Williamstown in western Massachusetts is a small college town near the borders of New York State and Vermont. Its a part of the country where it used to be possible to make a decent middle class wage from the many industrial jobs in town or North Adams, which is a short drive away. Nowadays its economy appears more focused around the college, tourism and second home owners. Mass Moca, a large art museum, is situated in North Adams and well worth a visit. Afterwards the brewery next door is great for a tipple. There are also a great number of hikes and walks along the Berkshire mountains that flank the Williamstown's outskirts. Its this landscape, with Mount Greylock - the tallest mountain in Mass - at its centrepiece, that I had the pleasure of capturing this past December as I visited family for Christmas.
The mountains in this part of the world are relatively small; they roll through the landscape with a thick bristle of trees. There are no jagged cliffs and high vistas to assist with composition and I have found it hard in previous visits to fully capture the essence of the place. Fortunately this year provided some great weather to photograph in - snow, but their air not too cold, and plenty of morning mist for the sun to slowly burn off.
Not far from the house I was staying in, is a beaver pond. Frozen over with a comprehensive sheet of ice and scattered with surface snow, the trees and branches poking through provided some interesting shapes to keep my occupied. I took my Nikon FM loaded with trusty TMax 400 and started trying out some conventional compositions with my 50mm Series E which is ultra light and sharp. I'd forgotten just how good this combination was!
Then wanting to try out some more abstract shots of the landscape I swapped the 50 for the 300mm F4.5 ED AI-S I'd just picked up on eBay for a song. The build quality of this lens is incredible - the focus ring is moves as freely as a wisp of air and it really wasn't too heavy for hand holding. That being said it was hard to keep the shutter high enough to mitigate the shake, something apparent in more photos than I'd have liked, but still the results are very promising. I'll write a little more specifically on this lens in my next post.