On to Rockland

I drove up to Rockland earlier this week to decide if it might be a good area to spend a few days during peak foliage. It is a “come back” town. Formerly a run-down fishing community, today it has a museum of American art, about a dozen art galleries, coffee houses; and upscale, independent stores. It has more windjammer cruises than its neighbor, Camden. Rockland also has a huge ferry terminal operated by the State of

Rockland Harbor
Rockland Harbor

Maine. From there you can make relatively long voyages to North Haven, Vinal Haven, Matinicus, and Ragged Islands.

After looking around Main Street, I walked to the harbor for a few shots. Gone were the large yachts such as those of Belfast, Camden, and Portland but this could be due to the season—some boats now being in dry dock, others sailing south.

Owls Head Light
Owls Head Light

I was anxious to go to Owls Head Light, as it overlooks Penobscot Bay and Rockland. Although the park was quite nice, the lighthouse was not impressive. It was small, and given the terrain, there was no way to get a really artistic shot. Unlike most other lighthouses, you literally had to stand next to it to shoot, as shown in the accompanying photograph.

There was a beach at Owl’s Head that provided a nice view toward the north end of Rockland where I caught a nice scene with two sailboats on outbound courses.

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Outbound from Rockland

From here I was off to Birch Point Beach where, like Portland Head Light, artists abounded. I figured this had to be a pretty good spot to photograph. Here are but a few shots, including some of the artists. Maine’s coast continues to inspire artists and attract tourists. As urbanized as most of us are, nature continues to be something we need.

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Artists (and dog) at Birch Point Beach
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Birch Point Beach, looking Southwest

All in all I decided Rockland would indeed be a good spot for photographing the northern part of the mid-coast so I reserved a room at a local motel. Not only will I be there to capture the fall colors at peak, but I’ll be able to get dawn and dusk shots when lighting is best since I won’t have to content with ferry schedules.

By the way, if you double-click on any of my blog images you will see far more detail.

-From Portland and the mid-coast

The Celebration of Surf

Ahh, surf. I love its sound—it roars in, then pounds and crashes onto the beach. It’s even better when it hits the rocks! It’s loud, yet relaxing. Of course, as we all know, the Beach Boys popularized surf. I grew up with surf at Horseneck Beach in Westport, Massachusetts (https://www.google.com/search?q=horseneck+beach&oq=ho&aqs=chrome.0.69i59j69i57j0l2.2990j0j4&client=ms-android-motorola&sourceid=chrome-mobile&espv=1&ie=UTF-8#facrc=_&imgrc=2Tzgc27N8Win6M%253A%3Bundefined%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fupload.wikimedia.org%252Fwikipedia%252Fcommons%252F0%252F0e%252FHorseneck.JPG%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fen.wikipedia.org%252Fwiki%252FHorseneck_Beach_State_Reservation%3B2048%3B1536).

My sister and I loved going there. With the approach of high tide and perhaps assisted by swells from a distant sea storm, one could be battered by waves IMG_5187 IMG_5186 IMG_5188 IMG_5189 IMG_5190 IMG_5191 IMG_5192cresting to as much as six or more feet. Although West Coasters and Hawaiians would scoff at such small waves, this was a pretty big deal to us East Coast kids. We would body surf. The great fun was watching a swell approach, then become a wall and curl before it broke over you. We quickly learned to take a deep breath because if you were caught under the break it would keep you down for several seconds (it seemed like much longer) until its energy petered out towards the shore. Wow!

No one in Maine is swimming now, but I always see people at beaches, sometimes sitting in beach chairs, just watching and listening to the waves. How cool they are. Living on an island, I don’t have to go too far to see surf. You just have to look for shoreline that faces the open sea. So, again, it was back to the backshore. Now that I have a Portland tidal chart, provided by my friend Debbie, I knew high tide would be at 6:56 PM at 9.1 feet on the day of the shoot (the tides run at their highest, over 11 feet, when the moon is at its fullest). Since sunset was at almost the same time, I got to the shore around 5:00 PM when the waves would be better lit (all these things to think about when composing naturescapes). Fortunately, bright sunshine prevailed.

Maybe the best way to present my photo surfin’ safari is to show some wave sequence shots (on the left). Actually, they are all like mini tsunamis, beginning as gentle swells (though they don’t travel at 500 mph). Then, as they approach the shore, the shallower depths compress the wave’s energy so that it rises up to create that curl, which then breaks as the water’s depth further decreases. An undertow resultsas this mass of water begins to recede.

The larger photos, below, show what happens to these waves after they hit the rocks. I played around with shutter speeds so some shots freeze the action while others blur the action.

As you can see, surf has a lot of energy. Given enough time, these rocks will be ground to sand. The tides also contain tremendous kinetic energy. Just imagine what it takes to move up to 30 feet of the sea (at the Bay of Fundy). The Scots, still part of the U.K., are implementing tidal power technology to generate electricity.

But as powerful as the sea is, in some ways we are more powerful. IMG_5007 IMG_5034 IMG_5071 IMG_5086 IMG_5221Global warming is proceeding faster than predicted by prior computer modeling. Scientific data show that this is due in great part to our burning of fossil fuels.

According to a recent news report, the Gulf of Maine is warming at five times the rate of the rest of the seas (http://nhpr.org/post/gulf-maine-warming-faster-most-worlds-oceans). This is bad news for lobsters that require cold water, and those who eat them, not to mention all the other known and unknown environmental implications.

-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.