I’ll write soon about some fun recent work I’ve done, but for now thought I’d distract you with some of my favorite personal shots taken during this crazy summer that has been both maddeningly wet and stiflingly hot at times. Still, we managed to get out and enjoy the outdoors and our vegetables did grow, finally! Enjoy.
Clockwise from top left: The hindquarters of Clara, our dog, in an abandoned quarry in Stonington; gorgeous eggplant from Freedom Farm; a view of Mt. Katahdin from Daicey Pond, where we camped for my birthday; the extreme greenness of the Barred Island Trail in Stonington; the incredibly beautiful and frigidly cold Katahdin Stream in Baxter State Park; a rare self-portrait at Reid State Park (something about turning 40 made me think I should do this!); my husband, Scott, pondering life while waiting for morning coffee during our trip in Baxter; a recent cherry tomato harvest from our garden; and lovely lichen at Two Lights State Park.
For those of you who missed the opening at the University of New England Gallery of Art last night, well, you really missed out! It was a great turn out and the collection of images is superb. Hats off to Steve Halpert for curating a great show. There is still plenty of time to see the show, however. It is up until June 7th. My six pinhole images are in the exhibit and in case you haven’t already heard, they are now officially represented by VoxPhotographs. This is a very exciting development as I’m thrilled to have Heather Frederick’s considerable enthusiasm and stamina behind the effort to get these images into the public eye. If you’re interested in purchasing any (hint, hint), check them out at UNE and/or contact Heather directly.
I’m currently scanning loads of color film images from my California trip and hope to post my favorites in the next few days. Check back in soon!
Edward Weston was one of the first fine art photographers that inspired me when I began taking black and white landscape photos a dozen years ago. His need for, and mastery of, precise, orderly composition and his acute awareness of the range of nature’s tones are things I strive for in my work as well. Ever since I first laid eyes on his work, I have been curious about the place where he produced his greatest landscapes, Point Lobos. (Coincidentally, The New York Times published an article about Weston and Point Lobos in yesterday’s Travel section.)
So named for the wolf-like sounds the resident sea lion colony makes, this state reserve incorporates 554 acres of land and 750 submerged acres, including 80-million-year-old rock formations, arresting aqua-blue coves with fine sand beaches, gnarled Monterey Cypress trunks, scores of slumbering seals and a long list of other natural delights. During our recent trip to California, I visited Point Lobos five times. I just could not get enough of the soft blues and green hues of the low-lying vegetation, the ever-changing light and the abundant wildlife.
My work has evolved in the past decade to incoporate color photography and despite, or maybe because of, Weston’s monochromatic example, I did not feel compelled to shoot black and white at Point Lobos. Maybe since the Maine winter starved me of color, that’s what I was enamored of while there. It should be noted that while Weston’s black and white images of Point Lobos are best known, he did make some Kodachrome images there. So, perhaps his ashes, which are scattered at the now eponymously named Weston Beach, will forgive me my use of color. I also hope he’ll forgive me for posting digital (gasp!) photos. I took loads of film images at Point Lobos and have high hopes for the results (the mark of an amazing landscape for me is when I pay it the honor of using film instead of digital), but in the interest of immediacy, I’m posting some quick digital captures here. Here’s the obligatory cute seal photo.
A ranger I spoke with at Point Lobos, Chuck Bancroft, has worked there 28 years! The excitement with which he pointed out an osprey in a distant tree and described the birth of a seal he had captured with his camera the previous day made me think he hasn’t lost an ounce of enthusiasm for his job in almost three decades. And understandably so. To be surrounded by this breath-taking landscape and educate people about its wonders day after day seems like a dream job to me. Ranger Chuck drew me a nice map of where I might be able to spot a long-eared owl that was apparently newly in residence on the reserve. I didn’t find the owl, but along the way, I did see this lace lichen, which was definitely photo worthy.
I can easily see the allure of going back to Point Lobos repeatedly. Each visit yields different light, varying observations and a growing sense of what matters. Even if I can’t have Ranger Chuck’s job, I will definitely make future visits to this astounding natural treasure.
I love being in incredibly beautiful places where it feels like I’m the only one present. This past weekend I found out that Acadia National Park in the winter more than satisfies this desire. The town of Bar Harbor itself feels post-apocalyptic. Shops and motels are boarded up; the handful of businesses that are open put out flags with snowflakes on them as a beacon to draw in the few, lone survivors wandering the barren streets in a daze. The main road through the park is only open for two short stretches, but you can still park at a few of my favorite spots (Eagle Lake and Jordan Pond) and explore those areas by ski or snowshoe without seeing anyone for hours. One of the few signs of life are the ice-fishing huts. I was surprised when I first drove up and saw these bright-colored little buildings dotting Eagle Lake. It just hadn’t occurred to me that there would be evidence of man on the frozen bodies of water! I was thrilled, of course, because they add a unique visual
element to the landscape. I can certainly understand why Scott Peterman is enthralled by them. There is something magical and captivating about these tiny houses and what goes on inside them. I picture weather-beaten old Mainers sitting alone for hours huddled next to the tiny stove, drinking beer (or something more chest warming) and waiting patiently for their dinner to emerge from the depths below. It just seems so Maine…the cold, the waiting, all the hardship for such a small reward. I get the feeling though that part of the allure is not the end result, but the process. After all, I sort of like the idea of sitting in the middle of a frozen lake alone in a toasty little hut. There are places in the state you can rent ice-fishing huts, so I’ll have to try it some time and let you know if it really is fun! In any case, it probably was more fun to be inside them than outside them the two times I was photographing them. The first time the winds were gusting up to 45 m.p.h. and I could barely walk in a straight line, much less hold my camera steady. You can’t tell from the photos, but these were taken during these insanely strong winds—the type that viciously slams the car door on your leg when you’re scurrying back to shelter. But, naturally, this wasn’t enough punishment. I had a vision. I wanted a photo of one of these shacks while it was snowing. And lo and behold, as we headed out of town the next afternoon flakes were steadily falling from the sky and we made a little detour, after a blissfully deserted walk on a snow-laden carriage trail, so I could get my shot. But, wait….as we approach the lake I see something is amiss. The bright blue shack of my vision is gone! That was the one I wanted to shoot in the snow and it had evaporated overnight, removed by a little ice-fishing gnome no doubt. Harumph. So I settled for this one instead. Now, you might ask: Why is it so far away? Well, the answer is simple. I’m a wimp. The wind was howling, the snow blowing and I had seen pockets of open water on that ice just the day before so I wasn’t about to venture closer, despite the fact that snowmobiles were traversing the area with apparently no worries! My hands were achingly cold after taking these shots though, so I think I suffered enough for my art without falling through the ice.
Who spray painted the trees Sunday night?
I’m not one to toot my own horn. Sometimes I wish I were because the fact is horn tooters get more attention than we quiet types. But with the current economic climate I’m trying to get better at marketing myself, and admittedly this blog is one of those endeavors. I also recently met with a local promoter of fine art photography in an effort to bolster that aspect of my work. Heather Frederick at VoxPhotographs is a champion of some amazingly talented and unique, but mostly unsung (although with her help this is changing), Maine fine art photographers. She also has an innovative business model that just may be the art gallery archetype of the future: a 24/7 online gallery, an appointment-only physical gallery and invitation-only exhibits in her lovely loft space in Portland. Everyone has their own taste when it comes to art and I certainly don’t expect everybody to love my art, but on the occasion that I connect with truly enthusiastic, like-minded people, I’m given renewed hope and motivation. Heather proved to be one of these people and I’m thrilled and honored that she has tooted a horn for me on her blog. She is particularly passionate about my darkroom-printed black-and-white pinhole images, which sort of fell by the wayside as I became captivated by color and the relative ease of inkjet printing. But I’ve always felt more attached to them than to any of my other work. I think I just needed the validation that they are indeed something special. Now that I have that validation, expect to see more of this type of work from me in the future, even if it means heading back into the dreaded darkroom! I feel the same way the landscape photographer Robert Adams does on this matter. He writes in Why People Photograph, “Darkroom work had, after all, never interested me except as a means to an end; the place I wanted to be was outside in the light.” Despite the advances in digital printing though, to me there is still nothing like a print made in the darkroom. I look at my boxes of work that came to being that way and they have an unparalleled depth, texture and beauty. It’s a little frightening to think that darkroom prints are now considered an historic process! This makes them that much more appealing to me and if I need to sacrifice a few days of light now and then to resurrect them, I think it will be worth it.
As long as I’ve lived in Maine (6 consecutive winters now), winters can be defined as “snowy” or “cold,” but rarely are they both. This year is an exception. We’ve had lots of sub-zero and near-zero days and lots of the white stuff, not to mention plenty of ice too. Lucky us! It’s always about this time when people start frantically searching for cheap airfares to tropical locales (California, here we come), taking up new hobbies (knitting anyone?), and searching for anything that will punctuate the dreariness (Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy is the fave in these parts). In a normal year, nordic skiing would make the season much more enjoyable for me, but as I’m still hesitant to do anything too rigorous after ankle surgery in December, I’m opting for snowshoe excursions instead.
This past Saturday, I got up early and drove out to Crescent Beach in Cape Elizabeth. As an orange orb ascended over the horizon, I snowshoed down a trail that led to the ocean.
I love the feeling of being in a place where no one else is early in the morning. I felt my self being restored, a sort of equilibrium regained as I stood in one place for minutes at a time taking long exposures of the sky, water and snow. (These images are on that ancient thing called “film” so when they get processed and scanned some time in the next year, I’ll post them if they’re interesting.) Watching the sky change from dramatic clouds, to a pink streak on the horizon, to a soft golden glow over a space of hours was heavenly.
Except for the cold, I felt like I could have sat in a lawn chair on that bluff overlooking the sea and watched the changing atmosphere all day and been perfectly content. I’m still California dreamin’, but until that March trip, I’ll be getting recharged by trekking into nature as often as possible (with a flask of Allen’s if need be!).