Mad River Moretown Ruins

Yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of travelling around Vermont again in search of things to photograph. The clouds overhead were robust and thick with texture, alternating from slightly overcast to dense pillows of blue. The perfect day for many photographic pursuits!

I started mid-morning and set forth toward Middlesex. With no other plan in mind than this, I traveled this way and that, but to no avail. Wandering in search of photographic inspiration is certainly a different endeavor than making and enjoying photographs and if you're committed to walking away with inspiring photographs than one does not always lend itself to the other.

Thankfully, I wasn't worrying about end results. I was determined to enjoy the day. That being said, it can be hard to hold to this ideal when in reality you love making photographs, so...eventually I set toward a new goal. Instead of wandering about, I decided it would be better to travel toward at least one photographic experience. The photo you see above is the result of that decision.

Just as you head south out of Moretown you can see down the ravine into the Mad River which, on this day, was expansive considering the melting snow and heavy rains. I had ventured this way in the past and casually spotted these old ruins but had to pass them by for one reason or another.

I parked on the side of the narrow road where the locals make use of a not so finely crafted but serviceable rope swing and made my way down the road intermittently choosing which side of the road to be on and whether to hop the guard rail for my own safety and the convenience of oncoming cars.

I then started scoping the scene. How best to capture these ruins? Were there any vantages from on high?

The truth of the matter is, even if there had been, I wouldn't have stayed there for long. One of my favorite aspects about photography is exploring. I like getting into the mix, moving this way and that and looking for new and interesting angles on something that other people may not make the effort to find. Anyone can stand on the side of the road and snap a few photos with a semi-decent telephoto lens, and they can even be rather artistic and skillful in this approach, but it is rarely my style.

Before long, I am clambering down the side of the hill, stepping over thick and brittle reeds. There is little to grab to and if I slip I may be going for a bit of a tumble. I choose an approach that has a landing half way down. Sometimes limiting the damage should the worst occur is all you can do. Thankfully, I don't fall, and once I'm at the bottom it is time to start exploring in earnest.

There's a methodology to my searching now. I've learned over the years that if you're not methodical in your approach you can easily disrupt and disturb what would have been a great photo. So, here's what I do: First, I minimize my impact. I step on rocks instead of plants, mud, or sand. I try not to put weight on leaning trees, and in the event of things being covered in something whether it is rain, dirt, grime or anything else mutable I caution myself against touching any of it. Second, I work my way in. I choose more distant photos with a variety of telephoto, standard, and wide angles to capture the details I am looking for, and then I move progressively closer paying attention to all the same mutable details; you never know when you'll notice something on the way out you missed on the way in.

Ward's Upper Mill, Moretown, VT. Photographed: 4/19/2019, f11, 1/30s, ISO 100 on a Rokinon 12mm/Sonya6000

For this particular picture, the smooth sand and lapping waters contrast with the heaviness and mystery of the crumbling stone and crete pressing in and presiding over. Many such remnants of an earlier era have been tagged by more modern day humans, tainting the image with harsh strokes, vibrant colors, and offensive images of this or that and thankfully this location is largely devoid of such damages. One small touch on the concrete face is almost artful and adds to the mystique of this tranquil image. Most of all, the question for any adventurous soul is, "Where does that tunnel lead?"

I'll leave that for you to find out.

Thanks for joining me. Until next time, stay safe. Explore your world. And enjoy being alive. This is arguably the only life you get and time is always passing by. What will you do with your time?

Best Regards,


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Dream Anchor Photography

Williamstown, VT 05679