Skolfield Shores Preserve

Urban preserves are not only important for providing a wonderful back to nature opportunity, they are also important for maintaining the natural environment. Many local preserves are located adjacent to neighborhoods.

This one is about a forty minute drive north of Portland on the Harpswell peninsular. A short hike through the woods brings you to a wetland where it was low tide upon my arrival. Low tide reveals more of the shore and, in my opinion, provides a more interesting visual experience.

I took these images with my medium-format camera using Ilford’s Pan-F 50 film.

What interesting experiences have you had in your local preserves?

South Portland: A David and Goliath Story

Last night I went to Bug Light Park about a half hour after sunset. It was 29oF with a northwest wind about 16 MPH. Although I was dressed in layers, my fingertips became numb even with gloves and hand warmers. However, the bigger problem was the wind vibrating the camera during long exposures. Fortunately, I was able to control this by not fully extending the tripod and holding it firmly during the exposures.

South Portland recently prevailed in a suit regarding its clear skies ordinance. It also obtained an agreement with the EPA about improved monitoring of emissions from heated storage tanks located by the inner harbor.

You can see where supertankers once unloaded crude from the Middle-East for pipeline shipment to Montreal in the photo, below. However, Montreal stopped receiving that oil as a result of its production of tar sands shale production in Alberta. Instead, Canada wanted to send that dirtier oil through the pipeline to Portland for distribution along the east coast. That, too, has been blocked by Clear Skies.

You can also see the oil off-loading pier, below. These are digital photographs taken with my new Canon EF-S 24mm f/2.8 lens (the “pancake” lens). I also took a couple of 35mm star-trail photos of Casco Bay using Kodak’s Ektachrome Professional E200 film. This is considered to be one of the best color, fine-grain films for astrophotography (wow, I haven’t shot my go to film, Ektachrome, in about 45 years!). Film is better for long exposures because it doesn’t developed hot pixels (which look like stars) like long digital exposures. Instead, when using digital you have to take a series of sequential short exposures and then stitch them together in Photoshop to see the star-trails. Of course, you won’t see my film shots for awhile since I have 34 exposures remaining and then the film has to be sent to Kansas or California for processing.

You can find my best shots of the night at my on-line gallery.

Down Along the Cathance River

I recently drove up to Topsham, Maine to walk a portion of the trail along this unusual area. It was an overcast, fall day and I had the river all to myself. All looked beautiful until I noticed the white foam, as you can see in the right-most photograph in the top row of photos (although they look so, they are not taken in infrared and I used no filter). This is sometimes the result chemical discharge. As it turns out, however, this is not likely the case here because it is not near any discharge pipes nor did it have a soapy smell. Instead, “The foam that accumulates in the streams sometimes is caused by dissolved organic matter,” says Scott Bailey, a geologist up at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest. “So you can think of it as kind of like tea. You steep some tea leaves in water you end up with a colored substance that’s got materials that have leached out of those tea leaves, and the same thing happens in our forests.” This is more common in the spring since there is more rain draining organic matter into the streams. However, this past summer and fall have seen above average rainfall in Maine. Read More.

According to its website, “The Cathance River is one of six rivers that converge to form Merrymeeting Bay, together draining 38% of Maine’s land area. The Bay is one of only four places in the world where large rivers with entirely separate watersheds come together to form an inland, freshwater, tidal delta.” Read More.

The only downside to the trip was two days later I discovered a tick embedded in my tricep muscle (I guess my post-hike tick check was not thorough enough), so off the doctor’s office for doxycycline.

My On-line Gallery Reorganization

Although my primary purpose is to show off the natural environment, I have several galleries that show non-environmental photos. Consequently, I decided it would be a better viewer experience if I separated these galleries by placing them into “Other Views” folders.

But no good idea goes unpunished! This reorganization broke many of the links to my on-line galleries in my previous posts. However, I did go back through my more recent posts and inserted the new links. Still, my older posts, going back to 2011, will still have broken links to my on-line galleries (links to other content providers will still work, unless they abandoned those pages). If you notify me of any broken links to my on-line galleries I might be able to fix them; however, many of those older posts will link to photos in my former SlickPic gallery that I no longer have.

Alas, this is the problem with the digital world, things can be lost much easier than hard-copy or analogue. That’s why many directors in the motion picture industry still prefer 70mm film (still made by Kodak) rather than digital. Unfortunately, this film production has ended or will be ending soon. Digital is just so much sharper, cheaper to edit, and enables special effects that can’t be done with film.

So here’s my reorganized on-line gallery. Let me know what you think.

Nubble Light

Nubble Light sits on a giant rock, about 200 feet offshore. I’m not sure what it is about lighthouses but people flock to them, me included. Perhaps it’s because they look so majestic against the sea or one of the Great Lakes. They were certainly part of a green system of transportation. With just a compass, sextant, ship’s clock, and lighthouses to mark the coasts mariners were able to sail (that is, with only wind-power) all around the world. Global trade is roughly 600 years old. How time flies.

I discovered this lighthouse recently on one of my club cycling rides. About a dozen of us stopped by on a beautiful Sunday. The place was packed! Then, the tour bus arrived–super packed! Of course, everyone had their ever-present cell phone cameras out, taking pictures. I wasn’t among them doing this. However, I thought this lighthouse would make an excellent subject. Now, typically, the best light is during the morning or evening golden hours when the shadows are long. But this is of somewhat less importance when shooting in black and white, particularly if you have something other than a clear blue sky. So I returned a few days later under a threatening forecast with my 35mm film camera. Although the overcast lacked clear cloud definition, with a bit of post-processing I was able to get an austere sky, shot using Kodak T-Max 100 film.

Nubble Light

As many of you now know, sometimes during this time of Covid-19 our perceptions of reality can become a little distorted, one might say, even wonky.

I’m open to receiving any of your own wonky observations.

Can Renewables Save Us?

Originally Published July 10, 2021

Updates: The New York Times recently reported how the race for lithium to power batteries for electric vehicles will further degrade the environment. The Times again raises the question of what percentage of power to recharge those batteries will come from renewable energy. Neither are bio-fuels the answer to a carbon free environment as they raise food prices, displace forests, and emit carbon dioxide in their development, as reported in the New York Times. While it is critical to transition away from fossil fuels, renewables cannot fully replace fossil fuel energy, at least in the foreseeable future. This means, humanity will be producing a lot less, with all those implications no one is talking about.

According to an article in The New York Times, electric vehicles, while green, are not without greenhouse gas and other environmental problems. Many power-plants still burn coal or natural gas, and mining the metals poses health threats and environmental degradation.

See: to calculate vehicle emissions under different situations.

A Hike Up the Wilderness Trail

A friend of mine and I recently hiked up this trail located off the Kancamagus Highway in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. It’s trailhead is the largest along this highway. The highway is a great drive with steep climbs and descents and a switchback towards the east end. The fall leaf peepers love it. The speed limits are reduced to minimize collisions with moose (neither of you are going to do well in a collision).

I found many cyclists along this highway, some with panniers. Climbing those grades, some miles long, requires superb fitness. I’m still wrestling with short 12% climbs. Miles of 5% grade are far more difficult.

We started our hike with the hordes but they fell off after a couple of miles. We finally made our way up to Franconia Falls where we met a few people enjoying the water rushing through the glacier-strewn boulders. We also watched as some teenage boys leapt from the rocks into the deeper pools.

We took in all that nature had to offer: the views, the sound of rushing water, and the absence of the noise of modern life. I go into the back country not only for the exercise and views, but to clear my head. The wilderness is a great stress reliever (well, as long as you are adequately prepared). Of course, as many of you know, I also go in to document our natural environment.

At the start of our return we lunched on a log and later found pizza for dinner before returning to our homes. Doing this with a friend made it all the more enjoyable!

Post-industrialization to Micro-industrialization

Originally published December 16, 2016

Update: It turns out that sails for ocean-going ships will be coming back, though far different than those of those fast clipper ships. See the New York Times.

Looking at my shoot of Boston’s tall ships in 1980 (I took these with a Yashica TL-Electro SLR, which I still have, using Kodak reversal film) got me to thinking about ways of cutting back on petroleum. As I have

Boston, Tall Ships The Juan Sebastian Elcano, 1980 Boston, Tall Ships
The Juan Sebastian Elcano, 1980

discussed in earlier posts, climate change is not the only reason for cutting back on petroleum. Although we have plenty of oil now, scientists have noted that petroleum and other natural reserves will be in shorter supply and increasingly expensive over the coming decade, forward.

One solution for ocean ships would be new designs using both solar and wind power (with solar panels embedded in their sails). Although these ships would need larger crews, and could not be as large as current ocean-going ships, they could be larger than their 19th century clipper counterparts. Though this is not economically viable now, it will be as oil depletes, leading us to what I call neo-industrialization (a period of scaled back production using mostly/only-renewable resources).

I will talk more about this in a later post. In the meantime, perhaps you would share your own ideas on this topic.