Mid-afternoon yesterday the trailing edge of hurricane Lee passed off-shore from Kennebunk, Maine, and hundreds of local residents and tourists went down to the beach to watch the wave and cloud action…just about the same time I did. We got very little of the storm’s effects. Moderate rain and some gusty wind, but honestly you could have been forgiven for not realizing there was a hurricane out there. I finally found a place to park and spent an hour trying to photograph the frantic shorebirds, but I did pay some attention to the passing storm. 🙂 OM Systems OM-1 and Olympus OMD EM5Miii with the 100-400mm zoom at 800mm and the 12-45 zoom at 24mm equivalents. Program and HDR scene modes.
Green Heron: Evidently this Green Heron has made the drainage ponds at Southern Maine Health Care part of its territory. It has been at the ponds on my last several visits. When it flies off it goes into the woods south of the pond along the outflow…but it is soon back so it does not go far. It is relatively tolerant of humans. It sat on the posts of the little footbridge over the outflow for a long time while I hunted dragonflies on the other side of the pond. A handsome bird. 🙂 Nikon B700 at 1440mm equivalent. Program mode. 1/125th @ f6.5 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr and Apple Photos.
The weather in Southern California is so beautiful, so much of the time, that we forget they do have storms there. In fact, San Dieagens were looking forward to this storm, as it brought several inches of much needed rain. Not enough to bring them to average for the year, but enough to make a significant difference in the deficit. And it was a spectacular storm. Wind and rain three days running, and great crashing waves…seen here as they pound the cliffs at La Jolla. This is just up from the Children’s Pool where I had been photographing seals with their pups.
Sony NEX 3NL with 16-50mm zoom. 24mm equivalent. ISO 200 @ 1/640th @ f11. Processed in Snapseed for HDR effect. Perspective correction in Photo Editor by dev.macgyver. All on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014.
In a normal year, especially in winter, I rarely get to East Point Santuary in Biddeford Pool. In fact, whole winters have passed (maybe even the occasional whole year) when I have not gotten to East Point. It isn’t that far: about 30 minutes by back roads from the house. This winter I have been there just about once a week. It is the chance, no, the likelihood, of Snowy Owls that makes the difference, of course, but I find that I am photographing Wood Island Light and the sea around the Point on every trip as well.
Yesterday I featured the waves off Fortunes Rocks, which is just across the bay formed by the Pool and the Point from where this shot was taken. The same heavy seas. The same winter light catching the green in the water. The same wind blowing the sea plumes back. And it was only on Sunday that I posted a similar view of the Light over snow drifts. Still, when you add the view of the Light to the drama of the heavy seas, it makes an irresistible image. Or that is what I think 🙂
Samsung Smart Camera WB800F. ISO 100 @ 1/1500th @ f6.1. 95mm equivalent field of view. Processed in Snapseed on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014.
Yesterday, I took my, by now, traditional Sunday Photo and Snowy Owl prowl up along the coast as far as Biddeford Pool. I only found one owl, and never got close enough for a photo, but when I got to Fortunes Rocks, the sea was so amazingly wild that I had to park and take a series of photos. A stormy sea is not an easy thing to catch in an image. You can not capture the wind-in-your-teeth feeling, or the sound…and certainly not the emotional thrill, the primal surge of adrenaline, that always straightens our spines even as it sends shivers up and down, when we stand on the edge (the safe edge most often) of disaster. Still, the waves from Saturday’s storm passing offshore were as big as I have seen along this coast, a strong off-shore wind was blowing the tops back into plumes, and the sun was just at the angle to bring out the green highlights in the water as it rose. Altogether impressive.
Samsung Smart Camera WB800F. Processed in Snapseed on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014. Collages assembled in PixlrExpress.
My weather app was flashing red yesterday with high surf warnings. We are getting the last tired remnants of hurricane/tropical storm Leslie moving up the Maine coast, bringing strong onshore winds and high seas, followed by a night of thunder storms and a morning of showers. This being southern Maine, and there being actually no real threat to life or limb, such a warning brings out 3 types: surfers, tourists, and locals…so, actually…just about everyone left in Maine in September. 🙂
There were probably 100 surfers in the water off Gooches Beach in Kennebunk, a high number considering Maine waters are wet-suit waters, and a good run on the best of days lasts about 30 seconds. Still if you are a surfer in Maine, you make the best of any opportunity. There were also more tour buses along the beach than I have ever seen on a single afternoon. It is the start of the fall foliage tour season, so I expect to see the leaf-peeper buses begin to arrive, but I suspect this weekend some enterprising tour company in Boston put on a Maine surf special, or, at the least, more than your average number of buses left the interstate in Kennebunk to loop the beaches and see what the waves were up to. And finally, there were the locals like me…drawn to the beach to take a few photos of higher than average seas…hoping for some drama.
Canon SX40HS. Program with iContrast and –1/3EV exposure compensation. 235mm equivalent field of view. f5.6 @ 1/1250th @ ISO 125. Processed in Lightroom for intensity, clarity, and sharpness. The 4 frames per second burst rate on the SX40 is just the right speed to catch the waves at peak if you shoot through.
And for the Sunday Thought. It is beyond denying that there is something in the human spirit, or at least in the human soul, that enjoys bad weather…that wants to walk the edge of the storm…that that wants to face into the wind and feel the sting of flying water. As above, it is, at least in part, the drama, the excitement, the mild rush of adrenalin that a calculated risk, a considered threat to life and limb, brings. There is a tipping point of course, where the excitement of the storm tips over into terror, but when it is just a high surf warning there is little danger of that.
I would like to think too, that there is a real spiritual element to it…that in facing the awesome power of nature we affirm both our selves, in our most durable, and yet totally vulnerable, smallness, and our relationship to the awesome and the overwhelming. It is a taste, and only a taste, of the root of all religious experience. It gives us, whether we know it or not, whether we are ready to admit it or not, a hint of what it might be like to be overwhelmed by the awesome love of the creator God…to be caught up in the surf of grace and lifted in a glorious spray over the rock of our selves into brief beauty. It gives us a sense of how small we are in our own loves, and how great and all embracing is the love of God in which we are submerged, in which we are carried on toward glory. And yet we endure. We are safe. We are, when surrendered to the awesome, most certainly and most truly ourselves. Our durability is in our vulnerability, and we can actually delight in our relationship to the awesome and overwhelming.
I would like to think (and really there is no one to stop me) that that taste of the divine is what draws us all down to the beach when the high surf warnings are flashing.
This is another shot from my unsuccessful Snowy Owl Prowl down the coast from Biddeford Pool to Kennebunk last week. Unsuccessful in finding an owl that is. From a photographic point of view I found much of interest in the massive waves and lowering sky as a front passed over and out to sea.
Directly off the point at East Point in Biddeford Pool waves coming in from the north east met waves coming in from the south east to create a cross wave effect that I could have watched for hours. The dynamic and the energy of the water was breathtaking. I did my best to catch a bit of that energy in images like the one above.
Canon SX40HS at about 90mm equivalent field of view. f4 @ 1/500th @ ISO 125. Program with iContrast and –1/3EV exposure compensation.
Processed in Lightroom. Besides my usual Intensity (fill light and blackpoint) and Sharpness adjustments I applied a Graduated Filter Effect from the bottom to bring up brightness and contrast…and then a second GFE from the top to pump up Clarity and Contrast to give the clouds slightly more definition. This is on the edge of being hyper-real, in the way many HDR treatments “go reality one better” and create a scene that is more dramatic than what the naked eye would actually see. (Some HDR treatments, in my opinion, boarder on the surreal. I don’t go there.) I think this image strikes a good balance.
Just for comparison, here is the same image with more intense tone-mapping in LightZone and final processing in Lightroom. This one is hyper-real…but it certainly has impact.