Grafton Notch State Park

Grafton Notch State Park is located near the Sunday River ski area and the New Hampshire border. I recently made an exploratory trip there looking for some open valley areas so I could take some mountain shots. Unfortunately, since the area is heavily forested (as is true throughout Maine) the best views are from Route 26 that cuts through the park. The max temperature was around 80o F. There was a threat of afternoon showers and since it was a weekday there were few people in the area. Although black fly season is upon us I had no problems with them (though I wore light colors, had repellent, and a head net); it was pretty nice. I’m also happy to say I hiked the Appalachian Trail (well, about a mile). I photographed with my medium format film camera.

Grafton Notch State Park

I’m planning a return trip in the near future to hike up a couple of the lower summits to get some shots of the Grafton Notch and the mountains. Park signs indicated that bears are prevalent on the trails and that hikers should make noise prior to trail rises or curves so as not to spook a bear. If confronted by a bear, it’s best to hold your ground, make noise, and spread your arms (the same applies to mountain lions in Rock Mountain National Park). It’s also good to have bear spray, which is now on my list. If all else fails, you are supposed to use whatever is at hand and fight the bear–yikes!

If you’ve been to this park please leave me a comment about your experience. As always, you can find more of these photos at my on-line gallery.

The White Waters of Essex County

I recently visited friends from Rochester, New York who rented a farmhouse in the Adirondack Mountains State Park. This is the largest park in the lower 48, greater in size than Yellowstone, Everglades, Glacier, and Grand Canyon National Parks, combined. Its boundary is shown on maps by a blue line that includes both public and private lands. The Adirondacks are geologically active and continue to rise.

This was my longest trip since the pandemic began.  Traveling from Maine through New Hampshire and Vermont, the Green Mountains in the latter provided the more picturesque views as I wound my way through. Crossing the lower end of Lake Champlain on the bridge of the same name, I entered Essex County, New York, and made my way up to Elizabethtown, making the trip from Portland in about five and a half hours with two stops.

After lunch we did some exploratory hikes and had grandiose plans to shoot sunrises and the Milky Way, but alas, we were thwarted by clouds. We also had two days of spring snows, sometimes approaching white-out conditions. The result was fewer photos than planned. Most of the snow was gone a day after it ended, however.

View from Otis Mountain (cell phone shot)

As it turned out, the best photography opportunities were the surging white waters from the melting snow and ice flowing down the mountains, shown in the following video and photo.

A cloudy day shortly before sunset.

We also saw several beavers in the area that, as you might expect, had been busy. You can see some of their work below. We thought the photo showing the downed tree across the stream was felled by the beavers to provide a bracing structure for their dam building materials. They seem pretty smart—perhaps they have civil engineering degrees from M.I.T.! We also found trees that can grow on boulders!

As we were driving along I decided I wanted to photograph the falls on Giant Mountain. And wouldn’t you know it? I left my long lens back at the farmhouse, thinking I wouldn’t need it on this foray. Instead, I shot the falls with my shorter zoom lens, then I tightly cropped the photo. As a result, it’s not super sharp but, not too bad.

Down Giant Mountain

However, the best part of the trip was getting together with friends after 15 months of lock down.

You can see a few more photos from this trip at my online gallery.

What experiences might you have had in the Adirondacks?

Earth Day 2021

There was time when we believed that we were the center of the universe and that we should have dominion over the Earth. But then Copernicus came along who asserted that the Sun is indeed the center of our solar system, the Moon being the only body that revolved around the Earth. I’m sure you know that this resulted in a bit of an uproar. As for the dominion idea, our use of resources, over-hunting, and factory farming of animals have contributed to climate change and the current sixth extinction. Watch Marvin Gaye’s video, Mercy, Mercy Me (The Ecology), released in 1971.

The following two photos show a contrast between Greenland’s Tunu Glacier in 1933 and 2013. This melt-back is characteristic of ice all around the world, though melt-back varies widely, depending on location.

Source: The Greenland Ice Sheet – 80 years of climate change seen from the air. / Bjørk, Anders Anker; Kjær, Kurt H.; Larsen, Nicolaj Krog; Kjeldsen, Kristian Kjellerup; Khan, Shfaqat Abbas; Funder, Svend Visby; Korsgaard, Niels Jákup. 2014. Abstract from 44th International Arctic Workshop, Boulder, Colorado, United States.

It wasn’t so long ago that Carl Sagan and climate scientists started sounding the alarm that we were going down a dangerous path. Subsequent climate data has revealed that those early projections vastly underestimated what was happening, since we now know that climate change is not a linear but an exponential process. That is, it happens faster and faster over time.

Via Voyager 1

The now famous photograph of Earth as a pale blue dot was taken on February 14, 1990 by the deep space probe, Voyager 1, from a record distance of about 6 billion kilometers (3.7 billion miles). The more recent

Via Cassini

photograph was taken by the deep space probe, Cassini. Though more striking with Saturn in the foreground, it also shows how Earth is but a spec in the cosmos. As Sagan said in his book: Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. (Carl Sagan, The Pale Blue Dot, 1994)

People often say we have to save the Earth. Not so! The Earth will go on just fine without us. The issue is preserving the current biosphere that supports us and the other higher vertebrates. There will always be life on the planet so long as there’s liquid water. As I present every year, here is my fictionalized account of our worst scenario. Let’s do better!

Popham Beach State Park

I am still experimenting with video settings, so my videos are not yet of the best quality. I also have to release even more friction on my tripod head since there are still some places where the head catches, as seen with the jumpy areas as I pan the camera. You do, however, get a sense of the general beach environment (with commentary), if you click on the following link: Popham Beach 360 Video

This park is far more photogenic than Reid State Park. The beach is S-shaped and about a couple of miles long. It also has some rocky Islands close-in that provide some interesting backdrops. As with Reid Beach last week, there were just enough people walking about, adding interest to some of my shots.

I used my tripod to stabilize the camera for all my shots. I also stopped my aperture down to f/32 in order to use slower shutter speeds to somewhat blur the waters. However, this resulted in a slight softening of the overall images, except for the two driftwood photos where I used f/8.

I plan to return to another area of the beach later this week.

Going to the Beach

With this, and some future posts, I’m experimenting with short videos. Videography differs from photography in that it requires different skills and equipment. For example, whereas photography emphasizes seizing the best moment for subject, angle, and lighting; videography requires seeing over a span of time. Engaging cinemaphotography/videography (such as we see in movie production and PBS’s Nature series) requires far more lighting equipment, expensive video cameras, views from multiple angles (sometimes aloft with drones ), multiple takes, and camera rails for smooth camera movements, etcetera. All this edited and spliced together into the final product. Did I mention expensive? Well, I have none of these. I do, however, have a good still camera that can shoot video, and a tripod. So, you can let me know if these videos add anything engaging.

Sandy beach at Reid State Park, Maine

Although I have been out with the camera a few times this past winter, cold and the pandemic have limited my forays. Now that temperatures have moved into the warmish 40s, my fingers suffer far less. So, this past week-end I went to Reid State Park to see what I could find. I also brought my 35mm camera loaded with B&W film. The temperature was about 45o F and windy. I arrived shortly after 9:00, by noon the parking lot was about half full.

I thought all the sandy beaches were further south, but this park combined both sand and rock. Plate tectonics and erosion work in marvelous ways, giving us a planet with great scenes.

What interesting pics might you have from around Maine?

China ’95

My late wife traveled to China with some of her family in 1995. China was then in its second decade of rapid industrialization. Coal was the predominate source of electrical power, as evidence by the smog seen in these photos. China was and is the largest consumer of coal. Although it is now making great strides towards renewables, coal is still burned in vast quantities.

You can see Susan’s tourist photos at my on-line gallery. If you have any comments about your travels to China, do send them to me.

Low Tide At Higgins Beach

It’s the first day of March, overcast, and 35oF in Southern Maine. What better to do than to go surfing. Well, for some of us older folks the better thing was doing a vigorous walk up and down the beach. However, the parking lot was loaded with young people running around barefoot in wet suits to use the facilities before venturing out. One of us asked the silly question, Aren’t you guys cold?

We stopped at this beach last summer and early fall on group cycling rides when the beach was loaded with sunbathers–there were no surfers. So, I’m thinking surfing is only permitted during the colder months so swimmers don’t get hit by surfboards. This beach (much less parking space) is not long enough to accommodate a separate surfing area.

These young people are getting exercise and they are doing an activity that doesn’t pollute or emit greenhouse gases. A pretty good combination.

Let’s go surfing now, everyone’s learning how . . . .