Postcard from Maine (5)

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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:

Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Lens: EF70-200mm f/4L USM Shot at 200 mm
Exposure: Auto bracket exposure, Shutter priority AE, 1/500 sec, f/4.5, ISO 200

In search of a foreground element…

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*Taking a break from the Chemonotony ūüėČ

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 ūüėČ

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?

Sand Beach

A splash of color

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12-8-13 Acadia1At first glance, there wasn’t much color inside the dark cave, but as my eyes adjusted to the low light raking in from the right-hand side of the entrance, a range of earthy-toned blacks, browns and subtle greens could be seen on the algae-covered and very slippery rocks. And then there was the pink-colored bottom of one the tidal pools – that’s right, pink.

I tried hard to get an exposure that looked somewhat natural – several frames were bracketed and blended for this image – but no matter what I did, I couldn’t quite convey just how interesting I found the pink, sandy bottom of the tidal pool in the foreground to be.¬†There wasn’t a lot of light in the cave, and in this type of situation the camera has a hard time capturing the range between the darkest and lightest parts of such a scene. In person, our eyes can adjust on the fly, allowing us to see the detail in the brighter clouds AND the wave-sculpted, jagged sides of the cave AND the darker underwater life in the tidal pools.

However, the mechanical nature of the camera means that it cannot make the gradual adjustments that our eyes can, and it can have difficulty creating an evenly balanced exposure of such a scene. In my next blog post, I will describe how I used several exposures to create one image that incorporates the range of light I witnessed, while at the same time hopefully maintaining a natural look.

Making it mine…

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It’s funny how some photographs make their way onto the personal favorite list and some don’t. The photograph above is a screenshot of the refresh I just did to my portfolio site, and as you can see, I didn’t choose one of the iconic and more recognizable views of Acadia for the front page, but rather a more intimate – albeit dramatic – view from Sand Beach during a big storm.

Easily accessible, anyone who has ever visited Sand Beach has stood right in this exact spot looking south along the coast toward Otter Cliffs. Although a very popular vista, chances are that few people have witnessed this scene in these conditions, and for that reason, I’m fairly proud of the degree of originality that this image contains.¬†Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of photographs from Acadia National Park that are instantly recognizable – Cadillac Mountain, Bass Harbor Light, Schoodic, Otter Cliffs, Boulder Beach – heck, maybe if you’ve visited Acadia you too photographed similar scenes?

One of the most important lessons I ever learned though when making a landscape photograph – and it happened very early on in the process – was to try to be different… to try and make my photographs truly mine, different from what someone else might make. That process might involve the choice of lens and focal length to be used, the choice of a different physical perspective, or maybe just getting lucky one time with the light and weather conditions. Sometimes I’m successful at pulling that all together, and sometimes I’m not… though when I am, it’s usually because I’ve not only made a decent photograph, but because I’ve also had a memorable experience… and that’s when an image usually makes it’s way toward the personal favorite pile.

It’s that time of year again…

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Someone likes the snow!

…where we reflect on the year that was, and choose our favorite images from the past twelve months. Our family welcomed a new puppy this year, and although Oliver has consumed much of my recreational time, I still managed to spend some time in Acadia with the camera.¬†I enjoy the process of reflection. I also enjoy taking a moment to reminisce about places I’ve been, and sights I’ve seen. I never tire of spending time in my favorite national park, and along the way throughout the year, I made a photograph or two to remind me of what were often personal and intimate experiences. Not as prolific as in past years, I didn’t make the quantity of images I usually do. Maybe there’s a New Year’s resolution to be made which might ensure a more productive 2014? Though there aren’t many iconic and instantly recognizable picture postcard views this year, hopefully my favorite 13 images from 2013¬†are still distinctively Acadia? Oh yeah, and other than the golden-colored Oliver, my favorites from this year are all in black and white. If interested in seeing some high-quality landscape photography, check out the annual Jim Goldstein curation of imagery – here’s a link to the 2012 edition where you’ll be able to browse some seriously awesome work. Happy holidays!

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Wonderland granite sculpted by the Atlantic

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Withstanding the elements at Ship Harbor

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Cairn on Cadillac

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View from Adams Bridge

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Incoming tide at Schoodic

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A glimpse of Old Soaker

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Mitchell Cove – the quiet side

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The Ledges along the Loop Road

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No way… fog on the coast of Maine?

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Last light on Otter Point

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Shelter from the wind

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Two of my boys enjoying Sand Beach

An awkward composition?

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This is a neat spot I found last weekend as I scampered down and across the granite ledges along the Loop Road in Acadia National Park. I was in search of a landscape composition that would get me a) rocks that would glow in the early light, b) a glimpse of the ocean, and c) an interesting foreground, especially since the cloudless sky on this particular morning wasn’t going to be holding anyone’s interest.¬†Though a cool spot, I’m not so sure if these compositions work? In the landscape oriented image above, I’m thinking that there might be too much rock, making the composition a little left-heavy.

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I believe I like the portrait oriented version better, but I’m still not sold. Maybe this is just one of those instances where it was better to have been there in person – walk off that ledge in front and there’s a drop of about 50 feet, so there weren’t many options to move around and make adjustments. Then there was the biting winter wind, the smells of low tide, and the cry of the gulls overhead… all in all, I’d say this was a good place to be, regardless of whether or not I was able to cobble a composition together. For those of you familiar with the area – to give you a more precise idea of where I am – that thin sliver of rock laying off shore in Newport Cove is Old Soaker. And again… there’s black and white. This time, although I do like the foreground rocks in black and white, I think these images actually benefit from the warm/cool color contrasts within the scene. Any thoughts?

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A fleeting moment…

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Morning light moves fast. Right before I made the image above, I was shooting in the opposite direction, focusing on trying to create a composition that showcased the rugged, granite ledges along the Acadia National Park¬†Loop Road. As I was doing so, I remembered to pause and take a quick glance over my shoulder to see if the high clouds rushing in ahead of an approaching front had caught any color… and as you can see… they had.

I love how the granite in Acadia takes on the color of the pre-dawn light. On different occasions I’ve seen it glow anywhere from red to orange to pink… sometimes it’s subtle, and sometimes it’s much more than that. On this particular morning, the sunrise over the ocean was mostly a yellow event, but for one fleeting moment overhead, we were treated to a palette of soft, pink light – only for a moment mind you – and as you can see, once again the Acadia granite didn’t disappoint.

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 ūüôā

Even in the midday sun…

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…this place is beautiful. From a recent day-trip to my favorite national park, Acadia, this location is commonly known as Boulder Beach, and lies just below the striking and iconic Otter Cliffs. I’m usually photographing this scene at first light when as the sun crests the horizon it almost magically lights up the famous pink coastal Maine granite. In the right conditions, these rocks literally sparkle when low angled light hits them, but on this occasion, the overhead midday sun created a contrasty, but no-less-beautiful, scene. The round rocks, the deep blue Atlantic Ocean, and the chiseled outline of Otter Cliffs can hold their own at any time of the day, and I couldn’t help but photograph what is a favorite place. As I experimented with my iPhone camera while making these images, I turned the phone upside down so that the camera was closer to the ground than normal. This accentuated the foreground elements and helped make a more interesting composition… at least that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

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Prints and time to pay up!

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A while back I asked for some help in finding “new” places to find inspiration and photograph within Acadia National Park. You guys came up with some great ideas, and despite the not-so-good weather during our vacation, I had a fun time following up on many of your suggestions. I promised if I was able to photograph the location you mentioned, that I’d make you a print. I sincerely do appreciate the advice you all gave me, and I enjoyed the challenge of photographing new – or at least less familiar – Acadia landscapes. Now it’s time for me to pay up. If you were one of the people who helped me with a location suggestion, and if you would like a print from that location, drop me a line via email with your address and mention the location you suggested – I’ll have something nice printed up and mailed to you. If you like anything specific from my “real” site, holler and I can print from there too. I can be reached at pattersond at roadrunner.com

Thanks again!

The Loop Road in Acadia NP

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The Loop Road in Acadia National Park offers so much to see, especially the stretch that runs from the fee station near Schooner Head to the jagged granite promontory of Otter Cliffs. This section of the Loop Road is probably no more than a couple of miles long, but it sure does pack a punch when it comes to views of the Acadia shoreline and the Atlantic Ocean. Whether driving in your car or taking a leisurely stroll along the Ocean Path which runs alongside the Loop Road, you’re sure to be impressed by the weathered landscape/seascape. From Sand Beach to Thunder Hole to Monument Cove to Boulder Beach and Otter Cliffs… this spectacular road with amazing views also provides ample opportunity to hop off the beaten path, scamper over the rocks, and explore up close the ruggedness of the Maine coastline. And for those who didn’t already know… it stays open all year round, so if you haven’t yet seen Acadia in the snow… you should! And that’s enough hyperlinks for now!

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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‚Ķ 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‚Ķ 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 ‚Äúknow‚ÄĚ many of the elements better‚Ķ 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‚Äôs 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‚Äôs eye.¬†I have been back to this location many times since ‚Äď in fact, any time I am driving along the shore road I can‚Äôt 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‚Ķ 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.

Looking for it to work…

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Every time I drive along the Loop Road in Acadia National Park, my eyes are drawn to this stand of birch trees, and I just know a¬†photograph is buried in there somewhere. I stop and try to compose a photograph¬†maybe one in every three times I pass this spot, but to date I’ve not been able to come away with a composition I’m entirely satisfied with. Looking at these photographs, I’m thinking that maybe I need to get a little tighter? I find the distinctive white bark on the skinny but strong trees quite remarkable, and for me, the dark shadows in the forest add a much-needed element of depth to the scene. Although I’ve tried again and again to make it work, I’m still not thrilled about what I’ve been able to create from here. Certain scenes are more challenging than others to photograph in a personally meaningful way, and in instances like this, I wonder if I’m just trying too hard to make it work, when perhaps there isn’t something there after all. Oh well… I bet the next time I’m driving along the Loop Road I’ll stop once again… and who knows, maybe one day I’ll figure this place out after all!

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I need your advice…

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OK. I’ll be spending some quality time down in Acadia over the next 10 days or so, and I’m very much looking forward to getting out and about with the camera. Problem is, I can’t seem to decide on locations to shoot. I’m determined to try and come up with some original places that I haven’t photographed yet, but I’ll also be looking to hit up some of the famous icons like Otter Cliffs in the shot above – though I’m hoping I get better weather than I did that day!

So… I’m looking for inspiration… are there any Acadia scenes in particular that you – my loyal readers – would like to see photographed? If there are, drop me a line in the comments section below, and I’ll do my best to oblige.¬†Tell you what… any suggestions that I can honor will be rewarded with a free 8×12 print delivered right to your door.

Happy 4th of July to y’all!

An ocean view, Acadia National Park

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The Ocean Path runs along the Acadia coast from Sand Beach to Otter Cliffs, and anyone who’s ever wandered this way will probably recognize this view. The sun comes up pretty early in these parts during the summer, and to prove that point, this image was made at 5:26:36 am on July 7, 2011 – my guess is that the sunrise on this particular morning was scheduled for something earlier than 5:00am! At this time of year along this part of the rugged and spectacular coast, the sun takes its time climbing up and over Great Head, but when it does eventually succeed in pushing the shadows away, that Acadia granite really starts to glow! A sheer drop of more than 60 feet down to the ocean from where I was perched left me feeling a little uncomfortable, but despite that, I can’t think of a better way to greet the day.

A Sandy Beach in Maine

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Best place on earth… before the tourists arrive! Sand Beach is one of my favorite places to spend time, especially during the off-season before the park gets swamped with people from away. There aren’t many sandy beaches this far up the Maine coast, so as you might imagine, during the summer months this is a very popular place. This time of year though, it’s pretty quiet, and it’s also pretty special. The photograph at the top of this post is from a few years back. It was made at the far end of Sand Beach looking back toward the Beehive – I was perched on a rock in the shade of Great Head as a wave washed in and around the rocks. Keeping the shutter open for a relatively long time rendered the moving water with the misty effect.

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Fast forward a few years to today… and despite the reluctant temperatures over the Easter weekend, the sun actually felt warm on your face, and as you can see, two of our boys had themselves a grand old time.¬†Oliver just turned six months of age, and he’s already becoming a little more mature. He walks on the leash really politely, and he’s learning how to be much more calm when approaching people and other dogs. He’s still a silly puppy at times, but he’s definitely starting to get it. Sand Beach is full of wonder for Oliver – the texture of the sand between his toes, the smell (and taste) of beached seaweed, and the ability to wade into the cold water – all things he seems to love, and in the last photograph he’s enjoying a classic Acadia view…

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Beach baby

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Few words… just more pictures of our baby from a recent visit to Sand Beach in Acadia National Park. He loved the texture of the sand, and he had all sorts of new oceany smells to explore. At times he looks like a baby (he just turned 5 months old), and at other times he looks like a wise old soul… either way, he has changed so much since the day we brought him home.

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On a gray day

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It was a gray day, so it seems only appropriate that these two photographs from our visit to Sand Beach be displayed without color. Positively balmy at maybe 29 degrees, the temperatures somehow felt significantly more moderated here at the edge of the ocean than at home about an hour inland. Anyhoo… here’s Sand Beach in Acadia National Park, sans Oliver the dog!

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Rules… what rules?

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I’m the guy who would always shake his head and mutter expletives under his breath when he saw dog owners ignore the rules and let their pets run free on Sand Beach in Acadia National Park… how inconsiderate of them! Dogs aren’t allowed on Sand Beach in the summer, but they are in the winter… as long as they are leashed. Technically Oliver was leashed – at least for a while – when Lori, Jack, Oliver and I visited Acadia today for the first time in months, but truth be told, for a big chunk of time, we were the ones who were breaking the rules.

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Oliver absolutely LOVED his first time on the beach. He seemed to really enjoy the texture of the sand, and despite the fact it was February in Maine, he wasn’t shy about getting his feet wet in the frigid water of the outlet stream at the far end of the beach. His nose was constantly on high alert, with tasty strings of seaweed top of his list of things to sample. We only met a couple of people the entire time we were on the beach, but I did make a point of asking each of them if they cared that Oliver was off his leash… every single time they said they didn’t mind, and in fact, as you can imagine, he was quite the center of attention.

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Jack and Oliver had a great time chasing each other along the shore, and our time spent on the beach was a nice change of pace from the icy fairways of the local golf course. It was also fun to be able to combine several of my favorite things into one photographic subject, and methinks this won’t be the last time Oliver visits Acadia.

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Night sky in Acadia

Standard

17mm, f4, iso 2500, 35 seconds

Shooting at night isn’t easy. I had a really hard time getting the focus right on most attempts, and as I fumbled around in the dark trying to deal with technical and compositional challenges, I experimented with a variety of focal lengths, aperture sizes, levels of iso, and the length of each exposure. One of the things I found most exciting was how the camera would, over the length of the exposure, gather much more light than my eye could see. I would stand for 30 seconds or so in total darkness holding the camera shutter open, but when I would get a preview of the image on the back of the LCD, I could “see” the scene quite clearly. Depending on the focal length chosen, an exposure of more than 25 seconds would likely result in bright stars exhibiting “trails” rather than pin-point beacons of light. I’m sure you have seen the effect of very long exposures where the earth rotates while the shutter is open, rendering long and interesting trails of light in the sky… that wasn’t what I was going for here, but it is something I am very interested in trying out sometime soon.

50mm, f2.2, iso 3200, 22 seconds