Finally… as we approach the middle of June, everything around these parts begins to green up, and there’s a special little place in Acadia that I always love to visit this time of year. Bubble Pond, nestled between Cadillac and Pemetic, is a jewel of a landscape location, and as you can see from this image, it comes alive after the winter displaying an array of earthy colors that are pretty sweet to see. Made mid-morning, this photograph always reminds me that even though winter will be long around here, springtime will eventually arrive, and when it does, it will bring with it opportunities to enjoy colors that sparkle.
From a particularly productive morning… it had snowed on my way from Bangor to Portland. I had a work-related meeting that day in the city, so figured what the hey… I might as well get an early start and see if I could take advantage of the first light.
Take a walk on the path to the left of the lighthouse and you begin to get a completely different view of the scene, especially at low tide since you can scamper down onto the rocks in search of interesting foreground elements. This can officially be called the “blue-hour” – some time before the sun makes an appearance, yet when there is still enough early morning light to illuminate the landscape. There were some fast-moving clouds overhead, and of course the waves washing on and off shore – throughout that, the striking Portland Head Lighthouse beacon illuminated the morning.
I did what I often like to do… experiment with a variety of lengths of holding the shutter open using the remote release… all in the name of trying to capture something unique and different. This exposure was for 61 seconds, and I like how the movement in the sky and tide were rendered. I also like how the white balance rendered the scene so blue… it represents the chill in the air that I felt, and the early hour at which this photograph was made.
A quick post here about a recent event we are especially proud of. Sam graduated from Bowdoin College on Memorial Day weekend, and we could not be any more proud of him. The rain stayed away and despite some cool temperatures, the outdoor graduation went off without a hitch. Bowdoin College has been an exceptional four-year experience for Sam, and we are proud to be able to call him a Polar Bear.
It really does seem like only yesterday when we were dropping him off as a freshman, but it’s already been four years, and a lot has happened since. Ignore the cancery old man on the right, and admire the happy and gorgeous rest of the family to the left.
Can you guess which one is Sam? None of us know where he gets the tall genes, but he’s always been a big (and kind, and smart, and athletic, and genuinely nice) boy. Jack (10) is growing up too, and if he follows in Sam’s footsteps even slightly (and he has already started), then we’ll all be thrilled. The two of them are exceptionally tight as siblings, and we love to see them interact. Sam’s going to be home for the summer before heading off to work in NYC, so we’ll all have some time together – that’ll be good.
My lovely, lovely Lori… what can I say? She is the most caring and loving mother and wife that one could ever imagine. She is so strong in times of adversity, and she always knows what to do and say at the right moment to make you feel safe and loved. Obviously the boys benefit tremendously from this, but so do I.
Aha. Another favorite place. This is a view from the quieter part of Acadia National Park called Schoodic. A rocky peninsula stretching out into the Gulf of Maine, there are views like this scattered all along the perimeter… grab your camera, enjoy the far-less crowded surroundings, and make yourself a photograph or two.
Off in the distance is a little gem called “Rolling Island” – and then there’s the classic Acadia (Schoodic) foreground. I’ve been to this specific place several times… sometimes I come away with a photograph I like, and sometimes I just enjoy the scenery. On this particular morning I can remember the colorful sunrise seemed to last for ages… it quite literally lasted for at least a half an hour. What better way to start the day!
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!
What to do when the weather doesn’t cooperate? I’ve been to this very special location many, many times in search of epic light, but I can honestly say that on the majority of my visits, I usually get skunked with less than stellar conditions. I’ll check the weather forecast, and I’ll plan for favorable tides… but ultimately you’re at the mercy of the light. Sometimes you get lucky, but usually not.
Having said that… less than favorable light can bring “different” conditions, and with those come opportunities to capture images that are more original. Sometimes they’re more unusual simply because others don’t bother making photographs at those times, and sometimes they’re unique simply because instead of making a cover version of someone else’s work you’re making something creative of your own.
Embrace iffy weather. While I have experienced and photographed epic colors and memorable sunrises, some of my favorite images were made in stormy conditions. The color palette in both images in this post don’t necessarily reflect the traditional picture postcard ideal… but I am more proud of them than you might imagine.
A favorite of mine. Special conditions when Hurricane Sandy brushed the coast. This is from Sand Beach looking south along the shore toward the Loop Road and Otter Cliffs. Longer lens for two reasons a) for safety’s sake – even on the steps that lead from the parking lot down to the beach it was pretty dangerous with waves as high as my waist, and b) a longer lens compresses the scene compositionally, helping isolate only those elements that add to the strength of the photograph. In this case I used my 70-200mm f4 L at 200mm. For those interested, here’s the EXIF:
Just in case you were wondering where he went… here’s Oliver! As you can imagine, in my time of need he’s got lots of love to give. There are moments between treatments when I’m beat and just need to hunker down for a nap, and whaddya know, Oliver is quite content to hop up at the end of the sofa to join me. And then there are the times he just wants to give kisses and hugs. We had heard stories about when he got close to turning two years of age of how he would all of a sudden mellow out… well, that seems to be true.
Almost overnight it seems, in many ways he became this chilled more mature dog, and gone are some of the crazy puppy behaviors. He still gets very excited when greeting people (something we are working on), but other than that, we can definitely notice a calmness to his demeanor that just wasn’t there before. Perhaps he senses what’s going on within the house, or maybe it’s just true what they say about him transitioning from puppy to dog… either way, he is an absolute dream of a family companion and brings us so much joy. Here’s a rare one of me in front of the camera – this time getting lots of sugar from my baby.
Color. It can make or break a photograph, and for those of you who have been following my photographic journey over the past couple of years, you’ll know that I have become more and more intrigued with removing colors and distilling a scene down into the most important of elements… lines, shapes, contrasts, textures and how they all interact compositionally within that little rectangle that is the view finder… in black and white.
All concepts around trying to create a good compositional scene apply, as does my mantra of trying to make any scene your own and not just a mimic of someone else’s photography. As suggestions to help achieve this, I’d recommend experimenting with placing important elements nearer the edges of the frame, using the rule of thirds where appropriate, and if you latch onto something interesting… leverage it… go for it. Really try to accentuate what you find… just look at those incredible textures in the striated rocks of Pemaquid Point, and depending on when you visit, you might just get a chance to shoot some cool reflections.
This is a remarkable location… one that I’d highly recommend spending some serious time exploring. It’s one of those places where someone interested in practicing their craft has ample opportunity to spend time on a variety of compositional choices. I’ve spent a whole day here feeling like a kid in a candy store – there are all sorts of textures and elements that can be used to create a variety of compositions. This place can be shot wide, tight with a telephoto lens, and of course… in unique conditions and with a little imagination it can really shine. In the color version I used a long shutter to help streak the clouds a little and add another element… maybe it helps and maybe it clutters? It’s OK to question.
Color in the first and a more simple black and white composition in the second… I’d be curious if you’ve shot this location, and what you think about the different impact each has. If you have shot Pemaquid, drop a link in the comments and show us what you got!
There’s more to Maine than Acadia. Geography lesson: if you were to take a pair of scissors to a paper map of New England and cut out the state of Maine, you could actually overlay all of New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut. So, relatively speaking – though nothing like the immense size of some of the vast western US states – Maine is a relatively big state.
So, while you could certainly spend a lifetime exploring the coastline of Maine, there’s so much more to see, including the impressive and rugged Mount Katahdin and Baxter State Park. in fact:
The coastline of the state of Maine is only about 370 kilometers (230 miles) from one end to another. However, when measured taking into consideration its irregularities such as inlets and offshore islands, its length increases to more than 5,542 kilometers (3,450 miles)! – Google.
This image was made on a chilly October morning from the Abol Bridge area on the Golden Road just outside the Baxter State Park boundary. To reach this location at first light it takes me about two hours of early driving, and on this occasion I can remember arriving in a hurry and frantically scrambling to find a foreground that might hopefully do justice to the magnificent sight of the sun hitting the roof of Katahdin. Luckily, a carpet of remarkably colorful fall foliage was hiding just around a bend in the river – I plopped my tripod down and worked fast to include the reflection of the mountain in the mid-ground, along with the fast-moving clouds breezing over the summit.
Needless to say this was a pretty tranquil and solitary scene… there aren’t many people this far north in Maine, and there certainly weren’t too many of them up and about at this time of day. I find that solitude often makes for a more powerful and engaging experience. Again… though I came away with a photograph that I like, I’m just as happy with the memory of being there in person to explore what was an almost spiritual scene.
Probably the most photographed lighthouse in America, Portland Head Light is a stunner of a location that anyone visiting Maine should experience. It’s not difficult to find, is easy to access from a series of well-maintained trails at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth, and as you can see… perched on some seriously jagged rocks it occupies a fantastic location to make a landscape photograph. All you have to do is get yourself there at the right time and in the right conditions!
With an iconic location like this, the biggest challenge is making a photograph that doesn’t look exactly like all of the other ones you see in the local calendars and postcards – unless of course that’s what you’re going for. Nothing wrong with imitating other photographs – good practice I say – but my guess is that there will come a time when you’ll want to create something more personal, more unique. And so you should.
Get there early. Stay there late – good light favors those who patrol the edges of the day. Watch the tide charts and try to coordinate your visit with a big surf, and of course… treat the weatherman like your friend and pay attention to the conditions. Despite the fact that I wasn’t able to include any dramatic skies on this particular morning, I was able to explore the foreground area a bit and include some interesting elements along with the beautiful sunrise gradient of color… all in the name of trying to capture something that I could call mine.
Hope you like it.
(A couple of exposures were combined here to deal with the extreme range of light found at this time of day).
Here’s a little something from my home state of Maine. Hope you don’t mind if I indulge myself with a couple of postcard posts of my favorite photographs of Maine, especially Acadia National Park. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to visit in person, but hopefully as the weather warms up and I start to feel a bit better I can get back down there again soon.
Also, rather than me having all the fun, I’d be happy to post any reader requests for images. Is there any particular place in Maine – or Acadia and Beyond – that you would like to see. I’ll scour the archives and see what I can find, and I’d be happy to share any story – technical or anecdotal – that I have behind the creation of the image.
For example, with the image in this post, I wanted to highlight those incredible round rocks that can be found at this location. The flecked pinkish granite in the foreground is absolutely spectacular, and when the waves rock those boulders back and forth the sound is mesmerizing. The sun had already risen when I made this photograph – in fact I had waited until the warm light had kissed the shoreline hanging above the cove. Classic Acadia.
I choose a fairly long shutter to allow for a degree of texture being created within the foreground water, but I also waited for a breaking wave to help create some mid-ground interest. I hope that helps explain the thought process going on as I made this one… and like I said, it’s one of my all-time favorites… Monument Cove in Acadia National Park.
Here’s an image just for show. There’s no real story to this post other than I like it. It’s of Nubble Light – sometimes called Cape Neddick – a classic New England lighthouse located on the coast of southern Maine in York. I grabbed the opportunity to soak in the start of a new day, and as the sun slowly rose, I just loved the textures in the foreground rocks and the subtle gradient in the sky. The color version is nice, but I especially liked the mood generated by the silvery black and white rendition. Enjoy!
Niamh and Dan are another of my two angels. Both have been an incredible resource to Lori and I as we navigate our somewhat choppy current waters. Hailing directly from back home in Ireland, their accents haven’t waned one bit, and it does my heart good to hear them speak in their classic soft-singing Irish tone. Both doctors in the local community, they’ve shared compassion (and expertise) with our family, though as you might expect in a situation like this, that extra level of knowledge Lori and I have been able to attain has felt especially valuable.
Niamh and Dan have been there for us – in what felt like a life-saving operation, right before I had a PET Scan done it was Dan who somewhat spontaneously and thankfully drained a ton of excess fluid from my lung when I had pneumonia – and as is the case these days, we have a hard time truly expressing our thanks for their support. They’ve been there for us anytime and at all times, frequently asking how they can help, and also providing relevant insights and experience about the entire process/situation – much of which we’re just learning to gather for ourselves.
We wanted to give Niamh and Dan something of ours… that might mean something to them too… so we had a print of this scene from Dunmore Head on the Ring of Kerry printed biggish at 20×30 right onto metal. From Dunmore Head near Coumeenoole, you can see Great Blasket Island straightaway, Inishnabro and Inishvickillane to the left, and to the right is Beiginis and then Inishtooskert – just off the Dingle peninsula in County Kerry, Ireland. There’s an almost 3-D look to the metal printing, and the scene literally pops right off the surface. Turns out Dan has actually spent time sailing in and around these very islands! To my angels from Ireland, Niamh and Dan – here’s a little glimpse from home – thank you.
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.
People 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.
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.
Trying to come up with creative gifts for Jack at Christmas time, I stumbled on the Bigshot camera – billed as ‘the camera for education”, it is a really cool concept and I jumped at it immediately. For any educator interested in combining science, math, engineering and, most importantly, the arts – this one’s for you!
The enormous appeal of the camera can be used to turn it into a compelling tool for learning. We believe that a camera designed for education must have three features. First, it should be designed as a kit for assembly – putting the kit together should expose the user to a wide range of science concepts. Second, it should include features that cannot be found in other cameras, allowing the user to explore new creative dimensions. Finally, it should be low-cost, making it accessible to the less privileged. Bigshot has been designed with these goals in mind. There is another important feature that sets Bigshot apart from virtually all educational kits – once you have built it, it is a fully functioning digital camera that you can use everyday!
Basically, you purchase a kit for making your very own fully functioning digital camera, and along the way as you assemble the camera, you explore and learn about a variety of technical and creative processes that go into the ultimate expression of making a photograph.
It was on one of my short stays in the hospital getting hydrated that Jack and Sam took on the task of assembling the camera…. needless to say, it was the most amazing surprise and the perfect moment when I learned about their little adventure together. I love that they spent the time together to make the camera so that it would finally get done – Jack and I had been meaning to get to it but as you can tell, time got away from us a little bit! Great little camera that you crank to generate your own power, and has a lens wheel that allows all sorts of creative possibilities like panoramic, 3D, wide angle… so much fun, and when you roll in the level of ownership applied to the entire process, then we have an absolute winner.
The accompanying web site resources are excellent, and they really aid in the educational aspect of this project. I hesitate to call it a project – makes it sound a little sterile and maybe too much like school – but I know that both Jack and Sam had a blast putting the camera together, and I’m very proud of my little scientist/engineer/photographers. Well worth the investment if you have a little one interested in learning more about science, digital photography and creative expression. Bigshot Camera.
Here he is… home safe and sound – minus a couple of important bits. As you can imagine, Oliver’s not quite himself right about now, but the doc assures us that everything went well and that he’ll be back to his old self within about a week. The vet-recommended boxers are to try and keep him away from the stitches and the incision, and although it pains me to see him this way, when we take into account everything going on in our lives right now… I just know we did the right thing. Welcome home sweet Oliver, and I just know he appreciates all of your good wishes.
*Taking a break from the Chemonotony 😉
Here’s a rare sighting of me in front of the camera! Not from recent times, this is from the fall of 2002… wait, let me go check that. Ayuh, seems like this was made by my friend Monty all the way back on 9/14/2002 – now that’s quite some time ago! This little vignette of a scene gives a good idea of what it takes for me to come away with a likable photograph.
Nice backdrop – check (The Beehive in Acadia National Park)
Nice light – check (I’m in the shadow of Great Head, and as the sun rises from behind it, the Beehive is slowly bathed in warm color)
Nice composition – here’s where the challenge begins! Those are my bare feet in the chilly Atlantic Ocean showing a definite willingness to do what it takes to get the photograph 😉
So… when attempting to create a pleasant composition, one of the first things I look for is an interesting foreground element. For some strange reason, I seem to be drawn to vertical compositions versus landscape oriented scenes. Don’t get me wrong… I always look for – and enjoy discovering – landscape compositions that showcase the width of particular scenes, but there’s something special about the effect that can be derived from using a wide-angle lens in portrait orientation. A wide-angle lens can make foreground elements seem larger than they actually are, and by making them appear closer to the camera than they really are, it can also help create depth from front to back within the scene.
Anyhoo… this is why – when composing a landscape photograph – you’ll likely find me (even in 2002) scouring the ground in search of something interesting that might help introduce the viewer to the scene and hopefully compel them to curiously explore my composition further. In the photograph above, you’ll notice my sturdy tripod plopped apparently randomly right in the middle of a bunch of jagged rocks that are littered across the edge of the shoreline. The boundary of where the ocean meets the land is eternally intriguing, one that uncovers and reveals infinite possibilities. In the shot below, hopefully I was able to unearth some of those wonderful possibilities?
So… I don’t think I’m necessarily interested in publicly chronicling what’s going on in my life right now, but I will be taking a leave of absence from the blog. Rather than just disappearing though, here’s the scoop.
Wednesday, February 19: I’d been dealing with a persistent cough that I just couldn’t seem to shake – cough medicine and a scheduled two-week follow up appointment. Concerned that I might be dealing with pneumonia, I went back to the doctor. Antibiotics were prescribed and an X-ray scheduled.
Thursday, February 20: X-Ray and home.
Monday, February 24: Met with Doctor to talk about X-ray and potential for pneumonia. Was referred to Pulmonary specialist for meeting on Wednesday, February 26.
Wednesday, February 26: The X-ray showed something in my lung that shouldn’t have been there. CT Scan and meeting with the pulmonary specialist revealed that I did indeed have pneumonia and… lung cancer. Brain MRI was immediately scheduled to see if it had spread that far : (
Friday, February 28: PET SCAN showed some not so good activity in lymph nodes in lung, just outside the lung near the diaphragm, in the area of the abdomen, and then also in the lower neck. Next step is a biopsy on Monday afternoon, and after that the doctors will be better able to develop a plan of attack. Good news: Brain MRI showed that it hadn’t spread there yet.
Monday, March 1: Woke up feeling pretty bad. Pain management team hadn’t yet been consulted, and my body was wracked with pain. I couldn’t stand up and nor could I lie down- everything in-between wasn’t so good either. And that familiar tickle turned into a wraspy cough that brought with it wicked headaches. I was scheduled for some more blood work for a Bronchoscopy where doctor sees inside of lungs and takes sample of tissue.
Tuesday, March 2: Not feeling good at all so checked into my local hospital. Stayed overnight.
Thursday, March 3: Checked into local bigger hospital which has greater capacity to handle Cancer.
Friday, March 3: Needed to have fluid removed from lung so I could lie still enough (without coughing) for Body Scan (to see progress – or lack of – spread of cancer). 20oz fluid removed from lungs – immediate relief felt. Pain management team went to work and have performed miracles. Can’t say enough about their work and the performance of my doctor/nurse caring teams – superb people I am forever indebted to.
Saturday, March 8: First dose of Chemotherapy
Sunday, March 9: Second dose of Chemotherapy
Early on I did a lot of thinking about how this could have happened. I never smoked a cigarette in my life, though both my parents smoked and I was exposed to significant second-hand smoke as a kid. I soon realized it would do me little good to dwell on the past, and since then, we’ve been moving forward trying to figure out what our next steps are.
Lori, Sam, Jack and I are facing this head on (what other way is there?). The good news is I’m looking thin and trim-ish, but the bad news is I’m paying somewhat for that look.
So that’s my story. I won’t be back on the blog for a little while until we get things squared away. I thought about turning comments off for this post – it’s not that I won’t appreciate your thoughts – but I’m just not so sure I will be able to respond to everyone. I’m leaving comments turned on but probably won’t get to them for a while… hope you understand. When I have more news, I’ll back in touch.
It’s been a snowy winter so far, and that trend doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of changing soon. I don’t like winter to begin with, but when it stretches out this long with so much cold and snow, I REALLY don’t like it. FYI… here’s a record of the past week or so… we got 8 inches on Friday, 5 inches on Sunday, 6 inches on Tuesday, 3 inches on Wednesday, and we’re expecting sleet/rain on Friday… joy.
The good news in all of this is that Oliver can’t seem to get enough of the snow, and since he needs his exercise, at least I’m getting out in the fresh air too. I’m posting a couple of simple photographs of a stark – but I thought beautiful – tree from our walk together during one of the recent snowstorms. And then there’s my handsome boy – I say roll on springtime and enough of this winter nonsense already!