Head in the clouds

During the last 10 years of my career the amount of air travel was a big motivator for retirement. In the past 2 years I’ve only made 2 trips by plane. However, I do miss the occasional inspiring view from above. I see a few photogs doing nice work with drones but I have zero motivation to buy one.

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Shadows are always a part of the story in a photograph. Sometimes the shade of the subject is all that is needed in the frame. I like the context this image can add to a story as either a beginning an end or even a transition.

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Moments of solace when looking out the window were one of the few benefits of becoming A Million Miler. Not only is this a nice moment in time it is a nice moment in space. The winglet silhouette & the edge light on the wing define the perspective. The position of the Cheshire moon in relationship to all of the other components especially the town below provides depth. The glow of the sunset on the horizon of the entire atmosphere is almost impossible to see from the ground.

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A perk of all the travel was upgrades. The title of this is Coming Home in 4F! My brothers & sisters flying every week will understand. Some travelers may prefer the more visually dramatic approach into PIT that brings them over downtown. I preferred coming in from the West where the view allowed you to see the more a more rural environment. Seeing the waning of winter as spring is on the cusp, is always a wonderful sight.

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I never had any desire to pilot a plane. However, I thought it would be neat to drive one around on the tarmac.

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On the 54th Floor in DTW the fireworks from a barge on the river below me provided a very unique vantage point. Sparkling explosions displayed almost at eye level was something I never expected to see. Being able to add foreground building on the side of the frame & having Windsor Canada, as background provided a wonderful balance.

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Being able to work with talented professionals was a big thrill of my career. Flying with Cherokee Helicopters for a Kenny Chesney Concert was fantastic!!! His craft was designed for stability & he had the eye of a photographer. The best shots were when I pointed the camera & he flew the helicopter. The client was happy with the shots we got.  However, the best shot didn’t fit the format of the show. On a test flight in the early afternoon Cherokee came down the Monongahela, over the Ft. Pitt Bridge & dropped down to approach Heinz field. The rivers around Point Park were filled with boats.

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Inspired by the work of David Burnett & Leni Riefenstahl I saw an opportunity at a track & field event to float a person in the air. It also happened to be a personal best pole vault for the athlete. I consider this an example of preparing to be lucky. OBTW I respect the art of her work but can’t condone her collaboration with The Third Reich. Your reputation is elevated or, in Leni’s case, destroyed by those you associate with.

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Miami sure has changed since I first saw it on the Jackie Gleason Show. Unfortunately this aerial image now creates a sense of significant concern when I look at it. With the seas rising & the potential of more powerful storms the risk & the downside to everything in this image is a nightmare. We must listen to the power of nature.09 copy
8 years after Katrina the Louisiana lowlands coast appears recovered from what the storm had done. On final to MSY from about 8K feet I couldn’t help but reflect on the big picture of how powerful nature can be. Seeing the world from the window of a silver tube provided me with a view that reinforced my perspective on the importance of doing my best to respect the environment. We have impacted the climate & we must take responsibility to do better. OBTW later on in that trip human error caused the lights to go out in the Super Bowl. We can’t control everything!

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This is one of my favorite pictures where the sky is a subject. The simplicity of a fragile bubble floating with the contrails of a plane miles above dissecting it is a perfect example of chance. The dual reflections are of the sun by the peak of the Washington Monument. Photo credit Jessica Kuntz. Her view of the world is one I respect.

A Confluence of Motivations

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Our road-trip took us to The White Mountains, Camden ME & Acadia National Park. Although landscape photography isn’t high on my list of motivational genres, I enjoy experiencing the dynamics of nature. Understanding weather, the suns position & atmosphere is crucial to capturing a memorable image. After we returned, I went to a Climate Reality Training conference. The presentations about changing weather patterns linked to destructive storms grabbed my attention. Mother Nature is giving  clues to the damage we are doing to our atmosphere. In preparing this posting I realized a transition in my perspective that shifts my motivation. I may not become a nature photographer but I’m going to advocate for eliminating fossil fuels to help preserve the natural world.

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At Climate Training I learned the atmosphere that supports life is only 6 miles deep. In that very thin layer we’ve been putting 33 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year for way to long. Looking at the pristine beauty of Acadia National Park our thin atmosphere doesn’t look like it has problems. That may be part of the challenge. We all must realize how urgent it is that we switch to green energy sources like wind & solar.

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One of my motivations with a camera is the challenge some subjects provide. The skittishness of chippys fits this category. Their home in the forest is not at immediate risk from climate change. Until drought becomes a pattern. Then wild fires will become a threat. Long-standing patterns of the Jet Stream in North American & around the world are changing. Static weather has become common & can lead to drought or floods in places where we rarely see these extremes. The agriculture community, which keeps eyes on the weather, is watching those shifting patterns & recognizes the need to evolve.

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The small tidal ports along the coast of Maine are jewels. The tighter constriction of landmasses in the northern latitudes results in severe tidal changes in these areas. Routinely, 8-foot tides are a part of the NE coastal community. This rugged coastline is not anywhere near the risk as communities in lower latitude with flatter land. Rising temperatures are melting ice that will bring life threatening conditions to many coastal areas around the world. Sea levels are rising & the circulation of our enormous oceans is being impacted. Fishermen, who depend on the ocean for their livelihood, realize these changes will have a negative impact on our food supply.

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Grabbing the power of the wind in your sails is a wonderful experience. The unseen energy is to be respected. But, it is a force we can harness on the land. Building wind turbines is an industry we can further develop creating jobs & careers. A simple day-sail on the Gulf of Maine gave first hand exposure to some simple parts of the solution. The sun warmed the body & the wind carried us across the waves. When you are on a sailboat some of the answers to renewable energy are right in your face.

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With my mind & eye in the viewfinder I was looking for the perfect composition. Initially, I was annoyed by the solar panels. I now see the solar panels as part of a dramatic story. The Curtis Island Light was built in 1835 & likely used whale oil for its beacon. Now solar power illuminates the path to a safe harbor. Change is inevitable for societies to advance.

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The sun does amazing things if you take the time to observe. Capturing this classic fall reflection was the luck of being in a great spot at the right time with perfect weather. I learned that in a 24 hr period the sun puts enough energy onto the earth to power everything for a year. I have come to better harness the sunlight in my photography & I have learned about the challenges of a changing climate. I think I am in the right place at the right time with advocacy for sustainable energy.

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The left face of that hill is what I climbed to take image #2. These old knees go slow but they do still go. It is an excellent trail for younger climbers that can safely scamper up a rocky path. It might also be an analogy for my journey with the Climate Reality Corps.

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Water is a subject I enjoy incorporating in my pictures. I also enjoy landscaping with rocks so this perspective of Jordon Pond was a real magnet for me. As I was marveling at the lack of development my appreciation for our National Parks was rejuvenated. They are inspiring parts of our country. After the Climate Conference, I realized these places are being impacted by a warming climate. The changes happening to glaciers are far removed from most of our lives. However, these cathedrals to nature could also suffer. Fortunately there is hope with new opportunities to harness renewable & stop adding tons of carbon into our world. The inspiration provide from nature motivates me.

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As always, never pass up the opportunity to include red in the frame or it the blog. I highly recommend visiting the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. Located in Boothbay there are almost 300 acres that will inspire meaningful connections with nature.

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In life, timing is an interesting thing. The training immediately after Acadia lead me to examine my own perspective & put a variety of pieces into place. Although I am not a devoted landscape photog, I enjoy the natural world. The roots go back to the Boy Scouts. Appreciation of boating/sailing is part of my Chautauqua Lake DNA. Still photography inspired a career in video and now I have returned to stills. Like everyone else I can’t tell you where the path of my future will take me. However, I do know a confluence of motivations will help me to focus on a sustainable energy future.