our place

Male mallard on our pond

Male mallard on our pond

Warren, Connecticut. This was my submission to The New York Times’ A Moment in Time project this morning.

We have a pair of mallards that come to our pond to mate each year. This year they’re sharing the pond with a pair of wood ducks as well but today the mallards were here. Just after I took this the male got agitated and flew away.

Guess who’s coming to dinner?

Guess who's coming to dinner?

Warren, Connecticut. We were watching the NewsHour and I kept hearing this noise from the backyard but didn’t pay it much attention as it was raining out and the rain makes noises on gutters and things around here.

Then I stood up and this is what I saw, exactly this view at this scale. I yelled something and Anne turned around and gasped. I ran to the basement to make sure the cat was inside (she was, thank god) and then up to the office to get camera. Quickly (and stupidly) put 300mm f/4 on (should have left 24-70 on to get whole bear) and ran downstairs. It was obvious I couldn’t get him through the window so I had to go out on the deck. I was not happy about this, it was raining and this is a very large bear, much larger than I thought we had around here. I snuck out on the deck but he saw me, so I quickly squeezed off a few bad shots and ran back inside and locked the door (he could have beaten it down in 3 seconds). He, in turn, lazily got down and walked into the woods.

Anne was all worked up “did you get him, did you get him” and I’m thinking “crap, I’m just glad to be alive.” Did I tell you, this bear is big. How big? This feeder is six feet off the ground (I hang them from trees on string to keep squirrels off but not high enough it seems) and he’s sitting on his butt here, lazily having his dinner. If he stood up full height he’d be, well, bigger.This ain’t no nature show. This ain’t no zoo shot. This is my backyard!

Trees in fog

Trees in Fog

Warren, Connecticut. The trees in our backyard are shrouded in fog again and now that I’ve realized the photographic possibilities fog offers I’m delighted. Fog both softens a scene and creates a limited color palette which appeals to me in the same way Chinese landscape watercolor washes do. I think I could become a "fog watcher."

Note: this was taken last year but the scene is much the same right now. I like this image better than the ones I just took so I’m posting it.

Maple in wet snow

Maple in wet snow

Those of you who live in the Northeast US know, we’ve just had and will continue to have a very wet snow. We had about ten inches of it here in NW Connecticut.

Wet snow is beautiful because it sticks to branches and the resulting visual landscape is very much like these new “countour-faded” jeans I see women wearing (very sexy) that seem to amplify the three dimensionality of their legs. Wet snow amplifies the light/shade of a branch, seemingly a photographer’s dream.

There are two issues with wet snow: it’s hard to move, clearing our driveway took me 3 hours and I had to start early so Anne could get to school; and the weight of it on tree limbs can cause damage, breaking limbs and sometimes toppling trees, hopefully not on houses.

I walked around the house every few hours knocking wet snow off of fire bushes, pines, and low lying maple branches, just to relieve them of the weight. I managed to work in this single shot of our small swamp maple in the backyard before I got some of this heavy snow off of its spindly branches.

Anne’s tire tracks

Anne's Tire Tracks

We had a light dusting of snow the other day and I was taking pictures of the process of opening the box containing my new PowerBook (those pics and commentary/review coming soon to a weblog near you) and after my wife Anne left for school I noticed the wonderful tire tracks her VW Golf made in the snow. She backed up so gracefully (that’s her), turned left, and zoomed off the tracks made a wonderful pattern. Unfortunately, the sun was low enough so that the shadow of trees across the road crossed the shot. Waiting until the sun cleared the trees would have melted the snow (and it did) so this was as good as it got. Still, I love that pattern. Makes me want to fly over parking lots or truck stops after new snow falls.

Raccoon in tree

Raccoon in Tree

Anne looked out the window while drinking her morning coffee and noticed a young raccoon climbing a maple next to the house. There is a suet bird feeder hanging off a branch of this maple and my guess is that he was thinking about doing a marine commando action: get above suet and slide down cord holding up suet feeder ending up right on top of it and then eating to his heart’s content. However, he chickened out and I caught him on his way down. Very handsome fellow, don’t you think? And, limber.