Tag Archives: landscape

A bug’s life captured in Macro

These praying mantis or mantid just emerged moments before from their egg case.   Mantid's or praying mantis are terrific hunters and predators in the insect world.

Just saying HI!

Exploring my garden with my macro lens allows me to capture a world that we rarely notice, until we come face to face with it. (THEN! we run screaming) Most people love to get up and close to butterflies or dragonflies and I’m no different. I also wonder about all the rest of the insects that from day-to-day, visit my garden.

I love getting in close and personal with a macro lens and seeing the details of what the human eye can’t discern. I find their eyes to be incredible with their complexity and beauty.  I also wonder about their life cycle. I mean we generally catch insects in one phase of their life cycle or another by virtue of being in the right place at the right time. (What about the rest of the summer?)

Now I know the praying mantis may not be your favorite subject but if you want you can reproduce what I did by ordering a larva of any species that you find pleasing. This article will be mostly about setting up and capturing a macro image of a Praying Mantis and my results.

Considerations for using a macro lens or substitute

I’m not going to delve into the technical jargon about ratios and resulting images that you can read on Wikipedia if you are so motivated. Simply put, Macro photography produces photographs of small items larger than life-size.

I will simply assume you either have a macro lens or want a macro lens because you want to render small objects large enough to fill the frame. Also, if bugs are not your thing, flowers, toys, flora and fauna can be your subject.

There are three ways to accomplish macro photography:

  • Using a setting on your camera or lens that permits you to focus closer than normal (produces pictures that at best simulate a macro image). It’s not much better than taking your camera in to the minimum focusing distance and then cropping the resulting image.
  • The next better option is an extension tubes. you can get good results with extension tubes which you place between your camera body and the lens. Sometimes you lose auto focusing ability or stabilization (if you had it in the first place), but if you are on a tripod, and able to manually focus, then it’s not an issue.
  • Lastly, you go and plop down the cash for an actual macro lens. I don’t care if the name says Sigma, Nikon or Canon; it’s merely a lens capable of rendering reproduction ratios greater or equal to 1:1.

How I set up to capture the life cycles of the Praying Mantis

The reason I became interested in the praying mantis was I had winter moths eating my maples and oaks around my yard and since I abhor using pesticides; I wanted a more natural method of reducing the winter moth population. So I went to a nearby green house and they suggested taking home a praying mantis ootheca. (egg casing) I bought two ootheca and I placed one on a bush outside and the other was attached to a tall branch in a terrarium I had built.

I desired to capture the mantises from birth until I released them and I found out that there are all sorts of problems in keeping them alive, such as feeding.  They are carnivores, and if you don’t feed them enough they will eat each other. So I released them in batches during the first two weeks. (Here is More info on caring for them)

My macro set-up

These praying mantis or mantid just emerged moments before from their egg case.   Mantid's or praying mantis are terrific hunters and predators in the insect world.

Camera on tripod waiting

Terrarium: I went to Home Depot and bought couple sheets of Lexan sheets and clear flexible caulking to attach the sides and a bottom. I cut three sections with a fourth being translucent. Next I put a layer of dirt on the bottom and planted some weeds from the yard to see if they would grow in the terrarium.

I knew that the nymph’s would leave the ootheca  around July 1st. So my job is to now sit and wait. My camera sat on my tripod and I placed two flash units on each side of the container.

These praying mantis or mantid just emerged moments before from their egg case.   Mantid's or praying mantis are terrific hunters and predators in the insect world.

Translucent panel

Translucent panel: I placed a sheet of plastic that would soften the flash by diffusing the light and would add fill light in the container. You may be wondering about the Captain lying down below the camera… Believe it or not, it was him staring at the terrarium that let me know something was happening.

Camera: My camera is the 50D (nothing fancy) and my lens is the Canon 100mm L 2.8 IS macro lens. To control my lights I use my pocket wizards to fire my tandem flash units. (Let me know if you want an article on using off camera flash controls)

Tripod: absolutely necessary to getting sharp images. Luckily they aren’t speed demons so once you focus in, you are good. Also you will need to up the ISO because to get a better DOF (Depth of Field) you will have to balance the shutter speed, ISO and Aperture.

A bit more info about why DOF is important. Macro lenses tend to be very shallow on DOF so to make sure you have more of the object in focus you need a greater aperture. I try to get to between F8 to F16 of greater and even at F16 if will be a very shallow DOF but manageable. This is why I have flashes, because of light fall off. So blending all these factors are necessary.

The big day

Macro of mantid nymphs emerging from egg casing

Macro of mantid nymphs emerging from egg casing

Please remember the nymphs are only about 3mm in length so spotting them and keeping them in focus is tough. What you will see, are strands hanging down and this tells you that they are leaving the egg casing.

Now the fun begins because almost all the insects I can capture and bring to them are bigger than them but I found these bright green nymphs on my garage door, so I captured a few of them each morning and I bring the terrarium outside and open the lid to try to quickly get these flying insects into the container without releasing them or the mantids… I assume you can also see why I did this outside. J

food supply

food supply

Also there are about 60 or more of the mantids running around inside so I was a witness to their predatory nature as they will indeed eat one another if they have nothing else. So within a few days, I took the container outside and shook out about half of them onto my flowers and bushes. Within a week and after releasing most of them I was down to a manageable five mantids.

I continued to bring bugs to them and they were getting bigger. One in particular was getting very large and I was able to capture the molt from the 1st instar to the 2nd instar phase. This is where the old skin is shrugged off and they come out a translucent bright green.

Macro of Mantid molting off the old skin

Macro of Mantid molting off the old skin

This may have been a female as she grew even larger at this point. I also noticed that some of the other 4 mantids were disappearing, so I have to assume she didn’t find my food supply sufficient.

Macro of mantid coming home for fall

Macro of mantid coming home for fall

I soon released her also to my garden. You may be wondering if this is the end of the story. Well as you can see here, the autumn had arrived and at our back door my wife had placed a garland of fake fall  foliage and I spotted an unusual object in the bright colors. Yes one of my mantids had come home. If you’re wondering why I didn’t bring this one survivor in and keep her over the winter (it can be done) my wife put her foot down and said no… :-)



Jeff “Foliage” Folger

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Posted in Insects, Lenses, Macro, Scenic New England Also tagged , , , , , , |

Why I Don’t Do Weddings

Do you shoot weddings?

That question is asked to me fairly often, and of most of my fellow landscape photographers. For many of us, myself included, the answer is a respectful no. Sure, I’ve brought my camera to weddings where I’ve been invited as a guest, and I tried to take the best shots I could without interfering with the hired professional. I even give the bride and groom a copy of all my photos, because I’ve been an invited guest. I’ve even had compliments from the bride and groom that they liked some of my images more than the ones from the hired photographer. That still doesn’t make me a wedding photographer. In this article, I will try to go a little further into the reasons why many of us landscapers don’t do weddings. I’ll also share a few images that I took at weddings as an invited guest.

I snuck this photo from my seat in the church.

I snuck this photo from my seat in the church.

But your pictures are…

…so beautiful. Thank you, but there is a huge difference between photographing a landscape and photographing an event. Most folks don’t realize this. The standard assumption is the fancy camera and some gorgeous sunset photos means you can capture that same beauty of people in the most important event of their life. That is an incorrect assumption, sorry to say. I will often make this comparison: If you needed an appendectomy, would you go to a podiatrist for the procedure? I’m certain they could get the job done, but you would be in much better hands going to a doctor who specializes in appendectomies. A doctor who has done the procedure dozens of times and has a reputation for being a consummate professional. The same holds true for photographers. I have never photographed a wedding. I have zero experience posing people of various shapes and sizes to make them look their best. Weddings bring a huge amount of stress, not only for the bride and groom, but for the hired professionals. We’ve all heard the term “Bridezilla.” I cringe when I have to deal with an overbearing person. Photographing a wedding is best left to a professional who has the experience, personality, wits, and knowledge to do the job correctly.

Capturing an image like this without getting the way of the pro can be difficult.

Capturing an image like this without getting in the way of the pro can be difficult.

People Persons

A big part of photographing weddings (and other events) is that the photographer needs to be a people person. Your success as a wedding/event photographer relies on this skill as much if not more than abilities behind the camera. You need to be able to interact, sell yourself, be able and comfortable posing people and giving direction. You need to be able to work under stressful situations, such as dealing with Bridezilla or the dreaded Mother of Bridezilla. Many landscape photographers, myself included, prefer solitude and not dealing with any of the aforementioned things. Call me an introvert if you will, but that is generally how I do my best creation. When I am alone with only the sounds of the wind, surf, and birds, in the fresh air in the warm light of the early or setting sun, or under the stars, is when I tend to do my best creation behind the camera.

As a guest at a wedding, it is always best to take candid shots like this, instead of trying to compete with the pro for the formals.

As a guest at a wedding, it is always best to take candid shots like this, instead of trying to compete with the pro for the formals.

We’re Trying to Save Money

This is another one I’ve had mentioned to me. “We’re on a tight budget, the prices some of the photographers are charging that we’ve looked at are outrageous, so we thought we’d ask you.” I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I beg your pardon if I’m insulted. The implication there is that because I’m “only a landscape” photographer that I’d somehow be more affordable than a “real” wedding photographer. I’ve had this exact conversation with other landscape photographers who’ve been asked the same questions, and every time we’ve been in agreement. If I were to photograph a wedding, I’d charge what a wedding photographer charges. Why, if I’m not a professional at it? See the “People Persons” paragraph for some insight. :) In addition to that, by undercutting the competition, you’re potentially hurting the entire industry. Hurting good people who make their living from wedding photography.

This is what I'd rather shoot anyday over a wedding!

This is what I’d rather shoot any day over a wedding!

I would ask anyone who is looking for a wedding photographer, look carefully at the images of the photographer you are thinking about asking. If you see all landscape, seascape, or milky way type images, chances are they are not the photographer for your wedding. I maintain friendships with several wedding photographers in my area who excel at what they do, so I will always be glad to refer someone to them.

~ Bryan Bzdula




Fine Art America






Posted in Candid Photography, Events Also tagged , , , , , , |

Shoot Like You’re Shooting Film

Is Digital Making Us Careless?              

We live in a world of instant gratification, with the world at our finger tips. Supersized meals, houses called McMansions, cars that park themselves and cameras that are obsolete before we can even fill up the first memory card. From what I’ve observed over the last 15 years, digital has taken photography down the same road — if a little is good then a lot is better.

From The back of The Closet

Unopened box of Kodak Ektachrome color slide film

1982 roll of Ektachrome slide film

The catalyst for this post has been sitting on my closet shelf for over 30 years. Every once in a while, it appears out of the recesses of the closet to remind me of what once had been. It’s an unopened box with a 36-shot roll of Ektachrome color slide film inside. The price tag is still on it, $8.76 in 1982 dollars. That is what got me thinking.

The Cost of Doing Business

If this were still the days of film, you would have to go out and buy a roll of film (memory card for those of you born after the dark ages) before you ventured out. On that roll would be 36 shots. That was a big roll. If you wanted to save money you bought a 20-shot roll. So your allotment for the day was 20 or 36 shots. The price in today’s dollars for the same 36 shot roll… $21.75.

What Have I Got?

Essential tools of the trade in 1982.

My Nikon FG alongside an unopened box of Ektachrome color slide film with its 1982 price tag

Then you would have to get it developed (“Photoshopped” in a lab). This would cost about the same as the roll of film so figure another $20.00. So now you’ve spent $41.75, taken 36 pictures, and you have no clue if anything is any good until they come back from the lab in about a week.

The Gift of Film

This was the environment I spent 30 + years shooting in. When digital came along, it freed us from the creative bonds we were tied to through film. However, shooting film did leave me with one gift I have always been grateful for. I tend to shoot digital like I’m shooting film – like I don’t have a memory card that holds 2000 pictures. I always shoot more like I have a 36-shot roll of film.

Whale boats, dockside.

Two of the Charles W. Morgan’s whale boats

How Many Clicks?

I began to notice this when I’d be shooting with other photographers. At the end of the day some would mention shooting 1000, 2000, or more frames. I’d look and I’d be lucky if I had shot 200. I get the feeling that some people shoot so many because they subscribe to the theory that “there must be one or two good ones in those 2000 clicks.” I believe this leads to complacency and less time trying to get it right in one or two frames and hoping to get it right in 1000 or 2000 frames.  On a 16-day trip to AZ and UT, encompassing 10 National Parks and Monuments I took 1500 shots. I’m sure there are some people who took that many before lunch on the first day.

One of only about 6 shots I took that day at this location.

Sea Smoke

Less is More

In a look back at some of my award-winning shots I found that they were produced with a minimum of clicks. “Sea Smoke” (3 gallery awards) was part of about 6 or 7 shots I took at that location that morning.  “Cardinal in a Snowstorm”, Yankee Magazine’s 2012 Winter Photography Contest winner, was one of about 30 shots I took that morning. “Longboats” (Best in Show, Warren Summer Art Festival 2014) was one of only 2 shots I took of the longboats. “Sunrise on the Magalloway River” (1st Place Photography – 2010 Warren Summer Art Festival) was one of 5 shots I took that morning when I stopped along the road to shoot the sunrise through the fog over the Magalloway. The same holds true for the rest of my photos that have earned awards.

MAgical moment on the Magalloway River captured in one of 5 frames I took at this location that morning.

Sunrise on the Magalloway

Lesson Learned?

The lesson here is to slow down, take your time to compose and evaluate what you are shooting. Get it right in a few frames instead of a few hundred frames. For one thing, it will get you away from the computer and long hours of reviewing and editing in Photoshop. I think you will also find that your composition and exposure will improve if you are more frugal with your clicks. Your camera will also thank you for only banging the mirror 200 times, instead of 2000. Who knows, you may even come away with an award winner.

~ Butch Lombardi



Posted in Camera Equipment, film, Photo Techniques, Photography Technology, Scenic New England Also tagged , , , , , , |

The Subtractive Magic of Photography

“Additive Magic adds to something that is there, multiplies it or turns it into something new. Subtractive magic removes elements of physical reality” (Source: Sword of Truth Wiki)

Thanks to “The Big Bang Theory” and the power of the all-knowing wikis, I can confidently quote from a source about a fantasy novel series and not worry about revealing my inner geekdom to everyone. For the record, I don’t speak Klingon or Tolkien Elvish languages, though I would like to.

I can’t remember where I first read about this, but someone essentially presented the concept that painters are additive artists and photographers are subtractive artists. This idea that photography is subtractive magic really resonated with me and reminded me of the wizards’ additive and subtractive magical abilities in the Sword of Truth fantasy book series.

"Ember Light" (Bass Harbor Lighthouse): I was hoping to convey the serenity of this scene without the distraction of everything around me at the time.
“Ember Light” (Bass Harbor Lighthouse): I was hoping to convey the serenity of this scene without the distraction of everything around me at the time.

Art Is Magic

To me, art can be magical in its role of conveying emotions and ideas. So, I like to substitute the word “art” for the word “magic” in the above quote, to partly describe the artists’ process: “Additive art adds to something that is there, multiplies it or turns it into something new. Subtractive art removes elements of physical reality.

An oil painter or watercolorist starts with a blank canvas and a scene before them and adds the elements they want to include to convey their vision as they paint. As a fine art photographer, I do almost the exact opposite. If I placed artists on a spectrum of “art magic” then painters and illustrators would be on the additive end and photographers and sculptors would be on the subtractive end. Graphic designers would fall somewhere in-between.


Most of my time in the field is spent composing an image in a way that isolates the idea /emotion /story that I am trying to convey from the distracting elements in the scene before me. I am more like a filter of the world’s art than a creator of original art. In essence, I let the scene pass through me and I distill it; stripping it of the unwanted and unnecessary elements to arrive at the essence of my vision.

In the field, I am always careful to minimize my impact on the environment around me while pursuing my subtractive vision. So, I try to position myself and my camera to avoid things like ungrounded tree limbs or branches from shrubs and ground cover intruding into the frame. From time-to-time, I might use my snowshoeing pole or tripod leg angled into the ground in such that it physically holds a branch out of frame. Or, I may shift my perspective lower so a distracting signpost is hidden behind a mound of snow or a beach dune.

In this image, I didn't physically remove anything during post (the wire/utility poles remain) but when composing I framed it in such a way that people standing to my left were not in the picture - giving the impression that I was there all alone.
In this image, I didn’t physically remove anything during post (the wire/utility poles remain) but when composing I framed it in such a way that people standing to my left were not in the picture – giving the impression that I was there all alone.

During post processing, I may even physically remove (i.e. subtract) more features – such as telephone wires, signage, photo-bombers and cows jumping over the super moon. I can do this because I’m not bound to the ethical standards of a photojournalist and that gives me a lot of freedom to remove all evidence of the cow jumping over the moon.

During post, I "subtracted" the telephone and utility wires from the mainland to the island in this image. This image is suitable as fine art, but couldn't really be used in a fact-based article about Nubble because it misrepresents the actual reality.
During post, I “subtracted” the telephone and utility wires from the mainland to the island in this image. This image is suitable as fine art, but couldn’t really be used in a fact-based article about Nubble because it misrepresents the actual reality.


Literally and Figuratively

Beside the literal, there is a figurative element to the subtractive nature of photography as well. For example, in my image above of the often photographed Bass Harbor Lighthouse, I didn’t need to remove any people from the frame because everyone was considerate and respectful of each other’s space. But, mentally it was a whole other story. If I had been alone, enjoying the serene nature of the sunset, then creating that image would have easy. But, the picture of all of the people on the rocks behind me tells the real story of that moment: tourists, photographers, and entire families with children playing on the rocks – along with all of the associated noise and ruckus you would imagine. I had to take a deep breath and work to isolate my mind from everything around me as I composed my shot and created my own internal serenity.

While "Ember Light" above presents Bass Harbor Lighthouse as a serene moment, this is what was happening behind me at the time. Also, take heart in the fact that when a landscape photographer "snaps a photo" of people, it's mostly not going to be that good because all the camera settings are geared toward tripod and longer exposurses shots! (that's my story for the poor focus and I'm sticking with it!)
While “Ember Light” above presents Bass Harbor Lighthouse as a serene moment, this is what was happening behind me at the time. Also, take heart in the fact that when a landscape photographer “snaps a photo” of people, it’s mostly not going to be that good because all the camera settings are geared toward tripod and longer exposures shots! (that’s my story for the poor focus and I’m sticking with it!)
"The Eye of the Tourist"
“The Eye of the Tourist” I had subjects in my viewfinder, but didn’t realize the tables had turned and I had become the subject of a photographer until the moment passed.

Fair warning though, sometimes this process of mental isolation can prevent you from seeing other moments develop. In my image “The Eye of the Tourist” for instance, I had my intended subjects in my viewfinder but didn’t realize I had personally become the subject of another photographer until the moment passed. Fortunately, I think, this resulted in a stronger image – but that isn’t always the case.

So, next time you are out there in the field composing an award-winning shot, you can think about how you are simply a filter of the world around you – using subtraction to create art.  But, I may be completely wrong about this. You may actually be an additive artist since you are adding (pun intended) your unique and personal piece to the world’s collective art portfolio – and THAT is always a good thing because this world needs more artists.

Tom Gaitley

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Posted in Ethics, Landscape, Peoplescape, Photo Techniques, Photography Style, Post Production, Scenic New England, Sunrise /Sunset, Technique Also tagged , , , , , , , , , |

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 Café, Hancock, New Hampshire


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.


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

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