Tag Archives: Acton

OARS 2012 River Cleanup

Yesterday was the 26th annual river cleanup event by OARS.  Close to (and perhaps just over) 200 volunteers came together on a beautiful September morning to help clean up the Sudbury, Assabet, and Concord Rivers.   The cleanup spans so many communities and happens in just a few hours so it is impossible for one person to photograph all of the locations so I was assigned to a few of them.   We start on the Sudbury River in Framingham.  This is the second year the cleanup has been on the Sudbury River and close to 30 volunteers worked in and along the river pulling out tires and other trash after just a few minutes of starting.

Another group of 30+ volunteers were along the Assabet River in Maynard.   Here we see an amazing boatload of metal being hauled downstream.

Another group of students in Maynard filling up a canoe with all manner of trash.

This is a team of college students working on the Assabet River in Acton.

A large group of volunteers in Concord split between the Sudbury and Assabet Rivers.  In West Concord this group worked on the Assabet River behind Damonmill and nearly filled a large dumpster with tires and other trash taken from the river.

This is the final pile of trash pulled out of Maynard (it extends another 8 feet to the right of the image).   A phenomenal job by all!

For more images visit:  http://community.dmg-photography.com/2012-oars-cleanup/

For more information on the cleanup and how you can help our local rivers visit: http://www.oars3rivers.org


March 2012 Wallpaper

March arrived hear like a lion (it’s still snowing as I write this) but until yesterday it felt a lot like Spring here and I suspect that feeling will return soon enough.

This is a photograph of Nashoba Brook in Acton taken a couple of years ago.  There is a small mill building next to the brook — perhaps a pencil mill (they used to make pencils along the brook).

I’ll use this opportunity to also plug an upcoming film festival — OARS, our local river stewardship organization, is hosting the Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival on Wednesday, March 7th at the Fine Arts Theater in Maynard.  Come to town, grab a little dinner before or after, and enjoy a wide range of short films featuring people working to raise awareness of our environment.   To learn more and reserve tickets (this show often sells out) visit the OARS website.

If you like the above image you can download it to your computer and use it as your desktop or tablet wallpaper. A few of the common screen sizes are available:

Download the 1024×768 version here. (Perfect for your iPad)

Download the 1280×1024 version here.

Download the 1680×1050 version here.

Technical stuff:

Canon 5D Mark II, 24-70mm f/2.8 at 24mm and f/16. 1/8 second exposure. ISO 1600. (filtering not recorded, likely a polarizer)

Processed with Lightroom 3: this is a pseudo-HDR image: essentially compressing the shadows and highlights and stretching out the mid tones.  The goal was to keep the shadows of the stream while not losing detail in the trees/sky. Consequently a fair amount of fill light and black point to restore contrast, clarity +44, vibrance -21, saturation -15 (restoring something closer to natural color saturation).    A bit of dodging was done in the lower left-corner for this rendition so the calendar wouldn’t be lost amongst the rocks.

24th Annual Assabet River Cleanup

Saturday was a beautiful day to clean up the river and we had an outpouring of support across all of the towns.   Last year weather made the cleanup a bit of a wash (if you’ll pardon the pun) but a combination of heavy floods in the spring with drought conditions heading into fall appeared to have exposed a whole new layer junk for us to attack.  (It’s rather sad when you think about it…)

A more complete gallery of images from the day can be found at: [url]http://community.dmg-photography.com/2010-assabet-cleanup/[/url]

I did my best to visit the teams in Concord, Acton, Maynard, and Hudson.  (I didn’t have time to visit the team in Stow or the groups in Northborough).  The morning started in Concord with Betsy Stokey (recovering from a recently shattered knee) organized the teams that were going to attack the Nashoba Brook, just above its confluence with the Assabet.

No sooner did the teams get into the shallow water that a steady “clunking” sound rose as bottle after bottle (along with plenty of other junk) was pulled from the streambed and placed into the boats.

For whatever reason “glass” was the theme this year — we were pulling out bottles and other containers by the hundreds.

Tires never fail to make an appearance in the cleanup.   Another sad legacy of days gone by.

This chunk of steel was so large it took 3 people to haul it to the dumpster.

Next up Acton…

Most of the Acton teams were too far up or downstream from the put-in for me to photograph them in my alloted time.   There seemed to be a lot of construction debris in this stretch of the river – implying that even today people are still treating the river as a disposal ground.

Above, Bob Guba, Acton Team Leader, directs another team to a cache of tires that has been discovered.

Next we headed to Maynard…

Jim McCann empties a boat-load of debris taken from the river bed behind the Maynard Elks Club.

While these volunteers bring another full load to the offloading point.

Another group in Maynard worked behind the Powdermill Circle area.

With no lack of tires there either.

With just an hour left in our cleanup, I headed to Hudson.

And as you can see — plenty more junk to retrieve.  There were several teams in town and I managed to get some photos of the groups at Wheeler Road.

At noon the cleanup wound down and the teams slowly arrived at spots in each town to wash up and get some pizza.

Here a team from Intel grab a bite after pulling hundreds of pounds of glass, tires, and other debris from the river in Hudson.

As president of the Organization for the Assabet River I’m simply overwhelmed each year with the support we get from the people and businesses that are willing to roll up their sleeves, jump into the water and get dirty with the goal of a cleaner Assabet River for future generations.   This year proved that despite 24 years of doing this, often in the same spots, there is plenty of work left.  Face it, 100 hours of intense cleanup is just a nibble at the 100+ years of treating the river as a waste disposal area – but each year we get a little bit closer and that makes it all worth while.

(My deep thanks to Julia Khorana and all of the OAR staff, directors, and site coordinators who made this event successful, fun, and safe for all!)


Oh yea, technical stuff:

It was terrible harsh light all morning.  Perfect for everyone working, except me.

Canon 5D Mark 2 with 24-70mm f/2.8L, on a monopod.  Shot stills and video clips (which I hope to assemble into a short YouTube video in the next couple of days).

Canon 7D with the 70-200mm f/2.8L, handheld.    Both cameras had a polarizing filter on, for both improved water color saturation and to keep the apertures reasonable for video.

All of the images above were processed by Lightroom had most have some exposure tweaking to smooth out the lights and darks created by the harsh lighting.   Come to think of it I forgot to add clarity and vibrance…  (I’ll fix that in the forthcoming gallery.)

Because I was moving from deep shade to blistering sunshine, most of the time I shot with Auto-ISO, and either Av or Manual (for video).

Where Water Turns To Air

The inspiration for this image was the following scene:

[qt:/video/20103-263-6202.mov 800 450]

I’m not sure the video does the scene justice.  I wanted to try to capture the feeling of the explosion of water and air that was continually forming at the base of the waterfall.   I exposed the scene at a number of shutter speeds, but this one seemed, to me, to capture the dynamic nature of this event the best (so far) — where we see water transformed into something completely different.

Technical mumbo-jumbo:

Image capture was with a Canon 5D Mark II, 70-200mm f/2.8L at 135mm, 1/1000, f/9.0, ISO 1600, polarizer on Gitzo tripod and Manfrotto 701HDV fluid head.   Video capture used the same camera, lens, tripod, with unrecorded settings, 24p.

Lightroom post-processing: No exposure change, recovery 78 (to pull lots of detail from the foam), fill 39, black point 36 (to enhance the glow in the water), clarity +78, vibrance +19, relatively strong sharpening with masking set to keep the smooth areas artifact-free.

Video clip is just transcoded for web distribution – no editing.

Working the high water

The past few days have been pretty interesting here in eastern and central Massachusetts.  We picked up close to 7 inches of rain in our backyard, and this on top of a similar storm that passed through just a few weeks ago.  Consequently the rivers and streams in the area have been jumping their banks.

I’ve been trying to take advantage of this situation, although other commitments plus the occasional emergency has made this difficult.  Fortunately, for me, even though the damaging flood waters have mostly receded around here, it’ll be several days before things return to anything resembling normal stream flow.

The photo above was taken at the Powder Mill Dam in Acton where there is a small run-of-the-river hydropower plant in operation.  That’s the dam’s powerhouse reflected in water.  I suspect they are at peak production right now — Concord (who purchases the power) is a bit greener because of this.

This evening I’m off to Nashoba Brook in Acton to do some filming and I’m desperately hoping for some nice evening light.   My Canon 5D Mark 2 recently received its firmware upgrade allowing me to film at 24 frames/second which is what traditional film cameras do.  The difference is subtle but having spent our lives watching moving pictures at different rates there seems to be an almost subliminal change in how people perceive the two and for the little film I have in mind I want the smoother look of 24 fps.

Technical stuff: Photo taken with a Canon 5D Mark 2, 70-200mm f/2.8 @ f/20, 1/8 second, ISO 100, polarizer and 3-stop ND filter, cable release, sitting on a Gitzo tripod and Manfrotto 701HD fluid head (I was shooting video too).  Lightroom: played with fill and black point, removed one big dust spot but not a bunch of smaller ones (yet).  Bit of vibrance and clarity. Slight crop on the right to remove — I was shooting through a fence and it intruded on the right hand side creating a vignette-like appearance.

If you are interested in the river flooding saga here I shot a short YouTube video showing what it was happening here in Maynard near the peak flow: