Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Kitty Vacation

The kitties have had a wonderful vacation. They're now sprawled out on the screenporch, enjoying the warmth that has only recently arrived in Downeast Maine. This is Squeechie, separated from a tasty chipmunk by a screen. So close she can taste it! Below you can see Maya, also hunting critters, and napping. It has been a wonderful vacation.

Soon they'll be home in Boston listening to airplanes instead of black-throated green warblers, but they've spent almost eight weeks in kitty heaven. All I can do is promise them another visit soon. But who will console me?

Looking up means looking forward. So next weekend will be a trip to Mystic, CT to see the wooden boat show, and then I'll stay in Boston for Harborfest, and then trips to the Cape and RI and ... well, who knows? There are so many places and events to enjoy in New England. Someday we'll settle down, but not ... quite ... yet.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

One Boat,Two Boat, Red Boat, Blue Boat

There are sailing harbors and there are fishing harbors. It was never something I thought about until I started photographing them. Go to a Maine sailing harbor in June, and it looks like you're in a ghost-town. Many of the boats are still in dry dock or in their owners driveways until the 4th of July or so.

But go to a fishing village in June and you'll find a buzz of activity. The boats are in the water year-round, but now the fishermen have finished repairing their gear and are putting it out to catch lobsters. Multi-colored lobster traps are piled on the piers and the boats leave their moorings at sunrise to place the traps and catch the lobsters. By late afternoon, they're all back in place, making the harbors look like a postcard.

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In some villages, all the lobster boats are the traditional Maine white. It's the propah color for a boat, don't ya know. In other harbors you'll find hulls in red, blue, and even yellow. Which is prettier? I can't decide.

I like shooting harbors on sunny days. The primary colors go with blue sky, and I can play with the reflections in the water.

If you'd like to find these scenes, go to Stonington, Jonesport, Bass Harbor, Southwest Harbor, and Port Clyde. Be respectful of working fishermen and don't trespass without permission. You'll find plenty of subjects to keep you occupied, from reflections to piers to boats to fishing shacks to the fishermen themselves.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Three Days in Sugar Hill

The Lupine bloom in northern New England is like a mini foliage season. Photographers travel from other states to capture images of the lovely blossoms covering the hillsides. Two areas host festivals around the season: The Deer Isle Lupine Festival in Maine, and the Fields of Lupine Festival in Sugar Hill, NH. The season extends through the two middle weeks of June, although peak bloom varies from year to year. In 2010, most New England vegetation bloomed quite early due to a mild winter, so I have been covering lupines since mid-May. This week I drove up to Sugar Hill for three days, and the weather varied so much during my stay that it was like three different trips.

There were forest fires in Canada and the smoke whitened the sky on Monday morning, but I was able to find afternoon shots that avoided the smoke.

Monday afternoon was sunny - blue sky almost without a cloud. The light was stark and contrasty. This made it necessary to take pictures with the sun to my back, to avoid losing detail in big black shadows or areas of bright white. On sunny days, I avoid scenes with shadows - forest shots are out of the question, and side-lit views of buildings just don't work. I try to shoot on the coast or in the mountains, where landscapes will include lots of beautiful blue sky.

Tuesday was rainy, ranging from white-sky to downpours to showers as the day progressed. It was a day to have a sit-down breakfast at Polly's Pancake Parlor and to browse at Harman's Cheese shop. It was a day to move more slowly, to watch as mist rose from the valleys and clouds moved overhead. Between downpours, it was a great day to work in the woods. Shadows under the trees were soft and inviting, and the detail of the beautiful blossoms really showed well. Raindrops on petals and leaves were an extra treat. At day's end, the overcast lifted a bit. The sunset light came in low under the clouds and cast its reddish light on the mountains. I knew tomorrow's sunrise would be wonderful.

Wednesday started with pea soup fog! I had been wrong in expecting a wonderful sunrise! But since I was up (at 4:00) and packed, I decided to play with fog photos and to see what developed. I shot the barn at Polly's, and noticed some brightening. Sure enough, I turned around to see the sun breaking the horizon, burning through the fog, and shining through millions of water droplets in the flowers. I stayed a few minutes and then rushed up the road, knowing that this mist might burn off fast. The field at St Matthews Church was bathed in warm light, with God-rays beaming through the trees and more dewdrops glinting in the light . With the sun at my back, the scene was soft and bright and beautiful. When I turned toward the sun, the backlighting was magical.

The sun burned off slowly, and I was able to work several lupine fields and a farm in the area. Finally, I went down to Coffin Pond and watched the fog rise from the water there. A really magical morning, and a grand way to cap off my trip. If you go to Sugar Hill, be sure to stop at the Franconia Chamber of Commerce for the map which shows locations of the lupine fields.