I love the coast around Acadia; I could spend all day just watching the waves- the explosive power of the ocean right in front of your eyes. The bigger the better!
I remember visiting Bubble Pond on my first trip to Acadia in October 2006. Everything was new to me back then and I took a few pictures on my first morning out, but they’re nothing to look at now. Over the years, I visited Bubble Pond from time to time, but I never saw anything worth photographing.
Fast forward to last October (2018) when I brought my workshop group to Bubble Pond. It was a very still morning and the pond was mirror-like; the reflections in the water were just stunning. Although I’d only planned on spending a few minutes there, we kept shooting for over an hour and half. The feeling of peace and serenity was overwhelming.
I focused mainly on the flecks of foliage sprinkled among the evergreens, which were then reflected in the silent waters. It seemed like everywhere we pointed our cameras, the compositions kept getting better and better. I made a series of panoramic images, as well as these more conventional compositions.
A few days later, after the workshop was over, I visited Bubble Pond again, but this time, the water was choppy, some of the colorful leaves had fallen and the atmosphere was completely different.
Today, only ten minutes ago, I found out that one of my images had been nominated in the 13th annual Black and White Spider Awards. Over 6,400 entries were received from photographers in 77 countries. This is the third time I’ve been nominated or won in the Spider Awards. View my winning entry here.
The winning image is one of my favorites from Acadia. I titled it, “Monster Wave” and it was taken on Schoodic Point in 2016. Read more about my experience photographing waves here at this link.
I joined Instagram just over a year ago, thinking I’d give the photo-based social media site a shot and see if there was any interest in my work. It’s taken me a few months to figure out how it all works and build a small following, but just before Christmas, things blew up… and my images are regularly attracting 2-3,000+ likes, with more followers joining me every day. I don’t understand why, but it’s been very gratifying to read the comments and see how my images are inspiring photographers and others around the world.
Instagram has become the easiest way for me to regularly post my photos of Acadia. I still post to the Images of Acadia Facebook page, but if you want to see new pictures every two or three days, follow me on Instagram @imagesofacadia.
Taken back in June, the water levels were low enough to expose a ring of algae around each boulder, making them appear to almost be floating on the water's surface.
Last month, over ten years of planning finally paid off when eight photographers joined me for several days of photographing the foliage and coastline in Acadia National Park. In the group, we had a Scotsman, a Mexican, and an Australian, and travelers from Louisiana, Alabama, Massachusetts, Minnesota, California and Missouri. Our photography experiences ranged from a professional architectural photographer to advanced amateurs; some had travelled extensively to take pictures and for some, it was their first time doing a trip like this.
The workshop started off well, with a sunset trip to Jordan Pond. Although we didn’t have any nice skies to shoot, we did photograph the beautiful reflections of the foliage lining the shores of the pond in the soft overcast light of the cloudy sky. And we were fortunate to have still waters, so we could see all the way to the bottom of the more shallow parts of the pond and see the submerged boulders under the water.
The next day, we all met up at 5:15am and headed for the coast in the hopes that the skies would clear and we’d be blessed with a beautiful sunrise. Alas, it was not to be and instead we waited in a light rain. But as I told everyone, a bad day in Acadia is often better than some of your best days in an office, so instead of planning for puffy pink and orange clouds at sunrise, we changed our mindset to black and white, to see if we could photograph some of the drama of a bleak, but moody daybreak on the coast. Slow shutter speeds brought out some of the rich, silky smooth waves that poured over the rocks at Boulder Beach.
Next we visited one of my favorite spots, near the Kane Path and Canon Brook trails to photograph a still, small pond in the mist. The sky was still overcast but the colors and reflections were fantastic.
The rain continued for most of the first day, so we used some of that time to talk about Lightroom and Photoshop how to process digital pictures. By mid afternoon, I was getting cabin fever so a small group of us trekked out to Jordan Stream and hiked down to Cobblestone Bridge for some photos.
The next morning brought more of the same overcast skies, though thankfully, not the rain of the previous day. But that’s all part of being a landscape photographer– you learn to make the most of whatever weather conditions you’re dealt with. After all, you can’t change the weather, so you photograph its strengths.
On the way back from the coast to the hotel for breakfast, we spotted a stunning line of maples at their peak. Literally, we could’ve just stayed in the van and photographed them without stepping outside, they were right alongside the road and very easy to photograph. I’m not sure if we saw any more intense colors than that for the rest of the trip.
The next few days were filled with plenty of color- but not much sunshine, though we did have a brief few seconds up on top of Cadillac Mountain, which was just enough to photograph some nice shots of the clouds lighting up and the wild blueberry bushes sparkling in the light before the cloud cover took over again (see picture at the top of this page). I think everyone enjoyed the chance to be some of the first ones to see the sunrise in the US that morning.
I think for me, my favorite images came from the time spent at Bubble Pond after we came down from Cadillac. The pond was completely still and the reflections were among the best I’d ever seen there or anywhere in the park. Sprinkled among the dark green evergreens along the shoreline were splashes of reds, yellows and oranges, which were also mirrored in the water below. I could’ve stayed for several more hours, but we had other places to visit. I didn’t plan on being there for more than fifteen minutes, but surprisingly, we stayed for over an hour and a half.
We finally had some beautiful skies the afternoon we climbed up Bubble Mountain to photograph the sunset overlooking Jordan Pond. The clouds and sun were in our favor and we were treated to a beautiful sunset with the sky lighting up pink and orange at the “appointed time.”
Our final morning saw us back at the coast, where we did have full sun, but few clouds. But we made some nice images of the coastal granite lighting up orange and pink, then made our way over the to Tarn for our last excursion, to see the side of Door Mountain lit up in the reflections among the reeds. As an added bonus, we had hundreds of runners jog past us, as the Tarn is along the course of the annual Mount Desert Island marathon, said to be one of the most beautiful courses in the country. Still, we were surprised when some of the runners, in all seriousness, asked us what we were taking pictures of, and how come we weren’t photographing them? Perhaps they didn’t realize that their route skirted alongside one of the most beautiful national parks?
Judging by how many people asked me to let them know about the 2019 workshop, I think it’s safe to say everyone went home happy with their time in Acadia. Sure the rain was a bit of a damper on photography, but like I said earlier, in landscape photography, you deal with whatever conditions you’re given and I think we did just that.
If you’re interested in joining me next year, send me a message and I’ll make sure you’re notified when registration opens up.
This is the picture that almost got away. In color, I didn't think much of this image and almost deleted it, but I worked with it for about an hour, converting it to black-and-white, then making it into a duotone, and adjusting the contrast. I like the results so much, I put it in my book, Under October Skies. More than one person has told me this is their favorite picture of mine. And just yesterday I sold another print of this through Artemis Gallery (@artemisgalleryme) in Northeast Harbor, the second print of this image they've sold. I think this picture also proves the point that autumn foliage doesn't always have to be photographed in bright, blazing color.
I wrote about this image a year ago- click here to learn more about the prices involved in creating it.
Some photographers don’t know what these are, but experienced landscape photographers wouldn’t go out without at least one graduated neutral density filter in their bag. A common problem in landscape photography is that the sky is usually two to four stops brighter than the ground below.
That leaves you with a quandary... should you expose for a correct exposure in the sky (and have the ground appear too dark), or expose for the ground (and end up with a blown-out bright sky)? This is when you need a graduated (or split) neutral density filter.
These rectangular filters are made of optical-grade resin and are held in front of the lens with a filter holder, usually a piece of plastic that attaches to the front of your lens and grips the sides of the filter. The top half of the filter is coated with a dye that darkens that part of the image.
Expose for the sky, or the ground? By using a graduated neutral density filter, you can obtain the perfect exposure for both. No filter was used in the first picture, and the sky is washed out with no detail near where it meets the water. In the second picture, a two-stop graduated neutral density filter was used to bring down the brightness of the sky and some of the water.
By sliding the filter up or down, you can position the darkest part over the sky and bring the brightness levels down to match the brightness of the bottom half of the picture. Neutral destiny refers to it the fact that it doesn’t add any color tint (it’s neutral) to the sky, just density (darkness). In the 1980’s, it was all the rage to have filters that added a tint– like blue to add color to a dull sky, or ‘tobacco’ which acted as a fake ‘sunset’ filter. Personally, I prefer the natural look from my neutral filters.
There's still time to sign up to be a part of the inaugural Images of Acadia photography workshop; I have space for 2-3 more people. We'll be immersing ourselves in Acadia landscape photography from October 10-14th, five days of photographing the coast, lakes, ponds, mountains, trails, streams and of course, the foliage. Learn from me, learn from each other. This will be a trip you won't forget.
For more information, click here.
I first published the Photographer's Guide to Acadia in 2014. Over the years, I've been keeping notes about places in Acadia that photograph really well. Some locations are better photographed in the early morning, others in the afternoon, and some are best seen while the sun is going down. It took me years of visiting these locations again and again, at all times of the day, to realize this.
I found some places in books or on postcards. I asked locals and other photographers for suggestions. I pored over maps to discover where the light might be extra special at a certain vantage point. Some locations were great and I came away with beautiful photos. Other places sounded good, but photographically, I came away with nothing. But all the while, I kept making mental notes about where the best places were.
Eventually after eight years of exploring Acadia this way, I sat down one winter to write a book where I could share my extensive knowledge of Acadia with other photographers– so that they could spend their time in the park well, not searching fruitlessly with nothing to show for their labors. OK now... I'm all about wandering through the landscape with no agenda, observing purely for the sake of enjoying nature. But I also know most visitors have little time to wander aimlessly. They want to leave with iconic images, beautiful prints that they can hang on their walls or show friends.
The new, second edition of the Photographer's Guide to Acadia gives you my Top Ten suggestions of places to see and photograph in Acadia. But I also tell you when to visit them- the best time of day– and how to photograph them. I share with you the camera settings I used, what kind of lens is best in any given location, and any other extra gear I used, and what filters might be appropriate. I also talk about how to use your camera more effectively, and how to creatively use aperture and shutter speed to be more artistic in your photography.
Best of all, every photo in the book is tagged with a link to Google Maps, so that you only have to touch a photo on your screen and you'll be taken to the exact location where I made the photo, and be given directions how to get there. You can't do that with a printed book; only an ebook has this advantage!
If Under October Skies is my ultimate book of fine art landscape photography in Acadia, the Photographer's Guide to Acadia is the book that gives away all my secrets. You'll read how I made many of the images, the gear I used and what I was thinking when I made the photo. If you're planning to visit Acadia National Park this year, download your copy of the book and start planning your trip now. It's only $12.99.