Green Green Mountains

The second story I photographed for the Weather Channel’s series on climate change was published over the weekend. Working with writer Matt Hongoltz-Hetling and editor Patty Cox, over the summer I documented elements of Vermont’s renewable energy efforts, from solar power to electric vehicles to zero-energy homes. I enjoyed exploring the topic and seeing the result! Follow this link to read the story and see a video that was also produced.

From top: Three solar projects have been installed near the Rutland Community Garden’s 50 plots, within view of the Green Mountains and Killington Peak, the second highest in Vermont. According to Green Mountain Power, Rutland is the Solar Capital of New England, with the most solar per capita of any city in the region; While 60 SunCommon solar panels are installed in an adjacent barn, Jersey cows are turned out to pasture after their morning milking at 4 Corners Farm in Newbury, Vt.; SunCommon Warehouse Assistant Evan Vaillancourt loads a pallet of solar panels into a trailer to be delivered to a job site at the company’s warehouse in Waterbury, Vt. The company’s 21 enclosed trailers are delivered with job-specific inventory — they average 15 installations a week in the summertime; SunCommon Co-President Duane Peterson below bi-facial solar panels, which absorb energy on both sides. Peterson and James Moore started the company in 2012 and the business has grown from 16 employees to over 70; Farmer Anna Hurlburt leads her flock of 50 Dorset Tunis sheep through the solar array at Open View Farm in New Haven, Vt. Hurlburt and her husband, Ben Freund, rotationally graze the sheep under the solar array owned by Cross Pollination Inc., which intentionally had the facility designed to allow for livestock grazing; The sheep graze under solar panels at dusk at Open View Farm. The 2.49-megawatt solar array was designed and built by Vermont-based groSolar in 2013 for Cross Pollination. The solar array generates enough power for 350 homes each year; Jennifer Wallace-Brodeur leads a morning transportation team meeting at the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation offices in Burlington, Vt. Wallace-Brodeur is the director of transportation efficiency at the VEIC; Kevin Jones, of Chittenden, Vt., travels on Route 100 in Stockbridge, Vt., near the Green Mountain National Forest. After owning two gas-electric hybrids, Jones decided to lease a Chevy Bolt electric car for his 80-mile roundtrip commute. Because its brakes regenerate the battery power, Jones said the downhill travel in the mountains compensates for its uphill climb; After arriving at work at Vermont Law School in South Royalton, Vt., Jones plugs his Chevy Bolt into a Level 2 charging station at the school. The school has seven charging stations, four which are the higher-powered Level 2 stations; Vermod Homes owner Steve Davis speaks with the construction crew foreman on the job site at one of Vermod’s modular home installations in Woodstock, Vt. The three-piece 1,500 square-foot home was built in VerMod’s facility in Wilder, Vt., and put together on-site; To help with its weatherization, laborer Tim Nunn caulks electrical boxes from the outside on one of the modular homes under construction at Vermod Homes in Wilder, Vt. “I haven’t seen a house as energy efficient as these,” he said; Carpenters Tyler Wheatley and Ben Parsons of Conniff’s Custom Building in Brookfield, Vt., build a garage on-site after a Vermod home was placed on the property in Woodstock. Doc Conniff said he has been working with Vermod Homes owner Steve Davis on jobs for 30 years.

Following Tradition

In the first week of November, I tagged along with Carl Diener while he explored the woods to hunt deer in the waning days of muzzleloader season in Hanover, N.H., for a Valley News story. Oblivious to a steady rain, Diener spent the afternoon waiting for his prey while warm in wool. “I like the old way of doing things,” he said. “You feel like you’re actually accomplishing something.”

From top, Carl Diener, of Hanover, N.H., quietly walks into the woods near his home while looking for deer tracks on the second to last day of New Hampshire’s muzzleloader season. Diener began hunting in the 1980s with a co-worker and was attracted to muzzleloader season because it’s a two-week head start on rifle season; A collection of photographs in Diener’s shop shows the deer he has harvested over the years with his muzzleloader rifle. Once rifle season begins, Diener will not use a modern gun, dressing in his wool capote coat, carrying his powder in a horn and ammunition in a pouch; Diener takes aim at a doe he sees nearby — but does not shoot — while hunting. During muzzleloader season, the state allows the taking of any deer only for the first four days in the G1 Wildlife Management Unit where Diener hunts; Stepping in from a rainy afternoon of hunting, Diener checks to be sure the flintlock’s priming pan is dry where gunpowder was to be struck in his muzzleloader rifle. Diener had covered the area with a cow’s knee, originally named for the piece of leather made from the appendage. Diener made one himself from two pieces of suede.

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School Days

This fall I have had the privilege to spend time in and around Upper Valley schools to catch moments while working working for the Valley News. I especially liked catching the Rock-Paper-Scissors Championship above on video, with a great touch by Web Editor Maggie Cassidy!

From top, Richmond Middle School seventh-grader Mandi Shi, center, is encouraged by classmates Elizabeth Pollock, left, and Reilly Loughman while twisting to pass a hula hoop made of duct tape to Loughman at the annual Class Day activities held after lunch at the Storrs Pond Recreation Area in Hanover, N.H. In addition to playing other team-building games, the students learned to dance the Macarena and had a brownie bake-off; Randolph Union High School junior Shea Fordham works to solve a problem in her Advanced Placement Calculus class at Randolph Union High School in Randolph, Vt.; Marion Cross School third-grader Sophie Hopkins gives crossing guard Fred White, 81, of Wilder, Vt., a hug after a surprise all-school assembly honored the retiring White for his 19 years of service in Norwich, Vt. White said he’s enjoyed meeting the students over the years and staying in touch with some of them through adulthood.

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Grand Slam

I recently spent the weekend with Team Film Flam to document their effort to compete in the annual Film Slam sponsored by the Cohase Chamber of Commerce in Bradford, Vt., as a photo story for the Valley News. Alan Haehnel, his daughter Omega Haehnel and her best friend Pearl MacLeod were amongst the six teams to write, shoot, edit and present a seven-minute film in 48 hours. Their result — Hearts Ajar — was not only clever and funny, but also won several awards. Totally impressive!

From top, with Peanut the family dog keeping watch, Alan Haehnel starts writing the script to be used by his team; As Pearl MacLeod shoots close-ups of Cecelia, played by Omega Haehnel, her mother Heidi Haehnel pokes her head into her bedroom in Hartford Village, Vt., to ask a question during the filming; Because a dead camera battery puts a halt to their shooting Heidi Haehnel makes calls to see if she can find a store that stocks a replacement as Alan Haehnel calls their son to see if one of his friends has the same battery. They resolved the problem by using a simpler camera Alan Haehnel borrowed from Hanover High School, where he works; In character as Pam, MacLeod cradles a jar of pickles while making the film HEARTS AJAR. As part of the competition, each of the six teams had to include a jar of pickles in their film; Pam reacts as her stepsister Cecelia throws Pam’s cherished jar of pickles; While Alan Haehnel is filming, Cecelia is hit with a pickle thrown by her stepsister Pam on the dock at the public beach on Lake Morey in Fairlee, Vt.; Omega Haehnel, left, and MacLeod work on editing their film first thing in the morning, with about 10 hours remaining in the slam; Cohase Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Erik Volk leans over to get reaction from Film Slam first place winners Omega Haehnel, MacLeod, and Alan Haehnel after the six teams presented their films in Bradford, Vt. HEARTS AJAR was also awarded Best Direction and Best Use of Genre awards by the judges. The audience at the screening also gave it the People’s Choice award.

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Summertime News

It’s been another eventful summer while doing photography for the Valley News. As photo editor at the paper, I feel fortunate to be out of the office with my camera while others are on vacation. Here’s a few of my favorites from the past couple of months:

From top, Upper Valley Nighthawks pitcher Joe DeRosa checks the sign before going into his windup in the fourth inning of their game with the Mountaineers in Hartford, Vt.; Valerie Pallotta, of Colchester, Vt., gives Lt. Col. Dave Leonard a hug goodbye after her speech at a mental health conference at the VA Medical Center in White River Junction, Vt. Her son, Josh, died in 2014 while battling PTSD and brain injuries after serving in Afghanistan as part of the Vermont National Guard. Leonard is director of the Vermont Guard’s Family Program; New Hampshire punter Zach O’Brien of Stevens High School yells for the team’s 11th player to get on to the field in the first quarter of play in the annual all-star Shrine Maple Sugar Bowl in Castleton, Vt.; Kevin Barry, of Barnard, Vt., right, playfully challenges Lindley Brainard, of Bethel, to a duel with their cordless drills while working on one of four trout murals by artist Mary Lacy, of Burlington, Vt., on a retaining wall in Bethel. Lacy and the volunteer crew are finishing the installation on the retaining wall, built in 1940. “It’s no longer the ugliest wall in Vermont,” Barry said; Hartford senior goalkeeper Hannah Cooney runs a drill where she begins defense of the net from her stomach during pre-season practice in White River Junction; Bill Shambo Sr., right, tells Travis Wright that Kibby Equipment Inc. will be closing at the end of September after Shambo and his family ran the White River Junction business for 60 years. Wright, who works for the State of New Hampshire Department of Transportation garage in Enfield, N.H., had picked up a part for a salt spreader. “They’ve always been good,” Wright said of the business.

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Fair Competition

While the Bradford Fair in Bradford, Vt., was in full swing, I spent the day for the Valley News photographing a group of 4-H teamsters with their working steers in the first of three qualifying events to go to the Eastern States Exposition in Springfield, Mass. Their attention to detail and intensity of the competition was very impressive! Follow this link to see the story and more photographs.

From top, Krystin Skoda, 17, of Randolph, Vt., applies hoof polish to Mike, an eight-month-old Holstein steer, while preparing for the working steer 4-H show at the Bradford Fair in Bradford, Vt.; Megan Taylor, 10, of East Randolph, Vt., encourages her Holstein steers Salt and Pepper to back a cart into a determined space in the competition. It was Taylor’s first time showing her one-year-old steers at a fair and she was competing for the experience; From left, Steve and Terri Chamberlin, of Pomfret, Vt., and Deb Skoda, of Randolph, prepare paperwork for the competition. Terri Chamberlin and her father have been running the Green Mountain Teamsters working steer 4-H club since 1990; Joey Ferris, 11, of Northfield, Vt., is tested on his knowledge of working steers by judge Dan Fantoni, of Fairfax, Vt., during the Junior Division fitting and showing portion of the show. Ferris has been involved with working steers for three years; As Fantoni watches, Skoda encourages her young Holstein steer team of John and Mike to pull the stone boat; Analiese Morvan, 18, of Northfield, Vt., takes shelter from the sun in the shadow cast by her Dutch Belt steer team of Jim and Joe while waiting for results from the stone boat obstacle course. Morvan competed at “The Big E” last year as Vermont’s sole teamster.

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Highly Honored

Over the past few weeks, I have been photographing portraits of high school students for the Valley News’ annual Athlete of the Year award, given to a male and female from each of the 18 schools the newspaper covers. It was a privilege to meet and photograph so many great young people! Follow this link to see all of the athletes who are honored. Below are a few of my favorites:

Clockwise from upper left are Hanover’s Bri Laycock, Lebanon’s Ryan Milliken, Sunapee’s Katie Frederick, Thetford’s Connor Brown, Mid Vermont’s Rachel Seale and Woodsville’s Cooper Davidson.

Maggie Cassidy, the newspaper’s super-talented Web Editor, put together this fun video from footage I did with a second camera on the shoots.

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Church of the Woods

I recently had the pleasure to make photographs for one of Matt Hongoltz-Hetling’s stories about climate change for the Weather Channel’s web site. He is finding different approaches to the topic in each of the Northern New England states. In Canterbury, N.H., Matt profiled Rev. Steve Blackmer and his unique Church of the Woods. Blackmer and his congregation were very generous and accommodating with me. Editor Patty Cox and her team did a wonderful job presenting Matt’s story — follow this link to take a look!

From top: Rev. Steve Blackmer closes his morning service at Church of the Woods in Canterbury, N.H., with a blessing. The Episcopal church, established in 2014, holds two services outdoors every Sunday; Rain drops linger on an evergreen branch at Church of the Woods; Rick Coffin, of Barnstead, N.H., left, and Wes Jones, of Loudon, N.H., hold hands and sing a hymn with others during the afternoon service. Both attend St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Pittsfield, N.H., and had met Blackmer while he was doing his Episcopal training; Blackmer made a mid-career change to the ministry after working as a land conservation professional, establishing the church on 106 acres in 2014; Blackmer leads the congregation in the singing of a hymn. Blackmer has started the Wild Church Network for other churches who worship outdoors. “It’s a little movement,” he said. “But it is a movement.”

Fiddling Around

My ears were recently filled with the sweet sounds of fiddling while working on two stories for the Valley News. In Montpelier, Vt., the Northeast Fiddlers Association had their monthly gathering on a Sunday afternoon. After an hour of playing together, players signed up to play a selection of 3-4 songs. The group celebrated their 50th anniversary a couple of years ago. The next day, I photographed Patrick Ross rehearsing in Newbury, Vt., with fellow players for the Mountain Money All-Stars’ three-show concert. Here’s a few of my favorites:

From top, Jill Newton, of Saxtons River, Vt., plays with a group of fiddlers and accompanists on guitar, banjo, mandolin and percussion shakers during the monthly gathering of the Northeast Fiddlers Association; Len Dessormeau, of Colchester, Vt., practices and decides which four tunes to play onstage; Lee Deyette, of Randolph, Vt., checks the sound of a fiddle that belonged to the late Martin Wheeler, of West Topsham, Vt., as Oleta Marckres, of Eden, Vt., watches. Deyette said the fiddle, a raffle prize at the get-together, had not been played in a while and its liveliness would come back once it returns to performance; The group jams at the start of the gathering; From left, roots musicians Chance Lindsley, of South Ryegate, Vt., Patrick Ross, of Newbury, Vt., and Hunter Paye, of Portland, Ore., rehearse at Ross’s home for three upcoming Mountain Money All-Stars shows. Paye grew up in the Bradford area and is back visiting his mother; Lindsley, who is the principal at Newbury Elementary School, is recovering from recent heart problems that nearly killed him; Ophelia Ross, 2, helps her father with the fiddle during the rehearsal.

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March Madness

In the past few weeks Upper Valley teams took to the road to pursue high school championships and I have been following them for the Valley News with my cameras and laptop. It’s a treat to photograph the teams’ athleticism and the emotional support from fans!

From top, Lebanon basketball players Olivia Greeley, Joslin Wainwright, Josephine Brown, Kassidee Rogers and Rebecca Wright wait on the bench for the state championship awards presentation in Manchester, N.H., along with student fans after their 44-35 win over Hollis Brookline for the school’s sixth state title; Thetford coach Eric Ward, right, the team’s bench and their fans encourage the Panthers as Windsor’s lead shrinks late in their championship game in Barre, Vt. Thetford won on a last-second shot, 53-52; Stevens High School sophomore Derrick Stanhope, center, cheers with a capacity crowd watching the championship game with Kearsarge in Manchester, N.H.; Stevens’ Nick O’Brien and the Kearsarge fans react to the Cougars’ 51-46 win over the Cardinals; Former Hanover High hockey players, from left, Eliza Laycock, Delia Nahabedian, Kelly Brigham and Matti Hartman congratulate current players Cici Barton, left, and Maddie Lyons as they leave the ice with their championship hardware in Manchester. Hanover defeated Exeter, 3-1, for their eighth straight title and the ninth in the past decade; Windsor assistant coach Sarah Attwood consoles freshman Olivia Rockwood following the Yellowjackets’ championship loss to Thetford in Barre.

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