One more from my personally invigorating morning spent exploring parts of Acadia National Park. I had hoped this little stream would offer opportunities to enjoy the fall foliage, and it did not disappoint. This is a more intimate view of Jordan Pond Stream (again), where I was drawn to the vibrant and colorful fallen leaves that were littered all over the scene.
I actually first stumbled on this little gem of a waterfall last summer while searching for the Duck Brook Bridge, located just outside Bar Harbor. At that time, everything in the scene was still green, but I figured come mid-October there might be some impressive color. On my recent morning spent in Acadia where I explored Cadillac and Jordan Pond Stream, I had planned to stop off here on my way home to check out how things looked.
Though very pretty, this was a tricky scene to work with as I struggled to find compositions that I liked. On the one hand I wanted to show the entire scene… to give context as it were… but on the other hand stepping back and using a wide angle lens wasn’t exactly floating my boat with any of the compositions I tried. The wide view allowed me to include each of the interesting elements I saw, but at the same time it kind of pushed them all away into the distance, leaving me with nothing of any strong interest in the foreground.
Things I found interesting in this scene included the exposed slab of granite covered in red leaves, the overhanging branches of the brightly colored tree on the right side, and then the waterfall itself which climbed back up the hill as the sun broke through the clouds and created some nice highlights. The wet rocks in the foreground were quite slippery, and there really wasn’t much room to move to the right or left to adjust compositions. I tried a couple of different ideas, and though I like each of the individual primary elements mentioned above, combining them all in a coherent and pleasing way was not something I feel completely satisfied about. Oh well, maybe I will have to come back here to try again next season!
After leaving the top of Cadillac Mountain where I had been socked in with fog, I made a quick stop at Bubble Pond where the colors were already past their peak, before heading off to my planned destination… the Jordan Pond Stream.
I had looked at the weather forecast for the day, and it had predicted overcast skies and some light showers… perfect weather for shooting fall foliage and running water. Clouds provide softer, more diffused light that makes getting a good exposure easier, and any rainfall that came my way would certainly help saturate the already vibrant fall colors. We had a Nor’easter blow through these parts last weekend, so I was optimistic that the heavy rains which doused the area might translate into a decent amount of water flowing in the stream. I have been here many times in the past when there has been barely a trickle, but this time I wasn’t disappointed.
Once I reached the first wooden bridge along the gravel path, I made a right turn to follow the rough trail hugging the stream as it meanders toward the Cobblestone Bridge. Intermittent raindrops and relatively cool fall temperatures did nothing to dampen my enthusiasm as I stumbled upon scene after scene with rich and striking foliage colors complimenting the dynamic water rushing downhill toward Long Pond and the Atlantic Ocean. Fallen leaves were scattered everywhere, and the pockets of color and mini-landscapes that I encountered around just about every turn were amazing – and once again, I had this jewel of a place all to myself.
Based on the available light, I experimented with several different lengths of shutter, each impacting the degree to which the water was either “frozen” or “smoothed” as seen in the images I ended up preferring. Our eyes cannot freeze time like a camera can, neither can they allow us to see movement beyond what exists momentarily and in a very linear way… part of what intrigues me about photography.
After getting home and editing I find that I choose – as I usually do – way more vertical compositions than landscape images… not sure why I tend to like portrait oriented photographs so much? Here is a sample from my VERY enjoyable morning spent exploring the Jordan Pond Stream.
As I made the early morning drive to Acadia, I couldn’t help but be excited about the potential for some nice light. Weather was definitely rolling in, but the forecast didn’t call for rain until later in the day. On the road between Bangor and Ellsworth the pre-dawn skies had clouds scattered everywhere, but I could still see some stars peeking out… partially clear skies with some nice clouds to have the early morning light reflect off… things were looking good!
My initial destination on this particular morning was Cadillac Mountain. Lately I have been especially drawn to getting back there to see the wonderful red ground cover that blankets parts of the summit of Cadillac every fall. So my plan was to head there first, and then embrace the incoming weather and cloud cover to explore a couple of streams I hoped might have some nice fall colors dotted along them. The overcast skies would reduce highlights and glare on the water, making it easier to get a decent exposure on the streams.
Not for the first time though, as I approached Acadia and Mount Desert Island, the clouds and fog started to thicken considerably. By the time I was on the Loop Road I realized that there was a VERY good chance my sunrise plans atop Cadillac might very well be skunked, but as I was always told… stick to the plan and things will likely work out for the better.
There were about four cars in the Cadillac parking lot when I arrived about half an hour before the sun was scheduled to rise, and as I looked out of my car window I noticed that everyone was bundled up pretty well. I eagerly loaded up my gear, and headed off to explore the south face of the mountain where I hoped there might be some compositions to enjoy.
All in all I spent about an hour on top of Cadillac, and in that time I never did see the sun. The clouds were moving pretty fast across the summit, and the winds must have been gusting to at least 40 mph. I had to physically hold onto my tripod to make sure it remained still… this was especially important since some of my exposures were relatively long, and I obviously wanted to record images that were as sharp as possible.
Anyway… there is something magical and almost mysterious about being on any mountain in Acadia National Park when the fog rolls in, but Cadillac is pretty special. The huge swathes of granite seem to both absorb and reflect the light at the same time, producing colors that are both subtle and remarkable. I found my patches of red ground cover all right, and the fog that was determined to hang around created a wonderful atmosphere of soft, diffused light. Every now and then I would catch a glimpse of the ocean and islands off in the distance, but usually within seconds the fog had raced up the mountainside again and staked its claim.
As I made my way back toward the car, I realized that the conditions (and lack of a classic sunrise) must have driven those who I had originally been sharing the mountain with away… there wasn’t one other car in the parking lot… and I couldn’t help but feel almost privileged that the mountain had been all mine… at least for a little while.
Blending colors, shapes, lines and light together in the camera to produce a simplification of a scene is especially intriguing to me as I create this type of image. Moving the camera through the scene while the shutter remains open can gather all of the available elements together and combine them in a way that results in a style of image that particularly appeals to me. Using this technique, the camera allows me to see something that otherwise would not be evident… something mystical and magical.
In the image above from my weekend visit to the Bangor Forest, there were several patches of brighter light breaking through the trees and illuminating the many colors that were strewn across the forest floor. I played with the exposure settings on the camera to control the brighter spots of foliage, allowing the backlit trees in the foreground to go dark and silhouetted.
When searching for opportunities to create this type of photography, I generally look for strong lines, relatively even lighting, complimentary colors, and the potential for striking scenes with some depth. I then compose the scene looking through the viewfinder as normal, but then move the camera across and through the scene during what is usually a half a second or so long exposure. The direction of the movement and the speed of the movement can both have a dramatic impact on the final image, and of course having the benefit of immediately gaining feedback from the review screen is incredibly valuable. Adjustments can quickly be made to the technique, and I usually only have to make a half dozen or so passes at a scene before I can determine if I am going to capture something I like.
Below are several more from that same morning, and as you can see the colors on show were breathtaking. These simple images might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but to me they are very appealing… and that’s what matters most, right? Oh yeah, they make awesome wallpaper backgrounds for the iPad :)
Despite the strong Nor’easter winds and heavy rains that blew through our area these past few days, there are still plenty of leaves hanging on and enjoying the welcome sunshine after the storm. The local fall colors seem to be at their peak this weekend, and on a short visit to the Bangor Forest today, I came across this wonderful little view tucked away along the Kitteridge Road. I was drawn to the classic rock wall and how the backlit branches and leaves framed a natural window out into the field. When I made these two photographs, the sun was high overhead and shining down through the leaves, providing an canopy of intensely vibrant and quite remarkable colors.
The wind is whipping pretty hard and the rain is coming down in sheets as I write this. I have yet to get out this year to really enjoy the changing fall colors, and by the time this storm blows through there might not even be any leaves left on the trees! Traditionally the colors should be peaking down on the coast this weekend, and my plan is to take a couple of runs down to Acadia over the next couple of days.
In the meantime, I am dipping back into the archives to share this image of Mount Katahdin from a year ago. I had a hard time truly conveying this scene with the camera… it was just above freezing as the top of Katahdin became bathed in soft early light. The fast-moving clouds that surrounded the peak also caught some of that light, creating a remarkable sight both around the mountain summit and in the foreground reflection. The grandeur of Baxter State Park and the mighty Katahdin was of course impressive, but in this scene I was especially drawn to the colorful carpeting of fallen leaves that seemed to stretch forever. Here’s hoping there are still some leaves left on the trees when I get down to Acadia National Park this weekend!