Over the past several days I adopted a new layout for this blog, which now feeds to Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook so I can reach a larger audience over time. I encourage you to “Like” me, “Friend” me, or just send a comment.
With respect to environmental news, the Diane Rehm Show on NPR discussed an interesting topic today on conservation and human population. You can listen to the podcast at NPR.
I have expressed my thoughts on the environment in this blog. Do let me know yours.
I’m delighted to say that my book, Exploring Maine’s Coast, has been selected for the Monroe County Library’s Self-published Book Festival to be held at the main library in downtown Rochester on November 7 (11:30 – 4:30) and 8 (1:30 – 4:30). Only one out of three submissions were accepted into the festival so you should see some pretty good indie works. Stop by my table and I’ll answer any “behind the scenes” questions you might have. You can preview the book by clicking on the Blurb icon located on the left sidebar. I’ll have several copies with me that will be available at the festival price of $69.99 (regularly $81.53 though Blurb.com). For more information on this event Click here. Hope to see you, there!
This post highlights Rich’s and my travel to Kuujjuaq, in the Canadian region of Nunavik, starting on August 6, 2015. The next post will focus on our bush flight to Lake Diana where we camped on the Tundra. Tundra land begins north of the tree line. Though I’ll show some Tundra photos in my next post, and later at my on-line gallery, most of the Tundra photos will be withheld, pending the release of a photo book next year.
Nunavik comprises the northern third of Quebec. According to Wikipedia, it covers 171,307 square miles north of the 55th parallel, it is the homeland of the Inuit of Quebec. The 2011 census shows about 12,000 inhabitants, of whom 90% are Inuit. There are fourteen villages strung along the coast of Nunavik. There are no roads linking the villages.
Nunavik means “great land” in the local dialect of Inuktitut and the Inuit inhabitants of the region call themselves Nunavimmiut. Until 1912, the region was part of the District of Ungava of the Northwest Territories.
Negotiations for regional autonomy and resolution of outstanding land claims took place in the 2000s. The seat of government is Kuujjuaq, where we stayed before and after our four days on the Tundra. Negotiations on better empowering Inuit political rights in their land are still ongoing.
After driving 5 1/2 hours to the Montreal airport we stayed at the Novotel before catching our next day flight to Kuujjuaq (clicking on each photograph will display it full screen). Our airline, First Air, is 65 years old, serving the far north; it also conducts world-wide charters. It is fully Inuit owned since 1990. As you can see in the photo, the forward section of our 737 is configured for cargo (the money maker), passengers are relegated aft of the bulkhead (all coach). The service, however, was excellent, including a full
meal. We left sunny Montréal at about 65º F and arrived at misty Kuujjuaq 2 1/2 hours later at about 40º F. The weather did clear later in the afternoon, with mostly good weather for the rest of the trip.
Tundra Tom, of Great Wildlife Adventures, picked us up at the airport
and took us to our inn. We arrived two days before the Tundra
bush flight so we could photograph in the village. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel comfortable photographing people since I wasn’t there long enough for them to get to know me. The only exception was a photograph I took of an Inuit woman sewing sections for a tent since we were
granted entrée, facilitated by one of the community’s leaders, Allen Gordon.
After getting settled we walked through the village and its surrounds for context. Although the village lacks the aesthetics we would expect to find in the lower 48
states, the sub-arctic is not amenable to southern living. Kuujjuaq sits on permafrost, with only the top 18 inches or so melting during the warmer months. Consequently, all lines and tanks cannot be buried (there are no underground
culvers or sewer lines). Each building contains its own heating oil, water, and septic tanks (residents call for service when these tanks approach empty or full). Housing is highly insulated and designed to withstand high winds. On December 21 sunrise is 8:18 and the sun sets at 14:44. It gets cold, with the lowest temperatures approaching -35º F. Buildings are raised about a foot above ground to allow for up-welling each spring.
The cost of living is high because everything has to be flown in, or delivered by barge (there are no roads connecting to
southern Quebec). Barges can only enter the Koksoak River at high tide and must depart with the next high tide since the river is not otherwise navigable, due to large rocks. Everything is shipped via Montréal. As a result, most people rent housing, built by the government, due to its high cost.
The next morning we walked up the rocky escarpment outside the village
shortly after dawn. Before we reached the escarpment we noticed that frost covered the plants, as the temperature had dipped below freezing overnight. We were joined by a young husky who escorted us most of the way. The view was impressive as a morning mist still hung over the river.
In my next post I’ll describe the bush flight to Lake
Diana on the Tundra, along with introducing the other members of our expedition.
Perhaps the most eloquent speaker for helping us understand our universe was the Cornell University astronomer, Carl Sagan, who hosted the 1980 TV series, Cosmos. A decade later he showed us a humbling photo of Earth (the Blue Dot), taken from Voyager I, and made the point that Earth is the only home we’ll ever have so we better take care of it.
In the 1980s Sagan encouraged a promising 17 year-old boy from New York to pursue astronomy. He invited Neil deGrasse Tyson to Ithaca to see what was going on at the forefront of astronomy. Today, Dr. Tyson is the Director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. He hosts Nova Science Now (and others), and resurrected Cosmos in 2014, aired on Fox, and now available on Netflix. Like Sagan, he too emphasizes that we need to globally act to protect our environment, since we now now that the additional CO2 in the atmosphere started to climb since the beginning of the industrial revolution (this CO2 has a fossil fuel signature–meaning, we did it).
I drove up to Rockland earlier this week to decide if it might be a good area to spend a few days during peak foliage. It is a “come back” town. Formerly a run-down fishing community, today it has a museum of American art, about a dozen art galleries, coffee houses; and upscale, independent stores. It has more windjammer cruises than its neighbor, Camden. Rockland also has a huge ferry terminal operated by the State of
Maine. From there you can make relatively long voyages to North Haven, Vinal Haven, Matinicus, and Ragged Islands.
After looking around Main Street, I walked to the harbor for a few shots. Gone were the large yachts such as those of Belfast, Camden, and Portland but this could be due to the season—some boats now being in dry dock, others sailing south.
I was anxious to go to Owls Head Light, as it overlooks Penobscot Bay and Rockland. Although the park was quite nice, the lighthouse was not impressive. It was small, and given the terrain, there was no way to get a really artistic shot. Unlike most other lighthouses, you literally had to stand next to it to shoot, as shown in the accompanying photograph.
There was a beach at Owl’s Head that provided a nice view toward the north end of Rockland where I caught a nice scene with two sailboats on outbound courses.
From here I was off to Birch Point Beach where, like Portland Head Light, artists abounded. I figured this had to be a pretty good spot to photograph. Here are but a few shots, including some of the artists. Maine’s coast continues to inspire artists and attract tourists. As urbanized as most of us are, nature continues to be something we need.
All in all I decided Rockland would indeed be a good spot for photographing the northern part of the mid-coast so I reserved a room at a local motel. Not only will I be there to capture the fall colors at peak, but I’ll be able to get dawn and dusk shots when lighting is best since I won’t have to content with ferry schedules.
By the way, if you double-click on any of my blog images you will see far more detail.
My sister and I loved going there. With the approach of high tide and perhaps assisted by swells from a distant sea storm, one could be battered by waves cresting to as much as six or more feet. Although West Coasters and Hawaiians would scoff at such small waves, this was a pretty big deal to us East Coast kids. We would body surf. The great fun was watching a swell approach, then become a wall and curl before it broke over you. We quickly learned to take a deep breath because if you were caught under the break it would keep you down for several seconds (it seemed like much longer) until its energy petered out towards the shore. Wow!
No one in Maine is swimming now, but I always see people at beaches, sometimes sitting in beach chairs, just watching and listening to the waves. How cool they are. Living on an island, I don’t have to go too far to see surf. You just have to look for shoreline that faces the open sea. So, again, it was back to the backshore. Now that I have a Portland tidal chart, provided by my friend Debbie, I knew high tide would be at 6:56 PM at 9.1 feet on the day of the shoot (the tides run at their highest, over 11 feet, when the moon is at its fullest). Since sunset was at almost the same time, I got to the shore around 5:00 PM when the waves would be better lit (all these things to think about when composing naturescapes). Fortunately, bright sunshine prevailed.
Maybe the best way to present my photo surfin’ safari is to show some wave sequence shots (on the left). Actually, they are all like mini tsunamis, beginning as gentle swells (though they don’t travel at 500 mph). Then, as they approach the shore, the shallower depths compress the wave’s energy so that it rises up to create that curl, which then breaks as the water’s depth further decreases. An undertow resultsas this mass of water begins to recede.
The larger photos, below, show what happens to these waves after they hit the rocks. I played around with shutter speeds so some shots freeze the action while others blur the action.
As you can see, surf has a lot of energy. Given enough time, these rocks will be ground to sand. The tides also contain tremendous kinetic energy. Just imagine what it takes to move up to 30 feet of the sea (at the Bay of Fundy). The Scots, still part of the U.K., are implementing tidal power technology to generate electricity.
But as powerful as the sea is, in some ways we are more powerful. Global warming is proceeding faster than predicted by prior computer modeling. Scientific data show that this is due in great part to our burning of fossil fuels.
According to a recent news report, the Gulf of Maine is warming at five times the rate of the rest of the seas (http://nhpr.org/post/gulf-maine-warming-faster-most-worlds-oceans). This is bad news for lobsters that require cold water, and those who eat them, not to mention all the other known and unknown environmental implications.
As many of you know, I’ll soon be in Maine, where I’ll be photographing from Acadia National Park, south to Portland. Maine is perhaps the most wilderness state in the northeast. It’s, by far, the largest state in New England, having a population of only 1.3m, about 623,000 of who live in the Portland-Lewiston and So. Portland areas along the southern coast. Bush pilots still fly in Maine; taking hunters, fisherman, and some tourists to remote lake locations.
I’ll be staying on Peaks Island where the daily commute will involve taking the Casco Bay Ferry to get to and from my car in Portland to travel up the Maine coast, mostly via Route 1. I’ve been going to Peaks since the early eighties and have several friends there, one of which my late wife has known since here college days.
As I travel Maine’s coast I’ll be photographing land- and seascapes, lighthouses, and wildlife. I also hope to photograph some of the people in the course of their daily lives. Who knows? Perhaps I’ll have the chance to go out on a lobster boat (which reminds me, I need to print some release forms allowing me to publish identifiable photos). My plan is to exhibit some of these photos next year at Image City, and to eventually self-publish a photobook.
One place, among many others, that I’ll be visiting is the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, where, Beginning in 1952, she summered on Southport Island, where she studied its beach and tide pools to research The Edge of the Sea (1955). Through tireless investigation for her greatest work, Silent Spring (1962), she linked the unrestrained use of post-World War II chemical pesticides with fearsome, biological consequences. April 2012 marked the 50th anniversary of the publication of Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking book, Silent Spring. By publishing it, Carson has been credited with launching the contemporary environmental movement and awakening the concern of Americans for the environment.
As those of you who have followed my blog know, my overarching theme is the natural environment. If we don’t protect this, we’ll all be in serious trouble. The sixth extinction is already underway.
During my stay I’ll have limited access to wireless internet “down front” on the island (though I’ll have better email access via my smart phone), which means I’ll only be able to upload a very few (unprocessed) photos. I suggest that those of you who are interested click the FOLLOW button on my blog to receive updates, as I plan to spend as little time as possible on email. You can always UNFOLLOW at any time.
If anyone has spent significant time photographing Maine’s coast I’d be happy to hear from you. That’s it for now. Let’s see what unfolds.
I’m always drawn to the mountains, first, to the White and Green Mountains of New England, and the Adirondacks over the past twenty years. Hiking in the mountains requires that you be in reasonably good shape. My mountain watch words are: food, water, energy, and weather (along with protection from the latter). Failure on any of these can result in serious consequences. Most people know this, which is at least one reason why the trails are not crowded (though the trail head parking lots certainly are on summer week-ends).
After a five-hour ride and checking in, we went off to explore the South Meadows area of the High Peaks. It turned out to be a real dud for photography–too many trees.
Although I didn’t realize it when I planned the trip, this week-end would include the rise of a super moon on Saturday at the reasonable hour of 8:30 PM. We knew the moon would rise at 112° shortly after sundown on July 11 so the local cemetery seemed the perfect place. Unfortunately, there were a few trees in the way (the Adirondacks are loaded with them), as you can see in the above photo.
We picked a better place on Saturday. Unfortunately, it was cloudier than expected. Forty-five minutes after moonrise we saw nothing. The mosquitoes were vicious so we packed it in. Just as we were leaving, we saw the moon break the ridge! We jumped out, set up, and I got one shot before the moon became almost completely obscured. My friend set up a minute earlier than I, and he got the better shot!
Back track to dawn of that morning. We managed to get to Chapel Pond where we got a number of shots, here are two, one in B + W and one in color.
After shooting, we went back to the local diner and got some breakfast. Thereafter we headed to the Adirondack Mountain Reserve Club. These are private lands that allow hiking on designated trails. We hiked portions of its East and West Ausable River trails where upon we came to the South Meadows Falls. That’s my friend, immortalized in the red hat.
A little further down the trail we came to a beaver pond, complete with beaver hut. Boy, these guys were busy, but I guess . . . .
We continued on and finally came to the Lower Ausable Lake, as shown in the photo, below. Thereafter, we returned to the trail head via the club’s dirt road. This hike was sentimental since it was my wife’s and I last hike together. We never finished that hike, because my back was bothering me. My friend and I easily finished.
Aside from light, photographers are always thinking about how to use form and texture to advantage in their photographs. As I pondered this, I got the idea to go and photograph a quarry. I located an abandoned quarry since most working quarries are fenced off and hidden for a variety of reasons.
A few mornings ago I managed to get up at 4 AM so I could be in position to photograph at dawn. You can see my subject in the following photos that I panned starting at ENE and ending at SSW. As with strip mining, there’s not much that can be done with quarries once their resources are exhausted. Unfortunately, one thing you can do is illegally dump trash into them, as shown by the debris in the second photograph. What you can’t see is a refrigerator, chair, and other items that were at the bottom of the ledge where I was standing.
The sun broke completely free of the clouds as it rose for the shot, immediately above, showing that quarries can also provide aesthetic views. Note the stratified layers in the rock, each layer likely taking thousands of years to develop. To better see this I zoomed in for the shot, below, where the blurred water reflections meet the sharply delineated rock and trees above.
There was a moon present so I also set a shot showing it. It took some time since the camera was tripod mounted. Every time I wanted to make this shot the clouds moved in front of the moon. Finally, I decided to leave the camera set for this shot and just waited.
Just a bit further down the road, across from the main entrance of the working quarry I spotted an old steam shovel, seemingly set out for exhibit. This was probably state of the art equipment in the 1930s.
As with so many things in industrial life, quarries pose a conundrum. We want the rock to meet all sorts of construction needs, but quarries permanently scar the earth. As time goes by there will be ever more scars.
After a hiatus of several months I’m ready to resume blogging, though my environmental focus will be more on landscapes. This past February a friend of mine and I snowshoed up to Avalanche Pass and Lake from the Adirondack Club Lodge, a round trip distance of 11 miles with about a 1,000 foot incline. The high for the day was about 8º, though it might have been colder at high elevation. At these temperatures it was almost impossible to operate the camera, even while wearing photo gloves. My finger tips, which had to be protruded, became numb within two or three minutes of touching the camera. Nevertheless, I managed a few good shots.
The area is so named due to a major avalanche that drastically redefined the mountain sides and the lake many years ago. According to Wikipedia, “A large avalanche occurred on August 20, 1869, that created a number of the landslides on Mount Colden, the rubble from which substantially raised the level of the lake. Another avalanche in 1942 caused further slides that raised the lake level by 10 feet (3 m).”
Our hike’s first stop was Marcy Dam, where we were the first to arrive that morning, as shown by absent foot prints in the following scene. It’s a desolate but beautiful landscape. Multi-layers and warm, quick-dry synthetics were the dress of the day!
A couple of hours later we reached the pass and lunched on the lake’s edge, protected from the wind. While on the lake, I took the following photos. The first shows the trail left by four hikers, seen in the background, as they headed southwest down the lake. The second photo is the face of the mountain where we had lunch, showing windblown pockets of snow on the craggy edges of the face.
I photographed the hikers in the third photo as they hiked northeast on the lake back towards the pass. It’s really something to see so many people deep in the mountains under such inhospitable conditions. Of course, like us, I’m sure they knew the forecast was for sun and light winds all day. Still, mountain forecasts are prone to abrupt change. Hiking was also made more critical due to the short period of daylight during early February.
On the way back I shot the following photo, which shows a set of tracks from folks venturing on up the mountains.
The next day we made a quick hike up Giant Mountain to photograph Keene Valley from the top of the falls. The water was frozen solid, allowing us to stand on the part about 25 feet away from where it went over the ledge (yikes!). Here’s what we saw, shown in the following photo (the dark straight line is highway 73 running through Keene Valley).
So much of our modern environment consists of chemicals, power lines, buildings, roads, parking lots, radio energy, and others. Although these are things upon which we all depend, our bodies, that have evolved over the millennia in nature, are not designed to work effectively in these settings, since they expose us to pollution and make proper diet and exercise less obtainable for many.