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.

Boothbay
Boothbay

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.

Returning
Returning

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

Fall in Rockland and Camden

One of the dilemmas faced by landscape and nature photographers is that we want to photograph the most interesting scenes and wildlife. However, these are the scenes that everyone else wants to photograph and paint. Just think Motif # 1 in Rockport, Massachusetts or Portland Head Light on Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Unlike Ansel Adams and other early photographers who could photograph what almost no one has seen before, we are not so fortunate. Even the Antarctic Peninsular is heavily photographed now that regular expeditions can take us there during the summer.

So the challenge is to do something different with the scene, of which there are several potential options. For example, scenes are more interesting when shot from unusual: angles (small drones are making possible the next unusual angles for common scenes—until those angles also become common), lighting (mid-day while convenient, typically provides the worst lighting), and weather or seasonal conditions.Usually, the more difficult or inconvenient conditions for the photographer result in the best photos—another dilemma. Once the photographer decides to put personal comfort and convenience aside, the task is to be on location at the right time and conditions. This usually means that we have to stay in an area for an extended period during the appropriate season, requiring time and money, unless it’s where we live.

In this instance I was able to spend four days during foliage season at the northern end of the mid-coast. Still, not a lot of time, some of which was devoted to resting (driving and hiking put a lot of demand on aging bodies). Here are a few of what I thought were the most interesting shots—you will certainly make your own decisions.

Rockland, until about ten years ago, was a run-down fishing town. Now, it’s rejuvenated with a vibrant economy that includes tourism, windjammer cruises, and the arts. In fact, it has surpassed its neighbor, Camden, the more affluent town, in windjammer cruises. The season is over and crews can be seen doing maintenance on the boats before winter.

Windjammer maintenance
Windjammer maintenance

Rockland is also a big Puffin town with its own information center, sponsored by Maine Audubon. I also found a Puffin mural down by the waterfront.

Puffin mural
Puffin mural

DSCF1346It’s also home to the Farnsworth Museum, which has the largest collection of works by N.C., Andrew, and James Wyeth, among other American contemporary artists.

The harbor was just a five-minute walk from my inn and so I got many shots of it under a range of conditions. The first, is from a day trip in late September, followed by shots from the current trip. Note that many boats are no longer at their moorings.

Rockland Harbor, late September
Rockland Harbor, late September
Rockland Harbor at dawn, Mid-October
Rockland Harbor at dawn, mid-October
Rockland Harbor at dawn, Mid-October
Rockland Harbor at dawn, mid-October
Rockland Harbor in fog, mid-October
Rockland Harbor in fog, mid-October

So where did all the boats go? Some sailed to warmer destinations, but most ended up in local dry-docks, such as the one below at the ferry marina.

Dry-dock
Dry-dock

Of course, I have to say something about lighthouses on this trip (I also went to the Lighthouse Museum). Lighthouses on the coast (not those in harbors or rivers) were built within twenty miles of each other, ensuring that one light was always visible to ships navigating along the coast. Here are two.

Owls Head Light
Owls Head Light
Marshall Point Light
Marshall Point Light

I did make a day trip to Camden where I captured these photographs.

Main St., Camden
Main St., Camden
Camden Harbor
Camden Harbor
Camden Harbor Park
Camden Harbor Park

The leaf peepers were all atop Mt. Battie, so naturally I drove there to see what was going on. It was a mob scene!

Mt. Battie overlooking Camden Harbor
Mt. Battie overlooking Camden Harbor
Look-out tower atop Mt. Battie
Look-out tower atop Mt. Battie
Mt. Battie overlooking Acadia and Downeast
Mt. Battie overlooking Acadia and Downeast

This is just a small number of the scenes from this trip. Given the multiple shots of each scene and that I set the cameras to capture both RAW and JPEGS for each shot, I’ve got about 60 GB of photos thus far on this extended trip!

Okay, back to Peaks.

-From Portland and the mid-coast

Full Moon Over Casco Bay (Finally)

You’ll recall that last month we had a clear evening while I awaited the rise of the full moon. Unfortunately, I didn’t see it until a half hour after sunrise, due to heavy haze over the distant waters. The forecast, again, was clear, setting the stage for another try. Would I see it? Here’s what I saw about twenty minutes before the published moon rise time of 6:22 PM.

Pre-moonrise
Pre-moon rise

Then, voilà! It appeared right on schedule over Jewell Island.

IMG_5933
6:22 PM
IMG_5940
6:24 PM
IMG_5941
6:24 PM
IMG_5942
6:24 PM
IMG_5945
6:25 PM

The photos are not enhanced. The moon looks so large because I was using my 400mm lens. All in all it was pretty spectacular. Several people on the ferry were asking each other if they saw the full moon rise.

I waited a few minutes as I saw some clouds gathering. Though the moon had lost its red glow, it looked rather cool amidst the clouds.  Here’s one photo from that clip.

6:37 PM
6:37 PM

-From Portland and the mid-coast

Maine’s Rocky Coast

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 it 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 15 billion years, when 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
IMG_5304
Snails anchored in the rocks
Resting
Resting

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