These days I continued to make photographic hay while the permit sun is shining since additional Covid-19 lockdowns seem to be looming. The target for last weekend was the R Pond complex starting south of Bedwell Bayfront Park in Menlo Park and continuing down to the Facebook Headquarters. This set of fallow salt ponds has always presented photographically interesting colors and textures – testimony to residual salt dating back to their production days. However, change is coming as the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project has construction underway in the area.
Sometime next year, Salt Pond R4 should be once again connected to the tides and this will start its slow transformation back into marshland. R4’s neighbor, Salt Pond R3 will be managed to provide a dry, exposed pond suitable for Snowy Plover habitat. These two ponds were once separated by a brine distribution canal. Construction is currently underway to fill that canal thus creating an impressively wide levee with a shallow slope facing R4.
The weather made this photo session doubly challenging due to an overcast sky and highly variable winds. After hiking out to the R3/R4 levee, I found myself in a dead calm. When the wind began to stir out of the north I was able to launch my 8.5-foot, lightweight Rokkaku and this marvel was able to lift the Canon M3 cradle in an almost imperceptible wind. Unfortunately, the wind continued to build and the 8.5-foot kite was considerably overpowered about 20 minutes into the photo session. The phrase “pulling like a mule” comes to mind as in these conditions the principal concern is kite spar failure, which might strand my camera gear somewhere downwind. So, I swapped out for the 7.5-foot Rokkaku at the southern end of the levee which, of course, prompted slack wind from the breeze gods. The answer here was waiting patiently for 15 minutes anticipating the return of the breeze. When it returned, I continued the photo session and by the time I walked back to the northern end of the levee the 7.5-foot kite was overpowered. Again the mule.
In terms of light, it was a predominantly overcast day with generous hints of smoke due to an inversion layer. Now and then, the sun would peek through a gap in the clouds and this was delightful. But, for the large part it was a hazy, sober light. I look forward to reshooting on a brighter day.
I am taking these documentary photographs under a Special Use Permit from the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge. Kite flying is prohibited over the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge without a Special Use Permit.
Tags: Menlo Park California United States KAP kite aerial photography Hidden Ecologies Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge SBSPRP South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project salt ponds South San Francisco Bay Ravenswood R3 R4 R5 Bedwell Bayfront Park construction Ravenswood Slough Facebook
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My first forays into the South Bay salt pond landscape were fueled by a photographic interest in color and texture. This theme still holds great appeal as I often find places that offer the potential for abstract or painterly images. My second landscape theme sprang from the realization that my aerial images contained traces of the South Bay landscape’s many transitions. Discovering and deciphering the vague remnants of boat landings, salt works, railroad projects, and infrastructure remains entertaining. As I head into my second decade of wandering the South Bay a third theme has gained firm footing - documenting the landscape’s current day transition. And there is change aplenty as the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project (SBSPRP) has bold initiatives underway in Alviso, Ravenswood, and Eden Landing.
Each year, I have a South Bay hiatus between February and September in deference to nesting birds. This good, commonsense condition is part of my Special Use Permit that allows KAP in the South Bay and access to otherwise off-limits areas. I anticipate my first outings in the fall eagerly for they provide a sense of how things have progressed during the year. And each year I am struck by how much change I find in the landscape. Formerly fallow salt ponds acquire natural colors and textures followed by vegetation after being reconnected with the tides. The construction of levees, flow control structures, and nesting islands redefines pond components and the nature of water flow through them. New trails, viewing platforms, and signage foretell expanding public access.
In this context of change, I am delighted to find image pairs that illustrate progress in the restoration efforts. The abstract “Homage to Rothko” is one of the more popular images in my book Saltscapes and a personal favorite. While out shooting on Wednesday, I found myself near Salt Pond E6B so I stopped to look for the rusting 55-gallon drum that marked the location where I took the original image five years ago and a follow-up comparison five years later.. Having spotted the drum I sent a camera aloft with the hope of getting a third similarly framed shot.
While the 2014 and 2020 views differ greatly from the original “Homage to Rothko” I am fond of each version for they show how much change has occurred in Salt Pond E6B, a disused salt pond managed since 2009 to reduce its residual salinity.
I am taking these documentary photographs under a Special Use Permit from the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. Kite flying is prohibited over the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve without a Special Use Permit, as is access to this part of the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge.
Tags: E6B Eden Landing Heyday final SALT PONDS STB horizontal KAP kite aerial photography Hidden Ecologies Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge SBSPRP South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project South San Francisco Bay Bay Trail Eden Landing Ecological Reserve ELER levee
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The Netherlands-Polder Westzaan
The plentiful emission and deposition of nitrogen oxide and ammonia in the last half century, coming from a.o. traffic, farming and industry, pose a threat to nature's biodiversity. To protect rare plant communities, depending on a nutrient poor environment, remedial measures like stripping off eutrophic layers, are being taken in Polder Westzaan. They are combined with a.o. the digging of pet holes and overdue maintenance, like dredging. The impact of the work looks a bit disastrous, but who knows. You have to suffer for beauty, the saying goes. Image made with kite and camera (attached to the kite's line). © Tom Kisjes
Tags: KAP Nederland The Netherlands Zaanstad Polder Westzaan Westzijderveld Mallegatsloot Natura 2000 Natura 2000 herstelmaatregelen Staatsbosbeheer SBB baggeren afplaggen veenweide rietland aerial luchtfoto kite vliegerfoto aerial photography luchtfotografie
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