As Australia Burns, It Exports More Coal to Provide Electricity for 25% of the World’s Population

We humans evolved a short-term focus because it was adaptive to survival prior to industrialization. Unfortunately, our economy has evolved faster than our brains so now we do things that are not in our long-term interests.

Carl Sagan was likely right when he speculated that intelligent life might be self-extinguishing.

www.nytimes.com/2019/08/15/climate/coal-adani-india-australia.html

Are the Amish Ahead of Their Time?

The Real Thing
Hauling supplies

Many of us look down upon the Amish for avoiding the use of modern technologies (in fact they use more of it than we think, e.g., they use cell phones, albeit with many restrictions). But in fact, they might be well ahead of the rest of us. As I wrote on my page last year, one way or another we will go from post-industrialization to micro-industrialization once we either stop using fossil fuels, or they run out within the next 100 years. Alternative energies and muscle power simply will not be able to produce nearly the same energy levels that we rely on today.

Although this will be a difficult (catastrophic?) transition, humanity will likely adjust over the following 100 years, with a much larger proportion of people farming any remaining arable land.

Amish Countryside
Lancaster County, PA

Biodiversity loss threatens humanity

Yet another major report documents the effects of climate change. Although there are many local and regional initiatives around the world that will slow this down a bit, a concerted world initiative is necessary to stop the sixth extinction. I do not see this as likely to happen, given that it has to start now. The result will be a great die-off, including some of humanity. Although the developing countries will be most affected, many in the developed world will be affected by mid-century–just thirty or so years away.

And to think that we did this in about 170 years (in the “blink of a geological eye”).

www.nytimes.com/2019/05/11/opinion/sunday/extinction-endangered-species-biodiversity.html

Emerging Insects

Recall two of my recent posts, The Bugs Are Coming, where I discussed the bugs that are bad for us, and Where Have All the Insects Gone?  . . . , where I reported that many of the good insects are disappearing. Well, things are starting to gear up with the bugs now emerging. It has been a bit of a late start given the lower than average temperatures we have been experiencing here in the northeast.

Margined (Burying) Carrion Beetle

The first and third photos were taken in Connecticut in April. I found the Carrion Beetle on a driveway.  It is found mostly in farm and other rural areas. The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species) categorizes this species as critically endangered, likely due to the use of pesticides, and land “development,” among other factors.

My next subject is the Ebony Jewelwing. I will leave you to guess why it is so

Ebony Jewelwing

named. This species is categorized by the IUCN as of least concern, due to its stable population.  It is found mostly along lakes and streams. I photographed several of these back in 2011 in western New York and present one here since the photo quality is excellent.

Chocolate Dun

The Chocolate Dun is a Mayfly usually found in the pools of fast running streams and rivers with clear rocky bottoms. However, this one was on a window of a glassed in porch. They are not listed in the IUCN data. Fisherman refer to the adults as spinners. You just have to love the googly eyes of these winged insects. “All the better to see you with.”

I photographed the Jewelwing in strong sunlight using a Canon 60D with a Canon 100-400mm lens @ 390mm and exposed at ISO 500, f/11 @ 1250/sec. The current and future insect photos will be shot using a Canon 7D II with a 15-85mm Canon lens at 85mm. A ring flash attached to the lens will allow manual exposures @ ISO 100, ~ f/11 @ 125/sec., enabling me at get sharp images with relatively good depth of field on the insects.

 

SmugMug Joins Stephen Fielding Images

I’m happy to announce that going forward I will be posting all my new images on SmugMug. I think this platform has a better look and provides greater flexibility for managing images. The complete transition to SmugMug will take several months so during this period both platforms will be available.

Want to see it now? Go to SmugMug (or click on its tab on the header menu).

 

Coming Attractions


Starting in later April I will be bringing you photos of various insects from around the Northeast. Oooh! Insects you might wince, why insects? I know, we are not crazy about them. They look kind of scary, they bite us, and sometimes get into our food supply. What’s to like? The reality is they are part of our ecosystem. They provide food for birds, reptiles and others (and perhaps us in the future as we cut back on farm animals due to their intense use of resources, not to mention the methane flatulence of cattle). They are an important part of earth’s ecosystem.

As I did several years ago with my bird photographs, I will give a brief description of each bug and whether it is on the endangered list. In the meantime here are a couple of photos to warm you up to these “cute” little creatures. I took these photos in the early 70s. I’ll be using my digital camera for the upcoming color photos so they will be much sharper.

Spider (Arachnid–not an insect): 1972
Unknown: 1972
Another arachnid: 1973

 

 

Flowing Water, Snow, and Ice: Long, Lazy Exposures


I was out two mornings ago in 16 degree weather all layered up wearing my spikes looking for flowing water, snow, and ice. Now that we are entering mid-March I’ll be lucky to get another opportunity to photograph these. Right now the temperature is 40 degrees and it is expected to hit near 50 on Wednesday before getting colder again. Ice and snow are good subjects for black and white film not only because ice and snow often lack color, but because they offer such a variety of shapes and textures, which is what black and white is all about. I also find these images to be very quieting

To get the finest grain and sharpest images I’m using Ilford’s Delta 100 and FP4 125 films. For those scenes  with flowing water I use a 10 stop neutral density filter. This enables me to shoot using very small f stops, and shutter speeds ranging from 25 seconds to 21/2 minutes, rendering an ethereal look to the water. I lent a selenium cast to these shots to provide a cooler, more wintry look.


img033_v1
The stream flowed very slowly here so this was a more standard short exposure without a neutral density filter.

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You can see how different flowing water looks using a 25 second exposure.

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This shot was exposed for 2 1/2 minutes, rendering a soft, smooth look to the stream.

I placed the camera on a tripod for all of these shots. I used both my medium format (120 film), and single-lens reflex (35mm film) cameras. The former’s images are in square format and located at my: on-line gallery.

Battling the Ice

Yesterday we had 35+ MPH winds so I went to Webster Park on Lake Ontario to photograph more ice. Everything from the parking lot down to the shore

Under Ice

was iced, due to freezing rain and refreezing. So I strapped on my gear, including my micro-cleets, and boldly walked down to the pier. I had  to use my foot to punch through the snow to set up my tripod. The gusts were so strong at times I made sure I always held on to the tripod to avoid having it blown over, and to

Webster Pier

dampen vibration during shooting. I selected locations where I was at least partly shielded from wind with a good view of the pier. I took a total of 12 shots from three angles.

The first photo shows the pier completely under ice (taken slightly to the left of the pier). The second photo (taken slightly from the right) shows the same pier during a nor’easter last fall. Fresh water freezes far more readily than salt water so it doesn’t take much cold to enable the waves to build high ice walls on the lake’s leeward shore lines. The trick is to wait for that split second when a large wave breaks. Had I been using my digital camera that can shoot 10 frames per second this would have been much easier.

To get the third photo I walked a short way along the shore to the right of the pier looking for an opening free of branches. Resetting the tripod and camera while wearing gloves is always a challenge. This day I was wearing gloves with openings for the forefinger and thumb (and hand warmers in my pockets to rewarm them).

I had to climb up the hill to get into place for the fourth photo. The wind was horrific. Fortunately, I was able to find a large tree close to where I needed to be to partially shield me and the camera.

I took all these photos with my 35mm camera with a circular polarizing filter on a 135mm lens. Since I was shooting Tri-X 400 film, the filter enabled me to shoot at slower shutter speeds to get a little blur on the breaking waves.

Unlike shallow Lake Erie, Ontario is deep so it only freezes around the edges. While this works for surfers (yup, winter is the best time since that’s when the waves are the highest) we get lake effect (snow) all winter long when the wind is blowing on shore (i.e., off the lake). Those areas most exposed to on shore wind get the most snow. Watertown, at the east end of the lake gets the most, about 300+ inches per year!

 

 

 

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