Most tourists who visit Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park, tend to stick to Bar Harbor and the Park Loop Road and visit the most heavily trafficked sites in the area. Unfortunately, this means they miss out on some of the most beautiful scenery on the east coast of the United States. There are plenty of nooks and crannies to explore that most people never get to. On a recent Hunt’s Photo Adventure to Acadia National Park that I was an instructor on, we visited some of the lesser known areas of the park, in addition to the tried and true destinations.
This fall, I will be teaching on the Hunt’s Photo Adventure to Solon, Maine. Located in Central Maine, Solon is the perfect location to capture the beauty of autumn in Maine. There are still some seats left, so register now!
The Smokies are an amazingly beautiful location to photograph, featuring grand vistas with the mountains layered one on top of the other, mist hanging in the valleys, as well as intimate landscapes as water from a mountain stream cascades over rocks as wildflowers grow on the banks. Wildlife roams the park and it’s an excellent opportunity to capture the various species at home in the Smokies. I’ll be assisting Don Toothaker on this one. Don and I have over 50 years combined experience as photographers, and years of experience teaching photography to others. Join us in the Smokies and experience what a magical place it can be in springtime.
Midcoast Maine & Pemaquid Point
Wednesday May 16 to Sunday May 20
Mid-Coast, including Bristol, Maine
Featuring lighthouses, harbors, and the shore
Instructors: Rick Berk
Recommended prerequisite: Basic Knowledge of your Camera
Midcoast Maine is glorious any time of year, but can be especially fun in the spring. Since relocating to Maine in 2016, I’ve spent plenty of time exploring as many of the little nooks, coves, and villages of the midcoast. We’ll explore New Harbor, Pemaquid Point, Marshall Point, Port Clyde, and more. There will be opportunities for wildlife, featuring osprey and eagles preying on alewife as they make their spawning run. We’ll also explore some night photography if weather permits.
Last week I had the pleasure of being one of the instructors on a Hunt’s Photo Adventure in Woodstock, Vermont. We had a full class of attendees of varying abilities, and a beautiful area of the country to use as our subject. Workshops like this are fun because of the exchange of ideas that goes on between experienced photographers, and the numerous lightbulb moments that happen with the less experienced photographers when explaining various principles of photography, or helping them get past a specific challenge.
We based ourselves in Woodstock, Vermont, and visited several landmarks, such as Jenne Farm, Cloudland Road, and a maple sugar shack. Unfortunately, Mother Nature chose not to cooperate fully. While we had some fresh snow when we awoke Saturday morning, skies had been gray Friday afternoon when we started, and remained after the snow Saturday morning. Well, photographers nutty enough to get up before dawn and spend hours outside in the cold aren’t about to be deterred by a little flat light and gray skies! So we got out there and made images with the light we had.
I always enjoy seeing how different people see the same subject differently. It helps me to look deeper into a scene, look harder for a shot besides the obvious, and makes me a bit envious when someone sees something I didn’t! At the same time, I enjoy when I saw something differently than others did, and can help them see it as well.
The other challenge for me is the technical help people need with their cameras and lenses. This is less fun than the creative side for me, but just as important. When you have a group of 10 or 12 photographers, you can potentially get 12 different cameras. Not everyone needs assistance but you never know who will. Thankfully, I’m familiar with most brands to one degree or another, having put in seven years working for Canon, shooting Nikon for the past three and a half, and a Fuji kit for a year as well. I can pretty much find any setting on most cameras given enough time.
Letchworth State Park, nestled just south of the Finger Lakes Region in Upstate New York, is a photographer’s dream. Known as the Grand Canyon of the East, and recently voted the best state park in the country in a USA Today Reader’s Poll, Letchworth offers a variety of subjects to keep any photographer busy for days.
Any discussion of Letchworth begins with its three dramatic waterfalls, created as the Genesee River flows north through a deep gorge. The three main falls, located in Portage Canyon, provide the centerpiece to the park. The Upper Falls are straddled by the Portage Bridge, a railroad trestle which is now in process of being replaced further upriver, but is still traversed by freight trains several times a day. The Middle Falls, just downriver, is the highest of the cascades, while the Lower Falls are located near the only trail that crosses the Genesee River in the park, spanned by a picturesque stone bridge.
In the fall, Letchworth State Park explodes in color, with the leaves changing brilliant shades of orange, red, and yellow. The fall foliage provides a spectacular backdrop for waterfalls, providing a fantastic opportunity for photographers to create a variety images of the landscape around the gorge.
This October, I will be leading a photo workshop in Letchworth State Park, as I explain my approach to landscape photography in general, and fall foliage and waterfalls in particular. Space is limited so register early to be sure you won’t be left behind. If you have questions, be sure to contact me or Worldwide Photo Tours. Hope to see you out there!
I first visited Acadia, albeit briefly, in 1999. On that rainy November day, I visited Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse, took a few photos (on film) and quickly made my retreat as the weather continued to worsen and I had a four hour drive back to the B&B at which I was staying. Though my first visit to Acadia was brief – I didn’t even get into Bar Harbor – I knew it was a place I would be compelled to return to over and over, and if possible, make my home on the Maine coast in the future.
Now, 18 years later, I’m living in Freeport, Maine and have made multiple visits to Acadia National Park. Each time I discover something new, or visit a place I’ve seen before and witness it’s spectacular beauty yet again.
There are so many spots to choose from, it’s difficult to choose a favorite. The Park Loop Road, which passes such great spots as Boulder Beach, Thunder Hole, and Otter Cliffs, is breathtaking. Jordan Pond, in its quiet woodland serenity, is simply rejuvenating. And Bass Harbor Head, with the classic New England lighthouse perched high upon the cliff, evokes thoughts of maritime storms and lighthouse keepers watching over the coastal traffic.
Sunrise is my favorite time of day in Acadia. The tourists have yet to invade the park, and the only sounds are that of the ocean waves washing over the rocky shores, and the sea birds singing their morning songs. The light is soft and warm and there are photo opportunities everywhere.
In June, I will be leading a workshop for Worldwide Photo Tours, leading photographers to some of my favorite spots, and teaching my tried and true techniques for landscape photography. For more information visit Worldwide Photo Tours. Join me in Maine!
The Great Smoky Mountains is one of those places that draws you back again and again. If you see it in the spring, with waterfalls at full bore from the spring runoff, wildflowers exploding in bloom on the hillsides, you’ll be awestruck at the beauty you see. But at the same time, you’ll find yourself wondering how it looks in autumn, with the leaves changing colors, splashing the countryside with color. The Smokies are amazingly beautiful no matter when you visit.
In October 2015 I had the opportunity to visit the Smokies to photograph the foliage, and I managed to capture near peak color. I didn’t have as long in the park as I would like, but I did manage to hit some of the best spots and make some great images while seeing the incredible beauty of the area. In 2017 I am planning another trek to the Great Smoky Mountains, this time in the spring, leading a photography workshop for Worldwide Photo Tours.
The great thing about the Smokies is the mix of natural beauty and history. There are vistas galore to look out from, starting with the views from Clingman’s Dome and Newfound Gap, straddling the state line between North Carolina and Tennessee. But beyond these easily accessible vistas, there are countless waterfalls, found along many of the trails in the park.
In terms of history, the Cades Cove area, found on the Tennessee side of the GSMNP, is an unbelievable trip into the past. Cades Cove is a broad valley where settlers made a home in the early 1800s. There are restorations of settlement buildings along the loop road, including a grist mill, three churches, and several cabins. All make for outstanding photo opportunities. In addition, some of the best opportunities in the park for viewing wildlife are found in Cades Cove.
Finally, I visited Cataloochee, a valley on the North Carolina side of the park. There are several historic buildings to be found in Cataloochee as well, but to me, the real treasure of Cataloochee is the herd of elk that were released in the valley in 2001. The elk can be found in the fields in the valley, especially in the early morning and evening. A long lens is a must, but it was incredible to watch these majestic beasts wander the field, the males bugling to try and catch the females attention.
I’m looking forward to visiting the Smokies this spring, showing attendees around and teaching them some of my favorite landscape photo techniques for capturing better images. If you’re interested, send me an email or visit Worldwide Photo Tours for more information.
I suspect I’m not unique in this, but I often find myself lamenting that I can’t get somewhere truly exotic to photograph every time I want to. I’m several hours from any of the more grandiose national parks, with Acadia nine hours and change away, and Shenandoah about 8 hours away. So there are some days, when I have the itch to make a picture, that I have to look closer to home. And like many others, I sometimes take local locations for granted.
This past week, I found myself with the time to go exploring, so I hit up some spots that are within about an hour of my home. On Monday, I went to Orient Beach State Park. I’d never been there, and wasn’t sure if I was missing anything or not. Honestly, at first glance, it’s not much to look at. It’s a beach on the North Fork of Long Island, that pokes into Gardiners Bay. But if you’re willing, and strong enough, you can walk down the beach about two and a half miles, to the very tip of the park, which sticks into Gardiners Bay where it meets the Peconic River. There, you will find the Bug Light, a lighthouse built on a caisson about 50 yards out in Gardiners Bay.
Generally, the bay is pretty calm, but this day, the wind was churning the water pretty good, creating some nice choppy waves. I had some nice puffy clouds in the sky, and the sun was creating some nice color off in the west. While I was still feeling the hike several days later, the images I captured were well worth the effort.
The next day, I still had the itch, and I found another spot close by I need to explore some more. Wildwood State Park is also on the north shore of Long Island, featuring a beach on Long Island Sound. The first time I went there was July. The warmer weather and the later sunset kept the beach crowded late, and it was difficult to get shots without people in the background. This time, being early March, I had the entire beach to myself.
The sound was as peaceful as I’d ever seen it, almost glass like. The beach is dotted with huge boulders left behind from the ice age when Long Island was under a glacier. These boulders create a lot of visual interest, making it worth several visits to really work the various options. Since wave action was nonexistent, I decided to use a Vü Filters ND10 filter. This 10-stop ND filter allows me to get super long exposures, allowing me to smooth out the water and blur the movement of clouds. It was so peaceful, that using the long exposure accentuated the calm, allowing me to create images that really communicated the peace and solitude I was feeling at that moment.
If you’re interested in joining me for some photography, visit Worldwide Photo Tours to see what we have coming up. Next September, we’ll be visiting some of my other favorite places on the east end of Long Island. Hope to see you there!