It had been a while since I took my camera out for a spin, so last weekend I decided to head down to my favorite place – Acadia National Park – to shoot some landscapes. I had forgotten how early the sun rises in Maine in June, so when I discovered that first light would be at 4:52am I decided to forego going to bed on Saturday night so that I could get an early start.
I watched one of my favorite movies again – The Shawshank Redemption, which seems to get better every time I watch it – and then pottered around the house doing things like charging batteries, reformatting compact flash cards, and generally confirming that I had everything I would need for my early morning adventure. At about 2:45am I loaded up the car, opened the moonroof, and headed toward the ocean. Foggy for a good part of the one-hour drive, I was excited to see the conditions improve just as I crossed the bridge onto Mount Desert Island.
June is a great time to visit Acadia. New growth on the trees makes the greens positively light up the hillsides, and wildflowers and wildlife are both eagerly enjoying the start of a new season. Acadia National Park draws more than 2 million visitors each year, and once school gets out for the summer it can get hot and crowded in a hurry. At this time of year though, the temperatures are just starting to warm up and the traffic is still hardly noticeable.
As planned, I arrived in the area of Otter Point well before the sun was scheduled to come up. Some of the most amazing light can be found pre-dawn, and with the landscape of Acadia National Park to compliment it, I figured I was sure to come away with something I would like. As I was setting up to capture the image above, I had the chance to meet another photographer – David Akoubian – who came over to introduce himself (David has some great work on his web site). There is something about people who are prepared to get up early enough to see the sun rise – in my experience they are usually very friendly and genuinely nice, and David was no exception. We worked on choosing our own individual compositions and we chatted about photography and how incredible our surroundings were before waving to each other and going our separate ways. This image is from the rocks along the Loop Road looking out across Newport Cove and toward the Schoodic Peninsula, and it was made at 4:35am. To compensate for the camera’s inability to capture the full dynamic range of these scenes, I blended two exposures… one for the sky, and one for the foreground rocks. Keeping the shutter open for 20 seconds allows several waves to come in and go out and results in the “mystical” appearance of the water.
As you can see in the second image that I made above, the light on this morning became quite soft and pastel-like. It made for a wonderful gradient of color in the sky, and it reflected nicely off the pink granite that Acadia NP is famous for. After making the image above, I wandered over to what was my primary target for the morning to get ready for the actual sunrise… the distinctive round rocks in Otter Cove and the impressive slab of granite that makes up Otter Cliffs. I wanted to capture the moment that the cliff face was lit up by sunrise, along with the uniqueness of the foreground rocks.
The sound created as the Atlantic Ocean literally rocks and rolls these circular pebbles, rocks and boulders against each other is truly an amazing experience. Add to that the treat that my eyes enjoyed, and I remember thinking that if I was able to come away with images which even came close to capturing the moment I was personally enjoying, I would be very lucky.
Just as I was about to leave the beach, my attention was drawn to this next scene below. Not the traditional photograph from this area, it might be considered a good example of that reminder to always turn around and look over your shoulder so you don’t miss anything special. Another blend of two exposures, in this image the natural colors and local elements combine to create a simple representation of what Acadia NP is all about for me. The weathered smooth round rocks, the towering pines, the ragged coastline and the mist in the distance over the ocean… classic Acadia and classic Maine.
As the sun started to get higher in the sky and the light became more ordinary at this location, I decided to move on. I knew that I would have time to make my way inland to where the good light had not yet managed to climb over the hills and into the valleys. I hopped in my car and headed toward a place that to date I had never been able to photograph with any real success – Jordan Pond and the Bubbles. More to follow…