|All images from Roads End Farm in Chesterfield, New Hampshire|
One of the exciting things about photography is that there are always new territory to explore. I love the opportunity to discover fresh locations and have found that touring with a camera in hand is the best way to fully appreciate the novelty of travel. It is not by accident that the most interesting and beautiful places to visit are also the best to photograph. The challenge of travel to distant locations is that the window of opportunity to catch interesting light is usually quite limited. I can't afford to return to Zion or Lake Louise 10 or 15 times to capture the perfect sunrise, but I can come back to my local sites as often as necessary to capture the magic and that is the power of coming back.
This weekend I went shooting at my favorite local farm and was freshly reminded of the power of coming back. Roads End is a unique horse farm just down the road in Chesterfield New Hampshire. During the summer it is a bustling girls riding camp, but throughout the year it is home to over 60 horses (and one fat cat) all in a varied and beautiful natural setting. Tom Woodman has struggled in these hard economic times to keep the family farm running and his success has preserved 360 acres of lovely pastures and forest. I return to Roads End at least every week to look for new photographic opportunities. It is an unbreakable tradition for Nellie and I to visit after going to the dump every Saturday morning. The remarkable thing is that on almost every occasion, over the last 8-9 years, I have
found something new and interesting. After all I live in New England; the weather and light is always changing and with over 60 horses as subjects I have yet to find a limit to the varying compositions of fields and fauna. Roads End also features a number of gorgeous pastures and glades which change in light and mood with each season.
I have my habitual favorites, but for some time, I had noticed an interesting, unexplored open glade just across from one of the larger pastures. The glade offered a tempting chance to shoot the horses in among the trees especially in the morning when the warm light knifes through the pines. I had never
ventured there in the past in part because it would involve wading through dozens of unfettered horses, some with serious
dominance issues, and also because it required slogging through yards of ankle deep mud. This weekend, however, I came with the right boots. I left the disappointed dog at home to avoid spooking the animals and made my way across the field. Early in the morning the horses were all anticipating the hay wagon. Their interest in me centered primarily on discovering whether my camera bag contained any hay or apples. The trick was to hang around long enough for the curious to stop nosing my bag and for the more timid to accept that I was not a threat. Once the horses resumed acting like horses the glade became a quiet magical place to experience and shoot. The light wasn't the best, but it was a good day to explore a new part of the farm. I will come back when the light is softer through the mist. After years, it is remarkable that I am STILL finding new opportunities I have learned the power of coming back.
As invigorating as travel can be to our photographic eye, don't neglect the special benefits of staying home. Become intimately familiar with the best of your local attractions. Learn the optimal seasons, light and angles for each location. I have several favorite farms in my region; each has it's own attractions, but even more importantly I have come to value the local farmers as friends and protectors of our region's fragile beauty. I frequently share my images with them and they are invaluable sources of information and perspective. A good relation with landowners and farmers can open up a wealth of special opportunities for photography. It is all part of the power.
Check out my Roads End Farm Set on Flickr for more images
The Farm's Web Site is at : http://www.roadsendfarm.com/