Lake Chaubunagungamaug In Autumn

Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg, or Lake Chargoggaggoggmancogmanhoggagogg (and other various spellings) is also known as Webster Lake, which is what I call it. It’s quite a big lake. Surrounded by trees, many of them maple, it can be spectacular in the fall.

For the non-New Englanders, maple trees are the ones that produce the brilliant red, gold, and orange leaves. Oak leaves turn a soft yellow, most other trees turn, at best, light red. We have fewer maple trees than we used to, probably because the oak trees have taken over the woodlands, blocking the sunlight and stunting the growth of smaller trees. For once, it’s nothing man has done: it’s just nature doing its own thing.

So, wherever you can find maple trees, especially near a body of water, that’s where you find the brilliant autumn leaves for which New England is famous. Now that August is nearing its end, all of us are hoping for a good autumn. It’s not just the color, it’s also that the fall is usually the nicest weather of the year and with a little luck, can stretch for as long as two months, more or less. The last two years have been washouts: too much rain at the wrong time took the leaves down before they reached full color.

Late afternoon in October.

Maybe this year? It sounds like I’m talking about the Red Sox. I know that they aren’t going to give us a beautiful Autumn, so I can but hope that the leaves will do the job. Autumn is our reward for surviving New England‘s other seasons. We deserve a beautiful season full of crisp weather and bright leaves.

Sunlight through bright maple leaves by the lake’s shore.

Here’s to a fine years for the leaves. From the shores of Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg to the White Mountains of New Hampshire, I bring you gleaming waters and brilliant scarlet maple trees with the sun shining through.

Natural Abstracts

During the past year, I’ve accumulated a few pictures that, while entirely natural, resemble abstract paintings. The are wood bark and water, with a bit of fungus for variety.

Reflections in the flowing water of the Blackstone River.
More reflections. There was white water just a few feet away. Just a strange way that light fell on the water.

And in the woods, I found a rotting log with toadstools.

A fallen, rotting log with rather odd fungi.

Tree bark sometimes forms some visually fascinating patterns.

It’s moss on tree bark.

Dawn In Our Woods

Rising sun.

Sometimes, Garry and I are guests on an overnight radio show. We used to do it every 5 or 6 weeks, but I was ill for a long time and I haven’t been able to do it for the past year. I loved doing the show and we always arrived home just as dawn broke. This was one of those post-radio show mornings.

This is mid March in New England. The sun in March is just starting its change from the white light of winter to the yellow sun of spring.

The sun is up.

It’s all about the light …

Why do you take pictures? What makes you pick up your camera? Is it just the beauty of the scene? Or the smile on someone’s face?

I’m sure it is different for each of us, but this morning, I remembered what it is for me. Because even before I turned on the coffee machine, I grabbed my camera. The light was coming through the window and the Dutch door and I saw something. I remembered abruptly that this is what always grabs me. Of course I take pictures of my granddaughter, my dogs, friends and sometimes total strangers because they are important to me or just because, though I can’t always say what it is. Spectacular scenery is inevitable. Like any photographer, I’m going to try to capture it. I’m as much a sucker for a pretty picture as anyone.

But that’s not it. In the final analysis, for me it’s about light.

My kitchen in the morning. Sans dogs.

It has always been about light. My very first roll of film, in black and white, about half the pictures were of light coming through trees.  I’ve spent a lifetime trying to show just how light filters through leaves or the way it shines through a window. Reflected light on water or wet sand. The sun as it rises or sets. I love the subtleties, the minute by minute changes of color of the sky.

That’s why I almost never raise saturation in a photograph and probably why I don’t much like HDR photography. I’m looking for shadings and delicate colors. I don’t want everything more vivid … so when I post process, I am far more likely to turn the color and contrast down than  I am to push it up.

The changing colors of the light through the seasons: golden in autumn, nearly white in winter and how these annual color shifts change the way the world looks … so ephemeral, so fleeting and delicate. I love shadow, the brother of light and how these change with the time of day and the seasons. I can watch for hours the changing colors of the sky while the sun moves across until it finally sinks below the horizon to full dark.

Have you ever watched a sunset from late afternoon until full dark? Light lingers long,  even after the sun invisible. The further north latitude you are, the longer light remains. Everyone shoots brilliant sunsets or sunrises. I favor sunrises, but I realize that may have something to do with living on the east coast. Facing east makes sunrise more accessible.  A brilliant arrival or departure of Apollo’s Chariot is spectacular. Yet even the most ordinary dawn or dusk contains an equal amount of beauty. It’s harder to capture it. Brilliant color is easy compared to slight incremental pastels. You don’t get nearly as many “oohs” and “aahs” from a photo composed of soft pastel tones.

I’m fascinated by the way shadows shift with time of day; the colors of the world as the sun sinks; the way various kinds of artificial light — street lamps, candles, neon signs — each have their own spectrum and effects.

For me, it’s all about light.

Inside the old barn …

Inside an old barn in Uxbridge, Massachusetts. The barn was built about 1760. The house is also completely restored and dates from the same era.