Hiking to La Soufrière volcano with my Uncle Clifford and my cousins is an adventure I will never forget.
I was born and raised on the tiny Caribbean island of St. Vincent. St. Vincent and the Grenadines is an Eastern Caribbean island nation, with its capital in Kingstown on the main island of Saint Vincent. The country is renowned for its natural beauty, including rainforests, volcanic terrain, and picturesque beaches. Its economy relies on agriculture, tourism, and offshore banking.
Growing up, my cousins and I would always go on adventures together. One of the most memorable experiences of my life was hiking with my cousins to the top of La Soufrière volcano.
La Soufrière is an active stratovolcano in St. David Parish on the northern end of St. Vincent, the largest island in the island chain of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. At 1,234 m (4,049 ft), La Soufrière is the highest peak on Saint Vincent and the highest point in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. It has had five recorded explosive eruptions since 1718. The latest volcanic activity began in December 2020, leading to major eruptions starting on April 9, 2021, . Mom escaped to St. Vincent during the pandemic, living at the family home on Dorsetshire Hill in Kingstown on the southern part of the island. She could see the ash plume from the backyard. The volcanic eruption spewed ash and pyroclastic flow, a deadly mixture of superheated gases, rock and volcanic mud, but fortunately, Mom was safe on the southern part of the island.
Soufrière has a crater lake, and visitors can view the volcanic crater during inactivity by following a hiking trail that ascends through the rainforest to the rim.
It was the summer of 1983 or 1984 when I was 17 or 18. We had just moved back to St. Vincent from Antigua and had to reacquaint ourselves with a side of the family we had not seen in almost a decade. My [Uncle Clifford] was the Chief Surveyor for the government of St. Vincentian and the Grenadines. He knew all the fantastic and remote places on the island and how to get to them. One day he arranged for a hike to the rim of La Soufrière volcano. I don’t recognise all the faces in the photographs. The group included my cousins (standing right to the left) Debbie, Karen, Samantha, Iain, my youngest brother Bruce, family friend Sheridan, Alana Hull, myself, and an unknown. It’s been about 40 years since our adventure, and I regret that I don’t recognise some of the faces or remember the names of the people in the front row.
Setting out in the early morning from my Uncle’s home in Ratho Mill, we packed our bags with water and squeezed into the back of Uncle Clifford's Land Rover. We arrived at the trailhead under thick clouds and set off on the trail. The only way to get to the top was by foot, so we had to hike for miles through the thick, hot, humid tropical rainforest to reach the summit. The trail was steep and covered in loose rocks, but we took our time and often stopped to rest and take in the scenery.
As we hiked higher and higher, the vegetation changed from dense rainforests to scrubby bushes and barren rock. The hike was challenging even for young teenagers, but it was worth it when we reached the top and saw the stunning views.
The view from the summit was incredible. We could see for miles in every direction. We even got to see lava mud bubbling inside the crater!
We were exhausted when we reached the rim, and our bodies were cold from such high altitudes. We had no coats. But luckily, my Uncle Clifford had brought a bottle of rum to sip, which warmed us up in no time. Warming up with a few sips of rum made the experience more exciting for my teenage mind.
After spending some time at the top, we started to head back down. We were again hot and exhausted when we reached the bottom, but it was a hike to remember.
Hiking around the woods and forests of New Jersey is one of my favourite activities. My love of hiking may have come from these experiences with Uncle Clifford. I'm so grateful that I had the opportunity to do it in such a beautiful place with my family. It was an incredible experience. The views from the top were breathtaking, and I'll never forget how excited I was to stand at the edge of an active volcano, and I'll never forget warming my cold body with rum at the end of the day!
If you ever have a chance to visit St. Vincent, I highly recommend climbing the volcano! Just wear good shoes and bring plenty of water - you'll need it for the hike!
I am unsure, but my Uncle Clifford captured these photographs. He was an avid photographer and videographer, perhaps due to his work surveying lands for the St. Vincent government. The back of the prints says Printed on Kodak Paper, and I can only assume that the film stock was also from Kodak.
Except for two local online newspapers, most of the feeds in my RSS reader are written about cyber-security, photography, and Formula 1 racing. However, what I find interesting is how I sometimes stumble upon posts in photography related blogs that lead me to discover other exciting things to read. Although, usually, that blog would be The Online Photographer this morning's discovery was unexpected.
I read an article in Steven Schwartzman blog that quoted another article by Gary Saul Morson and Morton Schapiro professors at Northwestern University who wrote a thoughtful but short editorial about the value of free speech in a free society.
For the most part, our thinking should remain open to persuasion. Living in echo chambers where our views are only ever reinforced by friends and the media does a disservice to us all. Ideological segregation, like any other kind, promotes the demonization of the excluded.
Gary Saul Morson is the Lawrence B. Dumas Professor of the Arts and Humanities and Slavic languages and literature professor at Northwestern University. Morton Schapiro is president and a professor of economics. Their latest book is Minds Wide Shut: How the New Fundamentalisms Divide Us.
I looked at my calendar this morning and felt a pang of anxiety and dread. There is little to no room for thoughtful introspection and critical thinking. It's all go-go-go. I could barely schedule a lunch break, and there's no time in the schedule for an afternoon stretch and mental health break.
Our team was assigned more projects to assess this week, and I was given two more, bringing my total to thirteen. During our one on one, the manager commented that I was perhaps at capacity.
Bhavna saw me struggling to finish up my last meeting of the day, which ended around 5:30 PM. I was mentally exhausted. While I ate dinner, she suggested a walk on the trail through Autumn Hill Preserve. One part of the trail starts on Blue Spring Road in Montgomery Township. It runs over into Princeton Township before splitting off and looping around. I was refreshed by being in the woods surrounded by trees, shrubs and ferns and the sweet smell of early summer. One of the things we like about this trail is that the trailhead on Blue Spring Road is within walking distance of our home.
I have been thinking about 1980s film cameras and how they don't record any meta-data about the photograph. Except for GPS coordinates, a modern digital camera will record everything about a picture. For example, my Fuji X-T2 records time, date, aperture, ISO, shutter speed, metering mode, exposure bias, pixel resolution, distance to subject, whether the camera fired a flash, make and model of lens, and of course, make and model of the camera. That information is written directly into the image file meta-data.
When I remove a roll of film from one of my film cameras, the only thing I know for sure is the film information and the make and model of the camera. I have three undeveloped rolls of film on my desk, and I have only a faint idea of which camera I used. Suppose I don't save that information somewhere. In that case, whether it's one roll of or three when the film scans are sent to me by the developer, usually online or via USB flash drive, none of the information about the film is included. All I get is a set of numbered images. As a result, I have had to rely on memory.
I had used the Film Rolls iOS app to manually record, view and export my shooting data for each film roll and frame. But the developer has not updated the app, and it no longer works. iOS 14.5 was the last version of iOS where the app works. So I looked for a new app, but I have yet to find one that is as easy to use as Film Rolls.
I put a roll of Vision 250D in my Minolta a few weeks ago and starting shooting the roll as I please. With film, I never had an automated way to record meta-information. When I'm using the camera, stopping to record the shooting conditions interrupts my focus (no pun intended) on composition and lighting. I think I will be ok simply knowing which camera and what roll of film was used. I can live without documenting the rest.
I know we work in what can be seen as a very fickle, trend-obsessed medium, and it's vital to stay relevant. However, that doesn't mean that you need to work the way everybody else does. For example, currently, there is an obsession with shooting on film, which would make me run the opposite way.
Authenticity doesn't come from the kit or technique you use but from your mind. So stay true to who you are. Professional photographer John "Rankin" Waddell in Amateur Photographer
I have been thinking about quitting my new job. I'm putting in more hours than I want, and the pace is too hectic, and I no time for deep thinking. The manager added two new meetings to the weekly schedule for the security architects. I now have a conference call at 11 AM, one at noon, and one at 1 PM. Lunch? What's that?
I sent him a short email explaining that with my diabetes, skipping lunch is not feasible and may have long term negative health impacts. Staying seated at a desk for long periods during the day may cause tension in muscles, pain in joints and can weaken hip and core muscles, which can, in turn, lead to other problems with muscles and joints. This also leads to increased stress levels from not having a break and from interruptions during eating.
Information security is a stressful profession. We need time to refresh to perform at our best.
Today marks eighteen years since the very first release of WordPress. ~ WordPress 18
This original image was captured on the Western side of Carnegie Lake in Princeton in May 2015. After tweaking in Adobe Lightroom, I pulled the image into Luminar AI and then used the SkyAI to replace the flat washed-out sky.
I love that the tool is smart enough to add the reflection in the water. The reworked image is below.
Electronic ballot return (EBR)–casting ballots over the internet–is known to be insecure and not securable by any known technology. Nevertheless, many people would like to vote, paperless, on their computers or smartphones–and if it were possible to do so securely and fairly and with equal access, I might want to as well.
Even though it's impossible to make secure, the argument is sometimes advanced that we need EBR to accommodate voters with disabilities. But the Rutgers opinion surveys (quoted above) show that voters with disabilities are less likely than other voters to want this.
You might argue, nonvoters with disabilities need this to become voters. But the Rutgers opinion surveys show that nonvoters with vision impairment are less likely to want EBR than other nonvoters. And nonvoters with other disabilities are about as likely to want EBR as nonvoters without disabilities. So I think these arguments–that voters with disabilities wish to and need EBR—are unsupported by evidence. ~ Accommodating voters with disabilities by Andrew Appel for Freedom to Tinker.
After reading the article, the first thing I thought was that "I've never seen this done at any bar or brewery tap room".
Do you see all of those tiny bubbles attached to the inside of your glass? That is not a good thing. Those bubbles are alerting you that there is some foreign substance in the glass. It could be soap, food particles, oils from your fingers, or something more sinister. If you see bubbles, your glass is most likely not clean. Here is the best way we found to clean your beer glass to drink your favourite beer. ~ How to clean a beer glass
Since it seems I won't be doing too much outdoor photography this month, I took a look back at photographs I made in past years. Looking back through the years, I see a pattern. I captured most of my favourite pictures during May and November during personal or group photo walks, and I was very much into landscape photography.
I captured the image above during a 2015 family picnic on the large boulders that line this four-kilometre stretch of the Raritan River's South Branch through Ken Lockwood Gorge. This was not my first visit to the gorge. My first visit was in March 2014 during a late winter Photowalk with the Somerset County Photography Meetup hosted by professional Loren Fisher. If I remember correctly, I think Ed Velez was with me on that Photowalk.
The image is an HDR image created in Photomatix from three images, bracketed one stop apart. I imported the original images to Adobe Lightroom from frames captured on my Nikon D5100 and AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens. I pulled the existing HDR image into Luminar AI. I used the CompositionAI to automatically adjust the composition, crop, and perspective.
an uncultivated, uninhabited, and inhospitable region.
No part of Somerset, Mercer or Hunterdon County could be considered inhospitable, and very little of it is uncultivated or uninhabited. Like other New England states, New Jersey is one of the original thirteen European colonies and one of the most developed due to its age and proximity to New York City and Philadelphia. So, while I do have access to nearby woodland, it's undoubtedly not inhospitable, and very little of it is uninhabited. In addition, the woods in this area are valued for their well-maintained nature trails and streams. On some trails, you may even find the remnants of early European settlements.
Only two areas of New Jersey classify as wilderness, Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge and Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. The Brigantine National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1939, and Barnegat National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1967. In 1984 the National Wildlife Service combined refuges to create the larger Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. Although the refuge consists of more than 39,000 acres, less than 7,000 acres in the southern division in Brigantine qualify as wilderness.
It's not quite a wilderness, but in the Spring of 2019, I was fortunate to photograph some of the migratory Warblers in the southern part of New Jersey.
I've known Tejus since he was born, and I knew his parents for several years before that. Tejus was born in August 1999, just three months after my eldest, Shaan, was born. He's grown into a fine young man. The last few years, he has spent the summer with his grandparents, sometimes in Pune, India, and sometimes in Mauritius, so we've celebrated his birthday in late May, close to Shaan's Birthday. The global pandemic precluded celebrating his 21st birthday. We are vaccinated against the VID, so even though Shaan and Tejus are 22 this year, we're making up for time lost.
Bhavna's sister, Nilima, offered to host on her deck and backyard. Tejus mom, Ami, had arranged for catering from Nomad Pizza in Hopewell. When we arrived, the staff prepared the pizza in a wood-fired brick oven mounted on a 1949 REO Speed Wagon, the same truck that gave its name to rock and roll music quintet.
Ami assumed warm weather for the end of May when she arranged for the pizza truck and didn't consider many cicadas awakening after 17 years! Instead, Nilima's deck was covered with the carcass of these giant insects, and a cold front brought cold rain.
Nilima's husband, Mukesh, opened up the doors to the garage and fired up the outdoor gas fireplace. Tejus and I made cocktails, alternating between Jamaican rum punch, mojitos and margaritas. I enjoyed a slice of pepperoni, but the hot soppressata slice was divine.
After the pizza truck left, we moved inside to sing Happy Birthday for Shaan and Tejus.
Despite the change in weather, we had fun. I think we all missed being together, and this event was an excellent kickoff to a summer filled with more family gatherings.
For a change of scenery, Bhavna and I hiked the Sourland Mountain Nature Preserve from the trail head just off Rileyville Road in Hopewell.
For a change of scenery, Bhavna and I hiked the Sourland Mountain Nature Preserve trail just off Rileyville Road in Hopewell. We expected that the trail would be soggy but we were pleasantly surprised. The trail appeared relatively dry. We could hear the sound of frogs talking to each other from the vernal pools we could see along the trail. Halfway through the trail, the terrain became more rocky and swampy. At one point we lost track of the trail among the rocks. We backtracked and found our way back to the trail path but it was thick with mud and leaves.
Bhavna and I chatted and imagined that the trail would be more enjoyable once the rains have stopped and things have dried out. I think this might be a great trail to find Round-lobed Hepatica, Bloodroot, and rue anemone.