The Nature, Wildlife and Pet Photography Forum - Fine Art Landscape Photography

Maine - The Great Escape - July 2016

Posted By: James Morrissey

Maine - The Great Escape - July 2016 - 07/28/16 01:34 PM

James Morrissey shares his story, escaping from the City to go photograph the Maine Coastline.

The article!

Portland Head Light at Sunset
Posted By: James Morrissey

Re: Maine - The Great Escape - July 2016 - 07/28/16 02:40 PM

Maine Coast from Otter Cliffs - Early Morning after Fog Break - my first attempt at focus bracketing.

Two weeks ago we drove up the Maine Coast, Mahkayla in the back. We broke the 11 hour drive up over three days. We stopped to visit family one night in RI, then we headed up to Portland. Portland Head Light is supposedly the most painted and photographed lighthouse in New England. I can see why. It is just beautiful. I have a thing for lighthouses and staying in Portland for the night to photograph it was the main objective. We had a sunset and a sunrise there. While we did not get any exciting color, I think the composition is rather dramatic. We took some time to drive around Portland, which is a really beautiful town. I was surprised to see so many homeless people though. It was in stark contrast to the vibrant shops and housing that was all around. The problem of homelessness appeared to be even worse than what we see here in New York City. It was really very sad. The hipsters did not make it any better, by the way. It just looked like you had double the homeless people.

Portland Head Light at Sunset

In the above photo of Portland Head, I did everything I could to drop the speed of the shutter to give me a sense of motion. However, I did not want to turn the ocean to taffy, so I did not put my neutral density filter on the lens. As an alternative, I did drop the ISO down to 50 and narrowed the aperture a bit more than necessary. I also used a 2 stop ND filter to make sure I kept the detail in the clouds. I did not want to be overhanded with the filter, something I have a tendency of doing.

The next morning, we drove up Scenic Route 1. The drive takes about 3 and a half hours from Portland to Acadia. If I were to do it again, I would probably just hop on the highway and get off in Rockport. For most of the drive up one, you are just too far from the ocean to actually see anything. Also, Route 1 acts as a main thoroughfare for all of the local traffic, making it a bit slower than it needs to be. We rolled into Bar Harbor around 6 PM and dropped the tent. It was a rare dry occurrence.

Acadia National Park has become my 'go to place' for vacations. While it does not convey the profound sense of 'home' that I feel when I see the Tetons, the fact that it is drivable in a day has made it a very important part of my life.

Acadia is also a nice place because it works for both my and my wife's different tastes in environment. I like the remote. She likes not being so far from civilization. I sometimes wonder if that is why we cannot get the tent more than 100 feet from the crapper. That is a joke...because it is true.

Seriously though, Acadia works for both of us because it offers something to everyone. It is both "everywhere and nowhere" at once. What I mean by this is that in many respects, Acadia is essentially a giant suburb on steroids. As it was cobbled together mostly through private donations by citizens, the hand of man is everywhere to be seen. The Bureau of Land Management this ain't. There is no sense of remoteness to it. No loneliness...and sometimes I crave to be alone.

Even if it is just a giant burb, it is a "burb done right." There is a lot of majestic scenery that just cannot be compared in such a small area. The Bold Coast of Maine is just too amazing to miss in this life. By the way, that giant monstrosity of a house on Schooner Head is for sale, if anyone has the money to buy it and bulldoze it, please consider this the opportunity. That mansion is a blight on one of the most beautiful landscape gems in the park.

Jordan Pond at Sunset - 3 Stop Hard ND Filter

Jordan Pond at Sunset - 3 Stop Hard ND Filter

If I had a goal for this trip photographically, it was to get a nice shot at Jordan Pond and to get something of better quality from Bass Harbor Lighthouse. Jordan Pond is a particularly difficult subject because of how it is situated. It is a North/South shot, which means it is not really perfect for either Sunset or Sunrise...particularly as it is sitting in a bowl between two larger mountains. In order to get color, it needs to be you need the perfect amount of clouds in the canopy to refract it and create color. These are a couple that I took. While it is hardly perfect (I would really like some richer color in there), it is not bad. The composition is solid, with plenty of texture and layers, leading you to the bubbles in the back. Also, you can have popovers there. Yum. Popovers.

Because the tide was high in the mornings, I chose not go to Bass Harbor until the end of the week for sunrise. Instead, I went out to Cadillac Mountain. While I took what I consider to be my first 'good' photo on Cadillac Mountain the last time I was there, I am always eager to build on the composition. Particularly, I felt that my last attempt needed something a bit more dramatic in the foreground. As it was a relatively windless morning, I looked for some foreground shrubbery. This is what I saw. In this case, I was using a stacked 2 stop hard and 3 stop hard filter to help keep control of the light. While I love Cadillac Mountain for sunrise, I see it as essentially a sunset shot as I like to have the big ball behind me. However, I think it worked just fine.

Cadillac Mountain at Sunrise

As I mentioned earlier, Bass Harbor Light was my other primary objective of the trip. All of my good shots are taken at sunset...and I have a ton of them. Bass Harbor really is a sunrise photographic location...and every time I go there, I get fogged in. Seriously. This was no exception. It was my birthday, and it was the last day of the dog was exhausted and she went on strike. She was not getting up for sunrise. As it was fogged in, I did not argue. Chanthee and Mahkayla finally got their morning to sleep in.

I went out to Bass Harbor and took the following photograph. Even though it was completely fogged in, I used a gentle 1 stop filter to help make sure I was able to keep the detail in the fog and not have it all 'white out' on me. Bass Harbor is a relatively easy lighthouse to shoot as the light goes out for only about a second or so between blinks. I also used my handy 24mm tilt shift and a camera release cord to help me time the photographs. I also usually time my trips there so that I do not go at high tide. There is not a lot of room on the rock shelf out there and it is all fun and games until you go over the edge.

Bass Harbor Light - 1 Stop Hard Filter

As it was foggy and the light was not changing much, I took some time to sit and relax. I started recording the sound of the ocean. I hope that between the photograph and the audio recording you can share with me what was one of my favorite experiences of the trip. I was alone and part of nature. It was cathartic.

On the way home, I passed a boat dock in Somesville that I have been eyeing for years. The marina is always lovely, but I just have not seen it at a time when I wanted to stop and shoot. The dock was shrouded in fog and there was again a sense of isolation that I was looking for. It was very peaceful and pleasant.

Dock in Fog

When I finished, I headed back to the campsite where Chanthee and Mahkayla were both still quite happily out like lights. It was almost a pity to wake them, but it was time to go home.

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