Just for kicks…

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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!

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iPhone panorama

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The ability to seamlessly stitch images together into panoramas has been around for a while, but when a friend recently showed me examples of how he used his iPhone to create amazing panos using the latest iPhone camera software, I quickly got hold of Lori’s phone and downloaded the update. It’s amazing how smart technology can be, and for someone who has always been intrigued with the wider format of panoramic photography, this latest addition to the iPhone camera repertoire is fascinating (and easy to use). You literally point the camera and follow the arrow to keep everything in line… voila.

Stretching the legs

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After celebrating Thanksgiving Day with the extended family in Northampton, Massachusetts, we made the long drive back to Maine this afternoon. The food was better than good, and as always, it was great to have the entire family together. At just over five hours from door to door, this trip isn’t as long as the usual drive to New York, but it’s still a long time to spend in the car. Crossing the Piscataqua River Bridge and into our home state, we decided to take a break from driving and stop off at a pretty little lighthouse along the coast. As we stretched our legs and grabbed some welcome fresh air, the wind was howling and the waves were pounding the shore of Cape Neddick, home to one of the most picturesque of Maine lighthouses.

In the light of day…

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On our way back home from New York today, it just happened to be around lunchtime as we crossed over the Piscataqua River from New Hampshire into Maine, so we stopped in York for sandwiches from a local deli. When I sheepishly suggested that we enjoy the unseasonably warm weather and have ourselves a picnic at the lighthouse… I was thrilled when both Lori and Jack were in total agreement – they are so patient with me and my camera! I know I said no more photographs from this location, but before I do a refresh of the blog, I wanted to share a couple more from our brief return visit today. Besides, in most of the photographs from my last visit, all you could see was the silhouette of the lighthouse!

On my previous visit I had arrived before dawn, but because we were in a hurry to continue our journey on to New York, I only stayed until about 20 minutes after sunrise. The light was obviously very different then, and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring a darkened landscape which was somewhat unfamiliar to me. This afternoon though, as the bright sunlight played hide-and-seek from behind the clouds, I was obviously able to recognize much of the terrain. My previous sunrise visit had coincided with high tide, and what do you know… it was high tide again when we arrived this afternoon. If anything though, today’s tide was even higher, actually making it impossible for me to get to some of the ledges and rocks I had used as shooting locations on my last visit.

We all know that the softer light of the early morning or late afternoon often makes for more dramatic landscape photographs, and truth be told, I live for the peacefulness and solitude that you can experience at these times… but there’s no rule that says you can’t shoot in the middle of the day, especially if the conditions are just right. Blue skies with puffy clouds, high tide breaking fiercely over a rugged coastline, and a striking subject that is pretty much one-of-a-kind… I’d say the conditions were just right!

When plans go awry…

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Last one from my stop by Nubble Light last weekend… I promise 🙂

I had originally been hoping to use tidepools along the shoreline to frame a reflection of the lighthouse, and although they were there as advertised, my plan didn’t quite work out. As I lowered my tripod all the way to the ground, I splayed the legs as far as I could. I lay on my belly to see through the viewfinder to frame a composition, but at that point I realized my plan wasn’t going work out. Sure enough, there would have been a nice reflection to include in the frame… if it weren’t for one problem… the water in the tidepools was frozen! No worries… I settled for using the tidepools as interesting foreground elements, and I went on to thoroughly enjoy the rest of my morning spent exploring this wonderful place.

Working within the frame…

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When I spend time photographing in a particular location I always try to fully explore the scene. I enjoy the exercise of physically wandering around looking for different angles, less obvious perspectives, and interesting elements to include in compositions. More sky, less ground… more ground, less sky… landscape orientation versus portrait… the size of the aperture and the length of time the shutter is open… using a wide angle lens to accentuate certain things or compacting the scene by using a longer lens… just some of the many ways to experiment with what you include within the viewfinder.

For me, one of the most enjoyable aspects of landscape photography is choosing which elements of a scene to include within the frame and which to leave out. Next comes arranging important elements in relation to how they interact with each other to make a pleasing composition. Sometimes it comes together and “works” better than it does at other times, though of course what I personally like in a photograph might not be what someone else likes… it’s all totally subjective, but isn’t that half the fun? When I became seriously interested in landscape photography a few years back, a pro-photographer friend of mine, Kip Brundage, told me that if I find an interesting subject, I should photograph it every which way I can. He also told me to try to make it mine. While I could certainly learn from another photographer’s interpretation of a particular scene, I should constantly strive try to create something original… this particular piece of advice has always stuck with me.

Here are a few more examples of what I was seeing on the recent mid-February morning I visited Nubble Light in York, Maine. As you can see, I was all pretty random with some of my compositional choices, but since there isn’t any single “right” answer, I got to experiment and try all sorts of ideas. Most significantly for me though, it’s all about actually being there in person to fully employ the senses and appreciate the wonder of this earth we live on. I learned that there is something very special about standing on the tide-soaked rocks below Nubble Light before a winter dawn, and if I can come even remotely close to conveying my personal experiences in a single photograph… then I consider that photograph to be a success.

Time and tide… plus a famous lighthouse

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I was excited that high tide and sunrise would almost coincide, and I had used a cool piece of software called “The Photographer’s Ephemeris” to determine that the sun would rise directly behind the lighthouse. I was hoping for some fast-moving high clouds, and I had this vision of being able to capture the early rays beaming out from behind the lighthouse like some heavenly scene. Alas… no clouds, so on to plan B.

As I wandered around the shoreline looking for interesting foregrounds, I came across a couple of what I can best describe as “cracks” where the surge from the high tide would push its way in and then slowly retreat back to where it came from. I perched myself rather precariously on a small rocky outcrop, and waited for the “seventh” wave to roll in with its energy being funneled into the crack below me.

Now… I don’t really know if there is any scientific grounding in the notion of every seventh wave being stronger than the rest, but I do know that if you pay attention and watch for patterns, every so often on a fairly regular basis (maybe even every seventh wave), the swell definitely gets bigger. That means something to patiently wait for when pressing the shutter, and since the ocean can be a powerful thing it is also something to be wary of.