In this location, I can usually be found hunkered down somewhere back near where the ocean meets the round rocks, since that spot gives you a view of the Atlantic Ocean and majestic Otter Cliffs. On this occasion however, I’m a little further along the Boulder Beach shoreline, looking back over my shoulder at a different angle. Looking in this direction doesn’t give a striking view of the cliffs, but the round rocks this location is renowned for are still there, and I love those steadfast trees standing guard over the scene.
A nice place to spend some time. Though a still image can take me back to a place I have visited and sometimes even remind me vividly about that experience, it’s merely that… an image. Here’s a little bonus where I hit the record button for video… the sights (and sounds) from Raven’s Nest in Acadia National Park, Maine.
This location faces Frenchman Bay and the open Atlantic, and as you can see from the shape of the jagged shoreline, the ocean has definitely left its mark over time. High tide on this particular icy day was scheduled to coincide with sunset, so I was hopeful I might see (and photograph) some big waves in good light. Neither the big waves nor the good light really materialized, but I didn’t mind. I always enjoy time spent in Acadia National Park, and on this occasion, an exposure of 39 seconds helped smooth out both the ocean and the sky to create for me what is a very soothing image.
It was a very cold day as I made my way home from down east Maine after a work meeting in Machias. The light was fading fast, but I decided to try and get myself to somewhere with a pretty view for sunset, and Schoodic was in just the right place. I literally raced here – obeying the rules of the road of course – and arrived in the nick of time about 15 minutes before the sun went down. When I hopped out of the car and started exploring what is considered the quieter part of my favorite National Park, it was extremely cold. At one point I nipped a finger while locking a tripod leg, but because my skin was so cold, I didn’t feel the pain that usually accompanies such an event. Anyone who has ever experienced a hungry tripod lock knows how much it hurts, so you can imagine how cold my fingers must have been! This particular Acadia location, known as Raven’s Nest, consists of a couple of semi-hidden rocky ledges hanging over the Atlantic Ocean. For reference, that’s Cadillac Mountain off in the distance across Frenchman Bay – nothing original here, but quite a view nonetheless, eh?
Take 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.