A study of shortening days

Posted Dec. 15, 2011, at 9:58 p.m.
A piece of driftwood lay on the beach at Popham Beach State Park, Sunday, Dec. 11. Sequin Island is seen on the background.
A piece of driftwood lay on the beach at Popham Beach State Park, Sunday, Dec. 11. Sequin Island is seen on the background. Buy Photo
The full moon rises behind Bay Point in Georgetown, on the east side of the Kennebec River in this photo made with a telephoto lens from Popham Beach State Park, Saturday, Dec. 10.
The full moon rises behind Bay Point in Georgetown, on the east side of the Kennebec River in this photo made with a telephoto lens from Popham Beach State Park, Saturday, Dec. 10. Buy Photo
A cod fish weathervane on top of the Popham Chapel is silhouetted against a setting full moon before dawn, Saturday, Dec. 10.
A cod fish weathervane on top of the Popham Chapel is silhouetted against a setting full moon before dawn, Saturday, Dec. 10. Buy Photo
The incoming tide swirls over the beach in this two-minute time-exposure made by the light of the full moon at Popham Beach State Park, Sunday, Dec.11. Sequin Island light shines in the distance.
The incoming tide swirls over the beach in this two-minute time-exposure made by the light of the full moon at Popham Beach State Park, Sunday, Dec.11. Sequin Island light shines in the distance. Buy Photo
A washed-up crab lay on the sand at dawn at Popham Beach State Park, Sunday, Dec. 11.
A washed-up crab lay on the sand at dawn at Popham Beach State Park, Sunday, Dec. 11. Buy Photo
Gull tracks come and go across the wind-blown sand at Popham Beach State Park, Sunday, Dec. 11, in Phippsburg.
Gull tracks come and go across the wind-blown sand at Popham Beach State Park, Sunday, Dec. 11, in Phippsburg. Buy Photo
Warm weather beach footwear is displayed along a walkway through the dunes in Phippsburg.
Warm weather beach footwear is displayed along a walkway through the dunes in Phippsburg. Buy Photo
Wind-blown clouds streak across the western sky over Fort Popham in this 30-second time-exposure made under the light of a full moon, Friday, Dec. 9, in Phippsburg.
Wind-blown clouds streak across the western sky over Fort Popham in this 30-second time-exposure made under the light of a full moon, Friday, Dec. 9, in Phippsburg. Buy Photo
Driftwood frames joggers exercising Sunday morning, Dec. 11, at Popham Beach State Park, in Phippsburg.
Driftwood frames joggers exercising Sunday morning, Dec. 11, at Popham Beach State Park, in Phippsburg. Buy Photo

PHIPPSBURG, Maine — Like a memorial to the long-gone days of summer, more than a dozen flip-flops and other beach footwear nailed to a wooden beam are displayed alongside a pathway through the sand dunes. Gone are the crowds of sunbathers and recreational fishermen. Gone, too, are long-lasting days. Since June, we’ve lost more than nine hours of daylight.

Last weekend photographer Robert Bukaty set out to explore the area around Popham Beach State Park on the Atlantic coast, about 15 miles south of Bath. A nearly deserted community of private homes and vacation rentals is sandwiched between the state park’s boundaries at the mouths of the Kennebec and Morse rivers.

Starting out at dusk, Bukaty used a 300 millimeter lens to capture the full moon rising over Georgetown’s Bay Point on the opposite side of the Kennebec. Then he switched to a wide angle lens to record the moonlit Fort Popham. A 30-second time-exposure stretches the wind-blown clouds moving over the 150-year-old fort.

Returning to the beach before dawn, he sought interesting subjects to photograph. He used an off-camera flash to illuminate the collection of flip-flops on a cloudy morning. The next day he narrowed the beam of light from the flash to spotlight a dead crab on the dark beach before sunrise.

Not a fan of short days? Take heart, the days will start getting longer after the winter solstice, next Thursday.

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