Troy Night Out, 11.28.2012

An old friend of Laura’s, Amanda Rogers, was in town to play at Design It Together for Troy Night Out. Check her music out, but if you catch her live you might hear a bonechilling rendition of Creep. She followed The Midnight Society who are the only folks I’ve seen (yet) to add both kazoo and stylophone to their set. Enough links for you? No? Well turns out Amanda Rogers is also a Star Trek: TNG character too. There goes my mind.

Water Street, Troy NY

Amanda Rogers at Design It Together, Troy NY

Design It Together, Troy NY

Uncle Sam Garage

Uncle Sam Parking Garage, Troy NY

I’m realizing that a lot of my photography is moving away from large sets of single subjects in one shoot toward a more “snapshot” approach that fits into a much broader context of long-term bodies of work. I’d still like to show some of that work here though, so this is that sort of experiment.

Lark Fest and Pearlpalooza 2012

Hey! It’s been kind of quiet here lately, hasn’t it? Sorry about that. Hopefully you got to check out some of the stuff that’s been keeping me busy, namely Lark Fest and Pearlpalooza, two of the outdoor music festivals here in Albany. Lark Fest is in fact billed as the largest street festival in New York. Is that possible? That depends on what your definition of “is” is. I miss the ’90s.

Lark Fest 2012, Albany NY

Lark Fest’s music lienup this year was, at least on paper, not that exciting. Guess what, this guy up here was excited, so I could be wrong.

Lark Fest 2012, Albany NY

Yeah if there was any Dubstep it would have been at the silent disco, but hey, reprazent. See those clouds? I hated those clouds all day.

Lark Fest 2012, Albany NY

All Over Albany posted about this tattoo hearse.

Lark Fest 2012, Albany NY

There were breakdancers with casually jaunty shadows.

Lark Fest 2012, Albany NY

Balloons! Spongebob and Elmo balloons! It wouldn’t be an Albany festival without them.

There’s mere in a short slideshow.

Pearlpalooza was full of WEQX heavy-rotationers including Matt & Kim, local band done good Phantogram, and Robert DeLong who puts on an impressive one-man show even though I’m not positive everything he does on stage has anything to do with music? Still he’s an impressive drummer. Those were just on the main stage though! The local stage had good stuff too including Mirk who also has an excellent drummer. And a saxophone. If only they could fit a giant bottle of Jägermeister into their set.

Pearlpalooza 2012, Albany NY

Speak of the devil, there’s Mirk, and and giant bottle of Jägermeister!

Pearlpalooza 2012, Albany NY

I didn’t find the “Future UFC Stars” tent but apparently someone did.

Pearlpalooza 2012, Albany NY

There was a lack of seating.

Pearlpalooza 2012, Albany NY

Except for the best seat in the house! Let’s hope the United States Postal Service sticks around for at least another year.

Pearlpalooza 2012, Albany NY

Guess what, it rained. A lot. Sort of during the show. I’ll give a shout out here to the Victory Cafe who had the best awning around. Seemed like folks stuck around to enjoy the music even in a torrential downpour. Good for them.

As usual there’s a slideshow here too. Okay, I know, this is not exactly what you expect of concert photography. Well guess what, my buddy James has you covered. I think he did a better job than the press photographers. You tell me.

2012 Artists of the Mohawk Hudson Region

I’m pleased to announce that I have been awarded the Albany Center Gallery Board of Directors Juror’s Award in the 2012 Artists of the Mohawk Hudson regional. It’s a huge honor and I extend my appreciation to everyone who helped organize the show and all involved on the ACG board. You can visit the exhibit through September 8, and there will be a “show and tell” night July 17, at 8pm. Please stop by, the space is excellent and all of the art on display is wonderful.

Dundas Castle, Roscoe NY

Dundas Castle, Craigie Clare NY

This is going to be quick, as it’s another site I visited some time ago and haven’t had the time to write up until now.

Dundas Castle, Also known as Craig-e-Claire, in Roscoe, also known as Craigie Clare, New York, is an unmistakable structure along an unassuming river in southern New York. If you can find the road that runs along the Beaverkill, you can find the castle. I use the world “castle” liberally; this was a house built to look like a castle, in the same way Disney movies look like real life.

Dundas Castle, Craigie Clare NY

I’m not sure there’s much to say about this place. It was supposedly built by an immigrant in the style of an Irish castle, for his wife who eventually went insane. While the general outline was finished it was never lived in, the family having never come together. There are lots of ghost stories about this, which I don’t totally believe; if you’re curious, here’s a good overview.

Dundas Castle, Craigie Clare NY

As the home was never actually lived in, it was mainly barren in a way that our typical sites aren’t. It was obvious that this was a sterile place from the beginning, which was a bit odd. The “castle” itself was expansive, multiple floors with dozens of rooms plus dining halls and servants’ quarters. We visited during winter so underground areas were frozen over. I didn’t get the same feeling of history here as in other sites we’ve visited; nobody actually lived here, so the only signs of use were from previous visitors, mainly vandals.

Dundas Castle, Craigie Clare NY

The architecture is exquisite, with lots of arches and gothic touches. Some of the exposed areas are fortified with crenelated walls and towers, and the masonry is remarkable.

Dundas Castle, Craigie Clare NY

Dundas Castle, Craigie Clare NY

Overall this was not one of the more exciting sites I’ve visited. It’s easy to find, and thus often visited; we ran into two other groups while there. Vandalism has taken its toll and as it was never used, there’s no real story here. Still, it’s an interesting bit of history in southern New York, one man’s attempt to translate the majesty of old world construction to New England. If you’re in the area, it’s worth driving by to check out.

Dundas Castle, Craigie Clare NY

You can view a slideshow of my photos, as well as photos from Sebastien, our partner for the trip DB, Through Z’s View, Brain NY, and Paul Takes Photos. Enjoy!

Tamarack Lodge

Tamarack Lodge, Greenfield Park NY

Going through the archives, I realize I’ve never posted about my 2011 visit to Tamarack lodge with Sebastien and James. It’s unfortunate that I’m posting about it now because the property sustained a massive fire in April 2012, leaving our photos a particularly morbid memory, moreso than most abandoned sites I’ve been to.

Tamarack Lodge, Greenfield Park NY

There are many news stories easily Googleable about the fire, of which this is only one. Apparently 30 structures burned, which from a firsthand visit I assume is the vast majority of the property. The new owner is charged with arson though at this time I don’t know the outcome of any litigation. Just before the fire, the Western Mohegan Nation, who claimed ownership of the land, filed for bankruptcy. I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist, but you can Google the place yourself.

Tamarack Lodge, Greenfield Park NY

I really don’t know too much about the history of the property, though it’s square in the borscht belt, with the classic bungalows, fallen into disrepair when we visited. Tamarack is part of the history of the Catskills along with the other famous hotels, but their time has come and gone. You can read about this in other, more detailed articles, but in short the rise of quick continental and intercontinental travel doomed the Catskill vacation destinations which depended on travelers from New York City and New Jersey.

Tamarack Lodge, Greenfield Park NY

Honestly, this was just one more abandoned site I was invited along to. It was one of the more interesting, but I understand the case of the Borscht Belt and the site didn’t hold any particular significance to me until it burned. I’m most regretful for the folks who have memories of being there in its prime, who will never have the opportunity to relive that; as long as these abandoned structures stand there’s still some vague hope they can be rehabilitated.

Tamarack Lodge, Greenfield Park NY

So here are some photos of the Tamarack as it was, shortly before it was gone. But I think is this is unfair, it shows a dilapitude that ignores the site’s grand history. My brief journey on the abandoned grounds in no way conveys the joy and wonder of those who walked the halls and lawns in its prime. I’m very sorry it’s a place we cannot credit to New York now.

Tamarack Lodge, Greenfield Park NY

There are plenty of photos of the lodge online. For the short list, I suggest checking out James, Paul, and Darren‘s sets, and of course my own slideshow. If I missed you, feel free to leave a link in the comments.

Small Things on Vroman’s Nose

Nope, not a post about boogers. Sorry.

Way back in 2010 we visited Vroman’s Nose when there was snow on the ground, so what better place to strike out for during spring? I expected a mild, gorgeous day full of baby bunnies and nesting pairs of birds flitting about; I got a sun-baked, windy cliffside with no trace of Peregrine Falcons. Not a problem though, a perfect day for a picnic, and you know what I like almost as much as birds that eat other birds? Moss. Maybe it eats other moss, I don’t know.

Packing a macro lens, I was looking down more than I was looking up. Anywhere a bright patch promised enough sunlight for a decent exposure, I stomped off, heedless of deer ticks, for a close up view. When you’re looking for details, the world changes in a way, and you notice things you’d never noticed before. Quick note: you can click on any image to go to the flickr page, where you can see larger versions, which have much more detail. I suggest it.

Vromans Nose, Middleburgh NY

Like this moss. Guess what, I am really bad at identifying moss. I can point out club moss, because that’s easy and relatively nonspecific. This is not a club moss. This is a fruiting body, I think; you can see the bed in the slightly less magnified photo below.

Vromans Nose, Middleburgh NY

This amazes me, it looks like some alien forest. Avatar? Don’t need that, looking close enough at what we already have is crazy enough.

Vromans Nose, Middleburgh NY

This, another moss, looked to me like a rolling sea, or acres of grain being blown by the wind. I’m repeatedly surprised by how our world on a small scale can often look like our world on a large scale. Then again I always thought the orbits of electrons around an atom’s nucleus resembled the orbits of planets around stars and satellites around planets, plus I didn’t pay a lot of attention in chemistry class.

Vromans Nose, Middleburgh NY

These curly little mosses were near the ones above (actually you can see one of the above mosses at the bottom). Both blanketed a large rock, most likely successional species after lichen colonized it. I explained this phenomenon in an earlier post about Dyken Pond.

Vromans Nose, Middleburgh NY

Most interesting were the above… I don’t know. This must be some kind of fruiting body, but to me it looks more like the Sarlacc that swallows Boba Fett in Return of the Jedi. That’s at a little over 1:1 (see below), so that central green stalk is about 1cm tall, for reference.

Vromans Nose, Middleburgh NY

The vegetation near the cliff of Vroman’s Nose is adapted to punishing winds and relatively cold temperatures. The macrobiology consists mainly of hardy trees; twisted krummholz near the edge, with some hardier deciduous varieties mixed with evergreens a little further in. Those trees are uniformly covered with (what I believe are) liverwort, along with some mosses. The liverwort is the dull, leafier structure above; they’re easily mistaken for lichen (by me). Liverwort tends to thrive in moist conditions, which makes sense here when you realize that the rough tree bark collects moisture in the form of dew and may secrete its own moisture as well. The moss seems to be along for a free ride, conveniently.

Vromans Nose, Middleburgh NY

So many leaves were budding, they made excellent closeup subjects. I have no idea what kind of plant this leaf is attached to! But it looks awfully nice and fuzzy, right?

Vroman's Nose, Middleburgh NY

Like other high-altitude, competitive local environments, Vroman’s Nose has lush beds of wild blueberries (or these may be huckleberries, hard for me to tell), which should blossom soon and produce tiny, amazingly flavorful fruit in late summer. If you camp in the higher elevations of New York, collect some of these for breakfast pancakes. Trust me. For now, they give some pleasant ground cover.

Vroman's Nose, Middleburgh NY

I’m coming to grips with my own issues with heights; as I’ve said before, it’s not heights I’m afraid of, but falling. It’s not uncommon for rescues to be performed, and I don’t want to know how painful it is to fall far enough to need a rescue. Still, I went near the edge for a few photos, which is more than I did last time.

To get into gear talk for a minute, I’ve discussed inexpensive macro solutions and macro photography while hiking before. Since this was a low-impact hike, I brought along a dedicated lens and packed an all-purpose zoom. The macro photos here were made with a Canon FD 50mm f/3.5 Macro lens, adapted to the modern EF mount (think of it as the granddaddy of the current EF 50mm f/2.5 Macro). The trick here is that unless the adapter has an optical element, slowing and degrading the lens, you cannot get full infinity focus with an FD lens. For macro photos, I’m not concerned about infinity focus, which makes it a perfect inexpensive solution; $30 or so for the lens and $15 for the adapter. Since the adapter then acts as a thin extension tube, at maximum magnification (including the original dedicated FD25 extension tube) this gets just over 1:1 reproduction. For dedicated macro shooting, this is the setup that I’m happiest with after three years of experimentation — but it still doesn’t quite match up to a modern lens designed for the Canon system.

Vromans Nose, Middleburgh NY

Here’s the thing; I am generally dismissive of macro photography. It’s often a cheap thrill, photos of flowers simply for the fact of the super closeup, not for any real consideration of the subject. A very “look at me” kind of photography. I consider myself a (very) amateur naturalist, so I justify these photos as studies of local flora and fauna. Do I know what the insect above is? No, but I’m fascinated by the way it’s adapted to blend in with trees in its habitat. Look at the very large version and the antennae look like tiny individual beads strung together. I am not into macro photography simply because it looks cool, but because I’m trying to examine and understand the world around me.

Vroman's Nose, Middleburgh NY

So that’s another trip to Vroman’s Nose. My last note is this: if you’re coming from Albany, don’t take I-90 or Rt 88. Those are the easy ways to get to Middleburgh, but if you spend some time with a map and look at Rt 146 or any of the other backroads, you’ll drive through some quiet country with amazing scenery. Get a gazetteer and enjoy New York!

If you want someone who is much better at finding and describing the small, seasonal things in our Capitol Region, check out Saratoga Woods and Waterways. If you want to know things about microbiology you will subsequently not want to know, I heartily recommend The Artful Amoeba. You can also see a slideshow of allll my Vroman’s nose photos.