Photography — See What Winter Can Teach You!

The Perfect Time To Learn

Sea smoke near Straitsmouth Lighthouse

Sea smoke rises from the Atlantic Ocean near Straightsmouth Lighthouse thanks to below zero temps.

While I do go out to shoot during the winter months, I’m sure I’m not alone when it comes to being cursed with limited tolerance to cold weather. I definitely spend more time indoors at this time of year due to the drop in temperature and shorter daylight hours. With that said, some might think that my photography skills might stagnate or diminish during the winter months. Quite the opposite actually.

I see winter as the time to turn my cold weather weakness into a photographic strength. There’s always a way to turn what some may consider a negative into a positive. I use the winter months to learn more about my craft so that I can expand my knowledge, continue to improve my skills, and ultimately take my images to the next level.

Best of all, I can do it all from within the comfort of my nice warm home studio.

So what’s my game plan? Here are some areas that I focus on to achieve my winter learning goals. Perhaps they’ll work for you too.

Know Your Camera

Nikon-D300Do you really know all of your camera’s functions and control combinations? Winter is a great time to dig out your camera’s manual and give it a good skim. I bet you’ll come across a control or feature that you didn’t know (or totally forgot) your camera has. If you want to know more about it, but reading the manual makes your eyes glaze over and your brain feel like it’s left your head, don’t quit. Just Google your camera’s make and model, along with the name of the control or feature that’s piqued your interest, and check out the related videos that pop up in the search list. Then bookmark the ones you find most helpful and place them into their own bookmark folder for quick reference.

Tip! For easy, on-the-go reference, save the bookmarks to your cellphone as well. Doing so gives you the info at your fingertips without taking up much usage space on your phone.

Line Up Your Lenses

Take a look at the lenses in your arsenal and ask yourself when was the last time you used each of them? If you have to really search your memory, chances are you might be overlooking a lens that really could add some value to your portfolio of images, or you’re holding on to something that you could sell and apply the funds to another desired piece of gear.

Canon Lenses

Canon Lenses

nikon-lenses

Nikon Lenses

I’m the first to admit that my Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 lens spends far too much time in my camera bag — which is totally my fault and not that of the lens (it’s excellent!).

That lens is now on my “To Shoot With Next List.” I realize I’ve been short-changing myself by not taking advantage of it lately. Best of all, I can certainly use it indoors where it’s warm and toasty. My furry foursome make great portrait subjects.

Overlooked Images

Lightroom Library Module

Lightroom Library Module

Odds are more than likely that you already have shots sitting in your archives that have never been touched or are from photo shoots long forgotten. Winter is a great time to start mining your archives for images that somehow got overlooked. I know I’ve stumbled across more than a few gems. Fellow NEPG member Jeff Sinon wrote quite eloquently about this very subject not too long ago.

Tip! While perusing your archives, I suggest multitasking and adding any missing keywords at the same time. You’ll thank yourself down the road, especially if you are a Lightroom user.

Post Production Tools

One of the items on my winter “To Learn List” is how to program and most proficiently use my new Wacom Intuos Pro Tablet.

Wacom Intuos Pro Medium

Wacom Intuos Pro Medium

The main reason I purchased my Wacom tablet is for digital painting, incorporating textures into my work, and retouching in general. I want to create and edit with as much accuracy and pressure sensitive control as possible. The Wacom tablet will allow me to do just that.

Wacom has many great free tutorials online. I also purchased a great webinar by Dave Cross specifically on how to set up and use a Wacom tablet. It’s nice to always have his videos on hand for quick reference, especially if I want to reconfigure my controls down the road as my skills improve.

New Software

I find winter to be the perfect time to experiment with new software, or commit to learning more about my existing software (i.e. Photoshop Content Aware feature).

Topaz Labs released both Topaz Impression and Topaz Glow this past year, and even offered the entire Topaz Photography Collection for a great discount during Black Friday weekend. The recent arctic air blasts from Canada have been a great motivator to stay indoors and learn more about these great programs, and have allowed me to experiment to my heart’s content. Each product within the collection is available as a free trial download.

Workshops/Webinars

During the past year, I purchased two digital painting workshops by Melissa Gallo (“Painting With Photoshop,” and “Painting 2015 for Photographers”), as well as several online photography-based webinars from CreativeLive. All include downloadable videos that allow me to view the entire workshop/webinar at my leisure.

I always consider winter to be that leisure time for me. I have a dual monitor setup that allows me to view the videos on one monitor while I follow along and practice in real time on my primary monitor in the relevant program (i.e. Corel Painter 2015).

Online Tutorials

My dual monitor setup also allows me to conveniently watch online tutorials of the new features of software program upgrades (i.e. Photoshop CC and Lightroom) while having the same program open on my primary monitor. I love not having to shrink windows to cram everything onto one monitor.

Bottom Line

Those are just a few of examples of what’s on my winter “To Learn List.” We all have our own favorite time of year to get out and shoot. Just remember that what you choose to do on non-shooting days can also improve your photography. After all, knowledge is power.

So let winter empower you. See what you can add to your “To Learn List” and consider sharing your ideas with your fellow photographers. We all might learn something new.

~ Liz Mackney

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The Risk vs The Shot

I can remember my father telling me one of his biggest frustrations about getting older was not physically being able to do the things he was able to do when he was younger. At the time, I never really understood or appreciated that frustration. Now that I am in my mid 40’s, I am beginning to understand. This does tie in to photography, I promise.

My entire adult life, I’ve always felt like I did when I was in my late teens or early twenties. Whether it was working hard or playing hard, I didn’t think too much about it. I used to take a lot of risks for the fun of it and survived doing a lot of (what I view now as) really stupid things. Being that I never felt like I really had grown up, I still tend to do a lot of really stupid things. Like taking risks to get the shot. I don’t condone risking life, limb or freedom to get a photograph, so I’m going to leave out any specific examples where I may have put myself at risk for a photograph.

At this point in life, I’m fully in touch with my own mortality and my fear of injury (or arrest) stops me from going places with my camera to get the shot. You wouldn’t see me climbing to the top of a bridge or up a TV transmission tower now like I may or may not have been known to do when I was younger. How it usually plays out now is that I try to get a shot by doing something that I don’t view as risky and something unexpected happens, or almost happens. I have two examples of my brain wanting to get the shot more than my body was able.

The Broken Tale

The first happened during the winter, and is a lovely two-part tale. Or tail. The long story made short is that I had taken my 5-year-old daughter sledding. I had my camera with me, on the sled, because I wanted to get amazing and memorable sledding images. I had my own cheap plastic toboggan that disintegrated quite nicely when I hit a rock underneath the snow, with my tailbone. I knew instantly that it was broken. At least I got a decent shot of my daughter sledding, right? The shot below was taken as I lay there in agony trying to figure out how to get up.

child sledding

My daughter sledding

I visited my doctor a few days later and he confirmed it was broken and that it was going to hurt for a while until it healed. My appointment was finished just before sunset, and his office is rather close to Pomham Lighthouse, and I had my camera, so off I went. I arrived and noticed the tide was low. “Cool,” I thought, “now I can get right down to the water’s edge!” My common sense didn’t tell me that “Hey dummy, I bet those green moss-covered rocks down there are wicked slippery and you have a broken tailbone,” until I slipped on them. Down went both my hands to protect my tailbone. I got up with holes in my glove liners and scrapes on my hands and while my tailbone avoided a direct hit against the rocks, it didn’t feel that great. But, I was where I wanted to be so I got my shot. Driving home with a re-injured broken tailbone and cuts on both of your palms is not a pleasant experience. But I got the shot, right?

Pomham Lighthouse

Winter Sunset at Pomham Lighthouse

You would think that I would have learned already.

Shoulder, Shins, and Scrapes

As most of you know, I shoot at the ocean quite often. I’m also in the water quite often, usually intentionally. A recent shoot at Point Judith in Narragansett was one of those occasions where I ended up in the water, only partially planning to. I arrived before sunrise and found several other photographers standing in a line in the exact spot I want to shoot from. My options were to stand higher up on the land or stand in the water. The composition from the land was not pleasing to me. I had my waterproof boots on, so I decided I would stand in the shallow water to get my sunrise shots. The water was several inches deeper than it looked. Within seconds, my waterproof boots filled with cold seawater. The thing about waterproof boots is they do a great job keeping water from getting in, but once it does, it has no way out. So now I had what felt like full milk jugs attached to my feet while I was trying to plant my tripod in a good stable location.

Point Judith

Line of photographers at sunrise

That’s when the first unexpected wave hit me. I was standing in water about shin deep and didn’t think a wave could hit me at waist level. I had cold seawater in my ear and all over my glasses, not to mention some good heavy drops on my camera. I’ve been hit by bigger waves while shooting. I checked the lens and filter…clean. Good, I’m not moving yet. I shook the water out of my ear as best as I could and dealt with the large saline drops on my eyeglasses. I fired off a few more shots until the next big unexpected wave got me. I moved back on the shore at this point. I took a few more shots, but again was not happy with them. I decided to go back in the surf.

This time, my trusty boots slipped on a seaweed covered rock under the water. I stumbled as I tried to brace my fall, twisting my torso to keep my camera backpack out of the water. I put my right arm down against a large rock to stop myself from going under. My left leg was wedged between rocks and scraped hard against them as I fell. What I felt immediately where the scrapes on my shin and palm and the burn of the seawater in those wounds. Then I felt the cold water on my entire right side up to my shoulder. Lucky for me, none of the other photographers saw my graceful moves! I pulled myself up and out of the water and back onto dry land. I immediately checked all my gear. Everything was in working order. The shot I had taken right before falling in was the one I had hoped for. I took a few more shots and then packed up for home, after draining the milk jugs attached to my feet of course!

point judith sunrise

Point Judith Lighthouse at sunrise

In the days afterwards, I noticed my right shoulder was sore. Now here I am 2 months later with an upcoming appointment to look at my rotator cuff, all so I could get the shot. It’s unlikely the photo will ever sell to cover any medical expenses. Even if it did, what I potentially lose by having this injury is not worth it.

The moral of the story here is to really know and accept the limits of your abilities if you want to get a shot that may be a bit risky. While you may end up with an amazing one of a kind photo, the risk of permanent injury or worse isn’t worth it.

~ Bryan Bzdula

www.bryanbzdulaphotography.com

www.seekonkscenic.com

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First Impressions of the Tamron 150-600mm

An Affordable 600mm Creates a Buzz

In the early winter of 2014, I, along with a multitude of photographers, was making regular visits to the Sachuest Point NWR to photograph the several Snowy Owls that had taken up winter residence there. We formed a pretty homogeneous and friendly group of photographers and we spent many hours together in cold snowy weather. It was after one of these sojourns that I received a message on Facebook from one of the regulars. In excited terms, he described a lens that a photographer was using at Sachuest. It was a 600mm lens, just out, that produced sharp images, and was affordable at just over $1000.00.

This was a far cry from the $13,000.00+ for the Canon equivalent. I asked if he knew the particulars – make, model etc.? He didn’t, but would try to find out. He never did but, through research, I was able to narrow it down to the new Tamron 150-600mm f 5.6-6.3. I went in search of any info I could find on this new release. It wasn’t long before I started seeing images posted on Facebook that were produced by this lens. The results looked promising. These images were being posted by some photographers whose work I had come to know quite well.

Cooper's Hawk

Coopers Hawk photographed with the Tamron 150-600mm

They were well-respected and accomplished photographers. I figured if the lens worked for them, it would work for me. I started a dialogue with several of them – picking their brains about what they thought of this new product. The biggest advantage was the 200mm that would be added to lenses most photographers were shooting, Canon and Nikon’s 400mm – the extent of Canon’s and Nikon’s affordable telephotos.

Purchase – 3 Month Wait – Focusing Issues

Throughout the spring and early summer, I continued to watch and wait – still undecided about pulling the trigger on purchasing this big gun. In late July, I was finally convinced and placed an order with B&H Photo. I knew there would be a wait. I planned it so the lens would arrive before the return of the Snowy Owls – if they returned at all. In late Oct., I got a message from B&H – the lens had shipped. Two days later it arrived. I put it on the Canon 7D, pointed it out the window and pressed the shutter. It seemed to hunt more than normal before locking on.

Red Tail Hawk photographed with the Tamron 15-600mm @ 600mm, hand held, manual focus.

Red Tail Hawk (600mm, handheld, manual focus)

 

I didn’t give it much thought as the shot was through a thermopane window and the background was busy. I made my first foray into the woods about a week later. The lens continued to have trouble focusing. It would chatter and stutter before locking – if it locked at all. I finished the day shooting manual focus. As the light was less than ideal, I chalked it up to poor light. I waited for a clear, bright day and took it to Sachuest Point NWR. I knew I could find plenty of wildlife to shoot. This would determine if the lens was faulty.

It wasn’t long before I was shooting deer, hawks, etc. The lens continued to fail to focus. I switched camera bodies – same result. The final straw was when I pressed the shutter and nothing happened. I thought my battery had died. When I looked, I had an error message – camera failed to communicate with lens. I switched from the 7D to the 5D and got the same message. The lens was going back.

Photograph of a Bald Eagle in flight from 6/10ths of a mile away. Hand held, auto focus @600mm.

Photograph of a Bald Eagle in flight from 6/10ths of a mile away. Handheld, auto focus @600mm.

B&H Photo Support

While this may seem a negative review, it’s not. The images I got manually focusing were sharp and clear. I liked the lens so much; I hated to send it back. I called B&H and explained what was going on. They were supportive and accommodating. They sent me a UPS label and instructed me to mail everything back. I asked if it would be another 3-month wait. They said no. I would go to the top of the Queue and would get a replacement when they got the next shipment.

Three weeks later the new lens arrived. The first thing I did was put it on the 5D, point it out the window, and push the shutter button. It focused and locked – not stuttering or hunting to focus. I had gotten the lens just before Christmas, so I didn’t have a lot of time to shoot with it. I did take it with me when I did some Christmas shopping-– not for shopping but for a side trip to the Seekonk River in search of Bald Eagles. While I did spot some eagles, they were far off. I took pictures anyway just to get a feel for the lens and see what it could do. I’ve posted some of the pictures I took with this lens that will help demonstrate its capabilities.

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird photographed during fall migration at 600mm, handheld

 

Myths vs. Facts

Lens is too heavy to handhold:

At 4.4 lbs. the lens is heavy. However, it is not too heavy to shoot handheld. All the pictures in this blog were shot handheld on a Canon 5D. I’m no giant, (5’ 8” and 155lbs.), and I had no trouble shooting it handheld. I’ve also done 2 hikes of 4-5 miles carrying it and had no problems. In a static situation, where you might be standing around for a period of time, a tripod or monopod would, most likely, work best.

Lens needs a lot of light:

One thing I’ve read over and over is the lens needs a lot of light to produce a sharp, clear image. It is a relatively slow lens (5.6-6.3F). The Coopers Hawk that is pictured here was shot at f8, 1/200th sec., ISO 1000, handheld, in poor lighting. The picture, I think, dispels many of the knocks against this lens, including performing in poor light.

Images are soft beyond 500mm:

Zooming out beyond 500mm with the Tamron 150-600mm causes softening of the image once the lens goes beyond 500mm. Both the Coopers Hawk (poor light) and the Red Tail Hawk (bright light) were shot at 600mm, handheld. Not sure what people think is soft but I don’t see either of these images as soft.

Snowy Owl Photographed with the Tamron 150-600mm @ 300 yards.

Snowy Owl @ 300 yards, auto focus, on a monopod.

Sweet Spot:

Just about every telephoto has a sweet spot – an f-stop range where they’re sharpest. From what I’ve learned from the Tamron, f8 seems to be its sweet spot. If you need a faster shutter speed bump up the ISO and leave the lens in the f7.1 – f8 range.

Auto focus speed and accuracy:

Because the initial lens I received had auto focus issues, it was my main concern when the new lens arrived. I put the new lens through its paces testing the auto focus. After my initial disappointment with the original lens, which failed to auto focus at all, I have to say that I’m impressed with the auto focus when it works properly. The replacement lens focused fast and locked on the subject without hunting for focus. It will hunt with a busy background or tree branches in the way, but no more so than the Canon 100-400L.

Image stabilization:

The lens has IS built into it. The IS works well and I find the IS motor quieter that the IS motor in my Canon 100-400L.

Build quality:

I’ve read some mildly negative comments on the build quality. It is not encased in a metal body like the Canon L lenses. It is a plastic (I’m not sure of the actual material) but it is sturdy and solid. The controls are in the same relative location as the Canon controls. It has a lock to keep the lens from creeping when you carry it. It doesn’t lock throughout the zoom range, but only closed down at 150mm. The lens hood fit easily and locks in place without fighting it.

Northern Harrier photogrpahed with the Tamron 150-600mm at 600mm from over 100 yards away.

The harrier was photographed in fading light at over 100 yards @600mm.

Zoom:

I find the zoom mechanism a little snug. The Canon 100-400mm has a collar with which you can regulate the zoom tension. The zoom control collar on the Tamron is at the outer end of the lens and I find it a little awkward to zoom while shooting. The Canon 100-400L is a push-pull zoom which makes it easy to zoom while shooting. The Tamron zoom control is a rotating collar. I find this the awkward part, as it’s hard to turn the collar and keep a bird in flight in the viewfinder.

Manual Focus:

Manual focus with the Tamron is easier than it is with the Canon 100-400L. The manual focus ring is right in front of the lens mount. I find that I can manually focus by spinning the focus ring with my thumb without taking my hand off the camera. It’s much easier to manually focus than the 100-400L.

Benefits:

Ask any wildlife photographer what they need most and I think the major portion of the group would say “MORE GLASS”! Most of us can’t afford the price tag of the Canon or Nikon lenses that go beyond 400mm. (In case you haven’t investigated they’re $10,000.00+ for the most part). That leaves many of the masses shooting at 400mm or less. The one thing I’ve noticed with the Tamron in the short time I’ve had it is the benefit of the extra 200mm. Both the Coopers Hawk and the Red Tail Hawk pictured in this blog were unconcerned by my presence. That was because the extra 200mm allowed me to stay beyond their comfort zone. I was outside the range where they would consider me a threat. This is a great benefit to both the photographer and the subject. The photographer can get his picture and the bird can remain undisturbed.

Phoebe photographed with the new Tamron 150-600mm at 600mm hand held.

Phoebe photographed with the new Tamron 150-600mm @ 600mm.

Overall, I feel that the Tamron 150-600mm is an excellent lens for the price. It is obvious by the wait time for the lens that it is immensely popular. Tamron found a niche in the market where a great demand existed. If you haven’t read it yet, Sigma is releasing a 150-600mm soon. I believe I just read that you can pre-order this model now. It will retail for around $2000.00. It has a few options the Tamron doesn’t, including a port so you can update firmware in the lens. I have several Sigma lenses and I have a feeling this will be as popular as the Tamron. How good it will be, we won’t know until it gets in the hands of wildlife photographers.

~ Butch Lombardi

www.eastbayimages.com

 

www.butch-lombardi.artistwebsites.com

 

Hancock New Hampshire, A New England Time Machine

Hancock Meeting House

Meeting House Lights, Hancock, New Hampshire

The small town of Hancock, New Hampshire, is a classic working New England village which is also a time machine into the past. By “working” I mean that it is more than just a New England show piece. Most of the buildings that line its Main Street are on the National Registry of Historic Places, and it has all the necessary prerequisites of a lovely New England

Hancock Main Street

Hancock Main Street Bustle

village: an iconic white Meeting House, a village green with the required war memorial and gazebo, and a classic old country inn. But a stroll down Hancock’s informal walkways reveals an active community with the emphasis on life and social interactions and it even has a 10-story tall radio telescope (I’ll let that settle in for a while). Hancock is located North of Peterborough, NH, at the intersection of routes 136 and 123. It is a bit of a drive from my home near the Vermont border, but I love exploring the town center and the countryside whenever I can. In my travels photographing throughout the Monadnock Region and Southern Vermont I feel I have come to know a great deal about my home territory, but whenever I choose to focus on an individual community I am always surprised by how much more there is to learn. That has certainly been true of my explorations around Hancock.

For more images of Hancock, check out my blog Hancock Photo Album.

Hancock was first settled in 1764 and was incorporated as a town separate from Peterborough in 1779. The town was named after John Hancock who was the first governor of Massachusetts and the president of the Continental Congress. He was also a successful business man, a notorious smuggler and the most attention seeking signer of the Declaration of Independence. Hancock owned over 1800 acres in Hancock, but otherwise devoted little attention to the town. Inexplicably, the village folk kept the name, although there were rumblings about a switch to “York.”

Hancock is a great place for New England photography in all seasons with opportunities both in its village center and the lovely surrounding countryside. Let’s explore.

The Village

The majority of the historic building in Hancock’s center are compactly arrayed along its Main Street.

Hancock Meeting House, Hancock, New Hampshire

Hancock Meeting House, Hancock, New Hampshire

Hancock Meeting House

The Hancock Meeting House was built in 1820 and has recently been undergoing extensive renovations. The tower has an original 1820 Paul Revere bell which weighs over 1000 lbs. and continues to toll hourly day and night. The Meeting House can be nicely pictured from across the town green, along the street or from across Norway Lake which sits at its back. Happily there are many angles that are not scarred by ugly wires. Some years ago the town voted to bury the wires in key locations. Thank you, thank you! You may still need to wait for parishioners or pesky workmen to move their vehicles for the classic perspectives, but that is the price of an active, vibrant community.  The Meeting House tower has an original 1820 Paul Revere bell which weighs over 1000 lbs. and continues to toll hourly day and night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Listen to the Hancock Meeting House’s Paul Revere Bell

 

Read about the caretaker of the Meeting House clock from Yankee Magazine.

 

 

 

 

 

War Memorial

Remembering, French and Indian War veterans. Hancock Green.

Town Green

The small village green is across the street from the Meeting House. The green features a classic gazebo and a war memorial with the names of residents who served in conflicts dating back to the French and Indian War. Photographically, angles can be found which include the features of the green with the Meeting House in the background and right now there is the bonus of a colorfully illuminated Christmas tree in the gazebo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Hancock Inn

Hancock Inn

Hancock Inn, Hancock, New Hampshire

The Hancock Inn is the oldest original inn operating in New Hampshire. It was opened in 1789 by Noah Wheeler and served travelers with food, accommodations and of course libations. Over the years the inn has seen over 15 owners and has been known as: the Fox Tavern, The Jefferson Tavern, Patten’s Tavern, the Hancock House, the Hancock Hotel, and the John Hancock Inn. Franklin Pierce, the only U.S. President from New Hampshire, was a good friend of one of the inn keepers and spent many nights at the Inn when he was a US Senator. The Inn’s history and tradition of hospitality is now warmly maintained by Jarvis and Marcia Coffin who bought the Hancock Inn in 2011, and have supervised a couple of important renovations. The inn

Rufus Porter Mural, Hancock Inn, Hancock, New Hampshire

Rufus Porter Mural, Hancock Inn, Hancock, New Hampshire

now is a wonderful mix of modern accommodations and classic old New England charm. Each room is uniquely decorated with period furnishings and many have unusual wall paintings and stenciling. In the Amos Porter room you can see the restored, full room mural (circa 1825) by the artist, inventor and journalist Rufus Porter. Whether in the dining room or tavern the inn offers wonderful food. On a recent visit I had an especially sumptuous Pumpkin Soup and I enjoyed meeting the owner’s Golden Retriever as he went on his evening rounds carefully searching for any treats that might have accidentally found their way to the floor.

The Hancock Inn is beautiful inside and out, but photographically it can be a challenge. The facade is often blocked by parked cars, but there is much to see in the details along the wonderful front porch. Don’t forget the inside as well. Time permitting, the friendly staff will be proud to take visitors on a tour of this wonderful example of traditional New England warmth and hospitality.

 

Hancock Market

Hancock Market, Hancock, New Hampshire

Hancock Market

Across the road from the Inn is the Hancock Market. Locally owned, the market has a surprisingly broad selection of local products as well as all the other staples that you would expect in a classic New England country store. Of course, while you are there or at the Inn you should remember to pick up a few copies of my New England Reflections Calendar.

 

 

Fiddleheads

Fiddleheads Café, Hancock, New Hampshire

Fiddleheads

Fiddleheads Cafe is a great place for a quick snack or lunch. You can also pick up something to bring home for dinner. The Cafe displays local art on its walls. While I was getting caught up on Hancock for this article, I stopped by Fiddleheads and got signed on again for a show of my work starting on December 22 and continuing until January 19th, 2015. Just one more reason to visit.

 

 

House on the Green, Hancock, New Hampshire

Historic Houses on the Green, Hancock, New Hampshire

The Architecture

To fully appreciate the special character of Hancock’s center, it is necessary to take the time to slowly stroll its Main Street. The houses, alone or in combinations, make wonderful subjects for photography. Almost all of the structures are on the National Registry of Historic Places and by concentrating on the classic buildings and their detail, the modern world can be made to melt away and you can step into New England’s classic past.

 

Pine Ridge Cemetery, Hancock, New Hampshire

Autumn Stones. Pine Ridge Cemetery, Hancock, New Hampshire

Pine Ridge a Cemetery

Pine Ridge Cemetery is located west of the Hancock Town Offices and is the oldest cemetery in the town. A stroll through the grounds reveals the stories of many of the town’s earliest settlers as well as many revolutionary and civil war veterans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Surroundings

Ten Below Dawn, Hancock, New Hampshire

Ten Below Dawn, Hancock, New Hampshire

Hancock’s attractions go far beyond its Main Street. The town has abundant farm land and wild areas. It has a number of lakes and ponds including Nubanusit Lake to the west and Powder Mill Pond on the east. At just over 2,000 feet, Skatutakee Mountain is its highest point. Photographically Hancock is a great place in which to allow yourself to get lost as you wander down its many winding back roads, but for a more structured natural experience you can head to the Harris Center for Conservation Education.

 

 

 

The Harris Center

Cobb Hill

Cobb Hill, Hancock, New Hampshire

Since 1970 the Harris Center has been dedicated to environmental education, conservation research and land preservation. Every year their school-based educational program collaborates with schools throughout the Monadnock Region to provide environmental education experiences for students both in the classroom and in the natural world. The Center is also a local land trust which has been responsible for the conservation of over 21,000 acres as part of a 33,000 acre “Supersanctuary” of clustered protected land in 8 towns. The conservation lands provide critical wildlife habitat while a system of hiking trails promotes a sense of connection to the land for the members of the community. Come by the Harris Center’s headquarters for more information about their programs and to pick up trail maps.

 

Harrtis Center

Harris Center Entrance, Hancock, New Hampshire

County Bridge

County Bridge, Contoocook River, Hancock/Greenfield, NH

County Covered Bridge

What’s a New England village without a covered bridge? The County Covered bridge was built in 1936 and connects the towns of Hancock and Greenfield across the Contoocook River.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory

Radio Telescope, Hancock, New Hampshire

Hancock Radio Telescope, Hancock, New Hampshire

 A Window on the Universe

As I was doing my research on Hancock, I came upon a reference to the town’s nearly 10-story tall radio telescope. What!  Yes, Hancock is home to a giant radio telescope which is one of ten dishes scattered across the United States, stretching 5,000 miles from Hawaii to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The “Very Long Baseline Array” is the largest astronomical instrument in the world. When the signals from all ten telescopes are coordinated, it acts like a single dish nearly equivalent to the diameter of the earth and can focus on a point in space no larger than the size of a football sitting on the moon. The VLBA gives scientist the opportunity to study many aspects of the far reaches of our universe, including the nature of black holes and the process of planet formation in distant galaxies. Closer to home it helps to pinpoint the location and behavior of potentially threatening near earth asteroids, and the positions of the telescopes are so precisely known that they are used to monitor continental drift. All this from Hancock.

The telescope is located on land leased from the Sargent Camp in a small clearing in the woods off of Windy Row. The observatory is easily approachable down a short dirt road. On my first visit the station operator was leaving for the day, but he invited me into the fenced area for a closer look. At that time the dish was in its upright resting position, but on another visit I was able to watch it move as it oriented toward a new observational coordinate.

That’s Hancock, New Hampshire, a time machine which allows visitors to look back on our nation’s colonial past, but also provides a glimpse beyond to the origins of our Universe. What a deal! Drop by sometime and don’t forget to bring your camera.

Links:

Hancock Photo Album

More Hancock Images on “Getting it Right in the Digital Camera”

The Hancock Inn

Fiddleheads Café and Catering

The Harris Center

The Very Long Baseline Array,  National Radio Astronomy Observatory

 

~ Jeff Newcomer
partridgebrookreflections.com

Last-minute Gifts from The Guild

Last-minute Gifts from the Guild for the Holidays

This is my last-minute gift to you!

I’m offering a gift code on Fine Art America for 25% off any artwork on my FAA gallery between today and December 24th. So if you have thought of giving a gift of artwork then this is a perfect time.
Photography Prints
The code is HLXVCD which you can put in as you are filling in the purchase.

~ Jeff Folger

 

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