So I had an appointment with the immunologist at York Hospital yesterday. I evidently turned the wrong way leaving the hospital because I ended up on Route 1A instead of 1, and found myself headed up the coast road. It was okay. It is hard to get actually lost in Southern Maine, as long as you remember which side the ocean is supposed to be on. I knew I was headed home, generally. From Long Sands Beach in York, I could see Nubble Light, out at the end of Cape Neddick, so, I thought, why not. I am lost anyway. Nubble Light is one of the iconic lighthouses of Maine, perhaps a tad less photographed than Portland Head or Pemiquid, but easily recognizable from post cards and the Travel Channel. It sits on a little lump of rock offshore, off the tip of Cape Neddick. It’s bright red brick outhouse, and neat picket fence stand out. They gave the brick outhouse a fresh coat of paint recently from the look of things, but I noticed that the “captains chair” cable crossing that used to take the lighthouse keeper out to the island has now been dismantled. Looks like it is boats and fair weather only these days.
It was a pretty good day for photographing the Nubble: Enough clouds to be interesting, and intermittent sun on the island and the surround sea. Enough sea to interesting as well. Some nice color in the water. Pretty good pretty. I shot with the Sony NEX 3NL and it’s 16-50mm zoom, on “superior auto” but with HDR processing in mind. Processed in Snapseed on my tablet.
For several cameras now, I have used this scene at Nubble as a good test of a camera’s inherent image quality. I have a set of shots with every camera I have owned in the past 10 years. The Sony, by the way, did very well!
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.
This shot is from just a week ago, on my Sunday photo-prowl which turned into an Owl-prowl when I decided to go looking for Snowy Owls. East Point in Biddeford Pool is, when there are Owls in for the winter, always a likely place…with significantly more sightings than anywhere else on the southern coast of Maine. They are often there, even in winters when they are rare in the US, and in this irruption year, birders have found as many a 10 in a day there. There were three this Sunday along what they call Mile Stretch, all clinging to chimney pots. I featured one in Monday’s post. There is, however, no Owl in this image. I was just fascinated by the way the wind had sculpted the snow drifts along the top of the drop off the edge of East Point to the stoney beach below. I also featured a close-up of the wind sculpting early last week. 🙂
For this shot I used 218mm equivalent field of view on the zoom…medium telephoto…to compress the drift and the lighthouse, while keeping both in focus. The Lighthouse is close to 3/4 of a mile (according to Google Maps) across the Saco River channel. ISO 100 @ 1/1500th @ f5.3. Processed in Snapseed on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014.
And for the Sunday Thought: On the way back from my trip to office in Virginia, which was sandwiched in between the photo above and my Friday travel day, I was seated on the plane next to a youngish priest, returning to his parish in Augusta from a visit with his brother’s family where his brother is working in Rome. We got talking about what we each did, and when I told him that I work with the birding community, the conversation turned to why people watch birds, and that, of course, lead to my often shared theme of how birds exemplify the creator’s delight in color and form and texture and sound and the vividness of life in general. The young priest agreed that God, in creation, is neither reticent or circumspect, and lamented the fact that more of that sense of outrageous life has not gotten expressed in the church. I pointed out that, at one time, it had…certainly in Italy, where he had just been, and where he studied, in both the visual arts and music. It is in the ornamentation of the cathedral and the music of Vivaldi, certainly. He agreed and wondered where it had gone. What happened to the impulse to share in the creator’s creation by creating beautiful, outrageously vivid works that point the heart to God? When did the church become a social movement, a charitable movement, even, though he shuddered a bit when he said it, a political movement?
It is still there of course…that impulse to wild beauty…it has just moved, largely, and sadly, outside the walls of the Catholic Church…though we both agreed that it is always trying to break back in…always coming up between the paving stones, so to speak, and attempting to flourish once more between the walls. I mean, it is part of the God we worship…part of our inheritance as children of God and people of faith. Wild beauty is born in us with Christ. It is not like any amount of officious administration, any amount of what he called “religiosity”, can suppress it for long.
And it is not like we do not see it all around us every day, even with our eyes half open. It is here in this image…in the way the wind sculpted the snow. Oh I know there is a physics behind it…but that is like saying there is chemistry behind paint or mechanics behind dance…the artistry of those drifts can not be denighed. Or that’s what I think…and I am bold enough to say that the architect of the Wood Island Light was infected by it, and the principals of the Nature Conservancy as well, when they put aside East Point as a sanctuary to preserve, among other things, this view…a view of the wild, outrageous beauty that God and man has made on the coast of Maine.
So, Happy Sunday. There is always hope!
When I went looking for Snowy Owls last Monday, one of the places I checked was East Point Sanctuary in Biddeford Pool. The day before 9 Owls had been reported in and around the Pool, and East Point is generally good for at least one or two in an irruption year like this. If they are not on the Point itself, they are often on the small island in the channel between the Point and Wood Island…there was one there on this day…or on Wood Island itself, often on the ridge line of the Lighthouse. The wind had come up by the time I got to the point, and the Winter afternoon light across the sea was beautiful. There is always a particularly wild feel to the ocean off East Point. Here I have put Wood Island Light in the frame with the clouds over Casco Bay behind it.
Samsung Smart Camera WB800F. ISO 100 @ 1/750th @ f4. 112mm equivalent field of view. Processed in Snapseed on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014.
For some reason I had never taken the loop of trail at Cape May Lighthouse State Park that goes North across the marshes to meet the road behind the dunes further up toward the Meadows. It is mostly boardwalk through the reeds and I am sure it is hopping with birds in the spring. In October, not so much, but it still provides a unique perspective on Cape May Lighthouse. This shot is all about leading lines and horizons, spiced with some rich detail from the weathered wood and the reeds. The subtle fall colors don’t hurt either. 🙂
Samsung Smart Camera WB800F in Rich Tone mode. Processed in Snapseed on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014.
Another shot from our short trip to Burlington Vermont this week. Among the attractions of Burlington is a series of beaches and parks in towntown Burlington along the shore of Lake Champlain. This marina would be full in another season…it will in fact fill up quickly over the next 6-8 weeks, but for now it is a study in graphic design, with the lighthouse on its breakwater forming a middle ground and the layered mountains behind. It stretches the eye and challenges our sense of space but I think it works exactly because of that.
Canon SX40HS. Program with iContrast and -1/3EV exposure compensation. 90mm equivalent field of view. f4 @ 1/1250th @ ISO 100.
Processed in Lightroom for intensity, clarity and sharpness.
Last Sunday I was in San Diego, covering the final day of the San Diego Birding and Nature Festival in Mission Bay Park. In the morning I made my yearly trek out the length of Point Loma to Cabrillo National Monument. Cabrillo sits high above San Diego Bay, at the tip of the point that forms the northern and the western boundary. Off one side of the point you see the full reach of downtown San Diego, and off the other you see, on a clear day, well out to sea beyond the Coronado islands.
The old light is on the grounds of the Monument, perched at the top of the point, where it must have been visible about as far out to sea as any light in North America.
It was not, however, overly helpful to ships trying to avoid the rocks off the very tip of Point Loma, and it was replaced long ago with a taller light right on the shore at the base of the point.
To me, the Coast Guard Reservation on Point Loma, seen here in a moderate telephoto shot from the top of the point, is about as tropical as you can get on US soil.
There is a small museum in the outbuilding of the old lighthouse, an its primary display is a duplicate of the huge focusing lens enclosure for the light itself. These 6 foot tall lenses are what made the light effective at such great distances, and are certainly testaments to the glass and lens-makers art.
The color you see here is light refracting through the various concentric lens surfaces ground into the single massive piece of glass.
And for the Sunday thought: I live right diagonally across on the other coast from San Diego, but we are just as caught up in the romance of lighthouses in Maine as they are in California…maybe more-so. I live right up the road from “The Lighthouse Shop” which caters to lighthouse aficionados traveling up historic Route 1, and, through their catalog and web-site, all over the world. I am pretty certain if I stopped by there would be a model of the Point Loma lights, or a post-card at the least.
And, of course, the lighthouse appeals to more than our sense of romance. In any community in the US you will find at least one (generally non-denominational) church that has taken the name of Lighthouse. And I don’t think it is the sense of warning that speaks to our spirits…though every lighthouse was primarily a warning device…so much as it is the sense of home, fellowship, safety. The lighthouse warns of the last dangerous passage this side of home, this side of land and safety, but it is home we hear…home that holds our hope and our joy.
And there is the sense in which each one of us is called to be a lighthouse…our bodies temples of light…our faces focusing lenses which beam home, fellowship, safety so brightly that we can be seen far across the seas of self that separate us, through the storms of self no matter how they rage.
Ah…but you are thinking I am getting caught up in the romance of the lights again…stretching the metaphor. I am certain I am not.
This is an HDR treatment of a shot of Portland Head Light, tone-mapped and detail enhanced in Dynamic Photo HDR. It was already a dramatic image…the tone mapping just brought up detail in the stony beach and added some definition to the clouds.
I also opened it in PhotoShop Elements to clone out a contrail, and in Lightroom for final processing.
When I went looking for the Snowy Owl reported at Nubble Light last Saturday, I went early. Early is not the best time to photograph the Light itself. The light is behind the Light, so to speak, or off to the south of it considerably, and you get shadows across the face of the buildings and the slope of the island. This shot, while it holds some interest in itself, was helped along considerably by the Dynamic Photo HDR application after the fact.
DPHDR, in my limited experience of it so far, does an excellent job of tone-mapping a single .jpg file to simulate a true multi-exposure HDR image…and it does it without the obvious artifacts of some other tone-mapping software. (It does, of course, produce conventional HDRs from multiple files, but I have not experimented with that yet.)
Canon SX40HS at 24mm equivalent field of view. f7.1 @ 1/1250th @ ISO 250. Program with iContrast and –1/3EV exposure compensation.
The file was processed in DPHDR, then taken into Lightroom for final processing…Fill Light, Blackpoint, Clarity, and a touch of Vibrance. There was a reddish lens flare (the sun is just out of the frame), over the right end of the island which required some treatment. I desaturated the flare using the selective desaturation tool, then painted a Local Adjustments region over the area and pumped up Clarity and Contrast.
The result is, I think, striking…a bit on the hyper-real side (click for more on hyper-real imaging)…but powerful enough to make up for it.
After my fruitless search for a Snowy Owl at East Point yesterday (see previous post), I continued down the coast with, as they say, one eye pealed for anything white on the rocks of Fortune’s Beach. Nothing. The amazing clouds were still happening though, so when I got to Cape Porpoise I swung out to the fishing peer that overlooks the harbor and the Light. As I got out of the car, the sun broke through and spotlighted the little island with the Lighthouse under the dark sky. I had just time to grab a couple of shots before the clouds moved and it went back into shadow.
These two, at 285 and 100mm equivalent fields of view, catch the effect well.
Though the sun was pretty much obscured by the cloud mass, I was shooting into the sun, as you can see in this full harbor shot at 24mm equivalent. This was a tricky exposure and required some work with the Graduated Filter effect in Lightroom to balance the foreground and the sky.
1) f5 @ 1/400th @ ISO 100. 2) f4.5 @ 1/640th @ ISO 100. 3) f5 @ 1/1250th @ ISO 250. Program with iContrast and –1/3EV exposure compensation.
Processed in Lightroom for Intensity and Sharpness. Some tampering with the color temperature was needed, as well as cropping on the second shot for composition.