There are less than 10 days left to February, and for all intents and purposes, we have not had winter. Except for a few really cold days in December (‘teens & wind chill), this has been a pretty normal DC area winter; drab, too warm to do anything wintery and too cold to do anything non-wintery. We have had three snow falls, with a total accumulation of barely more than a half inch, none of which lasted more than a day. For a landscape photographer living in a drab area, snow events offer an opportunity to look at things anew and I have tried to take advantage of the meager offerings this winter has given me.
This image was made right after the second snow we had this year. I was out of the house right at sun up as I wanted to hike some unmaintained trails in the Huntley Meadows wetlands area near my home. Figuring that since the formal, north entrance to the park did not open until 8am, and that I was entering from one of the southerly access trails, I hoped I would to get to the park boardwalk before anyone else so I could photograph it extending out into the water with untrammeled snow – kind of a minimalist, “zenny” type of image. But I was too late. When I arrived, there were already lots of bird watchers and photographers out and around. So, instead of photographing the boardwalk, I photographed back into the woods I had just traversed from the boardwalk – today’s image.
As you can see, the snow was light and fluffy, sticking to branches and tree trunks. Really quite beautiful. But, the weather was mild and within another hour it had all dropped to the ground and melted, by which time I was back home having a cup of tea.
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The Pemaquid Lighthouse is one of the most iconic in the country. Having first been there several years ago with a workshop, I was eager to visit it again, to show it to Barb and hopefully capture an image that went beyond the typical blank sky sunrise scene I had previously experienced. So, as we began our journey home, Barb and I decided to make a detour to this famous scene.
Given that getting from Bar Harbor to Pemaquid would take several hours in the car, it meant that we would arrive close to mid day, not usually an auspicious time for landscape photography. But, luck was with us as the storms I had been photographing through in Acadia for several days were still moving slowly out to sea, meaning there were dramatic skies and churning seas to contribute to the scene.
The lighting we found was a bright overcast with the clouds overhead moving pretty quickly because of strong off-shore winds. The scene was bright enough that I needed to use several stops of neutral density in order to allow for a long enough exposure to capture some of the movement in the sky. I only wanted to show a little movement in the clouds; just enough to give a visual hint of the strength of the passing storm, but not so much that the cloud movement would show up as a long smear across the top of the image. Channeling a classic 20th century photographer, Paul Strand, I also wanted to use the picket fence surrounding the lighthouse as an element to lead the viewers eye through the scene. In the end, I think I was able to achieve a fairly acceptable image of a classic venue. I hope you agree.
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The storm that past through Acadia during our stay was spread over three days. Ever the optimist (yeah, sure), I headed out in hopes of capturing a dramatic sunrise with storm activity out over the sea, but the reality was fog. I did not really want to take the standard drive down the eastern side of the island, past well known and much photographed vantage points along the park loop road, so I left Bar Harbor along Schooner Head Road and visited Schooner Head Overlook for the first time. Only slightly off the beaten tourist path, the Schooner Head Overlook is part of the national park, so while visited, I do not think it gets the full tour bus treatment.
To get to the overlook, you have to walk about 200 yards down a formal path. The coastal rocks at the end of the path are easily navigated so that you can work yourself further up the coastline for different views. Today’s image was captured only about 100 feet beyond the end of the path, looking approximately north. When I got there, the scene was pretty well socked in by fog, that began to lift after a short while, when this image was captured. For me, this is the quintessential Maine coast I had been looking for. The wind, the waves, the fog, rocks and trees really came together for me at this spot … and black & white was the only way to render it.
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