Postcard from Maine (8)

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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!

Spending a little time…

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4-10-14 websitecover Lately I’ve been spending some time exploring my portfolio of landscape photographs. Though feeling physically and mentally much better between rounds of Chemo, I still haven’t quite mustered up the energy to spend much time outside, never mind having the oomph to be out early or late capturing any new good light on the landscape with the camera. That leaves me fondly reminiscing about some of the work I’ve already done, and as I do so, I get to spend a little time perusing my web site – and you know what that means… yes, tweaking.

As you can see from the screenshot above – http://www.acadiaandbeyond.com – I’ve abandoned (for now) my attachment to a single strong black and white coastal image in favor of a more eclectic, colorful, and assorted view of what is distinctly Acadia National Park – after all, there is so much to see in Acadia, why not show her off in all her glory?

We’ve had a lot of incredibly generous local support in response to our little medical emergency, and as a way to say thank you, Lori and I have been selecting prints that we think people might appreciate, and we’ve been ordering and delivering them as thank you gifts.

I’ve learned that it’s one thing to conceptualize, experience, and actually create any one of my photographs, but I have to admit, following the process through to where it physically gets printed and held in hand – whether it is printed on canvas, paper, or better yet, on metal – it is quite exhilarating to hold a piece, especially since many of these pieces to date have merely been images on the screen.

I’ve a couple of big pieces being printed on metal on the way as “thank you’s” to our friends, and I’ll be sure to grab a pic of what they look like “in-person” as it were when they arrive. In the meantime, if anyone is interested in purchasing from what I believe is a new and improved web site, please use the discount code “chemo” when in the shopping cart area – despite it’s not-so-nice meaning, it will get you 25% off any purchase 😉

On a day like this…

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… I love my remote release. It was cold when I made this photograph – somewhere in the low single digits or maybe even zero – but when you add the wind chill whipping in off the ocean, I was glad that I didn’t need my camera-operating fingers exposed to the elements any longer than necessary.

A remote release allows me to control the pressing of the shutter without having to fumble with gloves and bare fingers in the freezing temperatures, and it also permits me to trigger the shutter without touching the camera and risking moving my equipment. Even the tiniest of nudges as you manually depress the shutter with your finger can introduce “camera-shake” and ruin a photograph – moving the camera even ever so slightly might result in a not-so-sharp image, especially if you plan on printing big. I usually take my paranoia in this regard one step further and engage the mirror lock-up feature on my camera – one squeeze of the remote to lift the mirror, and a couple of seconds later a second squeeze to fire off the exposure. By using this technique, I’m minimizing the chances of the elements coming together for an epic sunrise in a beautiful place, only to return home with a slightly blurry photograph due to vibration.

So there’s the technical reason why I use a remote release, but it also provides me with a myriad of creative options, one of which I especially enjoy. As the light fades and exposure times naturally lengthen, I like to choose the size of the aperture, set the camera dial on bulb mode, and experiment with the length of the exposure. Adding a 6-stop neutral density filter will lengthen the exposure time even more, so I choose an appropriate aperture size (usually between f11 – f14), and use my remote to trigger the shutter, holding it open for anywhere between a few seconds to a few minutes. As colors deepen and movements are condensed through the longer exposure, results can be pretty interesting. Oh yes, and perhaps most importantly, I get to sit back, relax and soak in the scene without having my body hunched over the camera holding the shutter button down by hand.

In the photograph below, the outgoing tide is rendered smoother than it actually was, and the high clouds streaking overhead appear much different than if I had chosen a typically faster shutter speed.

You could spend a lot on either a tethered or a wireless version, but the remote cable release I use is a simple knock-off purchased on Amazon for about $6. Despite the low cost, it has become one of the most used and valuable pieces of equipment in my bag. I love the creative options it provides, but on a day like this, my fingers also appreciated the comfort and convenience it offers. Do you use a remote release? if so, what are some of the creative ways that you deploy this little gadget?

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Sights (and sounds) of Schoodic

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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.

Soothing…

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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.

Stopping off on my way home…

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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?

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

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 🙂

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!

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… 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… 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 “know” many of the elements better… 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’s 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’s eye. I have been back to this location many times since – in fact, any time I am driving along the shore road I can’t 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… 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.

Morning colors

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No clouds to add drama, but a sweet and colorful gradient in the sky made for a glorious morning spent on the coast of Maine. I goofed a little by dialing the polarizer in too much – you can see the patch of abnormally deep blue sky in the upper right center – and to be honest, I had completely forgotten that the polarizer was even on my lens. I was focused on composing the foreground and didn’t pay enough attention to the rest of the frame. Oh well… lesson learned.

Schoodic

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Considering we’ve had a long winter seemingly filled with precipitation and clouds, you would think a blue sky morning would be appreciated. Well… it was, sort of. While I certainly enjoyed feeling the warmth of the sun on my face, the lack of clouds made for a somewhat subdued sunrise. With that in mind, you’ll notice that I made the choice to exclude much of the sky in my compositions from this particular morning. This little cove along the coast of the Schoodic peninsula is a favorite place of mine. There are all sorts of textures going on with huge swathes of rock smoothed by the ocean, small and large pebbles rounded by the constant ebb and flow of the tide, and sharp, jagged edges where the more furious side of the Atlantic Ocean has left its mark. There are always lots of compositional options at this location, and I personally find that little island about half a mile or so off shore to be especially intriguing.

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Back in the saddle…

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Here’s how my Sunday morning went… after sleeping in the living room so that my 4:00am alarm wouldn’t wake anyone, I took Oliver out for a tinkle, put him into his crate, and then hopped in the car and headed down to Acadia to photograph the sunrise. That’s right, I made a landscape photograph… one that does not include a dog!

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Let me backtrack a little though… I always feel a pang of guilt when I ask Oliver to “go to bed” and enter his crate – I just have to say those words and he scampers toward his crate – and even though he always does so willingly, still, I wouldn’t want to be all alone like he is most nights. Those big puppy dog eyes look so sad as you turn out the light and walk away to go upstairs, but maybe I’m over-thinking things. Maybe he’s quite happy for some quiet time on his own?

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What I do know, is that when we have sleepovers in the living room and he’s allowed to stay with us, he’s a very happy dog. He’ll sleep right beside us all night long, and it’s always one of us who gets up first – on most mornings Oliver would be happy to keep on snoozing. Anyhoo… as I prepared for my first early morning venture out with the camera in a while, Oliver and I shared a blanket and the evening together.

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Local photographer Chad Tracy and I made the pre-dawn drive to a quiet part of Acadia National Park, the Schoodic Peninsula. The forecast was for clear skies, and although that usually doesn’t translate into a dramatic sunrise, I was just happy to be back in the saddle. Gotta love the character of the rocks in Acadia… even over in Schoodic.

12 from 2012

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Me and my boy Jack (8) photographing Lupine in Acadia

It’s that time again. Time to reflect on another year spent making photographs and telling stories about family, friends and the landscape here in Maine. As always, during the past twelve months I had the good fortune to be able to spend some quality family time enjoying Acadia National Park, but we also got ourselves a new puppy this winter. I mention this because as regular readers of this blog will know, the puppy has absolutely captured our hearts (and time), and I haven’t been out with the camera much since the fall.

Much of my photography activity this year was spent exploring and experimenting with black and white imagery, though for this post, I’m only going to include twelve of my favorite color photographs. Maybe I’ll do another favorites post after the turn of the year, this time with black and whites only.

* I added the black and white favorites from 2012 post here: https://storiesfromhome.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/i-fell-in-love/

Anyhoo… if interested in seeing more of my work, check out my “official” site at Acadia and Beyond. Thanks to all of you who spent time reading and commenting here on the blog this past year. I’ve enjoyed “getting to know you” and look forward to what will hopefully be a peaceful and safe 2013. Happy holidays to you and yours, and best wishes for a wonderful New Year!

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An icy morning spent at Otter Cliffs in Acadia National Park

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Frigid temperatures in Acadia

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Acadia wave and shoreline

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Schoodic – the quieter part of Acadia National Park

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Portland Head Light pre-dawn as a storm moves through

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June Lupine in Acadia National Park

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The night sky from Sand Beach, Acadia National Park

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Stormy morning at Otter Cliffs, Acadia National Park

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Raven’s Nest sunset on the Schoodic Penninsula, Acadia National Park

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Otter Cliffs sunrise, Acadia National Park

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Fall sunrise from the summit of Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park

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And finally, our baby… Oliver

Couldn’t resist the pull of black and white

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Though I really enjoyed how the changing light impacted the colors in this scene, I also liked how this particular image appeared when converted to black and white. The sky has lots of character, and I love those deep shadows and strong textures within the cliff face. I’ve added this one to my “Shades>Acadia” gallery on www.acadiaandbeyond.com

The changing light in Acadia

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So, there I was…  perched on this little ledge in the Schoodic part of Acadia National Park enjoying the view and my wonderful Dysart’s turkey and cheese sandwich. I’m studying the light, trying to anticipate if sunset is going to be epic or a bust, and all the while I can’t help but smile and appreciate the opportunity I have to just sit back and relax. The location I chose for the evening is quite limited with compositional possibilities, and when you combine that with my fear of heights, I wasn’t going to be moving around too much on that small and precarious ledge. So, rather than frantically running around looking for more than one shot, I placed my camera on the tripod, figured out a composition that I liked, and I sat back and chilled.

Looking back over my shoulder to the west toward Cadillac Mountain and the rest of Acadia, a rather large cloud slowly positioned itself directly between me and the setting sun. Realizing that the epic sunset I hoped for probably wasn’t going to materialize, I kept my fingers crossed that some of the high wispy clouds overhead might still be painted by the fading light before the sun dipped too low behind the clouds. In pretty much the same composition each time, the series of images below shows how, over the period of about an hour, the light bathing the scene changed and evolved. Needless to say, I was quite content to enjoy the front row seat to what was an incredible show.

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6:57:20 p.m.

7:30:48 p.m.

Me and my awesome sandwich

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One of my favorite spots in Acadia – “Raven’s Nest” – is almost secretly tucked away in the much less crowded but ever so beautiful Schoodic portion of the park. I saw a grand total of one car in Schoodic tonight, and for those of you who have frequented the more popular Mount Desert Island part of Acadia in August, that might be hard to believe! Despite a large cloud bank near the western horizon, some high wispy clouds did their best to make me smile. Me and my fine deli sandwich were perched on a pretty small ledge about 60 feet up for about an hour as the light slowly faded, and although the surf tonight was rather benign, I can’t think of a better way to spend some quality time in my favorite national park.

PS. For those of you interested… from Dysarts… turkey and swiss cheese on homemade white bread with mustard, mayo and green peppers… yummy.

A double-edged sword

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I get excited when sunrise lines up with a high tide. The possibility of being able to include some big surf AND first light in a pretty composition seems like a win-win, right? Well… sort of.

On the one hand you get the benefit of the dramatic surf, and who doesn’t like big waves! As long as you position yourself in a safe place, you might be able to experience some crazy waves like these. But on the other hand, high tide means that – depending on your surroundings – sometimes you cannot get as close to the water where the best foregrounds are. Bigger waves can be quite unpredictable, and unless you want to get a soaking, sometimes that really cool foreground element might have to be conceded.

I had been very excited to visit this cove at first light when the tide was high. I had consulted the tide charts, the weather channel, and the astronomical data, so I knew that sunrise was going to coincide perfectly with some wispy clouds (perfect!) and high tide (perfect!). Or so I thought.

To add a little depth to my photographs, in many cases I try to include an interesting foreground element. However, as I framed a few compositions up on this particular morning, I soon realized that the high tide was actually going to hinder me from getting to where the good stuff was. As always, I studied the pattern of the waves to make sure I wouldn’t be surprised by that bigger wave which would roll in every few minutes, and as much as I wanted to edge closer to the surf to include a more dramatic foreground, I just didn’t trust the tide.

So… added drama from high tide at sunrise? Yes. But that same high tide made getting closer to foreground elements virtually impossible. Like I said… a double-edged sword.