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 😉

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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 🙂

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.

Who needs fall colors?

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Maine and New England are renowned for the vibrant, colorful display of fall foliage presented annually by Mother Nature around this time. As the days quickly start to get shorter and colder, trees resolutely holding onto their treasure of red, gold, yellow and brown are certainly left vulnerable to any strong storm blowing through. As the seasons transition and the weather takes a turn for the worse, the spectacular display of color signals the beginning of preparations for what is customarily a long, dark winter. Mine was an overdue visit to Acadia today, and I have to admit I was rather disappointed to discover that the fall foliage colors weren’t all that impressive… methinks I missed the peak by a few days this year.

This is looking across Jordan Pond toward the Bubbles on a cloudy and blustery – but very mild – morning. I’m fond of this view across the pond, and I always enjoy scouting the shoreline looking for interesting rocks to include in the foreground. I added a 6 stop neutral density filter to my camera for this one… I was hoping to render the relatively choppy water more smoothly, and I was also hoping to be able to extend the length of the exposure to allow for the fast-moving clouds to streak across the sky. At 11 seconds, the exposure didn’t quite have the impact on the clouds that I was hoping for, but I did like how the scene took on a monochromatic look… aren’t those rocks amazing?

This isn’t my first time photographing this location, and while I do like to explore new places, I also really do enjoy returning to familiar scenes in different conditions and at different times of the year. One of my favorite photographs of this location was made late last winter when the pond was still frozen over, and as I made the image below, I couldn’t help but think about how this year’s fall foliage season is almost gone already, and that it won’t be long now before the already cold water will begin to once again ice over.

Fall foliage in Maine

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It’s that time of year again. The mornings and evenings are noticeably crisper and cooler, and the colors of fall are becoming more evident every day. The vibrancy of fall foliage in Maine truly can be a sight to behold, and as always, I’m looking forward to visiting some of my favorite locations.

One of those favorite locations for fall color is the Jordan Pond Stream which runs from Jordan Pond in Acadia National Park to the Atlantic Ocean at Seal Harbor. A rich variety of trees scattered along the stream side trail usually makes for a blaze of color that just begs to be photographed. A wide gravel path follows the stream downhill from the Jordan Pond House for about a quarter of a mile, and as you cross a rustic looking bridge, you can then jump off that path onto a trail that hugs the right hand side of the stream. There are many, many opportunities to enjoy amazing – albeit intimate – landscapes along this trail, and if you stick with it for about a mile, you get rewarded with views of Cobblestone Bridge, probably the most picturesque of the many carriage road bridges in the park.

My guess is that up north around Mount Katahdin the colors are already nearing peak, but it usually takes a little longer for the swath of color to stretch down toward the coastline. The image above of Jordan Pond Stream was made last year on October 14th, and in my experience, that’s usually around the time fall foliage in Acadia peaks. I’ll be checking the weather forecast in the next few weeks looking for misty, rainy, dull and overcast days… days when the subdued light and wet leaves make the colors pop even more than normal. If you are out and about with your camera in search of fall foliage colors, here’s hoping you find what you’re looking for.

Jordan Pond, Acadia National Park

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Jordan Pond is one of those places that never seems to get my full attention… it always seems to be somewhere I visit AFTER spending first light at another spectacular Acadia location such as Cadillac, Thunder Hole, or Otter Cliffs. One of these days though I’m going to make this scene the focus of my photo-expedition, and maybe I’ll be able to parlay the superb foreground rocks and the awesome views across the pond toward The Bubbles into a really cool photograph.

The wind was whipping across Jordan Pond as I set my tripod up to make this photograph, and I really liked how it’s effect on the water complimented the earthy tones of the blue sky, the green mountain slopes, and the rugged granite boulders. You really do have an almost unlimited array of rocks strewn along the shoreline to choose from for your foreground, and the famous and instantly recognizable shape of the Bubbles at the far end of the pond make for a nice backdrop. In black and white or color… this is a scene that I keep coming back to.

Sargent Mountain and Penobscot Mountain

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Jordan Pond Trail

Jordan Pond Trail

Sam’s home from college for the summer, and needless to say, everyone around here is happy about that. He has a summer job as an intern for one of the Maine US Senators, so we are all looking forward to having him around. Before he starts work though, he and I tackled one of our favorite Acadia hikes… Sargent and Penobscot Mountains.

Jordan Pond

Jordan Pond

Sargent Mountain is 1,373 ft tall, and depending on the route you take to the top, part of the climb can be quite a scramble. We started out on the trail that hugs the shore of Jordan Pond, much of which consists of a man-made boardwalk. The mile or so we walked on this part of the hike was refreshingly cool, and we enjoyed the intermittent peeks of the water and the Bubbles at the end of the pond. The Deer Brook Trail took us to the East Cliffs Trail, and from there we rather quickly scrambled to the top of Sargent Mountain – Sam quicker than me obviously.

Jordan Pond Trail

Rocky part of the Jordan Pond Trail

East Cliffs Trail, Sargent Mountain

East Cliffs Trail, Sargent Mountain

The last time we did this hike we were socked in with dense and damp fog, so it was nice on this occasion to be able to enjoy the traditional and spectacular Acadia mountain 360 degree views. We enjoyed lunch at the Sargent Mountain Pond, and we then climbed back up to the summit of Penobscot Mountain (1,193 ft), before beginning the long slow descent along the south-facing ridge. The views were amazing, and it was GREAT to be back on the mountains of Acadia.

Sargent Mountain

Sargent Mountain

Sargent Mountain summit

Sargent Mountain summit

Glacial erratic, Penobscot Mountain

Glacial erratic, Penobscot Mountain

Penobscot Mtn views of Jordan Pond and the Atlantic Ocean

Penobscot Mtn views of Jordan Pond and the Atlantic Ocean

Sam navigating the steep part of the Spring Trail

Sam navigating the steep part of the Spring Trail