Friday, 24 June 2016 02:57

A Lupine Story

The presence of bigleaf lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus) in Acadia National Park is a long and controversial one, and the squabble it creates appears to have no end in sight. It is a contestation into which I dare not intrude, but when it comes to sheer beauty, there is little doubt that the lupine of Mount Desert Island are a source of great annual pleasure for visitors and locals alike. In addition to bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) and bluebead lily (Clintonia borealis), its blooming is one of the primary factors I have always considered in scheduling my spring workshops on the Downeast coast. This year we were rewarded with an amazing display of these wonderful blossoms. Having fought with the wind nearly all day, we decided to wait until just at sundown - when the wind usually calms a bit - before heading over to a field we had recently found. The light, as we discovered, was magical, imparting an inner glow to the long stems of purple and lavender, especially the variegated ones. I found a cluster of these at the edge of the field and positioned my camera to aim through the standing stems affording the longest distance possible, with a darkening fur forest in the background. By now the wind was completely calm. A focal length of 33mm gave me the angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/18 gave me depth-of-field, considering my distance to the nearest blossoms; and a shutter speed of 10 seconds at ISO 100 gave me an overall slightly-darker-than-medium exposure. Because the stillness was complete, I chose to use the lowest ISO setting possible in order to introduce the least amount of noise into the image. It seems ironic that such great beauty can be at the center of such botanical strife.

Monday, 13 June 2016 22:04

Outward Bound

You may think what you will about the wonders of Acadia National Park, but for me there is no more magical place on the entire Mount Desert Island than Little Hunters Beach. It doesn't matter if the tide is coming in or going out, the granite headlands of this spot and the hundred yards of millennia-washed beach stones it contains are a paradise of all things Acadian. As we were scouting our spring workshop, we visited Little Hunters just to see its present condition; and as usual we spent a couple of hours playing with the rocks, water, and light. As it happened, the tide was ebbing, revealing the kelp-covered granite as it waned and the intertidal rock outcroppings. For me, this intertidal zone is such a captivating place I wanted to express its complex beauty; so I chose to point my wide-angle lens down the headland wall and across the rocks as the seawaters washed over them. A focal length of 27mm gave me the angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of f/22 provided depth-of-field; and a shutter speed of 1/8th second at ISO 100 gave me an overall medium exposure.

Tuesday, 07 June 2016 13:35

In a Complete Fog

 It is not always possible to determine, beforehand, exactly what conditions will exist at Purchase Knob when I arrive for sunrise. Cloud altitudes can be sometimes irratic and unpredictable even if you have a good idea that there will be clouds present. Sometimes the clouds will be aloft and sometimes they touch the ground, wherever ground happens to be; and, after all, a cloud that touches the ground is merely something we call fog. When I reached the upper slope of Cataloochee Divide, of which Purchase Knob is a spur, on a morning not long ago, the entire area was in "pea soup" as they say. I could barely see the camera on the tripod in front of my face. It was apparent that the clouds were moving, so it seemed that patience was the order of the day. I waited and I waited and I waited...and then the cloud slowly began to lift and thin out. Knowing fairly closely where the sun would shine through, if it ever did, I was able to make some initial calculations about direction, focal length, and framing; and to make a rough estimate of exposure values. When the light began to show intensely and the trees in the swale became somewhat visible, I made finer adjustments. I exposed for the foggy area to the left of the sun, but I called it slightly-lighter-than-medium rather than the much-lighter-than-medium that it actually is. This made the foreground darker and the trees nearly silhouette. A focal length of 37mm gave me the angle-of-view I wanted. An aperture of  f/18 provided depth-of-field; and a shutter speed of 1/160th of a second at ISO 800 gave me the slightly-lighter-than-medium exposure I mentioned, freezing the motion of the cloud and adding some noise to the file for texture. A little light shining through the fog can be nice.


Friday, 03 June 2016 18:28

Came up a Bad Cloud

Ocean Drive, otherwise fondly known as The Loop Road, in Acadia National Park, is one of those iconic locations which demands to be visited. It contains a collection of amazing images that are encountered one after the other: Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, Monument Cove, Marble Beach, and Otter Cliff are just the more prominent ones; and they are worthy of attention. To me, however, there is not a more quintessential view of Acadia than standing on the rocks above Marble Beach looking back to the north toward distant Sand Beach over the pink granite masses that are the shoreline here. And when a marvelous thunderstorm comes along to provide even light and an ominous cloud to mirror the sloping land coming down from the rise of Gorham Mountain, there is art in the offing. This is a wide-angle landscape that seems to me to be about texture as much as anything else. A focal length of 33mm gave me the angle of view I wanted. An aperture of f/22 provided depth-of-field, and a shutter speed of 2.0 seconds at ISO 100 gave me an overall slightly darker-than-medium exposure. Many things say "Acadia" to me; but this view says it so well.


Site copyright © 2001 - 2019 Don McGowan & EarthSong Photography. 

All Rights Reserved.