Postcard from Maine (9)

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5-14-14Portland Head_61seconds From a particularly productive morning… it had snowed on my way from Bangor to Portland. I had a work-related meeting that day in the city, so figured what the hey… I might as well get an early start and see if I could take advantage of the first light.

Take a walk on the path to the left of the lighthouse and you begin to get a completely different view of the scene, especially at low tide since you can scamper down onto the rocks in search of interesting foreground elements. This can officially be called the “blue-hour” – some time before the sun makes an appearance, yet when there is still enough early morning light to illuminate the landscape. There were some fast-moving clouds overhead, and of course the waves washing on and off shore – throughout that, the striking Portland Head Lighthouse beacon illuminated the morning.

I did what I often like to do… experiment with a variety of lengths of holding the shutter open using the remote release… all in the name of trying to capture something unique and different. This exposure was for 61 seconds, and I like how the movement in the sky and tide were rendered. I also like how the white balance rendered the scene so blue… it represents the chill in the air that I felt, and the early hour at which this photograph was made.

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Postcard from Maine (4)

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4-20-14Pemaquid

Color. It can make or break a photograph, and for those of you who have been following my photographic journey over the past couple of years, you’ll know that I have become more and more intrigued with removing colors and distilling a scene down into the most important of elements… lines, shapes, contrasts, textures and how they all interact compositionally within that little rectangle that is the view finder… in black and white.

All concepts around trying to create a good compositional scene apply, as does my mantra of trying to make any scene your own and not just a mimic of someone else’s photography. As suggestions to help achieve this, I’d recommend experimenting with placing important elements nearer the edges of the frame, using the rule of thirds where appropriate, and if you latch onto something interesting… leverage it… go for it. Really try to accentuate what you find… just look at those incredible textures in the striated rocks of Pemaquid Point, and depending on when you visit, you might just get a chance to shoot some cool reflections.

This is a remarkable location… one that I’d highly recommend spending some serious time exploring. It’s one of those places where someone interested in practicing their craft has ample opportunity to spend time on a variety of compositional choices. I’ve spent a whole day here feeling like a kid in a candy store – there are all sorts of textures and elements that can be used to create a variety of compositions. This place can be shot wide, tight with a telephoto lens, and of course… in unique conditions and with a little imagination it can really shine. In the color version I used a long shutter to help streak the clouds a little and add another element… maybe it helps and maybe it clutters? It’s OK to question.

Color in the first and a more simple black and white composition in the second… I’d be curious if you’ve shot this location, and what you think about the different impact each has. If you have shot Pemaquid, drop a link in the comments and show us what you got!

4-20-14Pemaquid Point

Postcard from Maine (3)

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4-20-14 Katahdin

There’s more to Maine than Acadia. Geography lesson: if you were to take a pair of scissors to a paper map of New England and cut out the state of Maine, you could actually overlay all of New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. So, relatively speaking – though nothing like the immense size of some of the vast western US states – Maine is a relatively big state.

So, while you could certainly spend a lifetime exploring the coastline of Maine, there’s so much more to see, including the impressive and rugged Mount Katahdin and Baxter State Park. in fact:

The coastline of the state of Maine is only about 370 kilometers (230 miles) from one end to another. However, when measured taking into consideration its irregularities such as inlets and offshore islands, its length increases to more than 5,542 kilometers (3,450 miles)! – Google.

This image was made on a chilly October morning from the Abol Bridge area on the Golden Road just outside the Baxter State Park boundary. To reach this location at first light it takes me about two hours of early driving, and on this occasion I can remember arriving in a hurry and frantically scrambling to find a foreground that might hopefully do justice to the magnificent sight of the sun hitting the roof of Katahdin. Luckily, a carpet of remarkably colorful fall foliage was hiding just around a bend in the river – I plopped my tripod down and worked fast to include the reflection of the mountain in the mid-ground, along with the fast-moving clouds breezing over the summit.

Needless to say this was a pretty tranquil and solitary scene… there aren’t many people this far north in Maine, and there certainly weren’t too many of them up and about at this time of day. I find that solitude often makes for a more powerful and engaging experience. Again… though I came away with a photograph that I like, I’m just as happy with the memory of being there in person to explore what was an almost spiritual scene.

Postcard from Maine (2)

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4-20-14 PHL

Probably the most photographed lighthouse in America, Portland Head Light is a stunner of a location that anyone visiting Maine should experience. It’s not difficult to find, is easy to access from a series of well-maintained trails at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth, and as you can see… perched on some seriously jagged rocks it occupies a fantastic location to make a landscape photograph. All you have to do is get yourself there at the right time and in the right conditions!

With an iconic location like this, the biggest challenge is making a photograph that doesn’t look exactly like all of the other ones you see in the local calendars and postcards – unless of course that’s what you’re going for. Nothing wrong with imitating other photographs – good practice I say – but my guess is that there will come a time when you’ll want to create something more personal, more unique. And so you should.

Get there early. Stay there late – good light favors those who patrol the edges of the day. Watch the tide charts and try to coordinate your visit with a big surf, and of course… treat the weatherman like your friend and pay attention to the conditions. Despite the fact that I wasn’t able to include any dramatic skies on this particular morning, I was able to explore the foreground area a bit and include some interesting elements along with the beautiful sunrise gradient of color… all in the name of trying to capture something that I could call mine.

Hope you like it.

(A couple of exposures were combined here to deal with the extreme range of light found at this time of day).

Just for kicks…

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4-19-14 Cape Neddick

Here’s an image just for show. There’s no real story to this post other than I like it. It’s of Nubble Light – sometimes called Cape Neddick – a classic New England lighthouse located on the coast of southern Maine in York. I grabbed the opportunity to soak in the start of a new day, and as the sun slowly rose, I just loved the textures in the foreground rocks and the subtle gradient in the sky. The color version is nice, but I especially liked the mood generated by the silvery black and white rendition. Enjoy!

From the homeland…

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4-15-14Dunmore Head

Niamh and Dan are another of my two angels. Both have been an incredible resource to Lori and I as we navigate our somewhat choppy current waters. Hailing directly from back home in Ireland, their accents haven’t waned one bit, and it does my heart good to hear them speak in their classic soft-singing Irish tone. Both doctors in the local community, they’ve shared compassion (and expertise) with our family, though as you might expect in a situation like this, that extra level of knowledge Lori and I have been able to attain has felt especially valuable.

Niamh and Dan have been there for us – in what felt like a life-saving operation, right before I had a PET Scan done it was Dan who somewhat spontaneously and thankfully drained a ton of excess fluid from my lung when I had pneumonia – and as is the case these days, we have a hard time truly expressing our thanks for their support. They’ve been there for us anytime and at all times, frequently asking how they can help, and also providing relevant insights and experience about the entire process/situation – much of which we’re just learning to gather for ourselves.

4-16-14 obrien

We wanted to give Niamh and Dan something of ours… that might mean something to them too… so we had a print of this scene from Dunmore Head on the Ring of Kerry printed biggish at 20×30 right onto metal. From Dunmore Head near Coumeenoole, you can see Great Blasket Island straightaway, Inishnabro and Inishvickillane to the left, and to the right is Beiginis and then Inishtooskert – just off the Dingle peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland. There’s an almost 3-D look to the metal printing, and the scene literally pops right off the surface. Turns out Dan has actually spent time sailing in and around these very islands! To my angels from Ireland, Niamh and Dan – here’s a little glimpse from home – thank you.

Spending a little time…

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4-10-14 websitecover Lately I’ve been spending some time exploring my portfolio of landscape photographs. Though feeling physically and mentally much better between rounds of Chemo, I still haven’t quite mustered up the energy to spend much time outside, never mind having the oomph to be out early or late capturing any new good light on the landscape with the camera. That leaves me fondly reminiscing about some of the work I’ve already done, and as I do so, I get to spend a little time perusing my web site – and you know what that means… yes, tweaking.

As you can see from the screenshot above – http://www.acadiaandbeyond.com – I’ve abandoned (for now) my attachment to a single strong black and white coastal image in favor of a more eclectic, colorful, and assorted view of what is distinctly Acadia National Park – after all, there is so much to see in Acadia, why not show her off in all her glory?

We’ve had a lot of incredibly generous local support in response to our little medical emergency, and as a way to say thank you, Lori and I have been selecting prints that we think people might appreciate, and we’ve been ordering and delivering them as thank you gifts.

I’ve learned that it’s one thing to conceptualize, experience, and actually create any one of my photographs, but I have to admit, following the process through to where it physically gets printed and held in hand – whether it is printed on canvas, paper, or better yet, on metal – it is quite exhilarating to hold a piece, especially since many of these pieces to date have merely been images on the screen.

I’ve a couple of big pieces being printed on metal on the way as “thank you’s” to our friends, and I’ll be sure to grab a pic of what they look like “in-person” as it were when they arrive. In the meantime, if anyone is interested in purchasing from what I believe is a new and improved web site, please use the discount code “chemo” when in the shopping cart area – despite it’s not-so-nice meaning, it will get you 25% off any purchase 😉