A.M. Foster Covered Bridge, Cabot Vermont

Cabot Vermont is known around the world as the home of Cabot Cheese. But Cabot is also home to a very unique covered bridge that is unblemished by power lines, guard rails or other eyesores. The A.M. Foster Covered Bridge is an authentic reproduction of the Orton or Martin covered bridge currently located in Marshfield, Vermont. The Foster bridge was built in 1988 by Richard Spaulding, Frank Foster, and Doug Blondin, and named in honor of Spaulding’s great grandfather who owned the land on which the bridge now sits.

The Milky Way rises over Foster Covered Bridge in Cabot, Vermont. There are stars,trees,green grass and light pollution visible. The milky way is orange,purple, and white

The Milky Way rises over A.M. Foster Covered Bridge in Cabot, Vermont.

The bridge, located on private property, sits over a pond in the middle of a beautiful field, directly across from the Cabot Plains Cemetery on Cabot Plains Rd, in Cabot, VT. (GPS 44°25’22.0″N 72°16’02.0″W). The location alone makes it a worthy photographic destination in any season and all hours of the day or night. That being said, I strongly suggest utilizing The Photographer’s Ephemeris to help you plan your visit.

Sunrise:  

I have made several trips here to capture sunrise, and have been thwarted by weather each time. However, other photographers have made stunning sunrise images here. Depending on how wide your lens is, the shot is typically taken from the road side so you catch the light reflecting off the side of the bridge as the sun rises over the White Mountains of New Hampshire. You will want plenty of clouds in the sky to provide color and contrast.

Sunset:

The sun will be setting along the iconic Green Mountains behind the bridge. You have plenty of options here. Again, depending on how wide your lens is, you can photograph from the road side and include the whole scene, or get close to the pond and capture the bridge and the setting sun reflecting in the still water.

 

 

Night Sky:

Vermont is blessed with many areas suitable for night photography, and this is one of my favorite. Here the skies are dark and the stars are bright! The location is perfect for photographing the Milky Way, the full moon, or if you’re lucky enough, the Northern Lights. Since there is complete access around the bridge, no matter where in the night sky your subject sits, you can use the covered bridge as foreground.

As I mentioned, the bridge is located on private property but the public is welcome to enjoy the location. Please tread lightly and leave it cleaner than you found it. While in Cabot, be sure to stop by the Cabot Creamery, and keep your eyes open as you travel as the area is a gold mine of old barns and scenic vistas just waiting to be photographed.

I’ll be back to photograph the sunrise, I hope to see you there!

~ John Vose

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New England’s Fall Foliage Geography

As the recent presence of early colorful fallen leaves in our woodlands and wetlands indicates, another New England foliage season is fast approaching. In upcoming weeks, millions of tourists and residents alike will venture across the region to enjoy the spectacle. One way to increase your chances of finding much-coveted ‘peak’ foliage is to simply know the basic forest communities and their species. In spite of its relatively small geographic area, New England has a wide range of natural habitats and their associated forests, which are influenced by elevation and climate. Each of these has its own foliage timing – you’re unlikely to find a southern oak forest at peak in late September, or a red maple wetland ablaze with color in late October. Below is a brief overview of the region’s primary foliage communities (note that peak times are general and may vary depending on seasonal weather conditions).

Red Maple Wetlands

Red maple wetlands may show color before Labor Day.

Red maple wetlands may show color before Labor Day.

Though these aren’t specific to a particular geographic area, I’ve included them because of their distinct timing and bright colors. These ponds, swamps, bogs, beaver wetlands, and streams are generally the first areas where foliage is noticeable. Stressed wetlands may show color as early as late July or August in certain years, and foliage enthusiasts should keep watch from Labor Day weekend onward. Red maples are one of the Northeast’s most common and adaptable trees, which is why they tolerate seemingly inhospitable environments.

 

 

Northern hardwood forests are characteristic of upland regions.

Northern hardwood forests are characteristic of upland regions.Northern Hardwoods

Northern Hardwoods

Regarded by many as the most vibrant foliage zone, this region stretches across the uplands of northern and western New England, including much of interior Maine and Vermont, northern and western New Hampshire, the northern Berkshires of Massachusetts, and a sliver of Connecticut’s northwest hills. Maples, birches, and beech are the primary broadleaf species, and offer a bright mix of orange, yellow, and red hues. On the upper slopes of the high mountains, the hardwoods transition to evergreen spruce-fir, and, on the highest peaks, alpine zones. This is the first of the significant forest communities to reach peak, generally in late September and early October.

 

 

The upper Connecticut Valley of Massachusetts lies within the 'transition' forest region.

The upper Connecticut Valley of Massachusetts lies within the ‘transition’ forest region.

Transition Forest

Befitting its name, this region is a mix of northern and southern New England forest types, where maples, birches, beeches, oaks, and hickories overlap. It includes the uplands of central Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire, the central Connecticut River Valley, the Litchfield Hills of northwest Connecticut, and a portion of southern Maine. Look for peak color here around Columbus Day weekend, after the northern mountains are past peak.

 

 

Oak Hickory

In contrast to the northern hardwoods, oaks and hickories favor milder lowland environments. This zone encompasses most of Connecticut and Rhode Island, along with portions of the Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine coasts. Though not quite as colorful as other regions, these woodlands offer welcome late season foliage in mid-late October after leaves have dropped elsewhere.

 

Late October fall foliage, Nauset Marsh, Cape Cod National Seashore.

Late October fall foliage, Nauset Marsh, Cape Cod National Seashore.

Oak Pine

The sandy, impoverished soils of Cape Cod, southeast Massachusetts, and northern Rhode Island offer the region’s least hospitable growing conditions. Scrub (or ‘bear’) oak is one of the few species adapted to this environment. In addition to the oak groves, watch for colorful marshes and shrubs as the season draws to a close in November.

 

 

~ John Burk

 

John Burk is the author of several books and guides related to New England. See his Amazon page for more information. 
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Good Day Sun. Goodnight Moon. Where Ya Gonna Be?

The Good Old Days – Not

Before computers and smartphones and the internet, we had this thing we called an “almanac” or, more precisely for me at least, “The Old Farmer’s Almanac.” It had all sorts of good things about the sun and the moon and the weather and it was correct at least 5% of the time. Okay, admittedly the sun and moon predictions were good, but it certainly didn’t take into account your exact location, nor plot the next Voyager mission, like a good smartphone will today.

The sun rising directly behind North Tower on Cape Ann's Thatcher Island.  At actual sunrise, it was well to the left of the lighthouse.

The sun rising directly behind North Tower on Cape Ann’s Thatcher Island. At actual sunrise, it was well to the left of the lighthouse.

So in those good old days, I would set out with my film camera and the knowledge gleaned from the “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” and I would do my best to try to figure out where the sun (or moon) was going to rise and set and what its likely arc through the sky would be. Then, I made sure I was wearing my sneakers so I could sprint to the right location when I invariably guessed wrong.

Where Ya Gonna Be?

Today, I stand in front of my tripod, hold out my iPhone against the horizon to see the sun or moon path plotted by time of day and then move until everything lines up with the composition I have in mind. I’ll also check it against the app- integrated compass (with its Google Earth overlay, of course) to make sure my relative position is also correct. It wasn’t an accident that I was knee-deep in Massachusetts’ Scituate Harbor (did I mention tide charts too?) with my tripod placed in the exact location where I could capture the moon behind the lighthouse as it rose and arced away toward the south (see image). Nor was it a coincidence when I placed myself in such a way that the morning sun was directly centered on the top of the North Tower on Cape Ann’s Thatcher Island (see image).

Old Scituate Light a few minutes after "moonrise".  The moon's path is arc upward and toward the right side of the frame as it rises.

Old Scituate Light a few minutes after “moonrise.” The moon’s path arc is upward and toward the right side of the frame as it rises.

Most photographers are familiar with The Photographer’s Ephemeris (TPE) – which also happens to be one of my favorite “go to” apps – but lesser known are the tools that show the projected 2-D stereographic projection arcs and locations of the sun and moon and can even give you 3-D views of the same.

2-D stereographic projection of the location of the moon from rise to set with compass, azimuth and elevation information.

2-D stereographic projection of the location of the moon from rise to set with compass, azimuth and elevation information.

I prefer “Sun Seeker” and “Moon Seeker” for iOS based devices (by ozPDA, click here to go to their website) which use the camera feature on your phone to visually show where the moon and sun are going to be at any given time relative to the horizon. But, there are similar apps for other smartphone operating systems.

3-D visual representation of the sun's path using the smartphone camera.

3-D visual representation of the sun’s path using the smartphone camera.

These tools completely take the guesswork out of determining where to place your camera and whether or not that hideous building under construction on the horizon will ruin your composition. There is some overlap of information among TPE, Sun Seeker and Moon Seeker but each has its own unique strengths and make an unbeatable combination.

Sun's path and elevation presented based on current (or plotted) GPS location.

Sun’s path and elevation presented based on current (or plotted) GPS location.

The only thing the almanac has over any of these apps is: I never cried  like a little baby when I dropped my almanac in the water.

Tom Gaitley

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Water Lilies – Wildflowers Worth Getting Wet For.

The wonderfully wet wildflower

Bright pink waterlily and and an unopened bud.

Of all the wildflowers gracing the wilds of New Hampshire, I would have to say the fragrant water lily is my favorite and most often photographed. They aren’t the rarest, or even all that hard to come by, there’s just something about those floating beauties that brings me to the water’s edge, and further, as soon as I see the pink and white buds emerging above the surface.

Two of the biggest things that attract me are availability and the length of the season.

First off, I drive by a large body of water, the Bellamy Reservoir in Dover and Madbury, NH, that is positively loaded with them. So no searching through the deep dark forest to find them.

 

Beautifully colored waterlilies rise above the lily pad covered surface of the water.

 

Second, unlike a lot of the other wildflowers I photograph, the water lilies are around all summer long. There’s no need for me to check in on my regular wildflower hot-spots, like say for painted trillium or lady’s slippers, to see how they are coming along to ensure I don’t miss their short-lived bloom.

The water lilies are around in all their hot pink and brilliant white glory from late June through early to mid September. Which leaves plenty of time to photograph them.

The most common color, at least as far as the bodies of water where I’ve seen them are concerned, seems to be a brilliant white. But it’s the hot pink ones that really catch my eye, which is why the Bellamy Reservoir is my favorite water lily photographing location. While almost every other place where I’ve found water lilies has nothing but white flowers, close to half the lilies floating on the Bellamy Reservoir are hot pink.

Getting water lilies means getting wet

Hot pink water lilies dot the green lily pad covered surface.

Sure you can photograph water lilies while staying dry on the shore, but where’s the fun in that? Call me crazy, and many have, but for the right flower, group of flowers, or composition, I’ll be the one standing waist deep in the water looking through a camera. And yes, I get a lot of odd looks from the passing motorists and fisherman.

 

Close up of a brilliantly white water lily on a black background

Getting your feet wet

1 – First and foremost, make sure you’ve emptied your pockets of anything even remotely valuable. Cell phones, car remotes, and your wallet would much rather stay dry I assure you.

2 – Get there early, but not too early. Water lilies don’t fully open until later in the morning, maybe an hour after sunrise, so no need to be there at the crack of dawn.

3 – The wind is your enemy. The motion from even the slightest wave you might create, no matter how still you think you’re standing, will create at least ripples on the water. That is going to add enough of a challenge to getting good sharp images. Fighting with the wind is going to most likely be an exercise in frustration.

4 – Which brings me to my next point. Keep the shutter speed up. Don’t be afraid to bump up the ISO in order to achieve a faster shutter speed to freeze any motion caused by wind or waves. Picking a flower or flowers surrounded by a lot of lily pads can help too. The lily pads will help to dampen the effect any small ripples you make has on the flowers.

5 – This is purely for the cool factor. When framing up the shot on a water lily that hasn’t fully opened, while looking through your viewfinder, you can actually see the stamen moving as the flower opens. The first time I saw it happening I was mesmerized. Now I take a little time to watch things unfold every time I’m photographing them.

And now one last thing, you would think with a name like “fragrant water lily” I could tell you how wonderful they smell. Would you believe I have yet to remember to even once stop and smell the flowers?

 

~ Jeff Sinon

 

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Nulhegan Basin and Lewis

Who is Lewis? What is Lewis? Where is Lewis? Lewis is the Holy Grail of the Vermont 251 Club. It’s in the middle of the Nulhegan Basin, of course. But I bet I’m not helping you much. Now you could start Googling those various names or you could let me explain.

View from Lewis Pond Overlook

View from Lewis Pond Overlook

The over 4000 members of the 251 Club are striving to visit all 251 towns and cities in Vermont, some in a single year, some in their lifetime. Most of the places are pretty straightforward to reach; Lewis is the big challenge. Lewis is a town located in the northeast corner of Vermont. The 1910 census had the town’s population at zero.

The Nulhegan River flows southward from Lewis

The Nulhegan River flows southward from Lewis

Lewis can be reached by Stone Dam Road, Lewis Pond Road, or Henshaw Road off Vermont Route 105. It is hard to visit except in the summer and fall because the many roads throughout Lewis tend to be closed much of the year. But if you come with a snowmobile or cross-country skis you are golden.

Fall Foliage in Lewis Vermont

Fall Foliage in Lewis Vermont

Lewis sits squarely in the middle of the circular Nulhegan Basin. Now we are getting somewhere! You know about the Nulhegan Basin right? It all started when a pool of magma formed within existing metamorphic rock … but maybe you don’t really care about what happened next many years ago. Back to today.

Overview of Downtown Lewis

Overview of Downtown Lewis

Located in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont, the Nulhegan Basin is a very unique area. It is low-lying, relatively flat, and roughly 10 miles in diameter surrounded by hills. It is part of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. Its boreal habitats are typical of forests found much further to the north. It is home to many bird species rarely found in Vermont, several interesting bogs including the wheelchair-accessible Mollie Beattie Bog, and Lewis Pond.

Pitcher Plants at Mollie Beattie Bog

Pitcher Plants at Mollie Beattie Bog

Lewis is a marvelous place to visit in the fall, if you don’t mind long, bumpy, dirt roads. Pick up a map at the beautiful visitor center along Route 105 and head all the way in to the Lewis Pond Overlook. A short hike above the tiny parking lot will get you to some fantastic views of Lewis Pond and southward into the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

Lewis Pond from the Overlook

Lewis Pond from the Overlook

The image below is a 15-shot panorama from the overlook.  You can see a corner of Lewis Pond on the far right. The White Mountains of NH are seen in the distance. You can double-click this image to zoom way in and use the left mouse to pan around. You can also use the + and – keys to zoom and the arrow keys to scroll. Please wait for the resolution to download.

If you visit the Nulhegan Basin, be sure to hike to Moose Bog or at least explore South American Pond Road, both of which are across Route 105 from the Nulhegan Basin. Click HERE for more information on these nearby spots.

If you would like to see more photos from the Nulhegan Basin please click HERE.

~ Jim Block

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