Nauset Light Beach, Cape Cod



As this wonderful morning on Nauset Light Beach continued to unfold, the pre-dawn light put on a magical show that was both absorbed by the clouds overhead and reflected in the wet sand under foot. From a compositional perspective, I intentionally placed the horizon line in the center of this image to focus on the symmetry and take advantage of the reflection in the wet sand. To enhance the reflection further, I waited until after a wave had washed ashore to soak the sand before I pressed the shutter.

Looking north and south I was treated to what I would consider to be more of a traditional Cape Cod style view of a wonderfully expansive beach with high dunes creating a border between the ocean and the land. As the sun came over the horizon I left Nauset Light Beach and moved on to other locations, but not before capturing some warmer light in the last image in this post of an empty lifeguard chair waiting for the day to begin.


Cape Cod National Seashore


Over the weekend I had the very good fortune to spend a couple of days on Cape Cod visiting the Cape Cod National Seashore. The weather was excellent, and I was able to spend some time there before the crowds really started rolling in. My first stop was Nauset Light Beach, and as you can see the pre-dawn light was exceptional.

I was able to spend a couple of hours wandering this wonderful beach and exploring the surrounding landscape, and for the most part I had the place all to myself. I find it amusing that so few people are willing to sacrifice a couple of hours sleep to witness a scene like this. I was drawn to the detailed foreground where the patterns and ripples from the incoming tide were illuminated by the colorful light. The wide angle view makes it seem as though the ocean is a long way away, but in reality it was only about 30 yards or so from where I was standing. Combining the remarkable scenery with the noise of the surf crashing on shore was incredibly soothing and a good place to be.

The Cape holds special memories for me, though when I do the math I realize that the three amazing summers I spent there was almost 25 years ago! Crazy… it seems like yesterday!

Egg Rock Lighthouse


The most famous lighthouse in Acadia – and one of the most photographed in all of Maine – is the one nestled over on the western side of Mount Desert Island at the mouth of Bass Harbor. It is for good reason that Bass Harbor Light is so popular… it is classically New England, and it is relatively accessible to anyone interested in navigating a couple of dozen pretty steep stairs. This post contains a few images of what may be a less accessible Acadia lighthouse, but one that is no less spectacular… Egg Rock Light.

Built in 1875 on the 12.5 acre Egg Rock, this 40 foot high working light is seen here standing guard over the waters of Frenchman Bay with the Schoodic Peninsula in the background. This lighthouse is not open to the public, but you can admire it while rocking in a boat, or as I did by parking myself at one of the many magnificent Loop Road overlooks. I used my 70-200mm lens to reach out and try to capture the essence of how remote this lighthouse is, and although I was shooting toward the sun and into some hazy early morning light, I kind of like how these images turned out.

Long Pond Lillies in Acadia


It was 22 years ago this July that Lori and I visited Acadia on our honeymoon. It was the first time we had been to Maine, and we both immediately fell in love with the park. We rented bicycles for part of our week there, cycling from inn to inn as we traversed across Mount Desert Island. Other than the fact that it was of course our honeymoon… I can still remember much about our trip… the beautiful weather we had every day, the amazing sights we saw on land and at sea, and the remarkable landscapes we were able to experience for the first time.

I can recall how exciting and exhilarating cycling around the roads of Acadia was, with the anticipation and expectation of what we would see over the next hill or around the next bend always fueling our efforts. On one particularly stunning morning, we were freewheeling down Peabody Drive toward Bracy Cove when we were stopped in our tracks by an amazing view looking away from the ocean and toward Long Pond and Penobscot Mountain. Back in those days I was only carrying a disposable camera with me, but I can remember getting a really nice photograph from this location, and the 4 x 6 print was one of the few images from the trip that I was quite proud of. Over the years that one image has unfortunately become displaced, but I can still vividly see that same scene in my mind’s eye.

I have been back to this location many times since – in fact, any time I am driving along the shore road I can’t help but stop to see the view again. Each time I take my camera with me, and depending on the conditions, I guess have been trying to emulate that shot from 22 years ago. Not until this weekend was I able to capture the scene in a way that really resonated with my memories from our first trip here. The late afternoon sun dropped some nice light and shadow on the pond, and a circular polarizer helped reduce the glare on the water lillies, producing those same wonderful Acadia greens and blues just like I remember.

A Walk in the Woods


We enjoyed our short walk along the carriage road that skirts Upper Hadlock Pond, making a short diversion onto the trail beside the shore. It was on this trail that we stumbled upon the twisted and exposed tree root system seen above. I cannot imagine how old this tree is, but judging by the reach of the roots, it has been here for a quite some time. The roots looked like they were reaching out, trying to grab hold of the land so that the tree would be safe from falling into the lake that is just off to the right. It had rained during the night-time hours, and the early morning light filtering through the forest canopy gave an incredibly lush and vibrant glow to all of the scenery on our walk.

cadillac sunrise


From our weekend of camping… I set my alarm for 3:45am and tried to sneak out of the tent in the dark without waking everyone. As is usually the case, I was wide awake before the alarm even went off. Despite tripping over the lip of the tent door and almost taking a major spill, I think I was successful.

Sunrise in Maine comes early this time of year, and when you are perched on the highest mountain on the eastern seaboard it comes even earlier! Took me a while to get going, though as I drove across Mount Desert Island toward Cadillac Mountain I couldn’t help but appreciate that we were staying right there. If I had been leaving from home this would have made for a VERY early start.

Back home in Ireland we have the beautiful Mourne Mountains in County Down that sweep down to the sea, and at 1532 feet Cadillac Mountain too rises up from the ocean making it appear larger than it actually is. There were some hazy clouds on the eastern horizon that on the one hand obscured the sunrise, but on the other hand they helped diffuse the light creating some wonderful pink and purple hues. I plopped myself down on the slope of Cadillac and enjoyed the show. I especially liked how the early colors from the sky were absorbed by the foreground rocks, though after a few minutes the more familiar golden light began to bathe the summit. Not a bad way to start the day. The last image in this post just kind of grabbed me… something graphic about it that I really like.

Seawall, Acadia National Park


On the western side of Mount Desert Island, Seawall is a naturally formed rocky sea wall that offers protection from the Atlantic and great views of Great Cranberry Island. Neighboring a popular wooded campground, this favorite picnicking spot is renowned for the expansive area of shallow tide pools rich in ocean life that become accessible when the tide is low. After spending time in and around the increasingly busy Bar Harbor and the Loop Road, the peace and quiet of Seawall at this time of year is always a welcome relief.

It had been a steamy 85 degree day, so we decided to spend the early evening enjoying the cool ocean breeze and exploring this gem of a location. Anywhere there are rocks Jack is happy – like most 6 year olds he just loves to throw rocks into the water, and as you can see this place has plenty to go around! The light at the edges of the day in Acadia in the summer are often quite magical, and this evening was no exception. As the sun set to the west we were initially treated to some soft, golden light that slowly turned to a cooler twilight palette as the darkness crept in.

The image below is a ten second exposure where I was drawn to how the colors in the sky were reflected in the typically surf-pounded and smooth Acadia rocks. So many people pack up their gear after the sun sets, but some of the deepest, richest colors appear in that time frame between when the sun goes down and the darkness takes hold. Leaving the shutter open for an extended time to soak in what our eyes cannot see will gather the available light and often result in a more saturated scene.