Monday, August 19, 2013

Hanover Hill from Hiddenhurst

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: Contrary to my usual practice, I'm posting this more as a curiosity than because I found it a satisfying photographic composition. I've only done that twice before, and at least once I regretted it.  For me this image has a special force that I want to remember. 

The previous post was of Hiddenhurst Farm. In its day, the size, grandeur and historical significance of Hiddenhurst was matched by only one farm in the area, Hanover Hill.  For many years they remained as empty relics of their eras and worthy subjects for photographic exploration, Hiddenhurst, silos catching the setting sun like a gleaming, princely castle on its hilltop, and Hanover Hill, the brooding neighbor, a rusted blot on the dark hillside.

This is Hanover Hill from Hiddenhurst Hill through my longest lens, the equivalent of 600mm on a full frame camera, an attempt to get closer. Since I began photographing this area I have scouted every perch and pathway that might yield a shot. Like everyone else, I was chased by the lone tenant who leased a small house on Hanover Hill property, chased even if I was on the public highway or on another persons property. He was notorious for the way he kept watch and aggressively went after people on his ATV. 

Well, in truth, once I talked him in to letting me explore a bit. I may be the only photographer who ever succeeded.  I thought I had it set that I could come back later; I only did a very brief inspection. Weeds covered everything, and I knew shooting would be a major project.  However, nowhere have I seen such high, vast haylofts, and cow stalls that went on forever. What pictures they would make! When I returned he had forgotten his offer but from then on remembered my face, and every visit increased his rage though I photographed from the public roadway. It made for an unpleasant shoot, so I soon gave up trying; and then the barns burned to the ground, and the man was gone. 

After that I could photograph pretty much as I wished so long as the hunters weren't around, and I photographed there often at the end of 2011 and in 2012, but the amazing barns were gone. The House on Hanover Hill, taken after the barns burned, was chosen as the poster shot for the Sharon Photography Show this year, and after the barns burned I took many photographs inside the house, but as expected, that too has been bulldozed and now all that is left of Hanover Hill is a field of rubble in the middle of cornfields, and this image in my mind of Hanover Hill from Hiddenhurst. For me, it's kind of haunting.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Hiddenhurst Spotlight

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  Today's Photo returns to images I took in 2010 in the valley that lies along the New York side of the Connecticut border.  This time we are below Millerton.  This is the area that has traditionally been called "the Harlem Valley," but to me it seems it is the same valley with the section that runs from Millerton north to Copake; to me it is all the Harlem Valley, the land of Borden and Sealtest.

If this is seen as a single area, Hiddenhurst might well be considered its most iconic monument.  I've photographed it many times and from every direction, and doing a search of the blog for "Hiddenhurst," will turn up many images of it that have been included here.  No need to repeat what I know of its history that is already recorded here.  It must have been spectacular when the fields around these barns were filled with dairy cattle.  It is the place to go when the sky is photogenic or when it is performing magic.

Thursday, August 15, 2013



Wild Ride

Winters tumble stones
that wrestle twisting roots,
and forests heave to stay
the tumble of time and
the flow of summer storms,
the oscillations of cosmic winds
and restless eruptions of human soul.

To be as nimble as the stream
and as rooted as rock.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Eyelash Falls, Shepaug Headwaters

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  Consider the complexity of 1/320th-of-a-second in the cataracts search, multiplied by the number and trajectory of collisions and by the length of the journey to the sound and the sea and the years through which the stream has wandered through New England hills to reach this moment captured in a photograph and delivered to you in packets over the internet, chaos at work.  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Shepaug Headwaters

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  For nearly 35 years I have lived in the narrow valley carved by the waters of the Shepaug River and just a bit over a mile from the dam that holds back its headwaters, and yet until several years ago I had never seen the two artificial lakes that are close to the river's source or the two dams that were built there in the 1930s. The waters were dammed and diverted by Waterbury under coercive legislation passed by the Connecticut legislature in 1897 that gave Waterbury wide powers to draw water anywhere they chose.  They say it was a sign that Waterbury industrialists had seized control from the landed gentry in the fertile hills.  

The only active road into the area passes over the dam with signs clearly marked, "keep out," and a station beyond.  So firm is the warning, it has left me, so far, utterly intimidated.  However, I kept looking for other ways in via forgotten roads that once crossed the valley, and several years ago I had success.  Last week my friend suggested a visit might be productive now after recent rain. This picture of Shepaug headwaters was taken then.  

The trail leads back to a spot I have named eyelash falls for two small falls at the point the trail reaches a small stream. The stream bed is made of large rocks and boulders, and often there is no sign of water except the constant rushing beneath the rocks.  At a point where the boulders become too large to easily climb over the stream divides in a tiny delta, and arrives via several small waterfalls at the side of the Upper Shepaug Reservoir, sometimes called Cairns Reservoir.  It is a vast lake, and one could easily believe it was somewhere in the wilderness of Alaska. It was therefore a surprise later to come on two deflated rubber row boats in a spot where the woods had flooded, and then we saw two canoes neatly left, and we knew others had found, perhaps made, this trail.

Next goal - to reach the upper dam.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Red Tin Roof

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL: Today I drove deep into New York's Columbia County in search of photo adventures. On the way home I found myself passing through Copake and so drove route 22 through the valley of all the recent blog posts; I passed each of the farms, but today's photo is new. 

The barn with the red tin roof has caught my eye for years. It is just south of Copake, before the other barns. I've even stopped to photograph it, more than once, I think, but never with seriousness.  There is a pull-off just beyond the trees where people stop to take in the view. I always stopped there, even though from there the barn is face on; one needs the angle to catch the roof peaking.  Today I pulled off before reaching the pull-off, and I shot until everything came into alignment. 

I've seen it with cattle, a herd of black angus, when the sun was low before the valley's shadow crept up, and I recall that there was magic in the way the black cows  caught the golden light. I was in my car and heading south and the sun was falling.  I'll look for alignments here again some time, but I'll leave this on the blog as a marker and a defense against the chance of subdivision.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Willow Brook Farm

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  Still in 2010, further south, looking north from the hilltop above Willowbrook Farm as a storm skirts my perch and with thanks to the Benekes for permission to shoot.

Pass through the doorway into the hayloft of the large barn below, and this is what you will see, photographed for an earlier TODAY'S.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Looking Back 2

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  And further up the valley as the corn rows were forming in 2010, I walked the fields in one last attempt to photograph this fallen farmstead rotting beneath grape vines and a sky that makes it seem the old barns might rise again, but that would take a miracle.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Looking Back

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  Same valley, late on a different afternoon in 2010, in a hay harvest breeze, looking back the other way, with a little help from the lighting guy up in the clouds catching with his spotlights the tractor and the two barns.  Only the light makes the composition work.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

After the Storm (version 2)

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  In the summer of 2010, I spent many early mornings and late afternoons in this broad valley above Millerton, NY, hoping to catch the weather doing something that would add grandeur to the open valley floor.  It was a favorite spot for walking and soaking up sun.

The best images were all very high contrast, and I was processing them as HDR composites from 2 or 3 shots taken at 2 stop intervals.  I was never fully satisfied with the results, and only one of the series ever made it to this blog. In fact, that image used this RAW file as one of its hdr set. 

As a result of upgrading from Photoshop CS4 to CS6 this spring, I've discovered I'm able to recover much more detail from a single RAW image than was possible with the raw processing controls of CS4.  This has led me back to some older files to see if I can't do better by them now. Whether better or worse, I find I have made very different choices in reorchestrating the event this time.    The original version can be found on my blog posted on July 20, 2010.

Once the entire valley was lined with dairy farms.  From here one can distinguish three farms as the valley flows south.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Scorpion Garden #5, part 2

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  Sunrise scrubbed the dark masses of the trusses as if it would dissolve history, but history is indissoluble; no matter how one scrubs, night remains fixed to day.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Scorpion Garden #5, part 1

PHOTOGRAPHER'S JOURNAL:  Sunrise light scrubbed the dark masses of the trusses as if it would dissolve history.