A snowy lighthouse in Maine

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Park the car, walk 25 yards, and you’re able to enjoy this view. Easily accessible, this unique and striking lighthouse can be found guarding the rocky Maine coast just below the town of Thomaston. It protects those who depend on the ocean for their livelihood and call the working harbor of Port Clyde their home. A recent snowstorm had blanketed the landscape with about 8-10 inches of fresh powder, so I decided to stop off for a brief visit to admire what has become a familiar view. I was the first person to leave tracks in the broad expanse of snow, and with the cool ocean breeze and the sparkling blue sky laid out before me, I breathed in deeply to fully appreciate a scene magically transformed by winter’s grip.

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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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My stash has run out

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It has been a long time since I have had a camera in my hand, so long in fact that I am literally out of material for the blog. After this post, I don’t have a single new image to share, so here’s a couple from my most recent photographic excursion. I made these on a wonderfully peaceful later afternoon jaunt to Marshall Point Lighthouse near Port Clyde in Maine. I’m accustomed to having a steady stream of photographs queued up for publishing regularly every 4 or 5 days, and that line usually extends out for maybe about a month. However, it has been about six weeks since I’ve laid my hand on the camera, so my “reserve” is totally spent. Hmmm… so where exactly did I leave that camera bag?

Reaching out into the ocean

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It has been a while since I was out with the camera. These photographs are from a wonderfully calm evening spent at Marshall Point Lighthouse in late August. That’s almost six weeks since I tripped the shutter : (

The New England fall foliage season is in full swing around these parts, but it doesn’t look promising for me to be able to get out to make any photographs. This will be a busy week with work and with soccer season winding down, but you never know, maybe I’ll be able to steal away for a few hours later in the week.

In the meantime, here are a few black and white renditions of what is a particularly striking lighthouse on the Maine coast. This is the lighthouse that Forrest Gump ran to and ran to and ran to in the movie as he traversed back and forth across the country. It is a unique structure, one that just begs to be photographed.

Marshall Point Lighthouse

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Can you imagine just chilling on the rocks at the ocean’s edge watching the sun go down on a view as pretty as this? As I have said many times, I feel quite fortunate to live in a state as beautiful as Maine, and it’s when I can slow down and enjoy a scene like this that I am most content. I have a couple more photographs to share from what was a very peaceful late afternoon spent here, but it wasn’t until the sun had gone down that I began to truly appreciate my surroundings. As the tide washed in around the lighthouse and jagged shore, I perched myself just out of its reach and watched as the day slowly and delicately gave way to the night.

Marshall Point in black and white

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I tried my hand at desaturating a couple of images – one wide and one not so wide – and rendering them as black and white photographs. Removing the color from an image can focus attention more on shapes and important elements… this isn’t something I often do, but felt as though these two images lent themselves to this process.

Marshall Point Lighthouse Museum

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The Marshall Point Lighthouse Museum occupies the first floor of the light keeper’s house seen in this image. I’m not entirely sold on the wide angle distortion that you can see in the warped shape of the building, but as I experimented with long exposures, I liked how the soft light was reflecting in the windows, the amazing foreground details in the rocks, and the classic New England architecture of the lighthouse keeper’s house perched on this rocky point.

I spent a considerable amount of time exploring what are really remarkable rock formations surrounding this picturesque area, and by the time I finished shooting I was absolutely starving. Heading south a short way on US Route 1, I paid a memorable visit to the famous “Moody’s Diner” where I enjoyed some of the best corn chowder I have ever had, followed by a ridiculously big and delicious slice of home-made banana cream pie!

Highly recommended ūüôā

Hmmm… not sure about this one

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This was the last of the light on my recent afternoon spent at Marshall Point Lighthouse. There are things that I like about this image, and things I don’t like… am still unsure about it.

  • the colors from the setting sun were sweet, and I don’t really mind the stray light spilling in from the right hand side
  • I shot this scene from every possible point of view, but I kept coming back to the wide angle perspective with the symmetrical look. Perhaps there is too much foreground in this one?
  • while the colors were nice, the bank of clouds behind and to the left of the lighthouse unbalances things to me
  • the detail I am getting from my new camera is absolutely amazing! Seen full size, the grain in the wooden planks of the walkway is pretty intense. Cannot wait to print something big to see the detail!

I can’t quite seem to settle on this one… I would love to hear your thoughts?

Marshall Point Lighthouse

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I spent a very enjoyable late afternoon exploring the area around the Marshall Point Lighthouse in the mid-coast community of Port Clyde. Originally established in 1832, the present lighthouse was built in 1857, and this is the same lighthouse Forrest Gump visited when he was traversing the country.

This lighthouse is pretty unique in it’s design, with a 31 ft tall white granite and brick tower perched on the rocks at the end of a narrow walkway. A distinctive and striking black cast iron lantern houses a fresnel light that does not flash.¬†The Marshall Point Lighthouse Museum on the first floor of the light keeper’s house was opened in 1990, and the whole area is meticulously cared for and maintained.

The walkway toward the lamp just cries out for a symmetrical composition, and using a wide angle lens seriously accentuates the leading lines. In the image above the light was just OK, but as the afternoon wore on it did become much more dramatic.

Lighthouses of Maine

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Stumbling over the image of Marshall Point Light (I think that’s what it is called) from my previous post got me thinking about photographs I have made of other Maine lighthouses such as the one of Portland Head Light above. This also brought back vivid memories of the bone-chilling cold temperatures and icy wind from when I made this image late one January afternoon.

Anyway, ¬†I went back into the archives and did some digging around to see what I could find on lighthouses, and the selection posted below is a small sampling.¬†Most of the images seen here are from a few years ago when I was still shooting slide film, which gives me incentive to re-visit some of these places to see what I can do digitally. Pemaquid, West Quoddy, Portland Head, Rockland Breakwater, and Bass Harbor are just a few of the classic and iconic lighthouses standing guard along the Maine coast, with many more to be explored. Hmmm… perhaps this could be my project for the next few winter months?

Forrest Gump Stopped Here…

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… when he crossed the country on his epic travels. Not sure if I should call it Marshall Point Lighthouse or Port Clyde Lighthouse, but by either name it is a unique and impressive sight.¬†I am going to return to this lighthouse on the coast of Maine just below Rockland someday soon, especially if I can get some nice winter light and perhaps some snow.

This is one of the very first photographs I ever made after getting re-interested in photography back around 2001. It was made using 35mm Velvia slide film and then scanned using a Nikon scanner I used when I worked at the University of Maine. I would wait until I had more than a handful of slides that I wanted to scan, and then head over to the new media lab where I would spend a couple of hours digitizing my latest masterpieces. Though I loved the look of slide film on the light table, the process of scanning them was laborious to say the least, and I think my experiences there went some ways toward convincing me to make the jump to using a digital camera.

I can distinctly remember the summer morning I spent here. It was fogged in pretty heavily, and that only served to amplify the sounds of the mid-coast area. I recall hearing the putt-putt of a lobster boat engine as it made it’s way around the point. I couldn’t see it at first, but I hoped it would come near enough to the lighthouse were it might add a little interest to my composition. When it appeared out of the fog I was ready… click.