When I lived in West Virginia the summer was filled with monarchs. I have not seen them much since I lived in New York. Now there was a time in Maine when monarchs were a side benefit of traveling to visit a lighthouse. I’d like to say they are a frequent find. But monarchs have been in decline in recent years.
It’s spring in southern Maine. Forsythia are a classic harbinger of early spring. Bright yellow bushes flower. The rest of the year the bushes are completely nondescript. The flowers lack memorable detail. It is the essential splash of color, which catches the eye. So it is a prop against the other elements. An old fence looks a lot better with a forsythia in bloom.
I love water reflections. Still water is not easy to come by. This one reminds me of a print of a Chinese print of an arched bridge that I once brought back from Hong Kong. This shot was along the road near to Runaround Pond in Maine.
Snapshots and photographs differ in what you see. Either you take in the whole scene to memorialize your presence in this spot at this time. Or you draw the viewer by engaging him in a detail. This gate is like a poem. There are many unstated explanations. Take what you will. I did not go through the open gate though it beckoned. I was in Boothbay Harbor. You shoot the harbor and the water and the lobster boats…it helps to look a bit further.
Shots like this are easy to see along the Maine coast. All the elements are in place lobster boat, lobster traps, and some fog. The muted light casts a mood of peace. Having been to this spot in the past I successfully returned to catch the mood in different light. It works.
I’m spinning my archive. The good thing about living in Maine for a while is that you got to visit lighthouses in inclement weather. Fog is always a hard subject. The other element is the light itself. Then to blend soft light and focused detail is harder yet. I let the camera figure out the exposure. I just fixed the compositional elements. In that instant I got the shot I wanted. It’s good.
The last time I made the mistake of coming at 7PM. The action I spoke about starts after the last prayer. So this is the crowd milling about at midnight. This is a one-way thoroughfare. Are you kidding? Nope, it’s one way. I got caught about half way along and had to walk to the end twice. Pain! No one sleeps during Ramadan. They stay up until 4AM, then try to sleep all day to minimize the time of fasting and hunger. I’m saying that families and young kids are all up and active at this hour. If the routine change has affected me so, it must be hell on little kids. Once a year for 30 days…..
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.