Bites of Island news

Jim Cerny, reporting and photography

Photographing Portsmouth fireworks What, me worry? Return of Village Store Progress at Fort Stark Cosmos Trio Random kindness Float your boat

Photographing Portsmouth fireworks

The fireworks season is a good excuse to learn more about what your camera can do, to become capable of more than just point and shoot. The steps to success are not difficult if you have a little motivation to get some good shots:
  1. Use a tripod to hold the camera steady during the length of the exposure (often several seconds). If you have a remote cable release for the camera shutter, use that; otherwise be very careful when pressing the shutter not to introduce any vibration.
  2. Set the camera to manual focus and focus it for nearly the maximum distance or infinity. This keeps the camera from trying to autofocus in the dark without success.
  3. Learn how to change some basic settings. Start with sensor sensitivity set to ISO 100, an aperture priority of f/8, and exposure time of 1 second. You may want to increase exposures to 2 seconds or more. If the brightest parts of the fireworks seem overexposed, try changing the aperture to f/11.
  4. Expect to do some post-processing in a graphics editing program like Photoshop, at least to crop the photo. With some practice you can do things such as composite two or three fireworks bursts into one image.
The following images were taken of the Portsmouth fireworks on July 5, as seen from New Castle, using a Sony A100 camera according to these directions images are as photographed, not composites. Click on each thumbnail to see a larger version.


Foom, Foom, Foomp!

Plam, Plam!

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What, me worry?

We hear much talk about sea level rise. To make that talk more concrete, Weiss and Overpeck have an interactive program that lets us map a coastline of interest, with various assumed amounts of sea level rise. This shows New Castle with a one meter rise, with submerged areas in red!

Effect of one meter sea level rise on New Castle.

If sea level rise were ever as much as six meters, then New Castle would become an archipelago consisting of a half dozen small islands!

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Return of the village store

Store construction begins.
Work is progressing for the return of a village store to New Castle. Owner Nancy Borden expects to open Henrys' Market after Labor Day the name is a plural possessive that continues the name of the last village store to operate in that location and commemorates the owner's deceased brother. The plan is to restore the first floor of the building to its 1890s look, to be "cozy old-fashioned" in Nancy's words.  Initial hours are planned as 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days per week, then adjusted as experience indicates. Nancy's daughter, Ana Gabriela Hayhurst, will be the store manager.

Nancy reports much community support, drawing on local expertise with a community advisory committee. For example, artist Wendy Hazen, has provided an awning design.

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Progress at Fort Stark

As reported earlier, the volunteers of the Fort Stark Brigade and Friends have been very busy and have accomplished a lot with two mornings a week for cutting brush and organizing the machine shop. Much of this work literally went up in smoke on July 7 with a controlled burn of the accumulated brush piles, conducted by the New Castle Fire Department.

Controlled brush burn, with fireman Peter Rice.

Brigade leader Peter Rice in a "HOOAH" moment inspired by the presence of this 1953 jeep at a Fort Stark work session!

The Machine Shop, which houses artifacts, is now functioning as a visitor center and there is a new visitor's brochure. The leaking roof is scheduled to be replaced this year.

Saturday, July 12, was the second annual Fort Stark picnic, for those who've worked at the reclamation of Fort Stark and for community members who wanted to celebrate the progress. The weather cooperated beautifully and at least three dozen people turned out, from infants to octogenarians. A highlight was the cherry pit spitting contest!

The picnic scene, showing the brick Machine Shop building at the left, with the concrete structures of Battery Hayes extending across the center to the white Harbor Entrance Command Post (HECP).

Leonard Seagren, pit spitting.

Nancy Borden, pit spitting.

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Cosmos Trio

On July 14 the Cosmos Trio played at the New Castle Congregational Church, consisting of Katherine Jones on flute, Mary Harris on viola, and Jeanne Norton on harp. Their program consisted of four pieces of contemporary music, attended by 30 or more people.

Jeanne Z. Norton on harp, member of Cosmos Trio.

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Random kindness and senseless acts of beauty

Carol White has planted a small garden at the entrance to the Machine Shop visitor center at Fort Stark.

Patch of garden outside the Machine Shop entrance, cultivated by Carol White.

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Float your boat

Helicopter on the Starship.
People are making the most of the short boating season and Little Harbor between New Castle and Rye has every slip and mooring occupied. The luxury yacht Starship is home-ported at the Wentworth Marina this summer, complete with a helicopter parked on its 143-foot length. While large, this is 20 feet shorter than the Vango that visited the Marina last November.

At the same time tragedy struck the 23-foot sailboat Lily Belle just outside the entrance to Little Harbor, when the owners lost control of their boat and it was smashed on the rocks fortunately they escaped serious injury, with the help of some passersby on shore. A few days later the sailboat Aloufe broke loose from its mooring and fetched against the breakwater without damage.

Remains of the Lily Belle on the ocean shore of Fort Stark.

The Aloufe resting on the Little Harbor breakwater, but undamaged, the morning after a heavy evening thunderstorm.

And in a more tranquil Piscataqua River cove we saw

The Fiji, a Whitehall-type boat, on a foggy summer morning in New Castle.

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August, 2008