Turners Falls And The Mohawk Trail

As mentioned here many times, I was a student at Fitchburg State College, now Fitchburg State University. The institution boasts a world renowned Communications Media, and Photography department. Professor Peter Laytin (www.peterlaytin.com), author of the book Creative Camera Control, studied under Minor White, and is considered to be one of the true pioneers of infrared photography. The campus is on the foothills of The Mohawk Trail, a historic Native American Trade Route, and represents the gateway from Central to Western Massachusetts.

I took a drive a few weeks back, almost 70 miles one way, and arrived in virtually another world. Turners Falls, Massachusetts, which is on the Mohawk Trail, and is in Western Massachusetts, and in on the Connecticut River. It is a village that is part of the town of Montague. it is SO far out that you can hear FM stations from Albany, NY, which I listened to in the car when I was there. The drive there is truly spectacular, as Route 2 and the Mohawk Trail narrows down to one lane, as it winds near, and over, the river.

The view from the bridge.

The view from the bridge.

Once arriving in Turners Falls, I am reminded of a world that time forgot. The quaint downtown area almost looks like a smaller, cleaner, Beacon Street in Boston. This kind gentleman, working at The Montague Reporter, the local newspaper, saw me with my D300, and gave me some hints as to where to journey to and photograph-

"I know where you should go to photograph..."

“I know where you should go to photograph…”

He was not kidding. Walking back through downtown, I found some spectacular architecture-

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Vintage brick.

This collection of gorgeous buildings, known as The Power Town Apartments, features some breathtaking architecture-

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Power Town

On the way back over the bridge, I came across this gorgeous view, of a frozen section of The Connecticut River. I have not done digital landscape in a while. This might reignite the passion-

Frozen Tundra

Frozen Tundra

Leaving now, of course, I cannot wait to return. With the next blog article, and, eventually, another visit-

Soon to return.

Soon to return.

Digital Renaissance

I recently have been shooting a lot of NEF ( Nikon’s RAW format) photographs with the Nikon D300. The size and depth of the minimally processed files allows for lots of latitude and adjustment before the conversion to a jpg. Shooting a jpg in camera does have benefits. Shooting sports, for example, where a faster frame rate is desired. Despite what magazines like Popular Photography, and many professional/advanced digital photographers say, that “you must shoot RAW” cliché really does not hold up under all circumstances. But, for a static image, where speed is not the objective, shooting in RAW can be a great option, particularly if you are going to pull the file into tools such as Photoshop, or Lightroom. And, you can work there around the somewhat limited dynamic range of digital photography, and change your exposure, white balance, and take advantage of the many options that the Camera RAW tools provide. Additionally, clone stamping and healing brushes tend to be much more powerful and precise with these files, as opposed to working with in-camera native jpgs.

Downsides? The files are huge. And, they cannot be natively viewed by many applications or web solutions. And, they do take slightly longer to capture in the camera. Yes, you wil indeedl notice this if you try any continuous sports shooting.

These were taken recently at Dodge Park in Worcester, And did the B&W conversions in Lightroom, and used the DXO Film Pack 3 tools. Film Pack 3 allows the photographer endless B&W, color negative/chrome slides, and cross processed film emulations, right down to the grain. It will have an impact on exposure, so don’t choose a filter such as Kodak Tri-X, and expect an exact replication, without a bit of trial and error. Still, a lot of fun.

Sun setting over the park.

Sun setting over the park.

Had I taken the above shot with a film camera, it is likely that the sun would be rendered more roundish, as opposed to a slightly overexposed mass. Still quite happy with the results, after some burning and dodging.

Stove Overpass

Stove Overpass

Lightroom will indeed recognize the chip information of modern day Integrated Circuited lenses, such as the Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8, and the other modern day DX lenses. That is maybe the best DX lens Nikon has made, and they sell a ton of them, despite the rather steep price tag. If the lens suffers from any flaws, it is noticeable barrel distortion and keystoning, especially when you shoot wide. In Lightroom, you can apply profile-based lens corrections, which will take into account the focal length used for the shot. The results are straight vertical lines, which do not bow, or suffer from awkward looking geometry. Brilliant!

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No, the trail is not named after the blogger.

The temperature outside was about 8 degrees F, and it was almost physically impossible to take lots of shots. Shooting in RAW can be a lot like shooting film, though, so as one has a tendency to make each shot count, as opposed to the spray and pray approach that shooting in jpg seems to lend itself to. There are fun, and practical ways to use digital photography, as another tool in the bag.

Spring is on the way. Arthur’s Spring Trail sure hopes so.