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.
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Winter Morn at Pemaquid Point

Newfallen Snow at Pemaquid Point
Newfallen Snow at Pemaquid Point

Winter in Maine is both a magical and arduous season. While the cold can be bitter and yes, even deadly, Maine’s natural beauty shines even in the winter, especially after a fresh blanket of snow has fallen. This winter, I have found myself photographing in temperatures as low as -14°F (with a wind chill of -24°F), but have captured some of the most beautiful scenes I’ve come across in the state.

This past Wednesday night, snow fell until early Thursday morning. Since it was only supposed to be about 6 inches worth of snow, I thought the chances were good that my car could get me someplace to photograph. Having already photographed Portland Head Lighthouse on New Years Day, the Nubble last year after a fresh snow, and Marshall Point Lighthouse earlier this month, I decided I needed some images of Pemaquid Point after a fresh snow.

Winter Morning at Pemaquid Point
Winter Morning at Pemaquid Point

The roads to Pemaquid Point weren’t too bad, and the fresh snow was beautiful on the evergreen trees along the roadsides, and the temperature, at 18°F, wasn’t as bitterly cold as I’d experienced earlier in the month. I arrived at Pemaquid Point lighthouse to find that while the entrance to the park had been plowed, the lot itself had been untouched, and no one else had been there. I parked and didn’t see a footprint in the fresh snow anywhere. Perfect.

Not wanting to disturb the pristine blanket of snow, I thought for a moment about how I wanted to plan my images.  I didn’t want any footprints in my images, and I knew I wanted to get down on the rocks below the lighthouse to get the snow covered rocks in the foreground and the lighthouse in the background. I made my way to the far end of the parking lot and walked towards the rocks along the edge of the property.  I knew there was a path down onto the rocks there and I could work my back to where I thought my images were going to be made. The big question was going to be how treacherous the rocks would be with fresh snow and ice.

January Morn at Pemaquid Point
January Morn at Pemaquid Point

I made my way down, slipping once or twice but not too badly, and found the scene as I’d pictured it in my mind. Fresh snow covering the layered rocks as the sky began to glow with the rising sun. It was perfect.  I made a few exposures and moved along the rocks to a couple of other spots, before climbing back up and making my way to the other side of the lighthouse for some images there. As the sun rose to my left, the undulations of the ground cast shadows and revealed the textures of the fresh snow. Still, no one else had been to the park except for one car that pulled in, got out and took a cellphone shot, and left as quickly as they came. I eventually saw some footprints other than mine- presumably those of a fox or other small mammal exploring the rocks.

It was exactly the type of morning that restores peace to my soul, and refreshes my mind.  And exactly the type of morning that makes it worth it to get out of bed at 4:45am and bundle up for a few hours outside.

pemaquid point art for sale

Evergreen Under a Blanket of Snow
Evergreen Under a Blanket of Snow

New Year’s Chill

Winter Morning at Portland Head Lighthouse
Winter Morning at Portland Head Lighthouse

One of the things I love about Maine is the climate.  Some may say I’m crazy, but harsh though it may be, Maine winters offer every bit as much beauty as the other three seasons. Yes, it’s a bit more difficult to photograph in the elements, but it’s no less rewarding.

For the past week or so, Maine has been under a deep freeze, with temperatures below 20° for the better part of 10 days or so. Lows have been in the negatives during that time. While those conditions are daunting, they create some spectacular visuals. In our case along the coast, one of the most beautiful phenomenon the frigid temperatures bring is known as sea smoke. Sea smoke (also known as frost smoke or steam fog) is formed when very cold air moves over warmer water. It is common in the Arctic, and happens in Maine and New England during a particularly cold spell.

New Years Morning at Portland Head Lighthouse
New Years Morning at Portland Head Lighthouse

On New Year’s Eve, looking at the weather conditions for the next day, I decided I would get up at sunrise to capture the sea smoke as the rising sun filtered through it, creating this warm and spectacular light.  So the night before, I planned my excursion, setting out 2 pairs of pants, 4 shirts, wool socks, boots, heavy jacket, fleece hat and facemask, and gloves. Then I dug out hand warmers (thanks Mom!) and toe warmers (Mom again) to put inside my gloves and boots.

I awoke at 5:30am on New Year’s Day to a temperature of -14°F. While the urge to stay under my warm blankets was strong, I forced myself to get up and head out. My first stop was Portland Head Lighthouse.  I’d always wanted to photograph it in winter, with snow on the rocks, and the warm glow of the morning sun. Upon arriving at the lighthouse, I met a few other photographers of similarly questionable sanity, noting that the temperature was still -14°F.

Ice in Portland Harbor
Ice in Portland Harbor

I made my way out onto the rocks, careful to watch my step as there was snow and ice everywhere. I wanted an angle a bit different from the usual shot most people get from the fence at the top of the bluff. I hopped the fence and tried a few different locations on the rocks, first with my Nikon 24-120mm lens, but I wasn’t really thrilled with the composition I was getting, so I switched to my Sigma 14mm f/1.8 Art lens and suddenly the scene came alive for me. I love the look of ultrawide angle lenses, and the Sigma 14mm is superb. Wide angles force me to consider foreground interest in the composition, making for more interesting compositions.

After I felt I’d gotten what I wanted out of Portland Head Light for the day, I decided to head over to Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse in South Portland. I had seen other photographers’ images from the previous few days, and was incredibly jealous that I couldn’t get out due to my work schedule, so this was my chance to create a few of my own.

Icy Morning at Spring Point Ledge Light
Icy Morning at Spring Point Ledge Light

While I did get one image with the 14mm lens that I liked, here the 24-120mm lens was more appropriate. So I once again switched lenses and went back to work. With the tide coming in at Portland Harbor, the huge chunks of ice began to float out a bit, creating an interesting foreground as the lighthouse emerged from the fog into the bright morning sun. It was a breathtaking sight to behold.

All told I spent about two and a half hours outside in sub-zero temperatures photographing the sea smoke around two lighthouses.  After we got back into the car- I had my girlfriend braving the cold with me- we headed to Becky’s Diner for an amazing New Year’s Day breakfast. And to thaw out a bit.

Winter Morning at Spring Point Ledge Lighthoue
Winter Morning at Spring Point Ledge Lighthoue