Postcard from Maine (7)

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4-22-14 Lupine 4

Coming soon! I always love when spring finally really springs and the landscape begins to green up. Though it take it’s sweet time to get here, the fresh breath of post-winter life that eventually washes over the landscape is well worth the wait. The greens can be electric, and the smells and sound of new growth are intoxicating. By early June we have an additional bonus where swathes of purple and pink begin to dot the landscape, and I have to admit, it’s a favorite time of mine. If you’re in Acadia looking for Lupine, you’ll of course find it scattered randomly in places all over Mount Desert Island, but there are also several cool places – that I know of – where you can find it in abundance.

There’s a lush and full field of Lupine that grows wild in the heart of Bar Island, just offshore from Bar Harbor. The good news… at low tide you can access this treasure by walking across an uncovered spit of land. Be careful though, the ocean waits for no-one and you need to pay attention to the time and tide. Tread with care and make nice photographs.

Another beautiful example of Acadia Lupine can be found along the Beech Hill Cliffs Road. When coming onto the island, travel south through the quaint village of Somesville and look for a right turn toward Beech Hill. After about quarter of a mile make a left and follow the road toward Beech Hill… at the end of this dead-end route there are some wonderful views from above Echo Lake on some very pretty quiet side trails that also offer ocean views to the south of Acadia – and along the way you’ll see two large fields that will be overflowing with colorful Lupine in June. Enjoy!

One of my angels…

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4-13-14 Cadillac debbie3 Cancer is a bad thing. It has obviously struck our family out of the blue, and as it did so, make no mistake that it has rocked our foundation to the core. We’re asking questions and looking for answers… answers that we’re learning aren’t necessarily there for us just yet. Our friends and family are asking questions too, and we’ve been overwhelmed by the desire of others to provide us with help and support. It’s hard… what do you say to help someone who has just been diagnosed with cancer? It’s a frustrating situation for all involved… everyone wants to help, but there’s only so much one can do. Tremendously frustrating for all involved.

4-13-14 cadillac debbie2People want to help, and we want people to know that their encouraging words and support are indeed helping. How do we let our friends and community know how much their support is appreciated… that’s hard too. Hopefully by posting on the blog I’m able to – even in some small way – pass along our gratitude? I mean it when I say that we feed off of that positive energy every day, and we are truly and eternally grateful for the generous outpouring of love we are experiencing every day. In addition to the incredible support our entire local community is nurturing us with, as we navigate this sometimes unpredictable journey, we’ve been especially blessed with the additional and remarkable support of certain individuals.

4-13-14 cadilac debbie1 Here’s one such individual… Debbie. Debbie is one of my angels. Debbie and Jeff have the most beautiful family of three wonderful boys and a gorgeous, black standard poodle named Sidney. I have had the very good fortune to coach one of their boys on my high school soccer team, and in doing so, I have also had the even better fortune of getting to know this wonderful family just a little bit better.

Debbie is a nurse –  wow, that’s such a short word that in no way describes the role that Debbie has helped play in my dealing with this situation – she has meant so, so much more to our family. I’ve had a few hiccups (literally and figuratively) along the way, and as one of the angel nurses on the sixth floor of the Eastern Maine Medical Center who has been trusted with my care on more than one occasion since the diagnosis, I feel as though Debbie has indisputably influenced my very existence.

So… how to thank someone for giving so much? Impossible. But when I’m able to reproduce an image of mine that means a lot to me – this canvas of an early summer morning sunrise from the summit of Cadillac in Acadia National Park – and see Debbie so happy to receive it as a small token of thanks and hang it in her home… that makes me proud, honored and very humble. One of my angels… Debbie. Thank you.

The fleet at rest…

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So… I had grand plans to do some landscape photography while spending time in Acadia, but so far the weather has been somewhat uncooperative. It seems like on any day the weather is decent, the clouds roll in right on cue to deny any good evening light, and as for the early mornings… well, let’s just say my camera isn’t entirely waterproof, and with the rain comes far from ideal light. The end result… slim pickings so far, but the weather over the next couple of days is supposed to brighten up.

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Fingers crossed I can get out with the camera a bit more, but in the meantime, here are a couple from a foggy evening spent in Bar Harbor. If you’ve ever been to Bar Harbor, you will know how strong the draw of the oceanfront is as you walk down the hill toward Agamont Park and the harbor. On this particular evening, the pull was even stronger. The fishing fleet was anchored and resting for the night, and there was a remarkable misty calm laying over the water like a soft and soothing blanket.

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An ocean view, Acadia National Park

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4-9-13 Gull Rock Acadia

The Ocean Path runs along the Acadia coast from Sand Beach to Otter Cliffs, and anyone who’s ever wandered this way will probably recognize this view. The sun comes up pretty early in these parts during the summer, and to prove that point, this image was made at 5:26:36 am on July 7, 2011 – my guess is that the sunrise on this particular morning was scheduled for something earlier than 5:00am! At this time of year along this part of the rugged and spectacular coast, the sun takes its time climbing up and over Great Head, but when it does eventually succeed in pushing the shadows away, that Acadia granite really starts to glow! A sheer drop of more than 60 feet down to the ocean from where I was perched left me feeling a little uncomfortable, but despite that, I can’t think of a better way to greet the day.

Canvas

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I used to think that photographs presented on canvas were kinda kitschy. I didn’t get the allure of printing onto a medium I initially believed would not be able to hold the detail and sharpness that I had spent so much effort to obtain in the first place. That all changed last summer though when we spent a weekend in the newly opened West Street Hotel in Bar Harbor. When I first walked into the lobby, I was blown away by several large, square, canvas prints of Acadia landscapes that were hanging on the walls. I literally walked over to admire each of what must have been 40×40 pieces, and I was in awe of the detail and the depth that the canvas exuded. I vowed there and then to give canvas prints a try.

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Fast forward to this week, and a couple of my favorite Maine and Acadia landscapes printed on canvas just arrived. I ordered a black and white 16×24 of a moody morning spent at Otter Cliffs, and I also ordered a 20×30 of a wonderfully colorful sunrise from Bass Harbor Light. Any concerns I had about losing detail when on canvas were dispelled the instant I opened them up. The texture of the surface seems to hold the detail beautifully, and there appears to be a depth to this type of presentation that isn’t always evident in many traditional paper prints. As you can see, the color of the walls in our house aren’t exactly neutral, but trust me, despite the bold contrasts, these pieces are very impressive when hung. Here are the two images as originally presented on the web…

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5-23-12 Otter Cliffs 5 BW(sm)

A brief glimpse of the sun

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On a recent visit to Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park, the sun briefly peeked out from behind a rather dense cloud bank that was hugging the horizon. The warm light raked across the mountain summit for only a few minutes, before hurriedly diving back behind some more persistent clouds. Before the grey returned to envelope the scene, the rich colors of this majestic fall landscape were momentarily illuminated and highlighted. It might be tough to fully see the detail in these web-sized images, but there are two rather large cruise ships anchored in the vicinity of Bar Harbor. Perhaps you can see why I adore this mountain top and this jewel of a national park so much, and I’m not surprised that Bar Harbor and Acadia have become such chic fall cruise ship destinations, are you?

Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park

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I love to be on top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia during the fall. The summit is ablaze with color – the low growing bushes turn bright shades of yellow – and the distinctive red ground cover makes for a very striking scene. Thick clouds rolled over the mountain top on what was a cool and breezy morning, and I was totally mesmerized by the distant views of the Porcupine Islands in Frenchman Bay. The expansive view was perfectly showcased by the rugged and weathered granite slopes of Cadillac, and I had a grand time composing photographs. A fast moving storm front had just swept over the mountain, and although first light was seriously dampened by the leftover clouds, a saturated and lush autumn early morning landscape was left behind… absolutely perfect!

Island Lupine

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I had heard rumors of there being a field of lupine on Bar Island, so I was excited to explore and see if it really existed… and boy, does it ever! Within five minutes of crossing the bar and stepping onto the pristine island, we were walking through an absolutely stunning meadow overflowing with my favorite flowers. I love lupine, and these beauties were at their peak with glorious swathes of purple, white and pink everywhere. It was a hot day when we visited, so we appreciated the shade along most of the short walk to the overlook and back. Awesome experience, and an easy, interesting hike that I would definitely recommend… just remember to check the tidal charts so you don’t get stranded out there by the rising waters!

At low tide… Bar Island in Acadia

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Bar Island lies just offshore from Bar Harbor in Acadia National Park. I’ve always wanted to explore this mysterious (at least to me) little island, and just recently we finally timed an afternoon visit so we could walk across the relatively narrow bar which becomes exposed at low tide. On this particular afternoon, low tide was scheduled for 3:30pm, so we planned a nice lunch in town and then an adventure out to the island starting at about 2pm. This is an easy hike, one that offers a completely different perspective of the town of Bar Harbor with the mountains of Acadia in the background. We couldn’t have chosen a better time to try this hike… it was a picture perfect early summer day, with sailboats, lobster boats and kayaks filling the harbor.

Walking out onto the bar is a neat experience, one that allows you to stand pretty much in the middle of the harbor in a spot that would normally be considered the ocean floor. We were able to access the island about 90 minutes or so before the scheduled low tide, so my guess is that you probably would have a similar amount of time to explore once the tide starts coming back in. It’s not a difficult hike across the bar and onto the island, though you wouldn’t want to be stranded out there by the incoming tide. I can remember not that long ago when you were allowed to drive your car right down onto the exposed bar and park there, but apparently that policy has now changed. A town ordinance sign now prohibits parking on the bar… which probably isn’t such a bad idea since every now and again parked cars were left there by unsuspecting tourists who didn’t heed the warning signs as they enjoyed their hike on the island, only to return and find their vehicle under water.

Finding a foreground

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One of the most important elements of an interesting photograph is the foreground. A good foreground can add depth to any image, and it can help guide the viewer’s eye through the scene – I especially like how a wide angle lens can accentuate what you place in the foreground.

While the expansive views from the top of Cadillac toward Bar Harbor, Frenchman Bay and the Porcupine Islands are certainly remarkable, opportunities to find interesting rock formations and native vegetation for inclusion as foreground elements in your photographs are everywhere. Lines and cracks and rocks of all sizes are just waiting to be included in your composition… you just have to be prepared to look down and arrange them in an interesting way.

The ecosystem on top of Cadillac is rather delicate though, so if you find yourself exploring the summit, please try to stay on the designated concrete trail that loops around the mountain. If you do step off the trail, make sure to remain on the giant, solid slabs of granite and avoid the fragile, easily eroded parts of the mountainside.

One of my favorite views, I especially liked the reflection of the clouds in Frenchman Bay, and don’t you just love those foreground rocks!

Compass Harbor and the “haunted” house

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Compass Harbor is one of those quiet little spots in Acadia that not many people know about. Just outside the town of Bar Harbor on Route 3, there’s a small, easy to miss lot on the left of the road that holds maybe half a dozen cars. A gentle half mile walk through the woods reveals a picturesque and peaceful natural harbor. The short trail itself is fairly flat, but as you get nearer to the ocean, you will find plenty of gnarly tree roots that are quite happy to try and trip you up.

Looking along the natural curve of the shoreline, you see a rocky outcrop off in the distance that just begs to be explored. For the curious hiker, crystal clear, almost Caribbean-like harbor water and tide pools teeming with life offer a whole other world to investigate. While perched on top of that craggy headland, you can enjoy impressive views across Frenchman Bay toward the Porcupine Islands, the Schoodic Peninsula, and the relatively isolated Egg Rock Lighthouse. We stopped to soak in the warm summer air while letting the cool ocean breeze wash over us… what a perfect spot.

Just past where we stopped is a secluded cove of smooth, round granite cobbles… a location that might just warrant a return trip to see how the early morning light impacts it. Some striking, jagged rocks on the far end of what is an east-north-east facing cove might offer some compositional possibilities for a morning photograph. Rather than stopping at the cove this time though, the second part of our mission lay ahead of us… to get to the haunted house.

Compass Harbor is also the site of the “Old Farm”, the former residence of George B. Dorr, Acadia’s first superintendent. We first “discovered” this place when Sam was little, and from that moment in our family it has been known as the haunted house in Bar Harbor. George Dorr died in 1944, and after what apparently was a beautifully designed and constructed house fell into disrepair and became unsafe, the park service razed it to the ground in 1951. The foundation of the house still exists as well as several stone stair cases leading down toward the water. Anytime you find an old, spooky and overgrown ruin that still displays remnants of long ago human occupation, you will have a place capable of stirring the imagination – and the ruin of the Dorr house is no exception.