Although I have yet to pick up my camera in the new year, I feel compelled to create my first blog post of 2017. And I’m doing so with this image from this past summer. It was taken at the Rachel Carson Wildlife Refuge in Wells, ME during our annual family vacation in Ogunquit. After catching the incredible pre-dawn light, I came across this perfect little bench at a viewing area along the trail through the marsh as the sun began to come up.
Even though the bench is facing the away from the rising sun, it’s still a beautiful and peaceful spot to watch the sunrise. And I was not in any hurry to leave.
As 2016 comes to a close, I thought I’d try something a bit different this year by not only highlighting some of my favorite shots from the year, but also including some thoughts/general musings I’ve had throughout the year. I’m not sure how I arrived at 18 of them, but I don’t think having a round number makes the slightest bit of difference. Some of these images didn’t appear on the blog during the year, as I was on a bit of a hiatus for a while, but I believe they’re just as worthy of inclusion as the others. So without further ado, I present 2016 in pictures. And random thoughts.
1. I am much less concerned with how many likes or comments I get on my images than I used to be. I post them because I enjoy sharing them.
2. Photography is so incredibly subjective. Many images I post which I really like seem to get little attention on social media, and vice versa. You just never know what will resonate and with whom.
3. Coming home from a shoot with no keepers is never a bad thing. Being out there shooting is what it’s really all about. At least it is for me.
4. Unless it’s a portrait shoot, and then you’re in big trouble if you have no keepers.
5. I still get a rush when I see a beautiful image on my camera’s LCD screen.
6. Sunrise is the most beautiful part of the day. The rest of the day is always playing catch up.
7. Photography has made me look at the world differently.
8. I absolutely love that after years of saying to my kids “look how pretty the sky is tonight,” they now say this to me on their own.
9. I don’t shoot often enough.
10. Winning a photo contest provides great satisfaction. It does not necessarily provide fame, fortune or increased image sales.
11. The best gear you can buy is just that – gear. Great light, a strong composition, and the patience to wait for them to come together are what make an image memorable; not the gear.
12. With that said, I really do love shooting with the gear I have.
13. For every beautiful sunrise or sunset I’ve captured with the my camera, I’ve walked away with nothing ten times more often. If it were easy, everyone would do it.
14. Sometimes the best view is the one behind you. Never forget to turn around.
15. I need to spend more time promoting myself and my work.
16. I love that when on vacation, my wife and kids sleep in while I quietly go out to shoot sunrise. I come back as everyone is waking up, and it’s a beautiful thing.
17. It’s kinda funny that I post images of beautiful landscapes as often as possible, but never post a picture of a beautiful spreadsheet I create at my real job.
18. I can’t wait to see what 2017 brings.
Thanks for following along this year. Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year.
As we brace for the first real arctic cold of the winter here in the northeast, I thought I’d post an image from warmer times. This shot was captured this past summer in Ogunquit, Maine along the famous Marginal Way. This mile-plus path winds it way along stunning rock cliffs from Ogunquit beach to Perkins Cove, and provides unlimited photographic opportunities. Sunrise, in my opinion, is the best time to be there – not only for witnessing the beauty of the sun coming up over the ocean and cliffs, but also for the peacefulness and quiet of being there virtually alone. The Marginal Way gets quite crowded during the day in the summer, so I really look forward to being there at sunrise.
I woke up early to a promising forecast, and was certainly rewarded for the effort. As I walked along the path, I was seeking out some leading lines in the patterns of the rocks that would take the viewer right out to the morning sky, and found this spot which did the trick. I’m definitely looking forward to getting back there this winter to get some images with snow on the rocks. Once I’m a little more used to the cold that is.
Waits River, Vermont is one the quaint villages I was seeking when I visited the area earlier this fall. It’s one of those locations that you need to know about in advance, however, as you risk driving right through it without noticing much more than the nice church as you pass by. In order to get a good angle and composition that includes the various buildings, you need to turn down this narrow road to get the view back up towards the church. Advanced research and scouting of the area was definitely key on this trip.
As I’ve mentioned in prior posts about this trip, I was really lucky to get these foggy mornings which when timed right, can provide beautiful light as the fog lifts. When I first passed though the area before sunrise, I couldn’t see the church as I stood right in front of it. But later that morning as the fog started to clear, I was treated to some beautiful, almost ethereal, light. The fog was still obscuring most of the colorful foliage in the background, but for this particular image, I didn’t really care – I had the shot I wanted.
Taking a break from the fall foliage images with a lighthouse shot from my recent visit to Charleston, SC. The Morris Island Lighthouse, a non-working lighthouse just north of Folly Beach at the entrance to Charleston Harbor, stands just a few hundred feet off the coast. It’s 161 feet tall, and was completed in 1876. Over time, jetties were built to protect the harbor, which accelerated the erosion on Morris Island around the lighthouse. In 1938, the lighthouse became too difficult to reach and maintain, and thus became automated. By 1962, the lighthouse was too close to the shore due to continued erosion on the island, and state officials ordered it closed. It was replaced by Charleston Light on the north side of nearby Sullivans Island, and is now being preserved by the state of South Carolina.
While all this history is very interesting, I was drawn to the great compositional possibilities of the lighthouse that include this jetty on the northern end of Folly Beach that leads right out to the tower in the distance. I used a long lens to compress the scene and bring the rocks and lighthouse closer together. The sunrise that morning wasn’t too exciting, but did provide a nice pink/red glow to the sky.
Today’s image is another one from my recent visit to Vermont. The village of East Corinth was high on my list of locations to shoot after seeing some images of the town online, and more importantly, after learning that it was the setting for the movie Beetlejuice. It’s one of Tim Burton’s best movies, and one of my personal favorites, and I of course had to watch it again after photographing the area.
I had arrived here before sunrise, hoping for some nice light on the church and the surrounding landscape. I was instead greeted by a blanket of fog that obscured anything further than two feet in front of me. So after waiting for some time with no relief from the fog, I decided to get back in my car and explore the area in hopes of returning later to see the fog rising before the sun got too high. About an hour later I came back to the same spot, and found gorgeous light hitting the church and colorful trees behind it as the fog began to lift. It was a truly amazing scene, and I was fortunate to have timed my return just right. Have I mentioned that I love Vermont in the fall?
Vermont is filled with scenes like this one. Trees turning color, fog in the morning, and an old dirt road leading somewhere interesting. I love to find spots like this while out exploring or on my way to a another location. On this particular morning, the fog was incredibly think in the low-lying areas of central Vermont, and many of the places I was hoping to shoot were blanketed with too much fog to create images. So instead, I spent the morning driving around with no agenda, other than to look for scenes just like this. This spot caught my eye while turning around on a small side street, and I set up a composition that would include the dirt road as a leading line through the image, while also getting in the trees and a bit of foggy background. A simple scene, but one that I really like.
This is the Jenne Farm in Reading, VT. You may know it as one of the most photographed farms in New England, if not the United States. And you know what? I was thrilled to finally get there and make some images, exactly as many, many photographers have done before me. There was a time when I wanted to avoid the most photographed ______ in the country or world, thinking that how could I possibly create something that no one else has before. What I’ve discovered is that I don’t always need to create something new and different from everyone else’s images of a location. These places are the most photographed _______ for good reason, which is typically the sheer beauty of them. So why not get there and make some magic.
The Jenne Farm is no exception. It is the quintessential New England farm – especially in the fall – and I couldn’t be happier with the images I made there, regardless of how similar they may be to others. Now after saying all that, I was fortunate to have the cows feeding right in front me, which is an added bonus that I haven’t seen in too many other images. A happy accident I was happy to come across. Had the cows not been there, however, I would’ve been just as satisfied with the shot.
As I’m sure is the case with many photographers, fall in New England is my absolute favorite season. Both for photography, and for just about everything else. Cool, crisp air and beautiful foliage makes it an enjoyable time of year to be outside exploring. And Vermont is one of my favorite places to be during the season. I spent two days in north central Vermont last week taking in as much of it as I possibly could, and came away with some images I’ll be sharing here on the blog.
Some online scouting resulted in the location for today’s image. It’s a fantastic spot with unbelievable views of Cabot and the surrounding area. The hike up is reasonably short, but is definitely a bit strenuous, climbing 300-400 feet in elevation over roughly half a mile. Once at the top, however, the climb up becomes totally worthwhile. To get this specific vantage point requires standing on a narrow rock ledge with a sheer vertical drop to the forest below, and is definitely not for anyone with a fear of heights. I had hiked up hoping for a colorful sunset, but unfortunately the clouds were not present that evening. With that said, the foliage below was stunning (and almost at peak), and the setting sun added some additional interest. This will definitely be on my list to visit in the future whenever I get back to Vermont.
Boston’s Back Bay area is loaded with wonderful architecture and landmarks that can provide a wide variety of photo opportunities. And for some reason, I hardly ever visit there with my camera. I finally made some time this past summer, however, to come into town and create some images, and set up camp at the Boston Public Garden. There are great views of the city in several directions here, along with the signature pond, hundreds of trees, winding pathways, a bridge and more. I wanted a shot of the former John Hancock Tower (now 200 Clarendon) and thought the pond would make an excellent foreground subject against the building and the Back Bay skyline. I was not alone. The place was packed with “pro” photographers sporting all manner of iPhones and iPads trying to capture the scene. I think my X-T1 and tripod were probably the right call.