All Those Maine Photos — Now What?

After three months away I’ve caught up with friends and family.  Of course, I’ve been taking photos while visiting and I finally finished processing them, along with doing all those errands and house chores.

It took several hours just to import, convert RAW to DNG, and double-backup the 2,576 photos–all categorized according to shooting location. This past week I started the process of tagging the photos with key words so I can quickly find what I need.  This is often an ongoing process of revision as I rethink the tagging.  But just to give you an idea, here are my current tags–imported from Adobe Lightroom:

Back Bay, Bates, Belfast, Berries, Birch Point Beach, Birch Point Beach St. Pk., Birds, Boats, Boothbay, Brass Band, Brunswick, Bug Light, Buildings, Buoys, Cairns, Camden, Camden Hills St. Pk., Casco Bay Bridge, CG Fair, Clouds, Cruise Ship, Crystal Spring Farm Land Trust, Down Front, Drydock, Flower, Fog, Foliage, Ft. William Pk, Georges River Land Trust, Landscapes, Lighthouse, Lobster pots, Mackworth Is., Marathon, Mid-coast, Moon, Netherworld, Night, Ovens Mouth Preserve, Owl’s Head, Panoramas, Peaks, Peaks* Fog, Pemaquid, People, Port Clyde, Portland, Pre-dawn, RachelCarson, Rockland, Rocks, Southern Coast, Sunset, Two Lights State Pk, Waterscapes, Waves, Wells Beach, Windjammers, Wolfe’s Neck State Pk.

These might look daunting, but they’re not. Although tagging these photos took several hours, tagging will make it easier to locate particular photos. The real task at hand is determining not only the “best” photos (i.e., technical and aesthetic qualities) to select for the book, but what subset of these will tell the best story about the Maine coast. Once I decide on that subset, those are the photos that I’ll process to enhance their look without overdoing them. The story itself will then emerge from this last set of photos–I hope. My major concern is that once I start this process I’ll discover that I’m lacking the images I really need.

Once all of this is complete, it’s off to copy-editing and graphics design, and then, a book. Can I do this by next summer? We’ll see.

If you have produced a photo book I would be happy to hear about your experience.

A Little Lunar Laud

It seems only fitting to say a little something about the moon photos. The bright full moon against an otherwise dark sky seems to have an impact on us in one way or another. Let me start with the scientific perspective. We know that the inner rocky planets of our solar system (Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars) were formed during the asteroid period. These planets, including the earth, were formed when asteroids collided, forming masses of increasing size held together through the melting of iron, and gravitational force. Later, but still early in earth’s history, a large asteroid hit the earth obliquely, splitting off what became the moon. As we know, the moon’s gravity is the principal driver of the tides, aided to a lesser extent by the sun.

Then there’s the moon’s “sinister” side, giving rise to werewolf and vampire legends, witchcraft, some religious beliefs, and “mental illness” (i.e., lunacy, lunatics). Of course, there is the moon’s romantic side. As I was sitting behind my camera and tripod on those Maine rocks, two cars with young couples parked nearby and went onto the rocks to watch the full moon rise. Somehow, watching the moon relaxes us in such a way that it is easier to express affection. The aesthetics of that giant orange disk rising over the horizon apparently is one of our emotional triggers.

All this encourages people like me to go out and photograph the moon despite the possibility of last minute weather vagaries, bug bites during warmer weather, and frozen fingers during winter.

-From Portland and the mid-coast

Scoping Out the mid-Coast

The past couple of days has seen me traveling up and down the mid-coast, racking up

Approaching the Portland car ferry dock from Peaks Island
Approaching the Portland car ferry dock from Peaks Island

about 400 miles. So far I’ve haven’t seen much except for the usual touristy stuff. What’s that Johnny Cash song? “I’ve been everywhere man,  . . . .” The trip, of course, begins with the ferry crossing (actually, it begins with the walk to the ferry). The photo, above, shows us getting ready to dock in Portland. After that it’s a 15 minute walk to the garage to get my car.

The Pemaquid shot, below, is not that artistic, but couldn’t you see yourself sitting on one of those boats with a summer drink?

Pemaquid Harbor
Pemaquid Harbor

Then there’s Belfast, another pretty nice setting. The town has a funky side to it, as shown by some of the interesting business facades._DSF0957 _DSF0958

Belfast harbor at low tide.
Belfast harbor at low tide.

The photo, above, shows its harbor. Unfortunately, I showed up a low tide.

Further down the road was Camden, home of the windjammer cruises. A bit larger and more upscale than Belfast, it is a pretty nice town.

Main St., Camden, ME
Main St., Camden, ME
Sittin' pretty in Camden
Sittin’ pretty in Camden

Well I haven’t been everywhere (man) around here, yet, but it feels that way.  I’m looking more for where people don’t go (which is really the down east part of the coast. Unfortunately, that’s way out of range unless I stay a few nights in a motel. I’m told they get cheaper as you go east. What I have seen so far is Reid State Park for wildlife. Next week I head up to Owls Head which overlooks Rockland and Penobscot Bay. It looks promising for several waterscapes at dusk.

What I see emerging is locating about six good locations within a day’s roundtrip that I can photograph under a range of lighting and weather conditions. These settings will be contextualized with town and people scenes. But don’t hold me to this, my thinking could change tomorrow!

-From Portland and the mid-coast

Around Peaks Island

Well, here I am, pretty much settled on Peaks Island. I repositioned my car off-island at one of Portland’s garages on Labor Day. Although most of the Labor Day week-end involved unpacking and food shopping, I did manage to take a few shots “down front” on the island where "Down front" leading to the ferry.

“Down front” leading to the ferry.

people were coming and going (the first photograph shows the downhill to the ferry dock). Walking along the back shore I saw an interesting composition with waves breaking over the wonderful rocky coast (second photo).

As summer wanes Labor Day eve saw heavy rain and thunderstorms. When my clock radio went off at 5:30 the following morning I checked to see if there was any fog. There was! I threw on some clothes and walked the quarter mile to the island’s east shore. I set up my tripod and camera on a rocky beach and took a few fog shots. I then moved further along the island’s perimeter and took several more. There, I caught a wonderful mix of granite, fog, and island shoreline (third photo). A few photographs from this series will likely end up as black and white prints.

Waves breaking on te back shore
Waves breaking on the back shore
Fog meets granite.
Fog meets granite

Although I was planning to head up the coast on Route 1 today, there was heavy fog this morning also so I decided to stay on the island. Again, I headed for the back shore where I photographed several more scenes. I particularly like the fourth photo showing Great Diamond Island shrouded in fog with one of the Casco Bay ferries off in the distance to the far left, and a somewhat closer unidentified boat to the ferry’s right (i.e, starboard).

The photograph of the cormorants shows what they do after diving for food, they hold their wings out to dry (good luck to them in this fog!). There were several boats moored nearby. They looked so lonely just sitting there in the fog. In any event, here’s my rendition of the G. Purslow in the sixth photo. I should mention that these photographs are unprocessed JPEGS from my cameras, which means they don’t have the cropping and polishing that can only be done on my home desktop using Lightroom.

Beach, fog & boats
Beach, fog & boats
Cormorants in a fog (through the 400mm super-telephoto)
Cormorants in a fog (through the 400mm super-telephoto)
Moored sailboat
Moored sailboat

Tomorrow’s weather “promises” drier air so my plan is to travel up the coast to check out photo sites and camping accommodations.

I have no internet connection in my cottage so I have to rely on public access at the local library—just a 10 minute bike ride away. Given the constraints of limited internet access and island/mainland logistics, I’ll likely post but once a week. I do, however, have email via my smart phone. Speaking of bike rides, the bike is courtesy of island friends, Ralph and Jeanne. Thanks so much guys!

-From Portland and the mid-coast

Photographing Portland Maine and the mid-coast

As many of you know, I’ll soon be in Maine, where I’ll be photographing from Acadia National Park, south to Portland. Maine is perhaps the most wilderness state in the northeast. It’s, by far, the largest state in New England, having a population of only 1.3m, about 623,000 of who live in the Portland-Lewiston and So. Portland areas along the southern coast. Bush pilots still fly in Maine; taking hunters, fisherman, and some tourists to remote lake locations.

I’ll be staying on Peaks Island  where the daily commute will involve taking the Casco Bay Ferry to get to and from my car in Portland to travel up the Maine coast, mostly via Route 1. I’ve been going to Peaks since the early eighties and have several friends there, one of which my late wife has known since here college days.

As I travel Maine’s coast I’ll be photographing land- and seascapes, lighthouses, and wildlife. I also hope to photograph some of the people in the course of their daily lives. Who knows? Perhaps I’ll have the chance to go out on a lobster boat (which reminds me, I need to print some release forms allowing me to publish identifiable photos). My plan is to exhibit some of these photos next year at Image City, and to eventually self-publish a photobook.

One place, among many others, that I’ll be visiting is the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, where, Beginning in 1952, she summered on Southport Island, where she studied its beach and tide pools to research The Edge of the Sea (1955). Through tireless investigation for her greatest work, Silent Spring (1962), she linked the unrestrained use of post-World War II chemical pesticides with fearsome, biological consequences. April 2012 marked the 50th anniversary of the publication of Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking book, Silent Spring. By publishing it, Carson has been credited with launching the contemporary environmental movement and awakening the concern of Americans for the environment.

As those of you who have followed my blog know, my overarching theme is the natural environment. If we don’t protect this, we’ll all be in serious trouble. The sixth extinction is already underway.

During my stay I’ll have limited access to wireless internet “down front” on the island (though I’ll have better email access via my smart phone), which means I’ll only be able to upload a very few (unprocessed) photos. I suggest that those of you who are interested click the FOLLOW button on my blog to receive updates, as I plan to spend as little time as possible on email. You can always UNFOLLOW at any time.

If anyone has spent significant time photographing Maine’s coast I’d be happy to hear from you. That’s it for now. Let’s see what unfolds.

Rise of the Super Moon

Friday July 11, 2014
Friday July 11, 2014

I’m always drawn to the mountains, first, to the White and Green Mountains of New England, and the Adirondacks over the past twenty years. Hiking in the mountains requires that you be in reasonably good shape. My mountain watch words are: food, water, energy, and weather (along with  protection from the latter). Failure on any of these can result in serious consequences. Most people know this, which is at least one reason why the trails are not crowded (though the trail head parking lots certainly are on summer week-ends).

After a five-hour ride and checking in, we went off to explore the South Meadows area of the High Peaks. It turned out to be a real dud for photography–too many trees.

July 12, 2014
July 12, 2014

Although I didn’t realize it when I planned the trip, this week-end would include the rise of a super moon on Saturday at the reasonable hour of 8:30 PM. We knew the moon would rise at 112° shortly after sundown on July 11 so the local cemetery seemed the perfect place. Unfortunately, there were a few trees in the way (the Adirondacks are loaded with them), as you can see in the above photo.

We picked a better place on Saturday. Unfortunately, it was cloudier than expected. Forty-five minutes after moonrise we saw nothing. The mosquitoes were vicious so we packed it in. Just as we were leaving, we saw the moon break the ridge! We jumped out, set up, and I got one shot before the moon became almost completely obscured. My friend set up a minute earlier than I, and he got the better shot!

Back track to dawn of that morning. We managed to get to Chapel Pond where we got a number of shots, here are two, one in B + W and one in color.

Looking Southwest
Looking Southwest
Looking Northwest
Looking Northwest

Shooting the Falls South Meadows FallsAfter shooting, we went back to the local diner and got some breakfast. Thereafter we headed to the Adirondack Mountain Reserve Club. These are private lands that allow hiking on designated trails. We hiked portions of its East and West Ausable River trails where upon we came to the South Meadows Falls. That’s my friend, immortalized in the red hat.

Beaver PondA little further down the trail we came to a beaver pond, complete with beaver hut. Boy, these guys were busy, but I guess . .  . .

We continued on and finally came to the Lower Ausable Lake, as shown in the photo, below. Thereafter, we returned to the trail head via the club’s dirt road. This hike was sentimental since it was my wife’s and I last hike together. We never finished that hike, because my back was bothering me. My friend and I easily finished.

Looking Southwest
Looking Southwest

Cutting the Stone

Aside from light, photographers are always thinking about how to use form and texture to advantage in their photographs. As I pondered this, I got the idea to go and photograph a quarry. I located an abandoned quarry since most working quarries are fenced off and hidden for a variety of reasons.

A few mornings ago I managed to get up at 4 AM so I could be in position to photograph at dawn. You can see my subject in the following photos that I panned starting at ENE and ending at SSW.Dawn Light As with strip mining, there’s not much that can be done with quarries once their resources are exhausted. Unfortunately, one thing you can do is illegally dump trash into them, as shown by the debris in the second photograph. What you can’t see is a refrigerator, chair, and other items that were at the bottom of the ledge where I was standing.

Dumping Ground

Blurred Reflections

The sun broke completely free of the clouds as it rose for the shot, immediately above, showing that quarries can also provide aesthetic views. Note the stratified layers in the rock, each layer likely taking thousands of years to develop.  To better see this I zoomed in for the shot, below, where the blurred water reflections meet the sharply delineated rock and trees above.

Rock and Water

There was a moon present so I also set a shot showing it. It took some time since the camera was tripod mounted. Every time I wanted to make this shot the clouds moved in front of the moon. Finally, I decided to leave the camera set for this shot and just waited.

Morning Moon

Just a bit further down the road, across from the main entrance of the working quarry I spotted an old steam shovel, seemingly set out for exhibit. This was probably state of the art equipment in the 1930s.

Retired Steam Shovel

As with so many things in industrial life, quarries pose a conundrum. We want the rock to meet all sorts of construction needs, but quarries permanently scar the earth. As time goes by there will be ever more scars.


Hike to Avalanche Pass and Lake in the Adirondacks

After a hiatus of several months I’m ready to resume blogging, though my environmental focus will be more on landscapes.  This past February a friend of mine and I snowshoed up to Avalanche Pass and Lake from the Adirondack Club Lodge, a round trip distance of 11 miles with about a 1,000 foot incline. The high for the day was about 8º, though it might have been colder at high elevation. At these temperatures it was almost impossible to operate the camera, even while wearing photo gloves. My finger tips, which had to be protruded, became numb within two or three minutes of touching the camera. Nevertheless, I managed a few good shots.

The area is so named due to a major avalanche that drastically redefined the mountain sides and the lake many years ago. According to Wikipedia, “A large avalanche occurred on August 20, 1869, that created a number of the landslides on Mount Colden, the rubble from which substantially raised the level of the lake. Another avalanche in 1942 caused further slides that raised the lake level by 10 feet (3 m).”

Our hike’s first stop was Marcy Dam, where we were the first to arrive that morning, as shown by absent foot prints in the following scene. Mountain Snow ShowersIt’s a desolate but beautiful landscape. Multi-layers and warm, quick-dry synthetics were the dress of the day!

A couple of hours later we reached the pass and lunched on the lake’s edge, protected from the wind. While on the lake, I took the following photos. The first shows the trail left by four hikers, seen in the background, as they headed southwest down the lake. The second photo is the face of the mountain where we had lunch, showing windblown pockets of snow on the craggy edges of the face.

Frozen Trek The Face In Line

I photographed the hikers in the third photo as they hiked northeast on the lake back towards the pass. It’s really something to see so many people deep in the mountains under such inhospitable conditions. Of course, like us, I’m sure they knew the forecast was for sun and light winds all day.  Still, mountain forecasts are prone to abrupt change. Hiking was also made more critical due to the short period of daylight during early February.

On the way back I shot the following photo, which shows a set of tracks from folks venturing on up the mountains.

Trail Up

The next day we made a quick hike up Giant Mountain to photograph Keene Valley from the top of the falls. The water was frozen solid, allowing us to stand on the part about 25 feet away from where it went over the ledge (yikes!). Here’s what we saw, shown in the following photo (the dark straight line is highway 73 running through Keene Valley).High Peaks Winter

So much of our modern environment consists of chemicals, power lines, buildings, roads, parking lots, radio energy, and others. Although these are things upon which we all depend, our bodies, that have evolved over the millennia in nature, are not designed to work effectively in these settings, since they expose us to pollution and make proper diet and exercise less obtainable for many.