The Mt. Cutler Hike and Climb

Topographical Map via Google Earth

After nearly a year in Maine I finally made it into the mountains. Slowed by the pandemic, I joined the Maine Outdoor Adventure Club (MOAC) last week. It’s been nearly two years since I’ve done any rugged hiking. This was a short trip, only 4.9 miles but it took us about 31/2 hours, including several stops. We started at the green marker on the map, above, and hiked the trails counter clock, looping back to the trailhead. See that diagonal dark stretch? It’s steep and you need all fours to cross portions of it going up (you can learn about contour lines here); sometimes we had to walk along a ledge with a 10 to 15 foot drop. Walking poles came in really handy. Well, it was a bit more than I was planning for on my first hike, but I made it!

We had some steady rain the day before, but today the weather was beautiful and the scenes grand. As you might know, Maine has come off one of its hottest summers and most of the state has been in moderate to extreme drought. Unfortunately (for all of us), there are lots of changes in store for both flora and fauna here in Maine and elsewhere as the sixth extinction continues.

I’ve always enjoyed being outdoors. It’s not only good for keeping me physically fit, but mentally fit as well. It’s even more important now that we’re in the middle of this pandemic.

Let me know what being outdoors does for you.

Maine’s Rocky Coast

Originally posted 10/1/2014: Occasionally I revisit past posts that I find particularly interesting.

What would a photo trip to Maine’s coast be without including a focus on its rocks? You’ve seen these in numerous photos where they look great from a distance, but I decided to literally focus on them up close. This is also an exercise in capturing form and texture, which is quite useful for developing a “photographic eye.”

Like our own bodies, our planet undergoes constant change. What appears as a permanent Earth is only temporary. According to a placard installed in Two Lights State Park by Maine’s Bureau of Parks and Lands, there is an interesting  story associated with these rocks. They are about 440 million years old. They formed:

. . . when sand and mud eroded off the continent and into the bottom of an ancient sea. Over time, the sediments hardened into layers of the sedimentary rocks called sandstone and shale.

As if in a giant vise, that ocean basin was being gradually squeezed between the ancient edge of North America and a micro-continent geologists call Avalon. As Avalon advanced toward North America, those sedentary rocks were folded, faulted, and subjected to a prolonged period of pressure and heat. This process changed the sandstone and shale into light brown quartz and dark gray phyllite, the metamorphic rocks that we see today.

About 400 million years ago, Avalon finally collided with North America. This collision destroyed the ancient ocean, lifted these rocks, and formed the northern Appalachian Mountains, which were several miles high [author’s note: much like portions of the Rockies today]. This was a geologically active time of massive earthquakes and erupting volcanoes. Within the next 150 million years all the Earth’s continents merged into one giant landmass called Pangea (“All Earth”).

Then about 200 million years ago, Pangea began to break apart. Great fissures spewed forth molten rock, and earthquakes shook the landmass as it broke up along fault lines into the continents of North America , Eurasia, and Africa.

Of course, change is not over, yet. The earth will continue to undergo dramatic change for the next 5 billion years, until our sun becomes a red giant.

You can see how the rocks have folded back on to themselves in the following photo as a result of being pushed up to the shore.

Folded rock
Folded rock

Snails anchored in the rocks


Nooks and crannies in the rocks provide homes to snails and resting places for gulls.Watching the boats go by

The rocks also work for humans.

As I said previously, the rocks continue to be reshaped by erosion caused by the sea, sun, and air. The three full-size photos, below, offer a close-up view of these effects, that just fascinate my eye. I suspect the cracks which appear so geometrical are the results of alternating heating and cooling that caused breaks at the rocks’ fissures.

IMG_5334 IMG_5317Here, it almost looks as though someone cut the rock with a saw.

IMG_5344Stepping back for the “big picture” is even more interesting as the crags in the rock invite the viewer to scan down the scene.IMG_5351Just as mollusks find the rocks a good place to live, so do some of the moss and lichens, below.

IMG_5354As I travel around looking for some good foliage scenes during the next two weeks it’s becoming evident that these will not be as dramatic as the classic Vermont and New Hampshire scenes. Maine, particularly along the coast, has far more conifers and Oak tress (the latter going mostly from green to brown) so the concentration of color will be more dispersed. Even so, Maine’s colors are beginning to pop, the Maples up first manifesting their bright reds.

Lots to do yet!

-From Portland and the mid-coast

Scenes Around the Finger Lakes Before the Polar Vortex

The weather around the finger lakes has been pretty mild so far, with temperatures mostly in the thirties and some forties with little precipitation. However, this might change with the anticipated coming of the polar vortex. One struck last year and produced three consecutive nor’easters along the east coast.

I traveled around the finger lakes in December where there were light patches of snow scattered about the countryside. Here are some of my highlight photos.


Nunavik Revisited

I just received a “pingback” from Great Canadian Wildlife Adventures that hosted my expedition to the tundra in 2015. Here is the link to their site, citing some of the quotes from my book, Nunavik, available through my bookstore. The tundra is all I said it was, and more.

I highly recommend any one of Great Canadian Wildlife Adventures‘ trips.

CVNP’s Soft Scenes

First Signs . . .

During my six days at Cuyahoga Valley National Park I hiked about 18 miles. Getting away helps me put aside all the “baggage” of my hometown so I can focus more on my surroundings. How we


photograph is strongly influenced by our personal histories and current states of mind, as well as the settings in which we find ourselves.

Indigo Pond

This series is one that I don’t normally shoot. But recently I’ve been influenced by a fellow photographer who shoots this way, though her work is far better. But,

Indigo Pond

temporarily released from the “bonds” of my history, I gave it a shot, several in fact. Also different, I took the first image with my Tokina 11 – 16mm lens, and the remainders with my Canon 100 – 400mm lens, instead of my usual Canon 15 – 85mm lens–I might as well be completely different.

The Inspiration of Maine’s Coast

Exploring Maine's Coast 2nd Cover (2)

I’m pleased to announce that a second printing of my photo book, Exploring Maine’s Coast: Belfast to Wells, will be available through Sherman’s Books & Stationery’s six stores in Maine. This printing includes the respective area map on the separator page introducing each of the book’s sections.

It should be on shelves shortly after Labor Day, as well as through my online bookstore.

Return to Dust

The tundra at Lake Diana
The tundra at Lake Diana

The photo, above, shows a tundra in its natural state. Although Inuit hunt and trap on these lands, there are no worn footpaths, other than those made by musk oxen and caribou. Yet, even these northern lands are changing due to global warming and the mining of natural resources. As the permafrost begins to melt, methane gas is release from the soil, adding to ever more global warming, threatening our planet.

We are nearly to the point where the only areas in the world not yet vulnerable to “development” lie in the national and state parks. We see the results of development in East Africa. The current issue of Black & White Photography has an article about Nick Brandt, an internationally known photographer who has photographed wildlife in East Africa over the past twenty-five years. His images of the animals are dramatic; his photographs of their former landscapes show how humans have destroyed both their beauty and their ecological value. His latest exhibition, Inherit the Dust, is now on display at Stockholm’s Fotografiska.

These photographs show life-size images of the animals on giant posters set up within the scene of the degraded landscape they once roamed. These photographs are giant panoramas composed of several photographs, all done with film.

This exhibition, along with the work of countless wildlife and landscape photographers around the world, begs the question, how long can we continue to develop land before the environment collapses? Taken from an ecological point of view, we humans are an invasive species, ultimately contributing to our own demise. Dinosaurs lived for two hundred million years–it took a giant meteor strike to wipe them out. Our earliest ancestors only go back about 200,000 years, how much longer can we last?

Upcoming Self-published Book Festival, featuring “Exploring Maine’s Coast”

I’m delighted to say that my book, Exploring Maine’s Coast, has been selected for the Monroe County Library’s Self-published Book Festival to be held at the main library in downtown Rochester on November 7 (11:30 – 4:30) and 8 (1:30 – 4:30). Only one out of three submissions were accepted into the festival so you should see some pretty good indie works. Stop by my table and I’ll answer any “behind the scenes” questions you might have. You can preview the book by clicking on the Blurb icon located on the left sidebar. I’ll have several copies with me that will be available at the festival price of $69.99 (regularly $81.53 though For more information on this event Click here. Hope to see you, there!

Ephemeral Cape Cod

I spent a week on the Cape at the end of March. I had planned on an early February trip, but we had more winter than most of us could handle.  The weather cooperated during my stay, raining only on my last full day. During that week I had sunny days with partial clouds, and two days with high overcast—all providing ideal lighting for the appropriate subjects photographed.

The Cape formed about 15,000 years ago as a result of several cycles of glacial advance and recession. Geologically speaking, it is a moraine built of sand and some rock, the highest portions of which are “Up-Cape” along the Mid-Cape highway (Route 6). Like its cousin in North Carolina (the Outer Banks), the Cape constantly shifts as storms erode the coast line (occasionally putting some sand back). All the lighthouses on the Cape were moved back from the shore at least once, due to erosion. This past winter has seen a lot of beach erosion, with some areas of the National Seashore beaches fenced off from the parking lots above, due to instability. In perhaps as little as a thousand years the Cape might be gone.

I decided to shoot a bit differently than I did on the Maine trip last year. In addition to land and seascapes I also photographed items on the beach. I also processed some of these photos with more contrast that I typically use, and in some of the sand shots added a more granular look. Four of these photos won high marks in last month’s Camera Rochester’s juried competition.

Stage Harbor, Cape Cod; image scored 14 of 15 points in Camera Rochester juried competition
Stage Harbor, Cape Cod; image scored 14 of 15 points in Camera Rochester juried competition

The first of these is shown on the left (click on the photos for a full screen view). This is the Stage Harbor Light, which is now privately owned. You’ll notice that the Fresnel lens (i.e., the light) was removed. I walked 360º around the house, photographing as I went. I decided that this was the best shot. This was one of those days with high overcast that gave me soft light, as well as a good background for my subject. I took this photograph, handheld, with my Fuji X100S.

As I walked back toward Harding Beach and my car I came across the

Hardings Beach, Cape Cod; image scored 14 of 15 pts in Camera Rochester juried competition
Harding Beach, Cape Cod; image scored 14 of 15 pts in Camera Rochester juried competition

remains of a fence built long ago. Initially passing it, I went back and looked at it more closely. Ah, this could be a fine art shot, something I don’t normally do. As photographers, and any artist for that matter, we are urged to come out of our comfort zone and try something new. In fact, this is the sort of thing I tended to do when I photographed during my teen years. I photographed from a few angles, then set my lens to f/2 to minimize depth of field so that only the front post was in focus. That was a hit, also!

The weather was forecast to be clear the next day, so I got up at 4:00 AM and headed for Chatham’s South beach. It’s several miles long, extending toward the Monomoy Island Preserve. It was only 30° and I was backpacking most of my equipment since I wasn’t sure what I would need. Wearing my headlamp, I trudged through the sand looking for a good location for pre-dawn shots. I finally found a good spot and took a series of photos to create the following panorama with my Canon 7D DSLR..

South Beach, Cape Cod
South Beach, Cape Cod

As dawn broke, I saw what looked to be an outhouse, or what ever. Its wood looked to

Chatham, Cape Cod; image scored 13 of 15 points in Camera Rochester juried competition
Chatham, Cape Cod; image scored 13 of 15 points in Camera Rochester juried competition

be relatively new. In fact, the whole thing looked liked it was a prop. So I figured, go for it. I photographed from a few angles, this time on a tripod, and since the light was rapidly changing I continued to photograph until the light lost its warm glow about twenty minutes later. I gave it a bit of a surreal look in post-processing. Here it is, shown to the left. I call it Under Deconstruction.

Toward the end of the week I headed to Provincetown. Actually, I

The Province Lands, Cape Cod National Seashore
The Province Lands, Cape Cod National Seashore

didn’t really go to P-town, I went to the Province Lands at the northern end of the National Seashore, just prior to P-town. There, things were in disarray. Winter storms blew sand into the roads and parking lots. This will all be plowed and cleared by loaders before the summer season gets started. Fortunately, I was able to drive against a one-way road to get to a

small open part of paved parking. The Park Rangers didn’t seem to mind. Needless to say, I didn’t park by this sign on the right.

I walked down to the beach then up to the dunes and found this shot of snow (sand?) fences holding sand back from a walkway. I took a few shots, and yes, over processed a bit to give the photo a bit of an austere look.

Province Land Dunes, Cape Cod National Seashore; image scored 14 of 15 points in Camera Rochester juried competition
Province Land Dunes, Cape Cod National Seashore; image scored 14 of 15 points in Camera Rochester juried competition

Well, that was my trip. you can find a few more of my photographs at my on-line gallery, Cape Cod. Any thoughts? Do let me know.

Sunset at Boothbay Harbor

I finally got to the Boothbay Region and its harbor a couple of weeks ago. I visited once in IMG_5442my twenties, and again about 14 years ago. It’s certainly an upscale spot on the mid-coast—several tour buses were still bringing people into town to shop and sight-see.

After getting some local maps from Visitor Information I headed to the Ovens Mouth Preserve. Although the birds were gone, I was hoping for some good fall foliage shots, even though it was pre-peak. Too bad, the colors were modest. Unlike the roadsides and town centers where Mainers have planted various maples that blaze red early in the fall, most of the trees along the coastal area are conifers and oaks. Not much color there.IMG_5447

As I walked the Eastern shoreline loop along an inlet between the Black and the Cross Rivers, I found a number of picturesque scenes where I caught the first image. I liked the contrast between the geometry, neutrality, and rigidity of the rocks against the relatively fragile, and diffused pastels of the trees.The second shot shows where the inlet joined the meeting of the two rivers.

IMG_5457On the shore of the Cross River I set up for a shot of lobster buoys when I noticed an approaching lobster boat. I waited until it passed so I could capture its wake in the foreground to add a little relief to the scene.


Afterwards, I went down to the harbor and town of Boothbay where I DSCF1303took several shots, three shown here.

Later in the afternoon I drove to a public parking area on the east side of the harbor where I took a series of shots to the west towards sunset.

Boothbay Opera House
Boothbay Opera House

I really like the shot of the two lobster boats returning at the end of the day.


I took a series of shots prior to sundown, with two of the more interesting, below.

IMG_5470IMG_5475As I’ve traveled the mid-coast I see a greater dichotomy of boats than elsewhere—working versus pleasure boats. There are far more working boats in Maine compared with Massachusetts, where I grew up, due to lobstering. Massachusetts harvests far fewer lobsters, so a greater proportion of boats tend to be pleasure craft.

With one week left in Maine I’ll be photographing on Peaks and Portland since my car is now on-island.

-From Portland and the mid-coast