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Winter at Ship Harbor.jpg

The February print of the month is “Winter at Ship Harbor”, which I photographed on my recent winter photo trip to Mount Desert Island in Maine.

I have photographed many different natural areas in and around New England, and many of my favorites are right here in my own “backyard” – The Hudson Valley. Yet there is something about the ocean, and especially the Maine coast that I am attracted to, and I never tire of not only photographing it, but spending time absorbing its visual rhythms, sounds, and beauty. I think this is a vital part of expressive landscape photography and one I strive to capture somehow with a medium that is so simple in relation.

As so often is the case, which is both frustrating and exciting, I arrived at the Ship Harbor Trail late in the day without a clue as to what I wanted to capture, or what exactly to look for. Many times I have a definite idea of an image, but in this instance I was “improvising”, a very familiar mindset from my jazz days at the Berklee College of Music. In these situations, I try to make sure I have as many “ingredients” as possible available that can contribute to a good landscape photograph, namely, dramatic light, interesting subject/location, and an open mind to new possibilities.

After some time wandering, I walked onto this rocky shore, and immediately noticed that with low tide, there was this great line of rocks leading into the distance, lending great perspective and depth. The freshly fallen snow stopped where the water level had been, so there was good contrast of tones extending into the scene. I also loved the texture of the frozen ice that covered the foreground rocks, changing their color. Improvising, I tried several compositions, and eventually found one that really felt right, and managed to get a few good exposures before the soft, warm light disappeared and became dull and flat. I spent another 2 hours in the area hoping for good light to reappear, but it never did.

I developed this image in Lightroom, working to bring out the strongest elements of the scene that made their impression on me as I remembered. Then I exported it to Photoshop for selective sharpening (using my favorite plugin, Pixel Genius Sharpener), and minor dodging and burning to open up some of the darker areas. What many think is a simple click of the shutter, is actually a long and elaborate process that begins in the mind and heart, and ends in the final print to achieve what I hope is something worthwhile.

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