Pemaquid Point Lighthouse, Maine

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We haven’t seen the sun around here for days, and during that time it has been bitterly cold. More snow is on the way, but today the sun was shining, so I grabbed the opportunity to make a stop at this marvelous scene on my way home from work.

There weren’t any real clouds to speak of, so as darkness fell I hung around to shoot a couple of long exposures in the waning light. By the time I had returned to my lovely heated car seats, the temperature had dipped to 9 degrees farenheit, and by the time I arrived back home it had fallen further to -1 degrees farenheit – for those paying attention, that’s a healthy -18 degrees centigrade!

The striated rock formations that point to the lighthouse make for very impressive compositional opportunities, and when you add in the blanket of snow, I figured an hour or so here before sunset would be time well spent. I have photographed this lighthouse several times, but never before with my full-frame camera. I wanted to explore using a wide angle lens to see how the remarkable lines might be used to create a striking image, and despite the chilly temperatures I enjoyed having the scene all to myself.

 

 

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My Favorite Photographs from 2010

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I tried my best to resist the urge to follow along with the trend of posting favorite photographs of the year, but in the end I couldn’t stop myself. On a positive note, I do believe that reflection is one of the strongest learning tools one could ever employ – so I do this little exercise in the name of improving my photography skills.

Looking back over the year and picking favorites is not an easy task, and as you can see below I wasn’t exactly able to whittle it down to a top 10! Also, I know that just because I like a photograph it doesn’t mean others will like it, so though these aren’t necessarily my best photographs… they are my favorite photographs!

For me, there is usually a story to accompany each image, and it is more about the experience of having been there… hearing the early morning sounds that no-one else does, being amazed by the beauty of nature in a new place, or simply seeing something in a familiar place that I hadn’t previously noticed… these are why my photography expeditions are so personal.

Anyhoo… some from far away and some from close to home here in Maine… here they are, not in any particular order… my favorite photographs from 2010… enjoy!

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?

Peekaboo at Pemaquid

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I was in southern Maine on Friday for a work-related meeting, and any time I am down that way I try to build a photography side trip into my journey home. On this occasion based on where I would be about an hour before sunset, I settled on visiting Pemaquid Point to shoot the famous lighthouse there.

As the afternoon wore on and I drove up Route 1, high clouds started to roll in ahead of the wet weather that had been forecasted for the weekend.  Making a right turn in Damariscotta and heading down Route 130 toward the ocean, I thought the light was still nice enough to make it a worthwhile trip. The clouds were moving fast with intermittent streaks of blue racing across the sky, and I wondered if this might present a good opportunity to use my neutral density filter to create some long exposure shots. Pemaquid is an incredibly photogenic place, with striking linear patterns of rock between the ocean and the lighthouse affording many possibilities for interesting foreground compositions. Combine some nice light on the rocks with “moving” clouds from a longer exposure, and bingo… we might have favorable conditions.

However, as I came around the last bend in the road and entered the lighthouse parking lot, I couldn’t help but smile at what I saw…

Obviously some much-needed renovation work was being done on the old whitewashed structure, and I immediately realized that the cherry picker that was going to be idle all weekend was sure to be smack in the middle of the compositions I had been planning. Admittedly disappointed, rather than unpacking all of my gear, I grabbed my little Canon 580 point and shoot and headed off to explore.

The image below is a composition from the location I had planned on checking out, and as you can see there is an element in the frame that kind of doesn’t belong there. I could of course quite easily remove the cherry picker in post-processing, but my initial disappointment (and the diminishing quality of light) prompted me to surrender any ambition to come away from this situation with an image I might consider worthy of keeping.

Resigned to the fact that what was now merely OK light on a scene with a cherry picker smack dab in the middle of it wasn’t going to render anything special, I started climbing over and around the wonderful rocky shoreline just for fun. Any time spent on the Maine coast, especially in a place so picturesque, is time well spent, and over the next half hour or so I experimented with different compositions, all the while playing peekaboo with the unwanted cherry picker. I enjoyed the challenge of trying to develop compositions that I liked from this occasion, and I ended up kind of liking the first and last images in this post.

In the first photograph in this post, I positioned myself where the cherry picker was hidden behind the little belltower in front, and for me the conversion to black and white enhanced the mood of the scene with the grainy, open sky helping convey the sense of place that I enjoyed. In the last image below, I boiled the scene down to some pretty basic elements, and I find the wide angle perspective generated by pointing the camera pretty much straight up to hide both the cherry picker and the setting sun not too distracting. Though not converted to black and white, this last image almost has a monochromatic look to it that works well for what I was seeing at the time I made the image.

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse

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My camera hasn’t exactly been getting a workout lately when it comes to landscape photography. I know the winter season offers a very different perspective, but I just don’t like the cold.

I figured though with my upcoming trip to Death Valley right around the corner, that it was time to dust off the camera and get back out there and make some photographs. I had to make a 2-hour drive to Portland for a job-related meeting, and since I knew I would be finishing up early in the afternoon, I packed my gear and planned a little detour on the way home. The photography gods were definitely shining on me when I pulled into the parking lot at Pemaquid Lighthouse to sunshine and a balmy 45 degrees.

Commissioned in 1827 by John Quincy Adams, Pemaquid Point Light is a striking and picturesque lighthouse located at the tip of the Pemaquid Penninsula. The rocks at Pemaquid are some of the most dramatic around, with layers and layers of ragged rocks all seemingly pointing to the classic white lighthouse perched on the ridge above the ocean.

I had been here one time before with my camera, but I hadn’t come away with any images I really liked. This afternoon’s light was pretty special, with some early low-angled winter light followed by some nice pastels as the sun went down. I was determined to come away with something of interest this time, and I was not disappointed.

This is one of the most photographed lighthouses in Maine, though on this afternoon I had it all to myself. As I navigated the ice and snow on the rocks, I came across a little tide pool that offered a wonderful reflection of the lighthouse. I had my tripod legs fully splayed so that I could get as low to the ground as possible to take advantage of this scene.

As the afternoon wore on, more and more clouds rolled in blocking what started out as some really nice late-afternoon winter sunshine. As the light faded, the temperatures also started to dip. Undeterred by either the cold or the fading light, I decided to experiment with using a 6-stop neutral density filter to capture some longer exposures and perhaps get some movement in the clouds. The longer exposure also sometimes picks up more color than our eyes can see, making for some pretty color palettes.

I stayed on the rocks right up until it was almost dark, continuously shooting and enjoying the sound of the ocean behind me. However, knowing I still had a two hour drive home ahead of me, I eventually packed up my gear and welcomed the warmth and comfort of the car.  Since my eyesight won’t let me truly evaluate images on the camera LCD, I was excited to get home and see whether or not I had been successful. I always loved the anticipation of when a roll of film was returned from being processed, and it was nice to have that feeling again.