Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Hot and/or Cold

We are certainly in the perfect place for ongoing discussion of chilling and sizzling. On a normal year — whatever that might be, since we haven’t actually had a normal year in at least a decade — we get both. Brutally cold winters and breathtakingly hot summers.


When two photographers shoot the same scene, it’s always interesting to see what they will shoot that is essentially the same … and what they will see as different.


In this case, I was able to get pictures from places Marilyn couldn’t go … partly because I’m a bit more agile than she is, but also because she spent most of our shooting time trying to figure out why her camera wasn’t working. By the time she figured out what had gone wrong, it was time to go home. Better luck next time.

I keep it simple. I use the same lens and camera. I’m happy with my Pentax Q7. It’s light, comfortable in my hands. I know how it works. Results are predictable and usually exactly what I intended. Most of the time. Marilyn says I need to make sure I’m holding the camera straight, to take a look at the horizon and align with it. My bad.


This was a couple of days ago. Late afternoon down at the Blackstone Canal.


It was beautiful yesterday, one of the nearly perfect spring days with which New England is occasionally gifted. Spring isn’t our best — or even second-best — season.


It’s usually very short, often going from winter to summer in just a day or two. Sometimes, you barely have time to buy a pair of shorts when yesterday’s 40 degrees turns to ninety or more, with humidity to match.

We are having a reasonably good spring this year. There have been a few setbacks. The couple of early snows in April did some damage to the blooming daffodils, but I hope not permanent damage. The flowering trees are showing young leaves. Here, in our woods and along the rivers and canal, the trees are in bud, but not leaf. Hardwood — oaks and maples, sassafras, ash and others — are the last to fill out. Mid May, usually, though the maples may be a week earlier this year. Our trees are mostly bare.

The forsythia is flowering. The lilacs are full of leaves, but no flowers yet.


Soon. It’s lovely today. Warm and sunny and delicious. The earth is awake and everything is greening up.




Thank you, Cee, for giving me a chance try some new monochrome techniques. The bi-tonal feature worked well on the dam. It’s the first time I’ve liked the results from this filter.

Bi-tonal treament (warm-cold filter) on the Mumford River Dam
Bi-tonal treatment (warm-cold filter) on the Mumford River Dam

It hasn’t been a great week for taking pictures. Chilly weather, rather dull outside. Gone the dramatic colors of autumn and winter has not yet arrived. Black-and-white gave these pictures just a bit more “zip.”

The Blackstone Canal, November
The Blackstone Canal, November
Clouds over Uxbridge, November
Clouds over Uxbridge, November
Roxbury arches
Roxbury arches



Sunday was a glorious day. Cool enough to be comfortable in nothing more than a sweatshirt. Bright, sunny, clear.


Our friend was visiting — too briefly — from Arizona. They have desert, mountains, forest … but we have water. The river, the dams, the canal.


The leaves are almost completely gone from the trees … except for a few bright yellow maple trees by the Mumford in town.


I believe this is the first time I’ve taken pictures along the canal in November. Sharp contrast, cooler colors. Interesting. Every season has a unique quality to capture. Even this short end-of-autumn time between the leaves and real winter.




Bridge across the Blackstone River
Bridge across the Blackstone River

River Bend is where the Blackstone River and Canal divide and flow side by side. It’s where a farm, built two centuries ago stands, housing a small museum and visitor center and where the trees of autumn are already starting to shed their leaves.

Bob Mielke at River Bend
Bob Mielke at River Bend

It has been an unenthusiastic autumn. Beautiful, because autumn is beautiful, no matter what. Far from one of our best or brightest. Brief, because it arrived late and appears to be departing early.


We got some color, but mostly yellows without the deep orange and reds. At least we didn’t go directly from green to brown. The river remains low, with bottom showing. The spillway between the river and canal is dry. There was a heron fishing by the spillway. I think they nest nearby.


Footbridge at River Bend park
Footbridge at River Bend park

Lots of rumors about what effect El Niño will have on the upcoming winter. Some say it will be a warm winter with less snow, others say it will be the same as last year. There are too many variables.

We weren't alone at the park
We weren’t alone at the park

If El Niño stays strong, it should bring warmer temperatures to the northeast. If El Niño pulls up stakes and moves out before January, then other forces will come to bear, including a possible polar vortex.


So really, we don’t know.

More River Bend, with Bob in the foreground
More River Bend, with Bob in the foreground

But I believe. We bought a 4-wheel drive car which is like buying a big, expensive snowblower. This usually ensures at least one snow-free winter. (If you pay more than $40,000, you might get two.)

I’m counting on it.

Peaceful Blackstone
Peaceful Blackstone

Should you decide to accept this challenge, you can use a picture from this or any post of mine  — or any other picture you like. Write something about the picture or make something up, using a photograph — any photo — as a jumping off point.

This is the easiest prompt in the world.


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It’s almost over. The leaves are fading — early — and dropping from the trees. Many are already half bare. Bob and I went down to Riverbend and the Blackstone Canal. If we waited much longer, it would be too late.

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It’s lovely, though not spectacular. The drought made the change come too late and last too short a time. The weather is still lovely, but the color in mostly yellows with occasional patches of red or orange.

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Still, there nothing that warms my heart as much as New England in the fall. October is my favorite month and has been since I was a kid and heard the first maple leaf crunch under my foot on my trek to school.

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I always mourn its passing and plan to enjoy it as long as I can.

A note to my fellow local photographers. Either you live in a different state than me, or you are cooking your photos.

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We have not had those brilliant, glowing colors this year. An occasional bright maple or ash, but mostly … yellow or soft orange dominates the landscape. The dryness, lack of an early cold snap, lingering warm, humid days have conspired to produce a muted autumn.


If you twiddle with saturation and color balance, you can produce brilliant autumn colors in any picture. May, July … anytime can be glorious autumn. If that’s what you want.