2018 in Review, Part 2

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!

And now…. part 2 of my Best of 2018!

Sunrise at Spring Point Ledge
Sunrise at Spring Point Ledge. Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse is often overlooked when thinking of local lighthouses to photograph. It doesn’t offer the drama of Portland Head Light, or the charm of the Nubble, an hour south. But there’s something about this lighthouse, perched at the end of the breakwater at the entrance to Portland Harbor. I often visit and photograph here and have found some of my favorite sunrises and sunsets here.
Wolfe's Neck Reflections
Wolfe’s Neck Reflection. When I first moved to Maine, and found a home in Freeport, I was often told I needed to visit Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park. I still don’t get there as much as I’d like, but each time I go, I’m surprised at the natural beauty and peace I find here. This morning was no different, as the waters of Casco Bay were so calm, they reflected the sky as the sun rose.
Dawn at Potts Point
Dawn at Potts Point. I love Orrs and Bailey Islands, just south of Brunswick, Maine. There are many great spots to catch a sunrise and a sunset, but I was unprepared for the vibrance of this sunrise when I walked into Potts Point Preserve back in August. It was one of the most colorful sunrises I’d ever seen.
Tall White Asters at West Quoddy Head
Tall White Asters at West Quoddy Head. I almost missed this one. I had been photographing at West Quoddy Head State Park in August, and was just about finished up for the morning and ready to go find breakfast. I was walking back to my car and saw this grouping of flowers decided to take one last shot using the flowers for my foreground. It’s easily one of my favorite shots of the year.
The Seoul Skyline
The Seoul Skyline. In September, I went to visit my brother at Camp Humphrey in South Korea. We spent a couple of days in Seoul and one of the highlights was having some great German beer in a beer garden in Namsan Park. Then, once the sun set and the lights came up, I photographed the Seoul skyline at twilight. Seoul is an amazing city, on the leading edge of technology, sprawling amongst the mountains of Korea.
Moss Glen Falls And Deer Hollow Brook In Black And White
Moss Glen Falls And Deer Hollow Brook In Black And White. It’s not often that I choose black and white for my images, but the images from this visit to Moss Glen Falls in Vermont seemed to make the decision for me.
Autumn Waterfall in Hallowell
Autumn Waterfall in Hallowell. Vaughan Woods has become a regular haunt for me, especially in the fall. This year, we had some heavy rains so the waterfalls were flowing especially strong on this visit.
Early Morning In The Old Port
Early Morning in the Old Port. Portland’s waterfront has long been a draw for me. I’d never photographed one of its centerpieces, the United States Custom House. In October, I decided to rectify that and managed to catch a sunrise there. The 19th century architecture in the area brings such a historic feel to the city.
Autumn Sky at Wells Beach
Autumn Sky at Wells Beach. I first stumbled upon Wells Beach 20 years ago on a visit to Maine. Now that I live here, I knew I would go back. At low tide, the beach is just full of interest, with rocks, reflection pools, and sand that sometimes ripples from the wind. My favorite time there is sunrise at low tide, when the pools reflect the morning color.
High Tide at Dusk
High Tide at Dusk. I love Portland Head light. I also especially love clamoring across the rocky shoreline to find a perch that gives me a foreground of waves crashing violently and the lighthouse stoically standing watch. On this night, I left work and raced to make sunset at the lighthouse. I had 10 minutes to spare, climbed out on the rocks and took a handful of images before the light faded.
Tidal Cascade At Cape Neddick
Tidal Cascade At Cape Neddick. I love high tide at the Nubble. The rushing water over the rocks always creates such interest, so even when the sky isn’t dramatic, the water on the rocks is.

 

Have a great year!

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2018 in Review, Part 1

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:

Icy Morning at Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse
Icy Morning at Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse. New Year’s Day, 2018. Easily, this was the coldest day I’ve ever been out photographing. The temperature was -14°F with a wind chill of -24°F. Somehow I came away with several good shots of this day, but this one, where the sun broke through briefly and gave the sea smoke a pink and purple tone, is my favorite.
Winter Freeze At Marshall Point
Winter Freeze At Marshall Point. This image was taken one week after New Year’s Day. The temperature was a slightly warmer -4°F. There wasn’t any sea smoke this far into the harbor, but the ice that glazed the rocks made for an especially interesting foreground.
Newfallen Snow At Pemaquid Point
Newfallen Snow At Pemaquid Point. It had been snowing the night before but was expected to clear by morning. I got up early for sunrise and drove an hour to Pemaquid Point, hoping that one, I could make it there without getting stuck, and two, the snow would be as good as I hoped. I was very careful not to walk anyplace I felt might be in the photo, making a big circle around the area I expected to photograph. For two hours, I was the only person there, enjoying the sound of waves crashing on the rocks, the peacefulness of the snow-covered landscape as the sun rose, and natural beauty before me.
Barns At Jenne Farm In Winter
Barns At Jenne Farm In Winter. Jenne Farm is one of those iconic locations everyone needs to photograph. I haven’t had what I would call “ideal” conditions there yet, but I’ve gotten some good shots each time I’ve vistted. This shot was my first time there, as I scouted locations for a workshop I was teaching.
Winter at the Maple Sugar Shack
Winter at the Maple Sugar Shack. Visiting this quintessential Vermont location was an experience I won’t forget. As one of the instructors on a workshop, it was amazing to see the students come up with different images from a single, simple location. I just love the bright red maple sugar shack against the stark white of a freshly fallen snow.
High Tide at Cape Neddick
High Tide at Cape Neddick. This was an early March day, and I was hoping to see some color in the skies for sunrise. It wasn’t to be, but a storm at sea provided some dramatic wave action.
Afternoon Reflection at Portland Head Lighthouse
Afternoon Reflection at Portland Head Lighthouse. There is simply so much to see at Portland Head, that the compositional opportunities are endless. Yes, it’s a heavily photographed lighthouse, but if you’re willing to explore and find a different point of view, it’s very easy to capture interesting images. This pool is a case in point. At low tide, it’s easily accessible, and creates a beautiful reflection of the lighthouse.
Gathering Clouds at Pemaquid Point
Gathering Clouds at Pemaquid Point. The sky put on a show on this evening at Pemaquid Point. While it wasn’t a colorful sunset, the dramatic clouds made it a beautiful evening.
Windows Of The Lobstermen's Shop
Windows Of The Lobstermen’s Shop. I saw this scene in Friendship Harbor, and must admit another photographer showed it to me first (Thanks Janie!). I love the textures of the weathered old building, the repetition of the three windows, and the brightly colored buoys that indicate exactly what the building is.
Spring Morning at Marshall Point
Spring Morning at Marshall Point. I was teaching a workshop along midcoast Maine the morning I made this image. The tide was low, giving us a unique angle on the sunrise behind the lighthouse. It was gratifying to have my students out on the rocks with me, as everyone was able to capture stunning images of the scene- even those who a day or two before would not have ventured out on those rocks!
Doubling Point Lighthouse
Doubling Point Lighthouse. Visited this lighthouse for the first time in the late spring. It’s a quiet little spot on the Kennebec River, just south of Bath. While it lacks the drama of some other lighthouses, it was a fun shoot with lots interest on the banks of the river.
Dory in Bernard Harbor
Dory in Bernard Harbor. I was assisting on a workshop in Acadia and we were photographing what appeared to be a somewhat bland sunset in Bernard Harbor. Suddenly the light turned magical. The lead instructor called to me and pointed out this white dory with bright yellow paddles moored to the dock. He used a tripod to push it out a bit away from the dock, and some of the students took a few shots. When they were done he asked if I wanted to grab a shot. I took a few shots and then we called it a day. The warm afterglow of sunset with the darker water and the dory in front of the fishing shacks and stacks of traps make this a magical image for me.
Young Barred Owl in Acadia
Young Barred Owl in Acadia. While walking the paths at Sieur de Monts in Acadia National Park, I came across three barred owls in the trees near the path. Two were juveniles, while the mother watched them from a distance. I’m not usually one to go searching for wildlife to photograph, but I had added the Tamron 100-400mm lens to my bag for occasions just like this one. That lens earned its place in my bag that day.
Fern Layers
Fern Layers. I’m not one for photographing plants much. But once in a while it can be fun to turn my lens towards flowers and plants. This fern was in Asticou Azalea Gardens, near Acadia. I liked the different layers created by the leaves, and, I liked the play of light and shadow coupled with the shallow depth of field.
Dusk at Schoodic Point
Dusk at Schoodic Point. On the last night of the Acadia workshop I assisted on, we headed to Schoodic Point and were treated to a spectacular sunset. I used a Benro graduated neutral density filter to help balanxe the exposure in the sky with the foreground exposure. This puddle on the rocks reflecting the sky provided the perfect foreground interest. The perfect ending to the workshop.

My Best of… 2015??

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.

As always, my work is available for sale at www.rickberk.com.

Without further ado, in no particular order, my best of 2015:

Sunrise Over The East End
Sunrise Over The East End
Cape May Twilight
Cape May Twilight
Lower Kaaterskill Falls II
Lower Kaaterskill Falls II

Golden Sun
Golden Sun
Sunrise, Sandy Hook
Sunrise, Sandy Hook
Oaks In Laurel Hill Park, Mount Pleasant, SC
Oaks In Laurel Hill Park, Mount Pleasant, SC
Sunrise In The Smokies
Sunrise In The Smokies
Autumn Glow
Autumn Glow
Cape May High Tide
Cape May High Tide
Sunset at Lower Fox Creek Schoolhouse
Sunset at Lower Fox Creek Schoolhouse
Tumult
Tumult
Cape Kiwanda Twilight
Cape Kiwanda Twilight
Day's End in Cannon Beach
Day’s End in Cannon Beach
Skyline Arch in the Late Day Sun
Skyline Arch in the Late Day Sun
Winter's Glow at Montauk Point
Winter’s Glow at Montauk Point
Jersey Afterglow
Jersey Afterglow
Mount Hood Reflections
Mount Hood Reflections
Dallas Aglow
Dallas Aglow
Marin Headlands
Marin Headlands
Sunset at Water's Edge
Sunset at Water’s Edge
Sentinel Dawn
Sentinel Dawn
Sunrise on Sentinel Dome
Sunrise on Sentinel Dome
Tunnel View in Black and White
Tunnel View in Black and White
Steel City Glow
Steel City Glow, Pittsburgh, PA
Mount Rainier Meadow
Mount Rainier Meadow
The Magic Bus
The Magic Bus

 

 

 

High Tide at Portland Head Light

High Tide at Dusk
High Tide at Dusk

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.

If you would like to support me and my art, consider purchasing a print or other item with my image on it at my website.

Receding Cascade at Portland Head
Receding Cascade at Portland Head
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Daylight Saving Special!

Get free shipping this weekend on all of my work at Fine Art America! Use code BBFTRJ to receive an additional discount. Offer ends at midnight on Sundayn night, November 4th 2018.
Get free shipping this weekend on all of my work at Fine Art America! Use code BBFTRJ to receive an additional discount. Offer ends at midnight on Sundayn night, November 4th 2018.

I don’t like to do too much overt advertising here, but Fine Art America, where my images are available as prints and more, is offering free shipping all weekend, starting today through midnight Sunday!

To take advantage of this, all you need to do is visit Rick Berk Artwork Collections and find an image you like! For an added bonus, only for readers of my blog, use code BBFTRJ to receive an additional discount. Don’t wait, the offer ends Sunday night at midnight!

Sunrise at Marshall Point
Sunrise at Marshall Point

The Custom House

Early Morning in the Old Port
Early Morning In The Old Port

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.

United States Custom House
United States Custom House

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!

Owls Head

Penobscot Bay Tranquility
Penobscot Bay Tranquility

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.

Clearing Storm at Owls Head
Clearing Storm at Owls Head

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.

Autumn Morning at Owls Head in Black and White
Autumn Morning at Owls Head in Black and White

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!

Owls Head Lighthouse In Black And White
Owls Head Lighthouse In Black And White

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.

I will be leading a workshop in the Rockland area in May 2019 for Hunt’s Photo Adventures. If interested, visit the Hunt’s Photo Adventures website for more information.

October Morning At Marshall Point
October Morning At Marshall Point