Archive for the ‘coastal Maine’ Tag

The Good Life   9 comments

The Good Life


This past autumn while in Maine, we had a nice visit at Eliot Coleman’s Four Season farm (lettuce in Maine, in January!) One of the assistants there suggested that for a nice lunch, we should drive just down the road to Orr Cove. Best tip we had on the entire trip!

We pulled off to the side of the one-lane road, making sandwiches and firing off some sun flare brackets, after which, we drove about 50′ to The Good Life Center, the place where we found the Alien Landing.


This image was particularly tough to process, which is why I didn’t offer it up for the recent HDR Collaboration, choosing Inland Sailor instead. The sun flare caused a great deal of spotting and CA, and the dust on the sensor didn’t help much, either. Eleven exposures, f/22, 17mm.

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Okay, Next Time YOU Drive…   4 comments

Okay, Next Time YOU Drive...
While visiting coastal Maine recently, we went for a nice day hike in the Blagden Preserve, a little-known spot on the ‘quiet side’ of Mount Desert Island. The area, now owned by the Nature Conservancy, features a loop hike that leads out to some beautiful water views.

On the return through maritime forest, we were more than a bit surprised to see the remains of an old Dodge sitting just off the trail. With no roads nearby, it was a curiosity. Apparently, there either used to be a road or driveway here, or the old beast had been hauled off into the woods. Either way, it made for an interesting, almost spooky scene.

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Maine’s Bold Coast   11 comments

A spectacular view from the cliffs of the Cutler Coast Preserve, Bold Coast, Maine

Maine's Bold Coast

Far north from the usual crowds that visit the typical vacation spots in Maine, lies the Bold Coast. Located just south of Lubec, the easternmost town in the U.S., this is a pristine area with very little development.

To get to this place, you park along a little-used road and hike in about a mile and a half, coming to these spectacular cliffs. From here, you can hike south along the rim of the cliffs to a primitive campsite that lies directly on the coastline. Hiking along the trail you can always keep an eye out for seals and whales (on the left), as well as bear and moose (on the right.)

I don’t think I know of a more lovely place on the east coast to spend the day. You might see one other person during the entire day.

Three exposures hand-held from Nikon D90, Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 wide angle lens at 16mm, f/4.5, ISO 160. Merged in HDR Express with followup in Photoshop CS5 with Nik Color Efex Pro.

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Over at OneStopPoetry, the second of a two-part interview went live on Sunday morning. You can find it HERE.

I’ve really enjoyed taking part in the Sunday Photography Interview and Poetry Challenge, both weeks. In the interview, OneStopPoetry puts a few of my images in-line with the interview responses, highlighting one shot in particular as a ‘prompt’ for their weekly poetry challenge. Interested participants use the image as inspiration, and come up with a poem or prose based on what they see or feel about the image. It’s fascinating to see the creatives take off on their path, sometimes revealing their deepest thoughts, flights of fancy, or memories that the picture might have conjured up for them.

As one who values Creativity over Certainty, I appreciate being able to come up with something creative of my own, but then watch it take a new life when someone adds their own interpretation on it. It seems like Creativity doubled.

My thanks to all who took the time to write their thoughts. Some entries have struck me so well that I’ve asked the poets if I could use their poems to go alongside the images someday. Some seem like the perfect pairing of image and words, which is something that I often struggle to achieve by myself, usually falling short of what I’d really like to convey.


Alone + Nature = Nurture   19 comments

A lone person regards the ocean surf at Otter Point, Acadia National Park, Maine

This is one of my favorite spots on the coast of Maine.

Rather than go into some lengthy prose regarding the image, I thought I’d let the title speak for itself.

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Who Decorates the Scenes…   21 comments

A stunning autumn sunrise over Cobscook Bay State Park, Edmunds, Maine

Who Decorates the Scenes...

Autumn sunrise at Cobscook Bay State Park, Maine.

I awoke that morning in darkness and crawled out of the tent, hoping to catch a good sunrise. Sometimes it’s really worth getting up so early.

In this place, so far removed from roads and ‘civilization’, it’s utterly still and hushed at that time of morning, save for the occasional call of a shorebird or a small boat working its way up the bay. It’s a time of quietude and a time for reverence for whoever decorates the scenes we see.

(The title is from one of my favorite Chris Smither songs, “I Am the Ride.”)

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Au Clair de la Lune (By the Light of the Moon)   10 comments

A sublime full moon rises over the ocean at Acadia National Park, Maine

An autumn moonrise at Acadia National Park, Maine.


Well we artistic types are so misunderstood
Everyone’s a critic, they don’t know when something’s good
Just let us have our space and freedom to create
And when the work is finished, we’ll tell you if it’s great

— from “Stephen’s Exhibition” by Stuart Davis

After a long run of dominating the High Dynamic Range marketplace, the venerable Photomatix Pro now has a lot of company. Unified Color’s product set is very strong. Nik Software recently released HDR Efex Pro. Photoshop CS5 introduced Merge to HDR Pro. HDR Darkroom Pro is soon to be released. Topaz Adjust even has settings that emulate HDR effects.

To suggest that HDR photography is here to stay seems facile. Companies would not invest effort and cash into developing products if there were no market identified for them. Camera manufacturers are pushing the limits of sensor technology ever farther, increasing dynamic range in-camera, long before an image ever goes to post.

In the midst of this evolution, the debate over whether HDR is a legitimate form of photography continues as it has for some time. (See the comments under James Brandon’s recent article, 19 Examples of HDR Done Right.) There are some who believe that processing an image using HDR techniques doesn’t constitute photography at all. I usually dismiss these monocular arguments, as most people realize that the technique of tonemapping an HDR image to a target output device is really no different than putting a circular polarizer on your lens, or greasing that filter for a vignette blur, or dodging & burning in the darkroom, or farming multiple images, and so on.

Yes, it’s photography. HDR processing uses a set of techniques in order to accomplish a style. As artists, if we used a pencil instead of a camera, it would be called ‘drawing’ regardless of our personal tastes in art. Whether it was a piece by Rembrandt, or a child’s first creation on the refrigerator, it’s still ‘drawing’ and the final product is a unique creation by an artist.  In much the same way, HDR processing employs technical methods in order to achieve a specific style. Whether one likes a particular style should be more the question, and ultimately that comes down to a matter of personal preference. But, for one to dismiss the entire body of HDR or tonemapped images because of one’s personal prejudices about a technique is to entirely miss the beauty of an artist’s stylization.

What I like most about photography is that it allows me to express an artistic vision based on an actual experience I’ve had, or to accurately recreate a scene that I’ve experienced so that I can try to bring you there with me.

What I like most about HDR photography in particular is that it allows anyone to apply their own sense of creativity on a standard photographic image, expressing their unique vision and talents. In doing so, we can take an everyday scene and draw attention to it in new ways, pulling the viewer into a scene, helping to share the mood and feel of the setting, and conveying the emotions that the photographer felt when taking the frames. Can you do this with conventional photography? Sure, but with HDR the palette for expressing one’s vision can be far more extensive.

In the end, though, what is it that we’re trying to achieve?

As artists, we want to create new things. We need to be creative; if the drive wasn’t there, we wouldn’t be doing this. We want to push the limits of the current tools and technology into new forms of expression. As with any art form, some of these attempts may fall flat, but we’re driven to create nonetheless.

We want to be seen. Even if we prefer to ‘hide behind the camera’ we want the fruits of our efforts to be seen and appreciated by others. Much like a mirror, it is the reflection of ourselves in an-other that satisfies the artist’s soul, that helps us to know that we exist, and that our efforts are not wasted. The creative loop of Arting is completed when our final image is seen by others who then reflect back their appreciation, or perhaps even their thoughtful criticism.

Given that, I’ve been wondering why the mere appearance of HDR images can conjure up rather caustic, mindless rants from some people. The thing that bothers me most about those rants is that they can only serve to diminish a person’s creative potential, were we only to place any real stock in them. In service of the ego, detraction is the commentator’s attempt to pull someone away from Creativity back to the bland, middling ground of Certainty. When people suggest, “All HDR sucks,” it’s akin to saying that because you don’t like an abstract style of painting, anything created with a paintbrush sucks.  With these condescending comments, it is clear that technique is being badly confused with style in the mind of the commenter, and that’s an error.

The technical foundation of HDR is improving every day, and yes, HDR is here to stay whether some people prefer it or not. As fellow photographers, we must remember that not only is everyone at their own stage of development in terms of creative potential, but that they each have their unique and equally precious vision. There is no “good” or “bad” art in this context, just the product of creative potential, widely varied and infinitely interesting, and that should be celebrated, not denigrated.


(Yes, the image above was processed using HDR techniques.)

Sunrise at Otter Point   2 comments

A beautiful sunrise at Otter Point, Acadia National Park, Maine.

If one has never been to this place, one should visit, at least once.

Of all the places we travel in New England in the fall, Acadia National Park is one of our favorite stops. The conundrum is that we appreciate solitude and wilderness, but ANP in autumn is anything but empty. Over the years, though, we’ve found a rhythm to visiting, and know of a few small spots where you can spend the day with very few signs of human activity. Despite the popularity of ANP (one of the most heavily visited of the National Parks), the natural beauty is, I think, unparalleled, particularly on the east coast.

Feel the warmth of the sun by viewing larger. Just click on the image to open a new window.

This image proved fairly difficult to process, and I went through several iterations. Whenever I got the sun flare to show up as I wanted (i.e., not blown out), most of the HDR processing programs created serious halos, especially around the tree branches on the left. Trying to merge in original exposures or sky-enhanced layers proved to be too difficult because of the varying intensities of light in the sky. It turned out to be a tug-of-war between a good sun flare and excessive haloing, with neither really winning. In the end, although I merged the brackets (+/-2EV) with HDR Expose, Nik Software’s HDR Efex Pro turned out the best preliminary result, although some fixing up had to be done: Denoising filters used to knock down HDR Efex Pro’s noise levels wound up overly softening a few elements. Once again, Topaz InFocus, my new favorite plug-in, came to the rescue to bring back the detail in the rocks. I also have to give a nod to the Content-Aware Fill feature of my new Photoshop CS5 for taking out some lens refraction spots… nothing could’ve been easier!

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