The power of the ocean


I’m sharing the last of the photographs made on a short trip to Acadia on the first Sunday in March… finally you say! Daylight savings time is upon us, and as the clocks spring forward, early morning starts in search of nice light get a little more bearable – at least for a while until the days stretch longer again – and I do have plans in place to visit a few locations I haven’t been to before.

I can’t seem to help myself, even when I make plans to explore other areas of the Loop Road, I invariably end up back at my favorite place… Otter Cliffs. The place seems to draw me to it, and on this particular morning as I soaked in the fairly frisky high tide, I couldn’t help but remember when Hurricane Bill brushed the coast here back in August of 2009. I can still recall the shock and almost fear I felt that afternoon as huge waves violently reshaped this rocky beach right before my eyes.

Relatively calm today though, I noticed how the rocks had again been moved around since the last time I visited, no doubt as the result of a recent winter storm. Seeing the power needed to redesign a seemingly permanent iconic landscape such as this gives you a more humble sense of place within nature… an awareness I think we all should have. As you can see, I’m still on my black and white kick, and this scene seemed like a worthy candidate for my continued creative expression.

Oh what the hey… here’s the color version too 🙂


29 thoughts on “The power of the ocean

  1. I love the shots and remember your photos from the Hurricane, which were pretty dramatic – If I remember right you son also had some pretty great shots that day :-). Acadia is someplace that I really want to visit this summer and do a few of the trails, hopefully, we get there.

    • David Patterson

      Harold… thanks. Methinks that as a runner you would LOVE Acadia, especially the carriage roads. And if you wanted to slow down a bit and “just” hike, there are of course soooo many trails to tackle.

      • David – My family would drive to Acadia 3-4 times a year back in the 60’s & 70’s and I was one of those that explored everything Sandy Beach to the bluffs. I only got in trouble once for climbing down Cadillac off trail on the “cliffs” and well there was a time I scrambled up the cliff side of Sandy Beach, but no one paid me any attention until I got to the top and this big ole’ ranger “brought” me back down to my parents ;-). He never said a word, but he never let go of my arm and remember having some pretty good bruises there and on my rear-end from the “discipline” of the day. Great memories and a place that I love to go to when I can.

        • David Patterson

          Harold… those sound like great memories (well, maybe not the discipline) of Acadia. I’ll bet many people have similar memories from when they visited Acadia as a kid. Me… I first visited Acadia on my honeymoon many years ago. Fell in love with the place instantly, and feel very lucky to now live so close.

  2. I too have always been a fan of b&w photography, but I am so drawn to the color version today. Especially those rocks…it makes me wish I was there right now nestled on the ground amidst them just soaking up all this wonderful sun and warmth we’re having today. ~Lili

    • David Patterson

      Lili… I’m stuck at work today but I hear that it is sunny and almost 60 degrees out there today! Can’t think of a better place to be though 🙂

  3. Shot that spot many times over the years, but I always visit in the fall, so I have never really seen the sun/light at a really great angle to the rocks and the jutting outcropping. Always seems half backlit when I have been there.maybe I am just wishing for too much. Whats the best time in your experience?

    • David Patterson

      This is definitely a morning spot. The cliffs (and pretty much all of the Loop Road) face east-ish, so early light is best. There’s nothing like dawn at Otter Cliffs as the first light strikes the granite… it almost glows. The end of September has the sun coming almost directly from the east, and as you move into October the sun starts to rise ever so slightly more to the south, both of which give a totally clear view of the sunrise all the way to the horizon.

      • Yes , I am always there before sunrise, but the rock cliffs have never had any nice light on them.maybe the rocks there are just too black to ever appear like I think they should.

        • David Patterson

          Donald… I keep coming back to this location in search of “perfect” conditions, but as we all know, that can be quite impossible. Here are a couple with decent early-ish light on the cliffs:

          • Funny, I just looked through my shots and they all seem to be in overcast light. maybe I never had a clear morning there. I have a shot in my landscape galleries from back the loop road a bit and thats in sun, but maybe I never stopped at otter point on that visit.

            • David Patterson

              You have some spectacular photographs on your site. I saw the one you are referring to… absolutely gorgeous! I especially liked your Portland Head Light photographs – I just visited there this past weekend, though I didn’t get the earth shadow and moonset that you did. Nice work indeed!

              • Thank you very much. Portland headlight never gets old does it? I hate how they close at dusk. I hear june is nice with lupine up that way, so hopefully I can see that sometime. thanks for the info.

  4. Stunning. Usually I don’t prefer black and white photos, but yours was captivating. And then, when I do enjoy a b&w photo, I never like the color version. Because things that may be “off” in the color version can be “hidden” in the b&w. But with yours — the color one was amazing!

    I can hear the crashing waves when I look at the photos.

  5. Jared N.

    Beautiful pictures… I’ve enjoyed seeing them as you add more to your blog. 🙂 Personally, I prefer this particular image in color. I think the warm hues of the rocks contrast wonderfully with the cool green tones of the ocean. Also, I think the b&w version is slightly harder for my eye to “follow”… the color picture allows my eye to be drawn to the more colorful rocks and provides direction, so to speak. Just my opinion, though… they’re both lovely! 🙂 Can’t wait to see more of your pictures in the future.

    • David Patterson

      Jared… thanks so much for the thoughtful comment. I really do appreciate you taking the time to share your opinion.

  6. So odd, I was there on Sunday morning as well, but didn’t see you. I got there about 5 in the morning and stayed until about 8 or so. It is great to be the only person there. The sunrise wasn’t that great, but I managed to get a few shot. thanks

    • David Patterson

      Chad… I was there Sunday 3/4 when I made these photographs. I too got there about 5am and stayed until after 8am. The only other person I saw was another photographer up at Thunder Hole… was that you?

      • Possibly, I always go there early in the morning. I will tell you what though, for me I have to get out of my own head. I have watched way to many scarey movies in life and as a result I freak myself out walking around there so early in the morning.

        • David Patterson

          LOL… I totally understand. The sounds and stillness that we never get to experience when others are around can be quite unnerving. When on the shore it doesn’t seem to bother me so much, but try hiking through the woods before dawn 🙂

    • David Patterson

      Scary… glad to hear you are all right, and I’m sure that your photograph will always remind you of the adventure. Those rocks have bit me on the backside on more than one occasion. Love the photograph by the way… very moody. Just realized you are from Bangor 🙂

  7. chad tracy


    I was going to recommend to you a great app for navigating around Acadia… Chimani:Acadia, but quickly realized that your photographs were used for the app. I love it because, I can have all the trails, sunrise/sunset times, and high and low tide times.

    Yes, I am from Bangor. Are you from Bangor as well? If you ever want to meet up and go shooting I will go. While it is great to go alone, it is also fun to get out there with other “togs” and work collaboratively. Just let me know. Have a great day.

    • David Patterson

      Chad… that’s funny. The photographs used in the Chimani app are indeed mine… the builder of that app is a great guy from right here in Maine, and he has a genuine love for Acadia. I’d love to go shoot sometime.

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