Last week, I posted Part 1 of my year in pictures for 2018. This week, I pick up Part 2 in July. It’s really been an incredible year, personally and professionally for me. I hope all of you have a great finish to 2018, and an amazing start to 2019.
As always, my work is available at my website in the form of prints, home goods, and more. Check it out!
As 2018 inches closer to the finish line, I always find it interesting and enjoyable to go back over the year through my photos, and remember who I was with, where I was, what I was doing, and what else was going on in my life at that moment. My images are very much a part of who I am, and while they may evoke different meanings for others, based on their own experiences at the places I photograph, for me, they are reminders of the accomplishments, challenges, and big moments of the past year.
2018 has been no different. Overall, 2018 was an incredibly good year for me. I did more exploring of Maine, found some new spots, revisited some old ones. Crossed Vermont off the list of states I hadn’t visited yet, and taught some workshops at some of my favorite locations.
This year, I found I had more photos than usual make the cut. I also wanted to give each photo some love and give a brief explanation of the image, so this edition covers from January through June. Stay tuned for part 2, which will be posted next week.
As always, all of my images can be purchased as prints at my website. Without further comment, here is 2018 in review, in chronological order:
Ok… so… maybe I’m not the best at this blog thing. I’ve written here intermittently since about 2009, but haven’t really been consistent with it. The past two years I’ve tried to post more regularly, with varying degrees of success depending on what’s going on in my life. For the past few weeks, I’ve been going through images from 2018 trying to choose the best for my Best Of post to recap my year photographing. It’s fun for me to go back and look at images I made over the past year, and remember what life was like at those times.
As I was reviewing this year’s images, I realized that I hadn’t done a post reviewing 2015. 2015 was a pivotal year for me in my photography life. My career was totally turned upside down- I had left Canon USA the year before to join Lytro. For the first half of 2015, I criss-crossed the country training camera stores on Lytro’s cutting edge refocusing technology. While I was excited about this new tech, and their camera, I also still saw a place for traditional stills, so my Nikon (you read that right) was always with me as I traveled. In March 2015, Lytro threw up its hands, deciding that they didn’t have what it took to bring their ground-breaking technology to the photography world at large. I was kept around to help get rid of stock, but my time there was done by July.
So a good portion of this portfolio represents time when I was on the road for Lytro. And the rest is what I did after Lytro gave up and cut all us photo types loose, thinking they could make more headway developing for virtual reality instead. Spoiler alert: They didn’t.
2015 became a crossroads of sorts for me. My landscape work took noticeable steps forward. I saw a lot of personal growth, stemming from personal trials and tribulations. But I’m still here, still clicking, still growing. It’s amazing how much things can change in three years.
When I first began traveling to Maine 20 years ago, Portland Head Light was one of those places that was just magical to me. The natural beauty and the aura of the lighthouse perched atop the rocky shore, waves pounding below, make it such a draw for photographers and tourists alike. One of the things I feared when I moved here was that, having this landmark in such close proximity would somehow diminish its meaning to me, and I would begin to take it for granted.
Just over two years after my move, I am happy to report that my fears were unfounded. I still love photographing the lighthouse, and the surrounding landscape, as often as I can. In many ways, having it so close by is too easy, and I must force myself to look elsewhere to capture the Maine landscape, for fear of overdoing it at Portland Head.
A couple of weeks ago, I was at work and noticed the sky was setting up for what could be a really beautiful sunset. Big puffy clouds, breaks in between, bright sun, and best of all, high tide with a full moon surf that meant big breaking waves on the rocks. My beautiful fiancée was kind enough to run my camera bag to me at work and once my shift ended, I raced over to Portland Head Lighthouse to capture the sunset.
I arrived 15 minutes before sunset and quickly made my way to the spot I envisioned for my shot. I knew, if the waves were big, I wanted to get a spot where the crashing on the rocks would be prominent. I also knew this one angle would allow me to face back to the west just a bit, to get the color from the setting sun in the shot. I scrambled over the rocks and made my way out to my perch. By this time, I only had a few minutes of light left, so I quickly started making some images. Since I was short on time and light, I concentrated on my first composition and just timing waves, trying to get the perfect wave on the rocks. After a few minutes I had one that I liked, so I changed lenses, and shifted my composition slightly to get something a little different. Where I was, I didn’t have a lot of room to change my angle, so the changes in composition have more to do with zooming than anything else.
As soon as I got my second shot, the park closing warning began, so I packed up and made my way home.
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Before I moved to Maine, one of my favorite places to visit was always the Old Port in Portland. The mix of old architecture, restaurants and boutiques made it a must whenever I traveled to Maine for business or pleasure. The centerpiece of the old port for over 100 years the United States Custom House, straddling the area between Fore Street and Commercial Street, right on the waterfront.
The Custom House was built between 1867 and 1872, designed by Alfred B. Mullet, who was the Supervising Architect of the Treasury from 1865 to 1874. There was a need for a new Custom House after the Great Fire of July 4, 1867. The fire had destroyed 1800 buildings in the center of Portland, including the Exchange Building, which had housed the customs office, post office, and several other federal offices.
While I had often admired the building from the street, I had never photographed it. I could never find the right angle, or find a time when the street wasn’t filled with cars parked at the curb. Just by chance, I was in the Old Port one day and happened to park in a parking garage and noticed that I had a clear line to the building with no wires overhead. The next step was picking the right time of day.
From the angle I had on the roof of the parking garage, the waters of Portland Harbor and the islands in Casco Bay were plainly visible. I also knew that the sunrise would be visible behind the building on a clear day, and I assumed the streets would be relatively clear early in the morning. I arrived just as the parking garage opened and made my way to the roof and set up. All I had to do was compose, and wait.
I decided a graduated neutral density filter would help balance the exposure between the sunrise in the sky and the darker foreground of the Custom House, so I used a a Benro 4-stop Hard Edge Graduated Neutral Density filter, and placed the transition exactly on the horizon in the background. This allowed me to open up the shadows on the face of the Custom House and still maintain the orange glow that was present in the sky, that the camera would have lost on its own without some help.
I had planned to also take some images from street level, but by the time I completed my work on the roof of the parking garage, a truck had parked itself in front of the building, making it impossible to get a clean shot, so I called it a successful morning and headed to find some breakfast!
As much as I’ve explored the Maine coast, there is still plenty I haven’t photographed yet. I’m continually amazed at all the beautiful corners I keep finding. I’ve spent some time up in the Rockland area, especially at Marshall Point, but hadn’t spent much time at Owls Head. The main reason being that the lighthouse there isn’t all that dramatic; it’s a stubby 30 foot tower at the top of a bluff overlooking Penobscot Bay. It’s also a difficult spot to photograph. There’s not much room at the top next to the lighthouse and the best way to photograph the lighthouse from a distance is from a boat on the water, which I don’t have ready access to.
Regardless of these obstacles, I like lighthouses and it felt like a serious omission to have not photographed this one yet. So I got out of bed at 4:30am (ouch) and made my way out to Owls Head State Park. Despite promising weather reports, I arrived to overcast skies and intermittent rain. The sunrise I had hoped for never materialized, but I set about making the most of my time, since I’d gotten up so early and had a meeting in Rockland at noon, which meant I couldn’t just call it a morning and head for home.
Frustrated that the weather wasn’t cooperating, I decided to try the beach at Owls Head State Park. From the beach, you look across the bay toward Rockland and in the distance can see Mount Battie in Camden Hills State Park. All I saw was a series of gray tones. I had some rocks on the shoreline, a vast expanse of water,and then the hills in the distance. I decided right then that I wanted to capture an image with strong graphic elements that highlighted the tones. I figured a long exposure of several minutes would flatten out the water and give me a series of gray transitions that would allow the foreground rocks to stand out in contrast with the sharp textures they provided, and in the distance the darker hills would be the end the transitions of gray, white, and black against the light colored misty sky.
I used a Benro Filters 10-stop neutral density filter to give me a four minute exposure, which was more than enough to give me a flat look on the water, and a misty look around the rocks in the foreground. The rising tide ended up covering the rocks more than I expected, so there were fewer rocks in the final exposure. It’s surprising how fast the tide comes in in just four minutes!
Once I finished on the beach, I made my way to another beach on the other side of the peninsula, a short walk away. There, the light started to change and the sun made an appearance. The clouds began to thin out a little bit, creating more drama. I made one image on this beach and then decided to go redo every shot I’d taken of the lighthouse, but this time with better skies.
Completing that task, and with more time to kill before my meeting, I decided to head over to Marshall Point Lighthouse, about a 20 minute drive away. I didn’t have much time there but made two images, including the one that closes this post. All in all, a productive day for me at a place that I hadn’t photographed before.