I was fortunate enough to make it onto an island full of puffins. I’d do it again. The problem is that it would be a very arduous trip. So for now, once was enough. It’s not just the birds. There is fog and lupines.
You need the whole experience. The shot one sees on the post card is of the lovable bird statically positioned. You can’t point your camera and not capture a zillion of these shots. So what is unique? Pondering, I fell back on my sports experience (tennis, Manny) and realized that “flying” was the ticket. Ninety percent of the time the puffins are standing around. The last bit is flying. There’s plenty but it is not easy to have the focus, focal length, and composition all working simultaneously for a bird in flight. On this one I had no lessons or advice. I just relied on experience and imagination. It was a one shot deal. There are other things I might do since I am more experienced now. It’s great that things change and make you want to get better.
While I’m on the subject of the ocean, I thought I’d mention the annual Lobster Dip in Maine. New Year’s Day at around noon a hardy group of folks gather and make a run into the ocean. This particular day was cloudy gray and colddddd! You can see snow in the background. For all its hype and build-up, it happens rather quickly. Everyone runs into the surf and right out again. No frolicking! There are divers on standby waiting to rescue anyone who flounders. No one does much more than get their ankles wet. Me, I was dressed in layers and in full winter gear except for my camera. Yeah it was as cool as it looked. This was the only time I was in the right place to attend, once and done.
In my memory of sporting events, I recall watching demolition derby. That was many years ago when TV was black and white and ABC’s Wide World of Sports would show demolition derby. More curiosity than real sport, I enjoyed the mayhem.
It was decades later that I discovered that they do this at the county fairs in Maine. The fire department is deployed. The cars struggle along trying to disable one another. The crowd cheers. Someone wins. There’s little room to maneuver so there is not too much bone jarring crashes. You just can’t rev up and have a go from a good enough distance. It does draw a big local crowd.
Portland Airport. It was not the jet runway but close enough. They advertised an air show. With little else to do that day I went to see what’s up. There were some vintage planes. There was no flying show. It was a walk around of the gathered planes. Nice?!
I’m always torn between getting the whole plane or just a detail as an image. Yeah, with digital, just shoot away. I still have to pick one. You go to these events and never know what you’ll find. It wasn’t that much, judging from the sparse crowd.
Some of it is for feed and some for bedding. If you ask me the difference, it beats me. These bales sat in the field for months after they were made, so I assume they are for bedding. I just drive by and take a shot as I travel past on my journeys to somewhere else. I admit to having a soft spot for images of haystacks.
There is a distinct advantage to having a local lighthouse to visit. While I was in Maine I took advantage of the less than sunny days to visit the Portland lighthouse. Fog, snow, and rain became part of the inventory of interesting images. I always saw tourists in a hurry, drive up, photograph the lighthouse, hop in the car, and drive away again. I never even had the chance to point out the best show was at their feet in the reflections of the tidal pools on the rocks below. On the days when the reflection was sharp because the wind was still, you got that signature shot everyone looks to get.
I’m not one to camp out and wait for sunset, or to wait hours upon hours for the clouds to arrange themselves for my image. And I’m not a fan of changing things in Photoshop. I prefer drive by shooting. Hey, it works for me. I can appreciate some images that were made by others who toiled and waited…. just not me.
If you just look down at the tidal pools, there’s a reflection to reward you. On a sunny day a polarizing filter will get you a more distinct image. Either way try to break out of the typical tourist mode and get something different.
The county fairs in Maine had woodsman day. Excuse me, ‘women’ day also. The best group was ‘Chicks with Axes’ well at least the name. In one place they put a Coke can (full) in the bullseye for the axe to hit. Sawing, chopping and other assorted timber skills were contested. The loudest were the chainsaw events. Cut down a tree, yes, there was a contest for that as well. For the participants this was really serious stuff. The trees were erected like telephone poles. It’s the last event. The trunks are trimmed to the same diameter. Bring a sharp axe and wear a shin guard. No bleeding this time.
But it’s the chainsaw that has made all the difference. They even compete in souped up chainsaws to cut the block in the fewest seconds. It’s way too loud. They actually hand out ear plugs among the audience.
Another day, another airshow…. If you keep scanning the internet, actually, I’m not sure how I got the news of this show. So you experiment, long tele or wide angle, I keep thinking that the detailed close-up is a better shot. But then you don’t get the whole picture. I was there. But it took cruising my archive to remember the event. Nothing too photographically memorable that day…
I got some shots in formation. The jets fly low and the noise is impressively loud. The government budget for airshows was already being cut back. I read that this was the last show that would occur in Portland.
You bet?! It’s a big money maker for the organizers. The riders are coming from far and away to compete. The advantage for me is that no one seemed to know what to do with me. I just wandered all over, along the rail, in the infield, in the paddock and was never really prevented from getting up close. Everyone ignored me. Later I found out you can’t do any of this. No one from the audience is allowed in the staging area. But a big camera and looking like you belong can go a long way. I had a great time all along the rail in the infield. With all this freedom to roam, I was stuck trying to get the best action shot. You do your best. Unlike stock cars, there were no crashes, at least while I watched.
It’s another event I came across at one of the Maine County Fairs. Throw a series of pigs into a pen and let kids try to catch one. Each kid gets a bag and the mission is to put a piglet into the bag. It’s pretty chaotic. Everybody wins. There are enough piglets, one for each kid. Cute? This is a lot of piglets all crowded around to feed from mama. They make their money/profit on the lottery to pick which kids get into the pen. I’ve heard of greased pig contests ….
I’ve been two years in the Middle East and I’ve not seen belly dancing. Where? Maine again… those county fairs have some crazy entertainment. There is a class put on by an authentic instructor. They did a few exhibitions. And I took the opportunity to get some images when I saw the demo class on the schedule. I can’t say I knew what to expect so it’s impossible to be critical. After you grab the usual group photos, you look for something more. What else? … a belly!I am told that this is one of the most religiously conservative cultures here. So unless you get behind the curtains (as in Victorian England) you ain’t gonna be seeing any bellies anytime soon. There are no illicit drugs and no alcohol. (so I’m told, again) A pre-op patient nervously told me he was an alcoholic. How many? …. two glasses of wine a night. Yeah! So far no sighting of any belly dancing round these parts in the Middle East.
One more story – we were recently cautioned about examining female patients inappropriately. This would be routine physical examination. To be sure we could do this by remote control or perhaps have the patients draw pictures for us. It was suggested that we don’t touch them. And when I operate on their back (ass right below, but discretely covered) should I keep my eyes covered as well. These are some laughable moments. But I certainly do not want to a guest of the local constabulary.
When I work out in the gym and pool at the hospital, the men’s locker room is constantly filled with women (all covered in abayas) traipsing through to wash hands or adjust some facial problem. Hey! It’s a men’s locker room! The standards do not swing both ways.
There’s also a medical school not far from here with two buildings labeled ‘men’ and ‘women.’ I imagine that the education is highly restricted and probably comical. But once again… go for it!
If I had my choice of home styles this home would be right up there. it’s in Harrison Maine nearby to the Camp Pinecliffe that J attended. We passed the house on a backroad and then I never saw it again until I passed by in my random wandering one day. It was unexpected that I would find it again. But then again there aren’t too many ways in and out of the area. I like the roofline. At this point I think that there aren’t enough windows and sunlight. The stone wall is a great touch. Overall it’s a memorable home architecturally.
As time has gone by there have been many homes I have admired. I suppose there are the memories of the car ride to Maine and the bittersweet goodbye to your kid for the summer. Lisa explained sending the kids to camp would make it easier when it was time for them to leave home for college. It worked too well. They left and lived in Africa and South America for a while. I missed them then and did when they were a continent away.
Paraphrasing what Forest Gump said, ‘(fog) is like a box of chocolate. You never know what you’re gonna get.’ It is such a subtle thing to shoot fog. Like rainbows the effect is ephemeral. And back when it was film, you would not know what you had until the moment was long gone. As a kid I rode to have transportation around the neighborhood. At this point in my life it was for the scenery that changed faster than running. And later biking would be for fitness. We were on our one and only guided bike tour in Maine. The kids were dropped off in camp. And here was that foggy morning….Lubec, Maine.
You always remember the things that were hard to accomplish. This was a tough event for me. I had seen a poster or post card many years ago when we visited Maine on a bicycle trip. But I had never had an opportunity to see the birds. And it turns out that it is not easy. I read about a couple of places you could go to see puffins. On one boat trip you never got close enough to see more than a dot in your telephoto lens. That was no good at all. Then there was a boat trip out of Machias. It is way the hell up near the Canadian border and you really really have to want to be there. The boat goes out early in the morning and it doesn’t guarantee a landing on the island in bad weather. Twice!! Twice I made the six hour drive from my location in southern Maine. And twice I was unable to get any shots. The seas were too rough. I learned that as long as the boat was headed out and moving straight it was no problem for motion sickness. As soon as the boat stops, it begins to rock and roll with the waves, and then shortly afterward I feed the fish. It happened twice. And I paid good money to lose my breakfast. Third time is a charm, right? Yes! We got on the island. You have to go into a blind, which is setup to minimally impact on disturbing the birds. And of course I had neglected to bring my big telephoto along. Sometimes you just can’t win. But with what I had along, I filled up a memory card. I stayed until they pulled me out of the blind. Everyone was long done. I had just waited so long to get this opportunity it seemed a shame to not savor the moment. The action was in the birds flying. It’s not hard to get lots of images of puffins standing around looking cute. I got them flying around thanks to Manny who showed me the technique of applying actions sports photography to flying puffins. There’s always a shot you don’t get. That would be an image of a puffin holding fish in its mouth. No, there will not be a fourth trip.
I haven’t seen snow in a while. With any luck I won’t see any for a while more. I won’t forget what it looks or feels like. But there was a very good photographic day back in 2008 in Maine. There weren’t too many images but they remind me of the quiet and peace of falling snow. Sound is muted. The winds blow and the ice crystals gently tap against the window. There is a freshness over everything like a new coat of paint.
There are thousands of costumes with countless masks. After a while you realize that masks hide the person. Makeup leaves you knowing the person without much hope of recognition in the morning. Make sense? Well, I gravitate to the strange and avoid too many masked persons. Confused? I just shoot the picture. I don’t really try for an in depth interview on how he decided to dress up. The picture says enough. And no, even by NY standard this is more than a standard deviation from normal.
It was on the same trip and I was leaving Camden and headed back across to Central Maine. It was getting toward evening and it was cloudy overcast and threatening to rain. Sometimes you see a pattern of color that is so soothing. I traveled without family so there was no one to complain about my frequent sudden stops. There are some images in my head that I regret not stopping to take. But on this particular evening, this image was not one of those regrets.
I was up in Camden and passing through Rockport where there was a craft show and a photography school. I had parked the car and turned toward the school where the craft show was being held. I had a black and white moment in front of me without any help from Photoshop. Julia had me enlarge this and she framed it for her room. I continue to marvel at being so lucky to be in the right place at times like these.
Whenever I think about fall color it’s red and orange for me. But I tend to lose sight of the tree among the landscape. I would like more detail but when you get up close … Well, I guess you could say that the house and the fence are distracting. I like the color and the intermediate detail, not too close, not too far. It’s hard for me to not want to include the whole tree.
Julia commented on how much she liked this image. You spend your time chasing the fall colors. When you get right down to it, I think that what makes you stop is in the details. I had been shooting across the water and capturing the reflections of the trees in the water. And just as I turned to leave, I saw this single leaf. Yes sometimes it’s all about paying attention to detail.
I had a magical autumn in Maine in 2008. For me most of my fall images came from Bear Mountain New York. I crisscrossed the back roads and put a lot of mile on the old wagon. When I look back in retrospect it was a time never to be repeated. I had fog, clouds, sun, water, reflections and just about anything and everything I could imagine. I’d say that I have not had a better experience and I wistfully think how fortunate I was to be there to take these images.
Runaround Pond was my go-to spot. It was peaceful and it was a great place to put up your feet and read. In autumn I was rewarded with fog and reflections. Fog is so hard to conjure and it is an ephemeral moment like sunset never to be duplicated. There may be many days like it but never the same as the one I shot.
I’ve been on a dive binge. It’s my chief hobby right now. For those of you in colder climes in the Northern Hemisphere, I have almost forgotten that it’s halfway to Christmas. The weather is colder and the frost is on the pumpkin. I lived in Maine for a time. All the while I was hoping to shoot a moose. I gave a medical talk and mentioned that I had finally shot a moose and one son of a gun actually asked me how it was to shoot it (with a gun). That got me to thinking that I should refrain from literal language (or stop talking to NRA Republicans).
Up until this particular day I was, shall we say sadly and completely unsuccessful. I had loads of advice from locals about how and where to go. Perhaps they were just playing around with a city guy? Up in the wilderness of Maine, way up past Millinoket, and near to Mt Katahdin my travels brought me on a journey and a last ditch search.
Yes! I passed three photographers idly chatting, tripods deployed, and telephoto lenses pointed off toward a far point on the lake. Their wives were with them. They pointed to a brown dot on the horizon hidden in the trees and told me it was a moose. They had to tell me because we were too far to identify anything except that it was animal not plant. Yeah!? This was a non starter.
Pretty much resigned to defeat I continued through the park on this cloudy day. Two cars were parked on the side of the road and I sensed there might be action. Walking into the woods I saw my first moose no more than 30 feet away calmly munching on whatever it is that moose munch. The first photographer was decked out in hunter clothes and appeared to be a real photographer. The other was an idiot approaching the moose from uphill. He had a maniacal grin and was edging down with a simple point and shoot camera. I felt sure this dude would soon be killed when he disturbed Mr Bullwinkle. Moose don’t see well and when startled they can make an awful mess in a hurry. It helps to stand behind a tree since it might help that the tree will slow down an angered moose. (Let it be a big tree.) I turned to the first photographer to ask about an exit strategy and he replied the moose in front is not the problem. It’s the three behind us that I might want to take care to watch. I regret not taking the picture of that idiot photographer on the uphill side. But then again he never did get hurt either.
The other bull moose and mama with baby were more interesting. None of them cared that I approached but I did so cautiously and kept to staying behind the trees. The first photographer and his wife came up to stand with me. He stayed behind and began to make his city version of moose calls. Meanwhile his wife stood next to me sharing my tree. This couple had driven to Maine that day to participate in a moose photography class. The just happened to be wandering the woods. Meanwhile they didn’t realize that they had hit the photographic jackpot. My exit strategy quickly formed. If the fool behind me wanted to make moose calls, it would be his wife I would push out from behind the tree in the event the any of the moose made a charge. It pays to think ahead. My presumption was that he didn’t like his wife too much since I had only just met the couple. Oh, and she didn’t know how to use her camera and asked me to shoot some images for her. My reason to photograph anything is to know that I shot the image myself. Otherwise who needs another picture of a moose. And remember when I say shoot, its photograph not gun.
Sometimes you never know how things will come out. I was pleasantly surprised to get the lighthouse detail of this shot in the early morning fog. We were in Lubec, Maine and I’m shooting to the Canadian side lighthouse. It has that little red crest that they like in Canada. The shot is too centered. My bad, I’m still an amateur at that time. It’s film not digital, so there’s no way to know whether the shot is good until much later. I look at the old shots and am pretty amazed to have such nice slides. I really trusted to luck back then. There was some skill, I suppose. To me it was like conducting a photo experiment. The results would come back months later. You needed a lot of patience. In those days I was already developing my own slides. So I would shoot enough to make it worthwhile to mix up a batch of solution – usually about 60 rolls. That could take about half a year. As I said I was patient… and careful. You have to hold the water temperature to 100 degrees plus or minus a tenth of a degree. Yes, I did it… nerve wracking but I did it.
Secretly I disagree with everyone who says that the best shots of fall foliage are on cloudy days. There is supposedly more saturation of the colors. I like a bright sunny blue sky day. And if need be, give me a good polarizing filter. I also like white picket fences. So with the brilliant fall colors, I tried to get the fence and leaves but had to compromise with civilization. As I conclude this fall series, I look back and remember that 2008 was a magical fall season for me.