A study of shortening days

Posted Dec. 15, 2011, at 9:58 p.m.

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.