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 😉

Early days and Maine lighthouses…

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The rugged coast of Maine is dotted with many picturesque and photogenic lighthouses. When I first started taking landscape photography seriously maybe 10 years ago, these lighthouses were a popular subject of mine. Now when I dip back into the archives, I can find several examples that I think stand the test of time. Very much a beginner when it came to composition, I can remember being ultra-conscious of trying to arrange the elements within the frame into a cohesive and pleasing composition. Compositional skills can always be improved, and even today, one of the challenges of landscape photography that I perhaps enjoy the most is using the camera viewfinder to create an interesting photograph.

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Back in the good old days I was shooting 35mm Fuji Velvia 50 slide film, and for those of you who can remember Velvia, it was renowned for the deep contrast and saturated colors it rendered. I have to admit, I almost miss waiting several days for slides to be processed and picked up from the lab – the anticipation and excitement of discovering if I had been successful or not only added to the magical moment when I fired up the light table and peered eagerly through the loupe. I said that I “almost” miss those days… but nah, methinks I definitely enjoy the instant gratification (and benefit of immediate feedback) of digital imagery more.

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In order from the top of this post… a foggy sunrise at Marshall Point Lighthouse with a cheap Cokin Filter and a coincidental lobster fisherman. Pemaquid Lighthouse at dawn with typically vibrant Velvia saturation, lying on my belly at the Rockland Breakwater Light on a cold and blustery morning, and then finally, a brave lobsterman is welcomed home on an icy Bass Harbor blue-sky winter day. Maybe I should renew my relationship with some of these picturesque Maine lighthouses… during the winter months they’re relatively accessible without having to trudge any real distance through a foot of snow. Hmmmm… stay tuned.

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Distilling the scene

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1-5-14 bass harbor3 BWTake away the color and you’re left with basic elements like lines, shapes, textures and tones. Certain photographs lend themselves well to being converted to black and white and others don’t, and in this case, I kinda liked how this scene looked in monochrome. Distinct and obvious in shape, the jagged granite rocks add drama to an already iconic view, and in each of these compositions, I tried to wed the foreground, mid ground and background together in a cohesive way. Hopefully I succeeded.

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The pick of the litter

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Though proud of the black and white rendition of this scene, I’m going to say that I like the color version slightly better. So, what makes this image the pick of the litter for me? I like the foreground. I like how the rocky shoreline zig-zags as it recedes through the mid ground. I like how the waning twilight-induced longer exposure smoothed out the mighty Atlantic. I like the classic Acadia granite, and I especially like how it looks with a dusting of snow. I like how the local evergreens frame the spectacular and pulsing beacon, and I like how the longer exposure impacted the clouds that were streaking overhead. I like how even the tones are throughout the scene, and I like how, compositionally, all roads lead the eye through the scene and back to the lighthouse. Most of all though, I like how, when I look at this photograph, I can vividly recall the personal and intimate experience of spending time in a favorite place.

Tweaking a composition

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I hope you’re not getting tired of this place? This particular location – at least when perched out on the ice-covered rocks like I was – doesn’t leave a lot of room for maneuvering and making adjustments to a composition. Depending on the tidal conditions, there are only a couple of tight ledges/rocks that can be used to park one’s self and gear. I always enjoy making decisions about which elements to include within the frame and how they should be arranged in relation to each other – in doing so I’m always trying to tell a story, convey what it felt like to be there, display the beauty on show – for me, that’s all part of the fun of landscape photography.

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When confined to this specific location, if interested in including the lighthouse, the rocks, and maybe a breaking wave, then a wide angle lens is a must. Changing focal lengths will give you the ability to make a few compositional adjustments, but this particular scene is definitely one where creative choices are somewhat limited. I’m a sucker for using a wide-angle lens to accentuate the foreground of any scene, and in this particular location, there is no shortage of interesting elements to include. The lines in the rocks can be used to help steer the viewer’s eyes toward the lighthouse, and on this chilly winter day, I wanted to try and include some of the ice-encrusted foreground.

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Once I settle on a broad concept of what I’d like to include, I’ll make some subtle changes within the frame, all the while trying to improve the quality of the composition. Options include raising or lowering the tripod to change the perspective, moving it from side to side, tipping the camera forward or backward, and perhaps making adjustments to the focal length. I typically end up with maybe a half dozen slight variations on a composition, though it’s usually not until I get back home and fire up the computer that I can contrast and compare what I made. This brief visit to Bass Harbor was fairly productive, and it felt good to be breathing in the winter air and making photographs again. I’ll share my favorite image from this trip in the next post.

Behind the scenes…

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Here’s a little peek behind the scenes as it were. When I arrived at Bass Harbor Lighthouse about an hour before sunrise, I quickly realized that the light, though subtle and quite calming, wasn’t going to produce a lot of action in the sky, so I started to look for ways to make the scene before me more interesting. The little white structure perched high above the Atlantic Ocean is obviously the star of the show, and the jagged granite shoreline plays a solid complimentary role, but without a compelling backdrop, it would be hard to make an engaging composition. I needed to get closer to the water.

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The recent sub-zero blast of Arctic air had left the rocks covered in ice, so I had to be somewhat careful as I navigated my surroundings. If you’ve ever visited this spot you’ll likely remember that although some care needs to be taken, it isn’t that difficult to get out onto the edge of the rocks. On this day however, all of those cracks and crevices were filled with either ice or snow, which made traversing the rocky landscape quite precarious. I knew if I could get myself and my camera out onto the rock to the left of the frame, I would be able to include the waves in a composition. In the photograph above, I’ve diagrammed where my camera was set up.

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Two exposures blended: 0.5s for the sky and 3.2s for the foreground

So, despite being a tad unsure of my footing, I used my tripod to provide stability and set out to get that little bit closer to what would hopefully be a dynamic foreground element. I splayed the tripod legs wide so I could get as low to the ground as possible, and when I turned the camera and wide-angle lens to portrait orientation, I was able to include a lot into one frame. I have to admit, laying down on the rocks with my back to the large ocean swells was just a tiny bit unnerving, but I should note, although it looks like I was balanced in a uncertain place, I wasn’t in any jeopardy. I would never put myself in a dangerous position just for a photograph.

Breathing in the ocean air…

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I was determined to get out with the camera this weekend, but the frigid temperatures of late had made me a little gun-shy about making my usual pre-dawn start. Considering that the recent temperatures had dipped as low as minus 15 F with wind chills down around minus 30 F, perhaps you can understand my reluctance to make an early start to go stand on the icy ocean shore? Anyhoo… Sunday afternoon rolled around and it was beginning to look like another weekend would come and go without me getting my backside in gear. That’s when I looked at the most recent forecast – whaddya know, the temperature had risen by a whopping 35 degrees. It was now a balmy 20 F, and that was my cue to jump in the car and take a run down to Acadia National Park.

Most of the good stuff in Acadia is on the eastern side of the island and ideally suited for a morning shoot, but there are some cool places that lend themselves well to a more westerly view and a sunset composition. One such place is this cute little lighthouse that both warns and welcomes the mariners of Bass Harbor. There were some relatively uninteresting dappled clouds moving overhead in the darkening sky, and since the sunset colors I was hoping for didn’t really materialize, I figured it might be worth experimenting with a longer exposure. Not really sure what I would get by keeping the shutter open for a long time, I set the camera to bulb mode, triggered the remote, and waited. There’s nothing quite like being in a spot like this – there wasn’t another soul around, and as darkness enveloped the landscape, I breathed deeply and made sure to truly appreciate my surroundings.

Making it mine…

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It’s funny how some photographs make their way onto the personal favorite list and some don’t. The photograph above is a screenshot of the refresh I just did to my portfolio site, and as you can see, I didn’t choose one of the iconic and more recognizable views of Acadia for the front page, but rather a more intimate – albeit dramatic – view from Sand Beach during a big storm.

Easily accessible, anyone who has ever visited Sand Beach has stood right in this exact spot looking south along the coast toward Otter Cliffs. Although a very popular vista, chances are that few people have witnessed this scene in these conditions, and for that reason, I’m fairly proud of the degree of originality that this image contains. Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of photographs from Acadia National Park that are instantly recognizable – Cadillac Mountain, Bass Harbor Light, Schoodic, Otter Cliffs, Boulder Beach – heck, maybe if you’ve visited Acadia you too photographed similar scenes?

One of the most important lessons I ever learned though when making a landscape photograph – and it happened very early on in the process – was to try to be different… to try and make my photographs truly mine, different from what someone else might make. That process might involve the choice of lens and focal length to be used, the choice of a different physical perspective, or maybe just getting lucky one time with the light and weather conditions. Sometimes I’m successful at pulling that all together, and sometimes I’m not… though when I am, it’s usually because I’ve not only made a decent photograph, but because I’ve also had a memorable experience… and that’s when an image usually makes it’s way toward the personal favorite pile.

It’s that time of year again…

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Someone likes the snow!

…where we reflect on the year that was, and choose our favorite images from the past twelve months. Our family welcomed a new puppy this year, and although Oliver has consumed much of my recreational time, I still managed to spend some time in Acadia with the camera. I enjoy the process of reflection. I also enjoy taking a moment to reminisce about places I’ve been, and sights I’ve seen. I never tire of spending time in my favorite national park, and along the way throughout the year, I made a photograph or two to remind me of what were often personal and intimate experiences. Not as prolific as in past years, I didn’t make the quantity of images I usually do. Maybe there’s a New Year’s resolution to be made which might ensure a more productive 2014? Though there aren’t many iconic and instantly recognizable picture postcard views this year, hopefully my favorite 13 images from 2013 are still distinctively Acadia? Oh yeah, and other than the golden-colored Oliver, my favorites from this year are all in black and white. If interested in seeing some high-quality landscape photography, check out the annual Jim Goldstein curation of imagery – here’s a link to the 2012 edition where you’ll be able to browse some seriously awesome work. Happy holidays!

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Wonderland granite sculpted by the Atlantic

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Withstanding the elements at Ship Harbor

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Cairn on Cadillac

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View from Adams Bridge

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Incoming tide at Schoodic

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A glimpse of Old Soaker

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Mitchell Cove – the quiet side

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The Ledges along the Loop Road

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No way… fog on the coast of Maine?

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Last light on Otter Point

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Shelter from the wind

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Two of my boys enjoying Sand Beach

A Window to the World

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I’m celebrating the fact that I actually got off my you-know-what and made a new landscape photograph – one that I’m actually prepared to share! I hadn’t visited Acadia in several months, but all that changed this past weekend when local photographer Chad Tracy and I cruised down to MDI for a quick photo expedition. Despite the below freezing temperatures and the biting wind, standing on the rocky shoreline of my favorite national park never felt so good!

I’ll share a few more photographs from what was a beautiful sunrise over the next few days, so stay tuned. After exploring a part of the granite “ledges” along the Loop Road near Thunder Hole, our original plan was to meander back toward Sand Beach to maybe do some long exposures with the surf. We got sidetracked though when I realized how close we were to this unique location, and since the sun was already up, I was excited to visit at a time when I wouldn’t get the willies from it being too dark.

The ecosystem within this sea cave is extraordinarily delicate, so Chad and I were extremely cautious about making sure to walk only on the solid rock. Although not a huge secret, and relatively easy to find, to further protect this little gem I made Chad swear not to divulge the location to anyone else. The approach to the cave – and the floor inside – was quite slippery and tricky to navigate, and to add to the mystique, this location is only accessible at low tide. It was quite an experience to spend some time in here, and as we looked through the window out onto Frenchman Bay, we appreciated the shelter from the chilly winter air. I like this photograph, and I’m going to add it to my portfolio.

If you haven’t seen my full portfolio yet – if interested – you can click on over and check out a selection of my favorite images on Acadia and Beyond (in addition to Acadia, I’ve shared images of Maine, Ireland, Death Valley, Yosemite). If you do visit the site, drop me a line… I’d love to hear your thoughts. If interested in purchasing from the site between now and the New Year, to save some cash be sure to type in the discount code “Acadia” when checking out. A bargain… Happy holidays!

And yes… I’m trying out a new blog theme. Feedback appreciated on that too 🙂

One of those places…

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… that I just have to stop at every time I pass it. Regardless of the time of day, I always stop at the Adams Bridge which crosses the Bass Harbor Marsh. No matter which direction you are traveling – to, or from, Bass Harbor – after winding around a tight corner, your eyes are hit with this view of the marsh and Western/Manset Mountains in the distance. I always look to see if there’s an interesting reflection, and on this particular morning, the high, wispy clouds in what was a deep blue sky really made the scene pop, so I made them a big part of the composition.

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A ship in Ship Harbor…

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…sort of. Maybe “ship” isn’t the right terminology to use… maybe it should be boat? Either way, this was a classic Maine summer morning spent on the Ship Harbor Trail in Acadia National Park. After a short walk through an oceanside forest, this trail opens up to the Atlantic, offering incredible views of the Ship Harbor coastline and islands laying offshore in the Blue Hill Bay. Just as we arrived, the lobstermen began pulling their pots, so we chilled for a while watching them work. Sitting on the rocks and enjoying the view, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a better way to start the day.

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A Land of Wonder

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I’ve blogged about this little trail on the quiet side of Acadia National Park before, and for good reason. It’s a short trail – one that is very family friendly – and it’s a place we got in the habit of visiting with Oliver during our recent summer vacation in Bass Harbor. Oliver rises early… usually he’s stirring and gently letting us know he’s awake by about 5:30am. Every morning we would load him up in the car and drive the mile or so to the Wonderland trailhead, and more often than not, the parking lot would be empty and we’d have this little gem of a trail all to ourselves. We were so confident about the solitude, we had no worries letting him off the leash – this is actually where Oliver first learned to swim. Although we encountered foggy conditions on most of our visits, this one particular morning gave us the bluest of blue skies and the warm summer sun felt good on our faces. After what seemed like weeks of cloudy weather, I was happy to finally see the sun and excitedly spent a few minutes scampering over the rocks in search of an interesting foreground… it’s amazing how a wide-angle lens will exaggerate the perspective, and as you can see, I was even photo-bombed by Oliver!

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Mitchell Cove

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We spent last Saturday morning checking out what might be a new house for next summer’s vacation in Acadia National Park. We love the Bass Harbor area of Mount Desert Island, and although the house we’ve been renting for the past three years has served us well, we felt it might be time to explore some other options. The location was perfect, with a million dollar view of the lobster boats entering and leaving Bass Harbor, but access to the beach wasn’t ideal, and the shoreline itself was pretty much unusable due to the slippery and often sharp rocks that were unveiled at low tide.

One of the houses we’re considering as an alternative for next summer is located almost directly across the waters of Bass Harbor on Lopaus Point, and as we looked at the property and explored the area, we stumbled upon this little scene. These photographs were made right from the Lopaus Point Road while looking west across a marshy stretch of land toward Mitchell Cove and beyond to the Blue Hill Bay. A part of MDI that is new to us, if we do decide to rent there next summer, it will be exciting to explore and discover fresh and unfamiliar landscapes just like this one.

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A little slice of heaven…

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We are very fortunate (and grateful) that Granny and Grandpa have rented a cottage in Bass Harbor for the past three summers. It truly is a little slice of heaven, with a level of privacy that affords peace and tranquility, and as you can see… a million dollar view. Easy access to everything that the quiet side of Mount Desert Island offers makes for a very pleasant and slower paced vacation, with time being spent on the deck, in the garden, and down on the shore. Oliver made himself right at home, and we enjoyed walking both the Wonderland and Ship Harbor Trails at first light every morning. Sons, daughters, cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, nephews, nieces and grandchildren all spending time together in a remarkably beautiful Acadia setting… like I said… a little slice of heaven. Here are a few of my favorite non-landscapey images from around the cottage… thanks Granny and Grandpa!

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Top 10 places to shoot in Acadia redux

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*Based on the analytics produced by the WordPress blog stats, it would appear that lots of people are looking for help in finding good spots for landscape photography in Acadia at this time of year. With this in mind, here’s a re-post from a while ago about just that… some of my favorite places to spend time making photographs in Acadia.

I am sometimes asked by visiting photographers who only have a short period of time to spend in Acadia where the best places to shoot are. While I can certainly offer some specific location suggestions, it should be noted that there is beauty to be found all across Acadia, and this post merely outlines some of my own personal favorite places to shoot. Everyone knows about the familiar and iconic locations you see on picture postcards – and for good reason since they are strikingly beautiful – but there is so much more to Acadia than Otter Cliffs, Cadillac Mountain, and the Bass Harbor lighthouse. Acadia is an absolute jewel of a national park, and for those with time to explore, it is a landscape photographer’s paradise. Anyhoo… for the photographer with limited time to spend in the area, here are some ideas to get you started on the Mount Desert Island part of Acadia… icons and all.

1. Cadillac Mountain – Back home in Ireland we have the beautiful Mourne Mountains in County Down that sweep down to the sea, and at 1,532 feet, Cadillac Mountain too rises up from the ocean making it appear larger than it actually is. On this particular morning there were some hazy clouds on the eastern horizon which on the one hand obscured the sunrise, but on the other hand 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.

2. Bubble Pond – Nestled between Pemetic Mountain (1,248 feet), and Cadillac Mountain (1,532 feet), Bubble Pond is a glaciated valley that is now home to a beautiful and pristine pond. Using a circular polarizer, I was able to eliminate reflections from the crystal clear pond water allowing views of the rocky bottom. The polarizer also removed the glare of the mid-morning light from the trees hugging the rugged shoreline, and it enhanced the definition in the clouds. The intermittent sunshine breaking through the clouds made the scene sparkle, and in the fall the foliage colors here come alive.

3. 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 which makes getting a good exposure easier, and any rainfall that came my way would certainly help saturate the already vibrant fall colors. 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 Little 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.

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4. Bass Harbor Light – Bass Harbor Light is quintessential Maine. Part of Acadia National Park, it is a classic New England-style lighthouse perched on jagged rocks overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It is a place that I genuinely enjoy being at… whether I am fighting off the summer mosquitoes, listening to the fog-dampened sound of the buoy bell, or fumbling with cold fingers in the dead of winter. Regular readers of this blog will notice that I have been to this spot quite a few times, but seeing the ocean and the impressive beacon watching over it never gets old. This is a great place to shoot at either sunrise or sunset… both can provide spectacular views.

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5. Monument Cove – 
Monument Cove is a little piece of heaven tucked quietly away between Thunder Hole and Otter Cliffs in Acadia National Park. If you have ever walked the ocean path along the loop road you have probably stopped to enjoy the view from the small rock wall atop the 100 ft high cliff looking down into Monument Cove and further to Otter Cliffs. Most people settle for the view from above, justifiably marveling at the beauty below, but I like to get a little closer to the action. Not easy to get down into, this small cove is protected on three sides by steep rocky cliffs, and the Atlantic Ocean does it’s job protecting the fourth side. I love this place… even in summer there rarely is anyone there, and you are pretty much guaranteed to have it all to yourself if you visit first thing in the morning any time of year. Combined with some nice light, the knocking sounds from the round rocks being jostled by the waves makes this a pretty neat experience. As always, first light does a number on the Acadia granite shoreline, lighting it up to create a sight that only the earliest of risers will experience.

6. Boulder Beach – There are a myriad of classic compositions to be had in the area in the shadow of Otter Cliffs, and I have returned often in different seasons and at different times of day in search of light and conditions that help convey the beauty of this location. I feel as if I now “know” many of the elements better… individual rocks among the round boulders, the impressive granite cliffs rising up out of the Atlantic, and the usually hidden algae-covered rocks that become uncovered at low tide. Definitely a sunrise location, both high and low-tides offer many creative possibilities.

7. Otter Cliffs – As winter started to really grab hold of the season, I had been itching to get out with the camera so I decided to visit one of my favorite places and see if I could capture some snow blanketing the famous round rocks below Otter Cliffs. An early start that morning got me there about 45 minutes before the sun was scheduled to crest at 6:36am, and as always, I had the place completely to myself. Though the temperature was certainly chilly, there was little to no wind blowing, and since I was dressed in several layers, the 13 degrees Farenheit actually felt quite comfortable. An iconic view for sure, like much of the scenery along the Loop Road, Otter Cliffs are especially spectacular at first light. This view can be obtained by turning your tripod legs about 45 degrees clockwise from the scene above.

8. Thunder Hole and Loop Road – Anyone who visits Acadia National Park probably takes in the grand vista offered all along the stretch of blacktop known as The Loop Road. Surely one of America’s most picturesque roadways, visitors who choose this path weave their way from the park entrance through lush New England forest under the shadow of imposing granite mountains to the ragged and distinctive Maine shoreline that adorns many a picture postcard. Even in midday light, there are photographs to be made along this stretch of road, and on this day strong swell after swell would come crashing onshore, and though it was certainly an impressive sight, the sound and power of the ocean were the real stars of this show.

9. Little Long Pond – It was 23 25 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. 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 film 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. In this more recent photograph, 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.

10. Manset and Seawall – I have always looked forward to mid-June when the Lupine in Maine come to life. Serious gardeners often disparage this hardy perennial for its ability to overwhelm a planned garden space. Me… I love the swaths of deep color that appear along the roadside at this time of year, and I have long searched for a nice composition that includes these beautiful flowers. During one of our many family camping trips to Acadia we spent a really nice evening, free from the already increasing crowds in Bar Harbor, along the quiet shore at Seawall. As we made our way past Southwest Harbor and through Manset, this pretty little scene presented itself. Needless to say I started drooling, stopped the car, and enjoyed the view with my camera. The road along the shore between Southwest Harbor and Bass Harbor is home to some quiet, less-frequented places with family-friendly trails like Wonderland and Ship Harbor to enjoy… well worth a visit.

Southwest Harbor, Seawall, Somesville, Northeast Harbor, Sand Beach, Eagle Lake, Pick-a-mountain trail, Asticou Gardens, Bar Harbor, Jordan Pond, Wild Gardens of Acadia, Seal Harbor, carriage roads and bridges, Schoodic, and Isle-au-Haut… you get the idea… there is SO MUCH MORE to see in what is a small but surprisingly stunning national park, and for those interested in spending some time photographing the landscape, you really can’t go wrong!

Do you have a favorite place to photograph in Acadia? I’d love to hear about it…

* I’m updating this post to include a quieter part of Acadia, Schoodic. Just recently I have had the pleasure of exploring this part of the world, and I have to admit, I have totally fallen in love.

Oh deer…

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I believe I am correct in stating that there is still a ban on hunting deer on Mount Desert Island and in Acadia National Park. I don’t think I have ever made a trek to Acadia to photograph the landscape when I haven’t encountered deer on the roadside as I drive. I can pretty much guarantee that if I’m going to be driving on Mount Desert Island before dawn or after dusk, I’ll see deer near the road. I haven’t come close to hitting anything with the car yet, but that’s likely due to luck and the fact that I drive quite defensively in expectation of encountering deer. When I came across these two beauties they were enjoying an evening stroll and a snack in an open field near Seawall. I pulled the car over, reached for my longest lens (70-200mm f4), and snapped away, hoping that I could convey the quiet and tranquility of what was a very calming scene.

Kid in a candy store…

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… a black and white candy store! These are all from the same foggy morning spent at Wonderland. I didn’t bring a tripod with me, so I was able to be pretty carefree and nimble as I wandered over the rocks and beach looking for interesting compositions. Oliver had just finished his morning swim in the ocean, and he was incredibly patient as I flitted around the rocks looking for something worth photoographing. I couldn’t resist how the fog enveloped the jagged landscape like a heavy, grey blanket, and I especially liked how it made the classic Maine pine trees almost disappear in a shroud of gooey greyness.

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Back into the fog… Wonderland

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I cannot imagine how angry and powerful the ocean must have been to arrange these broken, jagged rocks the way it did. Some of these slabs of granite are the size of a kitchen table, yet it looks as though they have been tossed around like little pebbles. Strewn all across the landscape known as Wonderland, I knew when I first set eyes on these rocks that I would want to present the scene as black and white. I hope you like it as much as I do.

Here’s my routine…

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My camera is all set up for the shot I wanted to make when camped out for what was a stunning sunset at Otter Point in Acadia National Park. Believe it or not, this was my first serious attempt at making a photograph at this location (thanks Michael and Carol for the suggestion), though I have no doubt it won’t be my last. The jagged rock formations, the coastal pine trees, and the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean make this a really cool place to photograph. Here’s a recap of my evening spent there, and a brief insight into my routine…

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As with all new places, it takes a little while to get to know it, so I arrived here well before the sun was scheduled to set, and I wandered all around exploring the landscape looking for potential compositions. Different angles, different light, different rock formations, different weather conditions… truthfully, I could spend days here and never fully discover all of the possibilities, but on this occasion, I had to make do with an hour or so. Some people move quickly in this type of situation, especially as the sun starts to go down and the good light arrives, and they can end up making lots of good photographs. Me… I tend to “focus” on one composition, and I kinda stick to it (some might say that I get stuck) to make sure I come away with something I like. I learned a long time ago that if you can come home with just one photograph that you are pleased with – one that you might want to print – then it has been a good day. Here’s one that I like…

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Now… after I have settled on the composition that I like, as I wait for the light to peak, I do try to keep my eyes open and stay alert for other possibilities. I almost always have a wide angle lens (Canon 17-40mm f4) on the camera in these situations, and the unique perspective that can be achieved with this type of lens constantly intrigues me. I love how an object placed close to a wide angle lens is distorted to make it appear even larger, and I like to experiment with including near/far components to add depth. More often than not, I end up liking a portrait oriented composition more than a landscape one… I think that’s a result of the wide angle effect that can be attained with an interesting foreground element. I’ll check the focus throughout the scene using live view, I’ll bracket three exposures, each about a stop apart, so that if necessary I can blend for dynamic range back at the computer, and I’ll wait for the best light possible. Rarely will I deviate from the plan, and once I have honed in on a composition I like, rarely will I move my tripod and camera.

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Having said that, another lesson I learned a long time ago was to always look behind you, even if the scene in front of you is awesome… you never know what you might find. Here’s the view 180 degrees from the main composition I settled on. So, I’m slow and rather methodical in my approach to photographing a scene, and I kinda put all my eggs into one basket as it were with choosing a primary composition to work with. That’s my way of doing things and a glimpse of my routine… I’d be curious about yours.