The banner photo is a 4 shot autumn panorama of Bristol Pond in Addison County, Vermont. The view is looking south along Hogback Ridge, along the Bristol Cliffs, and out over the Champlain Valley.
Bristol Pond is named Lake Winona on USGS maps, but many locals refuse to use that name as rumor has it that a local politician renamed the pond after his daughter, and the map makers found it easier to fit the name on maps. The pond is shallow, one of the headwaters of Lewis Creek, and has been expanded by beavers in the past. It is the home of a number of rare plants and animals and the breeding home of a family of Sandhill Cranes, an extremely rare bird species in Vermont.
The photo was taken with a Nikon D90 with a Nikkor 18-200 VR lens. To get the view I climbed a small lightning struck oak tree.
The background is a heavily Photoshopped picture of sap-sucker drilled apple bark. The original image has been cropped, desaturated, softened, had the curves adjusted, and had several filters applied in an attempt to come up with an interesting, but not too distracting background.
The original photo was taken in southeast Vermont near Grafton with a Nikon D80 and a Nikkor 28-85 lens.