Conservation Rockstars


I thought I’d share a photograph of this summer’s trail crew.  Once more we’ve been working on the Fire Warden’s Trail leading to the summit of No. 5 Mountain located in Township 5 Range 7, Maine.  It’s been a three year trail improvement project that’s proved to be a huge success thanks to the smarts, sweat, and non-stop energy these conservation rockstars have given.  My role, in reality, has been incredibly limited, but it’s clear that this was a good thing.  All the micro-scale, on-the-ground decisions were made by these guys – problem solving on the spot to best ensure protection of the resource while providing the visitor enhanced connection to the outdoors.  And in a fashion that has proved seamless and mostly unnoticeable.  This to my mind stands testament to the skill and brilliance these young best of the best brought to Maine.  As I look at this photo and think about this final year of trail work, I’m reminded of how lucky I’ve been to play my minor role as cheerleader, and I’m inspired by the wonderful act(s) of service I’ve witnessed on behalf of our shared natural heritage.   …my deepest gratitude to the Student Conservation Association, and most importantly, all most directly involved on site (you know who you are.).  You’ve left a huge, long lasting impression from many perspectives, and again, thank you.  ~Dan G. 



I manage conservation lands in Maine, and each year I bring on seasonal staff to assist me with my ground work.  I’ve always been fortunate, pulling in smart and dedicated people, but every once in a while, someone exceptional comes in like Andrew.  He’s been helping out for the past six months, and above all, I greatly admire his calm and thoughtful demeanor, particularly when working with and around others.  He just makes people feel good.   Andrew has also exhibited a true ease and comfort in the woods, something that most don’t start out with.  He’s keen and thoughtful and has proactively identified problems and ensured things have remained in hand.  And boy, has he completed a lot of work.  One of my biggest challenges during his stay has been trying to stay a few steps ahead of him!  I should also mention that he’s a Vermont native, so beyond land conservation, he’s interested in farming practices, is a “die hard” snowboarder, and isn’t too sure about Maine’s mid-coast flatness.  That said I’m certain that over the summer he’s developed a love for the Downeast bold coastline.   What’s not to like, huh?  Anyway, thanks, Andrew, for everything, and good luck with those next steps.

Hugging trees in the Debsconeags

You know, I nearly held back from sharing this because there is so much wrong in my photography. Wishing for thoughtful composition, elimination of hot spots, a considered foreground, no branches in faces, a normal perspective, and of course, film…  That said, the smiles and overarching sentiment makes it for me in spite of the flaws. 

I spent this past week in the Debsconeags Lakes Wilderness Area measuring forest conditions (similar to USFS FIA work for those interested) with a super enthusiastic field crew.  As you can see here, they all drank the conservation Kool-Aid.  Regardless of incessant biting insects, wet feet and clothes from rain, smashed shins as a result of my crazy map and compass navigation through the woods, general heat and humidity, and no running water or electricity, Nancy, Marissa, Mariana, Hillary, and Andrew reveled with our plant monitoring tasks and the beauty found at our forest plots.  Not one complaint beyond my own grumblings and bellyaching…  Nothing but smiles and laughs all around…  What a fantastic bunch!  

Learn more about the Debsconeags Lakes Wilderness Area...


Jellyfishphoto - Emulsion lifts from digital files


A while back, while exploring the world of Polaroid on the internet, I ran into a printing company website called Jellyfishphoto.  Jellyfishphoto uniquely markets to photographers a new way to lift photo emulsions onto alternative medium reminiscent of the Polaroid emulsion lift process using inkjet water slide transparencies.  As you might imagine, I thought the idea was interesting and decided to try it out.  The purpose of this post is to share my results and some information if you’d like to experiment too. 

There are, to my mind, some benefits to this inkjet process, most notably 1) the ability to create a larger transfer since one is not limited to the size of the Polaroid, and 2) the overarching image appearance and output can be finely controlled via Photoshop prior to emulsion printing. Polaroid and film photography diehards may take exception, but it's clear to me that this mixed digital/analog workflow has significant creative potential here.

The process of creating the emulsion transfer is quite similar to that of a Polaroid – you soak the printed transparency in a tray of water for several minutes to soften the adhesive holding the emulsion to transparent base.  The emulsion is then pushed away from the plastic base and floated onto paper or some other receiving medium.  Note that the free floating emulsion looks like a jellyfish!  It’s pretty simple; however, detailed video instructions are found on the Jellyfishphoto website.  

My results:


Larch  ~d.j. grenier


Here’s my first inkjet emulsion lift.  I decided to try the process out on three separate photographs.  Jellyfishphoto also gave me an off-color extra to practice with.  Pedro, at Jellyfishphoto, suggested that I start with this color photograph first and then go to my black and white images since black and white inkjet lifts have shown to be more difficult.  


Pears  ~d.j. grenier


My second lift was less successful.  It’s a high contrast black and white image that required a lot of pigment when printing the black edges.  As I handled and pushed around the emulsion during the lifting process, ink actually came off, sadly creating negative fingerprint smudges on the black edges of the photo and positive smudges onto the paper.

Note the finger print marks on the corner of the photo and on the paper...

Significant loss of pigment is observed on the bottom edge of the image, which occurred during the "lifting" process.

After revisiting the instructions and product review Pedro shared, it seems that dense ink areas can be problematic, particularly with black and white photos. Resolution thus far is to try to reduce emulsion handling by slowing down and allowing the emulsion to soak longer prior to removing it from its plastic base. 


Sample in a jar  ~d.j. grenier


I really like this image and how the final print came out.  Yes, some loss of pigment can be detected in the lower edges of the photograph; however, this does not prove too distracting to my eye in this instance.  What fun!  

Watercolor paper...

Paper texture detail...

I chose to mount my inkjet emulsion transfers "classically" onto watercolor paper; i.e., in the vein of the Polaroid examples one mostly encounters.  That said, part of the brilliance of using inkjet emulsion is that creativity is limited only by imagination.  True Polaroid examples can be found online showing photo emulsion adhered to glass, cups, plates, beer cans, and other vessels, wall paper, scrapbook paper, rocks, and tree leaves.    

Google search results for "Polaroid emulsion transfers"

For those interested, below are my medium format negative scans used to make these transfers for comparison.

Some final thoughts:  These inkjet emulsion transfers were enjoyable to create. The hands-on process feels good, and two of my three final prints look pretty good. Careful handling is required due to potential ink loss and bleed from the emulsion, something that would not occur with Polaroid or Impossible film.  I should also point out that the central idea is to manipulate the emulsion to meet artistic vision, thus the inkjet process currently does have limitations as a result of its delicate nature. That said, I believe that there is great creative potential with this process given the right project and the proper images.  I look forward to exploring more.  If you have questions, don't hesitate to reach out.


I am not affiliated with Jellyfishphoto in anyway.  These views are my own.


New55 Film

The folks at New55 have started a Kickstarter project to support production of their 4x5 instant film.  Like the classic Polaroid Type 55 film, this New55 will create a superb negative, and a positive print too.  I'm psyched!  Fingers crossed for success of this Kickstarter.  It's great to think about a  new 4x5 film option.

Joe DellaValle



Portland, Maine

Sometimes it seems that certain people cross your path because they are supposed to.  This is how I feel about Joe, my primary art instructor at the Maine College of Art.  As you can see, he comes across crusty and gruff; a big personality, who oftentimes is larger than life.  Joe is loud and commands attention. “Shoot film!”  “Push it!”  “Shoot! Shoot! Shoot!”  “Work it!”  “I want to see more prints!” “No less than five rolls a week!”   All classic Joe-isms that he pitches loud and in your face…  But beyond his hard exterior, Joe is incredibly giving and supportive.  Joe reaches all of his students in and  out of the classroom to further explain the technical, to ensure that one has the materials necessary to create,  to encourage the development of personal vision, and to push to take chances. I have to say that some of the best parts of my week are in Joe’s directed darkroom class.  I feel pretty lucky to have him as a close friend and am proud to call him my teacher.  Thanks, Joe, for being you!

By the way, I really like this newest version of Impossible's B&W film!  I just need to get rid of those newton rings.



Printing in the Darkroom is an Art!


Photo captured by Thomas Hoepker in 1966.

Print and print mark-ups by Pablo Inirio


Photo by Dennis Stock

Print and print mark-ups by Pablo Inirio

Check this out on Petapixel.  No questions, creating traditional wet darkroom prints is truly a craft.


And some more interesting words on Pablo Inirio and the dying art of darkroom printing on The Literate Lens:


A No. 5 Mountain Thanks!


Conservation Begins Here

A portion of my 2013 field crew... 


Over the past couple of years I’ve been overseeing a trail management and remediation project on No. 5 Mountain located in Township 5 Range 6, Maine (close to Jackman).  The project has allowed me to spend time with some incredibly inspirational field crew members.  Self-motivated, team oriented, smart, thoughtful, inquisitive, dedicated to task-at-hand, and environmentally conscious…   These people represent the best of young America, and it’s been my pleasure to cheer them on. 

During the project, most specifically, they’ve been focusing their boundless energy on rebuilding an old Fire Warden’s trail leading to the summit of No. 5 Mountain.  The three mile pathway dates back to the 1930’s.  Few switchbacks or erosion control measures, so over the past 80 years it has significantly degraded.  But the crew has been rebuilding and rerouting.   Diverting water with rock and wood…   Turnpikes, waterbars, bog bridging, optimizing trail grade, French drains, bench cuts, stone staircases…  The end goal is protecting the resource while ensuring visitor connection to the outdoors, and I’m positive that they’ve met their mark. 

Our 2013 field season has ended, and I’ve buttoned things up for winter.  All have moved on to next steps (i.e., work, school, and other projects).  With this has come a moment to reflect and review, and it’s clear to me that I’ve been lucky to have had this time with them.  A humbling experience...  It’s always fun to share my work projects and things that get me excited with others, but in this instance I know that I’ve benefited the most from these interactions and by seeing their example and gift of service.  Yes, our shared natural heritage has been in good hands. 

Thank you all!  You know who you are.


~Dan G. 








No. 5 Mountain

Township 5 Range 6, Maine




Passadumkeag River

Passadumkeag, Maine

Passadumkeag River

Passadumkeag, Maine

I recently had the great fortune to visit the confluence of the Passadumkeag River, Cold Stream, and Ayers Brook - a National Natural Landmark found just east of the town in northern Penoboscot County…  One of thirteen Maine sites known to harbor the Tomah mayfly -  long thought extirpated, but rediscovered in the late 1970’s .  Also home of a rare bulrush, Scirpus steinmetzii...  Botanists have found the bulrush only along the Passadumkeag River and are uncertain whether it is a species evolving over time, or a hybrid of two other species. 

More information from the National Parks Service:  Click Here


Don't undertake a project unless it is manifestly important and nearly impossible. ~ Edwin Land


I've been shooting a bit, most recently, with the Impossible Project's instant integral film in old Polaroid cameras.  Though quite experimental in nature, some photographers are getting phenomenal results with Impossible film.   Really nice stuff with a lot of potential...  After seeing a video explaining how to create an image by lifting the emulsion from a Polaroid print onto another substrate, I had to give it a try.

This is my first emulsion lift made using the Impossible Project's  PX 680 Color Protection instant film onto Canson Montval watercolor  paper. 

Orange, lemon, and lime

~ Daniel J. Grenier


Here's another of my attempts at an emulsion lift, using a photograph made with a Polaroid SX70 SLR camera, the Impossible Project's PX 100 Silver Shade First Flush instant film, onto Canson Montval watercolor paper.

Pears in the kitchen

~Daniel J. Grenier


Finally, for those interested, here's a Youtube video I ran into that outlines how to do an emulsion lift.  What Fun! 

(Fair warning - the music in the video is a bit over the top.)