Photographic Thoughts — 05/02/2021 to 05/08/2021

“Taking pictures is like tiptoeing into the kitchen late at night and stealing Oreo cookies.” — Diane Arbus

Thank you for all the new views and likes from last week. It helps keep me going. Enjoy my blog post!

Enjoy this week’s rambling mind of a mechanical engineer and photographer.

Sunday, 05/02/2021: Posted photo — Seeds.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/1600 s, 62 mm

These are the pods of one of the sweet birches, or cheery birch, trees in our yard. This is a wonderful time of year when the trees and flowers are starting to bloom. They bloom later in our area because of elevation. Some locations, such as Worcester and Boston, have their trees and plants in full bloom.

Sweet birch pods

Information section of this blog. There are four Common Birch Species according to the Treehuggers website. The four most common birch species in North America are:

Paper birch (Betula papyrifera): Also known as canoe birch, silver birch, or white birch, this is the species more widely recognized as the iconic birch. In its native environment, it can be found in forest borders across the northern and central U.S. Its bark is dark when the tree is young, but quickly develops the characteristic bright white bark that peels so readily in thick layers that it was once used to make bark canoes. The species grows to about 60 feet tall but is relatively short-lived. It is susceptible to borer insects and is no longer used widely in landscape design due to its susceptibility to damage.

River birch (Betula nigra): Sometimes called black birch, this species has a much darker trunk than the paper birch, but still has the characteristic flaky surface. In its native environment, it is common to the eastern third of the U.S. Its trunk has a much rougher, coarser appearance than most of the other birches, and it is bigger than the paper birch, sometimes growing to 80 feet or more. It prefers moist soil, and although short-lived, it is relatively immune to most diseases. It is a common choice in residential landscape design.

Yellow birch (Betula alleghaniensis): This tree is native to forests of the northeast U.S. and is also known as the swamp birch since it is often found in marshy areas. It is the largest of the birches, easily growing to 100 feet in height. It has silvery-yellow bark that peels in very thin layers. Its bark does not have the thick layers seen in paper birches nor the very rough texture seen in river birches.

Sweet birch (Betula lenta): This species, also known in some areas as the cherry birch, is native to the eastern U.S., especially the Appalachian region. Growing to 80 feet, its bark is dark in color, but unlike the dark river birch, the skin is relatively tight and smooth, with deep vertical scores. From a distance, the impression is of a smooth, silver bark marked by irregular vertical black lines.

Monday, 05/03/2021: Posted photo — Clouds.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 200, f/4, 1/125 s, 25 mm.

Here are some clouds I saw this morning before the rain. I liked the texture and colors in the clouds, so I took the photo. Here is a little information about clouds.

Clouds

While it is true that clouds contain water, they are not made of water vapor. If they were, you would not be able to see them. The air around us is partially made up of invisible water vapor. The cooler air causes the water droplets to start to stick to things like bits of dust, ice, or sea salt. It is only when that water vapor cools and condenses into liquid water droplets or solid ice crystals that visible clouds form. Clouds are important for many reasons. Rain and snow are two of those reasons. At night, clouds reflect heat and keep the ground warmer. During the day, clouds make shade that can keep us cooler.

Tuesday, 05/04/2021: Posted photo — Maple Growth.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/160 s, 106 mm.

Like the photo I took on Sunday, trees are budding in our yard. These are the leaves on one of the many sugar maples in our year. I have posted photos of these trees in the fall with their colorful leaves and during the winter/spring with they are tapped to make maple syrup.

How do I know this is a sugar maple and not a red maple? What is the difference between a sugar maple and a red maple? A Red maple has red twigs and buds (and red leaves in the fall and red flowers in the spring). The leaves of sugar maple, on the other hand, generally turn yellow or golden in the fall, and sugar maples have brown twigs and buds.

Sugar maple leaves starting to bud

The look great when they are in bloom. They do not look so great when I must rake the leaves in the fall. I would not have it any other way. I enjoy living in an area with many trees.

Wednesday, 05/05/2021: Posted photo — Mushrooms.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 1000, f/5.6, 1/125 s, 100 mm.

These are mushroom that grew almost overnight due to the rain in recent days. I just like the clustering of them.

Although mushrooms are classified as vegetables, technically they are not plants, but part of the kingdom called fungi. Mushrooms are low in calories, have virtually no fat and no cholesterol, and are very low in sodium. Fungus, plural fungi, any of about 144,000 known species of organisms of the kingdom Fungi, which includes the yeasts, rusts, smuts, mildews, molds, and mushrooms. There are also many funguslike organisms, including slime molds and oomycetes (water molds), that do not belong to kingdom Fungi but are often called fungi. Mushrooms with white gills are often poisonous. So are those with a ring around the stem and those with a volva. Because the volva is often underground, it is important to dig around the base of a mushroom to look for it. Mushrooms with a red color on the cap or stem are also either poisonous or strongly hallucinogenic.

Mushrooms after the rains

Thursday, 05/06/2021: Posted photo — Dandelions.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 100, f/7.1, 1/320 s, 87 mm.

Dandelion is a plant with yellow flowers. Taraxacum officinale is the most common variety of this plant, and it grows in many parts of the world. Botanists consider dandelions to be herbs. People use the leaves, stem, flower, and root of the dandelion for medicinal purposes.

There are five ways to eat dandelions according to Michigan State University:

  1. Dandelion green salad: This is the simplest way to use dandelion greens. Simply pick young greens (older ones are more bitter) and add them to a tossed salad. While you can make a salad out of just the dandelion greens, it tends to be too bitter for many people, especially kids.
  2. Sauteed greens: Cooking dandelions eliminates some of the bitterness. First boil the greens for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a pan with hot olive oil and garlic, and sauté for 3-5 minutes. Eat as is or add to other dishes like pasta or scrambled eggs.
  3. Dandelion fritters: Collect flower heads and wash them. Then batter in a flour, egg, and milk batter mix. Add to a pan with hot oil and cook until brown, just like pancakes. Serve with a drizzle of honey or applesauce.
  4. Baking with dandelion petals: The petals of the flower are extremely versatile. Collect flower heads and then remove the petals from the heads. These can be stored in a plastic bag in the freezer for longer keeping. Add petals to just about anything you can bake like muffins, bread, cookies, or quiche. They can also be added to things like hamburgers. The amount to use varies on your personal liking. Try adding a cup of petals to the mix the next time you make muffins or burgers.
  5. Dandelion root coffee/tea: This by far the most labor-intensive use of dandelion but some say it is worth the effort. Collect and wash dandelion roots. Chop or food process the roots and dry in a food dehydrator or the oven at 250 degrees Fahrenheit until thoroughly dry. Once dry, roast them in the oven at 350 F until they turn brown (but not burnt). Put roots and water in a pan and bring to boil (2 Tbs root to 16 oz water), then simmer for 20 minutes. Strain and drink.

People either use chemicals to kill them or they pull up the dandelions to get them off their lawns. According to Bob Vila, to dig up the dandelions, as any plant is more easily pulled from the ground if the soil is moist, first use the watering can to dampen the soil around the dandelion, and wait a few minutes for the moisture to settle in. Then, work a weeding knife down along the base of the dandelion in two or three places. Push the soil away from the root of the plant by wiggling the knife. Finally, grasp the base of the plant between your fingers and gently pull. If it still feels stuck, work the weeding knife around some more, and then gently pull out the entire taproot with the dandelion.

Here is a way to kill dandelions without using chemicals. Simply pouring vinegar over the dandelions changes the acidity in the soil for long enough to kill the weeds. For a faster punch, mix pickling vinegar with boiling water in equal parts for your dandelion killer. Pickling vinegar has more acid that distilled white vinegar, so it makes a more effective herbicide.

Dandelion

There is much information in this week’s blog. Wonder if I will be keeping it up for the remainder of the week.

Friday, 05/07/2021: Post photo — Milky Way.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 3200, f/3.5, 1/20 s, 18 mm.

These are some of the first “good” photos that I have taken of the Milky Way. The vertical Milky Way was taken at the Needles section of Canyonland National Park. This was the first photo of the Milky Way that I liked. I learned much about my settings and techniques while taking this photo. I made may rookie errors, such as incorrect camera settings and not taking a series of photos to stake. The Needles section of Canyonland National Park is one of the dark sky areas in the Unites States. This photo was taken very early in the morning, 2 a.m., after the moon had set. The second, or diagonal photo, was taken last year when we were observing the Comet Neowise.

The Milky Way is the galaxy that contains our Solar System, with the name describing the galaxy’s appearance from Earth: a hazy band of light seen in the night sky formed from stars that cannot be individually distinguished by the naked eye.

The Milky Way from Canyonlands National Park

This photo has been included in my blog at the request of another blogger. Thank you for the request. Posting this photo is incentive for me to get out and make the adjustments to my camera settings and post processing to get a better photo of the Milky Way. As with my moon photos, I need to get out and practice more.

Milky Way during my comet observation

Quick starting camera setting: ISO 2500, Shutter Speed 25 sec, and Aperture f/2.8 (or as wide as possible). A good steady tripod and a dark sky are also needed. There are many websites and books on how to photograph the Milky Way. And as a reminder when your camera is on a tripod, turn off image stabilization, or vibration stabilization, on your camera. With these settings on your photos will not be in focus.

Saturday, 05/08/2021: Post photo — Double Falls.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 100, f/22, 1/10 s, 18 mm.

These falls are located at the end of Snows Millpond and lead into Whitman River. The building above the falls is a papermill. There are still a few papermills operating in the nearby town.

Snows Millpond is a reservoir located just 2.8 miles from Fitchburg. Fishermen will find a variety of fish including largemouth bass and others here. Alternate names for this reservoir include Snow Mill Pond and Snows Mill Pond.

Double falls

The Whitman River is an 8.4-mile-long (13.5 km) river in Massachusetts that flows through Ashburnham, Westminster, and Fitchburg. It arises from Lake Wampanoag in Ashburnham, travels through a couple of ponds in Westminster, and ultimately joins Phillips Brook in Fitchburg to form the North Nashua River. The North Nashua River flows 19.9 miles (32.0 km), generally southeastward, past Fitchburg and joins the South Nashua River, about 5 miles (8.0 km) below its issuance from the Wachusett Reservoir, to form the Nashua River. The Nashua River is 37.5 miles (60.4 km) long and is a tributary of the Merrimack River. The Merrimack River is a 117-mile-long (188 km) river that rises at the confluence of the Pemigewasset and Winnipesaukee rivers in Franklin, New Hampshire, flows southward into Massachusetts, and then flows northeast until it empties into the Gulf of Maine at Newburyport.

That is all for now. Until next week, be safe.

For more photo of other project I have work, visit my website: https://photobyjosephciras.weebly.com/ or visit me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PhotobyJosephCiras/.

COVID is real! Be safe out there, keep your social distance, and remember to always wear your mask and wash your hands.

Photographic Thoughts—04/25/2021 to 05/01/2021

“It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.” — Paul Caponigro

Thank you for all the new views and likes from last week. It helps keep me going. Enjoy my blog post!

Sunday, 04/25/2021: Posted photo—Flower to be Named Later.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/250 s, 135 mm

The name of the flower is … Calibrachoa.

Calibrachoa, commonly called million bells or trailing petunia, is a tender perennial that produces mounds of foliage, growing only 3 to 9 inches (7.5-23 cm.) tall, along trailing stems and flowers in shades of violet, blue, pink, red, magenta, yellow, bronze and white. Introduced in the early 1990s, all cultivars of Calibrachoa are hybrids with the original species native to South America. They are prolific bloomers from spring to frost.

Calibrachoa

These calibrachoa were purchased as part of a Relay for Life (RFL) fundraiser. They are in a hanger and will be kept in the hanger outside. RFL is a fundraising event sponsored by the American Cancer Society to raise money for cancer research.

Monday, 04/26/2021: Posted photo—Stone Wall.

Settings: FUGIFILM FinePix XP70, ISO 200, f/4.4, 1/58 s, 8 mm.

The wall in this photo is on Bicentennial Trail on Wachusett Mountain. It is one of many field stone walls that I have passed while hiking in New England.

Stone Wall in the woods

Paraphrasing from Atlas Obscura: “Walk into a patch of forest in New England, and chances are you will—almost literally—stumble across a stone wall. Thigh-high, perhaps, it is cobbled together with stones of various shapes and sizes, with splotches of lichen and spongy moss instead of mortar. Most of the stones are what are called “two-handers”—light enough to lift, but not with just one hand. The wall winds down a hill and out of sight. According to Robert Thorson, a landscape geologist at University of Connecticut, these walls are “damn near everywhere” in the forests of rural New England. He estimates that there are more than 100,000 miles of old, disused stone walls out there, or enough to circle the globe four times.

Wall-building peaked in the mid-1800s when, Thorson estimates, there were around 240,000 miles of them in New England. That amounts to roughly 400 million tons of stone, or enough to build the Great Pyramid of Giza—more than 60 times over.”

New England’s first farmers of European descent found themselves plowing soil strewn with rocks left behind by glaciers. So, stone by stone, they stacked the rocks into waist-high walls. Some say these walls helped win the American Revolution, and they later inspired Robert Frost’s poem “Mending Wall.” Each year frost heaves pushed still more stones to the surface, which some of those early farmers said was the work of the devil. Generations later, farmers returned time and again to repair the walls as the years went by.

Here is a little history about a wall in my hometown that was posted in a local newspaper. I have posted a photo of this wall in the past and I will post it here again.

“Edmund Proctor moved to a farm in Westminster in 1852. He continued the farm there and lived in his house on the side of North Common road for the rest of his life. But, as true for most things, his life on the farm was not without conflict.

His nearest neighbor, Farwell Morse, lived across the street. The two houses were close, so close both neighbors could hear and see what the other was doing all day.

Upon discovering Edmund Proctor working on his farm one Sunday, Farwell Morse was astonished. Morse did not want to hear his neighbor working, not to mention yelling, on Sunday. Morse told Proctor of his objection and asked that he stop swearing at his oxen while working on his farmland. Morse thought that was that.

But this was not the end for Edmund Proctor. So firmly fixed in his beliefs, Proctor was resolved to keep working on Sunday, whether his neighbor liked it or not.

So, Proctor built a wall. A wall made of stones- the tallest of its type in Massachusetts. His barricade was directly in front of his house and blocked him from view of Morse. He kept piling stones on his wall until the day he died in 1880, when he was 71 years old.

His decades-lasting project became known as “The Spite Wall,” a suitable name for the enormous barrier stubbornly hiding the land behind it. At almost 11 feet tall, Proctor’s Spite Wall is still visible today.

There is no known response of what Morse thought of his neighbor’s blatant stand against Morse’s beliefs. But we can imagine how shocked he might have been.”

Tuesday, 04/27/2021: Posted photo—Bright Morning Sky.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/40 s, 106 mm.

Today’s photo is about being at the right place at the right time. Saw this sky on my drive into work. I had to stop and take a photo of it before the colors were gone.

Wonderful bright morning sky

Wednesday, 04/28/2021: Posted photo—COVID Vaccine.

Settings: Samsung SM-G930V (Galaxy S7), ISO 160, f/1.7, 1/60 s, 4 mm.

Short and sweet today. Revieved my second COVID vaccine shot today. Tired with a slight headache. Two week and I will be almost fully vaccinated.

Vaccination sticker

Get your vaccine!

Thursday, 04/29/2021: Posted photo—El Capitan.

Settings: KODAK EASYSHARE C613, ISO 80, f/4.8, 1/434 s, 6 mm.

El Capitan, also known as El Cap, is a vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park, located on the north side of Yosemite Valley, near its western end. The granite monolith is about 3,000 feet from base to summit along its tallest face and is a popular objective for rock climbers. It was one of the last wonders we saw in the park. We spent most of our visit exploring around Yosemite Village.

El Capitan

Yosemite is my favorite National Park. The Grand Canyon is a very close second. If I could have two favorites these would be the two. Looking at the rock face, my family and I see many faces on the cliff. If you look closely, can you see them?

Here is a photo of some climbers looking like they are setting up their sleeping hammock for the night.

Getting ready to hang out for the night

Friday, 04/30/2021: Post photo—Roadblock.

Settings: FUJIFILM FinePix XP70, ISO 200, f/4.9, 1/90 s, 16 mm

This is the second time this week that I have been stopped by a rafter of turkeys. This time the tom was stopping traffic as his family crossed the road.

Turkey roadblock

I was on my way to hike a route that I did last week to measure its mileage. Last week my phone died when on this route and I wanted to verify the mileage that my mapping program gave me for the route. They were both the same.

Saturday, 05/01/2021: Post photo—Hobblebush.

Settings: Samsung SM-G930V (Galaxy S7), ISO 50, f/1.7, 1/4240 s, 4 mm.

Hobblebush is a 6-12 ft., open, straggling shrub, often with pendulous outer branches which root where they touch the ground. Flat-topped clusters of white flowers have a lacy effect similar to some hydrangeas and contrast well with the medium green foliage. Berries change from red to blue. The fall foliage is usually bright red. This shrub has fragrant, flat-topped clusters of small, white flowers, the outer flowers larger than the inner ones.

Hobblebush along the trail

This straggly shrub has beautiful bronze-red or purple- pin autumn coloration and is used by wildlife for food and cover. Its branches often bend and take root, tripping or “hobbling” passers-by; hence its common name.

This one is on Harrington Trail on Wachusett Mountain. Identified it with my Seek app. Sorry for the photo being washed out. I took it with my cell phone quickly as I passed by it.

For more photo of other project I have work, visit my website: https://photobyjosephciras.weebly.com/ or visit me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PhotobyJosephCiras/.

COVID is real! Be safe out there, keep your social distance, and remember to always wear your mask and wash your hands.

Photographic Thoughts—04/18/2021 to 04/24/2021

“A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.” — Edward Steichen

Thank you for all the new views and likes from last week. It helps keep me going. Enjoy my blog post!

Sunday, 04/18/2021: Posted photo—American Bison.

Settings: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, ISO 320, f/6.3, 1/320 s, 300 mm

While at Wind Cave National Park in Hot Springs, SD we wanted to see some bison. Bison Flats seems to be a good place possible see bison. Bison Flats to the left, what is that to the right, let us explore. It is a herd of 300 bison! No need to go to Bison Flats. What a sight to see. So graceful for such large animals.

From the National Park website: “Discover the Biodiversity of the Prairie. Bison, elk, and other wildlife roam the rolling prairie grasslands and forested hillsides of one of America’s oldest national parks. Below the remnant island of intact prairie sits Wind Cave, one of the longest and most complex caves in the world. Named for barometric winds at its entrance, this maze of passages is home to boxwork, a unique formation rarely found elsewhere.”

Such an amazing place to visit. As with all the National Parks, Wind Cave offers some great views and wonderful exploring. We were situated below a hill at out campsite. We were joking about seeing a herd of bison or elk stampeding over the hill while we were sleeping.

American bison

The next day we explored the cave and then wanted to see bison. As you can see from the posted photo, we did see bison. We saw the bull and then the herd follow him. What a great sight to see nature in action.

Monday, 04/19/2021: Posted photo—Fish Story.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/320 s, 135 mm.

Stopped by the Old Mill today after work to take my photo. When I arrive at the duck pond, I do not know the location of the ducks and geese in the pond. Today, when I arrived, this goose was near the duck house and was eating some bread that someone had given it a few minutes before. When this goose saw me, he stood up and started flapping his wings and squawking.

Goose at the Old Mill duck pond

I took a series of photos and saw this one with the wings spread as if it was telling me a fish story. Maybe it was about a fish he saw, maybe it was about a hawk or eagle he saw earlier, or maybe it was about something else. I just like the way this photo came out.

Tuesday, 04/20/2021: Posted photo—Rug.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/40 s, 47 mm.

Need a photo? Sitting outside watching a two-year-old playing? Sitting on an outdoor carpet? That is what happened today. I looked at the carpet and saw this pattern and took this photo. The contrast between the white and the green caught my eye. I have seen this before, but this time I took a photo of it. We have had this outdoor rug, or carpet, for a few years now and it is still in good condition.

Always keep you eyes open for a photo opportunity. You never know when one will appear.

Pattern on outdoor rug or carpet

Wednesday, 04/21/2021: Posted photo—Grape Hyacinths.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 100, f/7.1, 1/125 s, 60 mm

Grape hyacinths (Muscari) look much like little miniature hyacinths. These plants are smaller and only get about 6 to 8 inches (16 to 20 cm.) high. Each grape hyacinth flower looks like it has little beads all strung together up and down the stem of the plant.

Grape hyacinths do not need a whole lot of care after they flower. They do fine with natural rainfall and do not need fertilizer. Once their leaves die off, you can cut them back. In the fall, new leaves will grow, which will remind you of the pretty grape hyacinth flower to look forward to coming spring once more.

Grape hyacinths

These grape hyacinths are growing at my mother’s house in her front yard. I have seen this plant on my travels and this was the first day that I saw them at her house. I got down low to the ground and took this photo. I like the pattern that is on each one of the beads.

Thursday, 04/22/2021: Posted photo—Sunset.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 200, f/7.1, 1/500 s, 135 mm.

Another summit sunset photo

Seven Principles of Leave No Trace (LNT)

  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors

hikeSafe Hiker Responsibility Code (per Safe Hiking in New Hampshire)

You are responsible for:

  1. Knowledge and gear. Become self reliant by learning about the terrain, conditions, local weather and your equipment before you start.
  2. To leave your plans. Tell someone where you are going, the trails you are hiking, when you’ll return and your emergency plans.
  3. To stay together. When you start as a group, hike as a group, end as a group. Pace your hike to the slowest person.
  4. To turn back. Weather changes quickly in the mountains. Fatigue and unexpected conditions can also affect your hike. Know your limitations and when to postpone your hike. The mountains will be there another day.
  5. For emergencies. Even if you are headed out for just an hour, an injury, severe weather or a wrong turn could become life threatening. Don’t assume you will be rescued; know how to rescue yourself.
  6. To share the hiker code with others.

Why did I start this post with the LTN principles and the hikeSafe principles? I went on a hike tonight with a new group for the first time. I am looking for a group to hike with once this madness is over an I wanted to try this group out. One of the questions that I askes was the first principle of LNT and the second one listed in the hikeSafe Hiker Responsibility Code, what is the route we are taking and how long to the hikes last. The answer was the hikes last about two hours and we make up the route as we go. Not the answers I was looking to hear. These are experienced hikers, and I would like to hike with them again. One of the things a leader must do is to know the group and select the trail that is best for most of the people. The trail may not be good for all, but the trail should be selected before the hike to the LNT and hikeSafe principles can be followed.

When I hike, I leave my planned route with my son or wife if my son is hiking with me. I estimate the return time and let them know that also. I do not stray from that route just incase something happens to me; people can come looking for me in the reverse order of my hike.

Here are the ten essentials that you should always take on a hike:

Ten Essential Systems

  1. Navigation: Map, compass, altimeter, GPS device, personal locator beacon (PLB) or satellite messenger.
  2. Headlamp: Plus extra batteries.
  3. Sun protection: Sunglasses, sun-protective clothes and sunscreen.
  4. First aid: Including foot care and insect repellent (as needed).
  5. Knife: Plus a gear repair kit.
  6. Fire: Matches, lighter, tinder and/or stove.
  7. Shelter: Carried at all times (can be a light emergency bivy).
  8. Extra food: Beyond the minimum expectation.
  9. Extra water: Beyond the minimum expectation.
  10. Extra clothes: Beyond the minimum expectation.

Now about the photo. This is the sunset from the summit of Wachusett Mountain. It was very windy at the summit, so I only took a few photos. I like the way this one came out because of the colors and shading. Nature is amazing. No two sunsets are the same and each one is worth the hike.

I am hoping to see the sunset again with this group. I will try again to hike with them and to enjoy the company of other hikers.

Always follow the seven LNT Principles, the hikeSafe Hiker Responsibility Code, and carry the Ten Essentials when on the trail, no matter how short the hike.

Friday, 04/23/2021: Post photo—Turkey.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 3200, f/7.1, 1/50 s, 135 mm

After a long-winded and venting post yesterday, today will be short.

As I was driving into work today, I was stopped by a rafter of turkeys. I have seen these turkeys off the side of the road when either arriving at work or leaving work. Today they were standing in the road and I had to move slowly towards them to get them to move. This one was just standing there looking at me as if it wanted to know what I was doing.

Turkey blocking the road

Saturday, 04/24/2021: Post photo—Treads.

Settings: Samsung SM-G930V (Galaxy S7), ISO 200, f/1.7, 1/24 s, 4 mm.

I took a risk today that we will not be getting any more snow. I took my car in to change out my snow tires. I got up early to bring time in since the place I bring my car is very busy on the weekends. I had to wait three hours before they could take me. I wanted to go early so I could get my Saturday hike in before the crowds. The early hike did not happen, so I hike on a back trail that most people do not hike much later than I wanted. The summit was crowded by not overcrowded as much as it could be.

While on the summit I took some bearings: Boston is at 172°, Mount Monadnock is at 338°, and the city of Worcester is at 84°. Boston and Worcester were not very clear to see. Knowing the mountain, I know the general direction of these cities. These cities are the two biggest cities in New England.

Snow tire treads

In case you are wondering, the photo is of the treads on Bridgestone Blizzak Snow tires. I liked the pattern. They look like they could grip the snow very well.

For more photo of other project I have work, visit my website: https://photobyjosephciras.weebly.com/ or visit me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PhotobyJosephCiras/. COVID is real! Be safe out there, keep your social distance, and remember to always wear your mask and wash your hands. I get my second COVID vaccination on Wednesday this week. Get vaccinated!

Photographic Thoughts—04/11/2021 to 04/17/2021

“Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.” — Don McCullin

Thank you for all the new views and likes from last week. It helps keep me going. Enjoy my blog post!

Sunday, 04/11/2021: Posted photo—Lesser Periwinkle.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 250, f/7.1, 1/160 s, 100 mm

Vinca minor (Lesser Periwinkle) is a vigorous, evergreen mat-forming perennial with glossy dark green leaves and large lavender blue flowers from mid-spring to early summer. Borne over a long period, they continue to flower intermittently throughout summer into fall and are valuable for enlivening dark areas.

This lesser periwinkle lives in the front yard of my mother’s house. The flower caught my eye yesterday when I visited her. Today, when I went back to visit, I took a photo of it before going into the house. I just like the contrast of the purple against the green grass or the dirt.

Monday, 04/12/2021: Posted photo—Radio Relay Station.

Settings: FUJIFILM FinePix XP70, ISO 100, f/8, 1/420 s, 12 mm.

Wachusett Mountain is the highest point in Massachusetts east of the Connecticut River. It is a good location for communication towers, fire watch towers, and radio relay stations.

This Radio Relay Station was installed by the US Army Corps of Engineers. It is equipped with an emergency generator and radio equipment and provides relay communications for 31 flood control projects in the area. I have added a couple other photos from tonight’s hike. One shows a small boulder field that is on the trail, one show both antennas on the Radio Relay Station, and the other photo is of the sign attached to the Radio Relay Station.

As part of my photo project, I take photo of different objects. Sometimes for no reason at all. Sometimes they are impulsive photos. This one was an impulsive photo.

Tuesday, 04/13/2021: Posted photo—Sugar Plum Fairies.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 3200, f/5.6, 1/160 s, 44 mm.

From the Story Behind the Nutcracker: “Ironically, the Sugar Plum Fairy is not found in the original E.T.A. Hoffman story Nutcracker and Mouse King or in Alexandre’s Dumas’s The Tale of the Nutcracker, the retelling on which the ballet’s first libretto was based. Additionally, during the era in which The Nutcracker ballet was developed, the term “sugar plum” referred not only to a specific sweet, but, as author Samira Kawash points out, was also “the universal signifier everything sweet and delectable and lovely.” She further explains that the actual “sugar plums” of those days were, in fact, mostly sugar and no plum. They were treats in the category of “comfit”– candy created by layering sugar coating over a seed or nut center. She cites Jordan Almonds as a modern-day parallel. So, with a name that refers to anything and everything sweet and wonderful in the world, it makes sense then that the Sugar Plum Fairy is chosen to rule the Land of Sweets while the Prince is away in Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker.”

I have not seen the ballet so I cannot comment on it. One of my nephews dance and my mother-in-law took him to see it in Boston a few years ago. He enjoyed it very much.

These Sugar Plum Fairies are on a music box that my mother has in her special hutch. It is in the hutch along with all her unicorn figurines and other little figurines in trinkets. She also keeps the good china that is only to be used when company comes over in this hutch. This is a hutch that we were not to touch when we were little.

Wednesday, 04/14/2021: Posted photo—Garden of Gethsemane.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 1600, f/5.6, 1/13 s, 24 mm

The Garden of Gethsemane is where Jesus prayed on the night of His betrayal and arrest (Mark 14:32-50). According to the record in Luke, Jesus’ despair in Gethsemane was so deep that He sweat drops of blood (Luke 44-22:43). “Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed.” (Matthew 37-26:36)

This three-dimensional painting is on my mother’s mantle. She has many religious icons and symbols around the house. I do not know whose Rosary that is, but it has been with this painting for as long as I remember.

I look at this painting every time I visit her and kept meaning to take a photograph of it. Today I finally did. I have been looking online to find out the origin and history behind the image and cannot find a good match. If anyone can help me out, please put it in the comment section.

Thursday, 04/15/2021: Posted photo—Summit in the Clouds.

Settings: FUJIFILM FinePix XP70, ISO 100, f/4.4, 1/70 s, 8 mm.

Last month I posted a photo of this fire watch tower and gave a little history of it. Tonight, I hiked up to it in the rain. The summit was in the low-lying clouds and it was wet. I wanted to take this photo to show the conditions on the summit.

The hike itself was good. The trails on the route I took were slippery and wet, but I was ready for the weather and the conditions. I was the only person hiking today. I did see a trail runner, but no other hikers. Trail running must have been interesting on the wet rocks and mud.

We are expecting five to seven inches of snow tonight into tomorrow. The current plan is to post some snow photos tomorrow. We will have to wait and see if that happens.

Friday, 04/16/2021: Post photo—Staghorn Sumac.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 400, f/8, 1/125 s, 39 mm

From the Farmer’s Almanac: “The staghorn sumac is a 15-30 feet, colony-forming, deciduous shrub with crooked, leaning trunks, picturesque branches, and velvety twigs. Large, bright green, pinnately-compound leaves become extremely colorful in early fall. Staghorn sumac is often used in mass plantings, for naturalizing, or on steep slopes. Its open habit and hairy stems resemble horns on a male deer, giving staghorn sumac its name. It is one of the last plants to leaf out in the spring with bright green leaves that change to an attractive yellow, orange, and scarlet in fall. Ground, dried sumac berries taste great as a spice rub for lamb, fish and chicken. These berries are also used as a salad topping, and you can include them in your favorite dressings. Middle Eastern chefs use sumac as a topping for fattoush salad, and are often sprinkled on hummus to add both color and a zesty flavor.”

I see these sumacs often and like the contrast of the red against the white snow.

As I was writing this, I noticed that this was the second time that I used the words “like the contrast” as a reason to take a photo.

Here are a couple more photos from today’s snow storm.

Saturday, 04/17/2021: Post photo—Trail Junction.

Settings: FUJIFILM FinePix XP70, ISO 100, f/8, 1/250 s, 10 mm.

Today I went out on a hike earlier in the day than I normally do since I am going to visit my mother later in the day. Yesterday we received about 6-10 inches of snow. I hiked on the mountain today in the snow since I know that there would be fewer people hiking today. The snow was sticky and microspikes were needed. I have not much to say today.

Here are more photos of my hike.

For more photo of other project I have work, visit my website: https://photobyjosephciras.weebly.com/ or visit me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PhotobyJosephCiras/.

COVID is real! Be safe out there, keep your social distance, and remember to always wear your mask and wash your hands.

Photographic Thoughts—04/04/2021 to 04/10/2021

“You don’t take a photograph. You ask quietly to borrow it.” — Unknown

Thank you for all the new views and likes from last week. It helps keep me going. Enjoy my blog post!

Sunday, 04/04/2021: Posted photo—Easter Mass.

Settings: Samsung SM-G930V, ISO 125, f/1.7, 1/60 s, 4 mm

Easter Sunday is one of the most festive events among Christians worldwide. It commemorates Jesus Christ’s resurrection from death, as written in the Christian bible. Easter Sunday commemorates Jesus’ resurrection from death.

Holy Week is most definitely a very sacred time of the year. It is the time that we will commemorate and remember the last week of Jesus’ life on this earth. Holy Week starts out with Palm Sunday. On this day, the crowds welcomed Jesus by waving palm branches and shouting praise to Him. These are the days leading up to the great Easter Feast.  Especially important for Catholics is the Easter Triduum. This is the three days just before Easter. On Holy Thursday, we reenact the Lord’s Last Supper, which He shared with His apostles on the night He was betrayed and arrested. On Good Friday, the day of the crucifixion and death of our Lord, we have the veneration of the Cross. Holy Saturday is a vigil, we keep watch for the expectant rising of Our Savior. Then comes the glory of Easter Sunday when He rose from the dead.

Easter Sunday changes every year. It is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. The earliest possible date for Easter is March 22 and the latest possible date for Easter is April 25. Easter can never come as early as March 21 because of ecclesiastical rules in which the vernal equinox has a fixed date of March 21. This is what happened last year.

St. Denis Church dressed up for Easter Sunday

This is a photo of St. Denis Church prior to Easter Mass looking down from the choir loft. Happy and blessed Easter to all.

Monday, 04/05/2021: Posted photo—Brenizer Method.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 100, f/7.1, 1/160 s to 1/1600 s, 34 mm (16 photos).

The Brenizer Method, sometimes referred to as Bokeh Panorama or Bokehrama, is a photographic technique characterized by the creation of a digital image exhibiting a shallow depth of field in tandem with a wide angle of view. The Brenizer Method is named after wedding photographer, Ryan Brenizer. He invented the method (but did not name it) and made it popular by using it with his wedding clients, and teaching others how to do it as well. This is a method of stitching together a series of photos taken in a particular pattern.

Brenizer stack of the dam at Round Meadow Pond in Westminster

This photo is a series of 16 photos that I stitch together. I used this technique today since it has been a while since I used it. As time goes on, I look at my old photos and tell myself to get pack to practice techniques. This is a great location to practice different photographic techniques.

Tuesday, 04/06/2021: Posted photo—What is it.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 1600, f/5.6, 1/160 s, 55 mm.

Occasionally I like to post a photo to see if someone can guess what it is. Today is one of those days. I saw this object and wanted to do such a photo. I thought that this one would be easier than most of them. I was not. Some people were close with their guess and second guessed themselves. These are always a fun challenge.

What is this object?

What is the object? It is a stack of Styrofoam cups. I took this photo since I like the way the grains in the Styrofoam looked. As done with many things, such as Coke or Duck tape or Scotch tape, we use a trademarked name as a general description of a product. Styrofoam is a trademarked brand of closed-cell extruded polystyrene foam, or XPS. This foam is also referred to as “Blue Board” and is used for building insulation, thermal insulation, and water barriers. Styrofoam is owned and manufactured by The Dow Chemical Company.

Wednesday, 04/07/2021: Posted photo—First Daffodil.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 160, f/7.1, 1/80 s, 55 mm

This is one of the first signs that spring has arrived. The daffodils in our yard are starting to bloom. I have been watching the flower sprout over the last few days and today was the first time that I have seen it flower. We have multiple patches of daffodils in our yard. This year there seems to be many more blooming than in past years. Maybe someone that reads this can tell me why this is the case.

Daffodils are a fall-planted bulb, so plant them in autumn and they will bloom in late winter or early spring. The traditional daffodil flower may be a showy yellow or white, with six petals and a trumpet-shape central corona, but many cultivated varieties (“cultivars”) exist today.

First daffodil of the year

Thursday, 04/08/2021: Posted photo—Roses.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/100 s, 64 mm

“The Presence of the Rose by Angela Morgan

From out imprisoning petals—velvet, red—
Thy soul slips forth in fragrance wondrous sweet—
A silent subtle presence—never fled,
That makes thy mastery over me complete.”

During my visit with my mother today, she wanted me to water all her flowers and plants. She has been getting flowers from many people over the past few weeks. I had already taken photos of different subjects to post today and then I saw these roses. I asked her who gave them to her, and she could not remember. Flowers are a favorite subject of mine throughout the spring, summer, and fall seasons because of their colors and textures.

Roses for a sweet lady

No matter how old you are, your mother is your mother, so listen to her and be kind and helpful to her. My mother is 95 years old and still treats us as her young children.

Friday, 04/09/2021: Post photo—Painted Wall.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 400, f/8, 1/125 s, 39 mm

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is a park I never heard about before visiting. It is a small park, but one that should be explored. We camped at the park and did some hiking around the rim of the canyon. Night skies were dark and the sound of the Gunnison River running through the canyon was very relaxing.

Some facts from the Uncover Colorado website:

  1. The Gunnison River drops an average of 43 feet per mile through the canyon, SIX times more than the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.
  2. Colorado’s biggest cliff is the Black Canyon’s Painted Wall. Standing 2,250 feet tall from river to rim, Black Canyon’s Painted Wall is the tallest cliff in Colorado and the third tallest in the lower 48, after El Cap and Notch Peak. For comparison, the Washington Monument stands at a measly 555 feet and the Empire State Building stands at just 1,250 feet.
  3. Black Canyon gets its name because some parts of the gorge receive only 33 total minutes of sunlight per day.
  4. It has some of the world’s oldest exposed rock. the rocks exposed at the bottom of the canyon are nearly 2 billion years old, dating from the Precambrian era.
  5. It is the least-visited national park in Colorado, and one of the lesser visited parks overall.
Painted Wall at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Explore the National Parks. I have been to only 30 of the 59 National Parks and would like to get out and see more of them. In total, I have been to 87 other National Monuments, National Historical Parks, and other entities of the national park system.

Saturday, 04/10/2021: Post photo—Rock Climbing.

Settings: FinePix XP70, ISO 100, f/4.1, 1/420 s, 6 mm.

The Crow Hills, located in Massachusetts’ Leominster State Forest 2.5 miles northeast of Mount Wachusett, are a single monadnock with a twin summit, 1,234 feet and 1,220 feet, and a high eastern cliff. The hills are a popular rock climbing, bouldering, and hiking destination. In my younger years I did some rock climbing there myself.

Rock climbing on Crow Hills

To get to the Crow Hills, I hiked the Midstate Trail. Round trip from my house to the cliffs is about eight miles. It was a great day for a hike. I stayed away from Wachusett Mountain today since it is overcrowded. My son and his friend hiked earlier today, mid-morning, and told me to say away because of all the people. On a nice day, such as today, people with no experience are out hiking making it not very enjoyable. Everyone has to start out sometime, I know, but because of COVID people are taking too many risks on the mountain.

On the trail there are trail markers. Now here is a short lesson on trail markers. First of all, they mark the trail. They tell you when to go straight or when the trail turns. If there are two makers in the same direction on top of themselves, go straight. If there is a marker pointing to the right, turn right. If there is a marker pointing to the left, turn left. Simple as that. Markers are very useful if you are not familiar with the trail. Just look for the next marker. A Leave No Trace principle is to travel and camp on durable surfaces. This means if the trail is through a mud puddle, go through that mud puddle. Lesson over.

Here are some photos of the different trail markings that I encountered during my hike today.

For more photo of other project I have work, visit my website: https://photobyjosephciras.weebly.com/ or visit me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PhotobyJosephCiras/.

COVID is real! Be safe out there, keep your social distance, and remember to always wear your mask and wash your hands.

Photographic Thoughts—03/28/2021 to 04/03/2021

“What makes photography a strange invention is that the primary raw materials are light and time.” — John Berger

Thank you for all the new views and likes from last week. It helps keep me going. Enjoy my blog post!

Sunday, 03/28/2021: Posted photo—Upton School.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/500 s, 32 mm

Part of the National Register of Historic Places, the Upton School was used as a high school from 1912 to 1960, and as an elementary school until 1994 when a new elementary school was built. The Westminster Historical Society purchased the building in 1997. It is in the Westminster Village-Academy Hill Historic District. The building is now vacant and there has been much discussion around town as to what to do with it.

Upton School, Westminster, MA

Interesting fact: Under Federal Law, the listing of a property in the National Register places no restrictions on what a non-federal owner may do with their property up to and including destruction, unless the property is involved in a project that receives Federal assistance, usually funding or licensing/permitting. However, before this occurs, you can, or the property owner should contact the State historic preservation office (SHPO.) The SHPO is the state agency that oversees historic preservation efforts in their state. There may be state or local preservation laws that the owner should be aware of before they undertake a project with a historic property.

Monday, 03/29/2021: Posted photo—Drive By Falls.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 100, f/36, 1/10 s, 55 mm.

I have driven by the Steamline Trail Park in West Fitchburg several times, not thinking anything of it. It is not a spectacular park or a very big park from what I have seen from the road. As I was driving past it today, I noticed a dam with water flowing over the dam. It might be because there are not any leaves on the trees yet. I stopped in to take this photo.

I found out that the park is 4.15 acre and is located at 465 Westminster Street, and includes a parking lot and walking trail along the Nashua River and Flag Brook. This park is the first implementation of the City of Fitchburg’s plans to develop a network of trails along the Nashua River, connecting to trails in Leominster and Westminster.

A steam line is a pipe that carries steam from one building to another. The steam was used to run turbines and other industrial equipment in factories. Fitchburg was a factory town. Many of the factories are no longer in operation and the steam distribution lines are still visible and are being taken down due to safety concerns.

The falls at Steamline Trail Park

Time to go exploring.

Tuesday, 03/30/2021: Posted photo—Waning Gibbous Moon.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 200, f/16, 1/125 s, 300 mm.

A waning gibbous moon at 95.3% this morning. I saw the moon rise last night. It was large and reddish and a wonderful site. On my ride into work today, the moon was lighting my way calling to me to take its photo. I have taken many photos of the moon. Some with my “moon” lens and some with my 300 mm lens. This one was taken handheld with my 300 mm lens as I was getting out of my car to go into work.

Morning moon

Sometimes the subject of a photograph just calls to you.

Wednesday, 03/31/2021: Posted photo—Corrugation.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 800, f/5.6, 1/40 s, 49 mm

According to the dictionary: “corrugation — the act of shaping into parallel ridges and grooves. change of shape — an action that changes the shape of something.”

Corrugated paper

If you look closely at a piece of corrugated cardboard, you will see a wavy texture in between. This creates the strength and rigidness that prevents the cardboard from folding on itself like paper would. Cardboard boxes have been around for a very long time, as early as 1817, when the first commercial box was invented from paperboard in England. But it was not until the 1890s that a cardboard box with layers of corrugated cardboard was first developed and used for shipping. A decade later, these corrugated boxes were starting to replace the traditional wooden crates and boxes.

This photo was taking of a roll of corrugated paper that I came across in my travels today. This photo is an example of the subject just calling on me to take its photo. I just love when a subject corporates at this roll of corrugated paper did.

Thursday, 04/01/2021: Posted photo—Lake Louise.

Settings: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, ISO 200, f/13, 1/250 s, 29 mm

“Lake Louise is a hamlet in Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies, known for its turquoise, glacier-fed lake ringed by high peaks and overlooked by a stately chateau. Hiking trails wind up to the Lake Agnes Tea House for bird’s-eye views. There is a canoe dock in summer, and a skating rink on the frozen lake in winter. The Lake Louise Ski Resort features a wildlife interpretive center at the top of a gondola.” ― Google

Elevation: 5,249’

Area: 222 acres

Province: Alberta

Lake Louise, Alberta Canada

We had a great visit to Lake Louise a few years ago when we were on our Northern National Park tour. That trip too us to, ready: Glacier National Park, MT; Waterton-Glacier Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada; Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada; Jasper National Park, Jasper, Canada; Northern Cascades National Park, WA; Olympic National Park, WA; Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, WA; Mt. Rainier National Park, WA; Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, ID; Grand Tetons National Park, WY; Yellowstone National Park, WY; Devils Tower National Monument, WY; Wind Cave National Park, SD; Crazy Horse Memorial, SD; Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD; Badlands National Park, SD; Mall of America, Bloomington, MN; and the Field of Dreams Movie Site, Dyersville, IA.

Friday, 04/02/2021: Post photo—Worcester City Hall.

Settings: Samsung SM-G930V, ISO 50, f/1.7, 1/5040 s, 4 mm

City Hall is located on the western end of City Hall Common has been the center of Worcester’s government for many years. In colonial days, the meetinghouse was situated here, and in 1825, a plain Greek Revival style town hall was built here. After Worcester became a city in 1848, this building served as City Hall for another 50 years, until it was finally replaced on April 28, 1898 by a much larger and more elaborate building on the same spot.

Designed by the prominent Boston firm of Peabody & Stearns, it reflects the Renaissance Revival architecture that was gaining popularity in public buildings at the turn of the 20th century. City Hall bears some resemblance to the Boston Public Library, which had been completed several years earlier, but it also includes a 205-foot tower in the center of the Main Street facade.

City Hall was not quite 10 years old when the first photo was taken, and not much has changed to its exterior appearance since then. Nearly 120 years after its completion, it remains the fourth tallest building in the city, and it remains in use as the seat of the city government. Along with the Worcester Common, the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

On July 4, 1776, Worcester publisher Isaiah Thomas gave the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence from the steps of the Old South Meeting House, which was on what is now Worcester Common.

City Hall, Worcester, MA

Worcester is my hometown and I happily return when I can. Worcester is also the second most populated city in New England with Boston being the first.

Saturday, 04/03/2021: Post photo—Second Appointment.

Settings: Samsung SM-G930V, ISO 160, f/1.7, 1/30 s, 4 mm.

BioNTech, Fosun Pharma, Pfizer vaccine is a COVID-19 vaccine authorized by FDA and recommended by the CDC for use in the US for a limited population. From the CDC website: “Based on evidence from clinical trials, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 95% effective at preventing laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 illness in people without evidence of previous infection.” For this vaccine to fully protect you, a second shot must be given 21 days after the first shot.

Getting vaccinated is easy. The signup for the vaccination is the hardest part. Due to a high demand for the vaccines, it may be difficult to get an appointment. Keep trying. It will save lives. Remember my footer: COVID is real! Be safe out there, keep your social distance, and remember to always wear your mask and wash your hands. I have lost an aunt to COVID and I know others that have died from it. I also know people that did not know that they had it or had very mild symptoms. Please take it seriously and get vaccinated when you can.

Vaccine appointment card

For more photo of other project I have work, visit my website: https://photobyjosephciras.weebly.com/ or visit me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PhotobyJosephCiras/.

COVID is real! Be safe out there, keep your social distance, and remember to always wear your mask and wash your hands.

Photographic Thoughts—03/21/2021 to 03/27/2021

“A thing that you see in my pictures is that I was not afraid to fall in love with these people.” — Annie Leibovitz

Thank you for all the new views and likes from last week. It helps keep me going. Enjoy my blog post!

Sunday, 03/21/2021: Posted photo—Puppy Love.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/20 s, 24 mm

Meet Brownie. Brownie was given to my mother back in the late 1940’s. My father won this at a carnival, and she has sleep with it ever since. Brownie is in great condition for being over 70 years old. My mother was telling me all about how my father won it for her and how people are amazed of Brownies condition. She attempted to wipe one of the white spots off Brownie’s eyes, so I had to tell her that these were the dog’s pupils. She just laughed and we continued talking about her life.

Brownie the puppy

Keep family close.

Monday, 03/22/2021: Posted photo—Sunset.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, 2SO 100, f/6.3, 1/8000 s, 300 mm.

I needed to go on a hike today to clear my mind and to contemplate on the good life my mother is living. She holds family close and enjoys it when people are over. She complains about it sometime, but she truly appreciates it. Hiking is a great way to get in touch with nature and to think about life. If you are hiking alone, or with others, your mind is attuned with nature and natural wonders and helps you know about what is and is not important.

Sunset from Wachusett Mountain

Getting to the summit before sunset was the goal of this hike. I made it with plenty of time to spare. There is a ski area on Wachusett Mountain, and it was open. At about the time if sunset, the summit was crowded, so I left before sunset was complete.

Every sunset is different and wonderful in its own way.

Tuesday, 03/23/2021: Posted photo—Pietà.

Settings: Samsung SM-G930V, ISO 200, f/1.7, 1/17 s, 4 mm.

The Pietà (“the Pity”; 1498–1499) is a work of Renaissance sculpture by Michelangelo Buonarroti, housed in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. It is the first of several works of the same theme by the artist. It is the only piece Michelangelo ever signed. This famous work of art depicts the body of Jesus on the lap of his mother Mary after the Crucifixion.

This has been with my mother for many years, at least 60 years. I was disappointed last year because I was going to the Basilica in Vatican City for the ordination of a family member, and I wanted to see this work in person. COVID stopped that from happening. Someday I will go to Vatican City and see this work.

Pietà by Michelangelo

Wednesday, 03/24/2021: Posted photo—New Growth.

Settings: Samsung SM-G930V, ISO 100, f/1.7, 1/60 s, 4 mm.

Tulips are starting to bloom, just in time for Easter. We have tulip that bloom every year at this time, and I noticed that they broke soil today. Tulips form a genus of spring-blooming perennial herbaceous bulbiferous geophytes. The flowers are usually large, showy, and brightly colored, generally red, pink, yellow, or white. These tulips are pink in color. Once they bloom, I will post photos of them.

Tulips

Now I am waiting on the crocus to bloom. The normally bloom before the tulip. Like everything else, life is different this year.

Thursday, 03/25/2021: Posted photo—Stream.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 1600, f/22, 1/10 s, 55 mm

Today I went on a hike with my son and his friend. We decided to do a longer hike today on Wachusett Mountain that we normally do on a weekday since the sun out up longer. We started the hike at our normal time, giving us over an hour to get to the summit. The normal trail will get us to the summit is less than an hour, so we decided on a longer hike. We hike on Bicentennial Trail in the opposite direction we normally hike it. Bicentennial has a trail that bisects it and we normally to left at the intersection and today we went right. There are a few seasonal streams along the trail, and the streams were flowing due to the rain earlier in the day and the snow melt on the mountain. I was thinking about a photo and saw this stream and took a handheld, semi-long exposure photo.

Stream along the trail

Here is a photo from the trailhead and another photo of the stream.

Mountain House Trailhead
Flowing water on Bicentennial Trail

Friday, 03/26/2021: Post photo—Sugar Maple.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 320, f/5.6, 1/100 s, 55 mm

The sugar maple is one of America’s most-loved trees. In fact, more states have claimed it as their state tree than any other single species—for New York, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Vermont, the maple tree stands alone.

Sugar Maple blossom

These are the buds from one of the sugar maples in our yard. They are currently being tapped by our neighbor to make maple syrup. More photos of this tree will occur as the leaves get larger.

Saturday, 03/27/2021: Post photo—Glacial Erratic.

Settings: Samsung SM-G930V, ISO 50, f/1.7, 1/810 s, 4 mm.

Wachusett Mountain is one of the oldest mountains in the world. The rocks are estimated to be 250 million years old. It is a metamorphic rock monadnock. In its youth, it was over 20,000 feet tall. Today it is only 2,006 feet tall. It has been through ice ages. Wachusett means “Near the mountain” or “Mountain place” in the language of the Natick Indians. A band of old growth forest along rock ledges 500 feet (150 m) below the summit supports trees from 150 to 370 years old. Covering 220 acres (89 ha), it is the largest known old growth forest east of the Connecticut River in Massachusetts.

Scientists have recorded five significant ice ages throughout the Earth’s history: the Huronian (2.4-2.1 billion years ago), Cryogenian (850-635 million years ago), Andean-Saharan (460-430 million years ago), Karoo (360-260 million years ago) and Quaternary (2.6 million years ago -present). Approximately a dozen major glaciations have occurred over the past 1 million years, the largest of which peaked 650,000 years ago and lasted for 50,000 years. The most recent glaciation period, often known simply as the “Ice Age,” reached peak conditions some 18,000 years ago before giving way to the interglacial Holocene epoch 11,700 years ago.

Glacial Erratic on Wachusett Mountain

Glacial erratics are stones and rocks that were transported by a glacier, and then left behind after the glacier melted. Erratics can be carried for hundreds of kilometers and can range in size from pebbles to large boulders. Scientists sometimes use erratics to help determine ancient glacier movement.

Wachusett Mountain and throughout New England there are many glacial erratics.

For more photo of other project I have work, visit my website: https://photobyjosephciras.weebly.com/ or visit me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PhotobyJosephCiras/.

COVID is real! Be safe out there, keep your social distance, and remember to always wear your mask and wash your hands.

Photographic Thoughts—03/14/2021 to 03/20/2021

“We are making photographs to understand what our lives mean to us.” — Ralph Hattersley

Thank you for all the new views and likes from last week. It helps keep me going. Enjoy my blog post!

This week’s post will be a little shorter than last week’s post. I will explain why later in this month.

Sunday, 03/14/2021: Posted photo—Crucifix.

Settings: Samsung SM-G930V, ISO 200, f/1.7, 1/11 s, 4 mm

This is a crucifix in the back of St. Denis Church. It is hanging on a cork board near all the religious paraphernalia. There are prayer cards, rosaries, pray books, and other items for anyone to take with them.

The difference between Cross and Crucifix is that Cross is a cross-shaped item without a symbol or figure of Jesus on the same, while Crucifix is a Cross with Jesus depicted or engraved on the same. The cross signifies acceptance of death or suffering and sacrifice. The crucifix is the symbol of Christianity and reminds every one of the death and resurrection of Christ. It serves as a reminder of God’s sacrifice of his only Son so that humanity may have salvation.

Crucifix

This week will be a hard week for me. You will know why in later posts.

Keep family close and reconcile any differenced you have.

Monday, 03/15/2021: Posted photo—Ducks.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 100, f/7.1, 1/40 s, 55 mm.

This photo looks like the two ducks have a chaperon.

Ducks being watched by a chaperon

Tuesday, 03/16/2021: Posted photo—Wood Piles.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/80 s, 41 mm.

Things are getting a little crazy around here. I have not been able to write my blog or get out to do much photography this week. I took this photo when I came home from work and before I went to visit my mother.

Beech being seasoned in our yard

This is also one of those days when I took a photo early in the day and decided not to post it. Here is the photo of the sunrise I took and was planning on posting.

Sunrise through the trees

Wednesday, 03/17/2021: Posted photo—Dall’s Porpoise.

Settings: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XS, ISO 400, f/11, 1/1000 s, 210 mm.

Dall’s porpoises are common in the North Pacific Ocean and can be found off the U.S. West Coast from California to the Bering Sea in Alaska. These porpoises are considered the fastest swimmers among small cetaceans, reaching speeds of 34 miles per hour over short distances.

Dall’s porpoises playing with the boat

This one is from a trip to Kenai Fjords National Park, Kenai Peninsula Borough, Alaska. The porpoises liked jumping over the bow of the boat.

Thursday, 03/18/2021: Posted photo—Unicorn World.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 2000, f/4.5, 1/50 s, 37 mm

My mother likes unicorns. Here are some from her collection.

Unicorns

Friday, 03/19/2021: Post photo—Jack Frost Trail.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 640, f/7.1, 1/30 s, 25 mm

I went on a hike tonight with my son. I need to take a hike and clear my mind of all the activity of the week. Hiking is a good way to contemplate life and how wonderful a life you have with family. Every family member is special and is appreciated, whether you tell that to them.

Jack Frost living up to its name

Here is a photo that I took from the summit to end my day.

Sunset

Saturday, 03/20/2021: Post photo—Beach Time.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 100, f/7.1, 1/800 s, 55 mm

Another day, another trip down to see family. Today was a better day for the family. It is one of those days we will talk about for a while. This is a photo of the beach at Leominster State Forest.

Lifeguard chars next to a frozen beach

For more photo of other project I have work, visit my website: https://photobyjosephciras.weebly.com/ or visit me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PhotobyJosephCiras/.

COVID is real! Be safe out there, keep your social distance, and remember to always wear your mask and wash your hands.

Photographic Thoughts—03/07/2021 to 03/13/2021

“There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment.” —Robert Frank

Thank you for all the new views and likes from last week. It helps keep me going. Enjoy my blog post!

This week’s post will be short. I will explain why later in this month.

Sunday, 03/07/2021: Posted photo—Reference Mark 8.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 100, f/7.1, 1/500 s, 55 mm

This was my fifth hike in seven days on Wachusett Mountain. Just as last Sunday, I hiked with my son and two of his friends this time. This was a shorter hike than I did on Saturday for no reason. I did take the kids, young adults, up one of the more difficult trails on the mountain. The steep part of Jack Frost Trail was pure ice with no snow cover. I took this trail on Saturday and wanted to see how they would handle it today. They only did it once, I did it twice. Like last week, I wanted to challenge myself to get to the trailhead before them. I knew that they would get there first this week since, when I established the challenge, they only have a flat trail to hike and I had to go back up the steep, icy trail and then back down the other side. They arrived at the trailhead about ten minutes before I did. Still a fun day and they like the challenge.

Reference mark on the summit of Wachusett Mountain

This photo is of a National Geodetic Survey (NGS) reference mark. A reference mark differs from a benchmark in that reference marks point to benchmark. There are three reference marks on the summit of Wachusett Mountain. There used to be four but one of them must have been removed when they were putting in the new watch tower. Either that or I have not been able to find it yet. A benchmark can either show location or elevation. A benchmark for location can be a random point determined by the surveyor or it could be something permanent in nature such as the corner of a concrete pad or a survey monument. A benchmark for elevation can be given a random elevation number or the exact number of feet above sea level can be determined.

One of my rules is that you are not on the summit of a mountain until you touch the benchmark. If there is not benchmark, they I need to look at my map and/or GPS device to estimate the location of the summit.

Monday, 03/08/2021: Posted photo—Walkway.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 400, f/14, 1/10 s, 40 mm.

The walkways at the Old Mill Restaurant are covered walkways. They are very picturesque year-round but especially this time of year with snow on the rocks and the water gently flowing under the walkways.

This photo is not as easy to take as you would think. There is a busy road that goes in front of the restaurant, so you must time your shot not to have any vehicles in it. You also need to walk down to the stream to get the correct angle for the shot. That is not an issue during most of the year. Today I had to walk on icy snow to get into position. Not a problem for me but could be a problem for some.

A covered walkway at the Old Mill Restaurant

A covered bridge, or a covered walkway, is a timber-truss bridge with a roof, decking, and siding, which in most covered bridges, or walkways, create an almost complete enclosure. The purpose of the covering is to protect the wooden structural members from the weather. “The first long covered bridge in America, with a 55-meter (180-foot) center span, was built by Timothy Palmer, a Massachusetts millwright, over the Schuylkill River at Philadelphia in 1806. Covered timber-truss bridges soon spanned rivers from Maine to Florida and rapidly spread westward. There is no evidence of timber-truss bridges, with or without covering, in the ancient world, but the 13th-century sketchbook of the French architect Villard de Honnecourt depicts a species of truss bridge, and the Italian Andrea Palladio’s “Treatise on Architecture” (1570) describes four designs.” — Encyclopedia Britannica.

Tuesday, 03/09/2021: Posted photo—Cirrus Clouds.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/400 s, 47 mm.

Cirrus Clouds (“Delicate cloud streaks”)

Typical Altitude: 16,500–45,000 ft
Precipitation: None that reaches ground
Composition: Ice crystals
Formation: Fall streaks of ice crystals in upper troposphere winds.

Cirrus Clouds or contrails?

Cirrus clouds are the highest of all clouds and are composed entirely of ice crystals. Cirrus clouds are precipitating clouds, although the ice crystals evaporate high above the earth’s surface. The crystals, caught in 100–150 mph winds, create wisps of cloud.

This morning I saw four well defined “x’s” in the sky and thought that this would be a good photograph. The white was a wonderful contrast to the morning blue sky. These cloud formations do not last very long because of the high winds that form them.

Some people think these are contrails. The condensation trail left behind jet aircrafts are called contrails. Contrails form when hot humid air from jet exhaust mixes with environmental air of low vapor pressure and low temperature. The mixing is a result of turbulence generated by the engine exhaust. I am not sure about that, so I am sticking with calling them Cirrus clouds.

Wednesday, 03/10/2021: Posted photo—Watch Tower.

Settings: Samsung SM-G930V, ISO 200, f/1.7, 1/18 s, 4 mm.

On February 27, 2014 this new 80-foot steel fire tower was installed on the summit of the Wachusett Mountain state reservation in Princeton. The structure replaces the old tower which was built in 1966.

I cannot believe it has been so many years since it was open. I still remember when they were constructing it. We would hike to the summit and watch it being built over a few months.

The new watchtower on the summit of Wachusett Mountain

Here is a photo of the old watch tower in the winter.

The old watchtower in winter on the summit of Wachusett Mountain

Thursday, 03/11/2021: Posted photo— Kolding Denmark.

Settings: KODAK DC3200 DIGITAL CAMERA, n/a, f/3.6, 1/90 s, n/a mm.

This was one of the very first travel photos I have taken. I took this photo on my first of three trips to Denmark. Kolding is a Danish seaport located at the head of Kolding Fjord in the Region of Southern Denmark. It is the seat of Kolding Municipality. It is a transportation, commercial, and manufacturing center, and has numerous industrial companies, principally geared towards shipbuilding.

One thing I like about this photo is that you can see the age of the building. If you look at the side walls, they are warped due to the age of the building and the material that was used to make it.

House in downtown Kolding Denmark

One day I will go back to Denmark with my family. Great place to visit.

Friday, 03/12/2021: Post photo— Two Summits.

Settings: Samsung SM-G930V, ISO 200, f/7.1, 1/13 s, 4 mm

On Sunday, I wrote about the difference between reference marks and benchmarks. These are the two benchmarks on the summit of Wachusett Mountain. The one that looks like a plate is one of the original benchmarks that was moved during the construction of one of the hotels that were on the summit. The one with inside the triangle is the current Wachusett Reset benchmark. This is the benchmark to which the three reference marks point.

The old and new benchmarks on the summit of Wachusett Mountain

Saturday, 03/13/2021: Post photo—Gatehouse.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 100, f/7.1, 1/320 s, 36 mm

A gatehouse outlet works or valve house for a dam is a structure housing sluice gates, valves, or pumps (in which case it is more accurately called a pumping station). Many gatehouses are strictly utilitarian, but especially in the nineteenth century, some were very elaborate.

Wyman Pond was constructed by the City of Fitchburg in1892 as a compensating reservoir to provide water to the mills downstream. It was rarely used and soon became a summer getaway for area residents. Trolleys ran right to the gatehouse for those wanting to spend an afternoon at Sunne’s Beach. Its popularity soon sprouted summer cottages all around the lake which now are mostly year-round homes.

I love the old architecture of this gatehouse. The stone walls and slate roof shows how it was constructed.

Gatehouse at Wyman Pond in Westminster, MA

For more photo of other project I have work, visit my website: https://photobyjosephciras.weebly.com/ or visit me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PhotobyJosephCiras/.

COVID is real! Be safe out there, keep your social distance, and remember to always wear your mask and wash your hands.

Photographic Thoughts—02/28/2021 to 03/06/2021

“In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.” — Alfred Stieglitz

Thank you for all the new views and likes from last week. It helps keep me going. Enjoy my blog post!

Sunday, 02/28/2021: Posted photo—Winter Hike.

Settings: FujiFilm FinePix XP70, ISO 100, f/4.6, 1/60 s, 10 mm

Some people think that I am crazy hiking year-round. I have been hiking year-round for many years now and I enjoy hiking in the off seasons. I like hiking with few people around, less bugs, and fewer rocks to contend with. I consider the off season to be after the foliage and before the ground dries after the spring thaw. Winter hiking has its own challenges. These challenges include snow, ice, cold weather, snowy weather, short daylight periods, and trailheads that you need to snowshoe to get to.

Today, like many other days this year, I hiked with my son and one of his friends. We have been attempting to hike three times a week. Sometimes my son and his friend do not meet that goal. I obtain this goal more times than not. Today we summited once, and I wanted to summit again to keep on pace to summit 100 times by the end of the year. We were on our assent and we came to a trail junction. I wanted to summit again, and they did not. So, we set up a challenge. I will summit again and then attempt to beat them back to the trailhead. The section of trail that I ascended is very steep and icy and they took a safe way down. I summited and made my way down another steep and icy trail. On the descent I ran into a few people that were not prepared for winter hiking on ice and snow. They did not have any microspikes and were only hiking in boot. I had to watch them as they ascended steep inclines. I stayed back to help if any one of them fell. Because of this, my son and his friend made it back to the trailhead a few minutes before me.

Hike distance totals: me—3.5 miles, the kids half my age —3.2 mile. I almost made it back before them after giving them about a half a mile head start. They only had to descend, and I had to ascend and then descend. For your information, after two months, I have 20 out of my 100 summits completed.

Monday, 03/01/2021: Posted photo—Falls at the Old Mill.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 200, f/11, 1/10 s, 32 mm.

Last week at this time, I posted a photo of the falls at Round Meadow Pond. Today I traveled about a quarter mile down the road to The 1761 Old Mill Restaurant. The Old Mill has a duck pond that I like to use as a shooting location to photograph ducks and geese when there is daylight after work. I also will photograph the waterfall and the covered bridges that are on the property. I stop in on Mondays since the restaurant is closed and the ducks and geese are easier to photograph.

As you can see by this photo, the ducks and geese are in the pond year-round. They are fed well when the restaurant is open. There is a duck feeder on the side of the pond in which people can purchase food for the ducks and geese. When I go on Mondays, they gather around me looking for food.

From their webpage: “The Old Mill, from its earliest beginning, has served a useful purpose in the community. Originally a sawmill where logs were processed for the new homes of the neighborhood, the Old Mill and its whirling saw sang a song of progress and industry through five generations of ownership in the same family (the Foster Family), before its wheels were stilled and it fell into disrepair.

Today, the Old Mill is noted for tempting foods served in a setting of rare charm. Voices of diners mingle with the merry music of water rushing gaily over the mill dam as it dances its way to the sea. Thus, the Old Mill is reborn — its attractive vistas doubled in splendor by their reflection in the mill pond. It has become a shrine to the epicure for its delicious food … to the art lover for its rustic beauty.”

It is wonderful to have great locations to photograph so close to home.

Tuesday, 03/02/2021: Posted photo—Sunset at the Cemetery.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/125 s, 45 mm.

The tree in this photo is one of my favorite trees to photograph. I do it often but do not post a photo of it often. It looks like a great tree to have in a cemetery, very spooky at night because of its willowing branches.

I took an alternative way home from work today to check out how this tree looked in the winter. The alternative way was not any longer for me to get home and it gave me this photo opportunity. I was looking for a different location to take a photo of the sunset. When I was approaching this location in the cemetery, I saw the sun setting behind the trees. I positioned myself to a better look of the setting sun and liked the way this scene was composed.

Since the light was low, I decided to take bracketed shots of this tree to make it into a High Dynamic  Range (HDR) photo. I bracketed this photo at -2, 0, and +2. When I was processing the photo in the Photomatix software, I went through the different tones and decided on the painterly tone. I liked the feeling of this photo once processed. Someone commented that this looks like a scene from a horror movie. I agree with that statement.

Wednesday, 03/03/2021: Posted photo—National Anthem.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 100, f/7.1, 1/1250 s, 55 mm.

On this day in 1931, President Herbert Hoover signed a bill designating “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the official national anthem of the United States. The anthem had been recognized for official use by the United States Navy in 1889, and by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916. Francis Scott Key had written the lyrics in a poem in 1814 during the British siege of Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor. On April 15, 1929, Rep. John Linthicum (D-Md.) (1867-1932) introduced legislation that would make the song the national anthem.

The first time it is recorded that the song was played at a baseball game was on May 15, 1862, at the Union Grounds in Brooklyn, NY. The baseball game was led off by a band concert that included the tune.

On September 5, 1918 at Comiskey Park, the Boston Red Sox and Chicago Cubs were playing the opening game of the World Series, which started earlier than usual due to World War I. During the 7th-inning stretch, a military band played “The Star Spangled Banner” and Fred Thomas, a player for the Boston Red Sox, on leave from the Navy, snapped to attention. From then on, the song has been played at every World Series game, every season opener, and whenever a band is present to play it. The custom of playing it before every game began during World War II, when the installation of public address systems made it practical.

Until 1931, there was no officially proclaimed anthem of the United States, however, the song “Hail Columbia!” was used quite often in the capacity of a national anthem. “Hail Columbia!” is used today in the United States as an entrance song for the Vice President (much like “Hail to the Chief” is for the President.)

That is your history lesson for the week.

Thursday, 03/04/2021: Posted photo—See You Tonight.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 100, f/7.1, 1/125 s, 55 mm.

People have asked me why I hike at night. People have asked me why I hike in the winter. I hike at night just to listen to nature and I hike in the winter because of the solitude. While I hike, I like to think about the day, week, month, or year and I usually have a song stuck in my head for the entire hike. Yes, a song in my head for the entire hike, whether it is a two-mile hike or a 15-mile hike.

I hike after getting bad news, such as a family member passing. I do a longer memorial hike every year on the anniversary of a passing. I hike after good news and I hike after no news at all. I have set a goal for myself to summit mountains 100 times this year. I may have noted that a few times in the past. Wachusett Mountain will be my main mountain to hike since it is so close to my house. It may not be very tall at 2,006 feet at its current age (it was over 20,000 feet when it was young) but some of the trails can be very challenging and are good training trails for hiking in the White Mountains in New Hampshire. Three times a week I take the short drive to one of the various trailheads and hike. Tonight, was one of those night that I hike.

It is still very icy on the trails. There are more rocks being exposed yet the trails are still challenging. This was the second time I summitted in three days and I did notice a change in the trail conditions. There was also less ice on the summit because of the high winds. The trails themselves are still very dangerous and you still need microspike to hike them.

Get out there and enjoy nature and the mountains.

Friday, 03/05/2021: Post photo—Collection Time.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 400, f/7.1, 1/50 s, 32 mm

The Massachusetts maple production season usually starts in mid/late February in the eastern part of the state and at the lower elevations in the western parts of the state. At higher elevations in western Massachusetts boiling may not start until the first week in March, or later in cold years. The season lasts 4–6 weeks, all depending on the weather. Most all producers are done boiling by mid-April when the nighttime temperatures remain above freezing and the tree buds begin to swell.

The tree’s sap flow mechanisms depend on temperatures which alternate back and forth past the freezing point (32 degrees F). The best sap flows come when nighttime temperatures are in the low 20s and daytime temperatures are in the 40s. The longer it stays below freezing at night, the longer the sap will run during the warm day to follow. If the weather gets too cold and stays cold, sap flow will stop. If the weather gets too warm and stays warm, sap flow will stop. The cold weather at night allows the tree to cool down and absorb moisture from the ground via the roots. During the day, the tree warms up, the tree’s internal pressure builds up, and the sap will run from a taphole or even a broken twig or branch. For good sap production, maple producers must have the alternating warm/cold temperatures. Therefore, it is so impossible to predict the outcome of the maple crop from year to year.

It always surprises me when my neighbor taps our trees and other trees around his property. It seems to be earlier each year, but it is not. He starts in March, just after we have had a few very cold evenings. He goes out every night during sap season, collects his buckets, and makes his syrup. He purchased a new evaporator a few years ago that makes it easier to make the syrup. He gives us some and he sells some at the church fair in the fall.

HOW TO DO IT

  1. Be sure your trees are maples. A tree should be at least 12” in diameter for one tap hole and bucket. Trees more than 24” in diameter can have two taps.
  2. Drill the hole 2” deep at a convenient height. Look for unblemished bark and do not bore directly over or under a former tap hole or closer than 4” from the side of an old tap hole. The hole should be straight into the tree, parallel with the ground.
  3. Drive the spout in so that it is tight and cannot be pulled out by hand, but do not over-drive and split the tree.
  4. Hang your bucket or container on the hook of the spout if it is a purchased one, or, if you have made your own, fashion a length of wire to serve as a hanger. Be sure to cover the bucket to keep out rain, snow, and foreign material.
  5. Make sure your fireplace is ready, wood at hand, and pan ready for the sap.
  6. When you have enough in your buckets to fill your pan for boiling, you are ready for the fire. Do not fill your pan to the top as it will boil over. As the water boils away keep adding more sap to the pan. Do not have less than an inch in the pan or it may burn down. You can pour the cold sap right into the boiling sap. It will take a lot of boiling to get it to syrup as it takes about 10 gallons of sap to make one quart of maple syrup. A chimney of brick or stove pipe (4 to 6 feet long) on your arch or fireplace will be helpful in keeping the smoke away from the boiling sap so that the syrup will not darken or have an off taste from the smoke.
  7. Do not leave an accumulation of sap in the collecting buckets, especially in warm weather. Sap is like milk and will sour if left in the sun. Try to keep the sap in storage as cold as possible. Boil it as soon as you can.
  8. Finished maple syrup will be 7° F above the temperature of boiling water at your elevation. Your syrup or candy thermometer will tell you this. If you have a larger operation you may get a syrup hydrometer and testing cup which will tell you when the syrup is done. The cup will require two or three cupful’s of syrup in order to make the test. Proper syrup will weigh at least 11 pounds per gallon. Do not get it beyond 11-1/4 pounds per gallon or it may form crystals in the bottom of the storage container.
  9. Pour the hot syrup through a felt syrup filter or a special strainer as carried by equipment dealers. If you have neither one, a double layer of outing flannel may be used, or you may put the syrup in a container and let it cool for 12 hours or more. Sediment will settle to the bottom of the container and the clearer syrup may be carefully poured off. This syrup should then be reheated to at least 180° F or almost to boiling before it is poured into containers for final storage.
  10. Pour the hot syrup into the clean, sterile canning jars and seal. Fill them full so that very little air remains in the jar. If laid on the side while cooling a better seal will result.
  11. Store syrup in a cool place. A freezer is ideal. Properly prepared syrup will not freeze, and a poor seal will not be as important when stored in a freezer.

Soon I will have fresh maple syrup from my trees on my pancakes, waffles, sausages, ice cream, or anything else the will taste good with fresh homemade maple syrup.

Saturday, 03/06/2021: Post photo—Trail.

Settings: Canon EOS 60D, ISO 100, f/7.1, 1/400 s, 21 mm

Today I went on a leisurely 4.1 mile hike on Wachusett Mountain. This was my third hike on the mountain this week. Today’s goal was one of distance and checking out trail conditions more than it was attempting another quick summit. I hiked on a different one of the difficult trails since it was daytime and I had plenty of time to do this hike. The trail did not disappoint with the difficult section, being steep and very, very icy. As I was ascending, I kept telling myself to trust my experience and my equipment. That the top of the steep incline, I was asked by a couple of women about the trail conditions, I told them, and they wisely decided to take a safer way down. It is better to ascend a step icy trail than it is to decent a step icy trail.

Today’s photo was taken along the Harrington Trail. The Harrington Trail is also a part of the Midstate Trail. The Midstate Trail is marked with the yellow triangles.

Tomorrow is another day, another week, and another hike.

For more photo of other project I have work, visit my website: https://photobyjosephciras.weebly.com/ or visit me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PhotobyJosephCiras/.

COVID is real! Be safe out there, keep your social distance, and remember to always wear your mask and wash your hands.