The Clock Always Wins

eastern redbud, redbud, blossom, bud, spring, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

I haven’t posted much lately, because as usual, I’m crazy busy. Between traveling, school, work, and trying to stay healthy (which includes things like getting the proper amount of sleep, eating right, daily exercise, and maintaining my sanity with healthy doses of nature), there seems to be little no time for anything else. But a lot has been going on, so I thought I’d take one half hour out of my busy as heck life to tell you about it. Here’s the news (in less than eloquent terms, because I don’t really have enough time to be critical of how I am writing at the moment):

1. I was featured this month on NatureScapes.Net. Sure I work for NatureScapes, but we’ve been showcasing our moderators in monthly features, and the crew decided it was my turn. So, that means I’ve got the monthly cover, an interview, and a few other features in April’s newsletter. I’m also going to be featured later this month on photographer Andrew Marsten’s blog The Unframed World and Antioch University New England’s website. I’ll be sure to post links to those profiles when they go up.

2. I’m heading back to St. Augustine, FL for Florida’s Birding and Photo Fest later this month. I’ll be behind the NatureScapes.Net booth in the exhibitor’s hall and also helping with some of the festival workshops. Immediately following Photo Fest, I’ll also be assisting Greg Downing with a technical workshop at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm.

3. A number of photographer friends have started Kickstarter projects within the past couple weeks. For those of you that don’t know, Kickstarter is a website for crowd-funding creative projects. My friends Neil Losin and Nathan Dappen of Day’s Edge Productions just started a campaign to create and publish a book about the Ibiza Wall Lizard, called The Symbol: Wall Lizards of the Pityusic Archipelago. The lizards were the subject of Nate’s doctoral research, and he has gotten some amazing photographs and footage of the lizards in his five years of working on the islands where they live. (Nate also just successfully defended his dissertation, way to go Dr. Dappen!) Check out their Kickstarter page to learn more about this super cool project.

Paul Marcellini is another talented photographer who just launched a Kickstarter campaign. Paul has been shooting for a project called Meet Your Neighbours which was started by Clay Bolt and Niall Benvie to raise awareness about nature in people’s own backyards. Paul is based in Florida and works heavily in the Everglades, and since joining on with Meet Your Neighbours, he produced some amazing photographs of Everglades wildlife on pure white backgrounds in the MYN style. He’s planning to launch an exhibit of his work in national parks throughout Florida and you can help by supporting his work via a simple donation through Kickstarter.

I’ve pledged to back both these projects with small contributions. The way Kickstarter works is that backers don’t pay unless the full amount of the project gets funded, so it’s important that others, like you, step in and show your support. Every little bit counts!

4. Speaking of Meet Your Neighbours, Clay Bolt, one of the founders, just stepped out with a brand new program called Backyard Naturalists, aimed directly at getting kids involved with nature. A pilot program just started in North Carolina last month, so stay tuned for updates from this cool and exciting new project.

5. Before heading to Florida later this month, I’ll be at the Seacoast Science Center in Rye, NH for a NANPA Road Show event with Jerry Monkman on April 14. Jerry is doing a one day workshop on Lightroom, and I’m helping with a few logistical things, like signing in attendees, so Jerry can really focus on running a great program. Registration closes April 9, and there are still spaces available, so photographers hoping to improve their post processing skills can still sign up.

6. Jerry has also invited me to be a contributor to his brand new website at MonkmanPhoto.com. For those of you who don’t know Jerry, let me precede my introduction of him by telling you he’s awesome. Jerry is a New Hampshire based outdoor photographer who has written a bunch of wonderful photography how to books and guide books, many specific to New England. He also offers workshops and is on the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) board. But the best thing about Jerry is that he’s really just genuinely a good guy – he likes to share his knowledge and help people learn, and he wholeheartedly cares about conservation issues and using his photography to help environmental causes. So I’m super psyched for this opportunity to work more with Jerry. Expect to see some posts from me on MonkmanPhoto in the near future.

7. That brings us to NANPA news. You might have caught that I volunteer with NANPA as a regional ambassador for the New England area as well as a committee member for the College Scholarship Program. Well, I caught up with some other committee members  last week, and we’ve started to plan our program for the 2013 summit in Jacksonville, Florida. We’re currently looking for a conservation issue to have our student participants focus on; last year our project “Reconnecting the Rio Grande” was used by the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge and US Fish and Wildlife Service to help raise awareness and garner support for a wildlife corridor project that connects areas of habitat along the Rio Grande River that borders Mexico. So, if you are familiar with the Jacksonville, Florida area and know of any good environmental stories that need telling, please let me know.

8. And last, but certainly not least, I have to tell you about this awesome new program in Environmental Visual Communications at Fleming College in Ontario. The program, started by conservation photographer Neil Ever Osborne is geared towards college graduates and provides a post-grad certificate. It is one of a kind; there is no other program like this offered anywhere, and the course and instructor line up is stacked. I just spoke with Neil a bit about it on the phone today, and he informed me that they are still accepting applications for the program, slated to start next month. Check it out and send in an application if this is anything that interests you. If I wasn’t at the tail end of my Master’s degree (which overlaps with the start of the new program), I would probably sign up myself!

And with that, the half hour I committed to spend writing this blog post turned into an hour of my day, gone and lost forever to social media and world wide web. Hopefully you found it useful and all my writing has not been in vain. Catch you later, alligator!

Pura Vida, Costa Rica

Long time no write, but I’ve been having too much fun (and staying quite busy) in Costa Rica! I’m here with classmates from Antioch University New England for a graduate level Tropical Ecology and Conservation field studies class, and our time here has been absolutely AMAZING. I love Costa Rica!

Bosque Eterno de los Ninos, Children's Eternal Rainforest, cloud forest, rain forest, rainforest, Costa Rica, tropical

Forest of Rain and Clouds : Prints Available

We’ve been here for just over a week where we have been mostly studying and learning about the cloud forests up near Monteverde. For the most part, we’ve been parked at La Calandria Field Station near Santa Elena and spent time in Monteverde and at the Monteverde Institute, but we also spent some time in San Gerardo while visiting Bosque Eterno de los Ninos, or the Children’s Eternal Rainforest, on the Carribean slope. We’ve caught frogs and bats, had fresh organic coffee straight off the plantation, spied Three-wattled Bellbirds, Resplendent Quetzals and Keel-billed Toucans, done tree sapling data collection, met baby sloths, and shopped in downtown Santa Elena, and all of it has been wonderful. Photography has been difficult – it always is in non-photography oriented group situations – but I’ve been learning and experiencing so much that it would be foolish to complain. I’m just happy to be here, in this amazing and beautiful place.

Tomorrow we leave the rain forests and head down to the Nicoya Peninsula to study tropical dry forests, mangroves, and coastal ecosystems. I’m excited for our new adventure but sad to leave La Calandria, as it now almost feels like home.

sunset, La Calandria, rain shadow forest, Santa Elena, Costa Rica, mountains

La Calandria Sunset : Prints Available

One Day in Vernon, Now Live!

The collaborative multimedia project on Vernon and Vermont Yankee that I wrote about in my last blog post, Your Friendly Neighborhood Nuclear Power Plant, is now live!

Just over a week ago, myself and seven other photographers tag teamed the small town Vernon, VT to learn more about the people who live there, and how their lives are (or are not) influenced by Vermont Yankee, the 40 year nuclear power plant that calls Vernon home. We spent one short six hour long day interviewing and photographing people, then created a short multimedia piece to share what we found, a rough version of which was shown the next day at a community forum about Vermont Yankee held at the Vermont Center for Photography, which sponsored the project. This 6 minute 54 second video is slightly more polished result of that presentation.

A special thanks needs to go out to photojournalist Michael Forster Rothbart for inspiring this project and also the Vermont Center for Photography for providing a wonderful venue for collaboration.

A small group of us who worked on this project together plan to continue investigating the relationship between small town Vernon and Vermont Yankee, using photography, audio, and video to tell the stories we uncover.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Nuclear Power Plant

I live in a beautiful restored farmhouse in Chesterfield, New Hampshire, just six miles or so (as the crow flies) from an aging nuclear power plant in Vernon, Vermont. Vermont Yankee, nestled on the banks of the Connecticut River, opened its doors to power production in 1972, and its 40 year contract is set to expire next month. The nuclear reactor has been the subject of much debate; everyone seems to worry about the plant’s future. Many want to see it shut down, citing various environmental and health concerns and also controversial court decisions that some say pit the state against the federal government. Others worry about what will happen if the plant closes, fearing the loss of jobs and increased taxes that will result, as well as other economic and social impacts.

The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon, VT has inspired much debate over its 40 years of operation. Many think the plant should be shut down, but some locals worry that the impacts of shutting the plant down would be worse than its continued operation.

This weekend, I teamed up with photographers from the Vermont Center for Photography to learn a little bit more about Vernon and the people that live there. We spanned the small rural Vermont town, photographing and interviewing local farmers, business owners, town officials, and activists. Our goal was to tell the story of Vernon, not just Vermont Yankee. As we learned, there is more to the town than one nuclear power plant.

We found ourselves so inspired by what we heard, that a couple of the other photographers and I ended up working round-the-clock to piece together a multi-media presentation of our work, and more importantly, their stories. Just 27 hours after we began shooting, we presented a very rough version of at an open forum to discuss Vermont Yankee led by photojournalist Michael Forster Rothbart at the Vermont Center for Photography yesterday. Now, after roughly 36 hours of shooting, audio and photo editing, and compiling the final presentation, our piece is nearly complete; I am just waiting on final approval from my colleagues to show it to the world. Once all are happy with the final edit, which I completed at roughly 12:30AM last night, I will share the link to the video on my blog and website.

Stay tuned!

Au revoi, Haiti!

My short time in Haiti is up, and in just a few hours I’ll be boarding a plane to Newark. I’m eager to get back to the states and the comforts of home, despite having a great time in Haiti.

Children from a small village in Parc Le Visite national park in Haiti surround conservation photographer Robin Moore, eager to see their faces on the back of his camera.

There are so many photos and stories to tell, but I’m quite tired so they’ll have to wait. I have quite a bit of work to catch up on when I get home, but hopefully I’ll have time to process and post photos from Haiti before I leave for Costa Rica next month.

See you soon, America!

PS: You’ll be glad to know my stomach bug lasted only about 36 hours and I’m feeling back to my normal self again. I’m not even sure what the cause was (it could have been the water or something I ate), but I’m sure glad I’m feeling better for my return flights home!

Don’t drink the water!

And don’t brush your teeth with it either. Rookie mistake and my tummy now hates me for it.

Other than that, things are great. Haiti is such an interesting place, and I’ve been enjoying my visit. Yesterday, we drove from Port-au-Prince to Jacmel to pick up the students and have lunch at the beach. Haitian towns are overflowing with interesting people and sights; if I didn’t feel as if it were a total intrusion I would take photos of everything and every one. After eating the best lobster I’ve ever had for lunch (and I live in New England these days), we then to Parc Le Visite. We managed to pack nine of us into a small SUV with much of our belongings tied to the roof, and drove up the longest untamed road I’ve ever been on; it was steeper, rockier, and curvier than any road I’ve seen in the United States or elsewhere, and it just went on and on forever. Thank goodness for our driver Wildor!

While most of yesterday was spent in the car, most of today has been spent hiking around the national park, photographing the scenery and chatting with locals (the kids do the chatting, I hardly remember much from my three years of French from ten years ago, and I know even less Kreyol). It has been an interesting experience; I want to me more involved but the language barrier is tough. That combined with my terrible stomach pains today made me feel like more of a spectator at times. However, the kids are great and even though I can’t understand most of what is being said, I can feel what a positive experience this is for them. The energy in the air is just bubbling with excitement.

Tonight, we are going to attempt to find some frogs, although it is the dry season and probably one of the worst times of the year to find them. However we had rain yesterday and today, so I’ll stay hopeful for the kids. They are very excited to find a krapo!

(Please excuse my less than stellar photos. I haven’t had the chance to do any editing or processing yet and are straight from the camera!)

Bonjou! from Haiti

Well, I’ve arrived. This novice world traveler departing from New England has successfully endured her first half day of 90 degree temperatures while navigating through Haitian customs at Port-au-Prince and has settled into the Kinam Hotel for the night.

Wow. Haiti is so… different. Different and beautiful. Haiti is one of those places that conjures up so many questions; as an outsider, I know I have so much to learn. It seems that everything here has a story – every person, every piece of artwork, every store and yard of rubbish and building and stray dog. It’s incredibly humbling.

Anyway, this is a short post, as there is much work to do and long days ahead. Just wanted to check in and tell you all that I’m alive and well. Internet (and even electricity) here is a luxury, so I thought I might as well take advantage of it when I can!

Inspired by Nature now available for iDevices

My portfolio book, Inspired by Nature, is now available as an ebook for iPhone and iPad.

Inspired by Nature is a collection of 83 images taken from 2005-2009. It is also available as a physical print book in softcover or hardcover from the Blurb online bookstore.

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