Patience

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Patience

I’ve already said it, and I’ll say it again. Landscape photography is all about light. If you want to improve your pictures, one of the easiest ways to do so is to pay attention to the light and make your images when the light shows you its best side.

Autumn foliage at the Great Meadow, Acadia National Park, Maine,

    In this image, taken looking out across the Great Meadow towards Sieur de Monts, there’s a colorful line of trees in the meadow, lying in the shadow of Dorr Mountain. On this day, with the sun occasionally peeking through thick cloud cover from time to time, the trees lit up beautifully for just a few seconds while the mountainside beyond lay in shadow.

    When I first arrived, I noticed the clouds moving quickly across the sky. Everything was still in shadow but I could see a hole in the clouds off to the right. As I watched them, I knew that if I waited long enough, the sun would eventually shine through the hole in the clouds, light up the line of trees while keeping the mountainside in shadow, which is just what it did in the end. But it took time, about twenty minutes all together.

    While I waited, dozens of people came by. Everyone looked at the scene– covered in shadow– took a picture, then moved on. I wanted to tell people to just wait. If they only looked up at the sky, saw the break in the clouds and realized the possibilities, some of them might have stuck around to see the beautifully lit trees I did.

    Patience. It’s what you need for truly great landscape photography. Luck plays a part too, but if you watch the weather conditions and realize the possibilities, then wait for them to happen, you can get dramatically better photos. I realize we don’t all have twenty minutes, or an hour, or three hours to wait, but when you do take the time to wait for the light, the rewards can be great.

[this blog post originally appeared in the 2017 edition of the Photographers Guide to Acadia. All rights reserved.]

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The One that Almost Got Away

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The One that Almost Got Away

It was nearing the end of a long week, and I found myself alone in my favorite woods near the Great Meadow and Sieur de Monts. My creative juices were running low as I wandered through the woods with an 85mm lens on my Canon 5D Mark 2 camera.

I always spend a week in Acadia in October every year. The first day or two are exciting, full of exploring the island, finding out where the best color is, getting up early, staying up late, eating very little and generally having a great time. Then I start to explore areas where I haven't been before. Sometimes I find great new things to photograph, other times it's more of an exploratory trip to check off my list.

By the end of the week, I'm still enjoying myself, but I'm drained– physically and often emotionally. It's hard to keep up that intense search for good photography, always searching for the next image, or planning where to go next, not to mention always watching the weather and keeping an eye on the skies. Occasionally, I'll leave my camera bag in the car and set off on foot down a trail, or up a mountain, not planning on taking any pictures at all (but bringing a long a camera and one lens... just in case).

So on this occasion, I found myself in the woods, walking around, leaves crunching under my boots, half searching for things to photograph, half just enjoying the solitude and beauty of the woods. I took a few photos, but nothing that I thought would be all that good; I'd probably delete most, if not all, when I got back home.

So eventually– a month later– I had some time to go through the images from my trip, and I came to this one. I have to say here that all my pictures are shot in color, even those I plan on converting to black and white later on. The color information is stored in the digital files. With this particular image, the lighting was nothing special, though I liked the way the leaves seem to glow against the backdrop of the woods. But in color, it still seemed dull and uninspiring. I was about to delete it along with dozens of others I was getting rid of that day. But I had a few minutes so I decided to convert it to black and white and start to adjust the tones of the trees and leaves. I lightened the yellow leaves to stand out against the background. And because I had taken the picture with a very wide aperture (f/2 in this case) with a telephoto lens, everything with the exception of just a few crisp leaves was soft. I added some vignetting to the photo to draw the viewer into the leaves and added a sepia tint. Suddenly the dull color image became a beautiful black and white piece of art.

Since I made this image in 2012, it has featured in my ebook (The Photographer's Guide to Acadia) and my coffee table book (Under October Skies) and several people have bought prints of this image. Recently, it was the first print I sold from my new relationship with Artemis Gallery. I know at least a couple people who say it's their favorite images of all my pictures.

I have no idea when I take a picture if anyone will actually ever see the finished print; I have thousands of images that no one has ever seen. But this one has risen to the top and been appreciated by many people. It's a satisfying feeling.

the original raw color image straight out of the camera

the original raw color image straight out of the camera

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Images of Acadia is now on Instagram!

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Images of Acadia is now on Instagram!

Hunters Head

Hunters Head

It's hard to keep up with all the social media channels- Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. I make my living in photography and have a hard time keeping up with everyone- amateurs and professionals alike- who posts to social media regularly. After all, I plow through 500-5,000 photos a week and it's hard to find the time to update my blog, post to social media, as well as spend time with my wife and kids. There has to be balance in life. It's not all about photography...

But while I've resisted Twitter (do I really need to tell you what I'm doing in 140 words or less?) and Snapchat (why?), I bowed to the pressure and jumped into Instagram a few months ago. While my posts have been sporadic until recently, I've got a wealth of images to share and plan on posting on a regular basis now. I'll also occasionally be posting discount offers for my books and large prints.

Having just returned from two recent trips to Acadia, I have plenty of new images to show you. Stay tuned, and follow me on my new Instagram page:

Images of Acadia Instagram

Sieur de Monts

Sieur de Monts

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Opening Night

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Opening Night

If you've been a regular follower of my blog, you'll know I visited Artemis Gallery in Northeast Harbor (Maine) this past summer and showed them some of my prints. This lead to me being part of a four person photography show which is currently on now at the gallery until September 29th.

The Thursday evening opening reception was well attended, with the gallery space full of visitors, as well as an outdoor space with wine and hors d'oeuvres and live music. All four photography artists were able to attend– one from Florida, two local Mainers and myself.

If you're in the area, I'd encourage you to check out the show. Located in an old home, tucked behind Sam Shaw Gallery, the gallery rotates exhibitions every two weeks from June to October.

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Otter Cliff... Join the Queue

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Otter Cliff... Join the Queue

Otter Cliff Sunrise, from the Boulder Beach, 2009

Otter Cliff Sunrise, from the Boulder Beach, 2009

Otter Cliff is one of Acadia's most beautiful and iconic locations. Above a wide rocky beach, the cliff juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, pounded by waves (on a windy day) and topped by thousands of pine trees. Viewed from the beach along Ocean Drive, the east-facing site lights up with the first rays of daylight, making it one of the best locations to see an Acadian sunrise. But, like most beautiful places in the world, it suffers from an overabundance of photographers, all trying to repeat the same picture they've seen someone else do before them.

Don't get me wrong, I've spent valuable time on the Boulder Beach, waiting for the sunlight to kiss the granite sides of Otter Cliff. I was even really disappointed one year (2008) when I arrived at the beach early, only to see a large crane rising a hundred feet above the cliff, forcing me to think fast and seek another place to photograph the sunrise. (It turns out they were shooting the latest Martin Scorsese film, Shutter Island, on the cliff face and had commandeered the cliff-top parking lot for several days with their trailers, cars and the large crane. But I digress.)

It's been a few years since I've photographed a sunrise at Otter Cliff now. Not that it doesn't look great, but because of the sheer number of photographers who line up to photograph the same scene. I just refuse to stand in a line to make the same image everyone else is. Not to mention it sometimes gets nasty. The unwritten rule of landscape photography is whoever gets there first has the right to set up anywhere they choose. All others will have to work around that first photographer. But I've seen people show up 'late' and walk in front of others who've been set up for over half an hour, and they just don't care. Angry words are exchanged and everyone leaves with a sour taste. The same thing happens at Bass Harbor Head lighthouse at sunset. And my time in Acadia is just too valuable for that.

Acadia National Park, Maine, USA

I was visiting Acadia with a friend in 2012 and making pictures up above the beach, when I made this image above. There are over fifteen photographers here, all lined up along the beach. They're possibly still getting some nice pictures, but it just seems too much like an assembly line production to me. And Acadia, to me, is about peace, being alone with the elements and experiencing nature and creating expressive art. I just can't do that when everyone around me is doing the same thing.

So what are we to do? Well, if you have your heart set on photographing Acadia's most iconic image, by all means, go for it. It's a beautiful location, especially when the light cooperates. But try visiting out of season when you'll have the place to yourself and you're more free to move around as the light changes. Landscape photography is best when you're not mimicking someone else's photo and instead, you're thinking about how best to photograph the scene around you, in the conditions you find right then and there.

"Blue Gold Dawn" (2008)

"Blue Gold Dawn" (2008)

One of my favorite images from this location came because I looked behind me early one morning and noticed how beautiful the light was on the rocks and water, before the sun had even come up. Otter Cliff was at my back but I had discovered an even more beautiful scene. I'd never seen anyone else make an image like this in Acadia so it was unique to me. And that's the whole point of this- don't settle for what everyone else is shooting. Go ahead and photograph the iconic Acadia scenes, but try to open your eyes wider and be looking for beauty everywhere, at all times.

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Chains, Northeast Harbor

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Chains, Northeast Harbor

Back in June, I stopped in at Northeast Harbor to visit Artemis Gallery and show them some of my prints. But I arrived early and had a few minutes to kill before my appointment, so I headed down to the harbor to have a look around. If you've never been there, the harbor is a peaceful, but busy place with fishing boats, yachts and ferries coming and going, and plenty of lobster traps stacked on the edge of the boat ramp.

But what drew me that morning was the rusty chains lying around the rocks. I took note of them and went off to my meeting. Later that day, I returned to spend about an hour photographing the chains. It was overcast so I had nice soft light to work with. I thought the dry chains would look better wet though so I poured water over them, then realized I preferred them dry (pictures 2 and 3).

All images were made with a Pentax 645Z medium format camera, ISO 100, and a carbon fiber tripod.

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Images of Acadia at Artemis Gallery, Maine

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Images of Acadia at Artemis Gallery, Maine

Echo Lake, October 2016

Echo Lake, October 2016

During my recent visit to Acadia last month, I met with Dee and Cody, the owners of Artemis Gallery located in Northeast Harbor. The town is one of three main towns on Mount Desert Island, where Acadia National Park is located, and is a popular place for art galleries on the island.

I brought in a portfolio of about eighteen 16x20-inch prints, all printed in my office before I left home. I also showed some of the large metal prints I'd been selling at Art in the Park over the weekend, and Under October Skies, my coffee table book. The meeting went well and by the end, they had agreed to represent me and sell my prints. I left behind a dozen copies of my book as well.

I'll continue to sell prints directly through my website, but this now means that visitors to Northeast Harbor and the Acadia area will have a bricks and mortar location to see actual prints. I'm excited to see where this new partnership will lead. And it looks like the first public gallery showing of my work will be in mid September when my photographs and another photographers will be part of a two-person show of Acadia photography.

I'll have more details about that as they become available. Click here to see my listing on the Artemis Gallery website.

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Opal Magazine Artist Feature

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Opal Magazine Artist Feature

Autumn Abstract, The Tarn, 2013

Autumn Abstract, The Tarn, 2013

When I arrived at my hotel the day before the art show last month, I had an email from the editor of Opal Magazine, a publication for luxury resort hotels up and down the east coast, including two of Bar Harbor's top hotels. They wanted to feature my photography of Acadia in an upcoming issue of the magazine, specifically my more artistic Abstract Acadia series. This means my images will be seen in every room of the Bar Harbor hotels, as well as hotels from Montreal down to Florida. It's an honor and I'm excited to see it in print in a couple months. I had a phone interview a couple days ago– I'm terrible at these things– so now I'm just waiting to see how it all comes out. I'll post a link here and the Images of Acadia Facebook page when that happens.

Click here to read a digital copy of Opal Magazine.

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2017 Images of Acadia Workshop, October 14-19th

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2017 Images of Acadia Workshop, October 14-19th

Kane Path/ Canon Brook Trail, October 2016

Kane Path/ Canon Brook Trail, October 2016

For years, I've been working on putting together my own photography workshop in Acadia. For one reason or another, I've never gotten it off the ground, though I've had interest from several people all over the country. Well, that's all about to change. I'm helping to co-lead a large group of photographers in early October, but that trip is now full. I am accepting participants into my own workshop in mid-October though.

I'll be running my first Acadia photo tour/ workshop, from October 14-19th. This will be a small group, probably 4-8 people tops. You'll be staying at my favorite hotel in Bar Harbor and spending each day out in the national park, visiting some of my favorite sites, shooting from dawn til dusk and receiving personal instruction from me. In the evenings we'll get together to look over the day's pictures, and I'll teach you some of my favorite techniques for processing your images. If you're interested in joining me, send me an email asap and let me know you're interested. I'm anticipating these few spots will fill pretty quickly.

Images of Acadia Photo Tour/ Workshop... $1895

Price includes accommodation as well as transportation around the Park each day. If you look at most other Acadia photo workshops, accommodation and transportation are an additional cost, so this is one of the most affordable photo workshops in Acadia. Hotels near Acadia are not cheap, so several days' lodging can add up to $1000 to your total cost. Breakfast is included at the hotel, but you'll need to cover your lunch and dinner expenses. And if enough people arrive at Bangor Airport about the same time, I'll pick you up and bring you to the hotel. I want this to be a trip where you don't have to worry about all the extras, but where you can concentrate on your photography and making art with your camera.

I'll rent a van or car to get us around to all the sites. You're free to bring your own, or rent a car, but I'll be driving us around to take the burden of transportation from you if you choose. And by traveling together, I'm hoping we can build camaraderie and learn from each other as we compare notes, pictures and 'talk shop.' The idea is to learn not just from me, but from each other and our different backgrounds and experience in photography.

A typical day will start about 6am when we head out for our first sunrise location (the sun comes up at 6:54am). We'll come back into town for breakfast at the hotel then back into the park until we break for lunch in a nearby town. After the sun goes down around 6pm, we'll head back to Bar Harbor and have dinner together at one of the town's great restaurants. Then you can wander around the town for a while– Bar Harbor is full of souvenir shops, bookshops and more– before we return to the hotel for the night. If you're still awake and there's interest, I can go through some of the techniques I use to process my images and answer any questions you have.

What sort of camera do I need to have?? I would say any D-SLR (interchangeable lens) camera is sufficient. You don't have to have the latest, greatest camera or lenses. But a camera that can be set manually is a big plus. I'll teach you how to use manual exposure for most of your pictures, and how to use aperture and shutter speed to create art with your camera. A tripod is a must too. Recently, I've begin using my iPhone for simple grab shots and have been enjoying that- I can share some of my insights with you. I'll be sending you a list of what gear I bring and some suggestions for any extras you may want to purchase before the trip, like filters and even appropriate clothing to bring.

What's the weather like at that time of the year? I generally find it to be quite comfortable in mid-October. I've seen it get into the 70's but I've also been bitterly cold waiting for the sun to rise on top of Cadillac Mountain, with wind chills probably in the low 20's. But typically, the temperatures are in the 50's or 60's during the day. I generally see rain only once or twice a week during October, though if it rains more often, we'll just have to deal with it!

Is there a lot of hiking? Generally speaking, no. Most locations are pretty close to the road or parking areas, though we probably will walk into the woods a little or maybe take a carriage trail into the heart of Acadia. But we will definitely be climbing over rocks along the coast. Nothing strenuous, but bring sturdy hiking boots- street shoes won't cut it here.

If you have any other questions, let me know, and I'll also be adding to this page as I think of additional things to include.

I hope to see some of you in October!

PS  If you think you might be interested in joining us, send me an email asap (there's no obligation on your part) and I'll include you in all details and news about the trip. I'm accepting the first 4-6 people who respond to me.

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Art in the Park, June 2017

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Art in the Park, June 2017

Sunrise at Hunters Head, 2012

Sunrise at Hunters Head, 2012

So much going on... It's been a busy summer, with trips to Maine and Colorado already and it's only mid-July. Still, it's good to be busy and I'm grateful people are hiring me for my photography skills and want to buy my prints and books.

In June I drove 1300 miles (3,030 round trip!) out to Bar Harbor, laden down with prints, books, posters, and a tent, to participate in the 67th annual Bar Harbor Art in the Park Festival. It was my second year being part of the festival and I was honored to come away with the Best in Show award for the second year running. Although the rain kept some people away on the first day, it was good to meet people and talk about my work, answer questions and impart some of my knowledge of photographing Acadia. And it was a fun bonus to be interviewed on local radio (AM 1370 Ellsworth), and even be videotaped by a drone above my booth.

After two days of constantly being on my feet, I was worn out, but there's no better way to learn what people like than to listen to hundreds of visitors to your booth, hearing their compliments and criticisms as well as their own personal stories of the places they've visited. It's a lot of work to drive thousands of miles to show your work, but it's been so valuable for me. Can't wait until next year.

AM1370 Radio Interview

AM1370 Radio Interview

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