Tag Archives: Rivers

January 2017 Wallpaper

Happy New Year!  This month’s photo was selected with two, somewhat opposing, thoughts in mind.  The first is to express my best wishes for the new year that is dawning upon us.  On many fronts I think it will be a hard-fought one in which to find joy, but the good things we believe in are worth fighting for.  And there is always the light of a new day.

The second thought that went into this selection is bittersweet.  The photograph, albeit from January 2010, is of the Assabet River in my backyard here in Maynard.   In 20-something days we will be handing over the stewardship of this part of the river to Jillian and John as Betsy and I move to (a far less picturesque location in) Fitchburg.   We’ve been here 30 years and we will miss the sound of the river waking us up each morning and singing us to sleep at night.  It has provided me with literally thousands of hours of scenes to photograph and treasure.  Our children and our grandchildren have dipped their feet in the water along the river’s shoreline, thrown hundreds of stones into it, forded its currents, and fed the occasional duck.  It’s time for a new generation to enjoy the gifts nature has provided us here in our little corner of the planet and we’re so very happy that the new owners are in as much love with the yard as we are and we’re sure they will take good care of it.

Here’s to fond memories of a small stretch of a small river … and the joy of discovering the beauty of the new vistas just over the horizon!

Here are your wallpaper options:

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

Download the 1280×800 version here.

Download the 1366×768 version here.

Download the 1920×1080 version here. (HDTV widescreen)

Download the 1680×1050 version here.

Download the 2448×1836 version here. (iPads with Retina Screens)

Technical: Canon 5D Mark II, 70-200mm f/2.8 @70mm, 1/15 sec at f/6.3, ISO 100. Processed with Lightroom CC, neutral profile. White balance pushed to 11000K to capture the warmth of the low light.  Generally few exposure tweaks: +0.2EV, highlights -37, whites +61, clarity +20, vibrance +20  Strong contrast curve.

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!)

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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).

Niki Tsongas River Day 2009

For the past few years Congresswoman Niki Tsongas devotes a day highlighting the role rivers play in the history, economy, and scenic background of her district.  The Assabet, Concord, Shawsheen, and Merrimack Rivers are flow through the 5th Congressional District and link the communities in it in numerous ways.

Last year I had the privilege of paddling with the Congresswoman down a stretch of the Concord River, ending up at the Old North Bridge in Minuteman National Historical Park.  This year she visited the Thoreau School in Concord.  The school has an outdoor classroom that abuts the Assabet River.

Here are a few pictures from the event.  More at: [url]http://community.dmg-photography.com/2009-tsongas-riverday[/url]

Students from the school gave short speeches describing their use of the outdoor classroom and some of the challenges and adventures they and their teacher have had in bringing it to life the past few years.

After the formal program the audience visited a tent with exhibits from the school, Mass Audubon, the Organization for the Assabet River, and the Friends of the Assabet River National Wildlife Refuge.   Libby Herland, project manager of the Eastern Massachusetts NWR Complex, talks with Niki Tsongas about the Blanding’s Turtle restoration program currently in progress at the Assabet River NWR.

Peter Alden shows off his fancy Invasive Plant Atlas of New England (IPANE) t-shirt…

Behind the Scenes at Work of 1000

Over the weekend I was a “set photographer” for the final scene in the documentary “Work of 1000“.   

Despite living 20 miles from the Nashua River, I was unaware until recently that a documentary was being filmed about the people who spearheaded its transformation from one of the most polluted rivers in the United States to one of our local gems.

In the 1960s Marion Stoddart looked at the Nashua River and decided that she would dedicate herself to healing this ailing natural resource.  At the time paper mills and other industries filled the river with dyes and toxins.  This, combined with raw sewage discharges from towns along the river, destroyed the river’s ecosystem and created a blight on the landscape that one could smell for miles around.

Marion was involved in the passage of the Massachusetts Clean Rivers Act which predates the Federal “Clean Water Act”.  She help create the Nashua River Cleanup Committee (a forerunner of the Nashua River Watershed Association). Her tenacity, dedication, diplomacy, and intelligence created a movement that reverberates to the present day.  Marion has been recognized by the United Nations, National Geographic, and countless environmental groups for her efforts.

I met Susan Edwards, producer of the documentary “Work of 1000”, which chronicles Marion’s work on the Nashua, at a local EMS store that was doing a weekend promotion of local environmental organizations.  I was there representing the Organization for the Assabet River and Susan was looking for supporters for her documentary.  

The storyboard for the final scene of the movie called for a helicopter shot of Marion paddling alone down the Nashua River, then followed by a myriad of other boats representing those that joined her in restoring the river.  Susan was looking for experienced paddlers to be part of the filming of this scene.  We immediately signed up and I offered my services as a photographer on that day if it could be of any value. 


That’s Bob Sisson and Beth ____ checking out the cameras for the morning’s activity.  Our charming run of weather had, unfortunately, forced the production team to cancel the helicopter due to the threat of thunderstorms so they went to “Plan B” which was a static shot from a bridge.

There were about 70 boats in the water and the team did a great job of wrangling everyone into the right places and having them do various maneuvers in support of the filming.  Lots of people brought their own boats, but fair percentage were supplied by Nashoba Paddler.  (In the small world department, I discovered that Nashoba Paddlers was owned by a former colleague from my days in the networks engineering group at Digital: Pete Carson.  I kept looking at Pete thinking “it sure looks like him, but…” — context is everything.)

Bob was the primary cinematographer for the day and the primary members of the production team were on the bridge communicating with others via cellphone, walkie-talkie, and bullhorn.  “Organized Chaos” is how they referred to the operation.

The helicopter shot would have been a single take.  Without the helicopter the team had the luxury of a second take and they took advantage of it.   I don’t know which one they will use, but I liked the feel of the 2nd one better.   Here Marion paddles back to join up with the throng of boats following her.


Marion is very spry for someone in their 80’s and she appeared to have a good time being the star of show — although I think she would have been just as happy to be paddling without all of the hub-bub.

For a final shot the boats all rafted together and waved.   While the river isn’t flowing quickly, the past few weeks of nearly daily rain still created a bit of a current and everyone worked very well together to make these scenes happen.

We all look forward to the release of this inspiring film about one of our local rivers.   And, if you have the chance, rent a boat from my friends Pete & Diane at Nashoba Paddler and experience this beautiful river firsthand.

Technical stuff: 

After milling about on-shore with the production team and participants I headed out on the water with the Canon 5D Mark 2 and the 500mm f/4 L and 24-70mm f/2.8L; and the 1D Mark 2 mounted with a 70-200mm f/2.8.  Betsy was in another kayak with a 40D and the 16-35mm f/2.8L.  There were other photographers there doing behind the scenes stuff, so during the filming I was standing off with the long lenses and out of the filming camera’s field of view. Betsy would be “in situ”, discretely photographing as a participant.   Thirty seconds after arriving at the marshaling site I realized that I should have brought my 10D and rigged it for a time-lapse of the area: getting 70 boats in and out of the water is no small feat and  it would have made a nice sequence.   Ah well.  Something to remember for the “next time” I do behind the scenes work on a river. 🙂

The images were processed and edited with Lightroom and uploaded for the production team that evening.  The only challenge was the sun.  We haven’t seen the sun here for  like a week and it was out strong for the filming.  The strong shadows required some fill light in a number of the images and that took a bit of extra time to get right.