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Down Under the Highway

Contemplating the passing of another fall, I’m always reminded that fall is why I got into photography in the first place.  When you stop to think about it, why should nature put on such a light show for us?  Seriously???  But she does thank goodness and so we appreciate.  Nature meets humanity.  It is one of the great conundrums of our lives and impacts everything we worry about and enjoy at the same time, from a wonderful day at the beach to global warming.  It’s all about what we experience, or rather notice, and how we interpret what we notice.  So I’ve been looking for points of intersection that seem particularly interesting and I found one, under the highway.  In this case, I’m referring to Route 146, AKA the “little dig” which was transformed a few years ago into the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor that runs from Worcester, Massachusetts to Rhode Island.

The Blackstone River has followed that basic route since the last ice age, but it was also the location of the Blackstone River Canal which was designed to run from Worcester to Providence before their war railroads, in the early 1800’s.  Alas, the railroads were not far behind and the Canal never saw much service.   Route 146 was the connector between the two cities and when it was being redesigned at the Worcester end, the State wisely, thankfully, decided to include a path/bikeway and connect the people once again to the river.


As you can see, however, the connection is, to a degree, quite funky.  The river and path share the road with, well the road, the road supports and graffiti artists.  Late at night, we could probably add some other elements to the menu, but you get the idea.  Urban meets nature.  Nevertheless, it creates a compelling, though tough to photograph view.


We were of course lucky to be there just at the peak of the foliage.  The contrast between nature and the artifacts of the urban was intense, but somehow enjoyable.  The river, depleted a bit because of the lack of rain and because of well, the fact that it has a tough life at this point in its career, keeps on flowing nevertheless.


Till next time….

Tech Note:  Photographers will recognize that these shots are “HDR” or high dynamic range shots, pulled together in Photomatix.  Under the highway the difference between dark and light is too great for the sensor to comprehend.  Multiple shots, taken on a tripod, hopefully with no wind and no touching, allow you to capture the highlights and the shadows.  However, the results sometimes don’t look that natural (though I tried to stay true to what I saw), which is the case here.  This to me represents another piece of evidence that nature (our eye balls in this case) can still trump technology, at least for now.

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sandra #

    Your last shot looks like sea monsters have invaded. Thanks for taking us along for a walk along the Blackstone. Beautiful.

    November 4, 2013
    • Hi Sandra
      Definitely spooky to be sure. But I suspect that the folks passing by wondered if we were invaders! This by the way is the perfect location for a Halloween party for future reference!

      November 6, 2013
  2. Only you can make concrete pillars and steel I-beams look good in photos LOL. Great shots and good job on the history of this site. As always, a pleasure reading your stuff!

    November 4, 2013
    • Thanks so much. I think these shots are sort of in the tradition of work by folks like Tony Sweet. They like to go to places of decay and graffiti is often part of the scene. What interested me about this though is that it wasn’t really a place of decay, and the impact of the natural world really created this contrast between the beautiful and the not so beautiful. In the winter, I’m guessing the scene is going to create a very different mood!

      November 6, 2013
  3. I would never think to shoot these scenes, James. Handled as you have I would also have to say it is my loss. These are probably the nicest such images i have seen. Very nice HDR work. Only thing missing is a kindly Troll family.

    November 5, 2013
    • Hi Steve
      Thanks so much. The HDR doesn’t look to much like, well, HDR then. That is a relief. I had not been drawn to sites like this either until I started to think about how nature sometimes refuses to take no for an answer. It’s really all over the city if we can figure out how to photograph the stuff. The trolls by the way were off duty. It was a Sunday!

      November 6, 2013
      • Ah, I forgot the gains they achieved by unionizing. 🙂

        November 6, 2013

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