Baxter State Park

Katahdin Reflections
Katahdin Reflections.

Since moving to Maine last year, Baxter State Park and Mount Katahdin have been on my list of places I need to explore.  I could really use at least a week there, but a few weeks ago, when I found a free 36 hours, I decided to jump in the car and drive the four hours up to Millinocket, Maine, to get my first taste of Katahdin.  I met a friend up there and spent the day hiking and photographing.

After checking in at my motel, I headed to a spot I’d heard about that I was told would be good for sunset, as well as possible night sky photos. So I made my way down the Golden Road to Abol Bridge and waited for the right light.  As the sun went down, the light on Katahdin’s peaks glowed a warm orange, while the mountain was reflected in the waters of Nesowadnehunk Deadwater.

I set up on the bridge, which was problematic because the bridge bounced when anyone walked on it. Any long exposure would be ruined simply by me moving, or someone else stepping onto the bridge. Something to be aware of as the light went down.  As the sun set to my left, I used a Benro Slim Circular Polarizer to help deepen the colors in the sky, and a Benro 3-stop soft-edged graduated neutral density filter to help equalize the exposure between the sky and the foreground.

I waited for darkness to see about shooting the night sky, but hikers coming off the Appalachian Trail were continually crossing the bridge, making long exposures for stars difficult. In addition, the sky had a heavy haze, making stars faint and difficult to focus. I decided to call it a night and head back to the motel so I could be ready for sunrise.

Katahdin Sunrise
Katahdin Sunrise

The next morning, not having had the chance to scout many spots and also feeling that my location for sunset would also make an idea sunrise location, we headed back to Abol Bridge for sunrise.  As the sun came up, clouds moved across the sky and danced around Katahdin’s peak, glowing in the warmth of the rising sun and reflecting again in the water below the bridge.  I again used a Benro circular polarizer and a Benro 3-stop soft edged graduated neutral density filter to help equalize the sky and the foreground exposure.

After photographing sunrise, my friend and I went back into Millinocket and visited the Appalachian Trail Cafe for a good breakfast and to plan what we would do next.  Unfortunately, we wanted to hike the Chimney Pond Trail but when we got into Baxter State Park, were told the lot was full.  We selected the Hunt Trail as a backup and hiked along Katahdin Stream to Katahdin Falls.

Katahdin Stream
Katahdin Stream

We stopped several times along the trail to photograph the stream, and some of the plants along the way. It was a gorgeous early autumn day and we enjoyed every second of it. After reaching the falls, we turned around and headed back to the car to see what else we could see. We decided to head to Dacey Pond.

Mushrooms on Katahdin
Mushrooms on Katahdin

Dacey Pond provided us with a beautiful alpine lakeside setting. We set up near a cabin labeled “The Library” and photographed the sky reflected in the lake. I stepped up onto the porch of the library and found a nice composition with canoes lined up near the shoreline.  It seemed a fitting final shot for the day.

Daicey Pond Campground
Daicey Pond Campground

There’s so much more of Baxter State Park I need to explore, and I need more time to do it. But I’m happy for the time I had last month.

More images from Katahdin here.

 

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Sunrise to Sunset: Why I love Maine

Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.
-John Muir

Ogunquit Sunrise
Ogunquit Sunrise. I used a 3-stop ND Grad from Benro Master Filters to maintain the color in the sky and the detail in the foreground rocks, and a 3-stop ND filter to slow the exposure enough to get the water to blur as it crashed over the rocks.

Yesterday I had the type of day that reminds me why I love Maine so much.  I started the day before dawn, driving to a seaside walkway in Ogunquit known as Marginal Way. It’s called Marginal Way because it is situated on a slim margin of land between the town and the Atlantic Ocean.

Morning Calm on Marginal Way
Morning Calm on Marginal Way. Here I used a 10-stop ND filter to make a long exposure of 4 minutes to allow the water to blur so much it becomes smooth. It’s essentially the same composition as the image above, but the use of a long exposure completely changes the scene.

Arriving shortly before sunrise, I began walking the path at Marginal Way in that soft blue light before the sun breaks the horizon and the sky turns pink. There were hundreds of spots to choose from, but I settled on a small cove created by several large rock formations, where I noticed waves occasionally crashing over the rocks on an otherwise calm morning. There was a thin haze in the air, hanging over the water, filtering the light as the sun rose. The sky turned pink and even a bit red as the sun finally broke the horizon and waves washed over the rocks in front of me. It was just enough to show the motion of the Atlantic washing over the rocks, but not as violently as during a high tide or a storm. It was a perfect morning, worth getting up early for and the best way I know to start a day.

Dawn on Marginal Way
As the sun rose higher in the sky, I wanted to capture the soft, warm light on the rocks. I decided to again use a long exposure, again, for four minutes, to smooth the water and allow the warm light to paint the rocks.

Next, I needed to take care of some personal business- car inspection and registration.  After quickly dispatching of that, I went home and edited my images from sunrise. It was just barely 10am, so I still had all day to spend and no idea how to spend it. I wanted to go out photographing, but I didn’t know where. Not that I was bored with the coast, but I really wanted to go somewhere I hadn’t been before. I was glad I did.

Afternoon on Tumbledown Mountain
As I cleared the trees, this was the scene that I was presented with. It was so serene and peaceful. I added a Benro Master Filters Slim Circular Polarizer to help manage reflection and to darken the blue sky some more.

I settled on Tumbledown Mountain, two hours north of me. I wanted a hike, but I have requirements for where I’ll hike. It must be picturesque, with great views and some photographic interest. I’d Googled Tumbledown and saw enough that I decided it was worth a visit.  So I made my way up to Tumbledown and hoped my GPS wouldn’t lead me astray.

Tumbledown Mountain has an elevation of 3,054 feet at its highest point. The easiest route is about a two-hour hike and climb to the top.  I chose this route, being out of shape and really not caring how I got up there. While the climb is important, for me, it’s about the views. I really wasn’t prepared for what I found when I got to just below the summit.

View at Sunset from Tumbledown Mountain
I didn’t have as much time to explore as I’d normally like. With the sun setting I needed to at least get back to the trail beneath the field of boulders. I took one last look at the view before heading down.

After a long hike up an old logging road, a climb over a rocky trail, lots of cursing myself for undertaking this climb, and finally, a more vertical scramble over rocks and boulders, I made it to a ridge and some trees.  As I followed the trail, I came through the trees and was presented with a scene straight out of a Disney movie. Instantly I knew the climb had been worth it and I would be back again.

At the top of Tumbledown Mountain, just below the summit, is an alpine lake. The water is clear, the air is fresh and sweet. It is as inviting a scene as I’ve ever been witness to.  As the sun began to drop just below the peak, I began to photograph, knowing I had to work fast and get back down over the rock scramble before total darkness hit. I figured I could handle the footpath in the dark but the rock scramble I needed light for. I quickly explored and made plans to return soon.

The top of Tumbledown instantly became one of my favorite places in Maine, and it only took me 20 years to find it.  But the true wonder of yesterday was the fact that I could start my day watching the sun rise on the coast, and finish it watching the sun set in the mountains, and it only took me two hours to get from one to the other. Maine is the perfect place for me.

Dusk on Tumbledown Mountain
As the sun went behind the peak, I set up for a long exposure, again using the Benro Master Filters 10-stop ND, along with a 3-stop ND grad, to help control the wide range of contrast between the sky and foreground. This was another four minute exposure that smoothed the water and allowed the cloud in the sky to blur.

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One Year In Maine: A Look Back

One year ago, due to a variety of circumstances, I made the decision to pick up and relocate to Freeport, Maine. On September 1, 2016, I became a Maine resident. Living in Maine had long been a dream of mine, and despite the turmoil I endured in getting to where I felt a relocation was necessary and possible, it has been worth it. The Maine landscape long called to me and inspired me in my work as a photographer. What follows below is a retrospective of my first year of exploration of my new home.

Sunrise at Portland Head Lighthouse, Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
September 5, 2016: This was the first morning I was able to get out and photograph after moving in. I was greeted with a spectacular sunrise and watched a cruise ship enter the harbor. It was a morning of fresh starts and was a great way to start my new life in Maine.
Muscongus Bay Sunrise
September 13, 2016: When I was in Maine in August looking for a place to live, a friend told me about Laverna Preserve in Bristol. This preserve, tucked away on the Pemaquid Peninsula, is a beautiful area with breathtaking views of Muscongus Bay. Areas like this are why I love Maine and love getting out and exploring with my camera.
Dawn Over Pemaquid Point
October 16, 2016: Pemaquid Point has long been one of my favorite places to photograph in the midcoast area of Maine. On this morning I went with the intention of photographing something other than the lighthouse there. It was a crisp fall morning with a stiff breeze blowing. There wasn’t a ton of interest in the sky but there were a lot of small pools formed on the rocks that created foreground interest.
Autumn in New England
October 16, 2016: When I first moved here, I was told I should visit Vaughn Woods in Hallowell. The stone arch bridges and rushing waterfalls, combined with the gorgeous autumn colors, made for a peaceful morning photo walk.
The Nubble and the Full Moon
November 14, 2016: The full moon in November was what’s been called a super moon, where the moon appears larger than normal. I positioned myself on Long Sands Beach in York, and used a 600mm lens to compress the perspective and capture both the lighthouse and the moon in a single shot.
Spring Point Ledge Light Station
November 15, 2016: I first photographed Spring Point Ledge Light from almost this exact spot in 1999, on film. While the sky was a bit cloudy, it was perfect for a long exposure. This three minute exposure captured the cloud movement beautifully and made the lighthouse stand out.
Dawn at Marshall Point
November 28, 2016: I’d never been to Marshall Point before, and didn’t realize it wasn’t really that far from me. I finally made it there in November and photographed a gorgeous sunrise.
Holidays Aglow
December 11, 2016: Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens hosts a Christmas light show every holiday season, with the gardens aglow with lights. It’s amazing to see, and well worth a visit.
Winter Morning at Cape Neddick
January 8, 2017: Well into January I still had not photographed any snowfall. Knowing we were going to get about six inches overnight, I made plans to get up and photograph sunrise at Cape Neddick lighthouse with the freshly fallen snow. The lighthouse was still lit up for the holidays and it was so cold steam was rising off the water.
Sunrise Over Wells Beach
March 2, 2017: Wells Beach was another location I visited on one of my earliest trips to Maine in 1999. At high tide, the entire sand is covered, but once the tide recedes, tidal pools remain and the sand is covered in ripples left by the water. At sunrise, the low, angular light catches the ripples and creates patterns around the pools. One of my favorite spots to photograph in Maine.
Cape Porpoise
March 29, 2017: I’d stumbled across Cape Porpoise on my 1999 visit but at the time was too much of a landscape photo neophyte to do it justice. On this brisk March afternoon, the sky dazzled as the lobster boats danced on the tide.
Sunrise at Wolfe's Neck Woods
April 18, 2017: Five miles down the road from my home in Freeport is this beautiful state park known as Wolfe’s Neck Woods. I decided to photograph it at sunrise one April morning and spent several hours photographing Googins Island and along the shoreline as the sun rose.
Spring Sunrise at Portland Head
April 23, 2017: A friend was visiting me in April and I wanted her to experience a sunrise at Portland Head. I wanted a different angle than the usual one from the other side of the lighthouse and we were greeted with this view.
Sunrise at Bald Head Cliff
May 8, 2017: I’d never heard of Bald Head Cliff in York, and came across a photo and knew I had to photograph there. This was my second attempt there as my first try was a flat great day.
Spring Morning in Acadia National Park
May 19, 2017: By mid-May, I’d been itching to get to Acadia for some photography. I wasn’t able to get a prolonged period of time, but I headed up for sunrise and spent a peaceful morning in the park before heading to breakfast at Jordan’s in Bar Harbor.
Spring Flow at Smalls Falls
June 6, 2017: I’d always been in love with the Maine coastline, but there is tremendous beauty inland and I’m really enjoying exploring it. Smalls Falls was the first waterfall I visited in Maine and I’m definitely looking forward to finding more.
Sunset at Marshall Point
July 15, 2017: Decided to revisit Marshall Point for sunset, as I’d never been here for sunset before. I was rewarded with a beautiful sunset.
Camden Harbor from the Summit of Mount Battie
June 22, 2017: Explored the midcoast a bit this day and drove to the top of Mount Battie for this breathtaking view of Camden Harbor.
Stonington Harbor
June 22, 2017: I met a photographer from Tennessee who’d mentioned he was staying up in Stonington. I’d never been there so I decided to head up there to see what it was like. It’s such a cute little town and definitely a place I need to explore some more.
Bailey Island Coastline
July 2, 2017: I’d been told soon after I arrived in Maine, that Giant’s Stairs on Bailey Island was a place I needed to photograph. It took me a while but I finally got there. While the skies were gray and the shoreline was foggy, the high surf created some dramatic images.
Sunset at Spring Point Ledge
July 2, 2017: I’d first visited Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse in 1999. I hadn’t discovered this view until this summer when I ran into a photographer from one of the Facebook groups I belong to. The leading lines of the fort out to the breakwater make this image for me.
Celebration in Boothbay Harbor
July 4, 2017: I celebrated my first Independence Day in Maine in New England style. Met up with some friends, had a lobster roll and a beer, and photographed the fireworks over Boothbay Harbor.
Steaming Past the Giant's Stairs
July 7, 2017: My first time shooting at the Giant’s Stairs was a mixed bag- I had dramatic waves crashing on the rocks, but the sky was flat and bland. This time, I had a more dramatic sky, but the waters surounding Bailey Island were much calmer. A beautiful place for a walk along the shore.
Tied Up
July 9, 2017: I caught this image in Tenant’s Harbor after staying up all night and (unsuccessfully, due to clouds) photographing the night sky. Something a little different for me but I enjoy finding these little snippets of Maine.
July Sunrise at Portland Head
July 30, 2017: I had scheduled a session with a model for the park around the lighthouse on this morning, and decided to get up early and catch the sunrise. There’s just something about capturing the start of a day that is both calming and exhilirating. I can’t do it everyday, but those days I get out of bed before the sun rises are well worth it.
Dawn on Old Orchard Beach
August 2, 2017: Old Orchard Beach is a place that takes me back to summers when I was kid at the Jersey Shore. The pier reminds me of the boardwalk at Point Pleasant Beach, with the fried food, the games, and other attractions. I knew I wanted to photograph the pier but it took me some time to get around to it. Once I did, I was not disappointed.
Height of Land
August 4, 2017: The Rangeley Lakes Region is an area that I had often been told I needed to go see. The area is breathtaking and I plan to spend a lot more time with my camera there. On this morning, I’d planned to shoot at sunrise at Height of Land, overlooking Mooselookmeguntic Lake. Nature had other ideas and instead I was treated to the drama of a fog bank moving through the valley.
Dusk on Littlejohn Island
August 14 2017: In searching for places a bit more off the beaten path, I came across Littlejohn Island Preserve in Yarmouth. While not as dramatic as places such as Giant’s Stairs, there is a peacefulness here that I think I captured nicely in this sunset image.
High Tide at Portland Head Lighthouse
August 16, 2017: Portland Head Lighthouse is a big draw for photographers, with good reason. I’d been waiting a long time to catch it with a high tide caused by a storm at sea. While the tides this night were bigger than normal, they weren’t the epic tides I hope to see one day here. On this night, I climbed out on the rocks with a friend to capture the sunset.
Rockland Breakwater Light
August 19, 2017: I’ve tried to photograph Rockland Breakwater lighthouse several times since I’ve moved here. I am represented by Gallery 440 in Rockland so I’ve made several trips up and always stop here to at least walk the breakwater. Each time I’ve gone with my camera, however, I’ve been met with gray skies. One day I’ll catch it with some beautifully warm sunlight shining down!
Great Falls Balloon Festival
August 20, 2017: Decided to head to the sunrise launch at the Great Falls Balloon Festival in Lewiston and Auburn, Maine. It was something different and I’d always wanted to shoot a sunrise balloon launch. The winds didn’t quite cooperate so the shot I’d envisioned never came to pass, but I still managed to capture a few I was happy with.
Coos Canyon
August 22, 2017: While the Maine coast has always been my first love, I am quickly finding that the Rangeley Lakes Region may be my second. The beauty of some of the waterfalls, mountains, lakes, and canyons is simply amazing. While normally I prefer to use vibrant color in my images, black and white felt best for capturing the textures of Coos Canyon.
On Penobscot Bay
August 24, 2017: In late August my son came up for a visit. We took a sunset cruise from Camden Harbor on Penobscot Bay. As we were returning to the harbor, I suddenly heard the sound of a buoy bell. I quickly raised my camera just in time to grab this shot as the sun set behind Camden Hills.

Maine Art at Fine Art America

Favorite Places: Montauk Point

Sunrise Over The East End
Sunrise Over The East End

Much as I’ve made my disdain for most areas of Long Island well known, I always enjoyed photographing at Montauk Point. The combination of rocky shoreline, the lighthouse standing high atop the bluff, looking out at the sea, and the Atlantic Ocean crashing against the rocks, always makes for some beautiful images.

The series of shots shown in this post were taken on a December morning in 2015. It was a warmer morning and I only needed a sweatshirt.  A friend of mine was up visiting from Florida, and had never been to Montauk before so I told him I’d take him. The catch was, he had to be awake at 4am so we’d be there for sunrise.

Light and Dark at Montauk Point
Light and Dark at Montauk Point

The weather report called for “partly cloudy” but when we arrived, we were greeted with a very heavy cloud cover. But looking at the horizon, I could see a faint glow, indicating a break in the cloud cover. If that break held, I knew we might get a few moments of magic.

We walked down to the beach and scoped out a spot and I began taking some pictures.  The first few were a bit gray and dreary from the cloud cover, but all of a sudden, the sun got to the horizon and there was an explosion of color there.  The clouds stayed dark and gray above, making for an interesting combination of dark and stormy and bright and hopeful. The effect lasted about 5 minutes before the clouds moved in again.

Montauk Storm Clouds
Montauk Storm Clouds

I tried a variety of approaches that morning. First, I just wanted to capture the water rushing over the rocks, so I simply used a graduated neutral density filter to help darken the sky a bit, and then a moderately long shutter speed to capture the movement of the water. After a while I decided to try a few really long exposures and came up with one that’s a bit more haunting, with the rocks appearing to disappear into the mist.

I think one of the reasons I love photographing at Montauk is that it’s the one place on Long Island that’s very similar to Maine, which I’ve loved since my first visit and finally moved to last year.  The rocky shoreline and boulders on the beach are similar to some of my favorite spots here. One of these days I’ll visit again.

Montauk Point and the Milky Way
Montauk Point and the Milky Way
Late Autumn Storm at Montauk Point
Late Autumn Storm at Montauk Point

More Montauk Point images here.

Monument Cove

Sunrise in Monument Cove
Sunrise in Monument Cove

Several years ago, on my first “real” visit to Acadia- I had done a few day trips here and there – I saw a photo of a cobblestone beach in a cove, somewhere off of the Park Loop Road. I’m not sure what it was, but something about that beach called to me and I knew I had to photograph it.  The problem was, I had no idea exactly where it was!

As I explored the park, I began to narrow down the location of this beach. Along the way, I found Little Hunters Beach, Boulder Beach, and Otter Point. Then one day, walking along the coastal trail, I found it. Monument Cove. There’s no sign for it, and I’m not going to give away it’s exact location here to those who don’t know. It’s difficult to get down into, but not impossible. Once I figured out how, I couldn’t wait to shoot this beautiful nook in Acadia National Park.

Spring Morning in Acadia National Park
Spring Morning in Acadia National Park

My first time there, the light was less than ideal.  I had found it after the golden hour ended, and the morning sun was now harsh and getting harsher. I made the best of it and got a few shots I was happy with, though I knew I could do better if I planned to be there before the sun rose.

A few weeks ago, I made the drive up to Acadia in the dead of night. I was hoping to get some clear skies for some star trails, but when I arrived, the sky was heavily clouded.  I had about 2 hours to civil twilight, so I made my way down into the cove and found a place to sit and wait and just listen to the waves rattle the cobblestones.

Pastel Dawn in Monument Cove
Pastel Dawn in Monument Cove

Once the light started to change, I pulled out my camera and got ready for the fun. The cloud cover thinned somewhat, and I anticipated some great color.  It wasn’t quite as epic as I’d hoped, but it was still a beautiful sunrise, and I managed to spend a good amount of time in the cover capturing the stones and waves at different angles with a soft warm glow bathing them.

Once I determined I was finished in Monument Cove, I drove the Park Loop Road and stopped at a few other spots, before I headed into Bar Harbor for breakfast at Jordan’s. It was the perfect finish to a long night/early morning, before heading back down the coast to home, where some editing awaited me.

Dawn in Monument Cove
Dawn in Monument Cove

Sunrise

Sunrise at Wolfe's Neck Woods
The sun breaks through the trees on Googins Island in Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park in Freeport, Maine.

I like photographing any time there is good light, be it midday, afternoon, evening, or morning. My favorite time of all though, is sunrise. There is soemthing magical about sunrise- that change from dark, to light that happens. But more than that, there is a peace and calm in the air that isn’t there later in the day.  The air hasn’t been disturbed by people going about their business. There aren’t many cars on the road, there aren’t many people walking around.

Sunrise Over Wells Beach
Sunrise Over Wells Beach

When I get to a location for a sunrise shoot, there’s always a bit of trepidation on my part. The calm and quiet is almost unsettling.  You hear the birds beginning to stir, maybe some of the nocturnal creatures in the underbrush. You step a little more carefully.

Dawn at Marshall Point
Dawn at Marshall Point

When I get to my shooting spot, often times it’s a place I’ve been to during the day, so I have some idea of what it will look like as the light comes up. But it’s always different in the dark; more mysterious somehow. As the light slowly comes up, everything changes. The glow on the horizon becomes more intense, the sky is revealed, and the trees and rocks begin to take on more detail and definition.

My favorite part of shooting at sunrise is the solitude. There’s so much overload these days- cell phones, computers, people at work, people we meet during the day.  It’s nice to get that hour or two to myself, to enjoy the birdsong, the sunrise, that start of the day. It’s a reset, in a way. And it gives me something to talk about to those people who may not have been able to tear themselves away from their blankets at such an early hour!

Sunrise at Bald Head Cliff
Sunrise at Bald Head Cliff

Bald Head Cliff, Maine

The tide rushes in at Bald Head Cliff in Cape Neddick, Maine.
The tide rushes in at Bald Head Cliff in Cape Neddick, Maine.

One of the great things about the times we live in, as a photographer, is the abundance of information being shared about where we go to photograph. I often enjoy discovering a place on my own, but many times, there are hidden gems we just don’t know about that we only discover when someone else mentions them to us.

Such was the case when, this past Saturday, I was browsing one of the many Facebook photography groups I belong to when I came across a photo someone shared of Bald Head Cliff, in Cape Neddick, Maine. I’d been through the area many times before, but this location is a bit hidden, as it is right behind a hotel and restaurant known as The Cliff House. It had never occurred to me that such a beautiful location existed beyond the views of the Atlantic Ocean afforded by the rooms of the hotel.

Waves pound the rocks at Bald Head Cliff in Cape Neddick, Maine.
Waves pound the rocks at Bald Head Cliff in Cape Neddick, Maine.

As you walk behind the hotel, there is a walk along the rocks that jut out into the ocean. These rocks lend a lot of interest to the foregrounds of photos and the southeast facing shoreline is perfect for capturing sunrise. Once I found the location I scrambled down onto the rocks to find a good vantage point for the sunrise, as well as a good foreground for my shots. Unfortunately, the sunrise never materialized, hiding behind a thick gray wall of clouds. But the Atlantic Ocean put on a display of its fury as the previous day’s winter storm was churning the ocean, and large waves pounded the rocks.

The ocean was more than a bit intimidating, so I was careful where I set up, and though I desperately wanted to get closer to add some drama to the images, I chose to stay at a safe distance.  I still almost got wet once or twice, but managed to avoid any catastrophes.

The images you see here are the result of my morning at Bald Head Cliff.  I definitely plan on visiting again, to try and get a more dramatic sunrise, but even though the sunrise was a bit on the dull side, the ocean gave me plenty to see and photograph.

A wave breaks over the rocks at Bald Head Cliff, in Cape Neddick, Maine.
A wave breaks over the rocks at Bald Head Cliff, in Cape Neddick, Maine.