For a really creepy time check out Peaks Island Halloween.
With this post I digress a bit from discussing environmental issues. I have been in the process of moving to Portland, Maine after 27 years in Rochester. It has been a very tough decision that has evolved during the past six years. I not only have great ambivalence about leaving my house with so many memories, I also have to leave the many friends I developed during my years in Rochester. I do hope they will visit me and invite me back to visit them. After all, I still have friends in New England who I have maintained friendships with over the past 27 years.
With this move I return to my New England home, though I have never lived in Maine. My late wife and I have been coming here to visit friends since 1980 and we wanted someday to live here. Although Maine is predominantly a rural state, I live in Cumberland County, of which Portland is part. It is the most urban, progressive part of Maine. Things are stressful as I am awaiting the sale of my Rochester house and entering a contract on a Portland house. All this going on while living in a winter rental on Peaks Island!
You might recall that I spent about ten weeks photographing coastal Maine in 2014 that resulted in a Photobook, Exploring Maine’s Coast: Belfast to Wells. Like Alaska, Maine still has bush pilots flying hunters and fisherman to its interior, not to mention Mount Katadin which is the beginning or end of the Appalachian Trail. Once I am settled I will begin going out with the camera to capture the Maine environment, opening a new chapter in my life.
I am not back on the water, just thinking about it. Some of the best water in my opinion is off the Maine coast, as we see here with a sailboat sailing into a fog bank in Portland harbor. Living on the North Coast (i.e., Lake Ontario) is nice but it just cannot compare to the salt water coasts. The tides, the salty air, and, oh yeah, those “back door” cold fronts that so often create widespread fog. Ahh, “when that fog horn blows . . . .”
There is nothing like a storm breaking waves over the rocks. The sound of the
crashing waves is relaxing. Actually, nice weather or stormy weather (hurricanes aside) by the sea affect most people quite pleasantly, which is why coastal property is so expensive. Here is a brief take of one stormy day on Peaks Island in the photograph to the right.
Something went horribly wrong in this next photograph on the left. It looks like the film was scratched. None of the other frames on the roll have these scratches so I am a bit perplexed. Seeing these, I decided to process the photo with a somewhat austere look, hoping to bring some new aesthetic to the photo. I am not sure it worked.
Late one afternoon, as cumulus clouds were building, I took this last shot as a small boat was on its way back from, well, who knows where?
I will be back at Peaks next year for more of these great Down East* scenes.
*The phrase derives from sailing terminology: sailors from western ports (e.g., Boston) sailed downwind (summer prevailing winds are from the southwest) toward the east to reach Maine and the Maritime provinces.
My thanks to all who attended; you were a wonderful audience. It was a packed house!
My thanks also to Priscilla Webster, Kathryn Moxhay, and the Friends of the Peaks Island Branch Library who made this possible;
Cynthia Farr-Weinfeld of CFW Photography here in Portland who wrote a wonderful Foreword;
and my friends whom I’ve known forever, Debbie Jordan and Dave Stankowicz here on Peaks.
The following photos, courtesy of A.D. Stankowicz:
Here are the references I referred to in my opening remarks:
Barnes & Noble Climate Change Titles (I have no financial or business relationships with Barnes & Noble)
Perhaps the most eloquent speaker for helping us understand our universe was the Cornell University astronomer, Carl Sagan, who hosted the 1980 TV series, Cosmos. A decade later he showed us a humbling photo of Earth (the Blue Dot), taken from Voyager I, and made the point that Earth is the only home we’ll ever have so we better take care of it.
In the 1980s Sagan encouraged a promising 17 year-old boy from New York to pursue astronomy. He invited Neil deGrasse Tyson to Ithaca to see what was going on at the forefront of astronomy. Today, Dr. Tyson is the Director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. He hosts Nova Science Now (and others), and resurrected Cosmos in 2014, aired on Fox, and now available on Netflix. Like Sagan, he too emphasizes that we need to globally act to protect our environment, since we now now that the additional CO2 in the atmosphere started to climb since the beginning of the industrial revolution (this CO2 has a fossil fuel signature–meaning, we did it).
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.
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.
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.
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
Peaks Island is located off the coast of Portland, Maine in Casco Bay. Once arriving into Portland, it’s off to catch the ferry for the fifteen minute ride. We’ve been going to Peaks for about 25 years to visit our friends, Debbie and Dave, among others. Our last trip was this past Memorial Day week-end. Dave and I went into Portland to shoot some photos (shown below). On our way back along the unimproved dirt road leading back to their cottage I noticed a bird in a tree overlooking a small pond–a Black-crowned Night Heron. These birds typically feed at night. There I was with only my 15-85mm lens, not the ideal equipment for bird photography. The camera was set for aperture priority but I figured I should take the hand-held shot before the bird decided to fly, then reset the camera to shutter priority to assure a sharp shot. Sure enough, the bird bolted. Nevertheless, the photo came out great–at 1/20 sec!
Portland is a deep-water harbor, enabling large vessels to come in. As a result, a lot of crude comes in from the Middle-east–Portland can unload 4 supertankers at one time.
Front Street runs along all the piers in Portland. Although there has been substantial gentrification, including several investment houses for the New Yorkers and Bostonians who summer on the islands, there are several “seedy” areas still to be had. Many of them provide the best atmosphere and food, such as breakfast and lunch at the Porthole.
The last photo shows one of the examples of gentrification, new condominiums located across from old the warehouses of the past.