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The Anthropocene

Relating to or denoting the current geological age, viewed as the period during which human activity has been the dominant influence on climate and the environment.  

Have we crossed into a new geological and biological epoch?  Perhaps.  There is some debate as to when humans began to overpower the earth, at least the surface 1% of it.  Global warming has only been on the radar screen, for most of us, for a few decades.  Some scholars though date the anthropocene from the onset of the industrial revolution, and perhaps even the dawn of agriculture thousands of years ago.

Traveling around the Blackstone River Valley of central Massachusetts, one gets the definite sense that it’s been going on for a while.  I’ve been immersed in issues related to sustainability for the past year or so as part of my work at Babson College.  This valley, where I now live, reveals an interesting story of the industrial revolution and its impact, one that I will be talking and photographing more about over the next several years.

I’ll with just a simple image of a rather iconic location in the Valley,  the dam at the Mumford River that created the mill ponds that powered Whitin Machine Works.

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The Whitin Machine Works was founded in 1831.  It ultimately became one of the largest textile machinery factories in the world, employing over 5000 people at its peak in the late 1940’s.  It’s been out of business since 1976, victim of changing business conditions.  Obviously, here, there was an impact on the environment, though nothing we aren’t used to seeing.  Perhaps not such a big deal, though we can imagine that the river was ultimately quite polluted. Consider though, courtesy of Google Earth, the bigger picture.

Whitten Machine Works

When I took the first image I was standing on the sidewalk of the roadway you see in the lower right hand corner.  Note how the dam has changed the surrounding geography, for miles.  The dam no longer provides power for the mill, but it shaped a landscape that those in the community came to accept and with which they are now powerfully linked.  The next time you see a dam, consider what’s behind it.  This is one dam.  More to come.

(I want to give full credit to my colleague at Babson College, Professor Joanna Carey, for the fundamental ideas behind this series on dams in New England.)

Greek Letter

I’m honored to report that one of my images just received a third place award at the “Anything Goes” Photography Exhibition at the Blackstone Valley Arts Association in Uxbridge, Massachusetts.  There is some tremendous work in the exhibition so if you’re in the area, considering stopping in.  I was particularly pleased because the juror was Stephen Dirado.  He’s one of the top fine art photographers in New England and though I’ve actually never met him, I’ve followed him for some time.  He shots large format black and white photography, and his imagery is absolutely stunning.  This is an abstract image, taken at the South Natick Dam along the Charles River.  I thought of a Greek Letter.  You’re invited to  draw your own conclusions.

Greek Letter

The Storm in the Forest

We had a fairly nasty winter storm covering much of New England yesterday.  Inland, it was just another snow storm.  On the coast, the seas sadly became a lethal hazard.  My home is blessed with a back yard that faces conservation land just twenty feet or so from our back windows.  Until the snow covered the windows, we could see into the forest and experience the storm in a way that was very intimate.  I don’t do well with enforced staying at home, but the forest offered some considerable solace.

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You have to admire the ability of nature to withstand it’s own barrage.  Were we all so resilient.

Technical Note:  These images were made with 6K photo on a Panasonic GH5.  It is perfect for capturing action like this.  You hold the shutter down for several seconds capturing thirty 18 mp. jpgs.  You can review the individual images in capture and save those that may have appeal.  It’s a fascinating strategy that I suspect has a great deal of utility for a variety of situations, particularly family and sports.

 

Holiday Greetings

Regardless of your religion, may you and yours make it to the light.

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Dying Grass

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All images from Broadmore, Audubon Society, South Natick, Massachusetts, Fall 2017.