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Coastal Waterfall
Coastal Waterfall

Finding a waterfall on the rocky coast of Maine was a real surprise, and I returned the following morning in a thick fog to find near perfect conditions. With the fog constantly changing, I waited until I had really good foreground contrast and detail, and used just 1/3 sec shutter to provide the movement of water I wanted. I chose this perspective and composition to lead the eye from the falls to the ocean, providing a context to the dramatic location.

One of the goals for me on this trip to Acadia was to focus on specific images I wanted to create, rather than wandering around looking for something to shoot. Having been to Acadia so many times in the past, and being very familiar with most popular places to shoot really helps, and I purposely tried to avoid those locations. While the classic scenes are fantastic, I wanted to convey a more intimate and and personal side to Acadia, one that would reflect a connection to the natural forces that have created the landscape we see today.

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Boulders

The soft light after sunset is so beautiful, and here I tried to use it to create a sense of the passage of time, as these boulders have been slowly worn away to their present smooth surfaces. While direct light brings out their incredibly coarse features, this reflected indirect light makes them more gentle, and creates harmony with the calm waters of bay in the distance.

Photographing very popular locations is always a challenge if your goal is to be different, but sometimes the simplest things will help. Regardless of the forecast or the way things looked at camp, I always went out since you never know what can be happening just 5 miles away. Several times I drove through heavy fog only to find blue skies and sunlight when I arrived at my destination. Persistence can be your best asset in bad weather, and for me much more valuable than camera gear.

Crashing Waves
Crashing Waves

Seawall Tide
Seawall Tide

I didn’t think I had a chance of capturing good light on this particular morning, but found myself fascinated by so much to discover during the low tide. As the fog burned off, the warm light began filtering through, and the wet rocks created beautiful reflections which I knew would jump right out of a large print. It was VERY slippery, and I had to be extremely careful not to lose my footing.

When I’m out shooting, I try to approach each moment with an open mind, and always believe there is an image to be made regardless of the conditions. Whether I’m able to describe what I see or how I feel is another matter, and as my grasp of the photographic language grows, so will my ability to communicate that effectively to others. Light is critical, but so elusive and infinitely variable. I’m always amazed at how little I know about light whenever I go out, but it is always there, and I learn one more musical phrase with each photograph.

Compass Harbor
Compass Harbor
Bass Harbor Rain
Bass Harbor Rain

All of these images images were captured in RAW format, and processed in Adobe Lightroom only, with the help of the Mogrify plug-in for output sharpening. I did quite a bit of dust spotting since fog really brings out the dust on the sensor. I also like to play with the camera profiles in Lightroom, as each can give you a different look, somewhat like using different films in the old days.

As a workshop instructor, I’m always open to sharing all I know with students, and I welcome any feedback or questions here as well. Next post I’ll have some of my favorite mountain landscapes from the trip…

RR Jr

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This Post Has 2 Comments

    1. Thanks Clark – Compass Harbor is one of my favorite and less known places in Acadia – so much to photograph in just one cove – but you have to do a very short hike to get there. Composition for me is the essence of landscape photography, the point where all the ingredients come together through the vision and personality of the photographer. It is a vast subject that I’m only just starting to understand.

      Here’s an image that doesn’t work for me compositionally:

      Though the light is beautiful, and the shapes and textures visually exciting, it somehow fails to follow through to a complete statement. The classic question “what are you trying to say” leaves me short for words, a clear sign I have failed in some way. I obviously thought otherwise at the time given the effort I made to go back to this location. Is it the sky? Or perhaps that it doesn’t lead you to a visual point of rest or convey a clear thought or feeling. However, this image is very important to me, and I’ll study it for a while since I can learn much more from it than images that are successful.

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