The Porcupine (Finally) Abides, Man

“I saw a porcupine! Envy me, world!”

- Mark Hendricks to Jim “Muck” McClelland

The 2015 Pennsylvania Elk Rut has come to pass. The excitement and brutality of this year’s annual ungulate festivities has now been immortalized in the minds of those fortunate enough to eyewitness the regal prowess of the majestic bull elk, to hear the symphony of their hauntingly beautiful bugle, and to feel the crisp, chilly air encompass your body as an unequivocal reminder that the season of autumn has arrived.

North Central Pennsylvania sits high on the Allegheny Plateau. It is commonly referred to as the “Pennsylvania Wilds” region because of its abundant wildlife and wide open spaces. A large portion of this region lies near the upper terminus of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. A relatively popular creek such as Bennett Branch is a tributary to the Susquehanna River, and thus its water eventually flows into the Chesapeake Bay. This type of habitat diversity is what makes me so thankful to celebrate the Chesapeake with its flora, fauna, and human characters alike.

Some of those human characters have become some of my closest friends since I began photographing these regions. Brothers like Tom Dorsey and Jim “Muck” McClelland. More than the rut itself, I enjoy the camaraderie and sharing the wild experience with great friends. Numerous photographers come together to experience the rut as members of the Benezette Elk Camera Club.  The club holds annual autumn and spring picnics where members share stories of the elk, talk gear, feast on good food, and share their passion for wildlife photography. There are times during these conversations I will get a bit envious when I see images of a particular animal I have never seen. Not just any animal, one that is very dear to me.  I then twitch a little and begin to sweat. Something is so very wrong with me, but very few understand my plight. As I respond to them how lucky they are to have seen such a beautiful creature I hear strange phrases such as:

“Oh, jeez, they’re everywhere.” 

“I have to keep them away from the porch with a broom stick.”

“My dogs go crazy over the damn things.”

All these sentences are strange to me. How can you not be excited about this creature? Why do you flaunt to me that you see them regularly? I think I am going cold. I am beginning to feel dizzy. Somebody get me some water; I must process this. 

I have tracked and photographed a number of elusive animals, but this species that has always seemed to elude me. When I visit the Pennsylvania North Woods the one creature that I hope to photograph is the North American Porcupine.


You read that correct. That slow, prickly, salt loving, brake hose eating porcupine has forever eluded me. Well, a living one has always eluded me. I see road kill porcupines more than I see many of my friends. 

Do you think I have an undiagnosed complex yet?

The porcupine reaches the southern end of its range in Western Maryland and is uncommonly seen, though the population is growing.  North Central Pennsylvania, however, has a significantly large population and, apparently, are seen rather frequently when I am not visiting.  I have hiked in a number of areas that contain high numbers of porcupines: the Rocky Mountain West, Canadian boreal forest, the bristlecone pine forest of the desert southwest, Northern Appalachians, etc. 

You know what all these areas have in common? I never found a porcupine in any of them. 

I visited the North Rim of the Grand Canyon while on my honeymoon, an area also known to have a high density of porcupines. When asked about any recent sightings of porcupines, a park ranger replied to me with laughter. “You are the first person to ever ask me about porcupines.” It was like I was stabbed a thousand times.

Are you still on the fence about my mental health?

It has become quite the joke between Tom, Muck, and myself about my 0% success rate with finding porcupines. Year after year, during the Elk rut we observe amazing behavior of testosterone filled bulls in midst of battle.  Yet, what is yours truly doing during these battles?  Constantly remaining vigilant for porcupines.  I share with them my ideas for all the images I hope to capture; a porcupine in an aspen tree making eye contact with the photographer, a porcupine eating, a porcupine climbing, a porcupine baby.  Laughter abounds and I am told to take a cold shower; this is a lot coming from a man who only finds dead porcupines……

Tom and his lovely wife Jeanie even sent me the Christmas ornament of all Christmas ornaments:  two porcupines opening gifts under their own Christmas tree.  It is awesome.   

Muck has the ability to appear out of focus in images when he chooses.  Like Bigfoot.

Muck has the ability to appear out of focus in images when he chooses.  Like Bigfoot.

Muck shared with me the location of a tree on the side of a dark, country road where he has seen a porcupine rather frequently. Porcupines are arboreal, spending a majority of their time in trees, and there was plenty of evidence of its behavior through fallen branches with teeth markings.  I received strange looks from passerby’s concerned with the sight of a strange man with a tripod and video-head looking upward towards a tree.  Eventually I had to leave the area as I did not want to get accidentally hit by a fast moving truck as the light faded, or by someone who purposely wanted to remove the photographer who transformed their country road into his makeshift studio for porcupines.  

My stress levels reached new heights when I almost accepted this would be another season without porcupines.  Yet on my last morning in Pennsylvania Elk Country of the 2015 rut, my life changed forever. It was a slow morning and Muck and I were not seeing much behavior from the elk herd. The previous day we, along with Tom, watched an epic collision between two large bulls that was just incredible; hence, we were not discouraged by the lack of action on this particular morning. We watched an American kestrel hovering over the meadow in search for prey which kept us occupied and offered some photographic opportunities.  Though as the fog began to burn off, and we were prepared to meet Tom for breakfast, I began to feel a bit queasy.  I asked Muck if we could hike into a nearby grove of Eastern Hemlock to look for porcupines. Muck, being a very good and extremely patient friend, obliged.

As we hiked through the forest, sloshing through mud, we looked up into every hemlock tree with methodical precision hoping to catch a glimpse of a porcupine. Nothing. Ten minutes pass. Again nothing. Another ten minutes. Nada. This was the basic formula for the hike:  I would see perfect porcupine habitat, search for them with ardor and precision, fail, express my frustration, laughter from Muck, and move to the next area.  Just another day at the office.

We came across the mostly in tact skeleton of a cow elk that died during the winter, to which I said “Muck, check that out.”  

He replied in an intense whisper, “Take some photos.”

“Nah, I’m good, I want to keep looking for PORCUPINE!”

My first (living) Porcupine!

My first (living) Porcupine!

There it was: the porcupine.  An adorable, quill filled, and most importantly, alive porcupine directly in front of me.  I saw the skeleton, Muck saw the porcupine, and we both thought we saw what the other saw (I cannot make this stuff up).  It was so close to my feet I had to look directly downwards at it.  Now I would like to say I immediately went into position and began taking photographs, but instead I froze in a state of Nirvana.  Joyous,   I remember turning around and hi-fiving Muck and then hearing “Now take some photos before it leaves!”

And that is exactly what I did.  The pictures are not perfect by any means- it was a low light situation, the porcupine would move in front of fallen twigs, and I was just way too excited to focus on photographic technique.  Yet they are of my first porcupine, which ranks them among my favorites.  

The porcupine eventually fled toward some fallen trees past an adjacent creek and, that fast, the monumental moment was over.  Muck mentioned he wished he had photographed my face because my smile was so large (I felt the weight of my chin dropping to the ground, so Muck is correct).  In my ecstasy, as we hiked back to meet Tom, I explained to Muck how I am hoping to photograph my next porcupine featuring a wide array of shrubbery, trees, and gorgeous blurred backgrounds.  Those of us who suffer from Porcupine Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (POCD) are rarely 100% satisfied with their porcupine experience and are always planning for the next encounter.  Look it up.     

The porcupine does not share the love that the photographer has for it and gives him an excellent view of its quills.  Porcupines will face predators backwards to protect themselves with their painful barbs.

The porcupine does not share the love that the photographer has for it and gives him an excellent view of its quills.  Porcupines will face predators backwards to protect themselves with their painful barbs.

We met Tom on the trail before departing for breakfast where we celebrated my conquest.  I kissed babies, shook hands, and posed for pictures for the local newspaper.  

Actually none of that is true but that is how it felt, and it felt awesome.  On my way home I called my wife to let her know what happened and she replied “Yeah! You finally saw one! Now how was the rut?”

Tom Dorsey documenting the heroes from a distance after the successful Porcupine adventure.

Tom Dorsey documenting the heroes from a distance after the successful Porcupine adventure.

Wildlife/Porcupine photography is both the most wonderful and most frustrating passion.  A large part of what makes it wonderful is the people; the great friends you meet along the way.  Tom and Muck have hiked with me numerous times as I have obsessed over porcupines and it is always an experience I would not trade for anything- even for a forest filled with porcupines.  

Well, actually now that I think about it…..I could convince them..... Bad Mark- no, no I wouldn’t.

Note:  This Blog is dedicated to Tom Dorsey and Jim “Muck” McClelland who hopefully, upon reading it, will still act like they know me.........

Late Summer in the Watershed

Supermoon- Shenandoah National Park- Hawksbill Mountain

Supermoon- Shenandoah National Park- Hawksbill Mountain

Summertime on the Chesapeake Bay equates to steamed crabs, rock fishing, and swimming along a host of other water based recreation.  The ubiquitous sights and sounds from these activities are a welcome addition for locals and hordes of travelers making their way to the region.  Along with the permeating aroma of Old Bay seasoning, which will indeed send your olfactory sense into a state of nirvana, summer is also the season of economic boom. 

The water of the Bay is so important to the culture and economy of the region. Yet have you ever considered where it comes from?

The diverse habitats of the watershed allow water to travel through marsh, piedmont, and the mountains of Appalachia.   Yes, when your feet are waddling though the sands of the Bay much of that water originated in the Appalachian Mountains, whose vast wilderness of cove forest is a far cry from the marsh that surrounds the Chesapeake.  The rolling green hills are a relic to a primeval past when these mountains were larger than the Rockies, originally carved by ancient glaciers that have since eroded into the forested wonderland we know today. 

Upper Chesapeake Bay

Upper Chesapeake Bay

The mountains are an important component to the watershed.  The rivers and streams that originate in them make up the majority of fresh water that eventually finds itself flowing into the bay.  It is wild to contemplate that the water that drops from the venerable waterfalls will make its way to the Susquehanna, Potomac, Rappahannock, and other rivers originating in the mountains and eventually meander to brackish marsh.  Additionallyfor your favorite intrepid watershed photographer, exploring the higher mountains in this region, especially in Virginia and West Virginia, provides a welcome break from the heat (usually a much cooler by 10-12 degrees Fahrenheit).

The forests of these mountains also provide shelter for a large number of watershed wildlife, both aquatic and terrestrial.  Riparian forest bordering along rivers and streams provide shade and cooler waters that are important for spawning fish.  These woodlands absorb nitrogen and pollutants which in turn improve air quality.    

And there is the mountain fauna.  White tail Deer, bobcats, eastern coyotes, and elk are all found in portions of the mountains within the watershed.  Seeing a newborn deer fawn being licked by its mother in a mountain meadow is wonderful to behold.  As is the abundant bird life.  Yet the animal everyone wants to see when venturing into the Appalachian Mountains is the Black Bear.

There is something about being in the presence of a bear, especially on foot, as it is electrifying and always memorable.  This was an exceptional summer for me with observing black bear mothers and cubs.   Unfortunately, there were some bear attacks this summer from both black and grizzly bears, leading many to unjustly believe it were dangerous to venture into the woods.  However tawdry media hype had completely blown these events out of proportion.  

I hike in bear country frequently.  I find it satisfying that we have black bears in the watershed.  However I am not naive, because tragedies obviously occur, thus I always carry bear pepper spray with me.  Many amateur hikers whom venture into bear country do not understand the inherent dangers of wilderness areas or have a keen sense of animal behavior.  They definitely do not have the slightest inclination on what to do in the rare case of bear attack.  National Parks and wilderness areas are not a theme park.  There are plenty of trails in these areas for novice hikers however you must educate yourself to have at least a basic understanding of what to do if a bear wanders onto the trail. 

Black Bear in the Appalachian Mountains at dusk

Black Bear in the Appalachian Mountains at dusk

Simple precautions one takes when swimming in the Chesapeake Bay should be the same when wandering through bear country.

Currently, in late summer, the bears are gorging on cherry trees and the occasional ant hill.  Soon it will be acorns.  Sorry - I will not rush the remaining weeks of summer. 

Besides, I have my camera in its underwater housing. 

Happy Summer.

Thank You Winter, Welcome Back Spring

I spotted my first Osprey(Pandion haliaetus) today.  I did not observe the majestic fish hawk  in a marsh bordering the Chesapeake Bay nor amongst the miles of beaches on Assateague Island.  It flew overhead in downtown Annapolis, MD amongst the greenery of St. Patrick's Day celebrators (or an Irish themed Halloween for the college students lining the streets) clothed in shamrocks and hands filled with pints of Guinness.  

But I digress.  The point of this observation is that Spring has arrived.  I am excited for the season of regrowth and birth to return to the watershed, the opportunities it brings, and the joy it brings to the residents that make their home here.  Even though this winter has been particularly wonderful and I am thankful to have experienced it.

Ice Sheets along a frozen Chesapeake Bay

Ice Sheets along a frozen Chesapeake Bay

*Gasp*  Goes the reader tired of the cold weather.

Most would be shocked, or rather aghast, to learn that I actually enjoy winter, especially considering the many weeks of single digit temperatures the watershed experienced these past few months.   Sure, you have to be extra precautious, especially in wilderness, and while I have become adept to outdoor survival skills, I also find myself having more situational awareness with my photography.  This stems from the omnipotent silence of winter, which also happens to be my favorite superlative of the season.  I can hear the deer that struggles to find food, I can hear the wind howl through the bare forest, and I can hear how clearly my mind thinks as I lay upon the cold snow.  Besides, storytelling does not pause because it is cold outside and, with that idea ever present in my mind, I have learned to embrace the season.   

But this winter has been especially cold.  The Chesapeake Bay has not been this frozen since the winter of 1979.  All six of the coastal bays froze over as well, a rarity to eyewitness.  Observing how the regions wildlife reacted to the weather was incredible.  I watched a Great Blue Heron carefully walk on a frozen river, searching for breaks in the ice to hunt from.  I observed a flock of tundra swans land on a frozen Magothy river in midst of a winter storm that continued to increase in strength that gave them no choice but to land.  I saw the wild horses of Assateague Island walk through snow covered loblolly pine forest; a scene that looked more like their counterparts in the Rocky Mountains would experience as opposed to life on a barrier island. 

The most memorable moment I had though was being able to view the frozen Chesapeake from the air.  My wonderful wife and I knew this was not something we could experience every winter and thought how cool (no pun intended) it would be to document.

The Watershed on the edge of urbanization

The Watershed on the edge of urbanization

Our pilot, the appropriately named Captian Kool, gave us an incredible flight over the bay and the thousands of ice sheets that had recently blanketed it.  Now I have swam in the beloved Chesapeake throughout my life and I have driven across its 4.3 mile length bridge more times than I can count but I have never been able to fully appreciate how vast the Chesapeake Bay is until this moment.  Flying over the rural and flat eastern shore of Maryland, across the bay to the city of Baltimore and through the hilly Piedmont border was simply awe inspiring.  Seeing the rivers that flow from these areas into their common linkage, the Chesapeake Bay, allowed me to view this treasure in a whole new way.  However as the sun set and the pink of twilight was cast amongst the ice my mind whisked me into the images of coffee table books about the arctic.  It was that beautiful. 

Captain Kool being an excellent pilot and paying attention while I make awful jokes from behind the cockpit

Captain Kool being an excellent pilot and paying attention while I make awful jokes from behind the cockpit

While some images are meant to inspire I also want the viewer to think as well.  These images provide the viewer an important and uncommon perspective of the watershed.  I hope this perspective makes you think about how we fit within the landscape and our use of the watershed. City congestion, smoke stacks, and even light pollution can be seen in some of these aerial photographs.  While not a call to arms, I hope the aerial perspective makes you realize your impact on the watershed and what you can do to lessen it.  I hope it also makes you want to responsibly enjoy it as well.  Even if you decide to wait until Spring to do it.

One of the most populated areas in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, Baltimore, MD, at night

One of the most populated areas in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, Baltimore, MD, at night

So what are you waiting for?

In closing, I must thank Captain Kool for these images.  He truly lives up to his name and is a great pilot and a great man.

Until next time, be well.

Snow Geese and the Zach Attack

Blue Heron silhouette

For me winter on the Chesapeake and Coastal Bays is a study on solitude.  Whether on mountain or marsh, the reticent air offers ample opportunity for wildlife study and photography.  Most of these photographic pursuits are analogous to a soliloquy; all the stories I wish to convey happen by my lonesome.  In winter, however, the feeling of a solo act is much more immense.  The solitude is intertwined with silence, like fresh snow clinging onto spruce boughs.  Winter silence is an excellent time for reflection on why I photograph and write.      

Unless you are in the midst of a flock of 50,000 Snow Geese (Chen caerulescens) on the Delmarva Peninsula……...  

The cacophony of geese cackling as they fly overhead is incredibly exciting to witness.  Flocks of the wintering visitors from the Arctic can be found all over the Delmarva Peninsula.  Blackwater National Wildlife refuge, Assateague Island, and any farmland in-between are all excellent locations for viewing.  But when you see them begin to take off, one by one, until suddenly thousands of the white feathered birds take to the air all at once and appear to be a fast moving cloud.  It is one the greatest wildlife spectacles to witness in both watersheds.  Take that winter solitude.

“Awesome, dude, freakin’ awesome,” are the words of a hominid companion.  What?  There are more than Snow Geese keeping me company?  That is correct, and I am sharing this winter moment with my buddy Zach (who will now be referred to as “Zach Attack” for the remainder of this post).  A few days prior I had invited Zach Attack to accompany me on a photographic excursion to Delmarva. Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge was to be our destination, with its abundant waterfowl, Bald Eagles, and Delmarva Fox Squirrels.  Zach Attack is an avid sailor and grew up on the Chesapeake but when he informed me that he had never been to Blackwater and this section of the peninsula my first thought was “Let’s party.”  Now normally when I take someone on a trip with me who is unfamiliar either with wildlife photography and/or hiking I feel pressure in hoping that they enjoy themselves.  Especially when it comes to wildlife, as there is no guarantee that an animal will make an appearance. 

On this trip though I had no reservations- I knew Blackwater would deliver.  Describing the refuge to Zach Attack I mentioned that it contained the second largest breeding population of Bald Eagles on the East and that only the Florida Everglades contain more. 

“I’ve never seen a Bald Eagle in the wild,” replied Zach Attack. 

Because I frequently participate in wild land recreation, what may be a normal occurrence to me is a brand new experience for someone else.  Sharing someone’s first wild Bald Eagle is exciting.  Seeing the majestic bird in its natural environment is wonderful to behold and Blackwater is one of the best places to see them. One can easily eyewitness courting behavior, nesting, fledging chicks, and admire the eagles as they soar along the wind.

As Zach Attack and I made our way around the refuges famed Wildlife Drive, he saw his first wild Bald Eagle with relative ease.  A single bird was feeding on a fish on a man-made nesting platform. Following this we located a large flock of Snow Geese in the vast fields bordering the marsh.  Almost instantaneously another flock from the west flew over the loblolly pine forest which caused the flock in the field to take off in unison and soon we were surrounded by thousands upon thousands of snow geese.

Flock of Snow Geese wintering on the Delmarva Peninsula

Flock of Snow Geese wintering on the Delmarva Peninsula

Frozen in time amongst the winter landscape, Zach Attack and I were engulfed in the beauty that is an exceptionally large flock of Snow Geese until they landed in that same field.  But within a few seconds two adult Bald Eagles flew overhead causing the geese to return to their pandemonium.  Again, take that winter solitude.

Zach Attack working behind the lens

Zach Attack working behind the lens

Later we hiked around a still snow covered forest floor with hope that Zach Attack could see the endangered Delmarva Fox Squirrel but, alas, that was not to be on this excursion.  That is alright though, as Zach Attack wants to return and I gave him my word that we would.  The day ended appropriately with seeing two more Bald Eagles, in twilight, hunting in the shallows of the marsh. 

Sharing these watersheds that I adore with friends is an important component to my work.  When people can actively participate in their environment they have more reason to care about that environment.  Blogging, writing articles for publication, video, all serve the same purpose as my photography- to share this region that I love with you.  Being able to do that with a friend by my side makes it even more enjoyable, even when your friend’s voice is muted by 50,000 Snow Geese.  This is rarely the case though.  Zach Attack is pretty loud. 

Until next time, be well everyone.

The Dolly Sods Wilderness of West Virginia

“Aww f&@#,” says my wife of almost 4 months, “Are you kidding me?! Thirty degrees!”

My wife has just woken up after a nap while I drive up an unpaved mountain road.  This reaction to the frigid weather is just the beginning.  What began as an ascent surrounded by brilliant fall colors of numerous deciduous trees has given way to red spruce forest.    As my Jeep reaches its destination at about 4,000 feet in elevation it begins to hail.

Red Spruce among the boulders of the Dolly Sods Wilderness

Red Spruce among the boulders of the Dolly Sods Wilderness

My wife is from South Florida.  She loves blue seas, palm trees, the everglades, and sunshine.  If it gets below 75 degree, well, it’s cold.  So you can imagine her reaction to seeing the sky send us the ominous hail.   

If only someone purchased for me some head phones that block out extraneous noise as a wedding gift.

(Note to wife:  Just kidding, honey.  I love you very much.)

It is the first week of October and most areas around the Chesapeake Bay are hovering in the low 60 degree range.  Mild weather, crisp air, and delicious apples are peaking in taste.  But on the far western boundary of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed lies an area that is unlike any other in the entire watershed.  This area is more akin to a Canadian ecosystem.  High above on the Allegheny plateau, we are camping in the Dolly Sods Wilderness of West Virginia. 

There is no Dolly, but there are plenty of sods and it is one of my favorite designated wilderness areas.  The wilderness lies within the Monongahela National Forest and parts of the Dolly Sods are preserved by the Nature Conservancy.  Water that drains from the eastern border of the wilderness flows into the Potomac River and eventually makes its way to the Chesapeake Bay.  The weather is unpredictable and can change from calm to snow or from rain to flood, and sometime all four within an hour.  This capricious quality is highly influenced by the Potomac River.  Because of where the Dolly Sods is located along the Allegheny Plateau it receives Canadian wind from the Northwest that collides with warmer air rising from the Potomac.  The end result is very extreme, and very windy, weather.  Along the rim of the plateau many spruce trees have taken on a flag form appearance due to the constant bombardment of fierce, cold winds.  The banshees like wail of the wind against my tent on this particular camping trip inspired me to originally write this piece around Halloween time.  

The Forest floor of the Solly Sods showing plants more common in the arctic

The Forest floor of the Solly Sods showing plants more common in the arctic

To view the vast landscape of the Dolly Sods is nothing short of breathtaking.  Upon first glance you might think you are standing in the expansive Alaskan tundra because of similar flora and fauna. Besides spruce and fir trees, there are miles of blueberry and huckleberry bush, sphagnum and reindeer moss, cranberry bogs, heath barrens, and incredible wind swept boulder formations. 

The area has had an interesting history.  Most of the old growth spruce forest is gone due to logging (most of the vegetation you see is second growth forest) and in the 1940’s the area was used by troops in the US Army as grounds for artillery and mortar training.  Live mortars may still exist in the sods, two were recovered in 2006.  Land to make the wilderness was acquired over the years by the nature conservancy (parts of it are overseen by the US Forest Service and the Nature Conservancy). 

Fall foliage in the lower elevations is incredibly spectacular.  Rivaling that of New England, the leaves turn in mid to late September and among the best I have ever seen.  In the higher elevations, the tundra like appearance is striking.  The miles of blueberry bush turn scarlet red contrasted amongst the green of the spruce.  Along the more moist areas strands of Balsam Fir are found as well. 

Fast forward to our current camping trip.  My wife, while complaining she cannot handle cold, is quite resilient and we had the tent up in a matter of minutes.  We hiked, camped, made s’mores, froze, and had another wonderful time there.  The hiking in this area is always great but one must be careful as many of the trails are not, or barely, marked.  It is recommended that one take topographic maps made by the US Geological Survey, but do not let that deter you, as the Bear Rocks Preserve area of the wilderness is easily accessible.  However if you are a backpacker the area offers some of the wildest and most beautiful camping opportunities.   

Previous trips to this area were always cold-but nothing like this.  With the wind chill the temperature hovered around 15 degrees.  Water that filled the openings in the boulders was now ice.  Any skin exposed to the elements became numb.  When the conditions are less than comfortable I find myself becoming more conscious of trying to create work that tells the story of the watershed.  There is something about feeling a tad uncomfortable that makes me more goal-oriented in the field.   

I created this video to give one a basic overview of the area.  I hope you enjoy it.  I have more video I plan to show and edit in the coming year.  It is wonderful that an area like this flows water into the Chesapeake Bay.  That this most diverse and unique environment is part of the watershed makes me appreciate the grandeur that is the Chesapeake that much more.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  As always feel free to contact me about the watershed and my photographs.