I spend a lot of time on location at the Swift River, which is actually three rivers, in central Massachusetts. There is another, equally interesting but more mountainous Swift River in New England. This Swift River runs along the Kancamagus Highway outside of Conway in the White Mountains. It’s a powerful body of water that cuts a valley through mountains ranging from 2000 to 4000 feet on each side. (Click on the images for a better view.)
If this image makes the River look powerful, that’s appropriate. However, in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, the River completely overwhelmed the area, and most of what you see here would have been under water. The Forest Service is now repairing the damage, and the river seems more like its old self.
Powerful, and beautiful with reflections from the fall foliage and tannin from the decaying leaves.
New Hampshire as it turns out is the second most forested state in the U.S., coming in at over 80% forested. Yes, this figure is down a bit from the peak, due largely to development. Still it remains an impressive resource. Not surprisingly, the forest there is somewhat different from that in Massachusetts, at least to the eye. My subject impression is that they’ve got far more birch trees there. Birch trees make for a most interesting photographic subject, particularly when they are found in a group. Across the street from the entrance to the Mt. Washington Road (“This car hasn’t climbed Mt. Washington and probably won’t”) is a beautiful stand of birch. It had rained that day, so an impromptu street cut through the forest. (Click on the images for a better view.)
The (mostly) white trunks of the trees make for a nice contrast with and framing for the foliage of course. The trunks aren’t always white, though. We came upon two older silver trunked birches caressing one another amidst all the white birches.
Brich trees love son. They live about 70 years and many took root during the reforestation of New Hampshire just after the turn of the last century. As such, we often see old ones, toward the end of their lives.
There are a variety of ways to try and capture the spiritual feeling of a place. A birch forest has such nice vertical lines that suggest a multiple exposure, which you see here. This was ten images with camera movement up just slightly between images. Nikon DSLRs will compile them for you right in camera, a very nice feature.
It would be remiss of me not to report one other observation from this particular forest. We had a visitor during our efforts. Not a particularly great shot. As usual I was prepared for trees when another opportunity happened by, but here he is.
Now all we need is a squirrel.
I had the chance to visit the White Mountains of New Hampshire last weekend. The leaves have already turned, and are near peak foliage. The weather was so so, but that turned out to be a good thing. I’ll be posting some imagery from my travels there. I was once again lucky enough to be working with Tony Sweet and his partner Susan Milestone. If you have the chance to take one of Tony’s workshops, I’d recommend it highly. Tony is one of the most creative nature photographers around and the two of them make a terrific team. First stop, Franconia Notch State Park, the Basin more specifically.
The story began thousands of years ago with the retreat of the North American Ice Sheet. The ice sheet’s departure moved mountains, or at least very big glacial rocks. Working like a sculpter, great gashes were cut in the mountain side, creating an opportunity for the water, what we now would call the Permigewasset River, to go to work.
What is so striking about the Basin is how easy it is to actually see the water doing it’s work.
The inevitable smoothing that such a constant flow of rather high velocity H2O leaves in it’s way, gives on the impression of walking in an abstract sculpture garden. Outdoor art, set amidst the pines and hardwoods.
This is the Basin itself, described by some as a gigantic pothole. Wouldn’t want to fill this one though. More to come.
As I have complained about here before, creating compelling visual imagery of a forest is a challenge. It’s not that forests aren’t visually interesting or fascinating in and of themselves. Increasingly I’ve come to believe that there’s just too darn much going on. So what you can do? One approach, to focus on chunks rather than the whole thing. That’s what I’ve tried to do here. We had the chance to visit a wonderful forest fully engaged in springtime a few weeks back, The Chamberlain-Reynolds Memorial Forest in Center Harbor, New Hampshire. This is a wonderful working forest that borders squam lake. There were quite a few more birch trees than I’m used to seeing, which was a refreshing change from a photographic standpoint. Now you’re definitely going to have to click on the images to appreciate the site. Remember I’m simplifying here, so help me out.
As is the case for most of our forests, this was once farmland.
It is now largely utilized by the community for recreation and spiritual matters. The trails are in terrific shape. It has other jobs to do as well.
Just below this scene is an active loading area for logs. Harvesting on a sustainable basis is taking place here on behalf of the owners, the New England Forestry Foundation. The forest will survive I’m betting, in part because it’s got a job to do. It’s been going on for some time.
For those who may have seen enough forest after a mile or so, there is a payoff at the end of the trail.
I am reminded yet again that photography is about light, something nature provides for us thankfully, if we just notice what is going on around us. I learned from the great travel photographer Bob Krist, that there is one tactic for capturing decent images that is practically weather proof. Wait till jut before/after the sun goes down. Normally you don’t expect to get much from an empty lake, in this case Lake Winnipesaukee in Central Harbor, New Hampshire. But let the light work it’s magic and it’s almost like your there. (Click on the image for a better view.)
The eye doesn’t notice just how blue the world is becoming. You have to be aware of it, and then not let your brain adjust it’s perception of color. Same with your camera by the way. Those of you who shoot with digital cameras can actually make this color shift go away by adjusting your white balance. In this case, warming it up. Don’t touch the camera. Just leave it set to sunny. (And use a long exposure if you want the water to look this smooth.)
Thanks again Bob.