-scared field, under the dome of clouds, and watching the thermonuclear fireball of our star vanish over the horizon, it’s easy to feel small. But if science allows me to understand these phenomena and my place in the world, the nature of what an image of that world means changes.
Rising before dawn (and posting shots of buildings taken from slightly below and to the right) seems to be a recent trend for me. When I struggled out of bed to shoot a Saturday morning horse show on St. Lawrence University’s campus, I had the opportunity to capture the predawn North Country roads. No HDR, no fancy post-processing here (beyond some simple noise reduction). I present a quiet Saturday morning moment that captures the whole “stuck in time” 1980’s vibe of northern New York. You can almost hear Bruce Springsteen tracks playing in the background.
I suppose part of the reason that I appreciate landscape photography is its ability to capture a perfect, transient moment of incredible beauty. Of course, on some evenings (such as this one), the weather and environment just won’t cooperate. (I nearly titled this photograph “Boring Sunset.”) As photographer, I can put myself in the right place at the right time, but I still need reality to do its part.
The empty, remote bits of Vermont have a strangely sinister feeling as the first rumbles of thunder pass overhead and the sky turns that almost-yellow color. The whole world is empty, with not a trace of humans but for a gravel road and the lonely power lines. In a way, it’s astonishing that power is supplied to so much of the country this way.