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Respect For Nature in Environmental Ethics

Touch The Earth Lightly : Respect For Nature in Environmental Ethics

Monday April 11 2011

Wild orchid


The saying ‘Touch The Earth Lightly’ is the slang from Australian Aboriginals and it means “respect for nature.” Within respect for nature, it takes on understanding of the affects that behaviour has on the environment and the animals, plants and invertebrates that inhabit the earth. By putting the Focus On Nature, like a camera lens in focus, it is a way to highlight illustrations as a way of communicating observations of scientists and photographic artists. In fact, in the New York State Museum, there is a research tradition that extends back to the founding of the state Geological and Natural History Survey of 1836. Illustrations have constantly been a part of the effort to communicate the results of these studies. Science begins with observations (visuals) of nature. In order for Scientists to produce new information regarding nature and the ecosystems of earth their investigations must be repeated by other scientists to verify the findings of their investigations by the process of repeatability. In the book With Respect For Nature: Living as Part of the Natural World by J. Claude Evans, he accentuates how humans can approach the lives of animals and plants while maintaining a proper respect both for ecosystems and for those who live in them. As David Strong, author of Crazy Mountains: Learning From Wilderness to Weigh Technology said, ” Respect For Nature as a central philosophical precept in environmental ethics is still taking shape, has enormous intellectual and practical potential, and it is significantly freshened and deepened by J. Claude Evans treatment of ‘Respect’ For Nature.

Boating with nature

In Paul Taylor’s book entitled Respect For Nature, he emphasizes the biota in natural ecosystems consist of organisms that have evolved independently of human interference in the course of nature. In a natural ecosystem the workings of natural selection at the level of individual organisms determine the structure of relationships among species populations. This process is explained by reference to two factors: (1) changes in environmental conditions, and, (2) genetic variation. These factors affect the reproductive success of individual organisms and hence shape the order of the ecosystem as a whole. In each pattern of evolutionary process the outcome is defined by an organism’s ability to reproduce its own genes in future generations. Viewing ecosystems and their biotic communities in this way has philosophical importance. Paul Taylor claims “we can no longer assume ‘the balance of nature’ as a basic norm of the natural world.” The idea of the balance of nature reflects a holistic approach to the order of life on earth. According to this approach all species in the Earth’s ‘biosphere’ form an integrated system and the steady equilibrium of this system as a whole works to the benefit of the individuals.

Hamilton's Biosphere


Theoretically that is interesting, but let’s look at our local Hamilton Region level for applications. The first instance is how BARC and RBG have trained Public Middle School Gr. 6 Teachers across Hamilton and Halton and have offered nearly 300 kits with instructions, a selection of rooted marsh plants, a clear bowl, pea gravel and one hermaphroditic pond snail. One classroom example comes from W.H. Ballard School in Hamilton’s east-end, where unexpected plants sprouted, and the snail wonders at night. This adventure unfolds nature from the outdoor to an indoor setting that perpetuates a healthy respect for nature. These table-top mini-marshes resemble Cootes Paradise and on a field trip the students of this classroom will have a focused understanding and respect of all of nature’s surprises in Cootes Paradise and Hamilton’s Harbourfront. They learn what is happening in the environment and how to take care of the environment. The hermaphroditic pond snails had already lived together prior to delivery to the classroom. They discovered they ate lettuce and cucumbers, and due to fertilization they produced babies. The students also learned about (1) invasion of species, (2) snails are okay underwater, (3) how to measure soil PH levels, (4) to take photos and record via Video to see what happens in the mini-marsh when they are not physical present. As a former student of W.H. Ballard school I recall our science teacher spending up to six weeks on plants and we planted a paper-white narcissus from bulb to bloom. That science teacher emphasized do not pick unknown flowers in the wild, as their seeds may drop on other native plants as you are observing ; therefore, due to your behaviour invasive plants can choke and kill the native plants. His examples are remembered in a positive light to this day. Hopefully the budding young scientists in the present W. H. Ballard classroom will have similar positive experiences. Thanks to our community, these mini-marshes resembling Cootes Paradise will nurture a healthy respect for our unique wetland in Hamilton.

Wetlands Hamilton


Let’s investigate Paul Taylor’s discussion on reproductive success in organisms. Simply ask the following question to get a local answer, ‘ What Nature is growing under Cootes Paradise?’ Here, we find Carroll’s Bay at the mouth of Grindstone Creek which is blessed with unique geography, nestled at the western end of Hamilton Harbour and sheltered by Burlington Heights. This wetland waterlot is managed at Carroll’s Bay Sanctuary, part of the greater Hendrie Valley Nature Sanctuary, property of RBG. Although the Longnose Gar breeds in Carroll’s Bay, the primary focus is on the Turtles. There are 6 species that occur nowhere else in Hamilton or Halton and on Canada’s Endangered Species List and present in Carroll’s Bay are the Stinkpot Turtle, and the Spiny Softshell Turtle. But, on Canada’s Not Endangered Species List is the Northern Map Turtle.

White tail deer

Carroll’s Bay supports 400 of these rare Northern Map Turtles, making it one of the largest Northern Map Turtle populations in Canada. In Carroll’s Bay you will find it links directly to the harbourfront of Lake Ontario where beavers, muskrats, mink, osprey and regularly seen bald eagle enjoy the wind sheltered wetland waterlot. But there is a human difficulty with Carroll’s Bay, Motorized watercraft whose propellers injure or kill turtles because they do not understand the shallowness of the water. Therefore, a line of Buoys have been erected and the best way to access Carroll’s Bay is by canoe or kayak.

Redwing blackbird
Wild Rabbit

Another reproduction is happening currently on King Road in Burlington as traffic was closed at night for the salamander to cross to her original beginnings to lay her eggs. An interesting classroom lesson is how the salamander produces and lays her eggs. Cootes Paradise is the home of the highest concentration of plant species in Canada with over 750 plants. Some are growing under Cootes Paradise are submergent aquatic plants – Pondweeds (Potamongetal), Wild Celery (Vallicnerie), and Canada Waterweed (Elodea). Floating Leaf plants include the Water Lily (Nymphara), and the Emergent Plants just above the water growing in Cootes Paradise include – Cattails (Typha), Bulrushes (Scirpus), Arrowhead (Sagitarial) and Sedges (Carax). But beware of the invasive species, Purple Loosestrife (Lythrun salicaris), Reedmanna grass (Glyceria maxima) and Common Reed (Phyragmites australis). In Cootes Paradise it is this diversity, the unique melange of wild and tame nature that makes it stand out. So, close your eyes, use your other senses as you observe and TOUCH THE EARTH LIGHTLY !

Carrol's point

Sources: With Respect For Nature: Living as Part of the Natural World; Crazy Mountains: Learning From Wilderness to Weigh Technology; Respect For Nature; Media Desk HWDSB;  Hamilton Spectator; Measuring Nature’s Benefits: A Preliminary Road-map for Improving Ecosystem Service Indicators by World resources Institute.


By Jacqueline

Photography Doug Worrall and Jacqueline

Architectural Photography Built Environment Hamilton

Architectural Photography Built Environment Hamilton

Saturday April 9 2011

Architecture and nature

Hello, As site coordinator, All shots are recent, and some images from the following article may not be present. Some shots are HDR and most are from the Raw format.Enjoy the article and  my newest images

Doug Worrall

Dundurn Castle Hamilton

Architecture is the ART and inspirational ideas from designers in the technology captured in the lens of a camera. Architecture is the ART we live in and Urban Design shapes our cities, as Winston Churchill said: “we shape our buildings and thereafter they shape us.” Today, architecture in the modernist design is more than copying shapes, but, rather functionality is the key element. Interestingly, there is also the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies. Julius Shulman gives many interesting facts in his book entitled – The Photography of Architecture and Design. What you aim to capture in architectural photography is a magazine-quality photograph. Of all the architectural design values the NATURE and organic design applies quite well because the design value is based on nature – all sorts of living organisms. The basis of this design value provides inspiration, functional clues and aesthetics. SIMPLICITY (minimalist) is a closely related to the design value of Nature. Simplicity design value highlights TRUE (REAL) ART FORM and folk wisdom; light, shadow; colour and line. The VENECULAR design value emphasizes a simple life and its design value closely relates to Nature as it emulates the simple life being superior to modernity. In architectural photography with a camera lens your focus is to capture art in the buildings environment – light, shadow, color, and line . This environment gives the photograph simplicity of the image which emplifies several of these elements of architectural design values. The magic hour to photograph architecture can be about fifteen minutes before sunset when the ambient light inside a building matches the intensity of the evening sky. Or, locally at the CIBC Commerce Building at King and James Sts., Hamilton at mid-to-late afternoon can capture shadows and clouds floating in a mirror-image fashion into this glass structure. And at Dundurn Castle capturing the evening sunset or morning sunrise with the Lake in the backgrond can make the Castle glow using various light settings and filters. Then there is the new Downtown Library cloaked in eye-popping-state of the art glass facade with programmable coloured LED light built into it. Inside, the new library has spaces for WI-FI laptop use, reading areas with modular furniture and bright lights illuminating it against a colour palate of white and grey. A San Diego symposium speaker said : ” the modern library should look in design like an iPad; mirror the way customers will use it.” The architect, David Premi’s interest “is in how the built environment can help facilitate growth and interaction in the community…Hopefuly this wil have an impact on downtown renewal as well.” Hamilton has a professional history of architects designing buildings, such as, (1) James Belfour architect for Canadian Life Assurance Co., King and James (1883) and Hamilton’s Old City Hall (1888),; (2) John M. Lyle architect for New York Public Library (1897), the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto (1907), Union Station in Toronto (1914-1921); and (3) Bruce Kuwabara architect for the Art Gallery Of Ontario Phase 111, and Kitchener City Hall.

Cibc building Hamilton

In multidimensional photographic applications digital-image processing and computer vision usually require specific integrated circuits and/or multiprocessor systems. Wavelet-based algorithms have been found promising among these applications due to the features of hierarchical signal analysis and multidimensional analysis. Because of the large size multidimensional imput data, off-chip random access memory (RAM) based system, have been necessary in algorithms in these applications. Here, either memory address pointers of data pre-processing and rearrangements in off-chip memories are employed. Photographing architecture in black-and-white (B&W) gives the image a more dramatic effect especially when it depends on the light and shadows to show details in the image. Unlike colour photography, B&W photography has a special impact on the viewer’s eye giving a dramatic effect compared to colour photos. Colour photography uses different colours to show the image, B&W photography abstracts the image to use only one colour. It is better to take photographs in colour and convert it to B&W, using your favourite image editing tools. This gives you the ability to control the B&W in the image as well with more control at all levels, brightness and contrast.

Rooftop Architecture HDR Photography

Locally beautiful architectural photography opportunities abound in the Hamilton Region. The fist stop would be Hamilton’s new Library, followed by, Dundurn Castle which has historical significance being Sir Allan McNab’s residence. In Dundas along South Street are many old homes. And, at 42 Osler Drive in Dundas is a historic century home built in 1827 which rests on a ravine overlooking Dundas and the escarpment photographs beautifully with all the greenery in its landscape. In Hamilton a drive along Aberdeen Avenue gives many architectural photography opportunities. As you climb up the Queen Street hill from Aberdeen there are several architectural opportunities and lots of wooded escarpment areas to photograph.

Architecture meets nature

Globally there are some amazing mind-boggling architectural buildings including : Australia’s Sydney Harbour with its Arts Complex; The Great Bayan Sergey Skashkor (Russia); and the designs available for the future World Trade Centre in New York City. In a Wall Street Journal article, Glenn D. Lowry, director of the National Museum of Modern Art was quoted saying: “I think Integral House in Toronto’s Rosedale area is one of the most important private houses built in North America, in a long time.” Architecture Design Magazine has Integral House on Toronto’s tours. Integral House is owned by Dr. James Stewart, a Mathematics professor at McMaster University who made millions writing calculus textbooks, and interestingly, he was concertmaster violinist with the Hamilton Symphony Orchestra and violinist in Hamilton Philharmonic. In Canada 90% and in the U.S. 70% of University students use his math books that are translated into 12 languages, published by Thomson Learning Group. In 2,003 the James Stewart Math Centre at McMaster University was named after him. It is interesting that some of the money he earned from textbooks Dr. James Stewart renovated houses first in Hamilton and then in Toronto. Dr. James Stewart bought a home on this land in 2,002 and in 2,003 tore it down to build Integral House. Yes, Integral House is an architectural photographer’s dream to do a photo shoot ! Dr. James Stewart spent $30 million on this home and he interviewed architects around the world before giving the project to two young unknown architects – Brigette Shim and Howard Sutcliff. In this architectural project Dr. James Stewart gave the following expectations: to create his residence in a ravine in the Toronto neighbourhood of Rosedale: to make it 18,000 square feet; to design multitudes of seductive curves ,to use massive amounts of floor to ceiling glass, and build a spectacular glass staircase. He also wanted a private concert hall with lots of curves to seat 150 persons for concerts and costume balls. This was excluding a parina, a classical semi-Scandinavian simplicity that makes the house seem older, and more established than a new house. The staircase includes hand-blown blue glass with rectangle shapes (geometry) that these architects designed.giving a sense of dynatism as if the building were in motion, rolling along ever so slowly or perhaps coming to stillness after a long architectural journey. Only the first two floors are visible at street level, and the focus from inside Integral House is the trees outside in the ravine. The challenge of the architectural photographer, then, would be not only to capture the many features of this house, but to emulate in the photographs this sense of dynatism giving the viewer to say – Ah, look at that ! That shows you have created images that illuminate both the design and the stylized space that promote the photographed images in a successful light. Now, looking around Hamilton Region there are many spectacular architectural photography opportunities in Urban Design awaiting your camera lens. So, on the next sunny day, head out with camera, tripod and extra batteries for an exhilarating experience in architectural photography.

Downtown Hamilton

Sources: The Toronto Star, The Photography of Architecture and Design, The Wall Street Journal; Gallerie Spring 2,011, Hamilton Spectator


By Jacqueline

Doug Worrall Photography

Holistic Approach To Nature

Holistic Approach To Nature

Sunday May 3 2011

Female Woodland duck

“The Monarch Butterflies that winter in Mexico, exemplify a finely balanced ecological integration between species and environment. But the practice of logging at crucial elevations is potentially catastrophic. the Oyamel forest habitat that Monarchs require to survive the winter is increasingly rare. When forced to cluster either higher or lower along the mountainside, ” their fate is sealed.”

Wetland waterfowl

“Life is the emergent property of ecosystems, ” says John Theberge, professor of ecology and conservation biology at University of Waterloo’s Faculty of Environmental Studies, and he has recently retired. By moving up the biological hierarchy from populations to ecosystems, which are “orders of magnitude” are more complex than individuals and populations. He views that “ecosystems act like super organisms” is a contentious statement. A properly functioning ecosystem is characterized by harmonious interaction. A ” dynamic but ever-changing equilibrium” is observable in every type of ecosystem, from low-productivity Sonora Desert to Indonesia’s high-productivity Tropical Forest. We need to stop interfering and allow natural selection to operate. “Ecosystems worldwide are grieving – Biodiversity is decreasing.” Nature is being rapidly destroyed, often out of ignorance rather than malice. The challenge is to save this natural world…most of all the evolution of future species. Just consider the beautiful Monarch Butterfly a vulnerable and most emblematic species. The Monarch Butterflies that winter in Mexico, exemplify a finely balanced ecological integration between species and environment. But the practice of logging at crucial elevations is potentially catastrophic. the Oyamel forest habitat that Monarchs require to survive the winter is increasingly rare. When forced to cluster either higher or lower along the mountainside, ” their fate is sealed.”

Shoreline Ontario
Winter shoreline

A book entitled “The Ptarmigan’s Dilemma: An Exploration into How Life Organizes and Supports Itself ” investigates how life has managed to persist on earth for almost four billion years. This book outlines the processes that produce order in nature and underlie the persistence of life in all of its diversity. One vivid example is earth’s earliest life-form, Cyanobacteria, a.k.a. Blue-green Algae, which first appeared when the planet had sufficiently cooled. Alive and well today, Cyanobacteria’s continued presence is a demonstration of the planet’s capacity to “self-regulate”. Another example is the concept of Epigenetic which deals with “the ability of a characteristic to be passed on to subsequent generations.” Offspring inherit from their parents a “biochemical soup,” which can be affected by stress and other environmental factors. Epigenetics make the argument that genes can be active or inactive, becoming active if triggered by the environment. So, unless they are “unzipped” they remain inactive. One example of epigenetics is the Ruffed Grouse because the bird was known to lack a gall bladder. At the University of Alaska, epigenetics found the gene for gall bladder development was activated by an environmental trigger – the Ruffed Grouse rich fatty diet. Studies like these have led to an interest in epigenetics and is being driven by attempts to apply genetic research to finding a cure for cancer and other diseases in humans.

Mute swan plumage
Canadian goose plummage

Yet, Epigenetics cannot fully account for the Wood Duck’s brilliant plumage. The Wood Duck lives in Silver Maple swamp, in New Dundee in southern Ontario. Such beauty and symmetry could not be attributed to chance. Here was natural selection at work, specifically a subset of natural selection known as sexual selection. Whereas natural selection deals with traits and leads to survival, sexual selection concerns traits that lead to reproduction. The criteria by which female Wood Ducks choose a mate imposed selective pressures on males to acquire their dazzling plumage. Such complex changes would have happened incrementally. Another factor, “order of free,” also placed a role. The term refers to the physical order underlying all phenomena. Now, let’s look at populations instead of individuals in the world of nature. Here, a pair of American Robins occupying a 40-hectare subdivision could theoretically produce 74,000 Robins within 10 years. Although reproductive activity is a geometric progression, inescapable pressures limit growth and prevent populations from attaining their biological potential. Predation, starvation, disease and social stress serve to regulate populations. So, look around at Hamilton Harbourfront and Cootes Paradise Wetland, look at the various ecosystems of the plants and animals that inhabit this waterfront paradise. One pertinent question remains about saving the ecosystem – Can nature stand to be ripped from its fabric ? Little things do matter on our part of preserving our ecosystem – pick up garbage so birds and animals will not be poisoned, remove discarded fish hooks that swans may be trapped on and birds swallow them thinking they are food. No matter what your small part is in preserving our ecosystem at Hamilton Harbourfront and Cootes Paradise is, it does make a difference !

Mated Woodland duck


The world, though made, is yet being made…This is still the morning of creation – by John Muir

Swan Dreams

Source: The Wood Duck, The Ptarmigan’s Dilemma: An Exploration into How Life Organizes and Supports Itself, Thinking Big About Ecosystems, Evolution and Life.

“As Site coorinator we have been featuring Migrating Waterfowl in the Southwesten Ontario Watershed.  Today Saturday April 2 2011, I had another opportunity to photograph The Horned Greb while in Cootes paradise . Below are two images that have been enlarged, therfore the poor quality. I hope you enjoy the images and the article.. ”  Doug Worrall

By Jacqueline

Doug Worrall Photography