Return to Bailey Island

Tempest on Bailey Island
Tempest on Bailey Island

One of the nicer hidden gems along the coast of Maine is Bailey Island in the town of Harpswell. I’d never heard of it until I moved here and a few of my new friends mentioned it to me. I first photographed here in 2017, and returned a couple of times last year. I don’t quite feel like I’ve exhausted the possibilities here just yet.

Yesterday, I decided to return here because I hadn’t been in a while. I was hoping to photograph Mackerel Cove or the cribstone bridge at sunrise, neither of which I’d done before. The sunrise forecast looked promising earlier in the week, but as I woke up yesterday morning the report had changed and it was expected to be a dud as far as color in the sky went. I decided to switch to plan B and head to Giants Stairs, a short distance away.  The tide would be coming in and the incoming storm would have the waters of Casco Bay churning up against the rocky shoreline.

Fury of Casco Bay
Fury of Casco Bay

The Giants Stairs trail follows a short stretch of rocky shoreline on the east side of Bailey Island. Named for the rock formation that evokes the look of a huge staircase, this trail overlooks Casco Bay. There are several areas of interest, including Pinnacle Rock, Giants Stairs, and Thunder Hole. There are several places to step off the trail and climb around the rocks, where waves crash against and wash over the rocks, creating all sorts of visual interest. Since the sky refused to cooperate and produced little in the way of interest, I focused on the patterns created by the water washing over the rocks, as well as the explosiveness of the waves.

I varied my shutter speed quite a bit to capture the violent motion of the water in different ways.  At times, this meant using Benro Master Filters neutral density filters to cut the amount of light coming into the camera and enable me to use slower shutter speeds. It also meant adjusting my camera’s ISO as well to enable various shutter speeds. Thinking about the constant adjustments shot after shot kept me thinking the entire time I was there!

Despite all the thinking, when I’m in a location such as this, I always take some time to take it in, and enjoy the spectacular show Mother Nature can put on. It’s these displays that continually get me out of bed before the sun is up, just so I can witness it.

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

Bailey Island Awash
Bailey Island Awash
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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!

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

 

 

 

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

Another Autumn in Vaughan Woods

Autumn Waterfall in Hallowell
Autumn Waterfall in Hallowell

Once I had determined I was relocating to Maine in September of 2016, I was told by several people that I simply had to visit Vaughan Woods and Homestead in Hallowell. They kept calling it “Hobbitland” and said that I would love photographing there.

They weren’t wrong. The path through the woods is calm and peaceful, and all along Vaughan Brook are so many picturesque corners that it’s easy for me to spend hours there, my eye to the viewfinder, or looking at the scene and determining how I can find one more unique composition to capture.

Fall Morning at Vaughan Brook
Fall Morning at Vaughan Brook

I find Vaughan Woods absolutely sings in Autumn, when the leaves are changing, the air is cool and crisp, and the brook is murmuring softly as it bubbles along under the charming stone arch bridges that span it. There’s a warm, inviting feeling as you meander down the trail and come up one of the bridges, a waterfall cascading down the rocks that line the brook.

When I photograph in these woods, maybe it’s the reference to Tokien’s shire from the Hobbit series, or maybe it’s just the peacefulness that I feel there, but I like to give the scenes a dreamy quality, using longer exposures to blur the water.  I use Benro Master Filters to manage my exposure.  It’s difficult to know what the light will be like once I get to the location I’m shooting, and if I have more light than I need to achieve the shutter speed I want, I won’t get the image I see in my head. Using a Benro 4-, 5-, 6- or 10-stop neutral density filter, I know I can always achieve the effect I’m looking for when it comes to longer exposures.

Autumn Cascade in Vaughan Woods
Autumn Cascade in Vaughan Woods

Normally when I walk through Vaughan Woods, I follow the trail down to the dam first, where a small stone arch bridge and cascade lies. For the photographs in this post, I had decided I wanted to capture the falls at the High Arch Bridge because it had been raining a few days earlier and they would be running full. Last year when I visited, the weather had been much dryer and the falls were just a trickle.

There is also a small cascade upstream that I wanted to spend some time photographing as well. After capturing the falls near High Arch Bridge, the sun began to shine directly on the falls- never a good thing for photographing waterfalls, so I headed upstream, where I knew this small cascade wouldn’t be getting any sun for some time.  I ended up spending about three hours at this spot.

I’ve now visited each autumn since I moved to Maine. I guess Vaughan Woods in the fall is becoming a tradition.

As always, prints are available at www.rickberk.com

Fallen Oak Leaf in Vaughan Woods
Fallen Oak Leaf in Vaughan Woods
Sungnyemun At Night

South Korea

Sunset Over Seoul
Sunset Over Seoul

I recently had the opportunity to visit South Korea for a week. While South Korea was never on my short list of places I had to visit, I jumped at the opportunity when it arose. I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew South Korea was at the leading edge of technology, so when I visited Seoul and saw the huge LED billboards and screens similar to Times Square, I wasn’t surprised. I also knew South Korea had a rich history, but given the trials of the Korean War in the 50’s, I wasn’t sure how much of their history remained.

Sungnyemun At Night
Sungnyemun At Night

I was thrilled to find a mix of the old and new. Seoul is a bustling metropolis, stretching for miles in all directions, nestled in the valleys created by the hills and mountains of the region. While there are many modern buildings and amenities, there are also villages, palaces, and shrines that date back 600 years. The region is rich in tradition but also at the forefront of tomorrow’s technology. It was exciting to see.

In The Buddhist Temple
In The Buddhist Temple

My favorite spot was at the top of Namsan Mountain, where Seoul Tower is located. After taking the cable car to the top, we were treated to a spectacular view of the city, which seems to stretch for miles in all directions. I couldn’t believe how vast it seemed! We waited for sunset while drinking German beer (Weihenstephan!) in the beer garden at the top, taking in this breathtaking view. Not to be missed!

The Seoul Skyline
The Seoul Skyline

While my travel list is so long I will likely never get back to Korea, I’m glad I was able to take advantage of the opportunity to visit. Well worth the trip!

Korean Girl In Hanbok
Korean Girl In Hanbok
Secret Garden In Black And White
Secret Garden In Black And White

You can see more of my images from South Korea in my online South Korea Gallery.