Back Bay Dawn

A cloudy pre-dawn morning is an excellent time to create long exposures, especially when you can include a skyline, such as the Back Bay area of Boston, as part of the image.  Streaking clouds with pastel colors always contrasts nicely with buildings.

What makes this image kinda interesting, is that someone unfamiliar with Boston would think that the snowy foreground area is simply a large field, when it’s in fact the frozen Charles River.  Hopefully frozen for not too much longer, however, as I think we’ve all had enough of this winter by now.

The Frozen Charles

Although the weather warmed up a bit this past weekend, the Charles River remains virtually frozen solid.  This is something I hadn’t contemplated when planning this sunrise shoot, as I was hoping for some nice long exposures of the river.  Once I got past the strange reality of the river not moving, however, I realized that this is something that probably doesn’t happen very often, as we’ve experienced historically cold temperatures this winter.  I’m sure there’s a lemon/frozen lemonade moral to this story somewhere, but it’s late as I write this and I’m letting it go.

Anyway, these boats that were the main subject in my prior post, are now a compliment to the skyline and the colors of the pre-dawn hour.  In order to have both the boats and the taller buildings in the frame, I needed to “break” a major rule of photography by having the Prudential tower in the center as opposed to one of the left or right sides.   Nothing I could control, but I still like the way this turned out. This is definitely a spot I plan to revisit in the Spring.

Frozen Sunrise

Between the crazy winter we’ve had here in Massachusetts, and the craziness going on at work, I’ve unfortunately had little time to get out and shoot.   And less time to blog about my lack of shooting.  So I decided to remedy this, at least temporarily, by getting up early this past Sunday to photograph the sunrise.  I had my plan all set – get out to Eastern Point Light in Gloucester to photograph the lighthouse with the sun rising behind it.  All was good, until I neared the end of the road that leads to the lighthouse and discovered that the last half mile or so hadn’t been plowed in at least a few weeks.

So with no way to access the lighthouse, I turned to plan B, which was to drive around and pray that I could find something interesting to salvage the morning.  I could see that the colors were going to be nice, and candidly, I would’ve used a trash can as my photo subject just to get the sky behind it.  Luckily, I came across this small bridge which crosses a tidal river to the beach.  It was the perfect foreground subject, and allowed me to capture the sky and its colors reflected on the bridge and the snow.  And the bonus is that you can see the twin lights of Thacher Island in the distant background on the left of the image, so I still got my lighthouse shot.  Success.

Sea Smoke at Sunrise

I love living in New England, and having access to some amazing places to photograph in all four seasons.  Now, while getting out to shoot at sunrise in the spring and summer take little motivation as the weather is warm, getting up in the dead of winter to capture the sun rising takes a bit more dedication.  Especially when the forecast is for single digit temps and wind chills well below zero.

But with the prospect of photographing sea smoke coming off the ocean in New Hampshire, I was more motivated than usual as this is something I’d always wanted to try to capture.  My friend Bob Lussier offered the opportunity to join him and Mike Tully to seek out this amazing phenomenon that only occurs when the temps really dip down to some low numbers.  After poking around Portsmouth before dawn, we made our way over to Great Island Common in Newcastle to watch the sun come up behind Whaleback Light.  There wasn’t a lot of sea smoke, but just enough to combine with the sun lighting up the clouds on the horizon to make a truly incredible scene.  A lone lobster boat heading out to sea was the icing on the cake.

It took a few hours to defrost my fingers and toes afterwards, but it was definitely worth it.

Boardwalk Sunrise

For me, 2014 will probably be remembered as the year of not so much shooting.  Between craziness at work, a busy schedule with my family, and a general lack of sufficient motivation, I just didn’t get out to shoot nearly as much as I would’ve liked.  I’m under no false illusion that 2015 will be prolific in terms of photography, but I’m resolving to at least make a concerted effort to get out there more often.

This effort began this past weekend when I set my alarm for a sunrise shoot.  I decided to head to a familiar go-to location on Plum Island, hoping for a nice sunrise at a location I know well. And thankfully I was rewarded with a pretty decent sky full of pastel color and clouds.  This image won’t win me any awards, but it was very gratifying to have made the effort and to come away with some good images.

Happy new year everyone.


Thacher Island Oil House

The main brick structure in this image is the oil house on Thacher Island that was once used to store oil and flammable liquids to operate the island’s lighthouses and buildings.   Shed dormers were added in 2007, which now store some of the maintenance equipment for the island and its properties.

I had arrived on the island before sunrise, and came upon the oil house with the warm glow of its lights against the still dark sky.  Although I was mostly there to photograph the twin lighthouses, I had to stop for a few minutes to grab some shots of this scene before moving on.

Thacher Island

Creating this image set a new record for me in terms of getting up early for a photograph.  I recently had the opportunity to visit Thacher Island at sunrise, an opportunity which only happens once a year.   I left my house at 3am for a ferry (or technically a small floating bathtub) that was leaving at 4am.  A 20 minute boat ride in sheer darkness followed, and we then arrived on the island.  As a side note, it was a both comical and scary ride as one person drove the boat, while another shined a flashlight on the water to ensure we didn’t hit any lobster buoys.

Thacher Island is located off the coast of Rockport, MA, and is known for it’s two towering lighthouses – the only operating twin lighthouses in America.  The Town of Rockport owns the southern end of the Island, and the northern end is owned by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  While there, I discovered that it should also be known for it’s incredible seagull population.  So many in fact, that it was difficult to hear the beeps and clicks of my camera, even with my face pressed up against it.  The island’s other indigenous species, the mosquito, is equally present, yet thankfully disappear once the sun rises.

This image is of the north lighthouse tower.   This was my first visit to the island, and I was overwhelmed with all the possible images that could be made there, although finding some of them in the dark before the sun rose was a bit challenging.  I found this perspective just after the sun came up, and was able to get some of that warm light on the rocks and tower.  I wish the sky had cooperated by providing more clouds, but overall it was a great experience to explore and photograph this amazing place.  I hope to get back again soon.

Light Grids II

I thought I’d start the week with another image of the beautiful light that streams into the Stone Mill in the early morning.  You can even see some of the light patterns on the ceiling, which I believe is from the sun reflecting off a car windshield or something in the parking lot below.  A twofer.

Dawn at the Pier

Every so often I’ll be out shooting sunrise, and the sky will magically take on this eery orange glow before the sun comes up over the horizon.  While I still prefer a sky full of illuminated clouds, sometimes these single color sunrises can be quite impressive.

This one comes from Martha’s Vineyard from a trip a few years ago.  As the light was still low, I needed a 90 second exposure which added that nice smooth quality to the water.  Maybe not my best composition, but the color certainly made up for it.

Have a great weekend.