Grundens Campaign Pt II – Norway

Grundens recreational and commercial fishing clothing line in Norway

I asked the Cod Father where the heads go.

“Nigeria,” he laments with a sigh. “Ahh, yes. We sell them to the Nigerians. They come all the way up here to buy the heads for soup. You know,” he grunts with a pause. “Fish head soup.”

All the way up here was speaking very literally. I was in Lofoten, an archipelago in northwestern Norway, a carved land where plummeting cliffs meet dark azul waters, and sea eagles circle at snow lines searching for prey.

We were hanging with Gier the Cod Father of Lofoten, a masterful fisherman who scours the frigid waters all year long, especially from February thru April when the world famous cod fish enter the fjords to mate. At times the temperatures reach far below zero, freezing the water’s surface, along with his buoys and long nets.

Geir continued, “Our fish are the finest quality called skrei. It dries on large racks in the perfect temperature. This is what makes our stockfish so prized. The Italians pay premium, and this trade with Nigerians, Italians and others has been happening for centuries.”

But as I learn from Geir and my research, this skrei is facing a dilemma. In the past few years, temperatures have fluctuated, becoming unseasonably warm when winter temps should reign, and dropping to frigid numbers when the sun should be high. It rains when it should be dry, and it’s arid when it needs to be wet. This, unsurprisingly, effects the outdoor drying process of the cod fishery, putting the Lofoten’s largest and oldest fishery on edge. For more visit the Grundens gallery

The Last American Homesteaders: Pt I

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Life in the country is not an idealized peaceful existence unless you subscribe to the following as elements of such; 5AM start times to milk Daisy Bell the Cow, -5 degree temperatures while hopping on a quad with windchill factors in the -20s, your tears turning eyelashes into frozen shelves, your lips taut and crisp, ears and hands burning as if squeezed in a vice just before numbness sets in, and full days in the field, combing the backcountry for livestock and breaks in the fence line. Add to this clearing pathways of 50 foot toppled trees using a 32 inch chain saw or employing the exhaust of your Polaris’ engine to warm freezing hands after removing three inch thick ice sheets from the numerous watering troughs the cattle need to survive during these cold winter months.

To the ranchers and farmers who thrive out here around the John Day river near Spray OR on the east side of the Cascade mountains, these elements feed their deep spiritual and physical connection to the land. Our rewards for their sacrifice are fresh fruit, vegetables, grains and grass fed beef. Their rewards though are profound and pure. Fresh unpasteurized milk, with warm chicken and duck eggs, and turkeys for Thanksgiving. Here life is shared with elk herds that roam the pristine hills, with bears that hibernate in their caves while cougars and bobcats stalk deer and other game through the sparse pine forests of the hillsides and valleys. The setting sun with its darkening sky reveal, in this high desert, an Atlas of stars, shining with a native brilliance undimmed by the light pollution we’ve all grown accustomed to. A moody fog, lit by that brilliance, courses along the path of the frozen John Day below. As day turns to night, the night crawlers fall into their sleep as the daytrippers awaken.

All around the sounds of the natural world play unspoiled by human industry. The meter of this hard but simple life is not kept by a clock, rather, by the dawn’s early light, the shrunken shadows of high noon, and finally their elongated statures as the sun begins to set are, the timepieces of these hills. As the sky’s hues expand and intensify at sunset and the temperature begins to plummet, the body’s hunger will be satisfied in a kitchen where a pot of steaming milk with honey and spices warms and perfumes the air. Here is a glimpse of life in the high country of Spray, Oregon.

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Daisy Bell the Cow being milked in the barn just after 5AM

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At -5 degrees, this 2,000lb mare had no issue watching the morning sun rise

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Tom the Turkey was the stud

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Micheal F. starts the day with his wife at 5AM and as soon as there is light he is off into the backcountry. Micheal provides full-care to ranch owners; managing and operating a ranch, and learning new ways to evolve the farmer’s marketplace.

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Clearing watering troughs requires thick skin, but the breath and the Polaris offer enough relief. The daily high while in Spray was 10 degrees.

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The John Day River below

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Providing mineral and salt blocks in the backcountry

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Juniper trees are weeds in the high country. They are clear cut to make room for grasses in order to form pasture.

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Sunset in the backcountry pasture at an elevation of 4000 feet

Next Post (Pt. II) –>

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Puget Sound Restoration Fund: The Oyster Harvest

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Oysters are delicious, but they’re also highly important to our marine ecosystem. They’re natural filtration systems, removing toxins and cycling nutrients back into the water that help combat pollution. Oysters within the Puget Sound are also some of the first species to feel the effects of a new threat called Ocean Acidification (OA). As the ocean becomes more acidic due to decreasing pH levels from human industrialization, oyster seed shells begin to dissolve causing holes, disease and early death.

Puget Sound Restoration Fund (PSRF) is helping restore these mollusks by planting native oyster beds throughout Puget Sound. They’re creating a community of oyster harvesters through their CSA program, as well as partnering with research institutes to further study and treat the effects of OA. On an early morning on Bainbridge Island, Washington local volunteers gather to take advantage of the low tide and collect the native oysters.

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For more visit the Ocean Acidification Project

Cameron Karsten Photography

The Honey Harvest is Near

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With the nearing end of the the summer, a north hemisphere-wide honey harvest is about to begin, and I’m feeling pretty damn excited.  Longtime friend and fellow traveler Dennie P (aka D) stopped by and had the opportunity to check in on my hives.  I’m hoping he’s hooked!  He looks like it.

Location: BI, WA

Camera/Lens Specifics: Canon 5D MarkIII w/Canon EF 16-35mm 2.8L II USM Lens

35mm, 1/200 sec at ƒ/7.1, ISO 100, tripod.

Post: LR4 & Adobe PSCC

Ocean Acidification and our Oyster Culture – Part II

karsten_cameron_12In order to prosper, every living creature requires clean air, clean water and abundant food.  For ocean-thriving mollusks, clean seawater is a must.  In December 2011, Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire formed a Blue Ribbon Panel.  Their purpose: to investigate and study a new threat to Pacific Northwest waters.  They were putting Ocean Acidification (OA) under the microscope.

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karsten_cameron_14What is occurring is evidence of our Industrial Period 100 years prior as heavy carbon dioxide (CO2) elements now begin surfacing in the shallow waters of the Puget Sound.  As the spring and fall seasons of the Pacific Northwest bring strong northwesterly winds, currents in the Pacific Ocean stir up these century-old pollutants, pushing them upwards and east into the estuaries.  These so-called up-wellings decrease pH levels, causing normal numbers of 8.25 to sink lower into the acidic levels of 8.14 (The pH scale is representative of aqueous solutions from zero to fourteen; where zero characterizes hydrochloric acid or battery acid, and fourteen is sodium hydroxide, better known as bleach).  Acid is a solvent.  It dissolves what it comes in contact with.  Add acidic waters to oyster seed and you find its ingredients eating away at the calcium carbonate that makes up the mollusk’s shell.

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karsten_cameron_20Taylor Shellfish Farms is the first to experience this threat.  They are attracting globe attention to what is occurring within their hatcheries and throughout their farms.  They rely on clean healthy water for larvae seed to develop, but ocean acidification is effecting the development of these mollusks, prohibiting full and consistent growth of their calcium carbonate shells.  What is the future of the mollusk culture if we continue burning fossil fuels and causing the climate to warm-up at faster then expected rate?  Our industrial state affects more then just our air quality.

To see Part II of the multimedia project Ocean Acidification and our Oyster Culture, please click here

Olympic Day Hiking – The Brothers

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Spent a sunny summer day hiking to the base of The Brothers on the Olympic Peninsula, reaching just above the tree-line before running out of time.  An hour and twenty minutes up to Lena Lake and then an additional three hours upwards.  We passed below massive pines and wound through streams that disappeared beneath the riverbeds.

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Cameron Karsten Photography

Photo Essay: Wood – A Story from the Olympic Peninsula (Pt. III)

Photography Assignment: Apex Belltown Cooperative for YES! Magazine

 

Apex Belltown Cooperative in downtown Seattle, WA for YES! Magazine. Summer 2012 Issue.

Seattle Central Creative Academy: Photography Assignment (High Key Product)

High Key photography is a classic product set-up: bright subject, with few shadows and nice highlights.  To go with au naturel consumerism, Tom’s of Maine toothpaste came into play.

The idea was to showcase the “Crystal Clean” result after using Tom’s.  Somewhat pleased, I don’t feel totally successful with the project.  The crystal in my model’s hand appears too large and the actual toothbrush on the right feels unnatural due to the lack of the bottom of the brush.  In the end, the photographer decides about his/her image, while the audience decides on their individual experience.

Location: SCCA Studios, Seattle, WA

Camera/Lens Specifics: Canon 5D Mark II with Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro Lens

variety of settings, ISO 100.

Post: Adobe LR3 & PS5

Photo Essay: Wood – A Story from the Olympic Peninsula (Pt. II)

As I continue to drive out into the Olympic Peninsula, camera bags full and surf gear packed, I slowly observe the culture of a timber industry unfolding before my eyes.  It is a people’s livelihood, their subsistence within the forest, bringing shelters over families heads and food to their hungry tables.  And for the blue collar, it is not a wealthy industry.  They are the cutters, sawers, operators, drivers and haulers of a civilization taking over the wild places.

With video files and the numerous still images of the cold cloudy spring passing over the Northwest wilderness, this project is evolving into an unbiased perspective of Man vs. Nature, and how the two can equally subsist; prosper side by side and thrive within one another.

Below is the second essay of imagery and visual thoughts from a story of wood deep within the Olympic Peninsula.