Taking a break from Acadia… Oliver update

Standard

8-6-13 oliver2

He’s almost a year old already… I can hardly believe how fast the first year with Oliver has flown by. September 24 will be his birthday, and although people told us that he would probably chill out by the time he gets to around two years of age, methinks he’s not too far from there already. For such a young dog, he really is pretty mellow, and he has the sweetest of demeanors around people. He loves to be in the room with us… he doesn’t have to be right next to us, just in the same room, or in the hall where he can open one eye and make sure we’re still there. He’s still enjoying his early morning walks to the golf course, and whenever possible, we hit the links again in the evening for another run. All that fresh air takes a toll on him though, and these pics are pretty much par for the course when we’re back at home.

8-6-13 oliver1

8-6-13 oliver3

8-6-13 oliver4

8-6-13 oliver5

Take a walk with Oliver…

Standard

7-1-13 oliverwalk1

From a few weeks back… here’s a little glimpse of the walk Oliver and I make every morning. Using the Nike app on my iPhone, I’m able to track – among other things – where and how far we walked, how long we walked for, and how many calories I burned – trust me, Oliver burns waaaaaay more calories than I do as he cavorts all across the golf course in search of good things to sniff and chew. The little red patches on our trail are where we slowed down – to leash and un-leash – and also probably where I stopped to make these photographs. We got a later than usual start on this particular morning – normally we’re out the door by 5:30am – but we still had the course all to ourselves.

7-1-13 oliverwalk3

We’re only about a quarter of a mile from the golf course, and when we make a hard right turn to enter the property, we walk through what is probably one of my favorite parts. A winding path covered in tree roots and pine needles meanders through a stand of tall, majestic trees that remind me of the black oaks out west in Yosemite, and when we come out on the other side, we’re greeted by the pretty scene below. Not a bad way to start the morning…

7-1-13 oliverwalk4

We’ll walk up and down the fairways, sometimes looping back around to re-explore particularly interesting areas of longer grass, and as you might imagine, like most dogs, Oliver loves to chase the tennis ball. I’ll throw it, he’ll chase it, and no matter how fast he’s traveling, he’ll always – almost comically – roll over as he snags the ball. He gets a treat, and we do it all again… and again… and again. This of course gets him soaking wet from rolling in the morning dew, though during the summer months with warmer temperatures, that isn’t such a bad thing since he gets to cool off.

7-1-13 oliverwalk5

There’s a sweet little overgrown cut-through between a couple of holes on the back nine that Oliver and I like to think no-one else uses but us. It’s our secret path, and since he’s a creature of habit, he always runs ahead of me to lead the way. He’s 10 months old today, and just recently he learned how to do some things that the big dogs do. It’s been funny to watch as he experiments with lifting his back leg… as he teeters precariously on three legs, I’m surprised he hasn’t completely fallen over yet! I bet there aren’t many blogs with photographs of their dogs pee-ing, eh?

7-1-13 oliverwalk6

I know I’m biased, but isn’t he a handsome dog? He seems to have lost a little bit of the puppiness to his shape, and he looks leaner now than he did maybe even a month ago. About two thirds of the way into our walk, he starts to slow down, and instead of chasing up and down and back and forth across the fairways, he sticks closer to my side, usually breathing pretty heavily. By now we’ll have been walking (running for him) for about 45 minutes, so he likes to take what I consider to be a well-deserved rest. Throughout our walk, we’ll stop off at the water coolers located at every third or fourth tee box to enjoy a drink, so he stays well hydrated. By the time we get back home and up onto the front porch, he’ll be pretty much out of gas. Gassed… but very happy.

7-1-13 oliverwalk2

7-1-13 oliverwalk7

7-1-13 oliverwalk8

When the rumpus began

Standard

20130702-214339.jpg

It was 25 years ago today that the rumpus began. I can’t believe how fast time flies, and I also can’t believe how fortunate I was to meet this beautiful young lady when I did. She has been my friend and constant companion now for the best part of my life, and I can’t imagine what I would do without her. I am a lucky, lucky man indeed. Happy Anniversary baby!

Dog pix

Standard

6-10-13 oliver1

6-10-13 oliver9

6-10-13 oliver10

6-10-13 oliver7

6-10-13 oliver4

6-10-13 oliver11

A Sandy Beach in Maine

Standard

Sand Beach

Best place on earth… before the tourists arrive! Sand Beach is one of my favorite places to spend time, especially during the off-season before the park gets swamped with people from away. There aren’t many sandy beaches this far up the Maine coast, so as you might imagine, during the summer months this is a very popular place. This time of year though, it’s pretty quiet, and it’s also pretty special. The photograph at the top of this post is from a few years back. It was made at the far end of Sand Beach looking back toward the Beehive – I was perched on a rock in the shade of Great Head as a wave washed in and around the rocks. Keeping the shutter open for a relatively long time rendered the moving water with the misty effect.

3-31-13 oliveracadia4

Fast forward a few years to today… and despite the reluctant temperatures over the Easter weekend, the sun actually felt warm on your face, and as you can see, two of our boys had themselves a grand old time. Oliver just turned six months of age, and he’s already becoming a little more mature. He walks on the leash really politely, and he’s learning how to be much more calm when approaching people and other dogs. He’s still a silly puppy at times, but he’s definitely starting to get it. Sand Beach is full of wonder for Oliver – the texture of the sand between his toes, the smell (and taste) of beached seaweed, and the ability to wade into the cold water – all things he seems to love, and in the last photograph he’s enjoying a classic Acadia view…

3-31-13 oliveracadia5

3-31-13 oliveracadia7

I’m done apologizing…

Standard

2-15-13 oliver1

It’s all of my own making. This blog used to be mostly about showcasing my experiences exploring the beautiful landscapes of Maine and especially Acadia National Park, but lately it has been swallowed up by photographs of Oliver – the little, but fast-growing dog.

I know that some loyal readers enjoy seeing what Oliver has been up to lately, and that it’d be quite OK if he was front and center all of the time. I do, however, feel as though I am forever apologizing for this recent change in course for the blog, so here I am throwing in the towel regarding the apology bit.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m hopeful of getting out to shoot landscapes again soon, but in the meantime… purely for my own sanity, I’m done apologizing for posting pictures of Oliver. Phew… just saying writing that feel’s like a load off!

Anyhoo… here’s a sampling from the last couple of days… all shot using the iPhone 5 with a touch of Instagram Earlybird filter applied. Though I ditched the Instagram app itself, I have the filters stored as actions in Photoshop – I kinda like the effect.

Have a great weekend!

2-15-13 oliver6

2-15-13 oliver5

2-15-13 oliver3

2-15-13 oliver2

2-15-13 oliver7

2-15-13 oliver4

Where did the puppy go?

Standard

Oliver45

Oliver is growing and changing every day. He gets bigger every day. He gets sweeter every day. He gets naughtier every day. He gets more handsome every day. He looks more and more like a dog, and less and less like a puppy every day. He’s also getting big enough to where everything on tables and countertops – which were previously too high for him to get to – is now extremely interesting, and more significantly, reachable. Needless to say, we’ve been having some new conversations about good behavior while in the house, and we’re having to really re-think where we leave stuff. This is getting interesting…

Who photographs their dog in black and white?

Standard

Oliver19bw

I know he’s called a “Golden” Retriever for a reason, but I couldn’t resist tweaking these photographs of Oliver to see how handsome he would be in black and white. Made with an iPhone and then imported into Photoshop where they were given a dose of Nik’s BW Silver Efex, I personally just love the character that shines through from Oliver in these.

Oliver25bw

Here are a couple more… a cats-eye view of him peering through the pet flap going down to the basement – he’s always curious about where his friend Chester goes after disappearing through the hole, and finally, an Instagrammy of him and Jack. I’m picking my own iPhone up later today, so look out… now there’ll likely be even more pics of Oliver!

Oliver18bw

Oliver24

Dreaming of a white Christmas

Standard

12-2-12 xmastree2

Here’s Jack continuing a tradition that Sam always loved so much… cutting the tree down at Piper Mountain Tree Farm in Newburgh. Sam’s off at college now, so Jack assumed the role of Paul Bunyan and chopped down this year’s tree. The weather totally cooperated, creating a festive atmosphere with a light dusting of snow coating the ground and flurries gently falling all morning. A classic New England scene… hot cider, cinnamon doughnuts and the annual purchase of an ornament for the tree rounded out our morning on the mountain, and our relatively short, plump, and healthy tree is now decorated and enjoying its new home in our living room.

12-2-12 xmastree1

Stretching the legs

Standard

After celebrating Thanksgiving Day with the extended family in Northampton, Massachusetts, we made the long drive back to Maine this afternoon. The food was better than good, and as always, it was great to have the entire family together. At just over five hours from door to door, this trip isn’t as long as the usual drive to New York, but it’s still a long time to spend in the car. Crossing the Piscataqua River Bridge and into our home state, we decided to take a break from driving and stop off at a pretty little lighthouse along the coast. As we stretched our legs and grabbed some welcome fresh air, the wind was howling and the waves were pounding the shore of Cape Neddick, home to one of the most picturesque of Maine lighthouses.

Two Mainers exploring New York City

Standard

New York City is the greatest city on earth. A family obligation recently afforded us the opportunity to spend a couple of nights on the island of Manhattan, and part of my responsibility on this visit – while Lori was working – was to keep the little man entertained. So, what do two Mainers set loose in the big city do? Well, they explore… and as they explore, one of them Instagrams their adventures. In just a couple of days, Jack and I hit up some of the more famous locations… Central Park (and the zoo), Times Square, the Empire State Building, Fifth Avenue, the Brooklyn Bridge, Broadway and 42nd Street, Greenwich Village… and that’s what I’ll be documenting in the next couple of blog posts. Let’s start with Central Park and the Children’s Zoo where we saw some awesome critters (in and outside the zoo). I know it’s weird, but I can’t shake the spooky feeling I get when looking at the first couple of photographs from this post. Makes me think of The Shining… here’s Jack!

Supporting the big brother

Standard

We’ve had the good fortune of seeing quite a few of Sam’s Bowdoin College rugby games this season, and there’s no-one more excited about cheering for the Polar Bears than Jack. His big brother plays the game hard, and as you can see from the color of his uniform, he isn’t afraid to mix it up and get involved in the game. We’ll miss seeing Sam play in the spring – he’s heading overseas for a semester abroad – but we’re all eager for next fall to come around when he’ll be playing his senior season. Senior season!?! Wow… where does the time go!

My lady on the beach

Standard

We recently spent an awesome weekend together as a family eating burgers at Five Guys in Portland, watching Sea Dogs minor-league baseball at Hadlock Field, and then boogie-boarding and chilling on a foggy Sunday morning on the beach.

Here’s a quick photograph of my lovely lady Lori walking on the beach at Scarborough State Park. Building on my interest in using Instagram and appreciation of always having a camera with me, I snapped this iPhone photograph of Lori as we wandered along the shore.

I love being on the beach in weather other than a typical sunny day, and though winter is my favorite time to be there, a cool foggy day is hard to beat. On this particular morning, although the air wasn’t that warm, the water temperature was almost bearable as we relaxed before wrapping up what was a fabulous family weekend together.

Rite of passage

Standard

Everyone gets their photograph taken on the first day of school, right? Here’s the little man – not so little any more – on his first day of third grade.

He had been having some serious bed head lately in the mornings, so it was deemed critical to get a haircut before returning to school. This is his big boy haircut at SuperCuts – actually we left things pretty late and they were the only place open on Sunday!

Now that I look at it though, his bangs look a little off, don’t they 🙂

Snowy Forest

Standard

Jack’s teachers at the 14th Street School do a wonderful job of proudly displaying the children’s art work in the classroom and all throughout the school. Visiting and admiring the work on display is always a treat, though we invariably know that there are going to be some goodies we don’t get to see right away. Knowing that he will be bringing home every single piece of work he has produced throughout the past ten months, we get excited at the prospect of seeing what he has created. Jack just graduated from second grade, and here’s one of his latest masterpieces framed and hung in the dining room (otherwise known as Jack’s Gallery)… “Snowy Forest” is the title 🙂

Biography night

Standard

The 14th Street School has been hosting biography night for almost 20 years – twelve years ago Sam was Thomas Edison – and tonight it was Jack’s turn to continue the tradition. Every second grader chooses a famous person, researches their life, and then writes a brief biography. They memorize their story, dress up in costume, and the entire grade performs their biography on stage in front of the community. Can you say cute?

Jack chose to portray Neil Armstrong, and boy did he look the part! We borrowed an astronaut suit from a friend, and with his black boots, headphones w/mic, and a fresh buzz cut… he was ready to roll. There was lots of practicing over the past week, a few butterflies in the stomach before the event, and a hugely successful and enjoyable night. Jack even remembered to flip his “microphone” down when it was time to start his speech. We couldn’t be more proud of our little astronaut – thanks 14th Street School teachers!

The Whole of the Moon…

Standard

Using the Photographer’s Ephemeris as my guide, I knew that the full moon was going to rise about half an hour after sunset this evening, and I knew precisely where in the sky it was going to rise. I had grand visions of photographing a huge full moon illuminated against a backdrop of gorgeous pinks, blues and purples from the earth’s shadow, and the timing of sunset/moonrise would be quite close for allowing this to happen… that’s – if – there weren’t any clouds on the horizon.

I was in Portland earlier in the day helping Sam take care of paperwork for his summer internship, and while in town, we stopped for lunch at the Ri Ra Irish Pub on Commercial Street. As Sam scoffed down Shepherd’s Pie and I enjoyed a delicious bowl of Guinness and Beef Stew, a song from the past blared over the sound system, hence the title of this post. The song brought me back to growing up in Ireland… “The Whole of the Moon” by the Waterboys… classic!

Lori and Jack joined me on this little adventure – after we had all enjoyed ice cream at Giffords – and the three of us arrived at the parking lot for the Bangor Forest about half an hour before sunset. There’s a pond at the bottom of a large hill (which is actually an old landfill), and we all spent some time being enthralled and entertained by a frisky beaver swimming and splashing around. Though I was really just killing time until moonrise, I began to notice that as the sun got lower in the sky, nice warm light was beginning to paint the landscape. Scattered clouds were exploding up above, and from my viewpoint, I could see shafts of virga all around being backlit by beautiful colors. With the setting sun getting lower in the sky, I quickly set my camera up and fired off a few compositions.

OK… now for the moon. After the sun had set, I huffed and puffed my way to the top of the hill – I really do have to get in better shape – and I did some figuring as to where in the sky the moon would be rising. Wouldn’t you know… there was a thin layer of cloud hugging the horizon right where the moon was supposed to rise. After doing all of my planning, I wasn’t about to give up just yet though. A wide angle lens would render the moon – no matter how big it was in person – as a relatively small speck, so instead I set my tripod and camera up with a 70-200mm lens attached.

The image above is a composite of two photographs… the overall scene was shot at 70mm, and the moon was shot at 200mm… I then did a little computery-shenanigans to place the correctly exposed and life-size version of the moon back into the scene. Not quite what I had envisioned, but it was VERY COOL to be able to share the experience with Lori and Jack. As we watched darkness fall over the forest, twinkling stars slowly unveiled themselves overhead, and bullfrogs in the pond sounded their deep-throated songs… and even though those pesky clouds delayed the moon show for a few minutes, we did eventually see the whole of the moon.

Our April Fools baby

Standard

Jack was born on April 1, 2004, and here he is… 8 years old already. Needless to say I had camera in hand right as he was born, and I got a great picture of his very first breath… and scream! I’ll spare you that one though, and instead show you him and his birthday party posse at the local pool. He’s the one with the rabbit ears 🙂

Here’s a couple more of him and his big brother from the early days. Quite the cutie, eh? Happy Birthday Jack!

Our budding little photographer

Standard

Please excuse the winter boots and basketball shorts fashion combo… unseasonably warm temperatures combined with melting snow and ice created conditions where the kid was just happy to be able to wear shorts again! Last Sunday afternoon we went exploring locally – it felt just like when I was growing up and my dad would take us for a Sunday drive – after brainstorming some possible locations, we decided to check out Field’s Pond Nature Center in Orrington.

Jack brought his camera with him and he seemed to really enjoy “making pictures” throughout the hike. As we walked and talked, I shared a few basic tips with him… and it was pretty cool to see him listen, learn, and put his new knowledge into practice. Keeping the camera steady, making sure lines that are supposed to be straight are straight, adding something interesting in the foreground – just a few of the ideas he embraced and tried to implement. I got a big kick out of one time especially when he came running over to show me his latest photograph… “Look, look.” he said. “I moved the camera like you do. Come see my photograph!” Below are a few of his masterpieces, and it was neat to see that he didn’t just snap away aimlessly, instead you could almost “see” his little brain cooking up ideas and compositions.

Click on any of the thumbnails below to view a larger version and see the rest of the gallery of awesome Jack photographs.

Displaying your art…

Standard

…is something we all should do. I still have those old photograph albums with the sticky sheets that use some sort of goo to hold maybe two 4 x 6 photographs per page, or the hardcover albums with the plastic sleeves and clunky ring binders that want to nip your fingers every time you open or close them. Thankfully advances in technology mean that exhibiting your art no longer means risking the loss of a finger – whether you want to display your work online in a slideshow, on the wall in a high-quality print, or even in a self-published coffee table type book. I have used all of these formats, and it never gets old seeing something you are proud of on display. In fact, I’m expecting a couple of my favorite photographs back from the printer any day… can’t wait to see how they look!

Home-made or school-made, we encourage and eagerly anticipate Jack’s artistic new releases, and it’s always fun to ask him to share some insight about what he makes. His imagination can run wild, and the stories he tells can be priceless. Like most homes, our kitchen refrigerator has its fair share of kid art pinned to it, but we also have quite a few pieces framed and proudly on display throughout the house. Jack doesn’t seem to mind that we exhibit his creations so proudly, and as along as he keeps making, we’ll keep displaying! Ladies and gentlemen… I give you “Shark in the Caribbean” – the latest piece by renowned and soon-to-be-famous abstract painter, Jack Robert Patterson.