Posted by: kerryl29 | January 25, 2017

New England, Day 11: The Longest Day

I spent some long days in the field during my trip to New England last fall but none any longer than the 11th day, when I was to relocate my base of operations from St. Johnsbury, Vermont to North Conway, New Hampshire.  I wasn’t certain exactly when I would make the trip east, or exactly what route I would take; I decided to let the whims of the day dictate those decisions.

I checked out of the motel in St. Johnsbury in the pre-dawn darkness and made the now familiar trip to May Pond, in Orleans County, a bit east of the town of Barton.  This would be my third visit to May Pond; the previous two had been limited photographically by wind or rain.  The forecast for sunrise was iffy (what else is new?) but I figured it was worth taking the time to see what would happen.

It was dead calm at the pond when I arrived and the light was just beginning to come, revealing a cloudy sky–but it was cloudy with some definition.  So I set up and waited.  Before any sky developments took place, I produced one (comparatively) intimate image including reflections in the shallows of a small inlet to my left.

May Pond Reflections, Orleans County, Vermont

May Pond Reflections, Orleans County, Vermont

As I waited to see what would happen as the sun came up I noticed some indications of cracks in the clouds to the south and east–just enough of a break to produce the hoped-for early morning color in the sky.

May Pond at Sunrise, Orleans County, Vermont

May Pond at Sunrise, Orleans County, Vermont

As is my typical m.o. in settings such as this, I spent some time going back and forth between wide angle and telephoto views of the scene before me.

May Pond at Sunrise, Orleans County, Vermont

May Pond at Sunrise, Orleans County, Vermont

May Pond at Sunrise, Orleans County, Vermont

May Pond at Sunrise, Orleans County, Vermont

As the sun rose and the color of the clouds shifted from a reddish-pink to a more subdued, subtle color, I returned to the wide angle to better emphasize the grandeur of the scene.

May Pond at Dawn, Orleans County, Vermont

May Pond at Dawn, Orleans County, Vermont

May Pond at Dawn, Orleans County, Vermont

May Pond at Dawn, Orleans County, Vermont

May Pond at Dawn, Orleans County, Vermont

May Pond at Dawn, Orleans County, Vermont

May Pond at Dawn, Orleans County, Vermont

May Pond at Dawn, Orleans County, Vermont

When the color in the clouds to the southeast faded, I packed up and returned in the direction I had come.  As some views to the northwest came into sight along the unpaved May Pond Road, I stopped to investigate some potential images.  I placed the emphasis, again, on the sky.

May Pond Road Morning, Orleans County, Vermont

May Pond Road Morning, Orleans County, Vermont

May Pond Road Morning, Orleans County, Vermont

May Pond Road Morning, Orleans County, Vermont

From here, I made the relatively short trip to Burton Hill Road, the spot where I’d spent so much time photographing–in less than optimal conditions–on Day 9.  While these conditions weren’t necessarily “perfect” (whatever that means), they were different than those of Day 9, when extremely low-hanging clouds produced a highly foggy atmosphere and restricted long views.

I made my first stop at the top of a hill and shot the same segment of road that I’d photographed two days earlier, but composed the image quite differently.

Burton Hill Road Morning, Orleans County, Vermont

Burton Hill Road Morning, Orleans County, Vermont

I then made my way to the same general location that had caught my attention on Day 9.

Burton Hill Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Burton Hill Road, Orleans County, Vermont

Burton Hill Road Morning, Orleans County, Vermont

Burton Hill Road Morning, Orleans County, Vermont

Burton Hill Road View, Orleans County, Vermont

Burton Hill Road View, Orleans County, Vermont

Burton Hill Road View, Orleans County, Vermont

Burton Hill Road View, Orleans County, Vermont

Burton Hill Road Farm, Orleans County, Vermont

Burton Hill Road Farm, Orleans County, Vermont

Burton Hill Road View, Orleans County, Vermont

Burton Hill Road View, Orleans County, Vermont

It was still fairly early in the morning at this point and I had to make a decision:  begin making my way east, toward North Conway, or commit to spending a larger chunk of the day shooting in northeast Vermont.  It appeared that it would remain mostly cloudy; I’d scarcely seen the sun the entire time I’d been based in Vermont (five days).  But despite what was shaping up to be another mostly cloudy day, I decided to stay in Vermont and revisit the area around Island Pond that I had scouted on Day 7.

I made a quick stop at Long Pond, near Lake Willoughby, before heading north.  I hoped that, given the almost windless conditions I’d experienced at May Pond, I’d be able to play with some reflections.  But, as had been the case on Day 10, there was wind at Long Pond that destroyed any semblance of reflections.  Still, I found a few subjects to shoot.  The unpaved Long Pond Road is in good condition up to and just past the pond, after which it becomes very rough, very quickly.  I drove to the “very rough” point and found some intimate scenes to work.

Long Pond Road Color, Orleans County, Vermont

Long Pond Road Color, Orleans County, Vermont

Long Pond Road Birches, Orleans County, Vermont

Long Pond Road Birches, Orleans County, Vermont

After returning to the main road and beginning my journey north, I occasionally spotted something that caught my attention and I kept pulling off to the side to take a closer look.  Sometimes I pulled out the camera and sometimes I decided against it, but the first scene that captured my attention enough to seriously investigate image-making opportunities included the barn you see in the photograph below.

Autumn Farm, Orleans County, Vermont

Autumn Farm, Orleans County, Vermont

Further along the way I passed a field full of hay bales and I found a place to pull over on the road’s narrow shoulder to make some images.

Hay Bales, Orleans County, Vermont

Hay Bales, Orleans County, Vermont

Hay Bales Black & White, Orleans County, Vermont

Hay Bales Black & White, Orleans County, Vermont

When I reached the junction of VT-5A and VT-105, I made a right on 105, heading east towards Island Pond.  It’s here that the Clyde River forms the dammed Pensioner Pond, and flows into and out of this body of water.  105 crosses the river as it flows out of the pond to the northwest just past the junction with 5A and it was here that I spotted a moose, in the river below the bridge.  Naturally I stopped and spent a good half an hour watching and photographing the moose as he dallied in the shallows below my position.

Moose, Clyde River, Essex County, Vermont

Moose, Clyde River, Essex County, Vermont

Moose, Clyde River, Essex County, Vermont

Moose, Clyde River, Essex County, Vermont

Moose, Clyde River, Essex County, Vermont

Moose, Clyde River, Essex County, Vermont

Moose, Clyde River, Essex County, Vermont

Moose, Clyde River, Essex County, Vermont

Moose, Clyde River, Essex County, Vermont

Moose, Clyde River, Essex County, Vermont

Moose, Clyde River, Essex County, Vermont

Moose, Clyde River, Essex County, Vermont

Moose, Clyde River, Essex County, Vermont

Moose, Clyde River, Essex County, Vermont

The moose was still in the river when I finally left and made the short drive to the public access point for Pensioner Pond.

Pensioner Pond, Essex County, Vermont

Pensioner Pond, Essex County, Vermont

On my scouting expedition several days earlier I had taken note of a stand of young birch trees on the north side of Rt. 105 and in the four days that had gone by these trees had progressed from yellow-green to full on peak, so again I stopped to compose an image or two.

Birch Stand, Essex County, Vermont

Birch Stand, Essex County, Vermont

Just a bit further east the road brushed up against the Pherrins River–a tributary of the Clyde–and, near the edge of a bridge, I found another pleasing composition.

Pherrins River, Essex County, Vermont

Pherrins River, Essex County, Vermont

Another spot I’d found on my scouting trip was located at the intersection of Rt. 105 and Center School Road, a secondary thoroughfare that bends off to the south.  On the southeast corner is a dilapidated barn that I thought served as a strong center of interest.  I pulled off the road and walked around a bit to try to identify the best perspective.  It was a bit on the breezy side here so I had to wait out the wind.

Center School Road, Essex County, Vermont

Center School Road, Essex County, Vermont

Due to the relative lack of fall color in this location I also rendered this image as monochrome.

Center School Road Black & White, Essex County, Vermont

Center School Road Black & White, Essex County, Vermont

I continued east, until I reached the outskirts of Island Pond, where some trees that had been promising in terms of color a few days earlier were now at peak.  I pulled off on a wide shoulder and, near (but not on) private property I walked around with my camera and tripod and produced a series of intimates.

Autumn Intimate, Essex County, Vermont

Autumn Intimate, Essex County, Vermont

Autumn Intimate, Essex County, Vermont

Autumn Intimate, Essex County, Vermont

Autumn Intimate, Essex County, Vermont

Autumn Intimate, Essex County, Vermont

Autumn Intimate, Essex County, Vermont

Autumn Intimate, Essex County, Vermont

By now it was early afternoon and I began the return trip south.  I had seen some signs of clearing skies during the late morning and that continued, incrementally, as I made my way back in the general direction of Lyndonville.

Autumn Hillside, Essex County, Vermont

Autumn Hillside, Essex County, Vermont

When I reached the area around Newark, Vermont, I paused.  I had heard a great deal about Jobs Pond, but hadn’t made the journey over there.  Doing so required traversing some miles of unfamiliar (to me) unpaved roads.  I was now near the closest access point to the pond–Newark Road–so I decided to check it out.  I made the turn off of VT–114 and slowly made my way there.  After a few miles, I saw a sign about road construction and within a few hundred yards I could see that the road was being regraded.  I wasn’t sure if I could get through, but I decided to find out and in short order I came upon a gentleman in a road grader.  He gave me a friendly wave and pulled over to let me through.  I waved back and continued on my way.

After a false start or two, I found myself at the pull-in for the public access point to Jobs Pond in a few minutes and, after seeing the scene, I was immediately glad I’d gone to the trouble of checking it out.  There was a very nice grouping of foreground rocks, a towering rocky bluff on the hillside across the pond and excellent color present.  The only downside was a bit of wind causing some ripples, but even that wasn’t all that bad.

Jobs Pond, Orleans County, Vermont

Jobs Pond, Orleans County, Vermont

I pulled out the long lens in short order.

Jobs Pond Trees, Orleans County, Vermont

Jobs Pond Trees, Orleans County, Vermont

Jobs Pond, Orleans County, Vermont

Jobs Pond, Orleans County, Vermont

Jobs Pond, Orleans County, Vermont

Jobs Pond, Orleans County, Vermont

Jobs Pond Intimate, Orleans County, Vermont

Jobs Pond Intimate, Orleans County, Vermont

I returned to Rt. 114 and resumed the trip south, but made one more stop before reaching Lydonville when a red barn, right off the road, seized my attention.

Red Barn, Caledonia County, Vermont

Red Barn, Caledonia County, Vermont

It was now mid-afternoon and considerable clearing had taken place.  I figured that I was likely to see mostly sunny conditions for the last few hours of daylight.

I had a couple of options:  I could take US-2 east and then make my way south to North Conway.  Or, I could head south via I-91/93 down toward the Kancamagus Highway and then head east to North Conway.  I had taken US-2 west when I drove to Maine on Day 1, and I had crossed the Kancamagus Highway on Day 6.  I decided that the latter option was the better choice, so that’s where I headed.

But as I made my way south on the Interstate highway I remembered that I’d wanted to check out the area around Sugar Hill, New Hampshire.  I had driven through this general area, briefly, as it was getting dark on Day 6 and I knew that if I didn’t do it now I wouldn’t ever really have the opportunity to it again on this trip.  So when I reached the Franconia exit on the highway I took it, and slowly made my way toward Sugar Hill.

I had been told to check out the views on Sunset Hill Road in Sugar Hill, so I made my way there and reached the location about 90 minutes before sunset.  I walked up and down the road several times and stopped on a couple of occasions to pull out the camera.

Late Afternoon, Sunset Hill Road, Grafton County, New Hampshire

Late Afternoon, Sunset Hill Road, Grafton County, New Hampshire

Late Afternoon View, Sunset Hill Road, Grafton County, New Hampshire

Late Afternoon View, Sunset Hill Road, Grafton County, New Hampshire

Late Afternoon View, Sunset Hill Road, Grafton County, New Hampshire

Late Afternoon View, Sunset Hill Road, Grafton County, New Hampshire

From here, I kind of drifted fairly aimlessly and found myself driving down Easton Road, heading south.  I reached a point where a farm, behind a stone wall, spread out on a slope to the east.  The stone wall and a line of adjoining birches caught my eye.  When I went to investigate the spot along the road I could see, across the field, a very intriguing line of birch trees backed by colorful maples.  I wanted to get a closer look, but doing so would have involved crossing a large swath of the field…which was, of course, on private property.  There were no “private property” or “no trespassing” signs present, but it was clearly private property and I’m extremely reluctant to wander around on private property, posted or not, particularly in rural areas.  Instead, I returned to the car for my gear and I spent some time playing with a few compositions, all of them accessible from the public roadside and all of which required some form of focus stacking to pull off.

Easton Road Farm, Grafton County, New Hampshire

Easton Road Farm, Grafton County, New Hampshire

Easton Road Farm, Grafton County, New Hampshire

Easton Road Farm, Grafton County, New Hampshire

Shortly after producing these shots, I was standing there, longingly looking at the elements of the shot I really wanted (the stand of birches and maples across the field), when I saw a very excited Springer spaniel bounding toward me.  She was very friendly, so I let her sniff my hand, and petted her a bit, which made her very happy.  And then I heard the roar of a tractor in the field, looked up and saw it coming in my general direction (on the other side of the wall, of course).  So I waved at the farmer and he waved back, and then killed the engine.  And we engaged in a bit of small talk (he asked if I’d been up to Sugar Hill, etc.) and then I just figured I’d ask if he minded if I wandered out onto the (now plowed under) field to look at those trees.  He said “Go anywhere you like, take all the time you want.”  I said thanks very much, asked him the dog’s name (Erma, if you’re still paying attention), and told him that I was always leery about just wandering on private property.  He said “You’re supposed to post if you don’t want anyone on your property.”  I told him I’d rather be safe than sorry.  He said he understood, “but I mean it; feel free to wander anywhere you like.”  I thanked him again, and he restarted the tractor and continued plowing.  After a few more pats, Erma headed back to the farm house.

I took my gear and headed into the field and with every step, as I approached the subject matter that had caught my eye in the first place, I got more and excited and more thankful to the farmer for letting me roam on his property.

Easton Road Birches, Grafton County, New Hampshire

Easton Road Birches, Grafton County, New Hampshire

As long as I was there, I produced one additional image:

Easton Road Birches, Grafton County, New Hampshire

Easton Road Birches, Grafton County, New Hampshire

I headed back to my car entirely satisfied, sufficiently so that I didn’t even particularly care that it was just about sunset and I had no idea where to go.  I continued south on Easton Road, and basically stumbled onto another farm setting.  This one had “No Trespassing” signs up all over the place, so I was very careful not to stray from the roadside, but there was a character-laden barn and a developing sunset sky and so I just hung out there for a few minutes and tried to make the best of the situation.

Easton Road Barn at Sunset, Grafton County, New Hampshire

Easton Road Barn at Sunset, Grafton County, New Hampshire

And with that, this longest of New England trip photo days came to an end.  I still had a two-hour drive over the mountainous, curving Kancamagus Highway to make to reach North Conway, but that didn’t seem particularly onerous as I reflected on everything I had seen on Day 11.

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Responses

  1. Very nice light and patterns in the early morning clouds. Like the moose captures, too!

    • Thanks very much, Jane.

  2. This was the best day for color, starting with that amazing sunrise at May Pond. I love the reds in the maples because we don’t see much of that in my neighborhood. The photo with the stone wall instantly reminded me of “Shawshank Redemption” when Morgan Freeman’s character goes to find what was left for him by removing a rock in the stone wall. This day might have been long for you, but it was filled with beauty and satisfaction.

    • Thanks, Ellen. It was a long day, but quite a memorable one as well.

  3. Gorgeous as always. Out of curiosity, what kind of shutter speeds were you using in those first lake shots?

    • Thanks!

      Shutter speeds…I don’t have the EXIF data immediately accessible to me, but I was bracketing exposures for possible HDR rendering when I started shooting that morning. The base exposure was, best I can recall, a second or two, at ISO 400. As the light came up I gradually reduced the ISO to base level (100) and then slowly sped up the shutter speed as well. If you remind me, I’ll plan to go back and check the original RAW files and verify the shutter speeds.

      • No worries, that’s good enough, I was just interested in the general approach. I need to take a photography trip (versus the pure travel kind) and break out the tripod.

        • Understand, I was using the fastest shutter speed I could manage, given the aperture and ISO limitations. There was no benefit (given what I was trying to achieve) to using a slow shutter speed; it was slow because there wasn’t very much usable light at the time.

          I hope you get a chance to take that photo trip soon. You deserve it.

  4. Beautiful landscapes and love your Moose shots, Kerry.

    • Thanks very much, Jane!

  5. Kerry more amazing photos. I love all the photos of reflections on the ponds! You got some great ones with fog bringing out the beauty of the landscape. Your photos are a feast for the eyes. You remind me how striking black and white can be. Well done! Thank you.

    • Thanks, Roland! I really appreciate the kind words.

  6. Wow, what a trip! Excellent work to keep the skies dark and dramatic. 🙂

    • Thanks very much, Frank!

  7. I don’t want this series of blog posts to end. I so enjoy seeing all of your New England images. I must admit, I am totally jealous of your moose shots. I travel that area extensively with my camera, and only on a few occasions have I been able to capture moose. 🙂

    • Thanks, Carol!

      There were three occasions on the trip that I saw moose–twice in Maine and the single documented instance in Vermont. I also saw moose something like four different times on my two trips to the Canadian Rockies. On three occasions (including the one instance in Vermont) the subjects have been quite accommodating. (They have to be accommodating for me to get a decent image; I’m no wildlife photographer. 🙂 )

  8. Still catching up on the New England posts, Kerry! The sunrise photos of May pond are breathtaking. As always, your photos of real nature almost venture into surrealism in their beauty.

    • Thanks very much, Lynn!


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