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

Behind the Shots: Cannon Beach Sunset

Day's End in Cannon Beach
Day’s End in Cannon Beach

Over the years, as I became more interested in landscape photography, I would look at other photographers’ work for locations I wanted to photograph myself. One of the places that stood out to me fairly early was Cannon Beach, Oregon.  Dominated by Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach is a flat, sandy beach with lots of driftwood, seaweed, and water that seems to go on forever.  Visitors start small campfires and spend the cool Pacific Northwest summer evenings watching the sunset by the fire.  When I first saw photos of Haystack Rock reflected in wet sand, I knew I had to add Cannon Beach to my list.

My first visit was in 2013. Then, in June 2015, I had an opportunity to visit again briefly while traveling on business. I made it a point to get there when I found two open days in my schedule. The first of the open days I traveled south to Cape Kiwanda, and spent sunset there.  But I knew the next day was reserved for Cannon Beach.

Sunset at Haystack Rock
Sunset at Haystack Rock

I had spent most of the day just exploring, waiting for better light. But I had an early dinner and headed to Cannon Beach in plenty of time for sunset.  Walking along the flat sandy beach brought back memories of my 2013 trip as I took in the view and tried to plan where I wanted to be.  I knew that from a certain angle, the sun would be setting almost directly behind Haystack Rock, so I knew as I made my way across the beach that when the sun finally kissed the horizon, I would want to be in a spot that lined up the sun with the giant seastack.

For the images you see here, I used a Vü Filters 3-stop soft edge ND filter to hold the sky exposure back and better match it to the foreground. I also knew I’d want a somewhat slower shutter speed to allow the water to blur slightly as the waves lapped at the shoreline. Once I found the settings I wanted to use and had my exposure right, I set about finding compositions that were interesting to me, trying not to copy what I’d done three years earlier.

Sunset on Cannon Beach
Sunset on Cannon Beach

On this day, Mother Nature did not disappoint. A soft, cool mist formed in the distance, creating an air of mystery on the beach, while the sun glowed a warm orange, and the sky remained a deep shade of indigo. Clouds moved in just enough to catch the color and add texture to the sky. Now all there was to do was to click my shutter and enjoy the sounds of the Pacific as I took in the amazing show.

One of the coolest things about photography for me is the way it has enabled me to make new friends. On this night, there were several others out photographing as well, and I struck up a conversation with a woman about my age named Heather. We each went about our business of finding images to capture and in between, traded some stories and small details about ourselves. It was a great way to spend the evening.  We ended up becoming Facebook friends, and while we don’t talk much directly, we share similar political views and will “like” and comment on the goings on in each other’s life. One of the many benefits photography has brought into my life.

So as the night moved in and we packed it in, I walked back to my car and found myself stuck in traffic heading back to Portland for my business event the next day. After completing the event I flew back to NY, and went about my business. But this sunset in Cannon Beach sticks with me. I can’t wait to get back there.