Tag Archives: nature

Crescendo :: NY

19 Sep
Crescendo :: NY

Crescendo :: NY

Between the destruction of Hurricane Harvey and Irma, and the wildfires raging out west, most recently in the Columbia River Gorge, I’ve been doing a little reflecting. Our natural spaces are so important, yet so fragile. One little event, change, or bad decision can upset an ecosystem for decades.

Would Harvey have been quite as damaging if the natural flood planes and wetlands around Houston had remained intact? Would the Gorge be flush with greenery still if one kid decided fireworks in a dry season was a bad idea?

Hindsight is 20/20, and so it’s easy to say what should have been done differently in those cases…. but what about the decisions that are being made now, that will devastate something in our future? Those little moments of putting money, or Instagram fame, or some other selfish priority over the need (yes, *need*) to maintain these green spaces? Every day we have the opportunity to make good, healthy, environmentally sustainable choices and it’s so easy to be selfish, to take the easy path, to say “someone else will do it.” But in the end, it’s not someone else’s responsibility to guarantee you and your children and your grandchildren a safe future. It’s yours. It’s all of ours. If each of us does our part, in the end, we all win.

 

This is a shot from North-South Lake in the Catskills of NY.  Sunset was dang purty!

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Solar Eclipse Totality 2017

24 Aug
Crepuscular :: TN

Crepuscular :: TN

How do you describe an indescribable experience? For a few moments yesterday, the mid day sky went dark, the temperature dropped and the people that had piled into Great Smoky National Park with us cheered in awe at the beauty of a rare phenomenon. Anyone who follows me knows the joy I get from these moments in nature, but it wasn’t just the eclipse that made my heart swell. It was made special no just by its rarity & beauty, but also by the fact that for those few hours leading up to the eclipse, everyone forgot their troubles, their politics, their hates and sadnesses, their biases, and we were just a group of friends yet to be made. (Except for that one guy who couldn’t park. Lol) People with cameras asked how to get photos. Neighbors shared their water and chatted. Everyone brought a smile or laugh to their respective conversations. And for those actual few moments of totality, you could feel the exhilaration as hundreds of people whooped and clapped together. To me, people coming together and sharing their excitement….that made this experience unforgettable.

This shot is just after totality, during the diamond ring phase, made with a Nikon d810, Nikon 80-200mm, manfrotto tripod and a solar filter. If you’d like to purchase a print, as always, shoot me a message. 📸

So much thanks to Ed and Zach Heaton for their work scouting and sharing their knowledge of the park with us. They’re great guys and they do workshops in the area (check them out!). Also a great big thanks to Ed, Zach, Jeremy , Emmet and Rob for the spectacular company! 😊

Path of Least Resistance :: CT

4 Aug
Path of Least Resistance :: CT

Path of Least Resistance :: CT

Access to clean water is something most Americans take for granted. However, globally there are approximately 783 million people without clean water and approximately 2.5 billion without adequate sanitation. This results in death and disease, impacts food yield, causes conflicts, reduces available time spent on education, promotes gender inequality and holds impoverished communities back. In other words, clean water is LIFE. What are you doing to protect it? 💦

Stubborn Beauty :: OR

25 Jul
Stubborn Beauty :: OR

Stubborn Beauty :: OR

On my visit to Oregon last year, we (obviously) explored the Columbia River Gorge to see some waterfalls. This intimate scene was tucked away in the rocks at Wahclella falls. I loved the tenacity of this little flower, and the way the light fell (because light is everything!)

I tried, and failed, to figure out what type of flower it is…but ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Like all plants, it serves an important function as a rest stop for native pollinators. ….. If you just asked what the heck that means, the short version is that native pollinators such as bees, moths, ants, beetles, butterflies, birds, bats, etc all help plant species thrive and without their help we would have a food shortage of critical proportions. Over the last 10 years or so, pollinators have faced significant challenges in the form of mites and fungus, habitat loss, pesticides, etc all contributing to a massive population decline. Want to help? Consider keeping a garden with a variety of native plants that bloom for as much of the year as possible.

Also…Yes, I named this photo after a brewery in CT. Lol

Guide Us Home :: RI

18 Jul
Guide Us Home :: RI

Guide Us Home :: RI

In Connecticut, dark sky areas are almost non-existent, due to our dense population and the light pollution that comes with it.  That makes capturing the Milky Way very difficult.  To truly have a sky that is dark enough to see detail in the Milky Way core, I need to either drive to Rhode Island (where the is a tiny oasis of dark sky along our shared border) or north and/or northwest towards Massachusetts, Vermont or upstate New York.

So besides the inconvenience of needing to travel, why is light pollution a problem?  Because it isn’t just light.  It’s light that affects everything.

There is evidence that too much night-light will effect trees’ seasonal clocks.  It’s shown that the bright lights of human cities can disrupt migration patterns of birds, the ability of newly hatched sea turtles to find the safety of the water, the hunting and territory patterns of opportunistic animals…. and researchers are beginning to think that the disruption to our – humans – natural circadian cycles is a risk factor for higher incidences of cancer.

“The health effects of light pollution have not been as well defined for humans as for wildlife, although a compelling amount of epidemiologic evidence points to a consistent association between exposure to indoor artificial nighttime light and health problems such as breast cancer, says George Brainard, a professor of neurology at Jefferson Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.” (here)

So about those pockets of darkness near Connecticut?  Well, Beavertail Light in Rhode Island is along the edge of one.  When my friend Tony Curado, who is working on a Galactic 50 project (capturing the Milky Way in all 50 states!), suggested he wanted to chase stars in my neighborhood, I knew exactly what location to try.

The night finally arrived, and as I sat there under the stars with Tony and Kyle (another local photographer), I felt grateful. There I was, watching the universe do its thing, the sounds of the waves kissing the land, and good friends to share it with.

Wanderlust :: CO

11 Jul
Wanderlust :: CO

Wanderlust :: CO

“Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed … We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in.” -Wallace Stegner

Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado is a spectacular place. ❤

Although the idea of our national parks is deeply rooted in American culture, there was a time when preserving wild spaces was just the merest wisp of an idea.  It was an idea, however, that resonated deeply with people like John Muir, whose prolific writings stressed that these natural spaces were necessary for the soul.  His advocacy later became the driving force behind the creation of several national parks.

In response to growing pressure, Yosemite was placed under the protection of the state of California by Abraham Lincoln.  In 1872, Ulysses S. Grant made Yellowstone the world’s first national park.  In 1916, the National Park Service was created to oversee the growing network of national parks, refuges, forests, etc with a mandate to protect the parks “unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations,” and to promote their use by all people.

So where does that leave us now?

Just like anything else, not everyone agrees with the idea of protecting and preserving the land and animals that live within the land set aside by the government.  In particular, designated National Monuments – which come into being through the executive branch, under the Antiquities Act, for the purpose of preserving sites on federal lands with significant natural, cultural, or scientific features – have come under fire recently.  The Antiquities Act, however, was specifically created to protect these spaces from OURSELVES.  At the time, precious native american historic sites were defiled and artifacts were being stolen from the lands by treasure hunters to be placed into the hands of private collectors.

The arguments against many of the designated monument lands generally boil down to resources and money.  It costs money to maintain the lands.  The local towns are more and more overwhelmed and their resources are stretched thin to accommodate visitors.  There are natural resources within those lands that someone wants to consume more of – lumber, grazing lands, fossil fuels, etc.  Most recently, the American people have been “loving places to death” and there isn’t enough man-power to stop them….  The list goes on.

But in the end, there is only one argument needed to convince me that these lands need protection though…. Humans.

Now, let me clarify by saying that not all humans are short-sighted or greedy.  And often times environmental damage is done because of limited choices, lack of options, the need to survive.

That being said, it can’t be denied that we only have one planet, and we haven’t always been good stewards.  There are billions of pounds of garbage in the worlds oceans.  We poison and acidify our drinking and recreational waters.  We pollute our air, and then cry foul when our populations develop higher incidences of cancer, asthma and copd. We create environmental dead zones, with our waste killing off millions of birds and animals.  We deforest huge swaths of land without re-planting trees, who are major players in the “you need oxygen to breathe” game.  Most importantly, and humans ignore the fact that we live in a web, where every single thing on this planet is connected to the others.  Food chains are delicate and small changes to environmental conditions can have far-reaching consequences which will likely affect your children.

So while I personally believe there is almost always room for compromise, I also strongly believe that our nationally designated spaces serve an important, long-term, survival-as-a-species function.  They are pockets of hope for future generations.  I hope with my whole heart that we continue to appreciate our wild spaces, and they function they serve not only as a safe haven for our weary souls, but as a space where the other important strands in the web of life can thrive.  I hope we continue to think about the big picture, which is keeping this planet hospitable to our species for as long as possible.

Or at least until we figure out terra-forming and light speed.  We comin’ atcha, Earth 2!

 

Night Lights :: RI

6 Jul
Night Lights :: RI

Night Lights :: RI

“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.” -Og  Mandino

I’ve recently been spending a lot of time under the stars with my camera. There is a peacefulness that comes from just watching the Milky Way move across the sky, reminding us we are just a small part of something infinitely larger than our daily schedules and obligations. If you find a spare moment on any given evening, I urge to look up and find some perspective. ❤️