Just for kicks…

Standard

4-19-14 Cape Neddick

Here’s an image just for show. There’s no real story to this post other than I like it. It’s of Nubble Light – sometimes called Cape Neddick – a classic New England lighthouse located on the coast of southern Maine in York. I grabbed the opportunity to soak in the start of a new day, and as the sun slowly rose, I just loved the textures in the foreground rocks and the subtle gradient in the sky. The color version is nice, but I especially liked the mood generated by the silvery black and white rendition. Enjoy!

Spending a little time…

Standard

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 😉

In search of a foreground element…

Standard

3-21-14 monty beehive

*Taking a break from the Chemonotony 😉

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 😉

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

Where I’d like to return to one day…

Standard

badwater7

The depths of winter have me reminiscing about a warmer place… Death Valley National Park in California couldn’t be any more different from Acadia, and probably because of that, I am very much drawn to it. When it comes to raw beauty, it certainly gives my favorite and more intimate national park here in Maine a run for its money. Sam and I visited this vast and wonderful national park a few years ago, and when looking back at our travels, I think it’s safe to say that we had ourselves the trip of a lifetime. In rather unusual conditions – it had rained in the desert about a week before we arrived – we experienced, among other things, the depths of the desolate salt-pan area known as Badwater, the iconic beauty of Zabriskie Point, and the incredible Mesquite sand dunes near Stovepipe Wells. And yes… that’s Sam silhouetted in the first photograph below.

sam_reflection

zabriskie_pm3

dunes9

The recent rains had made some of the more desirable and remote locations within Death Valley inaccessible, so to make up for our disappointment and add to the adventure, we took a two-day detour out of the desert and cruised up CA 395 in the shadow of the Eastern Sierra. We marveled at the imposing height of a snow-capped Mount Whitney, we explored the unique the surreal landscape of the Alabama Hills, and we shared the incredibly still and tranquil area of Mono Lake with a pack of yelping coyotes. I, of course, made some landscape photographs along the way… as did Sam. Like I said… this is an area rich in opportunity for any landscape photographer, and it’s another area I would one day love to return to. Enjoy the original Jack-created soundtrack to the video 🙂

mobius1

sam_ah1

mono_lake4

It’s that time of year again…

Standard
3-20-13 oliver11

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!

BH Wonderland10 BW

Wonderland granite sculpted by the Atlantic

BH Ship Harbor2 BW

Withstanding the elements at Ship Harbor

9-7-13 acadia9 BW

Cairn on Cadillac

BH BHMarsh1b

View from Adams Bridge

3-24-13 schoodic5BW2

Incoming tide at Schoodic

12-8-13 Acadia2 BW

A glimpse of Old Soaker

BH Lophaus Point1 BW

Mitchell Cove – the quiet side

12-8-13 Acadia3 BW

The Ledges along the Loop Road

BH Wonderland19 BW

No way… fog on the coast of Maine?

BH Otter Point2 BW

Last light on Otter Point

12-8-13 Acadia11 BW

Shelter from the wind

Jack and Oliver Sand Beach2

Two of my boys enjoying Sand Beach

An awkward composition?

Standard

12-8-13 Acadia14

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.

12-8-13 Acadia2

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?

12-8-13 Acadia2 BW

A fleeting moment…

Standard

12-8-13 Acadia3

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

Standard

12-8-13 Acadia11 BW(720px)

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 🙂

More twiddling…

Standard

11-12-13 zion2

As I browse the Interwebz, I often see spectacular landscape photographs from Zion National Park. Unfortunately though, it’s a place I have yet to be able to spend any significant time in. I think it was maybe 6 years or so ago that I had the chance to literally drive through the park on my way to Salt Lake City for a conference. Needless to say, on this short visit I wasn’t able to explore the way I would have liked, and I also couldn’t do much about the so-so weather. Arriving midday, I can remember driving along the Virgin River into the canyon and being blown away by the sheer size (and beauty) of the rock walls surrounding me. Though the light on my visit wasn’t anything special, when you have time constraints like I did on this trip, you take what you get. I hopped on one of the easy trails and wandered for maybe an hour or so, making a few photographs along the way to remind me of a place I would like to return to someday. Warning: there are a couple of “icon” shots below – not in great light – but shots of icons nonetheless. California landscape photographer Ben Horne recently published his thoughts on shooting the icons and the lack of creativity required to make these photographs – worth a watch.

11-12-13 zion1

11-12-13 zion3

11-12-13 zion4

Twiddling my thumbs

Standard

11-12-13 yosemite3

As I sit here twiddling my thumbs in anticipation of the first snow covered landscape photography opportunity of the winter, I do what most photographers do… go back into the archives to see if there are any images I might have missed the first time around, or any that I might be able to post-process better after all this time. Here are a couple I came up with of a big rock in Yosemite National Park, hands down one of the most beautiful parcels of land I have ever seen…

11-12-13 yosemite4

A picture postcard

Standard

Here are a couple more images from my morning on Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park. There is so much to see on this magnificent summit, and for the photographer looking for interesting foreground elements to include in a composition… couldn’t ask for a better place. The ground cover that turns red in the fall is spectacular, and the weathered and shaped slabs of granite are truly impressive. Throw in the picturesque view of Frenchman Bay and the Porcupine Islands and you have, well… a picture postcard.

Sharing the love…

Standard

Ever since Lori and I honeymooned in Acadia way back in the summer of 1988, we have always felt a strong bond to the park and Mount Desert Island. On that first visit together, as we hiked and biked our way from inn to inn, we utterly and completely fell in love with the Acadian landscape. Together we explored and enjoyed many of the mountains, coves, ponds and trails… all the while marveling at the striking character of what is an incredibly intimate, yet stunningly beautiful, national park.

In 1995, we made the decision to return and settle in Maine, and to this day, it still feels good to be living as close as we do to a place as remarkable as Acadia. We visit as often as we can and at all times of the year, and we never get tired of experiencing everything that this jewel of a national park offers. We’ve always maintained a personal and private connection with our time spent in Acadia, and despite the fact that nearly 3 million people visit this tiny place every year, we feel as though we can always find a way to make it our own.

Over the years we have always taken great pleasure in sharing our love for Acadia with friends and family as they come up north to visit. We can’t wait to take them to the top of Cadillac to enjoy the sunset, to Bubble Pond late in the afternoon as the water gets as still as glass, or to stroll the Ocean Path as first light washes over the rugged and famous coastline along the Loop Road. Seeing the look of wonder and appreciation on the faces of those witnessing the park for the first time… well, that never gets old. Gratitude is always expressed for the opportunity to experience such a remarkable place, but honestly, we just feel immensely lucky to be able to share this place we love.

Reaching out into the ocean

Standard

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.

The most photographed lighthouse in Maine

Standard

Standing sentinel over Casco Bay, and the most photographed lighthouse in Maine, Portland Head Light is one of those places where I don’t think it is possible to take a bad photograph. Instantly recognizable from any angle, the striking white pillar contrasts wonderfully with the rocky headland it protects against.

Though the conditions on this visit were vastly different from when I made one of my favorite photographs, I never get tired of seeing this picturesque and photogenic Maine landmark. We were spending a relaxing family weekend in the Portland area when we visited on this occasion, and as we wandered along the coastal path away from the lighthouse, we got a true appreciation of the reason why this magnificent beacon was created in the first place.

The changing light in Acadia

Standard

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.

6:30:24 p.m.

6:57:20 p.m.

7:30:48 p.m.

Getting soaked at Schoodic

Standard

As the high tide washed onshore, I found a few spots of interest within this small Schoodic cove to focus on. Though the sunrise was somewhat colorful, I was again thinking about how this scene might look when converted to black and white. The prehistoric looking rocks presented a strong, almost polished, foreground, and the the breaking waves were softened by the long exposure. The pre-dawn sky was alive with fast-moving clouds finally clearing out after a couple of days of rain, and I felt pretty fortunate as I soaked in the scene.

Speaking of getting soaked… right after I made this frame I got drenched by some frisky spray from a particularly big wave. I did my best to cover my camera and protect it, but I did get a few drops on the front of my lens. I thought I had cleaned them all off, but when I got back home I realized that I had missed a few drops, making the rest of the morning photographs useless. Lesson learned… when shooting around ocean spray, always check for water drops on the lens!

A rabbit hole of dark yumminess…

Standard

As some of you may remember, I recently purchased a copy of Nik Software’s Silver Efex, a pretty awesome tool for digitally converting photographs to black and white. And in case you hadn’t noticed, more and more colorless photographs seem to be making their way onto the blog these days.

In fact, I have become quite fascinated with this new (to me) world of black and white photography, and even though I sort of feel as if I’m taking a shortcut – I haven’t even once touched a piece of film in a wet lab – I can’t seem to get enough of this medium.

What started out as merely de-saturating a color photograph has quickly and uncontrollably evolved into an infatuation with interpreting a scene differently, creating a mood that no colors could ever convey. I’m on a slippery slope, sliding into a pool of black ink… falling down a rabbit hole of dark yumminess.

Stop me when I go too far 🙂

Prospect Harbor Lighthouse

Standard

Originally constructed in 1850 out of granite, the Prospect Harbor Lighthouse was replaced in 1891 by the current 42 ft high wooden structure. Standing sentinel at the mouth of Prospect Harbor on the Gouldsboro Peninsula just east of Schoodic, this beautiful lighthouse both welcomes and warns local mariners. I had spent a wonderfully peaceful early morning exploring the rocky shoreline of Schoodic, and after finishing up there, I wandered further around the coast toward this little gem of a place. The ocean was calm, the sun was warm, and I think I found another place to return to with better light.

Moving pictures…

Standard

While any photograph is certainly capable of telling a compelling story, it can be quite a challenge to try and capture the essence of the landscape in a single frame. As the sights, smells, and sounds of the world go on around us, attempting to freeze that critical moment in time as one still image can be a formidable exercise. Sometimes moving pictures can bring more life to a scene, with the combination of movement and noise providing a different sense of place, so here – for a slight change of pace – are a few short video clips I grabbed from a recent trip to Acadia National Park.

The rhythmic sound of the powerful crashing waves is music to my ears, and if you listen carefully during the last scene, you will hear what I consider to be a very special sound… the famous round rocks on Boulder Beach knocking together as they get jostled and shaped by the incoming and outgoing Atlantic waves.

Don’t forget to crank up the volume 🙂

Why I’m a morning person…

Standard

7:41 p.m.

There is nice soft light to be found at both the start and the end of the day, but my preference for making landscape photographs always seems to be the morning (though the one above was in the evening). I’ve been somewhat curious as to why I prefer to get up at early o’clock, and despite actually spending time trying to come up with a definitive answer, I have never really been able to put my finger on the true reason… until now.

Some theories I have considered include:

  1. Since I’m on the right-hand coast, and considering that the sun generally rises in the eastern sky, it makes sense that to take advantage of that warm, golden light hitting the majority of east facing landscapes, I would need to plan accordingly for an early start.
  2. While technically I find it just as difficult as the next person to get up at 4:00 a.m. to leave the house in time to arrive at a particular location for the best light, I genuinely don’t seem to mind getting up early… besides, I have learned that the payoff can be worth it.
  3. While I have no problem sharing a gorgeous vista with others, I also enjoy (prefer) the solitude of being in such a place all by myself. So, if sunrise is at 6:00 a.m., and sunset is at 6:00 p.m., which of these times do you think people are more likely to be around?
  4. I’ve heard there is some scientific mumbo-jumbo about how the light at sunrise and the light at sunset are different… err, OK… but none of these are the true reason why I like to make photographs in the morning.

Looking across toward Turtle Island and Cadillac Mountain, the photograph above was made from Raven’s Nest on the Schoodic peninsula within Acadia National Park, and it was while making this image that my suspicions about why I prefer to shoot in the morning were confirmed. The image above was made at 7:41 p.m. and the one below at 7:47 p.m. – that’s about 45 minutes after the sun had set. It was only when I had finished making these photographs – standing on the edge of the ocean – that I truly comprehended how dark it had become.

Though I’m quite accustomed to arriving at a morning location while it is still dark out, I’m also used to the day then getting progressively lighter as I go about my business, so as I stood on a high cliff overlooking the ocean, I’m not afraid to admit that the unfamiliar darkness began to make me a little uneasy. Of course I was never in any danger, but getting a sense of where the trail was and which tree roots I shouldn’t trip over posed a challenge in itself, and I also quite suddenly and acutely became aware of the heightened sounds of nature all around me – both the deadly silence and the strange, random noises that I hadn’t even heard five minutes earlier – and I admit to getting a little spooked.

7:47 p.m.

Luckily I had my Petzl headlamp to illuminate the path back to my car through what had now been transformed into an eerie, shadow-filled, and creepy forest. It was only as I hurriedly ditched my gear in the back seat of the car and quickly drove off (before anyone or anything could knock on my rolled up window) that everything clicked… I’m a big scaredy pants when it comes to being alone in the woods after dark… and that’s why, when it comes to landscape photography, I’m definitely a morning person!