The Year 2018
Alright everyone! This will be my very first “blog” post on my website, so try to be patient as I ramble on through this year in review. I wanted to do one of these for the year of 2017, but I just didn’t have a wide enough selection of images to pick from. I lost a good amount of data due to an external hard drive failure and just wasn’t a great photographer at that time. Those two factors helped me make the decision to trash all prior work and start from scratch. Only good light. Only high quality imagery. Editing for print, and no shortcuts. That was September of 2017. Lets check out the year (and 3 months) in review!
October 2017 - Bass Harbor Headlight
Starting off this post with a bang! This image was taken on October 30th, 2017 at Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. Me and my friend Aybars decided to chase the big tropical storm that was making it’s way up the coast. We were out at sunrise, hoping for some big waves at Monument Cove. 70mph winds and water-jet sea spray prevented us from getting any usable shots during the day, so we retreated to Dunkin Donuts in Ellsworth to wipe the dried salt off of our faces. While stuffing our faces with bacon egg and cheeses, we decided to go back to Acadia for one final attempt at photographing the surf. We just couldn’t turn our backs on 15-20 footers at the most incredible place on the east coast. We arrived at Bass Harbor 2 hours before sunset to scope out the conditions. As time went on the conditions improved and.. A GAP APPEARED! Holy crap the timing was perfect. High tide, 12-15 foot waves, dramatic clouds, all at an absolutely iconic location at the best time of year. We sat through a full hour of being bombarded by waves to get the shots we needed. Lucky for me, the three best frames from the night also happened to be the cleanest. No droplets. No movement. Nothing. To me, this shot is the pinnacle of the landscape photography “experience”. It has been over a year since this event unfolded and it still gets me excited. If I had to rank my photos, most of them would be hard to place. This one is an easy first. A once in a lifetime event, perfect conditions, and the perfect clean frames. It all came together.
Behind the scenes - Moments before the sun broke the horizon - Photo credit goes to John Putnam @ https://www.jkputnamphotography.com
November 2017 - Intrusion Glow
Ah, Intrusion beach. That’s what John calls it. November 21st, 2017. I just turned 25 on the 20th and was hoping that we would get some good light the next day. Well, that is exactly what happened! I used my old rudimentary weather tracking methods to predict this sunset - 40 minutes prior it was chucking down sleet. I saw a decline in cloud cover coinciding with sunset so I decided to visit of my my favorite spots in Acadia. This one was a very difficult shoot. The wave action all but covered up the intricate intrusions I wanted to photograph. The ground was so chaotic that it became extremely difficult to frame a compelling composition. Then it happened. A clearing, a flash of yellow light, and then it was gone. I was lucky and managed to frame this image up, but it is not the composition I would have wanted. This is an example of something I don’t do much of anymore. Spontaneous compositions. Chaos. I need more of that.
November 2017 - A Sign of Winter
November 10th, 2017. I’m already out of order here. That is okay. I ran down to Little Hunter’s beach this November morning hoping for a good sunrise, and left slightly disappointed. Why? Because I had no idea what I was doing. I had a shot in my mind - A type of light I wanted and anything different was bad. Looking back now, these conditions are spectacular. Look at those clouds! The highlights from the opposite rising sun! And it has just rained, leaving the rocks nice and wet for that beautiful contrast. Current me would be freaking out over these conditions because they don’t happen often! Nowadays I actually prefer these dramatic, stormy conditions to those fiery sunrises.
December 2017 - Reaching Out
This one is an example of “I have no idea what I am doing”. Maybe its intuition? Maybe my inner lizard brain knows where the sun will set because I went to this location so often? I’m not really sure, but I’m happy with the shot! This is a tree near Bass Harbor that is near and dear to my heart. There are many like it over on the Schoodic Peninsula, but not many on the island. this one is also mine because I claimed it. This tree happens to have the perfect shape - Arms that make it reach out into the horizon as if it is grabbing the sun to end the day. I always wonder what trees like this have seen. What has it been through? How many years did it live on this exposed cliff face before succumbing to the elements? Judging by the weathered and tattered bark, quite a lot. I want to visit this one again.
January 2018 - A New Year
Sea Smoke. Yep. Not many people knew it about until Ben Williamson posted some incredible images of lighthouses engulfed in the stuff. I saw that there would be 4 -15F days in a row down in the Portland area so I packed my stuff up and headed down south to get my own Ben Williamson images. The first day a bunch of us met up at PHL. I didn’t get anything worth mentioning. On the second day I headed out to SPLL along with 50 or so others. We all crowded near the stairs waiting for a break in the smoke. I happened to be talking every time a break occurred so I missed them all. But I did get this! I like this vantage point better anyways. That pancake ice tho.
January 2018 - Eastern Sierras - I Miss the Coast
January of 2018 was the time when Aybars and I flew into casinoville and car camped across Southern California’s Eastern Sierra area. There were a few thing I learned while in this area. Ill list them. 1. Trump Tower is incredibly ugly. 2. Overall, Vegas has to be the worst city I have ever visited. 3. Photo trips are great, but don’t expect to have the same success rate as when you are shooting a location that you know. 4. It is not enjoyable to live off of peanut butter tubes (flour tortillas and peanut butter) and mac n cheese for 10 days. This is my favorite shot from the trip. Its one of the few images that features a composition that I haven’t ever seen before, combined with unique conditions. Its a sky swap. Same area, same direction, just different days. On the day that we got the lennies (lenticular clouds), the peaks didn’t light up. Please don’t be mad. Here are some other shots from that trip. Disclaimer - I had no idea what I was doing.
As you can see I wasn’t very good at this in January. Improvement incoming!
February 2018 - A Super Crunchy Milky Way
Ah, this one has a funny story! February is known as the “official” beginning of milky way season up here in the northern hemisphere, so all of the crazies got together for some Acadia night photography. 2 other photographers and I decided to head out to otter point to check out some of the less shot locations (boulder beach is a carnival this time of year). As we were walking along the coast I feel and hear a “cruuunch” below my feet. I look down and see this incredible ice formation leading right into where the milky way will be rising! I immediately started acting like a chimp protecting his bananas. Mine. Mine. Don’t step! I set my tripod as low as it will go and take 8 focus stacked frames at 3 minutes each. Do you know how annoying that was? Then I had to set up the tracker for the sky shots! My thumbs just about fell off that night, but the shot came out great! The little blue lights are Jupiter moving across the sky as my focal plane shifts. Cool, huh?
March 2018 - Coastal Snowy Goodness
In my opinion this is one of my best. It is different. The color palette is limited. The composition is balanced. Colin is learning!! By this time I knew Acadia fairly well. I knew where to go and what shot I was going for. This was it. The surf was high and deep turquoise, tide was high, snow was fresh, and atmosphere was calm. The show we were presented made me forget about the 2 mile hike in knee deep snow without snowshoes while wearing a flannel under my insulating layers. Why did I do that? Because I was an idiot and forgot a base layer. I got other good shots this day, but this was the best. It was around this time that I stopped going for multiple shots and started focusing on bringing home one spectacular shot. This wasn’t easy.
March 2018 - The Era of Composites
What can I say? Nothing happened for the next few months so I got pretty good at making milky way composites! This one was on my radar for a while though. I knew the milky way rose right in line with this composition. I just needed a nice morning for some pre-sunrise soft light. This morning in March delivered that, followed by an incredible stretch of clear nights for astrophotography. This image, while needing a re-process, is a culmination of 3 days of effort out in the field and hours of fiddling in Photoshop. Do you see those little tree-less branches? Impossible to mask without some creative workarounds. Interested in that? Watch for my updated night sky blending tutorial coming out in the next few months!
May 2018 - I Hate Mosquitos, But I Love the Light
I have a love hate relationship with spring and summer in this state. I love the vibrant colors, flowers, fog, mist, and light we get. I love the northeast moving clouds and perpendicular directed sunsets and sunrises. I love the rain, the flowing waterways, the lush greenery, and hiking trails. I love the warm weather, and the warm ocean breeze. The only thing I cant stand is the bugs. The mosquitoes. Now listen. I know that sounds crazy, but I’m basically a walking talking mosquito magnet. Put me in a forest with 100 other people and ill attract all of the bugs. This location is right next to a swamp, so the mosquitoes were plentiful. It was a beautiful night, and I’m pretty sure a smacked myself in the face 100 times within an hour trying to battle those damn blood suckers.
May 2018 - Mosquitoes Literally Almost Killed Me
So this one.. This was a hell of a sunset! I was hanging out with my friend Chris when I saw a break in the clouds on the radar. Breaks in the clouds coinciding with sunset or sunrise usually mean amazing light. I couldnt convince him that it ws going to happen so I headed off to Doubling Point by myself in hopes of catching some awesome light. When I arrived I had the location all to myself! Or so I thought. I scouted the area and set up my tripod in the composition I picked out. I was ready, it was quiet, I got to enjoy my time alone. Nope. After a few secons of silence I hear a “zzzzzz” in my ear. After a minute I was surrounded by a cloud of mosquitoes. You see, Doubling Point is located right on a swamp. Swamps have loads of mosquitoes. I was in a short sleeved shirt. Hilarity ensued as I flailed my arms around, taking exposure after exposure as the light blew up around me. That night even featured a rainbow!
June 2018 - Spring has Sprung!
Ah, Jesup Path. Though it is an absolute cliche, I still really like shooting it. How many places like this do we even have in the US? A boardwalk leading through a swampy birch grove sporadically peppered with bunches of ferns? Id confidently state: Not many. Its a location straight out of a dream, and it was right in my back yard! During the peak of spring bloom I visited this area after decent rainstorm. The leaves were full and radiated a bright green glow. My editing in this one is a little “much” for my current tastes, but oh well. This is a year in review, right? I could improve on this one, no doubt. Another note stuck on my monitor.
June 2018 - Milky Way has Milked! Wait What?
Now we are really getting deep in composite backcountry. I really love this location. It has so much potential for composition and light variation. The possibilities here are endless! Here are two of my absolute favorite milky way shots that I have ever taken and created. Both from slightly different vantage points. There really is something to be said for repetition and familiarity. I was able to visit this location many times. By the time I moved away I knew exactly what do do based on weather patterns and tides. This is another location that I miss dearly. I will be back!
June 2018 - Nuclear Sunrise
This sunrise has forever burned itself in my memory. Everything just came together. Beach roses, a beautiful location, a sunrise that resembles a nuclear explosion. What you don’t see in this photo is what happened before. I sped to Fort Williams Park from Windham. As I was crossing the Casco Bay Bridge the sky was already lighting up a full hour before sunrise. This was it. I arrived to closed gates but had to get in there as soon as possible. I parked at the baseball field, found a gap in the gate, and ran my out of shape ass up to the headlight. Now, for reference, Im a 210lb ex bodybuilder with a love for donuts. I’m not exactly built for endurance or speed. The run to the lighthouse was entirely uphill, so when I got there I felt like I just speed climbed Everest. Luckily I was able to pull off a composition with the beach roses, and regained my breath when others showed up after sunrise. Whew! I hope you enjoy this photo as much as I do! It was a very special morning.
July 2018 - A New Adventure
In July of 1028 I moved from Brewer Maine down to Windham. It was bittersweet. I had better job opportunities, I was moving forward in my career, and lighthouses are closer. Yay! The only bad thing was how far away Acadia was. Luckily we have mini Acadia, AKA Marginal Way in Ogunquit. This was a pretty amazing morning. Nice manageable surf moving around these kinda sorta sea stacks. To top it all off, the light decided to show up in a dramatic way. Seascapes are something I love capturing. They are abstract, dynamic, and difficult. You have to judge the movement of the water and incorporate it as a part of the composition. You take hundreds of photos but keep the single best exposure. Everything here has to come together. Shutter speed, light, movement, composition, etc. When it all works out, oh is it satisfying!
August 2018 - Sunshine and Rainbows
This was a day to remember! I saw this cloud shelf moving out a day in advance. Remember my rudimentary weather tracking tools I used to use in Acadia? Well after lots of trial and error I had improved, and these predictions led me and 3 others to Popham Beach. It was I, Chris Lawrence, Garrett Evans, and Craig Shaknis. I wore my (now lucky) pink banana shorts for the rare event that I would have to swim to a composition. They made fun of me the entire time. But for once I was prepared for what was about to come. The sunset was amazing for the entire duration we were there. It started absolutely beautifully and deep blue. Rainstorms came and went leaving us absolutely soaked! As time went on the colors faded and sunset approached. I had my sights set on this composition, but 100 feet of waist deep water stood between it and I. What did I do? I put my camera bag over my head and waded through it. What didn’t I realize? I took Craig’s remote shutter with me. He stored it in my bag. Oops. I arrived on the sand bar and stood there as I was hit with downpour after downpour. Shortly after I see some guy with his shirt off wading through the water. It was Craig. Craig was wading through the water without a shirt in his hiking pants and boots. When he arrived, he just said “you have my shutter release!”. Well, he was lucky that I took his shutter release! Moments later the sky opened up behind us revealing incredible pink light, pink clouds, and a rainbow. It was one of the most spectacular light shows we had ever seen. That was it. We peaked that day. Id say this event was 60% of Bass Harbor Storm. That’s really saying something!
August 2018 - The Light!
As the title states, this is another one from August. Looking back, that month was really good to me. Just another morning from OOB. The sun hits the pier as this angle and forms these incredible shadows. It wasn’t exactly the best morning in the world. I enjoy solitude and adventure. Not photographing while someone is playing with their dog in the sand in front of me. Its technically a good photo, but I did not enjoy the experience. To me, Experience is 80% of what makes a photo great. I do this for me, not others, so that is incredibly important.
September 2018 - Dont be a Light Snob
This photo represents an important point in my photography “career”. My move to Southern Maine made me shoot icons. Those icons don’t require much creativity or adapting. Well, that is what I thought. I god good at predicting light and cloud structure. I was going into outings with strict expectations for amazing light. If it didn’t happen I would just go home. Well, here at Marshall Point was a different story. I was expecting an absolutely bonkers sunset. The cloud shelf was moving out perfectly and everything was lining up! I drove 2 hours to this location and was ready. It was going to happen. Long story short, it didn’t. I was about to leave when my inner lizard brain coerced me to stay. Adapt. Make something out of this. So I did. The mist rolled in and the beacon lit up! The texture of the wood reacted with the becon’s light, creating gorgeous leading textures and lines. Is it the best Marshall Point photo? No. Is it different? Yes. That was what was important for me. Breaking that crappy all or nothing habit.
September 2018 - Isle Au Haut
One of the most amazing places in the world. No, not on the East Coast. In the world. Untouched beauty. Incredible cliffs. Deep plunges into the sea. It just doesn’t get better than this. This was a scouting/night photography trip was was ruined by a seemingly static cloud bank. Luckily the bank caught some light, so I was able to come away with this image! I will be back here. I would give my left foot to see this place with a fresh coat of snow. Bucket-list stuff right here folks.
Okay One More from September
This photo right here changed my view on light. Well, the culmination of my experiences over the summer changed my view on light. I used to chase the backlit skies. The red sunsets. I lived for it. That was the jackpot. But now? Now I chase direct light. If there is color in the sky, definite bonus. But there is just something incredible about a dynamic landscape bathed in red-golden light. The depth, color, and impact it gives a photo is hard to match. This image from Pemaquid point represents what I strive to achieve with my photography. Composition, balance, dynamic characteristics, and color harmony. There has been some growth as a photographer. Colin is learning!
October 2018 - The Beginning of Fall
A calming scene kicked off fall photography for me. I used to drive an ambulance by this pylon every day, and I always wondered what it would look like during fall. Well, I decided to check it out on one brisk fall morning. It did not disappoint! This photo makes me think of “zen”. You know, one of those colorful images of Japanese gardens or something. It also makes me wonder what this pylon was used for. And time. And other stuff. But I’ll spare you my rambling and we can move on to more fall images!
October 2018 - Holy Acadia!
Yup. I peaked here, and so did fall. The perfect conditions at the perfect location. All I had to do was take the picture. Not as simple as it sounds! This is a 100mm shot and that front tree was 10 feet away. I had to focus stack 4 images, even at F9! I also had to continuously move out of the way as family after family walked through here. Frustrating, but this path was made for people to enjoy. We photographers are no more important than hikers and families trying to enjoy the foliage.
I have many more fall pictures, but I only need to show these three. They are the best. Any other photos would just water down the quality. This scene is my secret little spot in Acadia. I found it in the Spring and absolutely knew I had to go back when fall was in peak. Boy, that was a goo decision! Ill let the image speak for itself. Im also getting tired of typing so my cop out is “A picture is worth a thousand words”.
November 2018 - Winter is Coming
Not my best image in the world, but its a trip back to what I used to do so often. Moving water, seascapes, dynamic scenes. It was very exciting to shoot, and I would like to go back to my “roots” and do more of this in 2019. I love change in seasons. The storms the bring are often legendary. This morning was foretasted to be clear, but delivered a sky that resembled something out of a hurricane. I love these exciting mornings. Who need Coffee, anyways?
November 2018 - Winter has Arrived
And so it begins - My transformation into an 85 year old lady. By this time in 2018 I had started to actually enjoy shooting man-made objects that weren’t lighthouses! This bridge is also part of my past. Its in the town where I grew up. Re-visiting it was weird. I used to swim there. We used to hang out there during highschool. Those are all parts of my past that I don’t really think about. While shooting this it all came back to me. So many people I used to talk to, I no longer hear from. I wonder where they are, what they are doing, and if they ever think the same thing. I guess this is why people love man made objects. That connection.
December 2018 - A Milky Way Christmas?
Let me tell you.. I love this lighthouse, but it is really hard to shoot. It isn’t PHL. There arent amazing foreground and lines. Most people shoot from the same spot. You frame the inlet thing in the foreground for water movement, and the lighthouse in the background. After shooting there 3 times and coming away with nothing I became a little frustrated with the location. So what do I do? I make something. I like the Christmas lights but didn’t like the plain night sky behind it. I liked the milky way behind it but didn’t like how dark the lighthouse normally was. How amazing would it be to see a faint milky way behind a Christmas Lit Nubble? So I went to Nubble during a clear day, made sure to capture it with residual soft light from sunset, and combined that with a milky way from February. Now I have it. A shot of Nubble that shows my vision of the location.
December 2018 - Winter Light
This photo represents the beginning of something great for me. A new enjoyment. If you didn’t already know, I really like rocks and geology. I started photography in Acadia and established my roots there. I never shot man-made objects unless it was a lighthouse. Well, the number of amazing uintouched rocks and cliffs along the Southern Maine coast is limited. Most areas have been developed by humans, so I avoided them. Well, I don’t think ill be doing that anymore. The day I shot this house is the day that I realized I may actually enjoy this new adventure in shooting the rugged structures along the Maine coast. So many new locations to scout and places to see. New compositions to experiment with. This year made me realize how much I love this state. I hope that shows itself through my photos and writing here. That is all for now. I hope you enjoyed reading this and maybe took something from it!